Archives For Philosophical hoo-ha

This video is a from a really cool site, Brain Pickings. (Creative pals, bookmark it.) Click here to read and watch a great John Cleese creativity curation that Maria put up today. He quips, “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” Love it.

Man, Cleese could read a recipe and be fascinating, but this stuff is also valuable. His “let your mind rest against the creative subject” is great. Have space, time, time, confidence and humor. Be creative.

vit·ri·ol (vĭtrē-ōl, -əl)

    1. See sulfuric acid.
    2. Any of various sulfates of metals, such as ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, or copper sulfate.
  1. Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.

I grew up in a big family. There are seven of us Wallys, and I’m the youngest of five kids. From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, our Thanksgiving celebrations were big parties, with three or four families getting “gussied up” and spending the day together. Everything about it was big: the number of people, the quantity of food, the stacks of dishes, and the volume of the laughter. Within all the bigness, the biggest of the bigs was the sheer amount of joy on everybody’s face, from the Macy’s parade, to the meal, to the inevitable party crashers, to the end of the party cleanup. It was a very happy day.

There were four categories of people at these celebrations. 1) The Little Kids. There was one…me. 2) The Big Kids, which were all the brothers and sisters. There were about 15 of them. One by one, they all went off to college, so part of the terrific anticipation and excitement was because we’d get to have our families be complete again for a few days. 3) There were eight Parents. They made it all happen. In hindsight, the parents, and the Moms in particular, did a tremendous amount of work to make a beautiful sit-down meal for 30. It took days of prep. (Sheesh. Thanks, Moms.) 4) At the top was one grandparent, Grandma Lou.

Generally, the Big Kids would hang out together and drink beer and laugh. The Parents would hang out together and drink cocktails and laugh. So frequently, this resulted in The Little Kid and the Grandparent hanging out together drinking 7Up and laughing. She was grandmother to just a few of the celebrants, but still, everybody called her Grandma Lou. She was my great aunt. Since my grandparents were gone before I was born, Grandma Lou was as close as it got for me. She was an wonderful, special, happy woman. We named one of our daughters after Lucille.

There were too many of us to get a group photo every year. So the tradition became to take a group photo of the women, and then one with the guys and Grandma Lou. The one above is from 1974.

It seems the notion of thankfulness was in part driven by what The Parents had been through in their lives. The great depression, World War II, Vietnam, not to mention raising lots of kids along the way. I think those 20th century experiences, where tremendous loss and sacrifice popped up every couple of decades, gave them a greater appreciation for being alive, and on days like Thanksgiving, being together.

Time has, I’m sure, simplified my memories of the Big Day. But I remember that the focus wasn’t on gifts. It wasn’t about decorations. It wasn’t about things or stuff or fluff. It was about people. Togetherness. Spending time. Connecting. Hugs. Laughter. And recognizing that we’re damn lucky people who have a lot of good in our lives.

So it’s simple. Methinks our Thanksgiving job is to spread happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving.

Ben & Jerry. Procter & Gamble. Jagger & Richards. Hewlett & Packard. Abercrombie & Fitch. And now, Wallman & Savino.

Today is the day business historians will note that an amazing partnership was born, as Jennifer Savino becomes a co-owner in Knupp & Watson & Wallman.

Ta-daa! Huzzah! Hooray!

I’ve viewed Jen as my business partner since the day I bought the company two years ago. She’s been our Vice President, and has been a part of every business decsision that we’ve made. But formally, today she becomes an owner.

Jen and I have worked together for five years. I’ve always admired her incredible thinking, and have been relieved that it comes with great humility and humor. Our differing strengths greatly compliment each other, yet our values are the same: we work hard to nurture authentic relationships, endless self-improvement, positivity and doing what’s right.

I’m ridiculously proud of her. She’s a single mom, with two little boys who puts in a big week every week. To do so with a career in advertising is extra challenging, to say the least.

The name of the company will remain the same, as she has a much smaller ego than I. The day-to-day stuff will remain the same. But our ambitions, committment to our employees, and the success of our clients has greatly grown.

Cheers, Jen.

My dad always respected people in the service, especially those who “saw action.” This probably started from a guy named Grandpa Mallach, a Civil War vet in my dad’s hometown. He showed my dad how to whittle a whistle from a willow tree branch, the kind soldiers used in Civil War battles to signal to each other. When Grandpa Mallach died, the ground was so cold they had to blast dynamite to create a grave. The town turned out to watch a horse-drawn carriage carry his casket to the cemetery. My dad’s dad Carl was in World War I, but I don’t think he saw any action or went overseas. But I do recall Carl being a uniformed military man. And, my dad became an Eagle Boy Scout.

So when World War II rolled around, it seems as though some strong seeds towards the military had been planted.

Like most guys, my dad tried to enlist. He was greatly disappointed in failing the eye exam, as he was legally blind without his glasses. But he wasn’t ready to let a little rule keep him out of “the shooting war.” So he reinlisted, cheated on the eye exam, and became a soldier in the Army.

He was in battle for a little over 30 days. Nasty watching-guys-die-before-your-very-eyes kind of battle. Killing other guys kind of battle. Watching guys get hit with mortar rounds. Feeling bullets buzzing by your ears. Fishing dogtags out of foxholes. Watching Americans die from friendly fire. Watching your friends running scared to escape, and right into enemy fire. All in the freezing cold.

He got captured by the Germans, and spent about 6 months in 3 different prisoner of war camps. He said this was worse than combat. It was a different kind of battle. I think combat was more a physical battle, and being a POW was a more mental battle.

Between combat and camps, it’s amazing he came back on one piece, literally and figuratively. The fact that he came back, and was happily married to the same woman til the day he died, and raised five great kids makes the feat even greater. He had a good professional career, had hobbies and friends and golf and fun. But it wasn’t without challenges. Supporting five kids is a lot of work. But he did so with grace and aplomb, with goodness in his heart, in a positive, levelheaded way. To me, this was all rather remarkable.

Most remarkable of all though, is something that I’ve guessed: that he did all this despite living with the war every day. I really can’t see how anyone could experience what he did, and not think about it every day. That’d make 57 years of living with war in his head and heart, and he never really let it show. I can’t imagine.

My assumption is that anyone who has seen significant battle has lived with the memory every day. Those people deserve our respect, today, and every day.

Back on May 22, 1991, my wife and I spent a day in Savannah during our honeymoon. This last weekend, on May 22, we were back in Savannah before I gave a talk on social media, and we had a total blast. Here is what I learned, and/or what was confirmed from our first visit there back there almost 20 years ago.

– People in Savannah are very, very nice.

– Walking Savannah is a terrifically satisfying experience.

– Paula Deen is getting rich off making people fatter.

– Paula Deen’s fans don’t care about getting fatter.

– America needs to go on a diet.

– Everything (eating, serving food, walking, talking, and the general doing of things) moves slower in the south. I believe this is to conserve energy, and to not create any more heat. Things comparatively, and generally, seem to go faster in the north to expel energy to create more heat. It’s hot down there a lot. It’s cooler up here a lot.

– Grits are really good.

– The architecture and detail of the buildings has been fantastic for almost 300 years.

– Savannah’s policy of letting people walk about freely with Guinness in hand is fun.

– Spending money whilst shopping with a Guinness in hand is lots easier than without.

– Johnny Mercer could write the heck out of a song lyric, my huckleberry friend.

– I’m still crazy about my wife.

We have choice.

We can choose to be good. Or not. We can choose to help. Or not. We can choose to be happy. Or not.

But happy is not easy.

It’s hard to remain happy in the face of those who bring happy down. But we can. It’s hard to attempt happiness when the world does the nasty stuff that the world does. But we can. It’s hard to make happiness a focus.

And certainly, those with dark hearts can’t deny or deflect or drown our happiness.

So make happiness a focus. Make it a force. A force of happiness is hard to stop, because happiness begets happiness.

Choose wisely. Choose happiness.

Love this advice. Healthy stuff.