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Showing posts from October, 2010

What I Learned from My Mother

Today would have been my mother's 72nd birthday. While she passed earlier this year, she's still very much with me. As I celebrate her birthday and life today, I thought it fitting to share some of my memories of her with others. The following was originally presented as a eulogy at my mother's funeral on April 6, 2010.

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The temperature was 81° degrees when I got to the hospital on Friday afternoon, shortly after I received a call that my mother’s condition had taken a serious turn for the worse. It felt like a collision of opposites: my mom on her deathbed and a beautiful and unseasonably sunny day.

But then I remembered how much my mother used to love being outside and it all began to make sense. Whether it was planting or pruning, weeding or walking, or just enjoying the sunshine or a mild breeze, my mom came alive when she was outside.  So it was no surprise that my mother’s last day was also the warmest day of the year to date. It was as if the Earth and all of the o…

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (Book Review)

Excuse me one second while I send a message to my past self from 10 years ago: "Drop everything and go west and get a job at this new company Zappos."

Delivering Happiness is probably the most authentic business book I've ever read. It's not that the book tells the origin story of one of the coolest, most innovative companies (Zappos) in the country, although it certainly does that. It's not all the sound business advice and lessons imparted from Tony Hsieh, although there's plenty to consider in these pages. It's not even that the book is inspiring, although it definitely will make you believe that anything is possible again.

All those good elements aside, the book really resonated and stood out for me because every bit of it felt genuine and real. Tony Hsieh made the decision not to use an editor, and it really paid off. I felt no degrees of separation when reading this -- instead, the reading experience was intimate, as if the author was writing to me. …

The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider (Book Review)

Richard Leider has spent much of his professional life interviewing older adults over the age of 65 and asking them about their lives. Most people, the author noted, expressed that a feeling of purpose was vitally important to them. The subjects also expressed that they would have been clearer about purpose earlier in their life if they could live it over again.

On the surface, this makes perfect sense. We all want to live for something and for our lives to have meaning. Right? But if so, then why do only 20% of employees today report feeling passionate about what they do, as thinker and writer John Hagel contends? Where's the purpose?

Leider provides some guidance about what we're missing and what may help by examining the importance of purpose in The Power of Purpose. Unlike some texts that promise to fix everything that ails us, The Power of Purpose is more like a lamp, casting light in a previously darkened room so we can see the disheveled mess for what it is.

The text co…

Rules of Thumb by Alan Webber (Book Review)

One month ago, I'd never heard of Alan Webber. Today, I'm telling everyone I know to read his insightful and accessible Rules of Thumb.

For those who haven't heard of Alan Webber, he is the co-founding editor of Fast Company Magazine, and a former managing editor of the Harvard Business Review.

Rules of Thumb gathers all the lessons and pivotal stories he has learned through forty years of working in the public and private sectors. For example, Rule #9 tells us that "Nothing Happens Until Money Changes Hands", while Rule #45 reminds us that "Failure Isn't failing. Failing Is Failing to Try". For each rule, Webber tells us a story, of how he came by the rule and what he learned in the process.

The result is a fascinating and provocative text that's both a guidebook for business and entrepreneurs and also a revealing glimpse into the "value of experience and observation".

You can learn more about Rules of Thumb and Alan Webber at http://r…

Maternova

Earlier this year, I blogged about Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I mentioned that the text effectively revealed the widespread plight of women in the developing world, and issued a clear call for change through awareness and action.

Meg Wirth is one of those people who's responded to the call and is helping save lives. When Meg learned that pregnancy is a leading cause of death among women of childbearing age in the developing world (because so many women, quite simply, bleed to death), she took action and founded Maternova, an online marketplace for safe and simple birthing technologies.

Conceived as a media platform, Maternova is now focusing on core questions of supply and distribution.
What effective, low-cost tools (in development or on the market) can save mothers' and newborns' lives in low-resource settings?How and where should global health innovators direct their efforts?In low-resource areas, where do the facilities exist that can provide wo…

Of Superbugs and MRSA

I received a number of emails in response to my review of Maryn McKenna's Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA.

One of the most interesting and informative was from a microbiologist with direct experience working with Staph aureus and MRSA. I was grateful for the email and asked the individual if I could reproduce the comments here.

The microbiologist has kindly given me permission to reproduce those comments, but has asked that it be anonymous. I hope you find the information as revealing and helpful as I did.

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"I am a microbiologist. I wanted to assure you that Staph aureus and MRSA are the major pathogens that we isolate from wound cultures. Staph aureus is not always MRSA, but MRSA is seen in many of our wound cultures. We see several per day.

It seems that the diagnosis I have noticed on some of the cultures with Staph aureus is “spider bite”. Apparently this must be what it looks like when the infection is starting. We do those screening cultures where patients are cul…