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Friday, September 2, 2016

Chutzpah Project has moved,,,

Future posts will appear at

Come visit me there

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Disintegrating Ecco Shoes

So the soles of my Ecco shoes -- a nice pair of Oxfords I hadn't worn for a while -- started disintegrating at work yesterday.  Chunks were falling out of them all over the floor.


I searched online and found this article ( about it from 2010, with a lot of rants from soon-to-be-ex-Ecco customers.

I called Ecco customer service, who said I could return the shoes in a prepaid bag for a "warranty analysis", which sounds like a squirrely way of getting out of doing anything for me.  Not sure what I expect, but some kind of "Tylenol-class" customer service behavior might have saved this brand for me.

Doesn’t look like it.  Either they’ve written off the victims or they don’t know how to do industrial grade customer service.  In any case, hard to see taking a risk on another pair.  Maybe they’ve solved the problem, and maybe they haven’t, but who wants to find out.  There are plenty of nice-looking comfort shoes whose soles don’t disintegrate.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Daily 2 Minutes of Big Body Language is Done

Not really anything to do with the Project, but I’m packing it in on an explicit practice of standing or sitting in a “Big Body Language” pose for 2 minutes every day (early intervention from February, discussed here).

The main thing is that I’ve gotten restless with all the “good habit” things I have to do every day, mainly as a consequence of aging: brushing, flossing, exercising, meditating, reading, writing, blah blah blah.  Preventive maintenance of one sort or another is becoming an alarming % of my day.

Also, though, from the Chutzpah POV, the Big Body Language seems to have organically populated my day to the extent that it’s not necessary to set aside 2 min just for that.  I have much better mindfulness and results displaying Big Body Language in meetings, when considering chutzpah-consuming ideas or moves, or even just sitting at the dinner table.

So I can cut the 2 minutes out of my day… and save the time for just being alive.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Interventions for June

OK, May is over, time to re-tool for Month 5.

Start by retiring a couple, which proved to be No Problem:

  • Be Interesting when you get on stage: Didn’t prove to be a problem for me.  This is one area where I’ve been blessed with plenty chutzpah.  Honorably Discharged
  • Learn to Love the Phone: Surprisingly, this has proven to be a fairly smooth area, too, after years of hating and fearing talking on the phone.  Maybe a collateral effect of other chutzpah builders?  Honorably Discharged

New ones for May:

  1. Continue with Speak Truth to Power: This hasn’t been easy to get going; maybe we need a dose of mindfulness about occasions when I should have done so, but didn’t.
  2. Dare to meet people more popular than you.  I hate this; I shrink away from meeting people I think are popular, even when I might really like them or vice versa.
  3. Dare to be unpredictable.  A fundamental tool of chutzpah is keep people a bit on edge about what you’re going to do next.  This will likely not be easy for me.
  4. Dare to say “No”.  A staple of Assertiveness Training.  Good practice.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mindfulness and Debugging

This is taking us a bit far afield of the Chutzpah theme, but I’ve been reading a bunch about mindfulness as background to using it as a general tool for enhancing my chutzpah and other good traits (as well as diminishing some less-desirable traits, but that’s another story).

Mindfulness is not some gushy New Age concept.  It’s a pretty understandable state of mind where you are neutral-to-friendly about what’s going on in your mind while not getting sucked into it.  Yes, you are “not attached”, but in a rather rarefied sense: you’re not exactly remaining indifferent while lovely foodstuffs or gorgeous sex partners are presented to distract you from your detachment.  You feel your hungers and you feel your lusts but you’re not drawn into them to the point that you lose your awareness of yourself.

In any case, one area where mindfulness is familiar and key to success is debugging.  I’m most familiar over the years with debugging software, since that what I did for a living for twenty-odd years and may do again someday, but if you read something like “Shop Class as Soulcraft” or “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” other Maker-ish stuff, you can see the same use of mindfulness and debugging, only in this case debugging shop tactics or repair.

The idea is that you can’t see the problem if your mind is clouded by attachment.  You get attached to the last thing you fixed, so you (wrongly) conclude that the problem you’re looking at now has the same cause.  You get attached to some of your presuppositions (“the problem must be in the allocation module”) and close your attention off to data that lead you away from that to the correct root cause.

Most makers of one sort or another have encountered mindfulness in this disguise.  It’s part of what I love about debugging: you’re rewarded for the rectitude of your mindfulness.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Be Interesting When You Get On Stage… Harder Than It Looks

Of all the Interventions I’ve tried so far this year, Be Interesting When You Get On Stage is the easiest for me.  I’ve been in the habit of being interesting for decades, and although there are venues where that’s more challenging for me – small crowd of powerful people I want to impress – I generally leave my mark.

But it ain’t as easy as it might look.  For whatever reason, each interesting remark costs me something.  If I try to pay mindful attention to it, there’s a very brief flash of longing, longing that these people will like me, like what I’m saying, reward me, praise me, then a flash of fear that I won’t be able to be heard, that they’ll ignore me, then finally a flash of angry contempt, for them for scorning me (in advance, so to speak), but also contempt for me for wanting their good opinion.  The anger stays with me, largely as anger at myself, and it’s not uncommon for me to recall with self-contempt charming things I’ve said at a dinner party on the way home: my wife and I call them Bad Thoughts.  The Bad Thoughts crystallize all the contempt for myself without the intervening longing and anger at the others that make the contempt more comprehensible.

Easy to see why the roomful of powerful others is so challenging, given this internal play.  But it took years to decode it and I’m still not seeing it all in the moment, which is probably the key for harnessing these charming interventions in the service of Greater Chutzpah.