Acceptance Speech, Circa 2015

 (Inspired by where our time and attention are really focused.)

First and foremost, I would like to thank my iPhone. There is no greater force in my life than my iPhone. You’re there for me every moment of every day. You tuck me in at night often watching over me with a bright light holding on to everything I might otherwise miss while I sleep. Then, as reliable as the sunrise, you’re there to greet me when I awaken ready to spend every second of the coming day together.

I’d also like to thank the wine and beer in my life. If it wasn’t for you my celebrations and sorrows would be void for sure. There’s nothing I cannot accomplish without you or more accurately, you’re there whether I do or do not accomplish anything. I truly value your unwavering presence in my life.

During those rough patches, when things aren’t going so well, I would be remiss if I did not thank the ice cream and chocolate. Somehow, magically, knows just how to dry up my tears, at least for 15 minutes or so.

I’d also like to thank my car and house because without you I would not be able to express my joy. You are the truest symbol of accomplishment. Even though you came into my life before I was ready and have remained ever since, I now know the only way we will part is if there is an economic meltdown.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the people in my life that I’ve bullied and berated in order to get where I am today. My harsh words toward you gave me the power to persevere and reach my ultimate goal of money and fame. There is nothing more powerful than words and the hurt they help inflict.

Thank you.


Why Our Education System Is Failing And The Simple Solution

Teachers/administrators, parents and students are what make education possible. The connection between teachers and students is obvious because that is the purpose of education. Schools recognize the importance of parental engagement but struggle to achieve it. The system certainly makes an effort with Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), parent-teacher conferences and a myriad of tools, such as websites, to communicate with parents about the happenings at school and with their children. The Triangle of Communication in Education fails because there are virtually no programs in place to support and nurture the parent-student relationship.

Triangle of Communication in EducationOur society is passionate about education. We dedicate extensive resources to making it better yet we’re still struggling to keep pace in the world. We try different philosophies and adjust curriculum. We build more modern classrooms and bring in computers, tablets and the internet. We try longer school days and school years and eliminate recess, art, music and physical education in order to give greater focus on reading, writing and arithmetic. We’ve shown that fewer students in a classroom helps but I’m not sure if we truly understand why.

Education involves people interacting and that means relationships.Until we focus on each type of relationship, significant improvements are unlikely. The most obvious relationship is between teachers and administrators and students. This relationship requires little explanation because the fundamental purpose of education is to share knowledge between teacher and student. This occurs all day long.

Teachers and administrators are tasked with improving students’ grades, retention, test scores and graduation rates not to mention managing behaviors. Beyond curriculum and technique, they recognize that the more parents are involved the better the students perform and behave. Why?

Is it because the parent knows what is happening at school? In part, because the better informed the parent is the better they can help guide their child. However, could it also be that when a parent is more involved with their child’s school then they are also more involved with their child’s life? Albeit indirectly, the child may feel like they are important and supported by their parent because the parent is taking an interest in what the child is doing. The child feels important to their parent. (Incidentally, this is also why smaller classrooms make a positive difference. A teacher isn’t changing their technique for fewer students. Smaller classrooms allow a teacher to have a more personal connection with each student.)

Assuming for a moment the above parental involvement premise is true thenby improving the parent-child relationship we can more directly and significantly improve the child’s development and success. According to the Triangle of Communication in Education, we have a well established teacher-student relationship. We also have a fairly robust teacher-parent relationship. In order to have the greatest improvements in education we need to support and encourage the parent-child relationship. (It seems so obvious but it’s not happening and we know this because of the myriad of symptoms we experience everyday – in children and adults.)

Abraham Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, 1943When parents and their children feel supported and connected their behaviors improve.This phenomenon is documented in the research and affects more than just scholastics. People, at every age, need to feel connected. It is a basic human need as theorized by Abraham Maslow in 1943 when he presented his Hierarchy of Needs (image).

When a person does not feel connected they attempt to fill that void by resorting to alternative behaviors. Our society is feeling those effects and they present as drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide, bullying, eating disorders including obesity, gun violence and more. When someone feels a sense of connection their behaviors improve and so do their scholastics.

We always hear about the importance of family and of communication. We instinctively know why but I’m here to state it as plain as day. People need to feel genuinely connected and until each person’s fundamental need is addressed little will change… for the better.

We have a real opportunity to significantly improve our education system and it won’t occur in the classroom, it needs to happen in our homes.Just like we’re encouraging our students to incorporate fitness and healthy nutrition choices throughout their day, we can do the same to encourage a positive family communication and connection. Overall wellness is more than just physical and when we feel connected and a sense of belonging to others it feeds our mental and emotional health.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a fun and easy way to improve communication and connection we encourage you to give FamilyeJournal a try. With our database of questions, you’ll create guided mini-journals that are shared privately with only your family members in just 5 minutes.


Note: This is an original post from FamilyeJournal’s Blog.

Why Typical Advice For Having Difficult Conversations Doesn’t Work

Plain and simple: The easiest way to have a conversation (with your kids or colleagues) about a difficult subject is to have regular communication about all of the easy topics that occur in everyday life. The better we know each other day-to-day, the easier it is to communicate and share – about anything.

I mean no offense to the myriad of lists designed to help make conversations easier but the reality is your internet search wouldn’t result in the same generic information appearing millions of times if it was actually working. Until there is a significant change in how we relate to one another, at home or in the office, the likelihood for improvement is minimal, at best.

Try Googling “how to talk with your kids” and you’ll find in 0.42 seconds 33.5 million websites saying basically the same thing. You’ve seen the advice in various formats and it looks like this:

1. Be positive
2. Be a good listener
3. Ask the person to repeat back what you’ve said
4. Speak age appropriately
5. Don’t be emotional
6. Be respectful
7. and so on.

This is all good advice but in actuality, the implementation is a lot more difficult especially when you’re in the moment. Furthermore, aren’t these tips generic to any conversation between two or more people?

Now, let’s try Googling “how to talk with your coworkers”. In another 0.42 seconds we find 6.54 million websites ready to help. Their advice is surprisingly similar and includes:

1. Be cheerful
2. Be complimentary
3. Avoid gossip
4. Be responsive
5. Ask for opinions
6. and so on.

Aren’t these tips simply defining the attributes of a nice person? Granted, some of us may need to be reminded but it really doesn’t address the core issue. We can’t talk about the difficult topics when we don’t really know or feel a connection with the person we’re talking with.

Furthermore, one must be careful following the generic advice or you could end up sounding insincere or patronizing. We all know it’s important to “talk with your [fill in the blank]” but when communication has been strained simply finding common ground, much less discussing a sensitive topic, is nearly impossible. Think about the last time you needed to have a sensitive discussion. How did it go? What was your current relationship with the person. How close do they feel to you? How could the conversation been improved, if at all?

Have you ever asked yourself “why?” is talking so important? I mean, beyond the obvious. Talking, or other means of communication (writing, for example), are how we can connect on a deeper level. As much as we think we’re connecting (e.g. texting, social media) our daily behaviors say otherwise. The research is clear and studies show when people don’t feel truly connected they try to compensate with the symptomatic behavior we see everyday such as bullying, shootings, substance abuse, suicide, low morale and productivity, poor attendance, disengagement, etc.

The truth is relationships take time to cultivate because in that time you’re getting to know who the person is and what they’re about. Once we knowsomeone, as a person, we’ll have a much easier time connecting with them on any number of topics, easy or hard. We’ll also have a better idea of how to communicate with that person in a way that works for them and vice versa.

So, the next time you need to have a conversation about bullying, suicide, grades, productivity, attendance or a pay raise, think about how well you really know the person. Chances are the better you know them the easier and less stressed you’ll be initiating the difficult conversations and your efforts will be much better received.


PS. I would be remiss if I did not offer a solution to help build relationships in a simple, fun and easy way. How best to learn about someone then to share answers to simple questions. and are two 5-minute solutions that you can use anywhere, anytime and in 72 languages. Try a 30-day challenge and see what a difference it makes and how much happier you’ll be.

Note: This post is an original from FamilyeJournal’s Blog.


What Is eJournaling?

eJournaling is a Cloud-based Q&A activity where users answer questions from a proprietary database and share those answers with members of their inner circle (e.g. family, friends, co-workers, etc.) eJournals are organized in sets of four questions with additional space to write about anything that’s on your mind.

Answering a few simple questions about everyday happenings helps encourage dialogue and communication on a slightly deeper level. It is through this casual and guided dialogue that helps people know each other on a whole new level. The better we know someone the more connected we feel to them and them to us.

eJournaling is about building connection with a few others through the basic sharing of personal, but not private, information. Your favorite vacation, tv show or ice cream flavor is personal to you and only your opinion matters. Yet, it’s a relatively benign piece of information that, when shared, does not put you at risk of harm, embarrassment or judgement.

Private information (which eJournaling does not try to find out) such as the first time you tried smoking, your thoughts or opinions of another person or your deepest fears and insecurities require a much greater level of vulnerability and depending on the receiver could result in judgement, conflict or embarrassment. eJournaling is not trying to access your private thoughts.

When we begin to share personal information we welcome others to learn about who we are without risk of divulging anything potentially controversial or being exceptionally vulnerable. It’s the combination and accumulation of sharing little details about who we are that allow us to develop a rapport, a common reference of knowledge and a more complete understanding of the people closest to us. The more we understand and know someone the more connected we feel.

This is the essence of eJournaling – simple, easy questions that encourage us to regularly share a little with our family, friends and/or colleagues to bring us one step closer together. Enjoy!


Note: This post is an original from’s blog.

Are We Getting the “Real” Connection We Need?

The word “connection” can take many different meanings these days. Connected (the film), discusses how we, people, are using technology more and more and we’re completely addicted to it. It’s getting faster every day and as the film says, when will we cease to be able to keep up.

Families need to connect and fit together like a puzzle.

I am in total agreement with Connected – The Film, that people and their interdependence is key. In the past 12 years that I’ve been observing and learning I ultimately draw the same conclusion every time. Of course, I may be rather biased at this point but that is all the more reason to discuss these ideas.

My basic frustration is the lack of connection between people. Or, in other words, the false sense of connection we think we have and especially the hypnotic path we are on (e.g. leaving dinner with a friend to check our digital world, a family or group of friends sharing a meal but everyone is on their phone). More specifically, I believe the lack of “real” and “true” connection within a family is actually the root of most of society’s bigger problems (e.g. suicide, bullying, gun violence, drugs, alcohol, cutting, fighting, bulimia, anorexia, obesity, etc.).

Instant Gratification - I want it now!Recall back to Introduction to Psychology, where Abraham Maslow theorized there is a Hierarchy of Needs common to all humans. I believe his theory is correct and the Need for Connection is not being met with most people. In short, we continue to try and fulfill the Need for Connection (i.e. non-romantic love) with other, more instantly gratifying means but these means have no real value so we are left unfulfilled. So, we go out and get more and more, faster and faster. Nothing is satisfying but we keep getting more. A new iPhone, a nicer car, a bigger house, another helping of pasta, ice cream, checking a Facebook status, updating our own status… it’s not fast enough…. I need more so I get a Twitter account and I follow thousands of people to get more non-personal updates and the cycle continues.

Unfortunately, none of this instant gratification adds value to our lives but they meet our need – for a moment. The truth is we need REAL connection but that takes time and effort and is only developed after great joy and sometimes pain. But, if it’s worth staying true, the Connection Need is completely fulfilled and we ARE satisfied and then we grow. Human connection takes time and requires the ability to seek the delayed gratification but when it is reached it is incredibly valuable to us.

Instant Gratification Race of Zero Miles RunToday, society too often falls short when it comes to seeking delayed gratification. Children are forced into it for their high school diploma but what else? Some of us find it when we graduate from college, train for a marathon or triathlon, we used to have it with lay-away programs at K-Mart and Sears but now we just buy on credit with money we don’t even have. Trying to fulfill our Need for Connection the wrong way has put very far along a very dangerous path. Some may recall the automotive industry, housing industry, banking industry… do we need more evidence? No, we need solutions that address the cause not the symptoms. Suicide, drugs, alcohol, bullying, eating disorders ARE ALL SYMPTOMS!

My goal is to help people rebuild their connection with their family. To fulfill their Need for Connection by bonding with the people who they say are most important to them. Family (and friends) relationships are what people value more than anything else yet we typically take them for granted and we rarely cultivate them especially in our younger years. But I figured out a way to use technology and a little instant gratification to help people connect and over time, without even realizing it, they’ll be connecting deeper and more positively than ever before.

FamilyeJournal Logo

FamilyeJournal helps families communicate and connect but it requires a little work, like 5 minutes a few days a week. (This image is a preview of the new logo.)

That is the goal I’m trying to achieve with my website It’s a huge task but one I think the world needs and will greatly benefit from. There is a place for Facebook and Twitter but a need for FamilyeJournal.

Your Phone Checking Habit Can Help Bring Your Family Closer Together

The habit has become that whether you’re on the commuter train, having a coffee, at the doctors office, before opening the restaurant menu or even before you begin eating during your lunch break, the first order of business is to check your phone for Facebook, Twitter and Text Messages.

Mom on phone ignoring daughter

Once again a mother prioritizes her phone over her daughter.

What has happened to us that we are so completely addicted to our phones and any kind of status update? Are we truly engaged with people are simply addicted to “checking”? And once we start, no matter our age, background or occupation, we all seem to be doing it.

Even just sitting in Wegmans, right now, and looking straight ahead I’m seeing a mother on her phone completely ignoring her daughter. And this is by no means an isolated incident. What kind of message are we sending to our kids? What are we teaching them? What kind of behavior are we leading them to?

Now, what if there was a way to easily take advantage of the mobile technology and truly engage people or more importantly, our family? What if, in the time it takes to board a plane and turn off your device, you could connect with your family in a deep and meaningful way?

FamilyeJournal  helps bring families closer together.There is a way and it’s called In about 5 minutes you can answer four questions and read the answers your family members have given. Learn about what’s on their mind. Listen to their thoughts and concerns. Hear them and let them know you care.

We can’t deny the power of technology but we can find away to really make it work for us. By sharing just a little bit of how you really feel you’ll be building a deeper rapport and connection. Relationships are often considered the absolutely most important part of our lives but we have trouble cultivating them in our face-paced world. With, it’s easy and worthwhile for everyone who can read… and type.