Because it is 2016 – Women in Technology …


Few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at an event in support of women in technology. As a member of the Board of WCT – Women in Communication and Technology, I was asked to speak to why I support this movement. I was tempted to give a short answer- because it’s 2015! but then that line was already coined by our Prime Minister, in response to why he appointed equal # of females and males to his Cabinet – that answer said it all!. It is now 2016 and it amazes me that there is a real need to promote social justice at so many levels. All you need to do is to watch the American presidential election, let alone what’s happening in the Middle East to become even more aware that the human race continues to struggle with evolution, that we are at varying stages of human development & maturity. When you watch centers of power like Parliaments/Congress’s, around the world, they seem more like school yards than king Richard’s dream of Camelot Round Table. But the dream lives on…

Back to the real world and our subject, people argue about the percentage of women in technology, but I did not need much research to know that women are not well represented in Technology, I only needed to look around the management table or staff meetings, to see that they were between 10% and 30% women at any given point throughout my career. Luckily, my career journey was different, one of my first bosses was a women and my last boss was a woman, and many in between, including when I was a CIO, my boss was a woman. All of whom were remarkable leaders… But more than that, when I reflect back on my career in technology, I must say that I encountered many women leaders, I dare say some of the best in the field [- Christine, Stefanie, Liseanne, Samantha, Ursula, Corinne, Vidya, Michele, Elise, Sylvie, Leigh, Kirsten, Kristen, Diane and so many many more]. I don’t want to be swept away with my support for women in technology, as I am aware that women in technology are not greater than men but they are no less great; they are definitely equal in every sense of the word… Their participation level in this critical field does not reflect this equality…

2016 is a year where I predict women percentage in this field will grow, because of many factors including the fact that, well! it is 2016 🙂 Because organizations like WCT will provide active focused programs like mentoring, information sessions & opportunities to encourage participation and nudge more women into this field. Of course the fight for full equality is long and hard as there’s injustice against women in many parts of the world, but we the silent majority need to move to center stage, edge out the demagogues, dogmatists and fanatics out of the way and address the root causes of all inequalities. Collectively or as individuals, when we interact, we need to base our actions on common universal values, not narrow self-interest or archaic social norms that never worked. In many parts of the world women have little rights. Justice for women is justice for the human race and lack of it is more fuel for more conflicts at so many levels as we see around the world. When there is injustice to any segments of society, anywhere in the world, it creates an imbalance with unpredictable consequences much of them are negative …

I like to end this blog not with a gender distinction because I see none. We, men and women, are two sides of the same coin, and united we must fly.

Irrespective of your gender, wake up every morning, and do something positive, healthy or generous, appreciate something around you – a friend, a flower, a thought, a book, be part of a cause that’s bigger than yourself, it could be as simple as planting a tree or as big as work to end injustice around the world … Let’s not spend all of our talent and energy on small causes. Avoid judging others, however insane they maybe. People, good or bad, only amplify what you already have; they are not the deep source of your joy or sadness, you are! Make 2016 your year to be gentle with yourself, develop your inner peace, calmness and harmony. You can only be at peace on the outside when you are at peace on the inside. So, my friend, go out and live in the greater world from a foundation of calmness, peace and harmony and the world will surely offer you the same.

Let’s make 2016 our year of harmony, peace, and above all love!

Retiresition – Retire-sition – transition into retirement …



Retirement!!! what a word! It’s loaded with so many meanings and innuendos! I often wonder if the english language is inadequate to describe a situation properly! Such a situation is Retirement. Retirement to me is transitioning from a structured full time work environment with less-personal time & choice to an unstructured and more flexible world with greater personal time and choice. I’m discovering that retirement is not binary – you used to work and now you don’t, you’re too busy working and now you have tons of time on your hands, your life is full of tension and now a life with happy pension! Although there is some truth in that, retirement as life generally is much more nuanced and complex. And yes, you need to prepare for it. And yes, as I am realizing you need to find a balance of structured and unstructured activities. Have some personal time and time with family and friends but above all work hard to keep your mind positive, no matter what and you can do that by focusing on the good in people…Culturally, the word “Retirement” seems to reflect the general culture. A culture of winning or losing, happy or unhappy, working or retired… But retirement is not a destination where you arrive with all your worries evaporated and dreams about to come true. Rather, retirement, as with work, is an intermingled series of happy and unhappy moments with many neutral ones. When I look at my happiest moments in retirement, they are similar moments to when I was working. Whether it’s playing Euchre late at night with special friends or when I took few kids in my sports car and saw their genuine almost goofy smiles on their innocent faces or having a warm chat with a friend over a cappuccino and biscotti. These encounters are what ultimately matters and the more you have, the more you will be left with a high spirit, calm mind and a grateful heart.

Since my retirement, I heard comments- you are so lucky, you look younger and less stressed. Frankly, I did not realize that I looked old and stressed, before retirement:) It’s hilarious how people react when I say I don’t feel retired or bored or too busy to do what’s important- to spend time with family & friends, to eat well, spend time out golfing and skiing. Wait a minute, but this is exactly what I did when I was working! I’m just doing it more. Few people told me they failed retirement and immediately went back to work. I’m not sure if there is a right answer but as I said earlier, if what you do leaves you with a high spirit, calm mind and a grateful heart, then you’re doing it right, retirement or not!    

I have never been clearer about my priorities, it’s Not the mindless drive to win!   It’s more about increasing the number of daily happy moments which can only be done by deeply connecting with yourself while appreciating and making other people happy. Gentle moments like visiting my shoe-repairman friend and seeing how proud he is as he tells stories about his kids, and sometime it’s when the noise of the world is drowned out as as I hear the roar of my Lamborghini and marvel at its engineering and elegance. Life is that simple and that complex and you have the power to drive and manage it through its ups & downs.

Deepen your self-awareness and strengthen your human relationships, they are your fuel to help you navigate through the happy and tough days. My best discovery this year is yoga (hot & cold), it makes me more self-aware, focused, centered and balanced. Critically helpful in a world filled with distractions and superficiality – give it a try, if you can!

Here’s my conclusion, if you are delaying any aspects of your life until you retire, you are wasting precious moments of your life. You should never wait till you retire, till you have more time to do what makes you happy.  Start transitioning into retirement as soon as you can, and live in state of Retiresition- this is somewhere between being fully captured by work and fully retired. Take more walks, more yoga, appreciate your family & friends, put more smiles on more children’ faces, enjoy the small stuff.  Better minds have labeled this ‘living in the moment, retirement or not – So, live in the moment, with love!

Six Pack of Success – Step 6: Be Respectful, Always!

  • mz-photoAnd now, the last step in the six-pack of success.

Step 1: become a learning machine

Step 2: work smart

Step 4: work hard

Step 5: work in a team, and now …

Respect all – Live your life through values and not through people. This means achieving your goals by cooperating with people and being guided by values. At the heart of cooperating with people is respect. Employees are the backbone of any business, the real substance of its existence. They are not simply an instrument of production to be used like any machinery to generate output. They are the decisive factor in the success or failure of your organization. So it is crucial to know that people live and die by values and for me, respect is at the centre of all values.

If you want to advance in your career, and strengthen your organization, then respect your colleagues, managers, staff, clients, suppliers, vendors, the people who water your plants and clean your windows, and any person around you! Fight the temptation to be disrespectful especially when people are disrespectful to you, or when you find yourself in a group where others seem to pile it on. Be respectful, period! Being respectful is self-empowering. When you focus on what’s good in people, you reinforce what’s good in yourself.

All too often, people confuse disagreement with disrespect. Disagreement is not only acceptable, it is often desirable in order to generate diverse, purposeful and insightful views that advance the organization’s overall goals. Disagreement often challenges our intellectual and emotional capacity and allows us to be both nurtured and grow. Disrespect, on the other hand, is never acceptable. Disrespect has no meaningful purpose or positive social value; rather, it often leads to further disrespect that generates wasteful distraction, stress and unhappiness. From time to time, respectful people are faced with a stressful experience and become disrespectful; they quickly realize that this does not work and regret such disrespect and move back to a respectful posture.

Every time you send an e-mail, give an opinion, or participate in a discussion, ask yourself: Am I being respectful? You should do that especially when you are upset! This is hard to do, I know, but it is certainly worth the effort. Practice makes perfect! Respect is not only your ticket to career growth, but also to happiness in the workplace and in life!

In business as in life, allow values to shape your personal brand. Not just tactically, but in all cases, be guided by values such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, humanity and, of course, respect. Make these values part of who you are. Be generous, trustworthy, and authentic in living these values and your life will take on a remarkable step forward. Values are your secret weapon to high performance and indeed to a happier life. Respect leaves you in high spirit, calm mind and grateful heart and that’s where all the magic is… Be well my friend, with love!

Six Pack of Success – Step 5: Have Fun @ Work …


In this blog, we come to the 5th step on the road to success, the fun step. You may recall the first four were:

Step 1: become a learning machine,

Step 2: work smart,

Step 3: work hard, and

Step 4: work in a team.

Let me start by pointing out that the degree to which you are enjoying your work is the degree to which you are making the right work choices. If you are not having fun at work, it’s your best indicator that you may not be in the right job. And you are not on the right track to high performance and subsequent personal growth and success. So let’s unpack this together.

We all enjoy what we are good at! If you have the talent to sing, then you may consider being a singer. Now if your mom complains about your singing, as mine did, you may want to restrict your singing to the shower:). We all need to be aware that what we like to do is not always what we are good at! Although you like to sing you may not be good at it. The good news is, even if it’s not clear to us, we all have talent. If you are not sure where your talents lie, I suggest you explore areas of work that you enjoy doing, since we all enjoy what we are good at. Of course, the Internet has many professional tools to help you identify your talent and become more self-aware. Go to the Internet, select a few tools and learn about yourself. The key point is that you should aim to work within your area of inherent talent. And that will make your work more enjoyable.

Irrespective of the above, enjoying your work rarely comes without an investment on your part. Often there is a minimum threshold of knowledge and competence that needs to be achieved before you can truly enjoy your work. It takes months of effort and learning for a lawyer to be ready to stand before a judge and even more effort to become a wise judge. But, as a supreme court judge once told me, once he learns all aspects of the case that’s when the fun begins. Remember your first golf outing!!! It was probably not impressive, was it?

There is a right time to start: right now! Find what is positive about what you do and focus on it, and start making the environment fun for you and all those around you. Make your personal brand a fun one… Remember, fun and performance go together, especially in the long term. I dare say, show me a miserable employee and I will show you an unproductive one, and inversely show me a happy employee and I will show you a more productive employee.

When you enjoy your work, you end up spending more time at it. You’ll achieve more and subsequently will enjoy it more and spread the fun around. By doing this you feed the cycle of positivity, productivity and enjoyment in the workplace. People around you see this positive energy, they will want to join in, and they will want to help you achieve even more of what you are trying to achieve. It’s a winning formula for all.

Being creative, productive and having fun in your working life will not only advance your career, but it will generally make your life all the more positive and meaningful. So, have fun at the office! It’s one of the secrets of being successful. Enjoy!

Six Pack of Success – Step 4: Work in a team …


Six Pack of Success – Step 4: Work in a team

Continuing on with the theme originating from a student’s request described on my earlier blog, “The Six Pack of Success”, here’s the 4th step:

Work in a team – There is so much written about team work that I will keep this blog brief but this area is so important and a key step on the road to success that I will share few words with you. Team work is about working together as a cohesive unit to achieve a goal. I’d like to expand a little by taking a slightly different angle and focus mainly on one’s role in a team and what it means to be a team player.

Your role is to fully understand the overall goal of the team and then put your shoulder to the wheel and do your part. Help other members of the team do theirs and then if you can do more – do more. Help your team all the time, especially when it seems that other members do less work than you. This is your opportunity to shine and grow your personal brand. As you do more than others, your team will recognize it and eventually externalize it, appreciate it, and help you grow!

A good team player is the one that goes out of her/his way to make the other members of the team look good, even if they are not “good”. A family working together is a great example of teamwork. When a member of the family falls behind for whatever reason, the resources of the family come together to support that failing member and once that family member is able to contribute, the whole family rejoices in the success! As we all know families never give up on any member of their children and send them away to live next door … So rather than try to ship a perceived weak member of the team onto another team (which, in rare cases, is a good option) you need to judge less, support more and let values guide you in your supporting effort. You’ll be energized by this positive energy and that will spill over onto the team. If you think the whole team is not working well, it could be time to revisit the mission, be crisp and clear on what needs to be done and what each team member’s role is in advancing it. Maintain your focus all the time and don’t wander around relying on the project leader… Each member of the team has a leadership role including you…

So, if you want to advance, help your team, remember, although one person can make a decisive difference, it is the collective force of a team that moves organizations forward and you along with it. Bonne chance:)


A City Too Far …

mz-photoSubmitted by Mostafa Zommo on July 29, 2015 – 5:00pm
I push my luggage through a steel shaped barrier that looks more like a gate to a middle ages torture camp rather than a welcoming arch for unsuspecting visiting travellers… But this is less unnerving than the one mile walk through a no-man-zone between the last Israeli boarder crossing and the first Palestinian boarder control that I passed a short time ago. And now I am inside the city of Gaza, my birth city, the home of the most precious human being and the reason for my visit, my mom!

My brain shifts to overdrive, so quickly, so immediately, raising more and more questions but unable to produce answers: how could my mom be living in a place surrounded by steel barriers, no-man-zones and enemy lines, while I live in the most free country on the planet, arguably the best country in the world to live in – Canada?

In the span of seconds I feel helpless. All the powers that I had in Canada were suspended. I am stripped of all my friends who seem so far away. I am moving into a parallel world.

Throughout my career, I did reasonably well. I was surrounded by much love from real on the ground loyal friends. I was at home in Canada, but now my very existence is being challenged. While in this fog, I raise my head and see my younger brother with his warm gentle smile and nothing can stop the tears as we embrace. In an instant, I am home again! More questions: where is home? I am thinking home is where love exists!

We push on, driving through the city that seems unaware of our presence, everyone busy coming and going… Bombed and decrepit buildings stand next to architecturally beautiful ones. Building debris is being cleared while new buildings are going up. The people seem unaware of how difficult their situation is, but of course they are aware… it’s a reminder of how the human spirit continues to grind on, living in the hope of a better tomorrow, irrespective of all odds.

I, however, am sensing everything, living at the extreme peaks of my nerves. My heart, mind, body and soul merge into one unit that operates in a state of heightened alert. In that state, everything moves super fast but I see it in slow motion. It’s as if my mind is able to exist in two states – fast and slow – at the same time. In such a state, moments feel like a lifetime… Comparison notwithstanding, it’s like a near death experience. I have experienced that before, when I had a major car accident. It happened at a high speed but I saw it in slow motion just before we hit and I blanked-out.

In this heightened state, you meet people and in seconds you get to know them. You get very close to them… they open up to you and you walk away as if a lifetime has passed. It’s quite an experience. I think life becomes even more precious when it’s restricted. Every second counts. People hang out and do things together all the time. They become close so quickly and so readily… maybe too much so for a north  american.

The wars have blurred the line between life and death and that has reshaped the people. Some have become very conservative and others very liberal, often at the extreme. I have seen and even experienced these extremes. The only explanation I can come up with is that the human spirit is irrepressible and will go on to fulfill its human destiny, often with dignity and grace, irrespective of the madness all around it.

As I approach my mom, I see that she has aged since the last time I saw her ten years ago and that she walks with difficulty. But her eyes are still full of life, full of joy and full of love… This visit is all about my mom, being with her, eating with her and singing with her – she loves to sing! And my mom, who has always been known for her beauty and style, makes me laugh when she remarks about the fashions worn by visitors.

In four weeks, I have seen much of Gaza, took hundreds of photos, as if it was my last visit… In Gaza, everyone is politically awake and you need to do your homework before entering into a discussion, even with the youngest of minds. But they do that over generous food festivals and lovely social gatherings in the cool evenings of the Mediterranean, totally in denial of the economic and political madness all around them.

Then the tough goodbye moment had to come. Seeing my frail mom crying is unbearable, but, as I said to her, the depth of our pain reflects the depth of our love. And when the pain lifts our love remains at an even deeper level. That’s why these visits are worth it!

Walking through hell to see the people you love and who love you unconditionally only to endure even the greater pain of saying ‘goodbye’ is the making of life at its most real, authentic and raw. It puts you face to face with who you really are. It defines you and, in an instant, it challenges if not peels off many of the causes that crowd your life over time…

But if it’s even possible, the pain is amplified by the raw sensitivity of an arguably rational man unable to help the people and the city he loves. Gaza is once again a city too far and beyond my ability to help. Or is it! Maybe the lesson from Gaza will come out of the pain, which is often one of life’s greatest inspirations. Have I been given an inspirational challenge? Is it to spread freedom and love around the world, possibly one smile at a time?

Fortunately, this challenge is not mine alone, because freedom and love belongs to all of us. We are only totally free when everyone is free. There is only but one human race, there is no ‘them and us’, there is only ‘us’. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we are on our way to making this world a better place or as the children say, ‘a Poifect world’ 🙂

Of course you should always do what makes you happy. But from time to time, we all feel emptiness that can only be filled by a cause bigger than ourselves… Here is a cause bigger than all of us, a cause that requires all of us to be achieved: freedom and love for all! A cause we may all drive towards in our own way… For me, a cause that’s worthy of my mom’s tears is to spend the rest of my life trying to make the world a better place for her and for all of us, not by demonizing others and cursing the darkness but by fighting for freedom for her and for all, by lighting a candle of love wherever there is darkness and hate. I know I am not alone, and as the song goes, I hope one day you’ll join us!




Six Pack of Success – Step 3: Work Hard …

mz-photoSubmitted by Mostafa Zommo on July 22, 2015 – 6:00pm

A few of you wrote me asking about the next step in the six pack of success… Well! here it is:

Work hard – It’s really as simple as it sounds … if you want to move up the career ladder, you need to work hard! Working hard does not mean working 24/7 as that would not be smart. Remember, all the steps of the six pack are complementary and mutually reinforcing! So working hard must not be seen in isolation of the other steps on the road to success, such as maintaining a learning posture and working smart.

One common mistake people make is to assume that if you work smart, you don’t need to work hard. Working smart is a twin to working hard and not a replacement. Working hard means never looking for clever excuses to avoid or delay important work. On the contrary, do as much work immediately and always look for additional challenges. Working hard means being engaged in your work by paying full attention to what you are doing. It means staying focused on what you are trying to accomplish – you have no time to waste or be distracted by small office politics, gossip, trivia and unproductive causes. It also means developing your capacity by championing great human causes. You’d be surprised how much untapped potential you have!

And don’t believe the rumors: no one has ever died from working hard. People often confuse “working hard” with “working dumb”; a better association is to link it with good work ethics.

When the student asked me, “How did you get to become a senior executive?”, the first thing that came to my mind was by working hard. I have never seen a successful person who did not work hard. Remember the second question from the student was, “What’s the shortest distance to move from being a student to become a senior executive – be it a Director General, Assistant Deputy Minister, CIO or CEO?”. Working hard is your short cut!!! Well, if you want to advance, not working hard is not an option!

I assure you that working hard is necessary for any meaningful accomplishment and career advancement. In my experience, all successful people work hard, but not all hard working people are successful. This is why you need to consider working hard within the context of the six pack.

Some people associate working hard with having a hard time at work. This could not be further from the truth. You need to always enjoy and have fun at work, we’ll chat about this in future blogs.

Irrespective of the outcome, when you work hard, you feel you’ve earned the right to be present and there will always be room for you on the team. I dare say that working hard is food for the soul that we all need and make us feel whole, especially in a modern world that seems to discount basic human and old fashion values, decency and kindness, in favor of quick and often empty and short-term rewards. For anything to last if not grow, it requires the seriousness and discipline of a strong mind and warm heart, both fueled by hard work.

As a young boy, I was always impressed by farmers who worked hard and long hours but they were happy, positive and productive. There is something honest, honorable and rewarding about working hard!

One can go on but so far you have step 1- Become a Learning Machine, step 2- Work Smart, step 3- Work Hard… Stay tuned for step 4, coming soon as the fun continues. While working hard, I wish you a touch of good luck, as the song says, [hard work & luck] these are words that go together well:)

Six Pack of Success – Step 2: Work Smart …


This morning, while in the torture chamber at my dentist, I was asked if I minded to have a student watch over my root canal procedure. Suddenly, my attitude about being tortured took a 180 degree turn and I was excited about being part of this dentistry student learning experience. The lesson for me is one of the smartest things you can do at work or generally in life is to focus less on yourself and more on the bigger world around you. This is way tougher than it sounds and needs much practice.

In my last post, step 1 was “Become a Learning Machine” and in this post I will focus on step 2: Work Smart.   Building on step one of maintaining a learning posture, working smart continues on the same theme. Working smart is all about being present, aware of the moment, sensitive to your surroundings. I know this seems obvious, but start by taking the time to understand what you are trying to accomplish, be crisp clear and specific about your goals. Then develop and adopt an efficient approach to get the job done.  If the objectives are not clear, then be clear about that.

A smart way to succeed at any initiative is to break it down into smaller manageable parts, execute early and create momentum of small successes. This should not be confused with focusing on the short term at the expense of the long term. Never lose sight of the overall mission of your organization. We are always part of a cause bigger than ourselves. Allow me to share with you that when you feel it’s all about you, you are heading in the wrong direction!

When you take on a challenge, don’t take short cuts in understanding your mission, projects or whatever you are trying to accomplish. Invest good time at the start of your project to set the stage for what’s needed. Smartest leaders always involve experts early and have the confidence & courage to engage people smarter than themselves. As you go on, be specific about your days, weeks and even months. On a daily basis, yes daily basis, spend a few moments early in your day to set the stage for that day… If you look after your days, the weeks and months will look after themselves:)

Being innovative does not mean you have to do it yourself.  All too often, the solution is already developed or being developed somewhere else. Always “look outside the box”, work across boundaries and ask for help! Working Smart is about achieving results at a greater value, while enhancing the quality of life of all. Being smart is not to take short cuts, on the contrary, take your time, stay calm, and sharply focused on deliverables.

The popular expression “work smart not hard” is not well understood. For me it meant to say don’t work stupid: don’t work alone, don’t waste your time on small stuff, or in conflict, don’t waste other people’s time with trivia or middle-ages debates. Make your point, then stop and learn. All too often, there is more than one right answer. I know this is uncomfortable, but smart people listen and learn more than they talk.  It’s hard to listen and learn when you are talking; try it!

Balancing thinking, planning and acting is a key to working smart, but they are not necessarily sequential. Some of us spend too much time thinking & planning and not acting, but when they start acting they stop thinking.  Of course, nothing is advanced until you act, so make action central to whatever you are trying to do. Remember No action means No success! But the genius is in thinking while acting & adjusting your action on the move. Everything evolves and those who don’t evolve seldom succeed! Next posting will be on step 3 of the Six Pack, so till then, best of luck, remember smart people never reject a bit of good luck;).

Six Pack of Success … step 1


This blog was inspired by an encounter with a student, who spent the summer working with us, he asked me the following question about career growth and development; “What is the shortest route between me as a student and you as a Senior Executive, basically I want to know the fastest way to become an Assistant Deputy Minister/CIO!?; give me specific steps…”

While smiling and thinking to myself, I love these students and said good question, giving myself time to think… Drawing on the many years of working in the real world and school of hard knocks, I said I will share the steps that helped me; they will likely shorten your trip on the road ahead of your career growth and success. Keeping in mind success is a relative term, here is step one:

  1. Become a learning machine – learn the business you are in, learn all you can about your organization, its mission, and what they are trying to accomplish [be crisp and laser focused in your learning about your section and projects], learn the environment [context] around you and learn as much as you can about the people you work with. But above all, learn about yourself, who you really are and what it is that you want that is in alignment with your inherent talent, values and personal mission. Self-awareness is least understood but most critical to success! Spend quality & honest time discovering yourself; you’re worth it.   Learning about yourself and of your organization will help gauge your alignment and engagement with your organization.  Give yourself a relative mark. Ten is when all of you is aligned to all of your organization, its management and its goals this is ideal career situation. Zero is when none of you is aligned to that of your organization; time for a new job 😉 I will expand on this in future blogs.Always take a learning posture, especially in the face of difficulty, adversity and conflict. When in conflict, don’t get mad, get facts; don’t be angry, be fair. As hard as that maybe, and it’s hard, put yourself in the other person shoes and learn their reasons; it’s the best you can do to resolve a conflict. When in doubt ask around, so that you may remove that doubt with more information. More than likely, you will learn that there are more than one right answer… But, finally and basically never graduate from learning! In the coming weeks, will share with you the other five steps that I shared with my students’ employees of what I called the Six Pack of Success… see you soon!

New Beginning 2015 …


In my life I have had a few new beginnings. This latest one is triggered by the end of my career at the Federal Government of Canada igniting a new chapter of my life. Every new beginning comes with lessons learned, as a young teen, I joined my high school soccer team, and like all teens, I was excited about this adventure, I went at it with all my heart and soul. I attended every practice; I was in shape and ready! Then came the first unforgettable game, we wore our new uniform, all keen and revved up!   We fought hard, gave it all but the game ended way too soon and we lost 3-1. I thought it was the end of the world! All bruised, bloodied and dispirited, I was, lying down with the team dejected on the sideline, our coach came and rather than hitting us to the back of the head, he said: “I think you all did your best, thank you! Next practice is tomorrow, we’ll focus on how to work together as a team, one force! That’s all!”

When you are young the distance between feeling bad and feeling good is rather short. So walking home, I was delighted that our coach made us feel good so quickly, but I was anxious to get to the next day. “He was onto something,” I thought. Was he teaching us how to lose or how to win, are these two concepts intertwined and one drives the other? I was too young to figure that out. All I knew is that losing felt bad and winning felt good and that was the end of it.

The next day the coach did not get us on the field which was another surprise! He spent the day with us where we shared all sorts of stories about ourselves and he shared all sort of stories including how a wise Prophet taught his twelve children how to work together by asking them to come before him and each to bring two sticks, then asked each to break one of the sticks which they did easily then he asked them to combine the other sticks into one bundle and no one could come close to breaking them. This seemingly simplistic story served me well all my life and luckily helped me, early on; understand the power inherent in working together as one team.

This remarkable coach taught us in order to become one team, we need to know each other as much as possible, laugh and cry together, win and lose together, care about each other as human beings, and if we stand together, united no one can break us! What a fantastic lesson! We all seem to know, but for some reason we often isolate ourselves and work alone and carry the burden of the challenges that lay before us which require all of us to work together.

So as I leave the Feds, a new beginning, I come with this lesson intact and hopefully I will define everything I do by working with others, respecting others, and enjoy others. I think the way you interact with people will define the quality of your life, irrespective of what the interaction is. Whether it is business or leisure…buying or selling something, being served or serving someone … The bottom line is together no problem is too big.

When I was young I wanted to change the world and now I am a little older and a bit wiser, but I still want to change the world!  However, I realized that I can start by continuously improving myself and how to better work with others, because only when we work together, Christians, Moslems, Jews, and others, will we change the world for the better. There is no other option.

So my new journey will be about promoting these principles- no matter the conflict, reconciliation is always better than retribution and unity is always better than division and peace will always come with social justice, for all… Let’s make it a better world together, let’s make it a Poifect World for all.