Category Archives: Random Ramblings

3 Reasons Why People Hate to Write

Last month, my neighbors invited me to a party at a “paint bar.” It’s a brilliant concept: Combine friends with a mini painting lesson, snacks and alcoholic beverages, and voila! Everyone is a budding artist for a night. We would all paint a wintery version of Boston’s iconic Make Way for Ducklings statues, based on Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s book.

Having never painted so much as a fence, the idea was thrilling … and terrifying.

What if my ducks looked like something that crawled from the sewer, rather than a family of cute yellow quackers? What if my painting was the lamest one in the class? What if? What IF?

Quacking Up: Our masterpieces

This got me thinking about why some people hate writing so much…. Continue reading

An Open Letter to the National News Media: Stop Exploiting Tragedies

As soon as news of the latest U.S. mass shooting trickled out… The national news media rushed to the scene. This time it was an elementary school in Connecticut. Over 20 shot dead, mostly children. Horrible. Unthinkable.

The media machine kicked into high gear and the images began to flow.

How much detail are we as the public entitled to know?  Do we need the news media there at the scene asking traumatized children and parents, “How did that make you feel?” Do we need to see the weeping face of a father who’s just learned his child was killed in the rampage?

No. No we do not.

We’ve come to expect such callousness from the 24/7 cable news media stations. We expect them to “brand” any tragedy with a banner across the tops of our TV or computer screens, whether it’s “SUPER STORM SANDY” or “MALL SHOOTING” or “ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MURDERS.” We expect them to stay at the crime scene until every last child and parent has been asked how they felt about a deranged killer executing students and teachers. We expect them to drown us in these miserable images of sorrow.

Now it appears some of the network news stations – who used to take a “just the facts” approach to reporting the half hour of evening news  – have sunk to the same level. Let’s do “special coverage” of the tragedy. Let’s put frightened children and horrified parents on screen for hours and hours. It’s about ratings, not “news you can use.” It’s certainly not about people or compassion.

To all the reporters, anchors, station managers and owners who pursue ratings, not stories, there’s a few things I need to get off my chest…. Continue reading

What Serving Your Community Really Means

The phone rang, and Mom’s caller ID flashed across the screen. At 89, she doesn’t mince words. “I’ve got some bad news.”

Our long-time family accountant had died suddenly in his sleep. I put down the dog’s leash, and sat down to take in the unbelievable news. Paul was an energetic, funny, sharp-as-nails CPA who owned his own accounting practice. What you’d call “on top of his game.”

Though he’d recently sold his business and had “semi retired” at 70, he’d still put in marathon hours during tax season–reassuring loyal clients like us that he’d personally handle our tax returns. No one looks forward to taxes, but Paul somehow made doing them fun. He’d chat us up, make jokes, show a sincere interest in what we’d done over the past year. We knew we were in excellent hands, and Paul would make everything OK.

I’d emailed Paul a couple months earlier to ask a tax question, and I caught him on the beach vacationing with his family. “Someone’s gotta do it,” he joked from his iPhone. But he still took time out to answer my tax question. Paul was like that. And now he was gone.

The sticky note on my monitor to call Paul for our 2013 appointment is a sad reminder of the unpredictability of life. His sudden departure is an enormous loss for so many people, both professionally and personally. Paul taught me a lot about what it means to be a real pro, someone who is dedicated to their craft and helping their customers. A few lessons learned from a great CPA…

Treat every client like they’re your best client. Paul could have started his business anywhere, yet he chose to work in the small town where he lived, and serve his local community. Paul started doing my taxes when I was right out of college, as I eked out a meager living at a local newspaper. He never made me feel less than anyone else, never blinked at my modest earnings. He always treated every question, no matter how basic, with thoughtfulness. Paul gave us that same level of attention, consideration, and service nearly 30 years later. No question was too silly, no problem too minute. Continue reading