Getting to Common Ground

During my tenure as a Client Services Manager for the IEEE I did presentations and training events all over the world. I traveled to many countries in Asia, South America, Europe, the United Kingdom and made frequent trips to the Middle East. I’ve been to Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan. I gave a keynote speech at a technical conference in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Representing the IEEE is an honor. The way we were received during this travel was amazing. I used to joke I was treated like I was Thomas Edison, who was one of the founders of the IEEE in 1884. When I was in Azerbaijan I was interviewed on a morning TV talk show!

It is a long flight from San Francisco Airport to the Middle East. Typically, there was a direct flight to Frankfurt, and then another substantial leg to the destination in the Middle East. One landing, in Jordan, really stands out. After I made my way to the Landmark Amman Hotel, I went to the lobby bar to unwind. There are no restrictions on the availability of alcohol in Jordan.

Mint Lobby Lounge – Landmark Hotel Amman, Jordan

While sitting in the comfortable Mint Lobby Lounge I noticed two men, probably in their 40s, having an animated conversation. What got my attention was they had two boys, probably age 10 and 12, sitting with them. After a while, the two boys came over to me and the older one asked me where I was from.

I told them I was from California, and they seemed pretty amazed by this. He asked me questions about what is it like to live in California, what was the flight like, what kinds of airplanes did I fly on, what was my job like and what was I going to be doing in Jordan.

They loved hearing I was on a Lufthansa 747-400 for almost 11 hours going from San Francisco to Frankfurt, and then another four hours going from Frankfurt to Amman on a Royal Jordanian Airbus A319.

Engineering Students at the University of Jordan

After a brief explanation of the history and function of the IEEE I explained I would be visiting universities, government institutions and private companies to give presentations and do training sessions on behalf of the IEEE. I then went into how important it was for them to focus on and do well in their own education. I also talked about how essential continuing education would be once they started working.

I stressed keeping up with the changing requirements of the work world and even faster moving technology requires life-long study. I talked about learning to use the library very well, and to understand the unique in-depth resources offered in a true library which are not available on the open web. We talked for about 20 minutes.

After the conversation I went over to their table and found out the two men were brothers, one was the boy’s father, the other their uncle.

The people of Jordan take great pride in their history and culture. This shot is from the Jordan Folklore Museum.

The men asked me what I was talking about with the boys and I gave them a brief overview. But what really stood out was when I told them I believed the boys were obviously remarkably high potential young men. They asked me why I felt that way and I pointed out how polite they were and how advanced their communication and listening skills were. I said this would serve them very well both going through school and when they eventually got into the work world. The two of them were delighted and thanked me profusely for speaking with the boys.

Later, this meeting half-way around the world, made me think how universal certain things are. Families want to be able to take care of their children and give them the things that will enable them to succeed. All families take great pride in this fundamental goal. This includes a path to opportunity and the education to learn the skills necessary in a rapidly changing world.

They want good health and healthcare, security and sustenance, access to the resources that lead to success. And, perhaps most importantly, they want to receive the recognition and respect that doing the right thing for their family’s merits. At a time when there are so many things pushing humanity and the world apart, it is time to starting looking at things that will pull us back together.

Beautiful mosaic from the Jordan Folklore Museum
My travels always included incredible hospitality from our hosts!
The author and colleagues enjoying dinner in Amman.

Do Not Close the San Carlos School Libraries!

My wife and I do not have any children, but we do have nieces and nephews with children of their own. We are big believers in education. My entire career was built on the education I received in the New York City Public Schools, then Queens College and finally San Jose State University (SJSU).

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Do You Believe In Science?

I’ve always been a science person. I remember reading Popular Mechanics and doing science projects when I was still in elementary school. When my neighbor received a really nice telescope as a Christmas gift, we were out in the freezing New York City weather trying to view the rings of Saturn. This was way before telescopes had GPS and finder devices, so it took considerable effort to find and focus the telescope on our target.

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PG&E Part III – Implement a Knowledge Based Culture

Many of the readers of this blog know I was employed by the “premium content” electronic publishing industry for almost forty years. In our positioning of products to our clients, we would often discuss the need for a knowledge-based culture. This was especially important with our corporate audience with the closing or absence of libraries.

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Your Information Environment

We are living in a time where millions believe they are well informed if they watch one broadcast network, take a peek at a social networking site, and maybe do a few web searches. Those who are knowledgeable in fact-based research skills are disturbed by the impact of this broad perception.

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Junior High Assignments Made Me Use the Library

In my post “Higher Truth and How to Get There” I talked about how to access and use quality information. In today’s world of manipulative and biased sources, how can one be confident they are getting the “best stuff?” The answer is simple: use the library!

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Toughest Teacher Paves Career Path

We’ve all had teachers like this. Fierce reputation. Toughest teacher in the school. Or, maybe later, a professor. “You’ll never get an A.” “Will try to intimidate you.” “Very demanding.” These or similar comments were often heard from fellow students.

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Museums, Picasso and my Best Grade Ever!

Having confidence in my ability to use the library led to many successes that enabled my education and career. Continuing with memories of Junior High School, one research paper sticks out in my mind. The seventh grade art teacher, Mrs. Scott, assigned us to do a report about a famous artist. For reasons I do not remember, I chose Pablo Picasso. After doing my usual background research in the library, it occurred to me to visit the Museum of Modern Art to see some of the famous Picasso pieces in-person.

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The Keys to Manhattan

When I first started Junior High School, my mother would not let me go to Manhattan. If I asked my mom – “the guys want to go to the City, can I go?” – the answer was always no. Growing up in Queens, there was nothing like the excitement of going to Manhattan. Even though I loved the bustle of “The City,” seeing the sites, the amazing buildings, people watching, going to Central Park, buying slices of pizza (then 25 cents!) or a hot dog, there was no way I could get around the edict of my Mom.

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Notes from a Queens Village Boomer: Career, cars, cameras and more…

Wow! I passed the one-year anniversary of “graduating from full-time work!” As you can imagine, and I’m sure virtually all who reach this turning point do, you start reflecting on events and memories.   What was important? What was fun? What was interesting? It turns out a lot of this is more about “who” than “what.” The people who influence your life and direction are what really jumps out.

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