2017 Manifesto: Domination.

My 6-speed transmission in life has been stuck in neutral for quite some time.  Sometimes, it felt like we hit reverse but oh well.  More importantly, How can you drop the hammer and hit the floor the accelerator unless you have an idea or clue where you’re going?  I propose you could in an aimless direction and ‘enjoy the journey.’

Well, ‘forget the journey.’  ‘Enjoying the journey’ is a one way destination towards mediocrity and average.  Two words which are my kryptonite.  If I’m average, it’s time to re-evaluate life.  Well, we’ve re-evaluated life and now I know where I am headed.

One word:  domination.  Total domination.  We’re talking levels of:

  • Germany dominating Poland in 1939,
  • The United States (and friends) dominating Iraq in the Persian Gulf War in 1991,
  • The 1927 New York Yankees,
  • The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls,
  • Microsoft with the Windows operating system, and
  • Apple with the iPod.

Dominate [dom-uh-neyt] verb:  to rule over, govern, or control.

What is it that I intend on dominating?  The domains in which I chose to enter.  The arenas in which I step into and take battle.  We’re not talking Theodore Roosevelt’s cold and timid souls that know neither victory or defeat.  We’re talking stepping into the fucking arena like Gladiator, slaying the competition (eat a dick Commodus), and then triumphantly asking to a degenerate crowd, “Are you not entertained?”

This is what I will dominate:

When you think of the word ‘leadership’ your first thought will be:  Patrick Jones.

When you think of a ‘Naval Officer’ your first thought will be:  Patrick Jones.

When you think of ‘Information Warfare’ your first thought will be:  Patrick Jones.

When you think of ‘Information Professional’ your first thought will be:  Patrick Jones.

Not second.  Not third.  Not Top 10.  Your first fucking thought.

Now, you may find yourself asking, “Self, who is Patrick Jones to believe such thoughts?”

Well, I am glad you asked and here’s two answers:

1.)  Who am I NOT to think such thoughts?

2.) Who the fuck are you to tell me that I am not capable?

3.)  Why don’t you believe the same for yourself?

In my life I have been told I embody traits such as arrogance, cockiness, narcissism, and intense.

To everyone who has told me such things:

Thank you.  You are right.

In an effort to become more ‘humble,’ I have realized I wear it like a $5 cologne from the drug store.  Smells like shit.  Doesn’t work.  Pass me another fragrance of ‘arrogance’ and I’ll wear it like Acqua di Gio.  Hell, I even attempted to become more humble to ‘silence’ my ‘haters.’  What a fucking mistake.  Haters – I don’t know how many I had but damn I need more of them.  Hashtags of #patjones #patjonesing #coachpat exist so why attempt to stop and why not add more?

People who are ‘your friends’ are the absolute fucking worst and serve nothing more than to project their own insecurities onto you and to what you stand.  Haters only concern themselves with gossip and using their creative outlet to figure out what is going on in other’s lives.  There is about a group of 15-20 people TOTAL in my life (family and my band of brothers) who I genuinely care about what is going on in their lives.  Outside of that, I could care less.

Side note:  If you haven’t managed to piss someone off within the course of the day, then what did you stand for – the middle ground?  Being a ‘Yes’ man?  Cool story, bro.  You’ll always have a place in the work force because you comprise (at least) 80% of it.

Too often a humble brag is used in order to sheepishly convey accolades or accomplishment.  Team #blessed or ‘I’m so humbled to blah blah blah’  Fuck that.  Everything is earned.  Life certainly does have a way of humbling you with a swift kick to the dick and a serving of humble pie.  Only you can choose if you continue to feast on yesterday’s meal (the humble pie) or if you’re hungry for your next.  So do these things:

  1. Swallow the humble pie,
  2. Pay compliments to the chef, and
  3. Crush some steak at your next meal (if you’re vegan, crush some kale?  Gowen help me out here.)

You decide how long you savor the humble pie – no one else.

Where are we going with all of this as I crush some decaffeinated coffee at Starbucks on a Friday night?  A few highlights:

  • That life, as we know, is not about following passion.
    • If you choose to ‘follow your passion’ then Godspeed.  You’re better served locating the north star and heading in that direction in order to locate Santa Claus, his reindeer, and his slave workforce (aka his elves).
    • Kudos to you and your nobility of finding your passion.
    • Get really fucking good at something.  Become successful with it.  Then become passionate about that success.  And repeat.
  • Be You.
    • Ruffle feathers.
    • Piss someone off.
    • Love everyone.
    • Stand for something.
  • Stop posting about politics on Facebook.
    • No one cares.
    • There’s enough of that shit.
    • Endlessly sharing unoriginal content says more about you than it does the shared post.
  • Ponzi schemes are everywhere.
    • I will not join your fasting-cleanse diet.
    • I will not join your 10 member workout group to get sweaty.
    • #fitfam is the fucking worst family since The Waltons.
  • Detox from social media.
    • The NewsFeed will aimlessly consume you.
    • Most people are not that interesting (see endless shares).
    • Read a book.  Seriously, titans of industry – do you think they aimlessly consume shitty information that is DIRECTLY targeted for your consumption?  Facebook spends millions to engineer your addiction – congrats.
    • ‘Staying in contact’ is a bullshit excuse to not call someone.
  • And finally, I will dominate 2017.  Stay tuned.

Props to Grant Cardone’s ‘The 10x Rule’ for fueling this manifesto on a Friday evening – after back squatting, eating 2 pop-tarts, and benching – this came out.









Vulnerability – An Antidote to Addiction

“I’m truly proud of you Matt – you have a captivating personality and charisma that inspires and touches many, a natural gift and ability, which dependent upon how you choose, you have a nature to lead and inspire others.  Keep it up amigo and continue inspiring others – including myself”

Naval Academy Grad, Naval Officer and friend, Pat Jones

Words like these were so foreign to me.  I had been living for years in the darkness of my own pain and addiction in which compliments did not come often or, if I’m being honest, ever.

I did not understand how someone with such great accomplishments could possibly look up to me for inspiration.

However, this is how my story:

What it was, what happened, and what that narrative is like now.  Take the time to get a little perspective in to my journey, or not, whatever works for you is cool with me.

Well it all started off when I was a baby in 1980 something… Haaa, yeah right, if I started off there we would be reading my autobiography not a blog post.  I’ll spare you the monotonous detail.  It does make sense to mention a few points however, in hopes to add some perspective.  Middle class family, straight A’s, lived for sports, Varsity football as a sophomore,  college scouts, Dad says “no more football son”,  Son says “Well screw you then”, and enter resentment numero uno.

Now, don’t get me wrong there are so many things that added or directed my path but in the mind of a 15 year old my world had most certainly come to an end.  I did everything I could to get out of school early.  A’s meant nothing to me anymore.  I just wanted out.  The direction was gone.

Ah don’t let me forget to mention that during my football days I sustained a pretty substantial injury to my left shoulder.  This one earned me a ride in the ambulance and rushed in to surgery no more than two hours after the incident.  I have to bring this up because this was my intro to the wonderful world of prescription narcotics.

I went on to graduate from high school (barely) leaving all hopes of college in the dust.  Car sales were the life for me.  And, wouldn’t you know it, I was pretty good.  Making far more many than any 19 year old with no financial or budgeting ability ever should.  Guess what I did with all that money?  You’re damn right – I spent it.  BMW, GSXR600, 60 inch flat screen, and the best bro pad one could every wish for. And by bro pad what I really mean is party facility.

Now comes the part that used to be so hard to talk about – my addiction.

I wanted you all to know that (I got this, I’m ok, It’s not that bad, I’m only drinking, It’s just pain pills) I’m normal.  In all reality I was killing myself on a daily basis.  My disease (and yes folks it is a disease, just ask the doc, Okay) took me to a place that I wish upon no one.  Don’t get me twisted, I had some good times in the beginning.  Riding around in the GTI jamming to Sublime with the roof open at a buck twenty, but being progressive; that is my disease of  course.

12 years later, I became a homeless heroin addict living out of my car in Baltimore City.

Enter spiritual dude, I have no idea what his name was, where I met him, how long ago it really was, but I do remember what he said to me:

“Why is it so hard to surrender when you have nothing left to defend?”  

BANGER!  Finally, something that made sense to me.  I guess I was just done.  At that point I completely understood that there was no beating this thing.  I am NOT normal.  I do have a problem.  I need help.  I cannot do this alone.  Most importantly, I’m ok with it. For years I tried to fit in, tried to show “you” that I was ok, or put on a front that a pill junky isn’t as bad as a heroin addict (same damn thing BTW).  Finally, after years, I was ok with being vulnerable.  If your childhood was anything like mine then you’ll know that just wasn’t allowed in the house growing up.

So that’s what it was like.

What happened next?  Wait for it……. Wait for it…….

Surrender.  That’s what happened.  I finally got honest with myself and everyone around me.  I looked to the people that have come before me for advices and guidance.  Finally realizing that my strength comes from being vulnerable.  I could go in to more specifics for you, but really, that’s a whole other post.

Part of that surrender was to go into a long term, 1 year, treatment facility (Helping Up Mission).  Something that I was never willing to do in the past because remember, I got this.  Without a doubt that place saved my life.  They taught me how to live without the use of drugs and alcohol.  They taught me the value of surrounding myself with likeminded people. They gave me the foundation to be a successful, productive member of society.

What it’s like now?

Life is good.  By good I mean blessed.

I am truly grateful for what I have. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”. Oprah.  Honestly I feel like I have more than I deserve.  I still struggle with the “less than” attitude, but hey I’m working on it.  At the end of my ripping and running I found that I had $40k in medical bills, no license (they take that if you run from the police btw), no car, no job, prohibited from leaving Maryland, and no one that wanted to be around me or in my life.

Today – it is not like that.

Medical bills have been paid, the State of Maryland decided to give me my license back (questionable) and they even let me leave the state, now having two stamps on my passport.  With the license came the car. Love my job, and wouldn’t you know it I even got someone to say “I do”.  That my friends would mean that she’s bat shit crazy but that’s just what I need.  Seriously though her strength and support for my recovery is a huge part of what makes me who I am today.  This time last year we bought our first home together.  As my friend Rick would say “I’m finally adulting”.

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Me and my beautiful wife Misha

During my process of recovery I found that I still have a drive for athletics and in fact my life wasn’t over.  I picked up running.  Odd because I really just liked picking things up and putting them down but I found that it was a new kind of challenge.  For some reason I thought it was a good idea to sign up for a marathon just 8 months after my running journey began, and yes, I finished it.  Since then I have completed 3 marathons, 12 half marathons, 3 Ragnar’s (if you don’t know what that is Google it) and a few Mudder/Spartan races.  The running stories, yeah a whole other post. Oh and I say none of this to brag, but only to show that if I can do it, than anyone can.  Sometimes we just need to get vulnerable and ask for help.

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RAGNAR, DC 2015 – post race/200 miles, 36 hour relay

That job I spoke of that I love so much is with the Helping Up Mission as their Education and Workforce Development Manager.  This wasn’t my first job after graduating from the program however. I started out with MRIGlobalSearch an executive search firm.  Head hunter basically.  My group had a specialization in Engineering for Plastics Manufacturing.  Working with companies to help fill roles in engineering from hands on engineers to the heads of the department or division.  This opportunity taught me all about business, talent management, organization structure and so much more, giving me the skills needed to return to the mission and help them build and develop a program internally to help our clients obtain gainful employment. Talk about going full circle.

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First day back at Helping Up Mission


In September of 2016 I was humbled in my celebration of 4 years of continued sobriety.

That’s right folks, even a junky like me can learn to stay clean and find a new way to live.  Who knows what the future will bring, but I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to it.  If I keep my recovery first, continue doing the things that helped me get to where I am today, then all will be well.

Rogue One: An (Average) Star Wars Story

Sans a droid and the closing moments, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is an average movie.

Entertaining?  Absolutely.

Worth the price of the admission?  Yes.

Best Star Wars movie ever – f*ck no.

Force choke yourself if you exited the movie believing this idea.  Simply not having (mild spoiler alert) Jar-Jar Binks (I know Jar-Jar’s 12 fans are disappointed by his absence – again) ensures that Rogue One is better than Episode I & II.  Better than III, IV, V, VI, or VII?!  No.

Rogue One’s (R1’s) short comings come in the form of a rushed plot, simple script and dialogue, and bland presentation.  The only instances in which I sensed any emotional investment or gravitational pull towards a character was with thd entertaining drone (his witty one liners become stale by movie’s end) and nostalgic characters from other episodes.  Simply plugging an average script into the Star Wars universe does not make for a compelling movie.

You’re left wanting more.  Rogue One feels like Disney knew they needed to deliver ice cream but they gave us vanilla.  I like ice cream, however, it’s really hard to f*ck up ice cream.

Rogue One will satisfy your Star Wars appetite until Episode VIII – but, nothing more.

Fatty to Fifty: The Path to 50 Miles

This is a brief tale of why the hell I decided to run 50 miles.  Yeah, in one day.  With my feet.

Running 50 miles for me was/is a journey and to understand how/why I decided to do something so irrational, we need to rewind a bit.


By early 2010 I had lived in Baltimore City for nearly 3 years and had never had the need to see a personal physician.  However, a bad cold forced me to google ‘family doctor: Baltimore, MD’ and I found Vincenzo Grippo, MD.  During my first physical with my new eastern European Doctor, I had a very simple interaction – he diagnosed my illness and prescribed meducation.  He then glanced at my charts and asked me a series of questions:
‘Mr. Gowen do you smoke?’
‘Mr. Gowen do you drink?’
Yes, socially (that’s an aggressive socially between you and me).
‘Mr. Gowen do you exercise?’
When I can (never)
‘Mr. Gowen how old are you?’
‘Mr. Gowen you are kind of fat.  A young guy like you should be more healthy.  You need to exercise, ok?’

And there it was – my new eastern European  Doctor, who I had just met, told me I was fat.  It wasn’t great to hear, but the reality was accurate – I was fat.  I had seen pictures of myself over the last year and thought ‘man, those cameras make me look puffy.’  Turns out it wasn’t the camera but the amount of things I was shoving into my face while doing little to no exercise.  I mean, I was working for a food distributor and part of the job is tasting the food, and tasting the food, and tasting the food (French fries are so damn delicious but do we need to try all 30 kinds Jon?).  As I left the exam room that day I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror and immediately made a decision to change my lifestyle forever.

So what was I going to do to get in shape? Well anyone that knows my family knows that running is a way of life.  Both of my parents are accomplished ultrarunners and distance-running evets have been part of my life since I was a kid in the mid-90’s.  So, diet and running, the answers to my problems.

Lets be honest, running isn’t that much fun especially at the beginning.  Starting out I could only make it to Henderson’s Wharf (about .5 miles) from my house in Fells Point before I had to stop and rest.  Along my waterfront runs I would pick a lamppost just a little farther away each day to run to started setting daily and weekly mileage goal.  Pretty soon I was skipping happy hour to get my runs in (ok, just going to the bar a little later) and was knocking out 5-6 miles pretty easily.

The act of alone running didn’t get me to my goals –  it was a combo of diet and exercise (imagine that!).  Around this same point in time I came across an article on Deadspin.com written by Drew Magary about his recent battle with weight gain.

If anyone needs motivation to make a diet change in your life, give that a read.  The style of humor and personal humiliation resonated with me and maybe it will with you too. Really its just basic stuff.  Instead of chips –  yogurt.  Instead of french fries – grapes.  Instead of a sandwich – salad.  It wasn’t hard and by October 2010 I ran my first half marathon and my second came soon thereafter.


Blog proof that Pat Jones ran a half marathon more than once.  Richmond, 2010


Fast forward to 2014.

My running had progressed. I was coming off a good year in 2013, running my first marathon in October in a respectable 3:20. I began to realize something about running: it made me feel good. The physical act of running certainly didn’t, but the sense of accomplishment that came with achieving goals gave me an undeniable rush. I had completed my goal of running a marathon, so that was next?

SIDEBAR: In November of 1996 my dad competed in a little race called the John F. Kennedy Memorial 50 Mile Race, or JFK. Turns out JFK this is America’s oldest and largest ultramarathon, dating back to 1963. Since then he has finished JFK 16 times and my mom has 7 finishes under her belt.  JFK is held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving and has been a large part of my family’s fall tradition for two decades now.  It’s a pretty great event.

JFK 50 finish with my Dad, November 2014
At this point I had found myself spending the past few years of JFK Saturdays ‘pacing’ my dad along the 26 mile section of race still with no desire to complete the race on my own (‘pacing’ is just running along with a competing runner to help them stay motivated and on pace to the finish). However, 2014 was going to be my father’s 15th JFK which would put him in the 750 mile club (50 miles x 15 years, you can do the math) which is a hell of an achievement.

For my old man, his running had recently been plagued by personal health issues and I knew that if I ever wanted to run JFK and finish alongside my father, this would be the year to do it.

SOOO, fast forward to November 22, 2014 at 7:00am in Boonsboro, MD yours truly crosses the start line in the cold (I mean really fucking cold) with my mom, sister, and pregnant wife cheering me on. The race climbs quickly to the Appalachian trail and 14 miles later descends to the C&O Canal where you get the pleasure of running 26.4 miles along the flat and seemingly endless towpath. About 8 miles before the finish the race moves to the road, winding past farms and fields until eventually ending in Williamsport, MD. I won’t bore you with the details of the day, but I will say two things: 1) It was not easy. It was actually really, really hard and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to quit at times. It’s a long, agonizing struggle to get your body to keep moving for 50 miles and the pain starts to take a toll. 2) I will never forget it.

I shared a ‘passing of the JFK torch’ moment with my dad on the towpath section (he started the race at 5am instead of 7 so he was ahead from the beginning). I had the Gowen-family cheering section at the aid stations motivating me to the finish. And I spent hours alone on the trail wondering why I had decided to attempt this shit.

Seriously, somewhere past 35 miles going to the DMV sounds enticing.  However, NOTHING in the world has given me the feeling of accomplishment like cresting the hill on Clifton Drive in Williamsport and seeing that finish line.

I had really fucking done it – I ran 50 miles.

I ended up finishing 155 place out of 906 starters in 8 hours and 45 minutes. Now if you’re still reading I need to wrap this up somehow so…… what did I learn from all this? Well, as cliché as this is (and its really cliché but that’s why I’m a sales rep not a writer) running 50 miles taught me that through setting goals, anything is possible (if you read Greg’s post last week about powerlifting you’d see a very similar theme. Wonder why we are friends?). When people hear I ran 50 miles (maybe even you right now), they most often react with ‘you’re crazy, I could never do that’. Well, the crazy part may be partially true but the reality is that most of you/them could, it’s just about motivation and what goals you set out to achieve. Running taught me that goals are a huge driver for my personality and in turn goal setting has helped me succeed in my work and personal life as well.

So here I am in December of 2016 as the proud expectant dad of a second child and reveling in the glory of my 3rd JFK 50 finish 3 weeks ago. Do I love running now? Short answer: no. But it changed my life and there’s nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing on the Saturday before Thanksgiving than slogging through the woods of Washington county chasing another JFK finish line.

The image of the blog is the 2016 JFK finish.  It was sleeting with temperatures in the 30s.  I’m just that tough.

11 Essential Ingredients for the Perfect Brunch

Brunch without alcohol is just a depressing breakfast.  

-Abraham Lincoln


Wise words Honest Abe.

Well, what makes brunch the ‘perfect brunch?’   If you must ask, the following ingredients will get you on your way.

  1. Mimosas

    Add vodka.  Is it a ‘screw driver’ with champagne?  Is it a mimosa with vodka?  Who knows.  Who cares.  Thank me later.

  2. Bacon

    Sorry Vegans.  Sorry 3 Little Pigs.  This is a must.  And a lot of bacon too.

  3. Bloody Marys

    Rim the glass with Old Bay, add everything else in your kitchen and some vodka.  Stir with a stick of celery.  Look classy AF.

  4. Coffee

    A solid  pick me up in between those Mimosas and Bloodies and helps with last evening’s activities.

  5. Eggs Benedict

    Second to bacon.  Calories do not count and are not observed during the hours of  Brunch.

  6. Awesome Fu*king Friends

    If you do not have awesome fu*king friends, keep drinking No. 1 and No. 3 until your friends or company becomes fu*cking awesome.

  7. Mimosas

    In the event No. 1 was dismissed or skipped, here is a reminder.

  8. 90s Rap

    Perhaps you prefer something else?  Nickelback?  Creed?  No.  Not at brunch.  Blast Biggie and enjoy some nostalgia rhymes with your mimosa.  Here is a brief playlist:

    1. Notorious BIG – Big Poppa
    2. Warren G – Regulate
    3. Notorious BIG – Juicy
    4. Luniz – I Got 5 On It
    5. Notorious BIG – Hypnotize
    6. Notorious BIG – Mo Money Mo Problems
    7. Warren G – Regulate
    8. Tupac – California Love
    9. Snoop Dogg – Gin & Juice
  9. Soul Food

    Biscuits & Gravy.  Chicken & Waffles.  Grits.  Yes.  Yes. And yes.

  10. Lunch (I guess?)

    Lunch on the menu is like the red-headed step-child of the family portrait.  Sure, it’s part of the family but it really sticks out.

  11. Sunglasses & Advil

    You’ll need these for the following morning.  Trust me.


What did I miss?

Make Wrestling Great Again!

Hulk Hogan.  ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage.  Andre the Giant.  Ultimate Warrior.  Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts.  ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude.  The Undertaker.  Mr. Perfect.

Do those names look familiar?  If not, I am sincerely sorry.  If so, you had an amazing childhood – gold star unlocked.

Either way, at Renaissance Nerd we will introduce (or reintroduce) you to the nuances of professional wrestling.  This will encompass a historical perspective of wrestling as I knew it as a child with the names above, to the Monday Night Wars feature WCW and NWO, to the Ruthless Aggression era, to today’s wrestling.

“Pat, but professional wrestling is fake.”  Sure, Professional wrestling is predetermined; however, it is most definitely not fake.  Just ask Mick Foley how he felt after the Undertaker threw him off the Hell in Cell.  Predetermined, yeah.  Fake, hell no.

Pat – we need you to fall from the cage.  F*ck it, I’m out.

This brings it back to myself, and professional wrestling – why do I enjoy it so much?  The answer is simple, but innocent.  Of all the pleasures I enjoy, few connect me to my childhood.  Aside from the Baltimore Orioles, the one constant has and always will be professional wrestling.  I can, from memory, tell you the context of the time frame of where I was when random events occurred in the WWF.  Most importantly, I remember the first time I watched a Pay Per View, and  I remember like it was yesterday.  The 1994 Royal Rumble.

1994 Royal Rumble

“Don’t you ask your Grandmother if you can get that wrestling shit!”

I was told this as I was being dropped off at my grandmother’s house.  (30 minutes later)

“Bubbie (my grandmother is Jewish)…(all sheepish like a 9 year old would ask), can I, I mean, can we order the Royal Rumble?  I was told not to ask you…”

Sure as shit – she ordered it.  Something along the lines she was going to do whatever she damn well pleased.  Anyways….THIS WAS IT!  The 30 man over the top battle royal where the winner would go on to WRESTLEMANIA for a shot at the title.  Undertaker was facing Yokozuna (a morbidly obese Samoan who portrayed a sumo wrestler…WWF is not racially sensitive) in a CASKET MATCH for the WWF title.  Somehow this sumo wrestler was wearing the same strap that Hulk Hogan used to wear so clearly this sumo wrestler was as good as Hulk Hogan (according to kayfabe).

Well, the Undertaker was all ready to win and defeat the obese sumo wrestler until Mr. Fuji contracted 4098 wrestlers to prevent the Undertaker from winning the casket match.  Complete, and utter bull shit.  Then…the Undertaker ascended into the heavens (see below) and gave me nightmares for a solid week.  Hell, most likely until I was at least 24.

Nightmare inducing video – watch at your own risk

Then it was time for the MAIN EVENT – the ROYAL RUMBLE.  I must have watched this match at least 93 times in the weeks which followed.  Hell, it is predetermined AND I knew who was going to win, but I would watch anyways.  Big Daddy Cool Diesel would go on to eliminate about 18 guys and kick the shit out of these two dudes in cowboy boots and tight Wrangler jeans (The Smoking Gunns — get it? [sigh]).  But the big question on everyone’s mind – would Bret Hart (my favorite) return after injuring his knee earlier in the night in a Tag Team Match.  Owen (Bret’ brother) kicked his leg under his leg.  Got that?  Damnit Owen, you ruined it.

Owen Hart articulating kicking a leg under a leg?  I’m still confused.

Well, somehow some dude named Lex Luger who bored me to tears came out with his titanium plated bicep draped in red, white, and blue and would spoil the party.  He’d go on a tear and eliminate nearly everyone until my man Bret Hart hobbled down to the ring.  He must have taken some Aleve or a few Tylenol – something, but here he was!  And then it happened.  Bret and Lex tangled up, and went over the ropes…and boom both of their feet hit the floor.  At.  The.  Same.  Time.  Co-winners.  I was 9, confused, and pissed.  How could this guy cost Bret the opportunity to wrestle Yokozuna and his 23409 friends at Wrestlemania?

Oh well, I was hooked.  I was hooked prior to watching the Royal Rumble, but I sure as hell was hooked afterwards.

The 2017 Royal Rumble is in a few weeks, and there is one thing I know – Lex Luger better not come out and mess up this one for anybody.


Tuesday with TED – Army/Navy Edition

Technology.  Entertainment.  Design.  More affectionately known as, ‘TED.’  These ‘talks’ offer an engaging presentation of revolutionary ideas and perspectives from brilliant minds.

Each week, we’ll examine a TED Talk from TED’s expansive library of topics ranging from the annual TED Conference to locally, organized TEDx Events.

Befitting of Army/Navy week, we’ll look at General Stanley McChrystal’s talk on leadership and Admiral James Stavridis’ talk on global security.

Stanley McChrystal:  Listen, learn,…then lead.

  • And I saw my battalion commander, because I had let him down. And I went up to apologize to him, and he said, “Stanley, I thought you did great.” And in one sentence, he lifted me, put me back on my feet, and taught me that leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.
  • So how does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people you’re leading are doing? And it’s a brand new leadership challenge. And it forced me to become a lot more transparent, a lot more willing to listen, a lot more willing to be reverse-mentored from lower.
  • I came to believe that a leader isn’t good because they’re right; they’re good because they’re willing to learn and to trust.  This isn’t easy stuff.  It’s not like that electronic abs machine where, 15 minutes a month, you get washboard abs.  (Laughter)  And it isn’t always fair.  You can get knocked down, and it hurts and it leaves scars.  But if you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you up.  And if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

Of all the TED Talks I have listened, McChystral’s is by far one of my personal favorites.  The quote of ‘leaders can let you fail and not let you be a failure’ and ‘…if you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you up.  And if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet’ speak volumes.

When you’re entrusted to a program or project, the people in which you lead will fail.  They will experince short comings.  ‘Fail early, fail often.’  In the context of brainstorming orgenerating ideas for momentum, the more initial action created the greater the body of work one has to edit or revise.

Successful organizations encourage failing, but most importantly, failing without retribution.  The idea or notion of, ‘don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution’ is archaic and antiquated.  If an engineer has a problem but has one in which he is unable to solve, should that individual keep that problem to themself?  No.  Ultimately, open communication, transparency, authenticity will breed trust.  And trust is the lifeblood of any healthy relationship.

James Stavridis:  How NATO’s Supreme Commander Thinks About Global Security

  • My thesis is, open-source security is about international, interagency, private-public connection pulled together by this idea of strategic communication on the Internet.
  • It’s a perfect evocation of that great population survey, the six largest nations in the world in descending order: China, India, Facebook, the United States, Twitter and Indonesia.
  • …there will be times when we will apply hard power in true war and crisis, but there will be many instances, as we’ve talked about today, where our militaries can be part of creating 21st-century security, international, interagency, private-public, connected with competent communication.

  • No one person, no one alliance, no one nation, no one of us is as smart as all of us thinking together.

  • My thesis for you is that by combining international, interagency, private-public, strategic communication, together, in this 21st century, we can create the sum of all security.

Open-source.  This is the popular method in which problems are solved.  As alluded to by Stavridis, the military in its role must be flexible and agile to play the kinetic role it is designed, but also an expansive non-kinetic role which engages and leverages the capabilities of other agencies and entities.

‘Stove pipe’ is a common theme in organizations.  The more issues and problems are addressed by a broader talent base, a more efficient and better resolution is sure to rise.  The military and global security is no exception.