Winter  2007
Volume XIII Number 3                                  

Change … Change … Change


The Pete Seeger song taken from the Bible and made famous in the Sixties by The Byrds is  a partial excuse for missing my third quarter newsletter. Three important things have happened since my last note to you.


On August 5th, our son, Jeff, married Molly McMahon in a beautiful garden just outside Portland , Maine . Molly is a social worker working with African refugees, and Jeff is in his seventh year teaching math at Deering High School in Portland .  His idea of a bachelor bash was to spend the three weeks before the wedding on a bike trip from Lhasa , Tibet , to the base camp of Mt. Everest and down --- the longest biking descent in the world.  Their wedding ceremony featured blessings given by guests in Japanese, Spanish, Danish, and Senegalese. 



The second milestone was a partial job change. In late September, I accepted an offer to work three days a week as a senior executive consultant at The Ayres Group, an out-placement firm located in the Chrysler Building , just a four-minute subway ride from my own office on 16th Street .  The Ayres folks called me at a time when I was feeling increasingly frustrated by the marketing role I had been doing for two years at The Five O’Clock Club.  I will continue to run the Monday Club and refer clients to the program, but will devote my energy to providing transition services directly.


Ayres has been in business since 1975 and has a practice focusing on senior level executives.  It is a member of Career Partners International, a consortium of firms with worldwide capacity, and was recently bought by Kelly Services, the Fortune 500 employment solutions company.


After two years of working alone in my own office, it has taken some adjustment to put on a suit and work as part of a team.  There is also more computer-driven accountability, so I am learning Excel spread sheets and lots of Windows tricks.


Then, on October 8th, our daughter Elizabeth married Phil DeMara.  The wedding was on a warm afternoon under a 150-year-old oak tree of a historical mansion in Doylestown , Pennsylvania , a suburb of Philadelphia where they recently bought a house which will result in equal-time commutes.  Elizabeth goes north to The College of New Jersey, where she is a sociology professor, and Phil travels to Center City, where he is a Human Services Coordinator  for the City of Philadelphia .

At the dinner after the wedding ceremony, I danced with the bride to “You are So Beautiful to Me,” the Joe Cocker version that I heard the day she was born. When she was little, I used to dance around the living room with her, telling her we’d dance to that song at her wedding.  I had to listen to the song a dozen times before the wedding to be sure that I would not get too mushy and help Elizabeth as well.  The no-cry goal was achieved, although Grandma cried when she saw us dance.


  So, in less than three-month’s time, both of the children have moved on with their lives and their loves.  For readers with young ones in their family, however you define that, enjoy them at every chance you can, because the time goes very fast -- from the toddler I held up to dance with, to a beautiful bride ….. seems like only yesterday.



Books I’d Recommend


Empire:  How Britain Made the Modern World, by Niall Ferguson, London Penguin Books, $18.95, 2003. Having spent a week in Ireland this summer, we were in a London bookshop prior to our flight home when this book, which I vaguely remembered reading about in the New York Times Book Review, popped off the shelf.


We realized how little we knew about British history by traveling in the Irish countryside for a week’s break between the two weddings. This is a one-volume distillation of 400 years of an epic story by a Harvard professor who previously taught at Oxford . 


Ferguson tries to be evenhanded in recounting the rise of Imperialism, but, in the end, he says:


“Without the spread of British rule around the world, it is hard to believe that the structures of liberal capitalism would have been so successfully established in so many different economies around the world.  Those empires that adopted alternative models -- the Russian and the Chinese -- imposed incalculable misery on their subject peoples. Without the influence of British imperial rule, it is hard to believe that the institutions of parliamentary democracy would have been adopted by the majority of states in the world, as they are today….. Finally, there is the English language itself, perhaps the most important single export the last 300 years.”


 I wish all of my readers a happy and healthy holiday season, and look forward to an eventful 2008.