Thankful this year for the good, the bad, the ugly

Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, November 20, 2017

This is the Monday before Thanksgiving. There will be countless columns and sentiments on why someone is thankful for health, wealth and the warmth of family and friends.

However, I am not sure why the gratitude of this day is equated with stuffing yourself to the gills and passing out on the couch while watching football.

I want to give a shout-out and a thank you to all the unicorns whose valuations are inflated, hyped and make all the rest of us mere mortals and millennials who aspire to have a horn on their head seek serious shrinkdom as they race around in their networking accelerators, incubators, hackathons, pitch fest decks, mentoring-yoga-tantric-deep breathing peer groups, Master Minds, Vistage, Junto, EO, YPO, OOO wondering why they are such failures and how the hell did Jones get that Maserati — even if we know it is leased.

Nota Bene: The valuations that are advertised are not what they seem. Please read carefully the last financing document and the several paragraphs on preferences, floors, narrow-based weighted averages, dilution and clawbacks. But they make great fodder for the headline, tabloid-tech-crunch insanity, which supports the daily feed-the-beast stream of news designed to drive the technocrati as well as the great unwashed not only nuts, but to constantly ask the question — when do I get mine?

I want to thank the politicians — regardless of party, race, creed, persuasion or voting record. Without you men and women, the news cycle would be a three-minute segment featuring a cat that can take a ball of yarn and crochet a sweater, followed by pictures of 128 cute children and the entire planet’s new personal Facebook cover photo.

I want to thank Wall Street. Where else can the American Dream go to die, only to be resuscitated and resurrected by some obscure financial no one can understand it, but it is going up in value, legerdemain? Thanksgiving now comes with a crypto, initial coin offering on my bitcoin turkey leg — which since both the leg and the coin are virtual and don’t really exist, means that if I want to eat anything I need to go to the Shake Shack. (I was there at UTC today and found a line 45 minutes long. I do not think there is a burger on this planet that I would stand in line that long for. So I went up and interviewed a few people — here is the common comment: “It is supposed to be the best burger in the world.” Supposed to be — wow, all I can say is when it comes to marketing and hype, no one can touch Danny Meyer.)

I want to thank social media — finally something I can dislike even more than a cyanide smoothie. I will not, under any circumstances, post a picture of what I am eating or even another sunset. And as for this thing called “influencers,” I don’t get it. I do not want to be influenced by chuckleheads. Think about it. People get paid because their personal but relatively uninformed opinion is more significant than your own. Are you kidding me?

I am not a curmudgeon. I am very clear in this area — I am deeply grateful for the many blessings I have received. While my personal cup runneth over, I am also deeply aware of other cups that are leaking or empty. I cry when I read about the Challenged Athletes Foundation participants or the hotel worker who works two jobs or the homeless on the street in the tent. I crave authenticity in my life — good or bad. I just want it to be real, unadorned, uninfluenced by hype — just genuine. No hustle, no con, no drive-by-shooting and take the money and run. I want simple and real, and when the human spirit triumphs, my heart soars.

Rule No. 538:  Thank you.

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