Soul Food for 9-11 Week: Transmuting Bad into Good

Happy Soul Food Friday!


“Be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul

means that you are still alive,

still human,

and still open to the beauty of the world.”

– Paul Harding

This week:

  • Delta Flight #15 on 9-11 (The Good News)
  • Empty Chair (On Character)
  • Latest PEW Test of Current Events (On Staying Informed)
  • How We Grieve (Learning to Live with Loss)
  • Enjoy Two Wonders of the World (Children and Animals!)
  • Let It Be… (From the Mouths of Babes)


Delta 15: The Good News. . .

Here is an amazing true story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11………..

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic on our way to Atlanta.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United

States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander , New Foundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander , New Foundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander .  There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new!  Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander . Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM! …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have.  The reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S.

There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were

only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word.  Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into

Gander ! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within MATCH about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.  Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise.  Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike.  He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the

hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.  He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers.  When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names,

phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

*If this is one of those stories that you feel needs to be shared, please do so…*


Empty Chair

Guinness “Empty Chair” salutes the character of a community as they honor one of their own who is out of sight, but not out of mind. They remind us that a true test of character is what you do when no one’s looking.

LATEST ‘PEW’ News IQ Test:

The test contains 13 straight forward questions, of current events, and it outputs the results in a number of ways. National results indicate that the majority of Americans don’t know what is going on in their country.  Are these the “low information voters” we have been hearing about? It is astonishing that so many people got less than half of the questions right.  The results say that 80% of the voting public are clueless about current events.  That’s pretty scary, but not at all surprising. There are no trick questions in this test — Either you know the answer or you don’t.  It will give you an idea whether or not you are current on your information data base.

How we Grieve. Learning to Live with Loss:

How We Grieve

Enjoy two Wonders of the World: Children and Animals!

Let it Be:

Thanks this week go to Larry H for continuing to send out positive stuff to share, my very empathetic daughter Aysha who played Let it Be on 9-11 on her way to school with love in her heart for those having a hard day, and to all of you that read it, live it and pay it forward!

Love IS All You Need…



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Soul Food Friday September 5th 2014: Labor Day and Harmonizing with Nature when you are Out of Your Tree with Wines and Grass

Happy Soul Food Friday! 

This week for your labor of love and love of arbor…


In the Spirit of Labor Day:

Robin Williams does it again

A Deeper Appreciation for the Story behind the American Flag

Harmonizing with Nature:

WHAT IF…playing outside nurtures your inner well-being?


16 Of The Most Magnificent Trees In The World 

How do I love thee, tree? Let me count the ways; you change carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breathe, you sequester carbon, and you provide shelter for countless critters. There are many reasons for which we should all be tree-hugging hippies, but we’ll focus on is how amazing some of them look.

Granted, not all of these amazing beautiful trees are trees (the Wisteria is a vine, Rhododendrons are shrubs, and bamboo technically belongs to the grass family), but we’ll give them a pass because they are amazing, huge and beautiful. So once you step outside and take a breath of fresh air, hug the nearest tree and say thank you!


Thanks this week go to Larry H, Will M, Darcy B, and those of you willing to labor lots, and go out on a limb for that which matters!

Pay it forward please!



“Your ability to positively influence the ideas,
ideals, attitudes and abilities of those around
you, determines your life, your leadership and
your legacy.” - Nancy Hunter Denney


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Your Soul Food for Friday Aug 29th 2014: The Platinum Rule & Aloha Spirit

Happy Soul Food Friday!



This week:

We all know the Golden Rule but how about the Platinum rule?
The Platinum rule suggests we “do unto others as others would have done unto them”

Treating people with dignity and truly understanding their circumstances is one of life’s greatest challenges and one of humanities greatest opportunities.

Here is a great example of this!

Sadly, our culture continues to reward Success over Caring and for most kids, this means Nice finishes Last:

What we can learn from Island Cultures:

Spending time in the island cultures (most have the happiest people according to the Happy Planet Index) we can learn from their common core and cultural norms -island citizenship behaviors eroded only due to outside intervention and the same plights that mess the rest of us up…

In Hawaii for example we all conventionally speak of the Aloha Spirit.

A deeper understanding of aloha connects with its real meaning as the joyful sharing of life energy in the present -think happiness meets vitality with mindfulness!

Ha’oli (Haulis- a derogatory name for white people) is derived from their observation that white people didn’t know how to breath properly and therefore lacked mana or energy/ki/spirit.

Here is a quick read on the deeper aspects of Aloha… 

9 Leadership Lessons from West Point:

(A submission)

Last week I had the honor and privilege to speak at West Point. After spending the day interacting with coaches, cadets and the USA basketball team, I learned far more than I taught. Here are a few of the leadership takeaways:

  1. It’s a Leadership Factory – Some factories build products. West Point builds leaders. One of the Colonels told me “The history we teach is about the people we have taught.”
  2. Leadership can be Developed – While the people selected to go to West Point have demonstrated leadership qualities during their young life they are by no means a finished product. Everything West Point does is geared towards developing these young men and women into leaders. Leadership is a skill and it can be developed. Your organization may not be West Point but you can invest in your people now and develop them into your future leaders tomorrow. I am a huge believer in leadership development programs and organizations that grow and develop leaders from within.
  3. Leadership and Service is a Choice – The young men and women who attend West Point made a choice to lead and serve. You and I can make the same choice each day. We may not lead and serve in the military but we can choose to lead our teams and serve a cause greater than ourselves.
  4. Leadership is Both Macro and Micro – Macro-leadership involves culture, vision, strategy, and the ability to lead at the organization level, while micro-leadership involves leading at the team and individual level. Macro and micro leadership require a different set of skills. When a cadet graduates West Point most are technically better at macro-leadership than micro-leadership. Like many leaders and managers in the civilian world they have to learn to coach, lead and build their team at the micro level. When thinking about your own leadership it’s helpful to think about leading at both the macro and micro level. Today more than ever micro-leadership is essential to build winning teams and organizations.
  5. Coaching is Leadership – Upon graduating from West Point a cadet will commission as an officer and be placed in a place to lead a platoon. They are advised at West Point to listen to the advice of their non-commissioned officer (NCO) who is often an expert at micro-leadership (coaching). I had an officer tell me that when he arrived to lead his platoon, his NCO coached him and gave him leadership advice behind the scenes that made all the difference with his platoon. It reminded of what my friend Brendan Suhr often says, “Coaching is leadership.” Brendan was the assistant coach to Chuck Daly for the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons and the original US Olympic Dream Team. Brendan wasn’t considered the leader but he coached up to the leader and coached down to the team. Because of him both the leader and the team were successful. Coaching is leadership.
  6. Vision is Powerful – I ate lunch with Gunnar Carroll who was the captain of Army Baseball team last year. Gunnar said to keep his team inspired during the year he would often talk about the vision they had at the beginning of the season. It’s a great example that one of the most important things a leader can do is to frequently share the vision and inspire everyone to keep moving towards it. When you keep your vision alive, it keeps you alive and energized.
  7. Failure is Necessary – At West Point everything is designed to make cadets fail. They know that through failure most cadets will become stronger, wiser and better. Those who don’t grow from failure are the ones who quit. Just like life it’s a weeding out process that separates the contenders from the pretenders. Everyone fails but those who learn and grow from it eventually thrive. Those who allow failure to define them and give up unfortunately don’t become all they are meant to be. Failure is a gift if you are willing to learn and grow from it.
  8. You Don’t Have to be in the Military to be a Servant Leader – Before I spoke to all the athletes and coaches I listened to Boo Corrigan, the West Point Athletic Director, give a speech. Boo has never severed in the military but he told all the athletes that his role was to serve them, create the right environment for them and give them what they need to be successful. It was honest, sincere, and a powerful display of servant leadership. You can do the same and implement the three greatest leadership strategies of all: Love, Serve and Care. Read The Carpenter to put this into action.
  9. Feeling is More Powerful than Hearing – It’s one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard.

 Applying Design Thinking in Schools:

It is a blessing to be able to work with progressive school districts like Vista Unified in San Diego where they are applying the model of DT x RC = TI

Design Thinking times Radical Collaboration equals Transformative Impact.

Here is some news on one aspect of their collective efforts…

Judge Higher Ed by a Schools Rankings, but Choose the Right Metric!

Here is a recent update on UC San Diego’s rankings focused on metrics that matter including Social Mobility and Service, not just Status and Success from Chancellor Khosla…

Once again, UC San Diego is ranked the nation’s best university by Washington Monthly. It’s the 5th consecutive year we’ve topped the list, with our ranking based on three categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.,) and service (encouraging students to give back to the country).

The Washington Monthly editor said: “Instead of promoting schools for how many students they exclude or how ‘prestigious’ they are, we give high marks to institutions that contribute to society, enroll low-income students, help them graduate, and don’t charge an arm and a leg to attend. These are rankings that colleges should be proud of, and the University of California-San Diego should be very proud for holding our number one spot for five consecutive years.”

We are indeed proud.

Today we learned that The Preuss School has been named the top “change-making” school in The Daily Beast’s “America’s Top High Schools 2014.” The Preuss School is recognized for our ability to prepare low-income and first-generation students for college and beyond. We also ranked among the top 100 in the College-Bound category.

And, earlier this month, the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked UC San Diego the 14th best university in the world for the second consecutive year. Our life sciences and computer science programs are ranked 11th.

We continue to show the world that UC San Diego is defining the future of the public research university. I am grateful for your ongoing support for the life-changing work we do. Thank you for all you do for UC San Diego.

All the best.


For further news coverage, see the following links:

  Pet Humor To Tickle Your Funny Bone:


If you are Local:

The Million Dollar Challenge

Thanks this week go to Mohit M, Larry H, Alan D, Devin V, Bob B, Chancellor K and those who live with the spirit of aloha everywhere on this island planet

Pay it forward!





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Some Lighter Fare of Soul Food for Friday Aug 22nd 2014

Happy Soul Food Friday!

This week:

  • Forrest Gump Stumps St. Peter
  • Lala the Penguin Goes Shopping
  • Cu Cu Cuddlies Too Cute Not to Share


Forrest Gump’s entry into Heaven…….

The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven.

He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself.  However, the gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.

Peter said, ‘Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can get into Heaven.’

Forrest responds, ‘It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir. But nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope the test ain’t too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was.’

St. Peter continued, ‘Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.


What two days of the week begin, with the letter T?


How many seconds are there in a year?


What is God’s first name?

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, ‘Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.’

Forrest replied, ‘Well, the first one — which two days in the week begins with the letter ‘T’? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow.’

The Saint’s eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, ‘Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one?’ asked St. Peter.

‘How many seconds in a year?

Now that one is harder,’ replied Forrest, ‘but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.’

Astounded, St. Peter said, ‘Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven’s name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year ?

Forrest replied, ‘Shucks, there’s got to be twelve:

January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd… ‘

‘Hold it, interrupts St. Peter. ‘I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind… but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let us go on with the third and final question.

Can you tell me God’s first name’?

‘Sure,’ Forrest replied, it’s Andy.’


exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter. Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?’

You are going to love this ….

‘Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,’ Forrest replied. ‘I learnt it from the song,




St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: ‘Run, Forrest, run.’


Give me a sense of humor,
Give me the ability to understand a clean joke,
To get some humor out of life.

runforrest lieutenantdan destinyforrest



This 10-year-old King Penguin was rescued from a fisherman’s line and refused to leave after he was healed. He was adopted by a family in a small town in Japan and became a beloved pet who has his own personal air-conditioned cold room. Lala is so smart – he walks to the fish store with his little backpack to shop for fresh fish every day. You are gonna love this little video!

Finally, too cute not to share…


Thanks this week all the pets that warm our hearts and hearths and the people who are kind to them.

Thanks Larry H for all this week’s submissions.

If only I could be the person my dog things I am…

Pay it forward!



“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting
something we don’t have, 
but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” – Frederick Koenig

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Soul Fueled Friday August 15th 2014

This week:

revolution or evolution as long as it has LOVE in it


Lost Soul:

Many of our souls were crushed with the passing of Robin Williams this week :(

Lipton (Inside the Actors Studio) reflected on Williams’ undeniable talent, saying, “Great comedians have to be great actors. And what does an actor do? He reaches deep inside his soul…and brings out something deeply mysterious, a total surprise. He could do that. He could do that as a comedian. He could do that as an actor. And when he reaches out and brings that out it’s unique. It’s something we’ve never seen before.”

To celebrate his life while mourning his loss here is a link on the Best of Robin Williams

Robin Williams asked about Heaven

Along with my all-time favorite, Robin William Improv on Golf (parental guidance suggested)

Putting your Heart and Soul into Your Work:

This is why I have been at Mission Fed for 12 years, working on purpose and changing the world- one person, one relationship, and one community partner at a time…here’s a beautiful video produced by our very own Robin Martin:

Getting out in CommUnity:

All give some. Some give all.  Now we must help them and their families.

San Diego Military Family Collaborative on KUSI News

Making a Difference, One Student at a Time- Pitch it Forward:

Helping high school students develop into leaders of the future
Young men and women of San Diego County are getting new exposure to principles of leadership in a somewhat non-traditional way. Pitch It Forward, a San Diego-based non-profit, is collaborating with high schools to challenge young athletes to lead more effectively in the environments in which they live, learn and play. Participants in the program meet monthly for leadership and teamwork education. The goal? To work as a team to create real and meaningful culture change in their schools. Learn more at

 What a great way to affirm diversity, promote understanding and honor differences:

Some of the Cutest Parenting Moments in the Animal Kingdom:

These will fill you with good cheer and help you dry a tear…


Thanks this week go to Robin Williams for decades of immense laughter and moments of intense sorrow, all those that work on fostering CommUnity, affirming diversity, & cultivating leaders, as well as this week’s contributors; Larry H, Heidi E, Dan E, the Mission Fed team & the SD Military Family Collaborative.

Please pay it forward. You can’t take it with you, but you can leave a world of difference behind…



“You rise by lifting others.” –Robert Green Ingersoll


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Soul Food Friday for August 8th 2014: One Word Essays + Advice for Kids on Making a Living AND Making a Life and more…

Happy Soul Food Friday!

“The moment that a child changes, the moment (s)he understands something, it’s amazing, and this transition happens right before your eyes…It seems like my heart stops every day” –Hirayama


This week: Move your Butt with…

  • Moving ONE Word Essays
  • Advice for (our) Children:
    • It is hard enough giving advice to any kids, let alone our own!
  • Do Confident Kids Have More Future Career Success?
    • The secret to success at work doesn’t seem to be about whom you know, or even what you know, but how you feel about yourself
  • Why Americans Stink at Math:
  • Teaching Teaching:
    • How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)
  • Higher Ed: The UC Global Food Initiative
  • Publicly Declare Your Appreciation for Someone:
  • If you are Local: Purpose Driven Branding
    • 2014 Symitar Education Conference Aug 25th thru 28th


One Word Essays

Click here!

Advice for (our) kids:

It is hard enough giving advice to any kids, let alone our own kids! As our sixteen year old plots his course, here is some advice from Dad.

What would you suggest?


Your theme: STRATEGIC Advancement not Reactive Response

Everyday ask yourself: “What am I willing to give up today to get to live my dream tomorrow?”

(if you are over 35 everyday ask yourself “What am I doing to live my dream today instead of putting it off for tomorrow”)


There are 3 kinds of people in this world

People that make things happen

People that watch things happen

People that wonder what the hell happened


If you want to be the first kind of person (a peaceful warrior not a victim) then read on…


“There are two educations: the one that teaches how to make a living

and the other that teaches how to live”

—Anthony DeMello


You must prepare for and be a student and practitioner of both; making a living and making a life

While this might make no sense now, as you look back you will realize that it will less about success and more about significance

Making yourself richer is sometimes viewed as success. Enriching the world is always a mark of significance


How to Make a Living:

Your Plan has 3 distinct phases

Phase 1 is through High School (the next 2 years)

Phase 2 is through College and any Specialized Education you need to fulfill your career goals (4 to 8 years)

Phase 3 is the Career Path you simultaneously walk and create for yourself (30 + years)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow.

Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers ? that’s you will hold twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime.


What happens in Phase 1 impacts all other phases…


  • Mindset- is important.

Becoming a lifelong learner and become the “go to” expert in your field(s).

Cultivate GRIT and Perseverance (Winners never quit and quitters never win)


  • Preparation

Proper Preparation Precludes Piss Poor Performance (the 6 Ps)

What you do today will impact what happens even years from now, so invest in your future success today

When you are doing something that you have to do but are not enjoying, say to yourself, “this is ok because I am investing in my tomorrow”


  • Differentiation

Continue to differentiate yourself by not just doing what is necessary but bringing the value adds of leadership, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and effective communication to the party. All things being equal this is why they will both hire and promote you, not just because of the technical skills necessary for the role but because people enjoy and value being around you (good energy)


  • Delayed Gratification

Winners consistently make a habit of delaying gratification today to reap the benefit of holding out for tomorrow.

Add this skill to your toolkit an you will be unstoppable (Note: this is a hard one for us impulsive types, who what it all and want it now…)

Note: I am not suggesting you deprive yourself of joy, fun, excitement and things that float your boat today- it’s just that our instant gratification societal norms will default to this mode anyway so build the opposite muscle


Phase 1: through High School

If you want to have the best options for the rest of your life, really make the next two years count!

Academically, the highest GPA and best SAT scores mean the most choices for you.

No one is asking for perfection but do strive for excellence

Excellence is different from Success. Success is always compared to others. Excellence is compared to YOURSELF.

You know you are excellent when you can honestly say, I gave the best of myself and have no regrets…


Round out your High School experience with Sport, Music, Community Service, Work experience, Volunteering in fields of interest, demonstrating initiative (I made something happen) Leadership skills & other activities that contribute to cultivating a well-rounded person


“Plan by priority work by opportunity”

Have a plan and work backward to achieve it AND at the same time stay open to new possibilities as they arise. No one can perfectly anticipate and predict the future, especially given the speed of change we are living in. Making minor changes multiple times gets you to where you are going faster than making big changes from one destination to another.


The road to success is ALWAYS under construction so if you get feedback (internal and external) that changes your opinion, remain flexible as it is hard to know exactly what you want at 16, 20 and sometimes even at 25 or 30, but if you are always course correcting toward your passions, talents and where there is a felt need for what you were born to do, you will be strategically advancing toward your dreams (choice and alignment) not reactively responding to the only options left in front of you (fewer choices and not necessarily good alignment)


For now, select the field(s) of study that resonate most

Learn as much about them as you can

Identify the best institutions that can provide you with the educational background required for these careers (not jobs). You are building a career plan not looking for a job

There are no best schools. There are only best schools for you.

Learn what they expect from you to get into their program and what you will need to get out (know the expectations)

Visit many, Apply to several, Choose wisely based on acceptance


Phase 2 is through College and any Specialized Education you need to fulfill your career goals (4 to 8 years)

Have a plan of attack and concentrate on your core goals, but build in flexibility so you are not boxed in, and looking back, regret the choices you made

The world is changing faster than at any time in human history. Be good with change, good at change and keep the change!


Phase 3 is the Career Path you walk and create for yourself (30 + years)

Make sure the jobs you apply for at the onset strategically advance your dream. Based on the market conditions, field, location and other factors this is not always possible

Every job will have set backs and limitations- that is why they pay us to do the work. Be clear-eyed and realistic about work while shooting for that dream job

Round out your vocation with avocational interests that fill your soul. (doing things that you would regardless of whether people pay you for them)



How to Make a Life:

Many of the noble values and core competencies mentioned above serve you in both areas

Your generation should NOT have to choose between ($) and (creating value)

If you can have a career that doesn’t force this devil’s bargain of doing something that matters v. making money -and you actually get paid to do what you love you are aligning your values with your work


Don’t rely on you work to make your life.

The people in your life, make your life not just work. Too many of us identify to completely with our work. Our Identity is not our Role.


Learn what you are and who you are beyond the roles you will play in your life (child, parent, job, student, teacher, leader, etc.)

Your true self is deeper and more permanent than any of these roles, but you must peel the layers of self to see within.


Stay wonder-filled and enjoy the journey.


Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones, lemons into lemon-aids, enemies into allies, traumatic experiences into learning moments that reset or reaffirm your moral compass and love, love, love.

…“The need to love yourself, is the greatest love of all”

Surround yourself with positive, like-spirited people that love you for who you are (who you know defines what you know and you are the average of the people you hang around the most so choose your company wisely)

Know in your heart of hearts, how much we love you!

Mom & Dad


Do Confident Kids Have More Future Career Success?


Why Americans Stink at Math:

While purportedly about Math or by extension Common Core, I think it is fundamentally about changing our systems thinking toward the very craft of the teaching/learning dynamic and what it means to be a teacher.

As a student, parent or teacher, I am sure you will find it insightful…


Teaching Teaching:

How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)


Higher Ed: The UC Global Food Initiative

For the 4th consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranked UC San Diego as the top university in the nation for social mobility, research and civic engagement. I am proud to serve on the Alumni Board of this student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented, public university. Here is how the UCs are focused on putting the world on a path to feed itself in sustainable and nutritious ways..

UC Global Food Initiative

Publicly Declare Your Appreciation for Someone:

If you are local: 2014 Symitar Education Conference Aug 25th thru 28th

neville symitar


Thanks this week go to wonderful kids & compassionate parents everywhere, Larry H, John C, UC in general, UC San Diego in particular, the Education Synergy Alliance, and practitioners of education everywhere!

Pay it forward, backward and sideways…




It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.   –Charles Darwin

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Your Soul Food for Friday August 1st 2014: Fostering a Sense of Purpose, Connection and Love All with the Spirit of Aloha

Happy Soul Food Friday!

On our recent family vacation in Hawaii, an article on The Doctor and the Kahuna ended with “while all cultures have gone thru conflicts, suffering and prejudice, the spirit of aloha has persevered!”

Here is some aloha spirit for you and yours, wherever you find yourselves…


Yes Hawaiian Airlines still let’s kids in the cockpit!

Captain’s hat in trade for Aysha’s dolphin seems like a pacific fair trade agreement to me…

This week:

  • Above All CONNECT! Forget Freakenomics, Try Surfenomics…
  • Our Sense of Purpose increases Longevity and is an Antidote for Stress
  • Connecting through Sport: Soccer Fever might have subsided but this Hero’s Impact hasn’t
  • Love- Introducing Non-Violent Marketing
  • It’s All in the Angle:
  • If you are Local: Speaking the SD Military Family Collaborative August 8th- Across California, the average number of military children per county is 1600. In San Diego? 60 THOUSAND

Above All CONNECT!

Forget Freakenomics, Try Surfenomics…

So about a week ago we are on island two of three (Kauai) in Hawaii vacationing as a family, decide to visit Poipu beach about 40 minutes from where we are staying, and snorkel for a few hours. At one point the boogie board that belongs to the condo we are renting, and took with us disappears…

My son Arman and I start looking for it, me somewhat speculatively since I didn’t exactly remember  what it looked like in the first place.

There was a stiff wind blowing so we guessed it had blown away.

Searching downwind ended up being fruitless, so we elected to walk in a different direction almost as a last resort before giving up.

Up ahead in the distance, behind some beach chairs and upside down, lay a boogie board.  I approached the women in the seat nearest to it and asked it belonged to them.

The man next to her, in sunglasses so I couldn’t recognize him, says “Neville Billimoria?”

It was Devin V. the Superintendent of Vista Unified school district- where as part of Mission Fed I serve about once a quarter with leadership and culture work for their 100 senior principals and administrators- and his family, vacationing in Hawaii!

I look forward to the complex calculus and probability modeling of what I am calling “boogie board surfenomics” in this connected world.

Why that boogie board “called me” to Devin is another deeper philosophical matter for another time…

Really freakin’ amazing!!

Our Sense of Purpose increases Longevity and is an Antidote for Stress

Purpose is not only good for the soul it is also good for the body!!

Connecting through Sport: Soccer Fever might have subsided but this Hero’s impact hasn’t

Do you know Nico? I didn’t until the Powerade brand made him a hero of him.

Love- Introducing Non-Violent Marketing

Yes I sign my emails with love. Maybe it is catching on…

It’s all in the Angle:

Cool Pics…

Click here!

If you are local: The San Diego Military Family Collaborative August 8th

Across California, the average number of military children per county is 1600. In San Diego? 60 THOUSAND

Mahalo this week go to NPR, Alan D, Devin D, Popeh Z, Moshe E, Larry H & YOU for reading this far and being soul-filled…

Fondest Aloha!


“ While all cultures have gone thru conflicts, suffering and prejudice, the spirit of aloha has persevered!”


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