My Ten Commandments of Social Media

  1. Thou Shalt Defend Thy Opinion with Evidence

Explanation: If you are passionate enough to have a strong opinion about a subject, then you need to be passionate enough to offer the evidence and reasoning that convinced you and made you that passionate. 

Sources/Additional Reading: A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston

  1. Thou Shalt Not Spread Anger & Hate

Explanation: Misery loves like-minded company.  On many occasions I’ve had to ask upset people to focus on what was said and not how it was said.  Oftentimes the message is lost and all people see is the anger or hate.  A better strategy to get your point across is to take a few breaths and think about what you want to say rather than posting a knee-jerk, emotional response.  Words matter and who knows who your words might impact.  We should instead strive to “create an environment in which information can flow freely, mistakes can be highlighted, and help can be offered and received.” (Simon Sinek) If you hate someone for something they said, then perhaps it best to take advice from Abraham Lincoln, “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.”

Sources/Additional Reading: Multiple Works by Simon Sinek

  1. Thou Shalt Scroll with a Forgiving Spirit

Explanation: It’s important to remember that everyone is on different levels of their journey of life.  This journey consists of a unique blend of information absorbed over their lifetime through what they’ve read, experienced, were taught, etc.  You are far more likely to get people to see your viewpoints if you don’t hold grudges and always approach your posts as educational opportunities.  Not just for the person you are attempting to educate, but for yourself as well!  You may learn something new or that you haven’t considered.  Just because someone disagrees with you does not make them a bad person.  There is a lot of wisdom and humility in acknowledging you aren’t always right and there is a lot of wholesomeness associated with forgiving others for not always being right.  Forgiveness does nothing to the person being forgiven, it does everything for the person that forgives.  Forgiveness releases the hate and animosity surrounding your heart and allows you take that person’s influence over you away. 

Sources/Additional Reading: The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews

  1. Control What You Can Control (Including What You Scroll)

Explanation: Instead of trying to fix the world, focus your attention on fixing your world.  Put your house in perfect order then strive to help your neighbors, friends, and family do the same.  Then maybe your county/parish.  Then maybe your state.  Then maybe your country.  The world?  If you positively impacted the previous five categories, then you are already positively impacting the world.  You can’t control events that take place, but you can control your response to those events.  And in many cases that response carries more weight than the event itself.  In terms of social media, you can’t totally control the algorithm that dictates what shows on your feed, but you can control who you follow, share, like, and pay attention to.  I never unfriend someone who I disagree with.  But if someone is consistently negative, pessimistic, and is impacting my mental well-being then I unfollow that person either temporarily or permanently.  It’s easy to criticize this broadcasted world, it’s hard to get to work in making it better by starting within your sphere of influence.      

Sources/Additional Reading: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

  1. Thou Shalt Remember That Life is Short 

Explanation: Social Media gives us an opportunity to show the world who we are.  What are your passions?  What do you love?  What are your hobbies?  What do you want to be remembered for?  If you go back and review all your previous posts, what type of person are you showing the world?  Angry?  Do you post too much?  Too little?  Were the last 25 posts angry and venting posts on politics?  If you die tomorrow and you leave this world behind, what legacy would you leave behind on your social media profile?  And how much time are you on social media?  There is so much more to life than our screens.  Limit the amount of time you spend on social media.  Find your balance.   

Sources/Additional Reading: Multiple Works by Ryan Holiday

  1. Acknowledge That Your Life Will Go Where You Point Your Eyes

Explanation: When I was a teenager my dad and I went shopping for my first car.  I decided I wanted a used Honda Civic.  All of a sudden, I saw Honda Civics everywhere!  What is on the top of your mind will show up and stand out more often.  If you skim posts on Facebook looking for comments that disagree, upset, and trigger you.  You’ll never guess what you are going to find!  What you input into your brain becomes what you think about.  What you think about becomes your expectations.  Your expectations lead to what you create.  What you create becomes your life and thus, your legacy.

Sources/Additional Reading: The Heroes Journey by Darren Hardy

  1. Thou Shalt Look in the Mirror and Beware Hypocrisy & Hubris

Explanation: When I was a child I came up with the phrase, “I would call you a hypocrite, but then I’d be a hypocrite.”  Remember this before you spread ad hominem attacks to someone that disagrees with you.  The more you post about politics the more likely you are of being hypocritical and eroding your ethos.  Quality is so much better than quantity.    

  1. Thou Shalt Prevent Slippery Slope Fallacies from Becoming Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Explanation: Our imaginations ride the dragon of slippery slope fallacies into the land of make believe when often times the truth is not as extreme and a lot more complex and nuanced.  But like many things if you speak enough about something it becomes someone’s reality.  If you are speaking about a slippery slope fallacy repeatedly then you are looking for that fallacy to become truth.  Like mentioned in Commandment #6 pay attention to where you point your eyes.  And don’t make assumptions.      

Sources/Additional Reading: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz     

  1. Diversify Thy Network & News Sources

Explanation: Review your friend list on Facebook.  Do you have a mix of races, ethnicities, religions, political affiliations, sexual orientations, professions, etc.?  Review the people you follow on Twitter.  Are they all like-minded individuals?  If you are not getting a diverse range of people with unique characteristics and personalities, then you are creating blind spots.  If everyone agrees with you then that only provides confirmation biased information.  It might make you feel better, but that equates to a false sense of security.  Situations are complex and it’s important to put yourself in other people’s shoes and envision the world through their eyes.  If you get all of your information from one news source or multiple news sources that lean a certain way politically, then those news sources can influence your opinion and thus your action and thus who you are. 

Sources/Additional Reading: Think Again by Adam Grant

  1. Thou Shalt Listen to and Trust Subject Matter Experts

Explanation: Often, we give our two cents about a subject and cite certain pieces of information that confirm our opinion rather than what is actually the truth.  If I wanted to know more about wetlands biology, I would reach out to my friend who is a wetlands biologist.  Accounting?  I would reach out to an accountant.  But every subject can be dived into so deep that you can get lost, so we have to trust experts.  Many of the brightest people in certain areas are silent because they are afraid to take the step out into the spotlight.  We have become so visceral.  We can verify the information against other sources, but that one person on YouTube doesn’t stand up to a professional who studied for years in college, obtained a master’s degree, conducted study after study, and peer review after peer review.  If professionals have differing stances on something; rather than picking a side that fits with your preferred narrative, accept that the issue is complicated.  Most things aren’t simple like our brains desire.

Sources/Additional Reading: The Social Dilemma on Netflix    

In Summary:

I. Thou Shalt Defend Thy Opinion with Evidence

II. Thou Shalt Not Spread Anger & Hate

III. Thou Shalt Scroll with a Forgiving Spirit

IV. Control What You Can Control (Including What You Scroll)

V. Thou Shalt Remember That Life is Short

VI. Acknowledge That Your Life Will Go Where You Point Your Eyes

VII. Thou Shalt Look In the Mirror and Beware Hypocrisy & Hubris

VIII. Thou Shalt Prevent Slippery Slope Fallacies from Becoming Self Fulfilling Prophecies

IX. Diversify Your Network & News Sources

X. Thou Shalt Listen to and Trust Subject Matter Experts

-Bradley C. Bertoniere

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Interpretation of Current Events: 1/11/2021

Left Leaning Ideology:

-It was worse and more violent than we thought

-Sharing picture of cop laying lifeless and getting beat by rioters walking by 

-Highlighting dichotomy of police response in comparison to BLM protests/riots in the summer. 

-Arnold Schwarzenegger compared to Kristallnacht

-Nancy Pelosi stated “chose their whiteness over democracy”, requested Pence invoke the 25th amendment, if he doesn’t, drafting and presenting articles of impeachment this week

-Big Tech and Social Media waited too long to lock down Trump and his followers. 

Right Leaning Ideology:

-Wasn’t as bad as we thought, mostly peaceful

-Sharing memo from DC Mayor stating they will not be supporting protest with additional officers

-Comparing to BLM protests/riots in the summer stating those were more violent, using examples of businesses and churches being lit on fire

-Some Republican lawmakers siding with impeachment, others argue it would only further divide

-Big Tech and Social Media are too powerful and must be regulated, dangerous precedent.  

Bradley’s Interpretation:

-We should not downplay the heinous acts committed by the rioters that entered the capital building illegally.  They should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and many have already been arrested.  Yes there were many people that gathered peacefully and did not storm the capital.  But obviously whatever their intention of being there was overshadowed by the actions of the rioters. 

-There was definitely a difference in police presence at BLM protest/riots in the summer and police presence during the protests/riots of last week.  Whether it was a staffing issue and horrendous oversight by DC leadership OR the fact that cops agreed with some of the rioters and took it easy on those that entered illegally by letting them past I believe there is a lot to learn here.   If there is a huge protest planned it’s probably a good idea to increase staff.  And also many of the police officers probably voted for Trump and agree with many of the protestors.  Obviously if their ideology gets in the way of their duty then they are subject to disciplinary action or termination as determined by the police code of conduct policy.  But given the rhetoric used last summer of “defund the police” by those in the far left and “blue lives matter” by many on the right, it’s an understandable assumption to believe that more officers voted for Trump than Biden, perhaps including officers in the DC police.   

-Comparison to Kristallnacht is a bit of an exaggeration as that event resulted in synagogues and businesses being burned and Jews being deported into concentration camps.  More of an emotional point than a logical one as it might have felt the same, but was far from it. 

-The 25th amendment will most likely not be used to remove a lame duck president with 10 days left in office.  Impeachment at this point may be warranted for the passion and vigor of Trumps speech that stoked many emotions that led to the travesty of last week, but this would be another dangerous precedent.  It would speed up proceedings of impeachment as typically these last longer than 10 days.  With Twitter banning Trumps main communication channel with the general populous this move seems like it’s leaning more vengeance than justice, but arguments can be made on both sides and I don’t have the right or wrong answer to this.

-I absolutely believe big tech and social media require regulation.   Twitter currently uses the their employees (who are human’s with their own cognitive biases) to determine whether something has broke their standards and this has shown to be lacking in consistency.   A government regulating body must be established to ensure these companies are being consistent in enforcement of their policies.  Conglomerates, once illegal, now own the computing power and are arguably more powerful than any government of the world.  Although private companies can censor whom they please in accordance with their policies, our communication channels have become so intwined with the usage of said technology that the line of dividing free speech and big tech/social media censorship has become blurred and we must tread carefully.  

*Please note these are merely my interpretations of recent events.  As I am human I have my own cognitive biases.  I am also ignorant to much in this Information Age and strive to be open minded.

-Bradley Bertoniere

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall

What transpired yesterday was despicable, but not surprising.   This was done by a group of people that are close minded.  There’s a difference between being ignorant and being close minded.  Being ignorant means, you don’t know something.  Being close minded means, you are choosing to be ignorant about something.  In this day of near unlimited information, we need to prioritize what we can and cannot be ignorant about.   We must be open minded and listen.  Otherwise, our ignorance will be our doom. 

I truly believe we need to be open minded and listen to the concerns people have.  Truly listen to them and their experience.  We are unique human beings with unique upbringings, experiences, and lenses in which we view the world.  But that involves reciprocity.  You have to be willing to let go of what you think you know and consider that you may not be correct.  It takes humility and it takes courage.  But it opens the door to wisdom.  

From everything I’ve read Biden won the popular vote.  If there were instances of voter manipulation it was not enough to overcome the number of votes that was received by Biden.   The string theory of ‘they used COVID19 to do mail in ballots, which resulted in fraud’ was not substantiated in the court of law even in instances where Republican judges appointed by Trump saw the evidence or lack thereof.  If you want to argue about passing legislation about ballot harvesting, I would be all for it.  If we want more voting personnel to count votes quicker, then it would require a raise in taxes and budget for these governmental departments to hire more people or pay them overtime.  Of course, if they requested this we would yell “socialism” and vehemently vote against it.   The argument that it never takes this long to count is accurate, but we’ve never had to deal with a global pandemic before.  

A pandemic that is still denied even as family members and friends are impacted.  A disease where the focus is on survival rate and not on pain and suffering and long-term effects that are perhaps unknown.  Not on the doctors and healthcare workers that have been battling this crap for months.  Thank God America has developed a vaccine for said disease, but with it has brought a logistic nightmare in its distribution.  Of course, if enough individuals aren’t close minded on vaccines to begin with.  

Yesterday may have been the most unifying event that has occurred in recent memory.  But it unified people against Trump.  So, if you’re going down with the ship that is your prerogative.  But just know people like him don’t age well in the annals of history.  It might be in your best interest to stop and be still for a few days.  Because nothing in this life is black and white.  Everything is as complex and complicated as the cells that make up the tiniest fibers of the universe.  And as individual human beings living for a short while on this planet; we better start looking through the world with that lens.  Because what if… and hear me out here… Trump didn’t actually win.  What if he called a blue ball a red ball over and over and over again until the psychologist points to you and asks, “what is the color of the ball?” and you instinctively say “Red”?  The ball is still blue despite what you now believe it to be.  

I’m worried about communism, socialism, and the rise of China just like you are.   I believe capitalism is still the best way forward.  But our capitalist economic system has become flawed.  The speed of technology and computing power allowed certain people to take advantage and rise to wealth, power, and influence in unprecedented, compounding efficiency.  The wage gap is growing exponentially.  The premise that private citizens can own stock and grow their own wealth is true for some, but the top 10% control 70% of the US total wealth and the top 1% control about 30%.  Now I’ve been trying to establish a personal development business to coach and mentor people that can “play the game” correctly and there’s certainly a balance between ownership of one’s life circumstances and being squeezed into desperation.  I don’t think people should ever take on a victim mentality, but I also believe that rising taxes, rising costs, rising healthcare costs, rising natural disasters, rising excuses from insurance companies as to why they won’t pay claims, and just overall greed has eroded the integrity of our economic system.   Maybe… just maybe… taxing people at higher rates that make over $400k per year isn’t such a bad thing.  Chase the profit.  And again, I understand how P&L analysis works.  I understand wages are the most expensive “liability” and every law that gets passed that raises the wage increases that bucket. But the wealthiest amongst us are not doing enough.  They could pay more taxes, they could donate more, they could stop fighting government institutions tooth and nail for everything that they are trying to accomplish.  They could stop paying lobbyists and lawyers to waste the taxpayer’s money in ridiculous arguments over petty and minuscule differences that benefit themselves. 

But we the people have got to stop the bickering and fighting.  As we fight, the rich get richer.  As we yell, the wealth gap grows.   As we type, corruption takes root.  Wealthy, government, lawyers, lobbyists, news channels and around and around we go!  News corporations are owned by the wealthiest among us.   They concentrate on the smallest percentage of negative news and pepper spray you over and over and over until you are shocked into clicking on the headline.  Then they show you an ad to monetize your attention.  You can’t become part of the solution and run for government office without funding from the rich.  We are not each other’s enemies, but make no mistake… we do have enemies. 

And those enemies were watching with glee yesterday.  They watched the America they hate have their capital building overtaken.  They watched a divided country’s hate spill over into animalistic and grotesque behavior.  You may have rooted for those individuals that stormed the capital building, but just know it was a devastatingly bad PR issue for the USA.  We are all connected by the internet and the world is watching.  While you yell at the idea of globalism at least you can acknowledge that we represent 330 million of 7.5 BILLION humans on the planet.  Therefore, if the opinions of said billions are directed to our 4.4% with a negative connotation then that may create some real problems for us in the future.  Are we to be the moral beacon of light, shining for all the world to see?  Or are we going to turn our backs on a world at one of the worst possible times in the history of humanity?  If your ego and testosterone infused anger leads us to believe we can just bomb our way out of this, it may behoove you to rethink that strategy.  The battle for the soul of the Earth isn’t found on a battlefield made up of grass, hills, and trees.  The battles now are found in who has the better hackers.  And I understand your proclivity to believe conspiracy theories and you believe there may be some validity to what is shared, but if there are hackers spreading this at an attempt to dilute our understanding of truth then you are eating out of the palm of our enemies’ hands.  We have to stay vigilant.  We have to be open minded.  And we have to stick together.  United we stand, divided we fall.  How many times can we get back up if we fall?   What are we willing to endure to continue this miracle of an experiment that has led to this incredible time of abundance for the human species?   You don’t need to get on a plane and fly across the world and give your life in the name of freedom.  You just need to open your mind, push down your ego, and listen to your fellow human.  You might be surprised to learn we are more alike than you were led to believe. 

-Bradley Bertoniere

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The Prioritization of Ignorance

In 2016 Elon Musk and a group of sociologists, biomedical engineers, and brain specialists founded the company, Nueralink.  The company is designing a chip that can be implanted as a “digital layer above the cortex.”  The whole premise is to further the capabilities of the human brain.  They aim to help people with brain diseases or disabilities first and then move on to human enhancement.  They are hoping to keep up with the extreme and inconceivable levels of Artificial Intelligence and computing power that exist in the world today. These levels of technology have long since passed the abilities of the brains of homo sapiens.  While this goal may seem scary and something out of a science fiction novel, the alternative may be much worse.  We live in the “Information Age”.  Where highly advanced devices can connect with other highly advanced devices across the world in an instant.  We can search for almost any known piece of information that any human as ever learned ever.  So how we do prioritize what to learn and know?  What information is more important to know than other information?  This is how I initially looked at this issue.  Humans are limited in our capacities to know things.  Making it a tough decision on what to spend our time learning about.  This past election and viewing both sides’ interactions on social media has led me to understand the issue differently.  It’s not about prioritizing what you know.  We need to prioritize what we can and more importantly what we cannot be ignorant about.  Some might take offense and state they aren’t ignorant.  The definition of ignorance is “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.” (New Oxford American Dictionary).  Trust me there is plenty you are ignorant about.      

Social media platforms use algorithms to determine what shows up as we scroll.  It uses data (what you search for, what you like, what you share, what you pause to view, what you click on to view more information, when you do all of this, etc.) and it calculates what it thinks you want to see.   (Check out “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix). And it includes ads, which goes through the same gambit of questions to determine when you are more likely to buy something.  Many people have manipulated the algorithm by simply unfriending people with different opinions than them. You click “like” on something a politician says and share a picture or meme from a political group, and you run the risk of getting confirmation biased information as opposed to the full picture.  We have to be radically open-minded in the information age and must not rely on the misleading headlines that are designed to drive engagement (and profits) and not provide accurate information.  All too often I’ll read a shocking or engaging headline and then when I click in the article, it directly contradicts the headline!  In one instance on CNN I clicked on a headline and when it brought up the article the article had a different and less misleading title.  Seeing this trend has me deeply worried. 

Knowing that we have limited capacities in our brains we have to prioritize what we know.  More specifically we need to prioritize what we do not know.  What particular topics we are ignorant about.  I’ve studied financial services, human resources law, leadership and personal development.  If someone asked me a question about personal development, I can help them or reference someone or something that can.  If someone asked me about the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, woman’s reproduction, or the genetic mutations of contagions I would be hopelessly and hilariously ignorant.  The beginning of wisdom starts with admission of one’s ignorance.  I need to trust experts on these other topics because I know I am not the subject matter expert.  Now many people will see that 90%+ of a certain professional group agrees on something, but instead of accepting the 90%+, they read an article that confirms their own opinion of what they believe is the truth.  I have the great fortune of knowing a diverse group of friends and acquaintances that includes, but is not limited to; scientists, election personnel, lawyers, retail leaders, accountants, doctors, financial services, pharmacists, logistics specialists, teachers, and federal employees.  I trust these individuals to do their best.  Now some professions lend themselves to disagreement like scientists and lawyers.  Scientists can disagree from time to time, but the consensus eventually is reached.  They embody one of Amazon’s leadership principles which is “Have Backbone, Disagree, and Commit.”  Once an agreement is reached, you commit to that agreement and move on.  Even if the battle was fervent.  But knowing how passionate these individuals are gives me confidence and faith that they are going to know a lot more about subjects than I ever will.  Admitting this can be humbling, but it’s true.     

One of the biggest issues this country is facing is broken trust.  And I’m not saying you should trust others to the point of being naïve or gullible.  I agree with the old adage that we shouldn’t assume.  I’m saying there’s only so much you can know.  Now if the issue of race comes up and you perceive there being no issues whatsoever, but you don’t make an effort to look at things from another person’s point of view, then your perception is biased and ignorant.  It’s impossible to put ourselves in another’s shoes and look at the world through their lens, but we can try.  And through that effort we become more empathetic, we listen, we learn, and ultimately, we can grow.  It’s a tough task to strive to overcome 188 known cognitive biases that our brains contain.  If you look at the social unrest the country has faced this past year and you chalk it up to “the media did it” or other conspiracy-based arguments that these movements were perpetrated solely because it’s an election year, then I’m willing to bet you haven’t reached out to someone that differs in opinion than you.  Just by reaching out and asking them to talk about it and beginning the dialogue you can begin the process of seeing a glimpse of the way they see the world.  Not aggressive, heartless, instantaneous meme-sharing, but actual human interaction.  And listening to your fellow person.  Can you imagine? Wouldn’t you like it if someone else did the same for you?

In most instances the subject being discussed has been overly simplified.  We simplify things, so that we can limit the amount of brain energy we expend towards a certain topic.  I’m not accusing people of being lazy it’s just the way the brain works.  That’s why we can’t remember simple stuff like what we had for dinner last Tuesday.  Our brain treats short term memories much like a computer treats RAM (Random Access Memory), it uses it temporarily and then dumps it once the task it completed.  Take any topic and there are oversimplifications.  Climate Change.  This is one where the 90%+ of scientists are in agreement and yet many people refuse to agree or acknowledge that humans have made an impact on the Earth and the environment.  In 2020 alone we’ve had so many storms in the Gulf of Mexico our naming conventions were running out.  The fires burning on the West coast and Colorado have been more widespread and intense as ever before.  Yet we see one article that says, “Nope humans are perfect and they didn’t do anything wrong” and we say, “See!  It’s fake!”.  Meanwhile insurance premiums skyrocket, homes and livelihoods are destroyed, biodiversity gets ravaged, and wetlands continue to erode.  A state passes a law to try and reduce plastic and they become the laughing stock of the country.  Perhaps instead of climate change we should refer to the issue as “Human Impact”.  Then we can turn from a science issue to a math issue.  Earth has a finite amount of resources and a finite amount of landmass.  If human population is at 7 billion and continues to climb in countries like China, India, and now Africa then what does that look like in terms of fossil fuel consumption in 2050?  If you don’t trust the scientists then do your own arithmetic and see where it lands.  Now combating this crisis is very complicated.  We must balance keeping people safe currently while progressing towards more innovative and renewable energy sources in the future.  This is the intricacy of the political argument where republicans argue we can’t switch off our dependency on oil and gas like a light switch.  Where democrats argue we need to be more aggressive in this progression.  But if there is misinformation spreading about the importance of the issue in of itself then we aren’t arguing semantics, we are arguing as to what is reality.  My grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law drowned in their attic during Katrina.  They perished alongside another 1800+ people who lost their lives.  In 2016 in Louisiana they experienced “a thousand-year flood” causing $10-15 billion dollars in property damage, with over 146,000 homes being damaged, and at least 13 deaths.  My brother’s house was spared, but on the worst day they evacuated via boat from their home.  Several of my friends lost their home and would spend the next 1-2 years rebuilding.  In 2018 the Camp Fire that ravaged Paradise, CA claimed the lives of 86 people.  We can chalk these natural disasters up to God and ignore the science, but that won’t help us deal with future events.  This is why I invested what I could into Tesla and why I purchased a Tesla.  Because I truly believe actions speak louder than words.  This is especially true about politicians.  Don’t listen to the rhetoric, watch what they do. Now I understand I am blessed and not everyone can afford to buy a Tesla. Another approach would be to purchase local produce from a local farmer’s market. Not purchasing fruit that has shipped across the world. You could shop local small businesses as opposed to Amazon. You can buy American if you live in America. You can recycle. You can plant some fruits and vegetables on your land if you have it. I highly recommend this as gardening is quite therapeutic. Especially in the screen addicted society we live in today.      

Human Impact on the climate is just one topic and I barely scratched the service of the intricacies involved.  We have to continue to learn and to grow.  We have to read books.  We are living in separate realities right now.  And it’s all based on what you hear, watch, and read.  By limiting what you hear, watch, and read to what you already “know” is resulting in you stifling your growth.  You are being close-minded.  And this goes on both sides.  One side looks at the other and says “I cannot believe they believe that.  They are so stupid!”  Which side was I talking about?  Why are their such divided sides to begin with?  We should probably look at ways of stopping there from being two sides and instead make decisions on specific issues based on overall consensus.  Maybe we should have a ranking system on presidential candidates like Andrew Yang described?  All I know is if you side with a certain political party regardless of what they say then it isn’t a political party, it’s a religion. And this isn’t a new concept. “Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.” -Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers #1, October 27, 1787. Have we not grown in 233 yards? Genetically very little has changed between humans that live today and humans that lived thousands of years ago. Are we engulfed with our ego to the point where we think we are better than the humans that lived before us? The extreme right and the extreme left is growing as the country becomes more polarized. But we better all start becoming extreme moderates if we are going to actually solve any of the plethora of issues facing us as a country. To look at an issue and strive to solve it. To disagree, have backbone, but then COMMIT. Not try to “win”. Not try to defeat the other side at all costs. While we are squabbling like chickens our enemies are circling above us. There is a famous psychology experiment where participants were asked to count how many times a team passed a ball. The participants focused hard on the video watching the kids passing the ball and counting. After the video ends they ask how many passes. Then they ask, did you see the gorilla? The participants were like… wait, what? While they were so focused on kids in white shirts passing a ball back and forth and kids in black shirts passing a ball back and forth they missed a person in a gorilla suit walk into the frame, bangs his chest while looking directly at the camera, and then walk out of frame. They were so focused they missed it. What gorillas are we missing while we fight one another?  

We cannot afford to be ignorant towards the global pandemic.  Herd immunity hasn’t been confirmed.  There are multiple strains.  Something I’ve heard touted by a lot of people is the death rate.  This isn’t like the common cold.  This isn’t like the flu.  This is something different.  And the long-term effects are not all worked out yet.  Sure, you probably will survive if you are in good health and younger, but there could be new issues that arise from complications to this thing.  There are so many unknowns.  Please listen to scientists. Please get vaccinated with a vaccine that has a 95%+ efficacy. If you don’t think it’s legitimate than reach out to an epidemiologist, or your doctor, or a healthcare worker. Not a random person on the internet. Not a person in a YouTube video. There’s a difference between being ignorant and being close minded. Being ignorant means you don’t know something. Being close minded means you are choosing to be ignorant about something. In this day of near unlimited information we need to prioritize what we can and cannot be ignorant about. We must be open minded and listen. Otherwise our ignorance will be our doom.  

We need to listen.  We need to be aware that someone’s reality is different than our own.  I can’t reiterate this enough; this applies to all of us.  Are you a human?  Then this applies to you.  Just because your reality has led you to the point where you believe you know more than them doesn’t mean that’s true.  We have a common enemy.  That enemy is social media companies structuring algorithms to fuel the division of our reality.  That enemy is news outlets eroding trust by posting misleading and biased click-bait headlines.  That enemy is foreign governments that invest money specifically to push ads through social media to divide and destabilize us.  That enemy is the ultra wealthy with poor morals that influence all of the above. How do we battle these enemies?  We aren’t going to pick up a rifle and ammunition and go gather and march on a foreign adversary or at a social media’s headquarters.  We battle these by knowing that they exist.  I’m sure many people have heard the old line, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people he doesn’t exist.”  We are not each other’s’ enemies.  We need each other.  I need you because I am painfully aware of my cognitive limitations.  And perhaps, you need me too.  And that’s why I wrote this.  Jordan B. Peterson once said, “When you have something to say, silence is the lie.”  I will strive to not be silent any longer.      

-Bradley C. Bertoniere

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Why I Bought A Tesla

When I was a kid I use to tie a sheet around my neck like a cape and run around the house pretending to be “Electric-Man,” (my super hero name). Electric-man had the ability to control electricity and shoot lightning from his hands. That’s not why I bought a Tesla, but it’s a memory that popped into my head while writing this.

In 2010 I traded my 2000 Chevy Cavalier in and purchased a 2010 Honda Civic. My intention was to spend 5 years (60 months) paying off the Civic and then driving it for 5 years without payments. During those 5 years I would save money for a down payment. For the past few years I’ve been having an internal debate on which vehicle to purchase as my next vehicle. I wanted something higher up like an SUV or a Truck because I didn’t like how the Civic would scrape the bottom when driving up a driveway that had a steep drop off. I also wanted a safe ride because we now have a son. In addition I wanted a vehicle that I could purchase gardening supplies like wood, mulch, etc. But… in addition to this I wanted an electric vehicle. In 2015 I downloaded and listened to the audiobook “Elon Musk” a biography that went into the creation of Tesla, SpaceX, and Elon’s life. I immediately began purchasing Tesla stock and I’ve been a shareholder ever since. And so I’ve gone back and forth on Truck or Electric Vehicle. (Unfortunately there isn’t an electric truck mass marketed yet).

I conducted a lot of research and analysis and this summer I’ve increased that analysis to a borderline obsession. After my analysis the Tesla would be more expensive in the first year and increase my monthly payments (fixed costs). However, it reduces variable costs (gas, oil changes, etc). There will be slight electrical bill increase charging the vehicle at home, but most estimates have this charge being about 25% the cost of gas. Now when you take the analysis and extrapolate it over the next 5 years, the Tesla is actually cheaper. Move it to 10 years and even more so. Although the excitement of owning a “luxury car” with incredible technology did influence my decision, at the end of the day it came down to an ethical and financial decision.

I hope by going Electric I can be the first of many of my friends and family to make the switch. The initial price is daunting and the monthly payments do look menacing, but knowing I’m switching variable costs to fixed costs and putting myself in a position to save a lot more after 5 years has me excited.

Although my imagination isn’t as vivid as it was as a 6 year old running around with a sheet tied around me, I still imagine a future where we can both improve the economy and improve our technologies to reflect more sustainable and renewable resources. For me, Tesla represents the perfect example of the types of companies we should invest in and believe in.

Now the news is quick to point out flaws with Tesla’s, and every crash seems to be headline news. But if you look at the data and statistics, they are some of the safest cars you can drive.

I’m excited to embark on this new adventure and I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on this experience.

Here are some other factors that played into my decision:

-I’ve been very good at keeping my cell phones charged, so I think I’ll do a good job charging my car. 🙂

-Rebates: $2500 CA State, $1875 Federal, $600 from Energy Company.

-I searched vigorously for negative reviews and they were few and far between.

-A neighbor bought one about month ago and absolutely loves it. I saw him outside with his Model 3 and went over and introduced myself and we talked about it. He said he’ll never go back. He has a couple young kids and bought it for the safety features.

-In California every time there is a vote to add a tax on gas or cigarettes it passes, so gas will continue to increase here.

If you have any questions about the Tesla Model 3 please let me know and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. Just email

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Gain Wisdom, Then Take Action

A man became aware that he wasn’t spending his money wisely.  When shopping at the grocery store, he would just buy things without looking at price, purchase his items, and then would go on his merry little way.  When he became aware that he was spending too much money he decided to pay more attention.  So, during the next visit to the grocery store he got his cart and began walking through the aisles comparing prices and sizes and quality.  When he wind up in the freezer section, he saw a bag of frozen zucchini medallions on sale for $4.99, originally $5.99.  He decided to purchase them.  On his way to the checkout counter he had a thought.  What if there is a sale on fresh zucchini in the produce section?  He walked over to the produce section and saw that they were being sold for 2 for $4.00 and looking at the ounces he approximated how many ounces 2 medium sized zucchinis would be.   He found that the fresh zucchinis were a better deal.  He returned the frozen ones and kept the fresh ones and checked out.

A few weeks later the same man was walking around the local farmer’s market on a beautiful Sunday morning.  At a corner booth there was a vendor with large wooden tables set up and they were selling plants.  He read a sign that said “Zucchini Plants $2.00”.  Wow!  He could purchase a plant for the same price as a single zucchini at the grocery store.  He excitedly purchased the plant happy to go home and plant it in his backyard. He would be able to turn that plant into dozens of zucchinis!  The vendor noticed the man’s excitement and smiled.

A couple weeks later the vendor was walking around his farm at his zucchini plants.  He was searching for something very specific.  He would brush leaves aside and then keep walking, talking to himself and shaking his hand.  Then he found it.  A very large and hard zucchini with a dark green color.  “Yes!”  He thought to himself.  He cut the zucchini off the plant and brought it back with him.  He then cut the zucchini open and took the seeds out.  He dried them and then stored them in a safe spot.

8 months later the vendor took out a little pouch of seeds he had labeled.  He took out the seeds and planted them in little containers. He had 40 small 2-inch pots and in each one he put a seed. He had them placed in full sun and watered them consistently each week. When the plants were about 6-8 inches tall with healthy looking leaves, he loaded them all up in his van along with his other plants. He drove them to the Sunday farmers market and put them out on his wooden tables with a sign that said, “Zucchini Plants $2.00.”

When you gain enlightenment and wisdom about a certain subject you are given a certain power. With this power you can take action and use that wisdom to create. When you create you add value to others dependent upon where they are on their own journey of enlightenment. This example is about the humble zucchini, but you can apply it to a lot of facets of daily life in a consumer culture. What wisdom will you gain today on your life journey? And more importantly, what actions will you take as a result of that wisdom?

Posted in Debt, Finance, Gardening, Inspiration, Motivation, Personal Development, Self Reflection, Success, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Method Worked For Me.

$50,000 in debt between the student loans and credit cards. Every other Friday my paycheck would enter my bank account and I would go through which bills were due and make payments until a little bit was left. That $100-$150 would be my gas and food budget for the next two weeks or 14 days. That’s less than $10 per day.

I knew I had to get myself under control. And so I when was recommended to read Dave Ramsey’s “The Complete Money Makeover,” I dove right in. And little by little I paid off my debt. It took about 7 years, but it’s done. None of my credit cards hold a balance. My car is paid off. I am in essence… free.

All of us can get there if we learn how money works and if we apply these principles to our lives with consistent and disciplined effort.

If you are in debt and are struggling each and every week to survive financially. Then I implore you to check out Dave’s program. It’s incredible and I highly recommend it.

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Is Success in the Eye of the Beholder?

To some, success is fancy cars, big houses, fat bank accounts, and popularity. And I think a lot of people would agree. They see a super skinny model or a famous actor and feel as though that person represents success. Sometimes someone’s status isn’t what it appears to be. Famous athletes wind up broke after their playing careers are over. Sometimes people buy houses and cars they can’t afford and put themselves in financial turmoil. Other times people appear to be in perfect relationships on social media and then as if out of nowhere they update their status to divorced or single. That owner of the hot new sports car? May go home to a run down house. (Knew someone who did this)

Success isn’t in the eye of the beholder. Success comes from within. You can be very successful and not be famous. You could be a millionaire and live in a modest house in a normal neighborhood. That person driving the old clunker station wagon? Could own a $50 million dollar revenue generating coffee company, unbeknownst to anybody. (Knew someone who did this).

Success is thinking of a way of bettering your life situation and then executing that vision into reality. Your vision of success may be to be debt free. Or you might envision owning your own home as making you a success. Maybe you want to be a master in your field. Or maybe you want to live a healthier lifestyle.

In Matthew Kelly’s book “The Dream Manager” he discussed the 12 categories of life: physical, financial, emotional, professional, material, legacy, character, psychological, intellectual, spiritual, creative, and adventure. Some people may be successful in some categories but not others.

I measure success as getting better. This time next year, if I’m smarter, have more money, experienced new things, am more physically fit, etc then I am a success. Everybody has different interests. We probably score higher in some categories and then less than others. The definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

What will you accomplish today? I’m what category of life will you make better today? And if you try a little to get better every day… you can Be Successful Daily.

Posted in Inspiration, Motivation, Personal Development, Self Reflection, Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Single Push-Up

Depressed… overweight… weak. I stared disgusted at the reflection in the mirror and asked, “what in the hell happened?” It was November 21, 2018. After a few more moments of turning around and looking at my physique from different angles I stopped the mini-pity party and got in the shower. After awhile my mind started to wonder. I had a crystallizing moment where several ideas that have been floating around in my head finally got aligned. I had just finished reading Jordan B Peterson’s “The 12 Rules of Life,” the day before. I had read Andy Andrews “The Travelers Gift” and Darren Hardy’s “The Compound Effect” several times each. Rule #4 from Jordan Peterson’s book was “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” Andy Andrew’s book gave the first principle of personal success, which is “You are responsible for where you are in life based on your choices.” Darren Hardy’s book states that “small, almost unnoticeable changes, applied consistently over time, equals miraculous results.” And in that moment in the shower it all became clear…

I wasn’t happy with my physique because I knew I had made poor choices. Choices of eating and drinking too much and not being disciplined when it comes to working out. I also knew that it wouldn’t help to compare myself to others and how ripped they looked because I can’t control what they do. And I also knew that if I made a change, I would just need to apply it everyday, little bit little… and later a miracle might happen.

So I exited the shower and dried myself off. Got dressed. Got down on the ground and did 1 single push-up and 1 single crunch. I went to a notebook I had and marked the date and what I did. I pushed the snowball off the top of the mountain. I took the first step. It may seem stupid. Not even worth the time. But I knew the truth. This was going to be special.

The next day I got down on the ground and did 2 push-ups and 2 crunches. Then the following day I did 3 and 3. 4 and 4. And I increased by 1 rep each day for 100 days. I kept going. I added more exercises. Squats, bicycle kicks. 200. I added planks. 215… and counting.

I’ve lost 14 pounds since I started. I have a strong chest and core. I like the reflection I see in the mirror now. My workout now only takes about 10 minutes per day. That’s it. I’ve achieved incredible results in averaging less than 10 minutes per day.

It doesn’t take a life shattering moment to change your course. It doesn’t take a huge, momentous, and improbable luck to strike you. You just need to decide to take the first step. First it takes focus to know what you want to achieve. Then it takes discipline to stay consistent over time. First others might question what you are doing. Then later others will wonder how you did it.

What first step are you taking today?

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A Lay Off Story

Wednesday 11/30/2016

Our VP called the management staff in for a mandatory meeting at 2pm. Everybody was in and settled by 2:03pm. The VP informed us that our biggest client has decided to no longer do business with us. This includes all projects including 33 employees that work at our client’s location and 67 employees in several of our locations across the state. The client had posted a really bad fiscal year and the writing was on the wall for a long time. We just didn’t know it was possible. After all, we had been partners in business for 10.5 years… Ending a relationship like this is closer to a divorce. After the management meeting (that included 2 Managers and 2 Supervisors working on projects for this client) ended we immediately called a meeting with all staff working for this client.

The angst was palpable. The nervousness and shuffling in the seats was quite apparent as the almost 50 employees filed into the break room and took their seats. After everyone was seated, it was time to talk…

The VP stood tall and proud and looked at the faces of the employees. She told them the news and the bitter truth. She explained the client had decided to no longer do business with us after 10+ years of working together. She also explained that upper leadership will do everything in their power to add as many jobs to this branch as possible. She also explained that adding 50+ jobs in a 30 day period of time wasn’t feasible. She told the employees to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I couldn’t help but admire her courage.

I fought tears while standing up in front of those 50 souls while the VP explained their future would include turmoil and unknown challenges. This client was the VP’s legacy. She had started the business relationship with this client and it was her that created this much business and revenue for our team. After 10.5 years… gone. A bitter divorce, a sad end. And yet, she stood there in front of the 50 souls (that represented a lot more people if you include their families) and explained to them that we failed. And maybe we didn’t fail, maybe the client failed, but regardless of who we put the blame on, the situation remained the same.

Monday 12/5/2016

Thursday and Friday of last week were somber and difficult to deal with. Right on cue the employees were the ones that stepped up and decided to make “light” of a very difficult situation. They began hanging up Christmas lights, wreaths, Santa’s, candy canes and any other decoration they could get their hands on. They wouldn’t let this terrible news derail their holidays. We haven’t found out much since the initial meeting. We know that these types of contracts usually have a 30 or 60 day contractual agreement to “sunset” the projects.

Many employees began calling out sick. If they get laid off they don’t get to keep sick time, so it’s a natural reaction. It was hard to put on my tie and drive to work this morning. I did so with the idea of “the show must go on”. I know from my experience in retail with restructures and adversities that I could help the employees that were being impacted by speaking to them. I know a lot of inspirational quotes, stories, wisdoms and lessons that could be beneficial for them during this difficult time.

Unfortunately I didn’t even get to start the day before hearing from the employees of the fading client that there isn’t much work available. Several employees saw the work load and wanted to leave for the day. A couple actually did. Even with the limited workloads the employees began to slack off. They took longer smoke breaks and more trips to the bathroom and break room. They moved around from cubicle to cubicle talking to their coworkers, not knowing how long they would hold that title.

The Managers and Supervisors were worse for wear. They didn’t know how to lead the team through these turbulent waters. One of them remained silent, with teary eyes for most of the day. After all, she had been with this client from the very beginning. Another Supervisor was going around looking depressed and telling employees and other leaders that he started looking for jobs and began updating his resume. One Manager was the worst off. She was conflicted and taking the news pretty badly. Questions from employees and Supervisors would go to her and the responses would be empty or weak. Sometimes she didn’t answer them at all. It’s a difficult thing to measure. A person shows up early to work every day, works hard and strives to do their best work. They stay late when needed and go through very difficult decisions and actions on a daily basis. And yet, despite all the blood, sweat and tears… it still wasn’t enough. Losing is unfortunately part of the game of life. It plays a fascinating role on our journey. Losing opens us up like open heart surgery and exposes our flaws and missed opportunities. When the stiches are sealed we are left with an understanding. We can look in the mirror and reflect and learn from what we could have done differently. Adversities plow the path of opportunity and wisdom. Like a machete in the rain forest, it cuts away the leaves and vines of pride, jealousy, sins, flaws and failures. It helps us go down an unknown path. But when we venture down this path, we go stronger than before. And with that strength…we can achieve greatness.

Thursday 12/8/2016

Today the lay-offs begin. I’m preparing the final checks now. Last night I had trouble sleeping knowing that today I would be the person in the suit, walking into an office, telling a group of people that they are fired and handing them an orange envelope. I actually think this is good for the employees. This company brings a certain stress about it. Like there is always a tight feeling in one’s chest while working here. I don’t know how to describe this pressure. It comes from the top. Not the CEO… he’s just a face… a personality. He doesn’t realize the actions that the hounds take after he lets them off the leash. The CFO runs the company with an iron first. She’s brutal and relentless. She still isn’t as bad as the CRO. The CRO is the “Hammer”. She comes in and leaves rubble behind her. Manager trying to defend their work and their project, she comes in and blows it all up thinking she’s doing what’s best for the company. It’s obvious she has no idea what type of ramifications come from her words and actions. She probably thinks she is doing a good job. After all, she is so dedicated, right? She arrives to work early and stays very late. Works on holidays, weekends, etc. It’s a shame that someone can be in a position of that nature and still not get the simple concept of working smarter and not harder.

It’s not just the CRO though. The company is considered “old school” and they actually brag about that. So while the world changes around them instead of making necessary adjustments they are striving to bring things back. If you crack an egg it’s very difficult to get it back into the shell. The shift of society is proving the crack is real and yet they decide to pretend like the egg is fine. We’ll see if I’m around when it all shatters.

Friday 12/16/2016

All morning the HR Manager and I worked feverishly to try and prepare all of the final paperwork for the 15 additional people being laid off. We prepared the final checks, got the legal documents we had to provide. Employees would walk by the closed door of the office wondering when it would be time. They were told they would get paid for 8 hours that day as long as they showed up, but that they wouldn’t be here that long. It took us so long that we weren’t finished until after 1pm. We tried to eat some food and then we began the meetings…

Groups of 3-4 would come in. Mixed reactions on their faces. Overall just awkward. Some wore smiles, other couldn’t mask their sadness. We handed them their check, they signed the form, and then they turned in their badge. One lady had been working with the company for over 15 years. She was offered a position and chose to be laid off instead. When faced with a choice to continue a 15 plus year career or to not have a job, she chose to not have a job. The company should really think about that for a bit and strive to find out… why. When it was all over I remember vividly the badges stacked on the desk. 13 badges… One person didn’t come in and another had forgotten theirs. It was symbolic though.

Tuesday 12/20/2016

The emotions still linger. The VP sent out a mass text over the weekend with a rally cry, trying to get the management team to snap out of it and start looking towards the future. As I sit here and type this, I’ve overwhelmed with grief. I woke up, took a shower, got dressed and came to work. There are a lot of people that didn’t have that routine this morning and wished they could. The guilt is more than I can bare. Although I appreciate the VP asking us to snap out of it and to look forward, it’s easier said than done. I know in business we have to “put on our big boy pants” and suck it up because “it’s just business.” Well business is an asshole. Business needs to recognize that the capital in which it makes money is a living, breathing human being with a soul. It’s not a tally mark, it’s not a “resource”, and it’s a human. That’s how we should rebrand this company. Not one of resources and management. One of humans, analytics and leadership.

Friday 12/23/2016

Today the last of the lay offs take place.  There’s only five people today, not as bad as the nine on the first day or the fifteen on the second day.  But it’s still a heavy burden.  I just hope these families are able to enjoy their Christmas… Merry Christmas…

Friday 12/30/2016

The VP called me into her office.  As I sat down she looked burdened and stressed out.  There was no other management in the building, so it seemed she just needed someone to talk to.  She told me the layoffs weren’t over.  I thought they were done with last Friday.  She said the client that pulled their business from us accounted for 33% of the company’s revenue.  We only laid off 20% of our workforce.  The lost revenue caused the CRO and CFO to analyze and they decided that we needed to “trim the fat.”  Several projects had too many employees.  Operationally, the managers and supervisors working the projects would vehemently disagree.  They already felt understaffed.  It’s a shame that wages are the easiest line item to cut on a profits and loss worksheet.  The VP said she sent her recommendations to the CRO and CFO as far as what they will be cutting.  She left the door open as to whether or not I’d be involved.  Her somber mood and the way she was talking to me led me to know a couple of things for sure.  Either I’d be processing more people’s lay offs who thought their job was safe… or I’d be laid off myself.

Friday 1/13/2017

Today they laid of the HR Manager.  The HR Manager was with the company for 10+ years and due to this situation they had to let him go.  Part of me wonders if they would have kept him if I wasn’t employed here.  The guilt definitely took its toll.  After all, I’m cheaper and there are simply less employees in our branch now.  If the company was making the decision based on tenure or loyalty then the HR Manager would still have his job.  But alas, they made a “business” decision and my wage is simply less then his wage. I haven’t truly recovered from December.  I’ve held on to all the badges of the employees we let go.  I’ve already started receiving the unemployment claims.  At least these are easier to deal with.  I simply check the box that signifies “Yep, we just laid them off, they win unemployment.”  I love working in Human Resources, because I like helping people. But there is a balance.  The company has to make money, so I can help people to an extent and after that I have to do what’s best for the company.  This isn’t a bad thing in fact sometimes when I have fired someone in the past they have used it as a wake up call to accept personal responsibility and get better as a person and an employee.  But lay offs are tough.  That may be an understatement.  This layoff was tough because it was a client that had this much power over us.

Wednesday 1/25/2017

The HR Manager texted me and let me know that he found a job with higher pay, better benefits, better hours and closer to his house.  This makes me feel a lot better.  The CRO was able to move another project to our location, so it appears that the bleeding has stopped.  I hope this is a turning point and we can start growing again.

Tuesday 2/7/2017

I don’t know how much longer I can take it.  The mood of the office is that of a boxer who just got KO’d in the title fight.  I’ve been really depressed.  I think the weather isn’t helping because it’s been raining for weeks now.  I’m not even motivated to write about the lay offs because they are still so fresh, but after over a month it should start to be getting better.  It’s going to get better right?

Thursday 3/2/2017

Today we hired our first two people since December.  A couple of people have resigned since the beginning of the year.  I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t applied elsewhere myself.  Going through a lay off as a Leader is gut wrenching and heart breaking.  A Leader’s job is to help his team members succeed in achieving a common goal.  It’s fair to say we felt like failures during the winter.  But Spring is on its way and a new beginning is in sight.  I actually interview these two employees in late November.  I had to call them and tell them that the position is no longer available when we got word of losing the client.  But to our luck they were both still interested.  It felt good on boarding again, but selling people on the vision and future of the company took a lot of tact and a display of faith.  I’m optimistic we can continue to grow and get back to where we were.

Friday 3/3/2017

One of the two people I hired yesterday just got a call at lunch and was offered another job she had applied for and it was more money and better benefits.  She told me she resigns.  Two steps forward and one step back.  It’s okay though, we’ll keep searching for quality people to join the team.

Monday 3/6/2017

The other person I hired on the 2nd called and quit stating his wife was in a car accident.  Surely this was just bad luck and not a reflection of us as a company and myself as a leader… Still optimistic.

Thursday 3/23/2017

Hired another person today.  We did get some bad news that a client we were attempting to sign decided to use another vendor.  The VP took it hard, but she is working on another smaller project (2 employees) to at least try to get momentum turned.  Momentum is a funny thing.  It seems it isn’t just a physics term for the impetus gained by a moving object, rather it applies to our daily lives as well.  The phrase “When it rains, it pours,” ties into this concept.  Once bad things start happening it seems they keep piling on one by one.  The snowball that was at the top of the mountain has rolled down and is now an avalanche crashing everything in its path.  It takes a jolt or a sudden change to stop the object and start the rebuilding process.  Hopefully we can start adding smaller clients and keep the people we hire and start getting a positive slope on the momentum curve.

Wednesday 3/29/2017

The new hire from last week resigned because they accepted another job with higher wages and better benefits.  Am I being pranked?  The VP is having a tough time with the small client.  They don’t have anything we need just to be able to help them with what we need to help them with.  It appears we are still fighting through our period of adversity.  Hopefully we all have the grit needed to turn the ship around.

Wednesday 4/26/2017

They laid of the Leadership Development Manager at Corporate.  Every one loved him and enjoyed speaking with him.  He was someone the employees could go to, an ear in the head of upper leadership.

Friday 4/28/2017

They laid off the Administrative Manager at Corporate.  She had been with the company for 29 years…

Friday 6/2/2017

Reflection.  There is something to be said about the phrase “the night is darkest just before the dawn,” meaning before things get better they are going to get a whole lot worse.  I’m still at the company and the upper leadership is still striving to rebuild the damage from December.  We added the two person client and it’s caused a tremendous amount of headache so far.  Our turnover has stabilized.  This write up wasn’t about the company I work for’s struggles.  This was about going through something as terrible as a lay off and some of the emotions that play into it.  It could have been worse, you hear of large companies laying off everyone and people losing their pensions and stock, etc.  This is a small company and I’m sure it can recover.  I admire those employees that stuck with us though.  It proves they have loyalty and grit.  Sometimes you have to ride the momentum roller coaster even if it’s unbearable hitting maximum speed towards the bottom for awhile.  My advice is any person that has to lay people off is to be respectful, have genuine empathy and do your best to support that person in any way that we can.  As a Leader we have to have “tough” conversations whether we are writing someone up, talking about something embarrassing, or terminating employment.  When we have those tough conversations it’s important to be honest and sincere.  Employees will get more angry with being fed lies then getting hit in between the eyes with blunt honesty.  In terms of lay offs, what made this most difficult was the timing.  Laying people off during the holidays is just horrible.  But those employees that were impacted were able to start the new year off with a clean slate, a new beginning.  Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, get a good look at the path ahead and then start walking again.

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