Wandering Into Wisdom

This blog chronicles the knowledge, insight and wisdom I encounter every day as a leadership consultant, executive coach, educator, father, friend and citizen. This site is dedicated to my father, Louis (Jack) Laughlin, who passed on to me an appreciation for wisdom. A special thanks to my friend Isaac Cheifetz, a businessman and journalist, who helped me understand the value of blogs and encouraged me to write one.

Balancing Act

Decision making and problem solving draws on three distinct resources.

Intellect for rational and logical processing and analysis.
Intuition to draw on unconscious accumulation of experience.
Inspiration to bring outside influences into the process.

Accomplished decision makers utilize all of these in combination to develop solutions and ideas.

Alternate Reality

I went to the grocery store today and when I arrived at the register they asked me if I wanted paper or plastic bags. It took me by surprise because we always have to bag our own groceries at this store. When I inquired about the change the checkout person said that the “big bosses” were in the store and they liked to see customers getting their groceries bagged. She lamented that the bosses had been there for hours and she wished they would leave so they could get back to normal.

Now Go Home

It is very easy to get a student visa to study in the U. S. and very hard to get a work visa to stay after graduation. Many people criticize this policy because we are creating global competition for our technology sectors by educating people from other countries and then forcing them to go home. It is noteworthy that China recently surpassed the U.S. in supercomputer technology. NY Times Article

Climbing Rules

As a rock climber, I learned three important safety rules.

1) Think ahead.
2) Use language that cannot be misunderstood.
3) Don’t do anything else while you’re on belay.
     (holding the safety rope)

Measuring Up

Never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.
Never compare your reality to someone else’s press release.


Intelligence is endowed, but wisdom is learned.
From “Best-Loved Chinese Proverbs” by Theodora Lau


"In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy."
John C. Sawhill - Former President of the Nature Conservancy

What Will You Do

Daniel Pink asks three critical questions to help map our career future and, more importantly, those of our children. From “A Whole New Mind”

1) Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2) Can a computer do it faster?
3) Am I offering something that satisfies the nonmaterial, transcendent desire of an abundant age?


Often one finds destiny just where one hides to avoid it.
From “Best-Loved Chinese Proverbs” by Theodora Lau


To be unhappy over what one lacks is to waste what one already possesses.
From “Best-Loved Chinese Proverbs” by Theodora Lau

Grief and Loss

In her book, "On Death and Dying" Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages that patients experience when informed they are dying. This can be applied to any kind of significant loss.

Denial (This isn't happening to me!)
Anger (Why is this happening to me?)
Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
Depression (I don't care anymore)
Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

Gracious Winners

The global catastrophe of World War II was caused by many factors. One was the treaty of Versailles signed at the end of World War I which required Germany to give up territory, pay war reparations and completely disarm themselves. These provisions and the ensuing economic depression robbed them of their dignity and left them vulnerable to the extremism of Hitler and the National Socialist Party. I’m sure the winners of the first world war would have been more forgiving if it could have prevented the second.

Emotional Intelligence

 Four basic components of emotional intelligence.
1) Self-awareness
2) Self-management
3) Social awareness
4) Relationship management
From "Working With Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman


"Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn't have the power to say yes."
Eleanor Roosevelt


"Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn't have the power to say yes."
Eleanor Roosevelt

Reconcilable Differences

Lincoln chose strong individuals for his cabinet regardless of their opposition to him and each other. He balanced opposing elements so they not only held together but functioned effectively despite, and possibly because of, their differences. This was his true genius.


The first sign that you’re losing your mind is that everyone else seems to have lost theirs.

Words to Live By

“Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tries and a touch that never hurts.”
Charles Dickens

Team Building

I was recently asked to facilitate a meeting for a leadership team who has gone through significant organizational changes. We didn’t do team building games or exercises even though some team members were new. Instead, we had a dialog and discussion to list the organizational decisions they need to make and lay out a process to make those decisions. We also determined specific assignments and due dates for each step. Everyone walked away energized and ready to get to work because they were now clear on what they needed to do. At the end of the day, the best way to build a team is to accomplish something meaningful…together.


The human brain has an amazing capability to remember things but not always in the most useful way. Some years ago a grease fire started in a pan on the stove and I remembered that a white powder, baking soda, would put it out. Unfortunately my memory of white powder translated into flour which exploded when I threw it into the burning pan.