5 Things We Can Learn From Groundhog Day

I read this story on thebigthink.com a while back and watching Groundhog Day, yet again, decided to revisit this post.

Every year on Groundhog Day, along with waiting for the verdict on the length of winter from the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, TV stations across the country dust off the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

Some believe that the cult-classic starring Bill Murray is a film that illustrates the concepts of Buddhism and achieving enlightenment. In the film, weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) relives the same day over and over again until he gets it right through hard work, self awareness, and sacrifice.

The movie’s writer, Danny Rubin, understands the connection to Buddhist beliefs, but says he did not design the story around any one religion. “Everybody seems to bring their own way of thinking and their own discipline to bear on the ideas within it,” Rubin says.
Regardless of your religious persuasion, here are a few universal truths for living we can all take from Groundhog Day:

1. Be kind to others. On Phil Connors’ “perfect day” he saves a child’s life, helps two women change a tire, gives a newlywed couple wrestling tickets, and completes many other good deeds. He even buys insurance from annoying salesman, Ned. Bing!

2. Try different things. If your life becomes a redundant cycle of work and sleep, there’s still time to try new things. Take up ice sculpting or learn to play piano, you never know when it will come in handy.

3. You can’t fight the weather or who you are. Ironically, Phil the weatherman tries to deny the coming blizzard because it doesn’t fit in with his life. Only when he accepts his situation does he begin to grow as a person. Work with what you have; people will love you for that.

4. To find real love work on you. Phil learns everything about his love interest Rita, down to her favorite ice cream. But what she really falls in love with is his passion for life.

5. Life is what you make it. As Rubin says, at first for Phil Connors it’s “the worst day of his life. And, by the end of the movie, we see that it’s the exact same day but somehow this is probably the best day of his life.”

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Child Literacy in the US

Improving Literacy in the US

Did you know that only about one third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading? By fourth grade, if children can’t read at grade level, they’re unlikely to ever catch up.

The outcome is even more alarming if the struggling readers happen to be among the 16 million children living in poverty across America, whose only hope at a brighter future is through education. Half of all low-income fourth-graders score below basic levels on U.S. literacy assessments. And yet, more than 60% of low-income families can’t afford to have books in their homes.

Rethinking Child Literacy in the US

We know that fostering a love of learning early on is key to ensuring our children’s success in school and life. That’s why we are piloting effective school-based programs to disadvantaged students in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Our literacy program and expanded reading curriculum help children from kindergarten through third grade stay on track developmentally and grow as readers and learners.

Is it the dawn of the age of the electric vehicle?

If we can find a place to “park n’ charge” it could be.

With the arrival of the Tesla Model 3, many agree that the electric car is finally poised to go mainstream. But as the grand plans of CEO Elon Musk come to fruition, cities and businesses need to move fast to install enough public chargers for all of them—and maybe even to produce enough electricity.

I am really ready for a great electric vehicle. The Tesla SUV is perfect for my needs right now except for one tremendous hurdle, if I have a meeting in rural Alabama as I often do, can I make it back on one charge? There are very few charging stations in the parts of the country that I am visiting these days.

According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, the US economy and its millions of car drivers will fail to fully capture the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) unless the development of a robust national charging network accelerates considerably.

The risks of not having sufficient charging infrastructure to support surging electric vehicle sales is now greater than the risk of building underused charging stations, according to a new report from Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), From Gas to Grid: Building Charging Infrastructure to Power Electric Vehicle Demand. 

The report examines policies, regulations, and transportation electrification ambitions – highlighting how opportunities and challenges around building EV charging stations can vary by geography.

“In the US, EVs are on track to beat gasoline cars on price, without incentives or subsidies by 2025, but the current pace of charging station construction is unlikely to keep up,“ Chris Nelder, a manager in RMI’s mobility and electricity practices and report author, said “Without a vigorous and sustained construction program of EV-charging infrastructure, the US is likely to see its vehicle electrification ambitions stifled.”

The report is aimed at legislators, regulators, elected officials, consumer advocates, and utilities to help them understand the options in their states – concluding that where EV growth is strongest, charger deployment is lagging EV adoption, as utilities, regulators, and charging station companies debate ownership models, siting, and tariff design.

“We need to move beyond the debate about the equitability of vehicle electrification and stop questioning whether we should be making investments in charging infrastructure—we absolutely should,” Jerry Weiland, a managing director of mobility transformation at RMI, said. “It is critical to get right the methods and infrastructure for vehicle electrification from the start, with appropriate tariffs, well-planned charging infrastructure, and the ability to manage chargers, and the time to start working on that is now.”

I may have to push my choice of SUVs back to the traditional models for now but it is on my radar.

Attractive Women Boost Men’s Stress Levels.

Just five minutes alone with an attractive female raise the levels of a man’s cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, according to a study from the University of Valencia.

The effects are heightened in men who believe that the woman in question is “out of their league.”

Researchers tested students by asking each one to sit in a room and solve a Sudoku puzzle. Two strangers, one male and one female, were also in the room.

When the female stranger left the room and the two men remained sitting together, the volunteer’s stress levels did not rise. However, when the volunteer was left alone with the female stranger, his cortisol levels rose.

The researchers concluded: “In this study we considered that for most men the presence of an attractive woman may induce the perception that there is an opportunity for courtship.” I don’t know about that but I certainly don’t want to look like a dunce in front of any woman.

“While some men might avoid attractive women since they think they are ‘out of their league,’ the majority would respond with apprehension and a concurrent hormonal response.”

The study showed that male cortisol levels increased after exposure to a five-minute short social contact with a young, attractive woman.

Cortisol can have a positive effect in small doses, improving alertness and well-being. However, chronically elevated cortisol levels can worsen medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and impotency.

Remember that old rock and roll song, If you want to be happy for the rest of your life get an ugly girl to be your wife? Well looks like now there could be scientific proof.

Been There. Done That.

Ronald Reagan once said about the criticism regarding his age as he ran for US President, “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

As I worked in dozens of countries across the globe, I was struck by the enduring history and the respect those countries have for remembering what came before them.

This resonated because it wasn’t too long ago during the Internet bubble of the 1990s where Americans discarded the way business had been done for hundreds of years to leverage a “new economy” approach. Youth, energy and passion were in vogue and traditional experience was labeled as worthless.

Unfortunately, this “new way” also came along with expensive ergomic chairs and furniture, strange titles, and foosball tables that didn’t always make companies a profit.

During this period of time, investors paid for potential or what the companies could be. This “value” was reflected in the run up in stock prices that reached an all-time high in 2000 before the bubble eventually burst.

What a difference a decade makes. Now I think business values a bit of gray hair and experience, at least I would like to think so as I am both older and graying. In Eastern cultures, this never changed. Respecting elders has always been a way of life.

Jack Kraft, an entrepreneur and investor says, “the problem with experience is that it only comes with time and sometimes costly lessons.”

The other side of the argument is one that I hear often in creative circles, experience counts but it can also “blunt innovation. Tom Churchwell of Chicago-based ARCH Development Partners believes in balance, “The art of our game is to balance smart, younger, innovative minds with smart, older, battle-scarred veterans.”

The perfect combination can be a young entrepreneur with experienced board of advisors. Shaye Mandle, Vice President at Life Science Alley thinks that, “the best way to accelerate the impact that young talent can have on an organization is to partner them up with an elder mentor”.

Can young upstarts create a successful business or have a substantial impact on an existing one? You bet they can. There are countless examples.

Will they make rookie mistakes? Always.

Look at all the immensely talented individuals who failed during the bursting of the Internet bubble. Many were young, promising business leaders. Unfortunately, many of them failed to listen to their elders. But they are now “battle tested” and have valuable experience. They also have the opportunity to help the next wave of youth with potential because they’ve “been there, and done that”.

K-cups were killing my budget!

Keurig coffeemakers have certainly grown in popularity over the last few years. The ability to make a single cup of a particular flavor of coffee on demand has been a huge selling point for these appliances. As awesome as that sounds, the convenience of the Keurig comes with a price.

Keurig brewed coffee Is more expensive than traditional methods. If you buy a 24 count  K-Cup, generic, variety pack for $14.99, a single K-Cup will cost you $0.63.

Of course Keurig is far cheaper than Starbucks

While Keurig-brewed coffee costs more than traditionally brewed coffee, consumers can still save a significant amount of money over the long run by using a Keurig brewer rather than buying a daily drink at Starbucks.

You could save roughly $1.25 a day or $456 a year assuming you forgo a daily $1.75 twelve-ounce cup of coffee from Starbucks and instead make a cup of coffee from your Keurig.

We went a step further and compared store bought K-cups to the cost of brewing a cup of coffee using “reusable” K-Cups and our own favorite 12 ounce bag of ground coffee for $8.99.  The result?  We brewed 41 cups of coffee at approximately $0.22 per twelve-ounce cup.

Last time a cup of “Joe” was that cheap Woodrow Wilson was president.

What makes interesting people interesting?

Think_Different_posters

Interesting people have a special magnetism. They tell incredible stories and lead unusual lives. But what exactly makes them so captivating?

They are curious more than anything else. An interesting person is always excited to explore the world, and this energy radiates outward.

Some people are naturally interesting, but there are also ways to learn to be more engaging. Anyone can learn to become more interesting, which is a wonderful thing, because being interesting can help you strengthen your network, win more clients, and lead more effectively.

There are several habits that many interesting people have in common. Sometimes these habits form naturally, but they are more often than not the result of conscious effort. Here’s what interesting people do to make themselves engaging, unusual, and hypnotizing.

They are passionate. 

Jane Goodall, a bona fide interesting person, left her home in England and moved to Tanzania at age 26 to begin studying chimpanzees. It became her life’s work, and Goodall has devoted herself fully to her cause while inspiring many others to do the same. Interesting people don’t just have interests; they have passions, and they devote themselves completely to them.

They try new things. 

Interesting people do what interests them. They know what they want, and they’re brave enough to take the steps to get there. This often means trying new things—things at which they may be terrible at first. The very act of seeking new experiences also happens to be great for your mood, and people who are happy are magnetic and far more interesting to be around than duds.

They don’t hide their quirks. 

Interesting people often have unusual preferences that don’t fit the norm. They are open and unabashed about who they are, which gives everyone a good look at these interesting tendencies. Billionaire Warren Buffett, for example, has never been suited to the high-rolling lifestyle. Instead, he still lives in the same modest house he bought in 1958 for $31,500. It might seem quirky—or even strange—for such an incredibly wealthy man to live so frugally, but Buffett doesn’t sacrifice his preferences because of what’s expected of him.

They avoid the bandwagon. 

Nothing is more boring than following the bandwagon, and interesting people are intent on forging their own paths. There’s often nothing wrong with what everyone else is doing; it’s just that interesting people are innovators, who break conformity to pursue new, exciting, and yes, interesting ideas.

They check their egos at the door. 

An egomaniac is never interesting. Egomaniacs are always posturing, always worrying about how they’ll come across. It’s exhausting, and it’s also dishonest. Take Oprah Winfrey—an interesting and interested person. In a speech to the Stanford University graduating class of 2008, she said, “The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead. Every right decision I’ve made—every right decision I’ve ever made—has come from my gut. And every wrong decision I’ve ever made was a result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself.” Oprah’s advice is so important: listen to your values, goals, and ambitions, rather than worrying about what will make you look good.

They’re always learning. 

To interesting people, the world has infinite possibilities. This curiosity about the unknown leads to constant learning, fueled by an ever-burning desire to discover the unknown. Despite his intelligence and accomplishments, Albert Einstein kept a sense of wonder throughout his life that made him continue to ask questions about the world. Like Einstein, interesting people are in a constant state of wonder.

They share what they discover. 

The only thing interesting people enjoy as much as learning is sharing their discoveries with others. While some will spin engaging yarns about their exciting travels, there is more to it than that. Interesting people are interesting because they feel out their conversational partner to see what sparks that person’s interest. They don’t share to expose all of the interesting things they’ve done; they share for other people to enjoy.

They don’t worry about what others think of them. 

Nothing is more uninteresting than someone who holds their true self back because they’re afraid that other people might not like it. Instead, interesting people are true to themselves wherever they are, whoever they’re with, and in whatever they’re doing. Interesting people are authentic to a fault. The famous English author Charles Dickens personified this. No matter where he was working—in a friend’s house or in a hotel—he would bring specific pens and objects and arrange them precisely. While his behavior may have seemed strange, he was always true to himself.

It might not always be easy to incorporate these habits into daily life, but that’s what makes the people who do so interesting—they go against the grain, and that is undeniably interesting.

Never forget to keep exploring the world and staying true to yourself.