Shadow Warriors


I have been reading an amazing non-fiction book (Shadow Warriors) co-written by Tom Clancy, Gen. Carl Stiner, ret., and Tony Koltz about the US Special Forces and their transformation from an outsider force to the elite of elites we known now (e.g., Green Berets, Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers, etc.). The book provides firsthand accounts of members of these units and I have been consistently blown away by the stories they tell.

Far and away, the most interesting stories are told by Gen. Stiner. His early life was dedicated to hard work and taking on the values instilled in him by his parents. Gen. Stiner's parents were simple people whose education didn't extend much passed 8th grade, but they were far-sighted enough to realize education was going to be key in providing their children with long-term success and encouraged all their children to pursue a college education, which they did. One of his father's sayings has stuck with me: Never accept less than your best effort in all you do.

Gen. Stiner's accounts from his training to become an elite member of the US Special Forces borders on the unbelievable. The training is designed to push the limits of physical, mental and emotional endurance. For example, during a 17-day grueling training session through the marshes and swamps of Florida Stiner was in charge of keeping the sleep log. At the end of the training session, Stiner recorded 8.5 hours of sleep during the entire period! Suddenly, getting about 4 or 5 hours in one night doesn't seem so bad.

I would like to highlight one further point emphasized by Gen. Stiner. We have probably all come to think of our elite troops as little more than hyper-efficient warriors (thanks in large part to popular movies/books). While it is true that they are extremely capable warriors, that is only a small part of their overall mission and certainly their motivation comes from other, more deeply held beliefs about our country and their own personal commitment to defending it.

Dads Live On


During my life there have been foundational forces that have kept me on track. As I think back on these forces an image of my Dad, the Rock, comes into focus. In almost every memory of my childhood fears my Dad would come to the rescue.

After I saw the movie Jaws I had nightmares for weeks; I would run into my parent’s room in the middle of the night out of breath with fright. My dad would quell my fear by saying: "Tom some risks are unavoidable but I assure you we can all avoid getting eaten by a shark." I would immediately feel the fear leave my body. This is one of a thousand examples of the Rock.
As I have grown up and I face adult fears the strength, courage and wisdom of the Rock still energizes and comforts me….even though he is rarely physically with me. When I face difficult situations I can hear him saying: "Tom you will be a success in what ever road you will take. I’m not saying it will be easy but you will always do well." Our parents are the first leaders we are exposed to …. And great leaders always live on. My Dad believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Everyone needs that bridge and I am grateful I have it. That bridge is something that can not be taken away, even after my Dad is gone. He has given me a foundation. The best leaders live on – and that makes me smile when I think of my Dad.

Elephants in NYC


A great tidbit from Pace working for WieseLaw in NYC:

M and I just got back from seeing a herd of elephants walking through the streets of Manhattan. When the Ringling Brothers Circus comes to NYC each year, the train carrying the elephants is too big to come through any of the tunnels into Manhattan, so it stops right outside (in Queens) and the elephants walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and then up 34th Street to Madison Square Garden. It happens between about midnight and 1:00a.m., and not many people know about it, so it's not a crowded scene, which makes it particularly enjoyable. The elephants are so cute, each holding in its trunk the tail of the next one. It was a magical scene!

Playing Is Serious Business!


Just finished reading a very interesting article the Tom turned me on to: The Serious Need For Play by Melinda Wenner, published in Scientific American Mind. The article is full of studies about the importance of play in childhood development and well-being. In essence, Play is an integral component relating to three central themes: (1) Playing relieves stress; (2) Playing helps to build social skills; and (3) Playing may actually make you smarter (or at least more creative in your problem-solving skills).

As an adult, have we missed the boat when it comes to play? Wenner states that although researchers usually focus on the effects of play on the developing brain, it is important for adults to play too! So how do we get more play into our lives? Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute for Play has a few suggestions:

  1. Body Play: Participate in some form of active movement that has no time pressures or expected outcome (hint: if you are exercising just to burn fat, that is not play!).
  2. Object Play: Use your hands to create something you enjoy (it can be anything; again there doesn't have to be a specific goal).
  3. Social Play: Join other people in seemingly purposeless social activities, from small talk to verbal jousting.
It might seem elementary, but if you are still struggling to figure out how to bring more play into your life, think back to what you enjoyed as a kid. According to Brown: "Find your childhood play's 'true north' and try to translate those memoreis into activities that fit the current circumstances."

Good luck and remember to schedule a little play time for yourself today!

Deal World Rule #2 - Great Deals Maximize Whole Value


Great deals maximize Whole Value. A deal’s Whole Value is the deal’s potential (normalized to reality) less its costs (actual and intangible). It’s not an exact number but an informed relative value analysis.

To determine a deal’s potential (Reward) you analyze the Deal Value Drivers with the focus of an investment banker. Focus on cash flow relative to key factors:

*Cash Flow = is a term that refers to the amount of cash (or item of value e.g., exposure) being received and spent by a business tied to a specific deal.

To determine a deal’s costs (Risk) you analyze the Deal Value Drivers with the focus of an accountant that went to law school. Focus on the risk and expenses of generating the cash flow for the deal.

Rule 2 is about disciplined focus. During your next deal, focus on the deal’s Whole Value, as described herein. You will find that you have better understanding of what you want (and what you are being offered), which in turn, will direct your actions to achieve greater Whole Value.

In simple terms, its Reward vs Risk.