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Don't give up on ideals

Peace on earth isn't simply a thought during Christmas time. It's a thought that can be had each and every day of the year.

Although I must admit peace on earth is idealistic, it isn't naive. What's naive is to believe that bombing people and their homes will solve problems. I would argue that it increases, exacerbates, and perpetuates our problems.

Being idealistic has been a part of me since I can remember. I don't know why it hasn't abandoned me. Perhaps it's my lack of spanking when growing up. Or it's my stubbornness as a result of that lack of spanking. Maybe it's the relative ease when working with other people. Or, despite challenges, how lucky I have been through much my life. But what I'm sure of why I'm idealistic is because I'm a bleeding heart.

A bleeding heart, a disparaging term used by some people, can be described as being emotional about issues. Well, I am an emotional person. That's because I'm a human being. …

Peace starts at home

When I speak about peace ☮, I often speak about peace all around the world. A world without war -- a topic I have studied all my adult life -- is a world that is truly heaven on earth. The economic savings would be immense, the social benefit immeasurable.

However, I'm more of a person who focuses on my own world, albeit my world is bigger than most. The ones beyond me belong to other people. So although I promote worldwide peace, I try to promote it through what little I can do each and every day with those I come in contact with locally, via travel internationally, and even through a screen with remote places thanks to technology. Genius of Peace is a written version of my daily efforts.

People say world peace is impossible. They say it's naive. But is it really? Success is likely in a household that prioritizes peace, because the effort is manageable and sustainable. A dream of mine is that everyone in the world tries to promote peace in his or her own household. Hug your …

Wanting more

Wanting more is living life. Nothing great is achieved by not wanting more. What I want to talk about today is wanting more but in exchange losing something else, something even more valuable yet taken for granted until it's gone.

If you have lived long enough you probably already know what I'm talking about. If you don't, I can only hope what I share briefly today will be of benefit in the near future.

Even though Sun Tzu lived 2500 years ago, his ideas remain useful because he discusses matters very few thinkers discuss even today. One of them is the concept of cost, namely high costs of taking on an important endeavor. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should. The cost isn't always of a financial nature but also a trust, duty, or humanity kind as well.

Life is filled with choices, some aren't even about being right and wrong but about who you want to be as a person. There will probably be a cost to being who you want to be, but the gain is you get…

No country for old men

"Dead leaves fall upon dead leaves." Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor

The business cycle repeats itself time and again. I'm not only talking about the ups and downs of corporations but also the individuals who play a part in those companies. But unlike going concerns which can be multi-generational, the certainty for people, no matter how rich and powerful they are, is they all end up in the same place in a relatively short time.

Ancient Rome was a place of indescribable power and wealth. Where is it now? But modern society isn't built like Rome. It isn't built to rule the known world, but geared to manage mundane product or process niches.

How sad when I hear certain individuals still clamoring for a little advantage here and there, continuing to harm others. They are old enough to know better but not young enough to care. They forget the principles of old, which ironically are often found in young children: play nice and share if you have more than you need.

Wha…

A war by any other name is still ignorant and lazy

When someone promotes "war," we all might as well replace the word with "stupidity" or "cruelty." If you want to be more kind about it, the word might be "ignorance." Like playing with fire, pretty soon you'll get burned. Each side tries to play tough until a bad mistake happens and many people get hurt or killed.
Even the logic behind war is misguided. Instead of ironing things out, let's all make it tougher on ourselves by killing each other to prove to the other side we are right. Let's not only increase the suffering of the other side but also our own. How dumb is that? Life is already hard enough -- there is no need to make it more difficult.

One side is always stronger. Let that side be the one with patience, understanding, creativity, wisdom. They aren't lazy. They know it's possible. They will go out of their way to get it fixed. The gains are immeasurable. They are geniuses of peace.

The importance of design

If something doesn't function well, how it looks is superficial and irrelevant. However, there are times when how something looks makes all the difference.

Take, for example, butterflies and ladybugs. Born in a third world country, I admit I'm not a big fan of insects. But when it comes to butterflies and ladybugs, I will go out of my way to admire them closely. I love them simply because of how they look. Why I don't feel the same way about a fly, mosquito, or cockroach isn't hard to understand.

Therefore, when you are trying to build something, such as a service or product, be sure to splash in some great design. Try to create a "Wow!" factor and make it look nice if you can.

Desktop computers used to come in predominately beige boxes. After all, computers compute. Who cares what they looked like outside. But one particular computer company called Apple took the extra effort to make those boxes look beautiful. They made other beautiful-looking products. Th…

Boat people and immigrants

A few people like to buy boats costing hundreds of millions of dollars. I like to buy memories.

My memories of Saigon are few but vivid and nostalgic. One of those memories was floating a toy boat along a stream. It might have a sail or it might not, but what it surely had was the ability to glide through an expanse of water so effortlessly. I was mesmerized. I was a boat person.

As one of the Vietnamese boat people who arrived in the United States under the Jimmy Carter administration in 1980, I was fortunate to see happy American faces when I landed in Puyallup, Washington, USA. Everyone was so welcoming. It was like Emma Lazarus's poem from the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

My account isn't an exaggeration, in case people today doubt how refugees and immigrants used to be treated.

Show enough love to speak up

As an adviser in a few of the world's most respected organizations, I nonetheless have witnessed countless times individuals being called a "problem" for not following instructions. The real problem, however, were the instructions themselves. They were ineffective, impractical, perhaps even cruel. Everyone who followed those instructions was hurting and struggling but only one or two individuals had the gumption to say there has to be something better.

This is life in a nutshell. From the moment children are able to interact with adults they are told to obediently follow orders. If they don't, they are punished. Then these kids grow up to be adults themselves working in companies that expect them to be equally meek. If they aren't, then they labeled as incorrigible and are reprimanded or fired.

Fact is, leaders in even the best organizations don't know exactly what is best. They try but it's a process filled with inevitable pitfalls. That's the reali…

Busy in business

Seems trite to say that in business, what is talked about is the never-ending effort to grow from the prior quarter, and if not, the prior year in the same quarter. For a stock price to go up, it isn't enough to make a billion dollars again like last year. You must make more.

When is it ever enough? What a hectic and stressful environment. But I am asking the wrong question. The purpose of business isn't to necessarily grow but to benefit society. Many businesses forget that fact. If people's natural demand for a good or service goes down, how in the world can a company's financial numbers improve? No amount of hard work can make them better. Even if the push for more effective marketing or cost cutting can negate the downturn, it would be temporary and ultimately unsustainable.

This is why companies, no matter how large, cannot last. The shift isn't caused by their lack of cunning and diligence as much as their lack of fit within the community, city, country. Unl…

Dog-eared

When it was past my son James' bedtime, he and I decided to dog-ear our storybook so we can continue exactly where we left off the next day. Below was our conversation the next day:
James: Where is the cat ear, daddy?
Me: Huh?
James: I mean where is the dog tail?
Me: Oh! You mean dog-eared page.
James: Yes, where is the dog-eared page, daddy?
Me: Somewhere in our Dog in the Hat book.