Thursday, June 28, 2012


With Nora Ephron passing away this week, I have to comment on one of her great movies.  I have watched the movie 'When Harry met Sally' numerous times.  I think the DH might consider it almost nauseating.  The dialogue, the interactions, the inserts of old couples who have been together for years and describing how they met, makes this movie wonderful to watch.  Yes, I do have the dvd and have even bought it for a friend to give as a gift.  You need to share the joy of the story.  I also like the character of Carrie Fisher as Sally's friend.  

The great story line was whether women and men can just be friends with each even if they find each other attractive.  That idea surfaced at the beginning of the movie and ran the course of the movie through the trails and tribulations of the Harry and Sally trying to figure out their relationship.  Of course the famous scene from the restaurant where Sally is faking an orgasm and the whole restaurant is watching is priceless.  My other favourite part of the movie is how Sally constructs and deconstructs a menu in a restaurant.  I am a big fan of 'everything on the side'.   

I found great quotes from the movie that captures key scenes.  These are my favourite to savour and enjoy:

Suppose nothing happens to you. Suppose you lived out your whole life and nothing happens you never meet anybody you never become anything and finally you die in one of those New York deaths which nobody notices for two weeks until the smell drifts into the hallway.

It's amazing, you look like a normal person but actually you're the Angel of Death.

No man can ever be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He'll always want to have sex with her.

Great! A woman friend... You know you may be the first attractive woman I have not wanted to sleep with in my entire life.
I had my dream again, where I'm making love and the Olympic judges are watching. I've nailed the compulsories so this is it, the finals. I got a nine eight from the Canadian, a perfect ten from the American, and my mother disguised as a East German judge gave me a five six. Must've been the dismount.
I'll have what she's having.
If you're there please pick up the phone, I really want to talk to you. The fact that you're not answering leads me to believe that you're a) Not at home. b) Home, but don't want to talk to me. Or c) Home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy. If it's either a) or c) call me back.
I'm definitely coming down with something. Probably a twenty four hour tumour they're going around.
You know I have a theory that Hieroglyphics are really an ancient comic strip about a character named Sphinxie.
I love that you get cold when it's seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.
RIP Nora Ephron

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I have been reading this book "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek.  It is an interesting book for a number of reasons. 

The book is about a way of thinking, acting and communicating that gives leaders the ability to inspire those around them.  The author provides a number of stories to illustrate the themes in this book about the way people advanced their ideas and their vision.  They inspire their industry, consumers, the nation.  Examples used include the Wright brothers (the first flying machine), Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, Dr. Martin Luther King, Harley Davidson, Disney, Southwest Airlines, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, Neil Armstrong and Sam Walton.

I have paraphrased a number of paragraphs and material from the book to illustrate some key points on leadership and vision.

Apple succeeded for a number of reasons.  Apple has been able to challenge conventional thinking within a number of industries, they started with 'why'.  Apple communicates the 'why' by stating "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo.  We believe in thinking differently.  The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.  And we happen to make great computers.  Wanna buy one".   Apple defines itself by why it does things, not what it does. 

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do. Why does your company exist, what is your purpose, cause or belief.  Why do you get out of the bed each morning.  Most organizations describe themselves as what they are or how they do it  
When you know the 'why' you do what you do, the next question is how will you do it. The hows are the values or principles that guide the 'how' to do things.  Finally the 'what' are the results of these actions.  The 'what' are the products, services, marketing, culture, etc.  The same person usually doesn't carry through the dream to a plan and implementation.  The leader will provide the 'why' and others in the organization will provide the structure to take the vision and make it a reality. One good example provided in the book was about Dr. Martin Luther King and his dream and his longtime friend and colleague Ralph Abernathy who provided the 'how' to realize the dream.  Two hundred and fifty thousand people showed up in the summer of 1963 to hear Dr. King deliver his speech "I have a dream".   Dr. King inspired people to change America.

You meet leaders and sometimes you say that the person has charisma or lots of energy.  They are different attributes. Energy motivates people but charisma inspires people.  Charisma commands loyalty.  Bill Gates is not an energetic public speaker but he inspires people.  Bill Gates had a vision for the way technology could make people more productive, make their life better.  He is actually using this same vision with the foundation he co-founded with his wife and is looking for ways to solve problems.  

How does change happen or ideas take hold?  Our population can be broken down into the following: the innovators - 2.5%; the early adopters - 13.5%; the early majority - 34%; the late majority - 34%: the laggards - 16%.  We can all sit at different spots on this spectrum depending on the product or idea.  

All leaders have to have two things - a vision of the world that does not exist and the ability to communicate it.  Our visions are the world we imagine, the tangible results of what the world would look like if we spent every day in the pursuit of our 'why'.  Leaders start with 'why' we need to do things.  Leaders inspire action. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Having a big bag of green beans from Costco makes me think of different ways to cook them.  I liked the combination of lemon, butter and chopped walnuts.  I also added chopped mushrooms to this recipe.  I added the mushrooms to the green beans simmering in the pot for the last three minutes of cooking.  I didn't have a fresh lemon so I used lemon juice and skipped adding the zest.

Green Beans with Walnuts
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
¾ to 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 ½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 lemon, juiced and zested
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Arrange nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven until lightly browned, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat water and green beans to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook the  beans for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender, but still bright green.

Place cooked beans in a large bowl, and toss with butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.   Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer beans to a serving dish, and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Adapted from

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I read this interesting book called "The Power of Habits" by Charles Duhigg.  About 40% of the things we do each day are based on habits, not deliberate actions or decisions but habits.  Our eating routines are based on habits.  We exercise based on habits.  Our work routines are based on habits.

How do you reshape habits?  Change is not always fast nor easy.  Any habit can be reshaped. 

At the core of every habit is a loop that consists of three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward.  The cue is the first part.  You get a get a cue, there is a routine or what can also be called a response and a reward at the end.

To reshape a habit you need to do the following:
Identify the routine
Experiment with rewards
Isolate the cue
Have a plan

An example I could use is that I indulge in a piece of chocolate several times a week about an hour after supper.   My routine is having the chocolate after supper.  So what is my cue?  It is boredom, wanting dessert, looking for a sugar fix or using the chocolate as a reward for the day?  And the reward?  It is the feeling of a blast of sugar, a distraction, the feeling of chocolate melting in my mouth?  To figure this out I need to experiment with the reward.  I need to figure out what cravings are driving this habit.  Which craving is driving my routine?  I can try different rewards including making a cup of tea, having gum, having some fresh berries, going for a walk around the block with the dog.  Doing different rewards also requires me to think about how I feel about having other rewards and if I still want that piece of chocolate after 15 minutes.  Doing this will help me isolate what I am really craving and why I desire the piece of chocolate.   

The next step is to identify the cue.  Almost all cues can be classed into five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people or immediately preceding action.  To identify the cue, you need to answer these five things when the urge hits to have the chocolate.  Once you figure out the cue you can shift the habit.  You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behaviour.   You can find a new routine.  Once you develop a new routine it becomes a habit.

If you are looking for a good book to read, I recommend Charles Duhigg's book.  He also talks about companies and how they have used the power of cues and rewards to shape our routines.