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Archive | December, 2010

FRiction FRiday | Top Ten Favorite Characters continues

We’re halfway home to discovering my Top Ten Favorite Characters in the mystery-thriller-suspense genre and there are many great ones remaining. You’ll remember from our discussion of the First Five of the Top Ten Favorite Characters last week that the nice thing about the word “favorite” is that it’s very personal. They’re MY favorites … but it will be a good thing if you disagree because we’ll all learn about great characters we may have missed.

[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

Top Ten Favorite Characters

Here’s a few things to remember from the introductory post on this subject. First, the Top Ten are in random order, although as I’ve said, those toward the top are probably more favorite than others. We’ve also learned from a discussion of the First Five of these characters, that longevity is a critical success factor for favorite characters.

BTW, I’ve started an Honorable Mention category … and another list, Missing in Actionto capture some that didn’t make the Top Ten. We’ll get to those down the road.

Who are the Second Five?

So, accumulated over many years, here are the Second Five of my favorite Top Ten in this wonderful mystery-thriller-suspense genre. (more…)

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How do we become truly remarkable?

Imagine that you are so remarkable that all the world stands in your honor, swinging and singing, tiny flashlights dancing across the ceiling, oblivious to the world around them? How do we achieve such an astounding level of recognition and praise for our own talents and accomplishments?

That’s what was going through my mind when I tuned in late last night  to the Kennedy Center Honors featuring Paul McCartney. Yes, there were other honorees … Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman and Bill T. Jones … but there were goosebumps aplenty as I listened to some of McCartney’s and the Beatles’ memorable songs … sung by luminaries like James Taylor, Steven Tyler, Gwen Stefani and Mavis Staples. Members of every generation ravenously devoured his music. You can watch many of the performances here.

What is our special gift?

Wow! How can we do that, I wondered? How do we, as Steve Jobs said, “get rid of all the crappy stuff” and stay focused like a rocket heading to its target? How do we apply the unique characteristics that define and differentiate us to achieve excellence in our chosen field? How do we stay unshackled from the constraints of everyday living and get our star to shine like Sirius?

And when the night is cloudy ….

It’s easy to ponder McCartney’s accomplishments and overlook the turbulence that has surrounded his life … from the screaming crowds and adoration beginning  in his early 20’s, to later encounters with drugs, the deaths of his wife and John Lennon, a more recent divorce …. Just a few of those distractions would overpower a weaker individual, and yet with all of it, he created an enduring musical catalog that lives in the hearts of billions of people across the world.

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid ….

I watched the “shiny eyes”, borrowing the words of Benjamin Zander, that stared in wonder at Paul McCartney. He was standing in the balcony reserved for the honorees, awash in the crescendo of adulation and applause. The musical set finished with Let it Be, which rocked the house, and when the huge choir assembled on stage for Hey, Jude, the crowd came to its feet, flashlights in hand, arms raised, McCartney singing, the President, Oprah and special guests swinging and swaying like they were in a totally different world. At that moment, McCartney’s music and lyrics transcended time and generations, with intoxicating power.

What are we doing to get there? What inspires you to sharpen your focus and accelerate your journey in 2011? Do you have the desired outcome and the next action steps clearly in mind?

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Rudolph made it. I knew he would!

If you woke up this morning with sugar plums dancing in your head, most likely Santa made it down the chimney … and Rudolph is stretched out on the ottoman with a cup of egg nog in hand.

“Seriously?” my wife said. “You’re really singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer while you’re getting dressed this morning?”

I’m afraid so. Honestly, I have no idea how that song got into my head. Maybe because Rudolph … along with Santa and Frosty … are the most iconic images of a secular Christmas? Maybe because Santa brought me some cool loot?

Maybe all that … but  for just a moment, I stopped to consider the words … mostly to figure out how to convince my wife that I hadn’t lost it  … yet … and it dawned on me that there’s a very timeless message in this simple tune that applies to all of us entrepreneurs … and everyone else trying to find their way in this world. (more…)

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FRiction FRiday: Top Ten Favorite Characters begins!

Santa Claus is just packing his cooler for the long trip … and you’ve probably got a few extra days to kick back, a favorite adult beverage in hand and lose yourself in a great story. Lucky us, huh?

[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

Top Ten Favorite Characters

As if we could hide from it … this is the time of year for lists … Christmas Lists, Top Ten everything lists from 2010, New Years’ resolutions … so I’m contributing my list of my Top Ten Favorite Characters from the mystery-thriller-suspense genre. Not all today but before the New Year.

The nice thing about the word “favorite” is that it’s very personal, isn’t it? They’re MY favorites so you don’t have to like them … you can disagree … and I hope you will because I’m always eager to learn about a great character I’ve missed.

When I started, I wasn’t sure how hard it might be to identify 10 great characters .. until I started writing them down. I’ve already had to create an Honorable Mention category for those that didn’t make it … so you’ll see that soon, too. Maybe the first Friday in 2011.

I decided against any 1-10 ordering since they are all so great … but I had to list them in some order … so let’s call it random. When I look at the list, though, there are some that are MORE FAVORITE than others and those are toward the top of the list … but all of them are eminently worthy … and for different reasons ….

Longevity is one key to Favorite Characters

One prominent thread among virtually all of the Top Five (or so) … is longevity … a series in which I’ve been indulging for a long time. You’ll soon see how this is quite a differentiating characteristic. I have a feeling that most series with less than 10 books probably won’t make it … further confirmation that for many of us, these series characters become old friends that we’re always eager to meet again.

Enough, already. Who are they?

So, accumulated over many years, here are some of my favorite guys … and gals … in this wonderful mystery-thriller-suspense genre. (more…)

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The 12 Days of Christmas – Prices UP!

We knew that 2010 was a pretty “fowl” year didn’t we … but did you think that the price of a French hen would increase by 233%? Or that two turtle doves would now cost 78.6% more? That a lone partridge would go up 20%?

Not that there’s anything wrong with a basket of assorted swans, geese, French hens and turtle doves … I’d prefer a beef tenderloin myself … but who expected that in 2010, the  “Christmas Price Index”, which has closely tracked the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for most of its 27 years, would rise by 9.2%, the 2nd largest increase over that period (2nd only to a 16% jump in 2003), according to the NY Times report?

It’s PNC Wealth Management that has tracked the cost of the fanciful mix of gifts heralded in the classic carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” for more than a quarter century. This year, they’ve included a popup book on their web site about this index.

Of course, this basket of good is much narrower than the CPI, but there’s one other interesting “nugget” in here … namely that the price of “Five Golden Rings” is up 30% to $650 this year, although a lower increase than last year’s 43%. Should have bought a bunch of gold a few years ago, huh? (I’m such a great rear-view investor, it’s actually scary.)

BTW, if you want to give all of the gifts featured in the song … repeats included … it’s 364 gifts for a total of a mere $96,824, up 10.8% from last year. It only costs $23,439.28 for just the 1-12 gifts. Oh, that’s all? Feeling better already ….

At least there’s one piece of good news in here. If inflation rears it’s ugly head, we can put it on a plate and serve it for dinner!

Happy Holidays!

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The 12 Pains of Christmas

There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime.  Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them. — P.J. O’Rourke

The holidays are just around the corner, and we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to get it all done. So, instead of asking you to work at something – anything – I’ve decided to give you a gift of holiday music. Elmo did it, so did Ren & Stimpy, Winnie the Pooh, Shrek, the Muppets … so with animated competition like this, what can go wrong with my first effort at song-writing?

Yeah, I know, don’t quit your day job. So, feel free to sing along to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. Key of D Sharp, please.

All together now:

The first thing in business that’s such a pain to me… is the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The second thing in business that’s such a pain to me … stuff a-cumm-u-lating … and the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The third thing in business that’s such a pain to me … meetings, meetings, meetings … stuff a-cumm-u-lating … and the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The fourth thing in business that’s such a pain to me(more…)

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FRiction FRiday: Top Ten Characters | Baldacci rocks!

Wow, I’m a little behind this week so I’m going to have to keep this short until next time ….

[All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

Baldacci Rocks!

Tonight, I will finish Baldacci’s 5th Camel Club series book, Hell’s Corner … but it’s clear that Baldacci has become even more proficient at intricate plots that are not easy to unravel, even for his inimitable character, Oliver Stone, a/k/a John Carr. This latest work … and one of his longest … has been a cut above the previous books in this series, mostly because just as you think you’ve figured out what’s happening, phrases like … sharp turn left, start over, huh?, what just happened?, where are we going now? … pop into your skull.

If you haven’t met the Camel Club, get started with the first book, The Camel Club to get the gist … then in order, read The Collectors, Stone Cold & Divine Justice. You can thank me later.

Top Ten Favorite Characters

Okay, so the list isn’t done … at least not for public consumption although I have narrowed it to the Top Ten from the mystery-thriller-suspense genre. I PROMISE (more…)

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FRiction FRiday: Top Ten Favorite Characters

Wow, is it FRiction FRiday already? They sure seem to come up fast … even though some weeks are pretty long … so let’s kick up a few more rocks and talk about our favorite mystery-thriller-suspense novels. [All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGE … except URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

It’s been great to to hear from so many of you. I’m thrilled we’ve found each other … but don’t hesitate to add your comments and questions in the FRiction FRiday blog posts so everyone can see and share. Remember, we don’t have to agree … I fully respect your right to be dead wrong! Just kidding … kind of. ;>)

Top Ten Favorite Characters

I guess this is the time of year for lists … Christmas Lists, Top Ten everything lists from 2010, New Years’ resolutions … so I’m joining in by TRYING to create a list of my Top Ten Favorite Characters from the mystery-thriller-suspense genre. Not all at once, mind you … but over the remaining few weeks of the year.

I wasn’t really sure how hard I’d have to scrounge to find TEN that I really love … until I started writing them down. Now, I’ve already had to create an Honorable Mention category for those that didn’t make it … with explanations for each about why they didn’t make it … and each is for a different reason.

For now, I’ve also decided against any 1-10 ordering since they are all so great … and for different reasons. (more…)

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Vol. 78: 12 Holiday Morsels to Strenghten Your Business

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” — Yogi Berra

Yes, the holidays are here and already the list of things to do continues to grow – completing the annual budget, planning parties, visiting with friends, figuring out what to get who for when … and so it goes. Yet, my spirit remains strong, so I’ve prepared a menu of 12 holiday treats that I hope will slide down like Amaretto eggnog in front of a winter fire.

I’ve even scoured some of my earlier columns to find the most delectable morsels. So, here’s a smorgasbord of lessons learned – a few appetizers, a choice of entrees, a little dessert – from executives of both extraordinary capability and numbing incompetence  — that should grace your executive table.

1.     It’s never about you. It’s always about them. Customers, employees, suppliers … family, friends, colleagues. Be clear about it and thrive. Get it backwards? Fail.

2.     If you don’t think you’ll ever have a management succession problem, you already have one.

3.     Build your compensation plan based on performance. Period. (more…)

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FRiction FRiday: Reacher, you Magnificent Bastard!

I’ve heard from a few of you that you’re a little confused about FRiction FRiday. Pretty simple, really … just a joyride down a back alley hidden behind our office building. No, I’m not changing the web site or becoming a book critic. Just having some fun, kicking a few rocks loose and sharing my observations with those of you who love mystery-thriller-suspense novels. Only on Fridays … to suggest a few morsels for the weekend and beyond. [All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGEexcept URL references in RED. No affiliate links.]

Stay tuned for my own Top Ten list

Geez, aren’t there enough of those? Yeah, probably … but in this genre, it isn’t the Top Ten favorite books. Most observers agree that with series books, like many/most of those in this genre, few people can remember one book from the other within a favorite series … certainly if their memory is like mine, they can’t. What they do vividly remember are the characters … and of course, the authors … and it’s the character development that’s more memorable than a specific book.

We’ll start down that path next week but you can be sure the guy who follows is definitely on it!

Worth Dying For … Jack Reacher a Cornhusker?

Yes, one of our favorite heroes returns in Worth Dying For, book #15 in the Reacher series from Lee Child. If you haven’t met Jack Reacher, then you don’t pay much attention to this genre. Reacher is a retired MP officer from the U.S. Army, disconnected from just about everything. He’s always on the road but somehow becomes embroiled in all manner of justice serving and general mayhem along the way. Big guy, plays for keeps, doesn’t lose much, doesn’t get pushed around much either.

Last week, Reacher’s latest story was on my “Still Savoring” list but I couldn’t hold off any longer. I finished it last night and it’s great to have the old Reacher back. He seemed to be mellowing a bit in the last few books, letting a few bad guys off the hook. No longer because he makes up for it in spades here. Readers love Reacher because he extracts justice on the spot … no hand-wringing, no regrets … he just acts in ways that satisfy our own primal urges … the kind that are riled when one more predator goes free or another child has gone missing.

If you haven’t found Reacher, get started. You can also check out the Reacher Report, too, to keep up with Jack’s exploits.

More juice ….

No time to comment but here’s a pic of one stack of books I’ve read to jostle your reading fires. (more…)

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