Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Lantern festival

All these lights burn bright and fade
Lit with a thought and a spark 
A beautiful night
#lanternfestival #chooseawesome #mementomori

We wrote names of lost loves , dead friends and parents, quotes and thoughts on the lanterns. We drew ornate designs or childish hearts and trees on them. We cried over these thoughts and memories, staining the paper lanterns with tears.

Then we lit the little fire and launched a piece of ourselves into the night. We watched our lantern join thousands of others in a surreal display. We felt joy and wonder.

None of us knew what thoughts flew with the thousands of lanterns. What prayers, hopes, dreams and memories lit their spark. We didn’t know and it didn’t matter. What mattered was lighting the night. What mattered was the shared joy of making magic.

And we could see, all the while, those same lanterns that we had poured a piece of our souls into, falling back to earth. Dark, cold, trash to be collected. But god what beauty when they fly.

All the while more lanterns are being lit and launched. Over time they dwindled to only a few, to one last lantern of the night.

And that is the most beautiful part of the lantern festival. We know, every one of us, that the lantern is but a brief flicker, the light but a blink. We know this and do it anyway. Because the lantern festival is art. It is humanity in microcosm. It is the past, the future, and the eternal now.

Our lives, our children and our ideas, our hopes, dreams, and machinations are lanterns we laugh and cry over, then launch into the night. We, and they, will burn bright, then fade and fall. But god, what beauty when we fly.

This is your life. You don’t get another. Even if you are reincarnated or go to some afterlife or another, that being is not the being reading these words. The you of today has never existed before and never will again.

You can stay dark, choose to stay on the ground. You will still carry all these pains and hopes regardless. But you will carry them alone.


You have the choice to put your thoughts and hopes and dreams out there. The choice to put yourself out there. Odds are no one else will understand why you to create the particular light you create. The memories and drives, pains and hungers are yours alone. But you have the choice to light a candle in the darkness, fueled by your own soul. You have the choice to pour tears and laughter and love and heartbreak into that tiny light. You have the choice to share your light with others. Some precious, special, magical few of the others will also put a tiny piece of themselves out there as well. A burning spark to light up the night. That spark is all we have, and it only lasts a moment. But god what beauty when we fly.

If you have the choice between safe and awesome; choose awesome!

Monday, September 16, 2019

I read - a lot.

Why do I read as much as I do?  
I read a lot.  Some is fiction, some non-fiction.  But I read a lot.  Why?

Because ideas build on ideas.  Because I don’t know nearly as much as -we- know.  Because everything you see, every technology you use, was inspired by someone who was also inspired by someone.  
I read to learn.  I read because reading lets me access thoughts and ideas I would not have had, could not have had, with just my own thoughts. 

How do I choose books?
Safe books are what everyone else is reading.  
Safe books leave your brain tired and empty. 
Safe books are easy. 

Awesome books make you think.
Awesome books energize your mind with thoughts and ideas.
Awesome books aren’t often read - even if they are on someone’s shelf.

Reading is like exercise for your brain.  You can do the “safe” exercises, minimal effort, minimal impact.  OR you can read things that challenge you.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

What I Learned About Business Watching Bartenders

I don’t want to give the impression I spend all my time in bars.  But I am 48 years old, travel a lot, and was in the US Navy.  So I have seen a few things.

The one thing I have seen?
Great bartenders pay attention.

Think about what bartenders actually do:
  • Bartenders operate in a customer and public facing environment, 
  • They have to maintain a brand- to be “on”- all the time.  
  • Bartenders deal with customers in a variety of mental states.
  • They have to be mindful of numerous regulations and informal rules.
  • In addition, bartenders have to manage stock, drive sales, and maximize profits while monitoring for theft and fraud.


Great bartenders pay attention to customers. Customers come to a bar to be served.  Some customers want high contact, some want to be left alone.  Some know what they want, some not so much.   Some are obnoxious.  Bar customers, though, can change over the course of an evening.   The same person can walk in with one personality or disposition, and a few drinks later be a totally different person.   Great bartenders are paying attention to their customers all the time.


Great bartenders pay attention to their supplies.  While many bars have a barback who handles the physical movements of stock from the “back” to the “bar” it is still the responsibility of the bartender to ensure that the items needed for the shift are available and ready for use.  A good bartender makes sure to have more than enough stock.  A great bartender makes sure to have just enough so nothing is wasted or in the way.


Great bartenders pay attention to selling.  A good bartender will have some go to suggestions to help you pick a drink order.  A great bartender asks questions and makes something you will like from the the items she needs to move.  A great bartender knows bringing you back for five or six sales once a month for years is a better deal.

Supply and demand

The fundamentals still apply.  When demand is high, peak times, great bartenders keep the chatter to a minimum, getting drinks to customers as efficiently as possible.  Additional staff may be scheduled for peak times.  During high demand times great bartenders don’t upsell.  They don’t need to.  As demand declines, though, great bartenders start making suggestions, upselling.  


Great bartenders build relationships.  Even at a crowded bar on a busy night, a great bartender makes eye contact and makes an effort to remember your orders. Great bartenders learn just when to give you one “on the house” to keep you coming back.


Great bartenders try new things.  They adjust recipes and try new combinations, they test on themselves and their customers.Great bartenders experiment well.  They don’t just try a new cocktail and forget about it.  They try something new, vary it, offer it to select customers and watch their reactions.  They fiddle and adjust.  When they have a winner they add it as a special.  Maybe it will eventually get added to the menu.  But the important thing is, they watched and learned what made the mixture better, what worked, what didn’t.  

When you are served by a great bartender you might not recognize what is different.  You might not even remember that bartender.  But you will most likely remember the overall experience being positive.  

Can your business be better if you take a lesson from a great bartender?