Good morning,

Welcome to Sword Tips, the Exkalibur Newsletter for April 14, 2022. I’m glad you’re here.

This is an important week for Sword Tips. Although, we’ve published newsletters for several months … tweeking the structure and seeking the most valuable and seemless experience possible, we hope this latest edition will hit all the right notes. Of course, it’s a journey not a destination and we’ll continue to do our best to improve and deliver a valuable newsletter to you, fueled by your comments and suggestions along the way.

We’ve known for a while that we needed to convert the Sword Tips Newsletter to a paid subscription service. It will allow us to continue to invest in the design, production and curation of Sword Tips, improve communication with you and offer discounts on paid programs and courses … with a few exclusive freebies along the way.

A 14- Day Free Trial Subscription & All Access Pass

The new program will begin next Thursday, April 21. If you are already on our mailing list as an Exkalibur Subscriber, you’ll need to subscribe to the Sword Tips Newsletter to take advantage of the 14-Day Free Trial. It includes a All Access Pass to read the full articles published on Sword Tips, and to search our entire database of the more than 1,000 articles over the past decade.

The minimum subscription price will be $10/month or $100/year which provides two free months for annual subscribers.

We will be donating 10% of subscription revenue to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and related charities.

It’s clear that two of the forces shaping our lives in powerful ways are the Workplace changes induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and at a distance, the unfolding War in Ukraine. We’ll delve more deeply into the currents sweeping across the Workplace and I’ll share some of the unique voices and perspectives I’ve found on the tragic War in Ukraine.,

With rising inflation … and food and gas price increases hitting our pocketbooks … the investment horizon is unclear. One of the most dominant themes these days is cryptocurrency. It’s a mystery to most so I’ve shared several sources which I hope will help you better understand it.

Easter is this Sunday marking the end of Holy Week and Lent for Christianity, but Passover and Ramadan also occur during the same period. I’ve offered a little insight into each of those holidays and the enigmatic ways in which their dates are set each year.

There’s also a few funnies along the way. a look at a few stories in the world of entertainment … and as always, a few good novels to read.

I hope you benefit from and enjoy this week’s Sword Tips.

Featured Article

What Leaders Can Learn from the Greatest Week in Sports

Don’t click away just because you see the word “Sports”. You’ve probably played them at one time or another … been part of a team … and if you have children, they’ll likely be on a team at some point along the way.

It would be my dream week to attend the Final Four at the end of March Madness, attend the Championship Game on Monday night and then fly to Augusta, Georgia to attend The Masters golf tournament.

Of course, I would only be doing it for the lessons learned (yeah, right) … because there are a lot of lessons Leaders can take from the exuberance and of collegiate athletes as well as from the plans and processes of the professional athlete. When you read, What Leaders Can Learn from the Amateurs and Pros, you’ll find the The 7 Ingredients to Succeed Under Pressure.

Spotlight on Crypto​​

Cryptocurrency, or “Crypto” which it is commonly called, is an investment bonanza for some and a mystery wrapped in a conundrum for others … most others I suspect.

If you want to learn a little more about Crypto, whether you’re an interested investor or a curious bystander, I’ve provided links, below, that I hope will help along with these helpful factoids to set the stage:

  • Bitcoin was the first, but there are over 10,000 cryptocurrencies.
  • The internet is the cashier and the only place you can find it is on your phone or computer.
  • It’s not easy to spend.
  • Banks and governments are not involved.

I’ve include a 7m video from David Pogue that will provide a helpful overview. You can also download this summary which will help you understand the concept.

Nat Eliason runs a Crypto Newsletter and has written extensively about this subject. He is writing a series on Tokennomics, which has become a popular term over the last several years to describe the math and incentives governing crypto assets. It is ongoing but here are the first three issues: 

The War in Ukraine

Commentary

While my observations about politics and government will be infrequent, there are times when silence is unaccceptable. These pictures are just a drop in the bucket of what is available. (If you type “War in Ukraine” into the Google search engine, you get nearly 3 TRILLION, yes, trillion, hits.)

We can surely agree that the War in Ukraine is a horrendous display of death and destruction, exacerbated by the war crimes against civilains which are appalling.

While I respect the obsession to treat Putin as a war criminal and bring him to trial for war crimes, that will do nothing but cast even more opprobrium his way. It may have symbolic value, but it will do nothing to stop the war or the unspeakable acts perpetrated on the Ukraine population.

My concern is that the sanctions are punitive but not persuasive. While it’s clear that the U.S. and NATO countries are reluctant to engage Russia in a European war, I don’t see any alternative that will stop this war. Unless we want to witness continued death and destruction in Ukraine and an accelerating toll of civilian brutality, perhaps enjoining our NATO allies to join with us in enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, is a wise first step.

Putin is counting on our unwillingness to commit our men and women to another war thousands of miles away. He thinks the West is hamstrung by his threats of a nuclear response and is banking on our lack of resolve to call his bluff.

I get it, but I don’t see another solution beyond watching these horrors continue. What do you think?

Russia suspended from the U.N. Human Rights Council

I’m happy to see that the United Nations suspended Russia from its seat on the Human Rights Council last Thursday. The resolution passed with 93 votes in favor, 24 against and 58 abstentions. You can see the vote in the accompanying graphic. The usual suspects either voted no, or in most cases, refused to vote at the risk of alienating Russia. (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Finally, a good thing to come from the hackers community: It’s the right thing to do: the 300,000 volunteer hackers coming together to fight Russia.

So far, about 300,000 people have signed up the the group responding to Ukraine’s appeal for IT experts to help in the battle against Putin.

Gary Kasporov traces Vladimir Putin's rise to power

 This 15m video provides some valuable insights into Putin’s rise to power as a backdrop to the War in Ukraine.

Ukraine is on the front line of a war between freedom and tyranny, says chess grandmaster and human rights advocate Garry Kasparov. In this blistering call to action, he traces Vladimir Putin’s rise to power and details his own path from chess world champion to pro-democracy activist in Russia. His message is a challenge to global leaders to rise in support of Ukraine — and to choose life and love over death and hatred. “The price of stopping a dictator always goes up with every delay and every hesitation,” he says. “Meeting evil halfway is still a victory for evil.”

How Putin’s War in Ukraine Changed a Century

Finally, in an April issue of Foreign Policy, Michael Hirsh tackles the longer term implications of the War in Ukraine in How Putin’s War in Ukraine Changed a Century, with the likely result that it will upset the entire postwar global system.

This lady from Texas is hilarious.

The Business Briefing

McKinsey's Great Attrition, Great Attraction Survey

The 100 Best Companies to Work For

For 25 years, Fortune and their partner, Great Place to Work, have published their Best Companies list.

For the 2nd year in a row. Cisco is at the top of the list. Hilton is #2 and has been on the list for 7 years. A company that’s been on the list for all 25 years , Wegman’s Food Markets, is #3. You can find the 2022 Best Companies list here.

Turmoil in the Workplace Continues ...

We won’t see an end to the turmoil in the Workplace for some time. Hybrid, Virtual, RTW (“return to work”) … there are lots of competing models and there will be more as companies settle into a “new normal”.

Triple Peak work is one of the catchphrases that’s emerged during the pandemic. It’s a phrase based on Microsoft’s research into when people are most often logging into various MS tools. You’ll learn more about it and suggested steps to deal with it in The ‘Triple Peak Day’ Is Here to Stay. Here Are the Pros and Cons of Organizing Your Work This Way.

"Traditionally, knowledge workers had two productivity peaks in their workday: before lunch and after lunch. But when the pandemic sent so many people into work-from-home mode, a third peak emerged for some in the hours before bedtime. Microsoft researchers have begun referring to this phenomenon as a 'triple peak day,' "

Microsoft

This news you won't like ....

In a recent survey of over 2,000 professionals, The Task Management Trends Report issued on behalf of Reclaim.ai, this troubling finding appears

"The report found that only 12.4 percent of workers can fully contribute more than six hours a day to their actual task work, and only 53.3 percent of time working on tasks is actually spent on productive work."

Task Management Trends Report Tweet

You’ll find these details and more in Inc. magazine’s article, New Report: Only 12 Percent of Employees Are Fully Productive at Work (The Reasons Why May Surprise You).

How do Introverted and Smart People Get Along in the Workplace

Here are two more interesting articles that relate to the Workplace and people who may be on your team.

In this Inc. article, Study Shows 74 Percent of Introverts Don’t Want Full-Time Remote Work. They Want This Instead, we learn that insights from Myers-Briggs suggest different conclusions than what you may expect.

You may, for example, figure that extroverts can’t wait to get back to the office and in-person work. But, a recent Wall Street Journal article reported some surprising findings:

"... 82 percent of extroverted workers would prefer a hybrid work model, with 15 percent actually preferring full-time remote work. Self-described introverts, on the other hand -- a whopping 74 percent of them -- said they wanted to be in the office at least part-time."

Myers-Briggs Study
Belinda Fewings/Unsplash

In a different article, The Intelligence Trap: Being Smart Can Be a Liability, Psychology Today reports that while high intelligence is a desirable quality, it may also backfire in certain circumstances.

This is an interesting article which describes the three components of intelligence and some of the areas where advanced intelligence will score poorly.

In the World of Entertainment​

The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray

In The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray, Samuel L. Jackson protrays one the most serious roles I’ve ever seen him play. It tells the story of a lonely, 73 year-old man suffering from dementia who struggles to remember his past. But, when he meets a doctor with a revolutionary method to temporarily help him remember the past, he uses that limited time to discover who killed his nephew.

Walter Mosley, one of my favorite authors and one of American’s greatest crime-fiction writers, wrote the novel, on which the series is based, one of his most recent among the more than sixty critically-acclaimed books he’s written. You may be familiar with other screen adaptations of his work, including Devil in a Blue Dress starring Denzel Washington.

The six-episode series is available on Apple TV+.

Fun City Editions, a Gold Mine for Movie Lovers

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

A lot of independent home-video distributors are make it easier for movie fans to access film treasures from the past. In Fun City Editions, a Gold Mine for Movie-Lovers in the Vein of Criterion Collection, you’ll learn about their focus on Blu-ray disk reissues of under-discussed and overlooked films. Quentin Tarantino has become a huge fan, so maybe you will, too. (The image on the left is Elizabeth Ashley in Rancho Deluxe from 1975.)

The Making of the Caitlyn Jenner "Vanity Fair" Cover Story

I don’t know about you, but this was one of the most shocking and provocative stories I can remember. 

We knew Bruce Jenner as the World’s Greatest Athlete, a moniker typically bestowed on the Olympic Decathlon champion. Jenner had a six-year decathlon career culminating in an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, setting his 3rd consecutive world record.

Then, in April 2015, Jenner came out as a trans woman and announced her new name, Catilyn. She has often been referred to as the most famous transgender woman in the world.

The story of her decision to “come out” and Vanity Fair’s role in telling that story, is a fascinating look at the process … the event … and all of the issues and hoopla surrounding it, including moving heaven and earth to keep everything secret until the magazine was issued.

The Religious Holidays of Spring

Easter, Passover & Ramadan

I’m not sure I’ve made the connection in the past that all 3 of these important religious holidays occur during the Spring period. I knew there was some crossover between Passover and Lent, but the dates of these holidays change and don’t occur on the same days every year.

You are probably aware of these basic facts:

  • Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian religion. Easter is based on the Gregorian calendar, the calendar most widely used today. Its date is computed based on a lunisolar calendar and is now the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs soonest after March 21.
  • Passover is the eight-day Jewish observance commemorating the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt nearly 3,000 years ago. Passover is determined by the Jewish calendar, which is lunar, and it always falls on a full moon in the spring following the vernal equinox when night and day are the same lengths. All holiday observances start at sundown such that the next day is the first full day of the holiday.
  • Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. It lasts 29-30 days from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next. Ramadan is remembered as the month in which the prophet Muhammad received the first of the revelations that make up the Quran

(It’s no wonder we don’t know when these holidays occur until someone else does the figuring.)

Here a few more interesting facts about these holidays:

  • The world’s biggest matzah ball was really big. It was made in NYC in 2009 and was 22.9″ wide and weighed a gargantuan 267 lbs.
  • Americans spend $1.9 billion on Easter candy, 70% of which is chocolate.
  • Of the 7 billion people in the world, 22% or 1.6 billion fast during Ramadan. There are more than 2 billion Muslims worldwide.
Each of these is considered a joyous holiday. If any of them apply to you, I hope you are able to enjoy them with family and friends.
 

What I'm Reading

The Novels of Robert B. Parker

I mentioned in my 2021 End-of-Year Book Review review that I had finished 7 books in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series, numbers 31-37 in the 40 book series. I’m still savoring the last 3, but I’m going to get to them soon.

Parker died in 2010 and his estate chose Ace Atkins to continue the series. I’m usually not a fan of series successors of the original author, but I like the Ace Atkins series featuring Quinn Colson, the former Army Ranger and now sheriff of Mississippi’s Tibbehah County. I’ll let you know when I get there. (At some point I’ll write more about my issues with series successors, but for starters, I’m offended by the larger than life names of the deceased authors on the book jackets with the actual author of that novel barely readable.)

Meanwhile, since I love the Spenser series so much … the writing is crisp, the characters unique but tightly-knit and abundant with crackling wit … I decided to tackle two other series from Parker. I’ve now read the first novel in his Jesse Stone series, Night Passage, a 9-volume series about a disgraced LAPD detective who becomes the police chief in a small New England town.

I’ve also read Family Honor, the first of 6 novels in Parker’s Sunny Randall series in which formally named “Sonya” Randall leaves the police force to become a private detective … and a tough one at that.

Robert Parker left an influential legacy and is celebrated by virtually every novelist in the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense as the Dean of American Crime Fiction. When you read these series, particularly the Spenser series, you’ll see why.