Friday, September 7, 2012

Week Three

Week Three under the lights. Rain is in the forecast, the temperature is cool and it's getting a bit closer to fall. It smells not quite like football season yet, but almost. It's a perfect night for high school football.

Friday, August 24, 2012

High School Football

It's High School Football season... The smell of fall hinting in the air and an opportunity for young men to play a kids game under Friday Night Lights. Play tonight with passion and like it's the last game of your life. It will go fast so enjoy every moment, every play, and every opportunity to be a great teammate. Ma
ke your coach proud with your play on the field, and your parents prouder with your celebration off it. High five the fans, listen to the band, get lost in the National Anthem and when the ball is kicked, play the game the way it was meant to be played.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thinking About Food

After following very closely two Future of Food events in the past couple weeks led by the PulitzerPrize winning editor of the Washington Post, Mary Jordan, I’ve had my eyes opened to just how complex and how many people in our country are concerned with the issue of feeding a growing global population. While many Americans are unsure where their next meal is going to come from, thought leaders in the agriculture and political spaces are considering how America will help feed an expected 9 billion people by the year 2050. 

In food insecure countries around the world, neither farmers nor government have the necessary land or water needed to support a growing population. Without proper land and water systems at their disposal, the likelihood of producing an ample amount of food to feed their people is grim. As a result, people tun to any means necessary to survive which which means increased violence and unrest. In areas like the Middle East, there has already been in influx of violence, protest and crime due to the hunger issue. Iran, North Korea and China, as they experience rapid population growth, area also developing weapons which may at some time be used to attain food from countries that have water systems and land needed to produce food. 
As we think about the role of food in regard to national security, it’s also vital to look at the quality of food that is available. Just eating what’s available isn’t the answer. Our country has an obesity epidemic that costs us trillions in healthcare annually as a result of poor choices and limited access to healthy food. There are growing concerns from a nutritional standpoint as the weight of our nation increases, childhood obesity statistics grow and the number of people suffering from diabetes, hypertension and other weight related illnesses cost Americans an astronomical amount of their income in healthcare annually; we have to ask ourselves, where does the relief come from?

Today at the Future of Food event in Denver it was reported that nearly 40 percent of all the food produced in America is wasted. Either at production sites by manufacturers or consumption sites by people, we waste enough food to feed millions of hungry people. In fact, America wastes approximately one ton of food per hungry person in the world every year. As millions starve around the world every day, we have more than enough in our dumpsters to feed them a ton of food each... When you consider how wasteful and inefficient we are, it's no wonder we've acquired the reputation we have with these countries.  

If you think this topic is interesting, join the conversation on Twitter by using the hash tag #thinkfood  and weigh in with your opinion. There are three upcoming events led by Mary Jordan and the Washington Post before the 2012 election; starting on July 16th and concluding in October. If you care about the future of food, I challenge you to think about where it’s going to come from.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who Decides?

I wrote an essay for a NY Times writing contest. I didn't make the top five and have my piece featured in the Times, however I make an ethical case for why it's ok to eat meat below.

The other morning while brushing my teeth I thought about your contest as I spit a mixture of bad breath and refreshing cool mint into the sink. It would take another minute or so of wakening and contemplation, but again after spitting, I realized that in order to answer your question, I would need to take a look back.

While inspecting my teeth and well before morning caffeine, I pondered my lack of elongated k9 incisors. It occurred to me that longer and sharper k9’s would surely aid the tearing and chewing of a poorly prepared New York strip, and certainly would be fun on Halloween, but I concluded the ones I have do the job just fine; minus the Halloween fun.

Later that morning during a grinding Chicago commute, I caught myself thinking back to the days of hunting and gathering and how much simpler life must have been. I thought about how those who were here before us lived off the land by gathering fruits and vegetables and catching fish and shell fish from streams. As the population of hunters and gathers grew, so did the need for leaders of communities to provide more food without moving all over the land like nomads. So they began to think with their primitive minds of ways they could accomplish this feat. They built tools and realized with these tools they could capture varieties of different food sources. They discovered they could roast their food over fire and that if they did these things, they could provide safety and health to a growing number of people and they could sustain their existence.

Those who came before us discovered that eating a variety of berries, roots, fish and animals from the plains meant they could enjoy the taste of food and that their lives were a little better with the addition of the new foods. Possibly the greatest lesson learned during this age, was that the smartest and most forward thinking of the hunters and gathers were the most respected throughout their land. When the people from the east hunted a new species on the plain and provided it to their community, no one in the west intruded or told them they were wrong. There was mutual respect for each other’s techniques, and neighbors desired to be educated about new food sources. Neighboring communities collaborated to find the best ways to hunt and prepare the catch as well as utilize the energy that the food source provided to them.

Neighbors have always disagreed with each other but through that disagreement, change, healthy discussion and compromise have led to the evolution of the world population. Neighbors for ages have sat at the negotiating table to discuss significant matters, and for ages, placed at the table was food and drink, shared as a sign of peace and nourishment so that leaders could think with clear minds, without hunger. As the leaders of today sit at the negotiating table to discuss a rapidly growing population and a scarce food supply, it seems ethical that all types of food be considered to compliment the feeding the world conversation.

We may personally disagree on taste and dietary preferences, but it’s our responsibility to think forward about all people and provide them with access to affordable and nutritious food. Foods of all tastes and cultural preferences should be available to them – responsibly, as they were available for us.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's in Indy

Ollie and Rudy are probably bellied up at a local saloon talking about Notre Dame Football and the Milan High Indians tonight. Rudy can remember sports before all this twittering and tweeters. And Ollie shot a basketball underhand in a varsity high school basketball game so his opinion isn’t highly valued from an athlete’s perspective; however he’s part of the conversation because he made the shot. Ollie’s equally important, if not more important to the conversation though because he’s, to use Dave Kerpen's motto, Likeable.

One Hundred Fifty million people in 232 different countries will tune-in to watch Super Bowl XLVI on television. More people than ever before will also be tweeting, posting and sharing their Super Digital Experience simultaneously during this Sunday’s game. The world-famous Super Bowl commercials will air and ten days later no one will be talking about them. But this year more so than ever, digital integration during the Super-expensive commercials will transpire. Ad agencies probably realized after millions of wasted dollars spent on commercials, that people are not buying their products because of commercials on television. Consumers buy for various reasons, but it’s rare that we would buy a thing because we saw it on television. It’s much more likely that we participate in a conversation with people similar to us, be moved to action by someone we trust and purchase a product or service that came recommended. So instead of pushing mediocre ad campaigns at consumers, ad agencies will serve as connectors and amplifiers of their intended audiences this year more than ever before.

The energy surrounding the game will become a constant build of marketing buzz as the top of the Indianapolis skyline becomes visible from Southbound I-65. A groundswell of chatter and excitement will build as fans purchase, participate and talk about it at every opportunity. I included. - The party last night, the hotel room, the players to watch, what she’s wearing, who is going to be there, what club is open late, where to eat… All captured by that simple yet most important character of the week. The hashtag (#).

The hash tag has changed the game of football as much as any rule change since they started wearing plastic helmets in 1939. Every player has the opportunity and responsibility if he chooses to accept it, to broadcast himself and promote his brand to his fans. Likewise, fans have a platform to say whatever they please for the entire world to see by simply placing a targeted hash tag before their comment. Brands, services, celebrities and basically everyone who’s in Indianapolis will be influenced in some way by the hash tag (#) this week. The Super Bowl Committee has even constructed a social media control center to serve as traffic directors for the most talked about player this week in Indy... the hash tag. #invizible_ink #NFL #superbowl #Indy

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pay It Forward

Today was a great reminder of why we should take time to be a servant.

Several times as a young man I recall trying to find my way as a long-shot-professional athlete, a graduate student, a newbie in my professional career... and the list goes on. Anyways, I felt completely lost and didn’t know whom to turn to for answers. So, I did what many of us do every day… I made mistakes. I failed. I entered situations underprepared.

But I also learned from those failures, embarrassments, and missed opportunities and used that knowledge to not only better myself; but when the right opportunity presented itself to help others: I recognized that I could make a difference. Earlier today I received a random email from a college senior whom I have been mentoring throughout his senior year. He played small college football and was an All-American linebacker at a pretty decent Division III school. The compelling element of our relationship is that I have still not even met him face to face. We communicate long distance and 100% digitally. Which maybe 15 years ago would be ridiculous, but today, it reminded me that sometimes we don't even have to stand up to help someone.

I was paired with his father at a charity golf outing last spring and like every proud father, he bragged about his son. I took an instant liking to Adam’s father; and especially liked the fact that I was consistently longer off the tee than him. After a few cold ones and eigtheen holes, we were friends. He asked if he could pass my card along to his son and of course I encouraged him to do so. "I'd be happy to talk to Adam, I told him. “Who knows,” I told him, maybe I can help him prepare for the real world if football doesn’t work out.” – “I have plenty of experience in football not working out, and I’d be happy to talk to him."

Six months later I received this email…

Hey Mark,

I'm just emailing you to catch you up on how things have been since we talked. Our season ended up 10-2 we made it to the second round of the playoffs. I went on to play in the Metrodome for the All-American bowl and that was a blast! Right before New Year’s I ran into a guy while shopping with my mom; I gave him the elevator speech (which you told me to prepare) and he took down my information. Long story short, today's my first day at TransAmerica Personal Financial Advisors, I'll be helping people spend and invest their money and I think I'm really gonna like this job. I just wanted to thank you for the time you spent with me giving advice. I hope all is well and that you're having a great new year.

Pay it forward friends. It’s worth it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Third Period English

When I was a junior in high school Mrs. Leis told our third period College-Prep English Class that who we are and who we become in this world is a result of the people around us. Of all the lessons and memories I have from high school and growing up in my small town, by far this has meant more to me and has guided me to become who I think God intended me to be more than anything else. I have been so blessed over the years to have lived the travels and experiences life has provided, and at every stop, I’ve thought about Mrs. Leis, standing in front of our class talking about the experience of losing her husband in a tragic plane crash and that no matter how long people are in your life, whether it be a moment, an hour, an evening or a lifetime; they leave a mark on you and you are different because you met them. So with that advice, perhaps we listen closer, care more and try harder because every day as Mrs. Leis reminded us, is as an opportunity to be significant to someone else.

I hold a special place and respect for the two football coaches who led the teams I played on and their staffs while at Ottawa-Glandorf High School, but it was in Mrs. Leis’s English class that I learned to express myself and found an identity. It was the encouragement and inspiration from Mrs. Leis to live life to its fullest and not look back that has me sitting in Chicago after traveling the country and literally the world as a professional athlete writing a blog post. I certainly didn’t think professional sports were in my future at that time, but in the back of my mind I thought that I could be a writer someday. Even if being a writer today means I’m blogging or getting a call from a friend to help find the right words for a resume or editing a letter, the fact of the matter is that no matter where I go or who I meet, Mrs. Leis instilled in me in me that I can be someone who leaves a mark on others. So in some self-indulging way, I think I need to write about it because someone may also read this post and be reminded of or moved to ask me about how amazing of an English teacher she was and continues to be.