Occasionally, I see an upload which makes me want to stand up and cheer.  This is one.  It also encapsulates what is wrong with our schools and businesses. The prevailing belief is whatever rut our school or business is in, well, that rut is the GREATEST rut there is! Change is sacrilege. Because of this mentality, schools and businesses do not change. Ten years later they are in the same muddy rut. America’s education scores have been dropped consistently for two decades and schools are not rising to the challenge of educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world. Our most profitable businesses are dodging the taxman and selling foreign products on the American market. Worse, most polls show– by a margin well into high numeral double digits – that Americans believe we are on the wrong track to the future. We had better get our ducks in a row because we are being overtaken in all industries by companies and countries that are, to use an old California expression, “eating our lunch.” You start changing the American educational and industrial landscape at the bottom, one employee at a time. If your school or company is not willing to treat you as more valuable than its students or customers, it’s time to find another job. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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blog59Is this in code?  Really!  Take another look.  By the time you get to line 3 you should see that, in fact, it is just another way of writing. What’s the point?  Your mind is the most powerful tool in the universe. Most of us do not ‘look at it that way’ because we do not expand our horizons. We are logical, rational thinkers and rarely force our minds to wander. Take a chance. Force your mind to go places it has never been. Read a book on a subject you have never considered important before. Attend a history lecture on an era you have never studied. If you keep thinking the way everyone else is thinking you are no better than those around you.  Success in all fields belongs to the original thinkers.  And if you are at a loss as to how to start ‘thinking like no one else,’ take some advice from Alaskan humorist Warren Sitka, “the only good memory is one that remembers the future.”  If you want to see the future, study the past. And the best way to study the past is old newspapers. If you want a ‘new’ idea for your business, read a month’s worth of newspapers from the 1920s.  Good ideas never disappear, they recirculate. The past is the future. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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blog58Like your job? Like your doctor? Have you thanked your grandmother lately?  (Or your great-grandmother if you are a millennial.) You should say a little prayer of thanks to those women because they made that job and that doctor possible. 97 years ago, women like your grandmother and great grandmother took to the streets of America and demanded the right to vote, to inherit property, to receive their own paycheck for their own work and all the rights that men had.  Unfortunately, these women have largely been forgotten.  Young women today have no idea how much they gained by the 19th Amendment and how many women streamed into the streets by the thousands in large and small towns across America to demand the same rights as men. I helped celebrate the 97th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment in Anchorage with this flyer and concept. So, tonight, say a little thank you to your grandmother – or great grandmother –for what they did for you. And keep fighting for your own rights.  We still have a long way to go. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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blog57-1blog57-2I’ll bet you didn’t know that Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” was based on a real bird.  It was a raven (no surprise there) – flesh and blood – owned by Charles Dickens named Grip. The bird could parrot sentences like “Keep up your spirit,” “Never say die,” and “Polly put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea.” Grip died in 1841 after eating lead paint off a wall.  Just before Grip died, according to Dickens, the raven said “Halloa, old girl!” Dickens included Grip in his book Barnaby Ridge. When Grip made his literary appearance, someone asked “What was that tapping at the door?” The response was “’Tis someone knocking softly at the shutter.” Poe reviewed Barnaby Ridge for Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia and ‘stole’ the raven for “The Raven.” Grip was stuffed after his death – Poe did better; his writings will live forever – and ended up in a diorama in the Rare Book Department of the Philadelphia Library where you can still see Grip today. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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blog56Contrary to popular belief, history is not the story of the past.  It is the study of the future. Also, contrary to general belief, the present does not exist.  The present is simply the razor’s edge of where the past meets the future. Humans are the same today as we were in the cave.  Every glitch and blessing of our personalities and world view is the same. All that was will return because it never went away. The key to our survival is understanding there are dead-end streets into which we should not blunder. If you want to predict the future, study the past. Quoting Winston Churchill, “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

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blog55If you live in New York you will have no problem recognizing the Flat Iron Building. Modest by today’s standards, it was the first modern high rise constructed with a steel frame.  As it was being constructed people would stand around and wait for it to collapse.  After all, everyone knew that you could not construct a building with steel.  There was just too much weight and, for sure, the structure would collapse when it reached the third floor. It didn’t. The building has been up and operational since 1903.

The Flat Iron Building is an excellent example of “off the wall thinking.” Someone comes up with a wild idea which conventional thinkers believe to be crazy. But that someone persists and whole new age is born. That’s why we have the steam engine, computer, penicillin and the light bulb. Every idea is crazy until it succeeds.  Next time someone suggests an “off the wall” solution to a problem, give the idea a fair shake.

By the way, legend has it during the construction of the Flat Iron Building, the structure created a new wind pattern in the surrounding blocks.  Supposedly the wind was strong enough to blow women’s skirts up.  Police around the building told the gathered men to “23 Skiddo!” or, in modern terms, “Move along.  Nothing to see here.”

[You can find my book on creative thinking on Amazon.com.]

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blog54This is one of those historic photographs that would never make a book – much less an article – but is an on-the-ground important glimpse into the past.  What you see here is an Alaska Gold Rush shot of a man digging in the frozen ground.  When the hole is deep enough, he is going to put the wood in the background into the hole and set it ablaze. The fire will thaw the ground, melt the ice and loosen the soil.  Then he will quickly pan the water and the soil for enough gold to buy food for a week or so.  Then he will get back into the hole to do it all again. This man was clearly broke but he was doing the best he could to survive. Did he?  With the kind of enthusiasm he is displaying here, I think so.  It’s people like this man who made America what it is today.  [See my books at www.authormasterminds.com.]

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blog52Just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, a booming metropolis of 26,255 in 2010, is the Mexican city of Piedras Engrams, a town of 163,000.  (Piedras Negras translates as “black stones” for the coal in the area.)  In 1943, a collection of wives of military personnel stationed at Fort Duncan in Eagle Pass were in Piedras Negara’s and went into a restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was closed but the maître d’hôtel agreed to serve the ladies anyway.  He put together what he had for a snack: tortillas cut into triangles and fried then topped with grated cheddar cheese.  He heated the snack and then tossed on pickled jalapeño peppers. The women loved the meal and asked what they were.  The maître d’hôtel, whose name was Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, said they were his specialty, “Nacho’s especiales.”

It did not take long for “Nacho’s especiales” to become simply “nachos.” They were a big hit across the border and were soon being sold during games at the Arlington Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  Then they were called “ballpark nachos.” Nachos went national big time on September 4, 1978, during the Monday Night Football clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Colts.  Howard Cosell had some during the game and used the name of the munchie in his broadcast.  That night and for weeks. The rest, as they say, is history. [See my books at www.authormasterminds.com.]

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blog51Jean Lussier was the ultimate entrepreneur. In 1928, he went over Niagara Falls in rubber ball six feet in diameter, seen here, lined with inner tubes.  He survived the falls – or, rather, Falls – and proceeded to sell pieces of the inner tubes for $.50 each.  When he ran out of inner tubes from inside the rubber ball, he sold pieces of inner tubes from those he bought from a local hardware store.

To date, fewer than a dozen people have attempt to go over Niagara Falls. The first one was an unemployed school teacher, Annie Edison Taylor, in 1901. She went over in a wine barrel with cushions. After she recovered from her trip, she was quoted as saying “No one ought ever do that again.” (Really?) Ten years later, Bobby Leach, a stuntman for a travelling circus, gave it a go. He went over in a steel barrel and survived – only to die from gangrene generated by – are you ready for this? – slipping on an orange peel in New Zealand.

Anyone can go over Niagara Falls.  It just takes six inches of bone instead of brains. But that is not the point. There will always be people willing to take the plunge. It is easy to become locked into your daily life. What is not easy is taking a chance.  This does not mean you should go whole hog.  You start small. In your garage. On your word processor. On a canvas you bought at the Salvation Army store.  In life, there is only direction of travel: forward.  The moment you stop moving forward you are retired whether you are still drawing a paycheck or not. As to success, think of it this way.  There are about 6,000 companies on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ and every one of those companies started in someone’s kitchen or garage.

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blog50Mary Dyer was the first woman in American history to be hanged. In 1685, she defied a law in the Massachusetts Bay Colony which made it illegal to be a Quaker.  She was arrested and banished from the colony with the threat of a death sentence if she returned.

But she came back.

Like a bad penny.

Three times.

The third time she came back it was with two Quaker men – and they were hanged for being Quakers. Dyer was banished again and when she returned a fourth time, her death sentence was carried out. At the last moment, she was given a chance to save her own life. But she had to abandon her Quaker beliefs.  When she absolutely, positively, refused she was hanged on Boston Commons on June 1, 1660.  More than a century later, the founding fathers made sure that nothing like the hanging of Dyer would happen again. [See my books at www.authormasterminds.com.]

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