Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Energy for Change – Then and Now

Princeton President Goheen Confronts Student Demonstrators in 1968*
It was a daunting challenge: roll back the clock a half century to look at the forces that changed a great university…and almost everybody in it. But that’s what Princeton Alumni Weekly asked me to do in an article in its current issue.   
The spring of 1968 was a time of turmoil, much like today. Tragedy, anxiety, elation and struggle swept across the globe, generating massive amounts of energy.  Then, I was a college freshman, awash in an ivy-covered bubble in a vast sea of emotion.
This year, I interviewed several of my college peers to get their perspective then and now. It was an eye-opening experience that I had the privilege to share with PAW readers (and you!). 
In researching the story, I interviewed Robert Durkee, who was the student Managing Editor of The Daily Princetonian then and is Secretary of Princeton University now.  I asked him if he could think of anything that was better at Princeton then than now.
“No,” he said simply.  It reminded me about all the ways the world is better now – and gave me the hope that, eventually, today’s energy will go to making it even better tomorrow. 
* Photo: Princeton Alumni Weekly

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Saving Lives…Millions at Time

-- Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative
            Do you know someone who would like to change the world?

            One of the most powerful ways to do that is through public health policy.  And one of the best places in the world to study that is Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The school motto, “Protecting Health, Saving Lives – Millions at a Time,”  has been demonstrated over and over again since its founding in 1916.

            The school has just produced this great video on its Department of Health Policy and Management, which is the largest in the country.  If you or someone you know would be interested in learning more about public health policy, I invite you to share this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31t2itUi4bc

            Full disclosure: I’ve had the privilege of teaching there for several years and you might see a glimpse or two of me in the video!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Women’s Voices…And a “Blue Tick Hound”

Lee Conderacci getting "unstuck" in "Blue Tick Hound"
             At a time when national attention focuses on women and power, a key question arises: where do women get the energy to overcome the inertia that traps them in the old, male-dominated models?

            Playwright Audrey Cefaly explores this dilemma in “Love Is a Blue Tick Hound and Other Remedies for the Common Ache,” her award-winning collection of four short plays making their local debut in Baltimore and Washington.  It’s a refreshing part of the 2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a cooperative effort of 30 theaters in the area.

            Although the plays are about women, it’s easy for both genders to identify with “stuck.” All too often, even when our “comfort” zones are very uncomfortable, we back away from the challenge of moving beyond them.  “Blue Tick Hound” tenderly treats the fear and pain – and the fun and love – involved in the journey.

            Offered by Rapid Lemon Productions, “Blue Tick Hound” is appearing at Baltimore's Theatre Project January 12-21 and at Washington's Trinidad Theatre (Capital Fringe) February 9-17.  For more information and tickets, click here.

            And, speaking of good energy, my talented daughter Lee directed one of the short plays and acts in another!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stressed? Remember the Secret of the Bicycle

Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race -- Photo by Greg Conderacci

            Wanna be stress-free?
Sorry. Not possible. On the other hand, there are many ways to reduce stress.  I’m not talking about the stress that motivates us; I’m talking about the wasteful stress that just consumes energy and throws us off balance. 
You’ve heard many ways to fight this worthless stress: meditation, exercise, getting more sleep, single malt scotch…
            Here is one of my favorites that you may not have heard about: The Secret of the Bicycle.  I don’t mean riding a bicycle (which does work for me); I mean thinking like you’re riding a bicycle.
            In his great new book, Thank You for Being Late, Thomas Friedman writes, “There are some ways of being, like riding a bicycle, where you cannot stand still, but once you are moving it is actually easier…. We are all going to have to learn that bicycle trick.”
            Standing still on a bike is possible.  It’s called a “track stand,” because bicycle racers on a track use it as a tactic in some circumstances.  But it’s not easy.  And going backwards, which is some folks’ solution to stress, is almost impossible. Do that, and you’re asking for a fall. 
Yet, rolling right down the road…no problem. In fact, the faster you go, the more stable the bike. It’s called “dynamic stability.”  As Friedman points out, we don’t teach people this. But we should.
            What does this have to do with wasteful stress?  My argument is that a major source of stress is that we are not ready to go fast.
            A blogger buddy just shared a story of one of his friends who had to evacuate, unexpectedly, in the middle of the night in the path of the California wild fires.  He had almost no time to respond. Unimaginable stress. He lost almost everything.  His story is heartbreaking.
            And it reminded me of all the stressful “fire drills” I go through (on a much lower level, of course).  Why do I experience the worthless stress?  Because I am not ready to “go.”   I’m “off balance” because I didn’t take the time to prepare for a faster world.
            Most of the time, I can see the challenges coming at a distance – unlike the raging wild fire. I know when I have to go fast.  To use a homey bike metaphor, why didn’t I “pump up my tires and oil my chain”?  It would have made going fast so much easier…and less stressful.
            Often, the world offers a simple trade: spend a little time preparing and you get back a more productive, less stressful life.  It’s what the fast people do.
            When you need to go fast…will you be ready?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

John Fuoco: Living with a First Finisher

John Fuoco -- Photo by Andrea Matney
            John died Saturday night.
            It wasn’t unexpected.  He’d been fighting the cancer gnawing at his lungs for a half dozen years. 
            But to me, John Fuoco wasn’t dying. He was living. Cancer had many times pushed him to the brink and every time he had pushed back.  Long after others would have given up, John lived.  He lived through the unspeakable torture of countless procedures and chemotherapies.
            He lived to ride his bike, to treat hundreds of his patients, to attend his children’s weddings, to see his grandson born, to love his wife, and to inspire hundreds, perhaps thousands, of us. 
            Only a few days ago, he and I were swapping hopeful texts about riding together again this summer.  Now, we will, but only spiritually.
            Before cancer, John was one of the best ultra-distance cyclists in America. He won races stretching hundreds of miles. He rode among the best in the world’s oldest bicycle event, the 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris. He held the record for riding across Pennsylvania.
            After cancer, he applied his incredible energy, strength, sense of humor, and discipline to defeating his disease.  Toward the end, he told me he was “failing,” a term of art in his medical profession. 
            To me, John never failed.  In his favorite long-distance cycling sport, Randonneuring, there is no “winner” or “loser.”  But there is a “first finisher.”  And that’s what John was. 
            In life, like on the road, he finished ahead of the rest of us.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Keeping UP! -- The Four Kinds of Energy Every Board Needs

            Is your board running out of gas?
            Often, the key to a successful organization -- for-profit or non-profit -- is the energy of the board.   If you’re concerned that your board is low on “get-up-and-go,” check out this short blog post on the subject for the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Are the Energy Vampires Sucking Away Your Juice?

    Tune in to Peter Margaritas' video blog to hear our discussion about tips and tricks to boost your emotional and intellectual energy -- and fight off the energy vampires! See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucnfUqZyvK8&feature=youtu.be