Year: 2015

Tell Me More than a Story

Tell Me More than a Story

Last year, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga released “Cheek to Cheek,” their album of jazz duets. Bennett’s controlled, classy (always a coat and tie) appearance matched with Lady Gaga’s ever-changing and audacious persona would seem to be a formula for failure, but it worked beautifully. Bennett later remarked that the key to a good duet is contrast along with quality material and voices th ...[Read More]

This is War

This is War

“I want to declare a war,” I said half-seriously, “on all the organizations, ministries and financial planners encouraging people not to trust their children.”

Not Throwing Away My Shot!

Not Throwing Away My Shot!

My father had a life removed from us we knew little about until we were grown. It was only a few years before he died that I understood why. We talked about it on a series of trips we took as father and son when he was losing his health, and we knew it was just a matter of time before he could not travel at all. It was on our first of these trips that he told me about New York City and the Waldorf ...[Read More]

Take It to the Limit

Take It to the Limit

William Barstow was an enterprising partner and friend of Thomas Edison, as well as an inventor and highly successful entrepreneur in his own right. One night in 1931, Barstow and his wife, Francoise, sat around their table as usual, discussing new ideas. They had been wrestling awhile with how to structure a substantial gift that would allow them to make donations without setting up a trust or a ...[Read More]

The Mr. Spock Prize

The Mr. Spock Prize

My friend Randy Samelson at Counsel & Capital is funding a prize for the best annual report designed for Randy and other “left-brain” donors. I am calling it the Mr. Spock Prize, and I thought some friends might be interested in applying for the prize as well as my response to Randy’s generous initiative. Dear Randy, Thank you for sending me your proposal to sponsor a $50,000 ...[Read More]

A Thanksgiving Lament

A Thanksgiving Lament

People allowed to believe they deserve protection from consequences are far more damaged than merely spoiled. They are destined for a life of dependence on others to rescue them and, ultimately, despair.

Playing the Piano in a Whorehouse

Playing the Piano in a Whorehouse

It was Harry Truman who said, “My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.” Mark Twain wrote, “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” H.L. Mencken was ruthless in his criticism of the political class, “If a politician found he had can ...[Read More]

Darwin's Paradox

Darwin's Paradox

In “Where Good Ideas Come From” Steven Johnson uses the illustration of a coral reef as an example of a structure that is both fragile and still able to withstand the incessant pounding of waves and storms. He quotes Charles Darwin’s first experience with reefs and his amazement they were able to withstand the violent surges of water, “The ocean throwing its waters over the broad reef appear ...[Read More]

The Great Divide

The Great Divide

Roger Thurow was a longtime foreign correspondent in Africa and Europe for The Wall Street Journal and was also the co-author of ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. He visited with me several years ago as he was writing his book and doing interviews for other projects. His first question was, “Why is it just now that evangelicals like Rick Warren and others are gettin ...[Read More]

Forgetting the Little That Divides

Forgetting the Little That Divides

Two devoted friends and brilliant minds — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — fell out with each other over politics, personal slights and both feeling betrayed by the other. The feud not only embittered both, causing them to abandon all correspondence and relationship of any kind for many years, but it troubled their closest companions who could not imagine these giants of the Revolution becoming e ...[Read More]