Lying to your kids and a Kodak Moment

Today I learned:

1. Don’t lie to your kids: If you accidently break one of your daughter’s toys you need to own up to it. The other natural alternative – telling her it was destroyed by the wolves in the backyard who ate it when it was left out last night – is just a story full of holes that will be picked apart by your highly analytical child at roughly 3:17 am.

2. A Kodak Moment: On the drive to work I listened to an article from the Economist contrasting Kodak’s failed attempt to transition its brand from a dying industry, with that of rival firm Fuji-film which has successfully altered its course, surprisingly, towards a position within the cosmetic industry (among other ventures).

At lunch I found another Kodak article, this time by Seth Godin, that addresses the difficulty successful incumbents have in identifying a new course – my favourite quote being Kodak was “so in love with their success that they insisted the world change in their favor, as opposed to embracing the future that was sure to arrive.”

The lifecycle concept applies to every company in every business and (simplistically speaking at least) only the speed of transition for the industry really differs. Despite that, it is amazing to see how many companies live in the present rather than planning for tomorrow.  Personally, it certainly made me think about what percentage of my day I spend in the present and what percent I spend planning for the future. I decided to setup a simple reminder – a bit of “Kodak Time” is now scheduled into my monthly calendar.

As a aside, a special message to the strategists at Kodak:

Dear Kodak,

Digital printing will not save you guys, either.  It might not even be viable by the time you get good at it.




iPads, Apps & a 4 year old plus the Boy Scouts got it right

Today I learned:

1. iPads, Apps, and a 4 year old: My natural response to hearing a 4 year old say, “Daddy, can you plug in the iPad to the laptop and load the Dora app from iTunes again – I accidently deleted it,” is confusion, silence and obedient action. In that order.

2. Always be prepared: My boss and I met with a group from another organization today and I was reminded of a lesson from the Boy Scout handbook. She had put in several hours prep work for a brief meeting aimed at discussing a new project. The other group had put in zero prep, likely expecting to participate in exploratory discussions before really launching things in the next meeting.

Her work – basically a draft project charter – set the course for the meeting, helped bring everyone onside quickly, and put us off and running in the direction we want. The work will ultimately be a collaborative partnership so the time spent up front may or may not help us end up in a better place in the end, but there is no question that it will help us get there through a more efficient process.

My kid sucks at hide and seek, plus “They kill you a little bit everyday.”

Today I learned:

1. My kid sucks at hide and seek: My four year old can do simple math, including multiplication and division. She can sound out and read basic words. She can swim, skate and ride a bike. But if you play hide and seek with her you will be most likely to find her writhing like a fish out of water under a blanket in the middle of our living room. Best case, maybe she’ll be under the table, yelling “come find me – he he he.” Regardless, the next time she just goes back to exactly the same spot. And the time after that? Same spot.

Surprisingly, according the the fine people at the Lego Learning Institute, my kid is on track. At least for now, anyway. She better learn to hide by age 5 though or we are going to need to write her off.

I must admit that even after a bit of research I am having trouble selling myself on the fact everything is normal. The next time I see her hiding half covered under a pillow on top of her bed I may need a reminder.

Full disclosure: Louis C.K. has a great bit on this topic. Google the clip – it’s no stretch to call the video I found offensive to some viewers so no link here.

2. “They kill you a little bit everyday”: This quote comes from a friend we ran into while taking the kids swimming today. After a morning of fits over unfinished oatmeal and a full on battle to have the 2 year old stay put on the potty, it certainly rang true.

It made me think though, is it correct?

It turns out no. At least not if you are Norwegian anyway. Research there has shown mortality rates are highest among those with no kids, and rank second for people with only one child. The research doesn’t spell it out but I can’t imagine that inverse relationship holds true very long long. I doubt 8 kids helps you live longer than 4. Eventually another relationship – the one between the number of kids you have and how many glasses of wine you want at night – is going to get you.

I am turning into my dad, but my kids aren’t turning into me

Today I learned:

1. I am turning into my dad:  I checked the twitter feed of a person I come in contact with frequently through work. Everything I saw was professional and above board, but I couldn’t help but notice the timing of the posts. Tweet after tweet during regular work hours.

That bugs me.


And worse, I fear that along with the appearance in the workplace of things like purple hair, tattoos, and hipster mustaches, I am pretty sure it would bug my dad too. Am I growing old or more conservative? And which of those is worse?

2. My kids aren’t turning into me: I told my oldest daughter we could do whatever she wanted today. Her plan? “Let’s go buy flowers for Mommy.” This is a thought, unfortunately, that virtually never occurs to me. It led me to conclude, unfortunately, my kids are not turing into me and maybe I should be turning into them.

Pocket Espresso to Go and A Lesson from Gonzo

Today I learned:
1. Is that a Shot of Espresso in your Pocket?: On a trip to Italy  two years ago I discovered a weakness for Pocket Espresso to Go. My love for the team at Ferrero grew further today when I got the chance to sample the chocolatey version of their product.
This lead me to conclude I love all related espresso products that fit comfortably and safely in my pocket.  Unfortunately I also learned it is not easily imported to Canada, and worse yet (according to this fellow blogger and Pocket Coffee aficionado) the espresso version is not made in winter. Madness. What could be better in winter than sipping espresso on demand, straight from your pants? Anyone visiting Italy this summer?
2. Super-Gonzo: After watching The Muppets movie on the weekend, today at the breakfast table our four year old proudly announced “Gonzo can fly because he wears a cape.” This gave me a vivid flashback of myself on a bright summer day in the early 80’s, worn out blue velvet cape billowing in the breeze, and proudly perched on the railing of my sundeck. Like father, like daughter? Let’s hope not.
There are some lesson parents can teach kids, and there are some things kids need to learn for themselves. I better keep a keen eye on the deck closely this year to help make this lesson the former, not the later.

PVR with my Dad and Story time with Angry Birds

Today I learned:

1. The concept of the PVR is lost on my dad. This is despite the fact he owned one before me.

Our conversation tonight:

Me (immediately upon Dad’s arrival): Don’t tell me what happens in the hockey game, I PVR’d it.

Dad: You’re going to want to watch the first period, and then not much else until the shootout.

The lesson saved me a couple hours I guess.

2. Story time works with Angry Birds: In an attempt to mix things up, story time with my daughter has recently involved a fictional monkey (which she appropriately named Parakeet) and his travels around the world, supplemented by photos from google images of different cities viewed on our Ipad.

Inventive I thought, but admittedly I just wasn’t up for it tonight. Fighting a bit of a cold my creativity was waning, but I figured out a way to deal with it.

Story time tonight involved a gang of very angry birds who were intent on knocking over bad-guy pigs. Why? Well, the pigs had eaten all their birdseed of course. She seemed to enjoy it, and in the meantime I passed 5 more levels so I am calling it a win-win. I now have an idea for tomorrow too – an alligator that is sad because he want a bath, but he can’t find the water!

My kid poops at Sport Chek, and The Economist

Today I learned:
1. My kids poops at Sport Chek: I have taken my four year old to Sport Chek five times in her life and everytime she runs for the public washroom telling me she needs to poop. Based on today I now think it is ingrained in her, like some sort of Pavlovian response.  It’s better than prunes.  If the kid has any problems with regularity down the road I will just take her shopping.
2. The Economist: Since completing my MBA last spring I have had a bulls-eye painted on my forehead that every marketeer trying to flog a magazine subscription has been aiming for. With the unrealistic belief that I should now have lots of time for periodicals I have fallen for just about all of them too. It puts me in an odd spot – at work I try to stay as paper free, while my home is cluttered with magazine after magazine, and most get barely more than a quick glance. The only exception is The Economist. It doesn’t get read at all.
At then end of the day though, it is the only one I wouldn’t give up. I stream the audio version from my phone while driving and peruse the online version during lunch and at night.  If I had to pick one (and as soon as the renewal letters come I will), it is the only one I would keep.

I’ll never go to the bathroom alone again, and it’s never good when your daughter says…

Today I learned:
1. I’ll never go to the bathroom alone again: My problems in the bathroom are officially solved. No more awkward balancing of the laptop on my knees. All logistical problems have been flushed away. Now that we have an iPad I really can’t imagine going to the bathroom alone again. The only problem that might come up now is getting me out of there.
2. It is never good when your daughter says: “Daddy, you’ll never find your keys!” Today our pleasant little four year old was laughing and laughing while I madly searched the house for the my keys.  A fun game, apparently.

Babysitting and Christmas Lights

Today I learned:

1. Babysitting: When my wife is out and I am taking care of the kids I still call it babysitting. Something doesn’t feel right about it, but I can’t seem to come up with anything that rolls off the tongue more easily. There are the obvious options, like “taking care of my kids,” but why go 6 syllabus when you can get your message across in 4? Admittedly this habit has a few detractors, including a Facebook group with over 400K members but looking through the comments there I see no one offering me up a viable alternative.  I suppose it’s easier to hit “like” and return to Farmville than to put some meaningful thought into solving an important problem such as this one.

2. Christmas lights:  Every neighbourhood has the guy that leaves his lights up year round.  Icicles hanging from the roof  and Rudolph sitting in the front yard in August. It’s just lazy. I am not that guy, and I have always looked down on him.  Now that we are into January our christmas tree is gone and today it was time to pack the lights into the garage until next Christmas.

When setting them up I run the power from the light socket outside our front door, so when I was done the last task was to put back the regular bulb. As I screwed in the bulb it occurred to this one bulb costs more than running 850 Christmas lights on 17 low wattage LED strings. For a fleeting moment I considered being that guy.  I mean, why not? It would save me a few cents a year.

Ultimately the need to stay organized won out . I just couldn’t be that guy, so I finished the job. There was still a lesson there though: I learned that guy might not just be lazy. He could also be cheap.