Birthday wishes to my mom on her 60th!

April 24, 2009          Comments (6)

It must have been no later than 4:15 in the morning when my mom woke me up abruptly. “Let’s go! Wake up!! We’re going to Disney World!!!” she said excitingly. “But what about our bags, Mommy?!” “They’re all packed and ready to go!”

I was 5 years old at the time and my mom always tried to fill my (and my sisters) life with plenty of adventure.

Like the time we walked to the local deli for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. What was usually a 10 minute car ride felt like 5 hours by foot!

My mom has an amazing sense of humor. She dressed me up as a Chassidic Rabbi for my first Halloween in pre-school. When I was less than 3 months old, my grandparents in Florida met me for the first time in a Superman costume. Apparently, I was a big hit on the plane!

But my mom is not only fun and games. Although she’s one of the most creative people I know, she’s definitely the most hardworking! She has taken on all sorts of jobs and businesses throughout the years, all while working full time as a high school English teacher, to make our life better. And remarkably, as late as she would come home, she always insisted we eat dinner together and would first start cooking.

Her businesses ranged from a house keeper placement agency to Home Grown Poems to a SAT tutoring business to her current business of selling aviation apparel. While each of them has brought many memories, none will ever surpass the time my sister and I, along with my mom, sang lyrics to a woman who had hired her to ghost write a song.

My mom has always loved animals. Or more so bears! Our beloved George, a black 230 pound Newfoundland, is our biggest yet. She fell in love with the breed when a bear was roaming around my neighbor’s lawn and they called her to take care of it. Of course, my mom walked right up to it with no fear and looked at the collar to find the bear’s owner and the rest was history…we were getting a Newfoundland!

My mom is a teacher at heart though. Whether it’s teaching our dogs tricks or inspiring her students, I’ll never forget when her high school, Grady, was in the state finals at Madison Square Garden. As I was a little boy, who only dreamed of playing at MSG one day professionally, it was quite intimidating. But nothing was more intimidating than what seemed like 1000’s of students stomping and screaming, “Ms. Gilbert! Ms. Gilbert! Ms. Gilbert!” as they rolled out a red carpet for my mom that led to our seats!

However, not of all her students were always inspired. I’ll never forget when my mom came in the house absolutely drenched after Howard had pushed her into the pool as she was trying to sweep around it.

As my mom was absolutely furious, and my sister and I were rolling on the floor laughing, her huge heart eventually forgave our English Sheepdog.

In fact, it’s her huge heart that inspired Terence Winter. Terry, her former student, credits his success to my mom. And as Terry has clearly reached the top of his game having been a writer/executive producer for the Sopranos and now working with Leonardo DiCaprio, and Martin Scorsese on the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, I hope my mom feels like she’s at the top of hers!

She has two kids that absolutely respect, love and adore her to death, a grandson on the way (very much on the way!), a dog that looks forward to being spoiled by her, a loving second-husband, an incredible sister, and a wonderful tight group of loyal friends and family.

I think of the morning she woke us up at 4:15 sometimes, and it makes me think of all the selfless, amazing, giving things my mom did while my sister and I were growing up, and that she still does today.

So, as her birthday is tomorrow the 25th, and in effort to keep this short because I can go on and on with countless memories and so many things I’m grateful for, I’ll end off simply, as my mom would like it, and exactly how my mom has signed every one of her cards to date.

I love your guts!



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Do people who get married younger take less risks?

April 21, 2009          Comments (8)

Life is ultimately about 3 actionable questions: Where you live, what you do with it and who you share it with.

If you’re lucky in love and you meet your ‘partner’ in life at a very early age (say high school – college) you may feel as though you’re done and ready to focus on what you want to do.

I think we’re all wired to tolerate a certain level of risk. But even more so, how we’re raised impacts this tremendously. If your parents are conservative, chances are you’ll be too. If your parents bet the farm – you probably would too.

Let’s say you meet an amazing person. She/he has everything you could ever want. And you’re really happy with them. You’re extremely content! But you’re in high school or college. Or maybe just a few years out of college when you meet them.

This person becomes all you ever know. But just because you’re extremely close and comfortable with one another does that mean this person is for you?

How could you be 1000% certain when it comes to your significant other especially when you meet at such a young age?

And to be clear, I’m not saying you aren’t happy. But what if you could be even happier? You’ll never know. Or will you?

The person who thinks the grass is always greener would probably make an insanely hard decision and want to test the waters.

The more conservative person would probably fight through their thoughts and doubts and make the best of it.

Clearly, they are both risky but one is riskier.

You’d think single people are able to take more risks than married people. I’m curious to know whether someone who holds out for marriage until say their late 20’s or 30’s is a much bigger risk taker than the person who gets married in their early to mid 20’s.

Would a married person make different business decisions than a single person? Could the person who waited until later in life to get married be a lot more patient?

Most corporate bios include if the person is married and has children. Is it because marriage is a sign of stability?

But maybe getting married early can be a sign of impatience and being highly risk adverse?

In places where marriage happens at a young age is economic development the slowest? According to this link it is.

Could it be that places with an early age of marriage have less entrepreneurs?

Could your soul mate from college or high school be impeding your growth professionally?

[Some interesting comments over at]

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What came first the chicken or the egg?

April 16, 2009          Comments (0)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the chicken or the egg debate. Well sort of.

It seems as though we all have our own chicken or the egg debate. Whether it’s with your fitness goals, business goals, career goals or anything else that you’re pursuing.

What came first the results or the effort?

It seems as though we’re all obsessed with results. We work our tails off only for results. We make healthy choices only for results. We run an extra 5 minutes only for results. We make a sacrifice worth making only for results. We stay late at work only for results.

But when the results don’t happen when we want them to occur, the first thing we want to change is the amount of effort we put forth.

It’s interesting. However, the amount of effort you put forth absolutely has a direct impact on the results you’ll get.

And yet when we see results we become even more motivated and are willing to put forth more effort!

It seems as though results can either make or break the effort dial. See results and you’ll turn up the dial. Don’t see results when you want to and you’ll turn it down.

Here is what I can assure you of:

When it comes to your health and fitness goals, your body never lies. You can think you’re fooling yourself. But in the end your body always tells the truth.

Whether it’s in the first 25 seconds of the game or the last 25 seconds every basket counts towards the final score. Individually each basket may not seem like it matters much but collectively they matter immensely!

The amount of effort you put forth really does matter. Whether it’s running for an extra 5 minutes, working an hour longer on your dream, or sending that extra email it all counts!

Results will happen. Your body has no choice but to work its magic when you’re eating right and exercising consistently! Want results quicker? Turn up the effort dial.

Is your business slowing down a bit? Turn up the effort dial!

Is your career not progressing as quickly as you want it to? Turn up the effort dial!

There are a lot of things we can’t control. Our peers, our genetics, and our economic environment to name a few.

But the one thing we can all control is the amount of effort we put forth when it comes to pursuing things worth pursuing!

And usually when we need the most amount of effort we wind up putting forth the least amount of effort. It’s very easy to get discouraged when we don’t see results when we expect to. But if you turn up the effort dial results will happen!

Stop playing the chicken or the egg game!

Instead start playing the effort one.

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Do dumb people really exist?

April 7, 2009          Comments (2)

When I was in a junior in High School I had my first taste of tutoring. I was in the National Honor Society and because of that I was able to put my name down on a list to become a tutor for kids in the district.

I was asked to pick which subjects I felt comfortable in. I chose them all. Simply because I didn’t want to limit my opportunities by only choosing my favorite subjects. We were told we could charge $20 per hour. I had just gotten my car and it seemed like a perfect after school gig.

My first student was Ethan. He was an 8th grader who was failing social studies, science and math.

He loved sports. He loved hanging out with his friends. He liked cool cars. He liked all of the typical teenage boy stuff, really.

His parents were divorced and his mom was always incredibly grateful and appreciative for my coming over even though she was paying me.

Immediately, I could tell Ethan was hanging out with the wrong kids. His friends – from what I gathered – didn’t think doing well in school was cool. So unfortunately he didn’t think doing well in school was cool.

I met with Ethan twice per week for an hour. Usually in middle school you have a test about every 3-4 weeks. So most of the time, I’d watch him do his homework and then we’d review it. And before exams we’d go over the outline for the tests and review.

But before we did any of that we’d spend at least 5 minutes talking. 5 minutes seems like nothing. But talking about ‘life’ with an 8th grader for 5 minutes is more meaningful conversation than most kids get.*

When I was done with Ethan he was a confident 8th grader getting only A’s and B’s.

Did I make him smarter? Of course not. He made himself smarter. He’s the one that put forth the effort. Not me.

I got more out of it than he did. Ethan helped me realize how powerful inspiration and coaching could be. He also made me believe that ‘dumb’ people don’t exist. Just people who don’t care.

I started to believe most learning disabilities were a joke because his mother had told me that Ethan’s teachers felt he had one.

I also started to wonder what would’ve happened to Ethan if the National Honor Society didn’t offer peer tutoring for $20 per hour.

Clearly he didn’t have a learning disability. He had a caring disability. And I believe most kids who are classified as learning disabled have just that. Either you give a shit. Or you don’t. It’s that simple. Whether you come from a beautiful family or a broken one – how much you care in school – is what will determine whether you’re ‘dumb’ or not.

I know several people who have learning disabilities along with ADD yet they can watch hours of TV or even read books for hours on subjects that interest them. Subjects that they care about!

I’ve read countless case studies of people who were labeled as ‘dumb’ or a ‘failure’ but wound up making it big once they found what really got them going. But what if these people didn’t have the opportunity to find out what they cared about? What if Ethan didn’t have the opportunity to have me show him why he should care in the first place?

Interestingly enough, I’ve had this post written for over a year and I just finished Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell. Although effort and skill are hugely important, Gladwell argues that opportunity is even more important.

*According to Donald E. Wetmore the average working person spends less than 30 seconds a day in meaningful communication with their children.

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