Thursday, December 27, 2018

How to Have a Merry Christmas

I'm sitting here drinking peppermint mimosas with my lovely Julia and ruminating on how good life is. Christmas has almost always been a very happy time of year for me. There have been a couple of sad Christmases - the first one after my divorce, the first one after Ron died - but usually the holidays are the best time of the year.

Peppermint Mimosas - Look better than they taste, but still okay

I know that a lot of people have a hard time at Christmas. They don't get along with their families. Their families don't accept them because they are gay, married outside their religion/ race,  cut off all contact with an abusive relative or a million other stupid reasons.

How to have a Merry Christmas

Let go of the expectations. People are who they are. It is what it is. Either change your thinking or change your situation and then let it go. Ronda has the organizational skills of a hyperactive squirrel. She is generous, smart, funny and kind but she probably just remembered on Monday that the 25th was Christmas. Maria had already finished shopping on the day after Thanksgiving and I suspect Jennifer already has her calendar planned out through December 25, 2019. Julia is cleaning her room now so that it will be ready for her grandmother when she arrives in six hours. You may think six hours is ample time but that only means that you have never seen Julia's room.

I'm not particularly the warm and cuddly type.  I do hug people and tell them I love them, but not every other sentence, like some friends of mine do. Jenn was shocked to hear that I actually baked cookies yesterday, which I found a little insulting.

I could go on but my point is this - everyone has foibles, flaws and failings. Many family gatherings fall apart because you find it so inconsiderate that cousin Tina is 45 minutes late for the eleventh year in a row or that your dad never listens to you and bought you a sweater with a camel instead of a cashmere sweater. 

You know that prayer about accepting things you cannot change and changing the things you can? My secret to enjoying the holidays and life in general is something like that.

Let it go or let them go

The unhappiest people I know CHOOSE to be unhappy. Yes, you do. I could get offended by off-hand remarks but it's a waste of energy.

I'm Catholic. I have friends and family members who are atheist. Every now and then they will make remarks like, "I can't believe that you go to mass." Well, I do.Yes, I am aware of the child abuse that has gone on for decades, probably centuries, and it disturbs me greatly.  We actually had a reasonable discussion about this at Christmas. I don't take it as a personal affront that people don't believe what I do. I listen to their ideas and keep drinking my peppermint mimosa.

We have a very good rule in our family -

"If it happened over a year ago, you can't bring it up in an argument."  

This is a rule my children have used against me on occasion, but it's still a good rule. I see married couples, parents and adult children, adult siblings all arguing about that party someone wasn't invited to in 1998 or the graduation someone didn't attend five years ago.

If you catch yourself saying,

"But don't you think parents SHOULD attend their child's graduation/baptism/ bar mitzvah/ wedding and don't you think they SHOULD feel bad and apologize?"

I don't know anything about your situation but since you are the person reading my blog, I am going to side with you and say yes, you are correct. So what? seriously, the point is, they didn't do whatever it was and they didn't apologize and buy you a gift and a doughnut to make it up to you.

Speaking of doughnuts ...

Fish Lake is an adventure game that teaches about fractions.  You can canoe rapids, solve math problems and if you need help learning, there are activities explaining fractions using turtle eggs, riding between camps and yes, even chocolate doughnuts used as an illustration of mixed numbers. Buy it and support my day job! Runs on Mac and Windows computers.

 So, you didn't get the apology or the doughnut. You felt undervalued and underappreciated. Let it go. That person maybe is not going to be as close to you or understand you as well as you had expected. Maybe you are adding now, fuming,

"As much as I had a RIGHT to expect!" 

So what? They are probably not going to change so you can decide to let it go or not.

The other option is to just not spend time around people who make you so unhappy. There are (former)  friends and relatives I don't see any more.  I had a friend who made a series of bad career choices, in my opinion. Every time I saw her she railed against President Obama's policies and how he was ruining the country and that is why she had financial problems. The last time I saw her, you'd think she'd be happy but no, she still couldn't get a job because "They are only hiring black people. I'm too white to get a job."

That's the point where I decided I was done. Probably stupidity isn't contagious but why take that chance?

If you have a racist/ misogynist / homophobic uncle, you don't have to sit and listen to that person. If some relative gives you the creepy vibe and you don't feel comfortable with that person around your children, don't go anywhere they happen to be.

Guess what else? YOU get to decide. If you have a relative who is always putting you down, telling you that you don't make enough money, you are too fat, you should be married by now or whatever it is that makes you feel bad, don't see them. Are they at the same gathering as your grandparents who you really want to see? Then call up your grandparents and ask if you can come visit on a random weekend in February. Flights will be cheaper and your grandparents will be thrilled to have their grandchildren think of them more than one season of the year.

Problem solved.

Much of the family happiness comes about because we really wanted our past to be different. Some of it is because there are people in our lives at present that we need to cross off the Christmas card list.

Let it go or let them go.

It's never too late to start living your happily ever after.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What I Learned about Business at Judo Con, Part 2

Several times during his presentation, James Wall of confidently stated,

“We are the best at what we do.”

If you really, truly are the best at what you do and are confident about that, you should be able to sign up customers. Not surprisingly, Wall to Wall Martial Arts is quite successful.

You may not have heard of James Wall. He’s a credible, competent judo player, a legit fifth-degree black belt. He was never on an Olympic team. He hasn’t coached any world team members .

You may have heard of James Wall if you are interested in judo games for teaching young students , because he’s fairly well known nationally for that .

If you are somewhat impressed with yourself and asking,

“Who is James to say he’s the best? I’ve won X, Y and Z.”

Good, I hope you are happy with yourself. However what James does is provide a friendly, fun atmosphere for children to learn martial arts and be healthier and better disciplined in the process. He offers a comfortable environment for women to get some exercise and learn self-defense. He, and his fellow instructors, provide a collegial training environment where people who didn’t have to just Google the meaning of the word “collegial” can get in better shape, learn some judo and compete in regional tournaments.

That’s what Wall to Wall Martial Arts DOES. If you are in their area of Louisiana, no one does it better. Hypothetically, there may be a better school in Delaware, but seriously , if you live in Dedham Springs you are not taking your nine-year-old thousands of miles away to a judo class.

James truly is the best at what he does and he’s perfectly fine with that .
This made me think about my business. I know our software is good. Will it teach your preschooler to count or prepare your high school student for the SAT?

No, we focus on grades 3 to 8. If your child needs to learn multiplication, division, factors, how to solve those pesky time-rate-distance problems, find a mean or median, we’re awesome for that .

Rather than trying to teach every subject at every grade level, what I think we need to do is reach the parents and teachers of kids who need to learn what we are teaching.


Have an Android device? No problem.  Making Camp premium for Android has you covered.

People in startups often say they are in the “fintech space” or the “medtech space” which I have always found a kind of pretentious way of saying you are in finance or medical technology.

However, both James Wall and Lester Martell, from High Impact Martial Arts in New Jersey, were very clear on what their space was. It was the city and county where they are located and probably no more than a 30-minute drive from their location.

If you’re a teacher and you have kids in your class who speak Spanish, we have videos, games , PowerPoint presentations, everything you need, even if your Spanish is limited to “Adios” and “Dos cervezas, por favor.”

If you teach Native American students and you’d like to include some of their history and culture in the curriculum but you didn’t really learn any of that in school ( because who did?) , we have games that include those stories. You want to include cultural content without skimping on the math and language arts standards? We have that covered, too.

What I learned at Judo Con was to focus on what we are best at rather than worrying about all of the parts of the market we don’t cover. That’s not our thing , just like training Olympians isn’t James’ thing . And that’s okay.

I’ll be honest. I went to Judo Con for a personal reason . Steve and Becky (Rebecca) Scott and I have been friends for over 40 years . It isn’t coincidence that this girl is named Julia Rebecca De Mars.

So, when I heard they were organizing this event , even though I was literally on the other side of the world , I bought a ticket . I did think about it, for about a minute , but then I concluded, “Fuck it! These are two of my best friends.”

Even though I went for personal reasons, as I’ve said previously, it was definitely worthwhile from a business insight perspective. I’ll definitely be going again.