September 2012: Mean, Mode

[First in a series, to explore what it means to be average (from U.S.-based standpoint)]

When did it become so bad to be average, to the point that people would rather be “special” in one thing and forsake all others, all the while claiming they’re in the upper echelon of life’s strata?

Whenever I think about the fall of the “average” person, my mind turns to a classic American film, that I disliked from the get-go; not for the cinematography and all else that goes into making a film, but for its overarching message. In “American Beauty”, one line in particular stands out: “Which is great, because there's nothing worse in life than being ordinary.”



The movie caricatured several types of “ordinary” people flailing at their wish to stand out.

In hindsight, of particular humor, is the depiction of real estate people. I was not working in real estate at the time but even I saw the representation as grossly exaggerated, and mean - a great segue into the different levels of average: mean, median, mode, and range.
http://herdingcats.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/statistics.jpg

There are other measures but let’s focus on these most common ones, particularly the mode.

As defined, the mode is the most repeated result within a population (a situation); the norm. For example, in the U.S. the norm for nuclear family life was husband, wife and two children. Norms shift and that is no longer the case. Yet, that composition is still viewed as the average U.S. family. The tricky thing about “the average”; it does not change. The average really is a constant.

Think back to grade school up to the end of undergraduate studies. The grading system had a numerical value tied to a letter value. If you told someone you got a 70 in a class, automatically that person processed it as you received a “C”.  A 90 meant an “A”. Of course, most schools implemented a plus/minus system, but the concept was still the same: a “C” was the average grade, even though “D” was passing.

Over time, people leave school and there really is no measure for determining what is average, only “passing” performance, behavior, etc…This leaves the mode (the style, the norm) to be the sole determinant of the average. But, what happens when the norm is like my favorite character from Cheers? Nobody wants to be Norm, correct? He is everyone’s idea of the failed, average American married male; not realizing that even though a guy like that was the most repeated outcome, Norm was not the mean.

The true mean was still receiving at least a 70, a “C” - not avoiding his wife by being at the bar, had children, worked hard in his career, etc...

The question most of us have to ask ourselves: am I average? To determine this, count all the things you know about or know to do – everything from carpentry to cooking; fashion to football. If you are having trouble drawing up a list, go to your local college and browse the current semester’s course catalog. In its offering of classes, check off the number you would pass – not just the mental, theoretical based ones, include the practical, the physical ones. For example: Biology as well as Tennis. Each subject only counts once, as we are not currently dealing with mastery- upper division level coursework. You pass for “knowing about” as well as knowing “how to”.

How many did you count? Did you reach a C-level? I’m sweating because I sure hope that I’m average. But not to fret, as usual, I have brought along two friends who have gone and continue to trek way past the norm…


GOING ABOVE/BEYOND NORMS

BYRON FRANKLIN
Recently billed as “The D.J. with the J.D.”, Byron is a person you can place in any environment or field, and he will find a way to build alliances, shape the place to his personality and ways of being. Check out this video from his youtube channel: 


Humility is an attractive trait and to hear Kim who is the pure life of the party and a consummate friend tell it, you would understand why range might be the most important characteristic to possess. Check out her bio and see why I’m a fan, a friend.

August 2012 – Your Smile

WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE YOU?
Fall Night, moonlight; suburban cool, a breeze in the air as she said it with no hint of haughtiness, “People like me because of my smile.” The two of us, mere males, captivated by her echoing laugh, questioned whether that was all it took for people to like her. Not only did she radiate a certain cool, a detached way of not heightening her sensuality, she truly had a captivating smile.

Is it solely because you show your teeth or do you genuinely brighten a room with your mere presence? What if you only smile with your eyes, like I do the majority of the time, ever since I abandoned the “G” on my tooth; you know “way back when I had the red and black lumberjack…” #biggie #idigress

Your smile says so much about you. It can carry you anywhere, sort of a like a passport to enter other people’s worlds. Your smile lends you diplomatic immunity from certain misconceptions, except from those people who are always mean-mugging. They do not understand that if one cannot smile, the next step is not a frown, unless one is underground, riding the subway. Even then, I believe a simple poker face could do.

In fact, bring it full circle and turn your smile into your poker face! Let’s focus on all the things that get you glum. Reframe them as obstacles that you have or will overcome, and are here “still standing” like Antwone Fisher!

Doesn’t that make you smile, to think yourself as the winner?

Where does your smile start? I’ve seen people whose smile start from their mid-section. Others commence theirs from their brow, down to their eyes, and then their face light up. You know why? It is because you walked into the room with your smile.

HELP FOR YOUR SMILE
If you still cannot muster a smile worth sharing with everyone, I recommend you call on the following people:
 

RONALD TAYLOR
RCT Endodontics


 ANTHONY JOHNSON
Johnson Pediatric Dentistry

SHANDRA CUSHINGBERRY-RAND
Simply Smiles Family and Cosmetic Dentistry


MAUREEN POUX
Richard Mathews DDS for Children




LEE GAUSE
Smile Design Manhattan

July 2012 – The Cliché of Freedom

THE ROAD
Freedom, much like friendship, is one of the hardest words, concepts to truly define. There are ranges to both, and they have both been interpreted and voiced in popular culture. Where they diverge is that freedom is often seen as elusive and an end-goal.

The first definition of freedom that struck and stuck with me was Public Enemy sampling the words, “Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude…”  during their “A Nation of Millions”  album. Up until then, I thought of freedom as solely a group exercise, dealing with physical bondage.

Ideally that is the root of freedom where a group is physically held back, e.g. slavery, serfdom, caste systems, etc…but like the chicken or the egg, which came first?

It seems that nowadays, for the most part, we are dealing with Bob Marley’s paraphrase of Marcus Garvey’s, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery…” But, how does one go about redeeming one’s self, freeing one’s self from the ties that bind?

Daily we see expressions of people claiming individuality, their personal freedom. This starts from early childhood and normally manifests itself during the teenage years. From this stage on, people are apt to believe they are expressing freedom through various modes and means of rebellion: hairstyle, fashion, tattoos, piercing, and a host of other ways to stand out and say, “This is me… I am FREE!”

TOO FREE
This is the crossroad that I have faced, as have many others. What happens when “Too much freedom is the road to true oppression.”? How do you prevent your freedom from becoming your prison, a mere exercise in nihilism? How do you pull back?

DARE TO CARE
True freedom is about caring. People who are truly free care about others. Otherwise, freedom is a cliché to do whatever the “6th” letter we want.

As always, I bring two or a few friends along. Today, I would like to introduce you to two of the freest people I know, both extraordinary people who express themselves quite differently.


One of the first friends I met when I moved to the State of Maryland in the mid-90s, a gifted artist and freedom fighter:  





One of my longest-tenured right-hand men, back to slightly before “I said hip hop…”


June 2012 – Commitment Requirements


Internally there are variables that determine why we commit to something or someone. Most times we are not even aware of the reason. Take for example, dating and romantic relationships. It never dawned on me that I had some basic yet very rigid requirements when it came to women.

“The 3 C’s”
Until one day, I was watching this Indie flick, whose name totally escapes me. But, to paraphrase the main actors were chit-chatting and one broke it down that for him to get serious, the other person had to have The 3 C’s: Car, Crib and Cable. And if (he or) she cooks, then you marry.

A year later, I was engaged to be married! I mean those weren’t the only qualifications. But having those variables in place really helped narrow down the field. Before then, I did not know why I stopped dating women who lived in The Bronx and beyond. Think about it, if The 3 C’s are not in place, what are we going to do on a Tuesday night? #blank stare

GO BROKE?
This whole notion came to mind because, though I never romanticized the whole starving artists mantra, I definitely resisted becoming a “suit” even while working corporate. I always had my writing, my passion as my side hustle, putting in major hours, remaining committed.

But, how committed was I? Was I as committed as this guy? Esteban Tino Romero

 

TRUTH BE TOLD
I was. There are many ways to be committed, to show commitment. The best way is to work so hard that failure is not an option. This does not mean you will reach the quantitative goal that determines an outsider’s or even your definition of success. But, as long as you reach the qualitative one that states, “you did your best” then you’re a success. You were committed, and for this I applaud you!

KEEPING THEM IN STITCHES
These three comedians I knew long before they ever took the stage but they always brought good cheer to those around them. I am going to provide the facebook pages I have for them so you can link with them on FB to keep track of their next performances.

To catch some clips, go to youtube.com and search their names:

Stacey Killings
Dante' Nero.

May 2012 – Your Vacation Mindset


Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend have been programmed in our brains as summer’s true date range. We look forward to vacation season all year-long. Depending on how you vacation can make or break friendships and relationships.

Cancun Days
We took this type of vacation and some of us still do. We set out to test out our Daredevil mentality by snorkeling and/or scuba diving, even though we cannot swim. Some become “super tourists” and want to trek way out into the country side and/or take tours to go see the ruins. And, others just want to lounge poolside or go play beach volleyball until it’s time for Senor Frog’s.

Do you see where I’m going with this? YES, ALABAMA!

"ALABAMA IS LIVE LIKE THAT"? (NSFW Video, vacation at the 1:40 mark)
No, this is not a putdown on Alabama and all of you ‘bamas! I’m talking about how the stand-up comedienne Sommore broke down the vacation mindset in a very NSFW (not safe for work) routine that you really should find on youtube. She basically explains why and how some are able to simply enjoy vacation just for what it is, no matter where they go.

Staycation
This word first made its way into the urban lexicon as a way of saying “ends did not meet so I’m stuck here” while my friends are in South Beach for Memorial Day Weekend. But, now it is commonplace to hear soccer moms using it because it means that hubby is at work and the kids are in school, and I have two weeks to dream about what life would be had I (fill in the blanks). In all seriousness, a Staycation is one of, if not, the best ways to test your vacation mindset, especially if you live in a place like New York City, DC, Alabama... ;)…


Do people pay big bucks to come to your city? Why not enjoy your home city like a vacationer, not just during your staycation, but on a regular basis? Whether you’re into visiting the sights, doing daredevil stuff, or simply lounging poolside at the W, enjoy vacation season, set your mind to vacation and live that life.

Your next vacation
No newsletter would be complete if I did not bring 2 friends along, who (in this case) will help you plan your next vacation:

Gai SpannSpanning The Globe tours


Cheryl B. Robinson
http://missbusybeetravel.com

April 2012 - “You had me at “hello”…”

Even though this issue of the newsletter deals with books and women, I found this movie quote most apropos when it comes to the nature of friendships forged. Do most of your friendships fall into the category listed in the subject line, or did they progress over time?

When you hear that someone works as an “Agent” of any kind, trust that they not only work hard; they also love what they do and for whom they labor: you! Though I would love for my fellow wordsmiths to submit their work to Regina for consideration; first: please check out her website and see which of the many authors she represents have written a book that you would like to read.




Odessa Rose - Novels: Water in a Broken Glass; and In The Mirror
We met through the slush pile and over countless editorial sessions, we got to know one another. I find Odessa to be one of the last holds of the traditional virtues, not just in writing but the way she cherishes loyalty when it comes to those who have committed to love each other. Her first novel, ‘Water’, is slowly being included on a myriad of reading lists that are shared by other strongholds of literature. And, she matches those expectations with her second novel.





Shahmet Gordon - Poetry: Spirit Song (the lyrics of my heart)
“By the power of Grayskull”…Oh, I meant, “by the power of Facebook” we reconnected. I hadn’t seen her since the mid-80’s, after I graduated high school. The next sighting, she was on stage, coming from the heart with some of the most touching poetry I had heard in years. Just when I had given up on open mics, finger snaps, and the other trappings that I felt had detoured poetry from its course, where one can sit alone and truly understand the words on the paper, as well as on the stage…Now you too can share that moment via her first collection.


Article: Hotels a Win for Ex-Athletes

By targeting professional athletes as investors, Hilton is hoping they can bring enough buzz and excitement to individual hotel properties that they stand out in an increasingly competitive hotel industry. The company says retired athletes make ideal owners because they have experience with leadership, teamwork and handling diversity—and they have capital to invest.

--Kris Hudson

Article: Hotels a Win for Ex-Athletes

AEG's Big Money Play

Blockbuster that will change face of sports


He said, “It’s worth what someone is willing to pay for it, but I believe that if you look at it, are the Lakers worth as much as the Dodgers? Arguably, yes. Are the Kings now one of the more valuable teams in the NHL? They’re the Stanley Cup champs, so arguably, yes. This is going to be one of the larger deals done in the history of sports and entertainment, and a large part of that is our real estate and our entertainment districts. That’s really where our value is.”



AEG Inventory of Assets

Building Blocks: Athletes in Development (real estate)

An older article but still newsworthy!

“Athletes have been notorious for tying up their money in horse farms, or drag racing or record labels, which turned out not to be such sound investments,” said Wayne McDonnell Jr., an associate professor at New York University who teaches sports business courses. And real estate, with its brash personalities and public clashes, taps into players’ competitive natures, he added.

“When their playing days are over, athletes can’t just turn off that competitive energy,” Mr. McDonnell said. “They need to channel it into different exercises.”

What has not changed is that a game-winning score can be an enduring public relations bonanza, which can help get deals done, said Tate George, a basketball star at the University of Connecticut and a first-round pick of the New Jersey Nets in 1990. Mr. George is president of the George Group, a developer that mostly builds affordable homes in Newark, N.J.