By Frank J. Rich
Few things inspire us more than ideas. The very thought of an idea changes our facial expression. We grow pensive as we look inward for the elements of its execution and outward for others to join in anticipation of its fruit. “What if” becomes more than the “alternative” thinking in good decision-making; it rises in the air to form the cloud of opportunity that ideas reveal.
Ideas, defined narrowly as “the capacity to create and understand the meaning of creative thought,” are considered to be an essential and defining feature of the human condition. They come to us in a sort of vision or cloud that crystallizes in the mind’s eye and usually in the form of a relative model that is in some way familiar to us, though not completely. Very few would see Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler as having anything in common. The idea is odious and distasteful. But to Harvard psychologist Kurt Gray, the clarity necessary to understand our view of people, conditions and things, revealed a fundamental distinction in the motivation of people — that is, how we form our image of others.
The suggestion that we classify people as either agents or patients — good or evil, saints or sinners — sets morality as the metric for measuring what is common among us. “Moral agents,” he contends, are “those who act, and are deserving of praise or blame.”
“Moral patients” are the objects or receivers of that praise or blame. We see the former as capable of “deliberate moral action, self-control, and planning,” according to Dr. Gray. Both Mother Teresa and Aldolf Hitler share one side of this fulcrum, though each used their agency differently. “Moral patients” are the victims of the world, the objects of “moral agents.” And though less in control, they tend to be more capable of emotions and emotional experience, Gray’s research suggests.
The strength in ideas, however, may come from deep within. Wherever they originate, ideas are either positioned for development or the boneyard. Which it is may depend more on the personal characteristics of the individual and his experience. While it is true that those with authority speak more cogently on all things — no less ideas — and that those in attendance listen better when an idea comes from the boss or a respected other, ideas are naturally occurring in all of us by the creative nature of the human condition.
What happens to an idea before it’s delivered to promise or purgatory, and why? Simply, we do! And the preparation is what determines its destination.
The quickest, most effective way to advocate ideas is to state one’s case cogently, with supporting data, and with the qualitative view that builds excitement. That said, ideas can be presented quickly and objectified as quickly with simple market analogs and presented with a clear goal in mind.
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
How well do we take care of ourselves? This may seem like a simple question, but most of our time is usually spent taking care of someone or something else. The topic concerning personal health issues was the subject of a seminar I attended for improving and maintaining good health.
What does being healthy really mean? A simple definition is feeling 100% good, 100% of the time. Feeling good should include your mental, physical and emotional state. Can you find just one hour daily to do nothing but what you want to do? This could be reading a magazine, taking a walk, soaking in a tub, or just plain resting on a lawn chair doing absolutely NOTHING. Why do we feel almost guilty when we waste time doing these relaxing things? Most people neglect taking time for themselves for use as a de-stress mechanism, something we all need now and then.
The lecturer talked about water, nutrients, and posture — elements that make up the factors important for maintaining a healthy body. When asked how much water we should drink each day; his response was the following formula. “Take your body weight and divide it in half. This halved number should reflect the ounces of water you should drink each day.” He suggested drinking your water about an hour before your meals rather than with them. When you drink water with meals it neutralizes the body enzymes that are needed to break down your food and pass along the nutrients to the rest of your body. For this reason, he suggested not giving young children too much milk, juice, or water with meals — it also fills them up.
What about dieting? Does it work? The best method for losing weight is to eat everything in moderation. To start, cut back on carbohydrates, refined sugars and starches. Begin your day with fruit instead of sugar-laden sweets such as donuts, pastries or muffins. To cut back on extra calories when you are hungry between meals, try to have low fat snacks available. Pack a plastic baggie or container with trail mix or baby carrot pieces to munch. Be creative. Make your own trail mix out of your favorite ingredients using nuts, dried fruit, whole wheat cereal, etc.
Have you checked your posture lately? Do you walk slumped over or sit at your desk in a manner that is doing harm to your back, neck and spine? If you want to see what your posture looks like, try this experiment. Walk slowly near a full-length mirror with your eyes closed. Once you are in front of the mirror, open your eyes. This way you will see what your posture looks like without changing it. If you are prone to back problems, avoid lifting, pulling or pushing items you cannot easily manage. Your back has to last you a lifetime, and doing damage to it because of improper use makes no sense.
(Family Features) Obesity, with corresponding ailments such as heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes, is a well-chronicled public health issue and has many communities looking for ways to positively impact their residents.
What can prove to have an enduring impact on improving community health is a broad coalition of stakeholders coming together to create a culture of wellness. For example, the City of West Chicago, with its Healthy West Chicago initiative, is a case study in how to galvanize a community toward collective better health. With these modifiable tips from Mayor Ruben Pineda, other communities can work to improve the health and quality of life for residents.
Have a champion
Every major civic initiative needs someone to drive it, someone to assemble and activate the right roster of influencers, experts and activists. Progressive leaders concerned about community sustainability and resident health, such as city council members or those in influential positions within the community, make good candidates to spearhead the plan.
To improve nutrition and increase physical activity in the City of West Chicago, Mayor Pineda reached out to community leaders in local government, education, health care, social services, faith-based entities, businesses and non-profits to initiate partnerships and secure funding to create the Healthy West Chicago Action Plan, a multi-year guide for promoting better health in the community.
Engage other community members
It is important to build awareness of your initiative and get buy-in from residents through consistent communication. One of the most important demographic segments to engage is children. Kids are open to change and are developing lifelong habits. They are also extremely influential with their parents, siblings and friends.
“The key to a sustainable, healthy future is to change the way the next generation thinks about nutrition and exercise,” Mayor Pineda said. “This makes the public school system critical to driving the behavioral changes that contribute to positive outcomes.”
Measure and adjust
Once your community’s health initiative is in action, assess it annually against the overarching plan and add, eliminate or improve components to continue the momentum toward a healthy community for generations to come.
Keep it fresh
A successful community-wide health initiative needs to continuously build on its momentum by adding new programs and participants. For example, Healthy West Chicago conducts sponsored activities such as free healthy cooking classes for students, a “Rethink Your Drink” campaign to educate community members about the harmful effects of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, weekly community walks with the mayor and a community garden initiative, which promotes organic suburban agriculture and benefits both the environment and local families. In addition, providing ongoing updates about programs and offering online tools, such as activity trackers and interactive walking route maps, are ways to build interest and retain participants.
For more information about how to implement a health and wellness program in your city, contact Mayor Pineda’s office at (630) 293-2200 extension 135, or visit healthywestchicago.com.
Photo of Mayor Pineda walking with students courtesy of Healthy West Chicago
Photo of woman gardening courtesy of The GardenWorks Project
(Family Features) Quick and easy meals can be hard to come by, especially ones that don’t sacrifice flavor. You don’t have to eat bland foods to provide your family a healthy and hearty, nutrient-filled diet. During National Nutrition Month, it’s the perfect time to refresh your routine with some creative and convenient options that can serve as the starting point for an on-the-go snack or a full-blown meal.
Sandwiches, like this recipe for a BALCMT Sandwich, can be one of the easiest ways to incorporate grains, which deliver shortfall nutrients like dietary fiber, iron and folate into your diet. Research from the Grain Foods Foundation shows about 95 percent of Americans do not meet dietary fiber intake recommendations. Whole grain foods, like bread, buns, rolls, pita and tortillas, can help supply your dietary fiber needs and aid in maintaining a healthy weight and lower cholesterol.
Additionally, enriched grains can play a key role in metabolism by helping the body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates, and are also essential for a healthy nervous system, productivity and cognitive development. The vitamins and minerals in enriched grains like folic acid are also critical for reducing the incidence of some birth defects while also promoting cell function and tissue growth.
Some healthier ways to build a snack include using leaner meats and lower sodium cheeses for a sandwich or adding more vegetables to your overall snacking habits. Another nutritious option, Baked Pita Crisps accompanied by Southwest Bean Dip, can help you curb hunger without blowing past your daily calorie count.
Find more recipes and tips for quick and flavorful meals at grainfoodsfoundation.org.
Recipe courtesy of Franz Bakery on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation
Prep time: 10 minutes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 slices bread, toasted
1-2 leaves lettuce
4 slices tomato
1/2 avocado, thickly sliced
4 slices maple bacon, fried
To make Chipotle-Mayonnaise Sauce: In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, adobo sauce and lime juice. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Add layer of sauce to slice of bread and top with lettuce, tomato, avocado, bacon and second slice of bread.
Baked Pita Crisps
Recipe courtesy of the Grain Foods Foundation
Prep time: 30 minutes
Yields: 24 crisps
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3 pita breads (6 inches each) with pockets
kosher salt, to taste
Southwest Bean Dip:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup packed fresh coriander sprigs, washed and spun dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water, plus additional (optional)
To make Crisps: Heat oven to 400 F. In small bowl, mix olive oil with cumin and paprika. Split each pita bread horizontally into two rounds and brush rough sides with equal amounts of oil mixture. Cut rounds into small triangles and arrange in flat layer on large baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt just out of oven.
To make Southwest Bean Dip: In large skillet over high heat, heat vegetable oil until hot. Add garlic, bell pepper and onion; turn heat to low and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and cayenne; cook, stirring, 1 minute.
In food processor, blend beans, lime juice, coriander, salt and water until smooth, adding more water, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Add vegetable mixture and pulse until just combined. Serve with Baked Pita Crisps.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
By Frank J. Rich
Intuition may be more vital to business enterprise than the data that gathers around it. A bold statement, but one supported by both experience and science. Many have found the way through obscure markets by the light of intuition. When the darkness seems most impenetrable, when we can’t seem to form the logic that clears the way, we are forced to rely on it. Lee Iacocca saw a hidden market for a car that carried families and made women feel safer behind the wheel. Only Toyota’s Sienna had the early look of it, but most did not see the minivan coming.
Intuition may be a social chit, but the science in it is called the adaptive unconscious, an innate sense that something different about what everyone sees is there, uniquely viewed by a few. Lee Iacocca had it; Bill Gates too, who dispelled the myth that few would want a computer of their own. Steve Jobs had it when he pronounced the Apple “the computer for the rest of us,” then demonstrated that computer users would go wild over innovative design when other manufacturers were focused on standards and low-price PCs. The “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffet may be glimpsing the same as he bets heavily on rail transportation when others see little opportunity in it. Clearly, Americans are still attached to their cars, and trucks deliver most products to market.
In fact, we all have it on some level. It’s what makes us creative and quirky individuals, those who put aside the conventional wisdom and the mythmakers in favor of an unusual and often unique view of things. Seeing through things, around corners, under the cover of the obvious — these are the characteristics of the entrepreneur, who relies on intuition and data interpretation to set organizations for the future. As former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall offered, “Intuition in the absence of analysis is another word for stupidity, but good intuition and good data analysis is a recipe for success.” His record of achievement qualifies the view. Crandall is credited with launching the first frequent flyer program, the industry’s first yield-management system, and deep-discount airline tickets, all of which are still with us today.
For those of you who are still with us after a period of economic malaise and have managed to steel yourselves by force of will and intuition for the economic recovery that has formed, take heart. You have done what is required to soar in the bull market by the investment you made in the future when the future was a dim view to most.
The feeling that reveals essential elements that most don’t see is often called a “gut feeling.” It is the stuff that legends are made of. Perhaps most notable is Babe Ruth’s reputed pointing to center field in the 3rd game of the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. After two strikes, Ruth raised the level of banter between him and the taunting Cubs dugout by showing two fingers, then pointed in the direction of center field. He hit the next pitch a towering 440 feet right there. Few would argue that the “Sultan of Swat” was not capable of such planned performance, though an objective view still harbors questions.
Richard Nixon may have seen the commercial giant in China that few before him would allow. Frank Borman saw the earth from a unique perch as an astronaut and later as CEO of Eastern Airlines, which created the business shuttle industry segment between corridor cities. Closer to home, John Chase combined experience in the advertising industry, a Depression stint in the U.S. Post Office, and a gambler’s confidence from his days on the bridge circuit to found the PennySaver, now Chase Media Group. The list of similar accomplishments contains the same unique view of things that others glanced at but only a few saw real opportunity in.
When we pause to consider what’s happening to us, to our customers, to people in general, we add data to the analysis of what to do and how to do it. The information, uniquely interpreted, couples well with the gut to further inform the winning combination that is “intuition” and “analysis.” The logic that creates sequential order is an unmistakable jewel in the decision-making process. What we know about the circumstances that form markets and societies, what we see, and how we interpret it, in Crandall’s words, is what turns stupid into smart.