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Craig's Blog

What Inspires Me: Leonard Cohen


Customer service can really be corrosive, and it gets worse than the usual trolling and abuse. However, singer and poet Leonard Cohen really helps me get through the day, with a small but substantial assist from Dr Stephen T Colbert DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts).

Shit rolls downhill. That's the life of a customer service rep, and I've had that pleasure for over eighteen years. (I continue to do customer service, one reason being to remind me about this.)

However, if you survive the first year or so, you can cope with trolling and verbal abuse since you can see that the vast majority of people are pretty reasonable. There are very few trolls or other bad actors. Unfortunately, the really bad actors get really good at telling a good story for their own profit or power. That means they appeal to the goodness of most people, and misinform them to give you a hard time.

haters gonna hate

Dealing with that gets old really fast, and often a customer service rep must absorb that criticism and wait, maybe years, for others to address it. Meanwhile, when this is happening, you need a hand just to get through the day.

My deal is that there's this guy, Leonard Cohen, who's been a real influential poet and singer for maybe fifty years. He's my rabbi, in the sense that a rabbi's a teacher and spiritual leader.

His music is pretty much my liturgy, prayer really, and it inspires me in a way to get through the day.

In context, my favorite Sunday School teacher, Dr Colbert, reminds us that "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God."

I feel that joy in such prayer, that really helps out, and here's what's most effective from Leonard.

I can't run no more

With that lawless crowd,

Not while the killers

In high places

Say their prayers aloud.

But they've summoned

They've summoned

A big


They're going to hear from me.




Helping out homeless veterans

Hey, the Department of Veterans Affairs does more and more to give homeless vets a hand: VA triples spending on homelessness problem

"The Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday awarded almost $300 million in grants for homeless and low-income assistance efforts, three times what the agency spent on that program last year.

Revised Homelessness at a Glance_jpegslide

The move is part of the larger government-wide effort to end veterans homelessness in the next two years, and comes at a time when most federal programs are tightening their belts in an effort to deal with sharp reductions in funding."

That's big, reminding us to all lend a hand.

Locally speaking, here's what I support, all recommended!

… and more to come re Harbor Light.


Supporting more effective national service

President Obama and President George H.W. Bush present the 5,000th Daily Points of Light award to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, a retired couple from Iowa who founded a nonprofit that has delivered more than 232 million free meals to children around the world.

A lot of really good people are helping Americans in need via the Corporation for National and Community Service. It's a "private-public partnership," meaning that people in business, government, and the nonprofit sector work together with citizens to get results.

That includes a lot of good work by AmeriCorps, which engages 80,000 Americans in results-driven service to meet local needs. In the last year AmeriCorps has teamed up with other agencies to launch:

Lots more needs to get done, and to that effect, the President just signed an official memorandum on expanding national service.

Basically, it tells federal agencies to work together in a task force to expand national service in six areas: emergency and disaster services; economic opportunity; education; environmental stewardship; healthy futures; and veterans and military families. It also encourages more partnerships with the private sector to unleash the energy of citizens to get things done.

This is a big deal; there's still a lot of suffering out there best address by a combination of public and private efforts.

There are a lot of people out there who could use an extra hand, even right in your own neighborhood. Help out if you can.

Why do you support women's leadership as the next frontier?

Over the past twenty-seven years I've been quietly supporting women's groups, just proceeding on what feels like the right thing to do. womens center

That started with HAVEN, a women's shelter in the Oakland (Greater Detroit) area, probably in 1985. My intent was to become a volunteer counselor, since they needed guys in that role. However, with the briefest of training I learned that I was way too wimpy to help in that manner.

Fundraising, well, I was able to help out there, agreeing to help set up fundraising events, one including the sale of artwork. All I remember clearly is that inhaling Windex fumes, not a good idea. Also, when visiting, I had to be escorted while in the shelter. The latter was the first time that the idea of boundaries really sunk in. There are always places where a person isn't welcome, with good reason.

Over the past ten years, people have asked me to help out with a number of causes, focusing on social media and sometimes cash. The deal is that I get involved on a daily basis when that's constructive, and otherwise, I respect boundaries, far as I can tell.

Since I know something about computers and a little about small business, my focus has been on helping girls and women in technology as much as I'm able.


In no particular order, the groups I've worked with include:

craig's kiva loans to date by country

In the spirit of respecting boundaries I'm very quiet, unless I think I'm being funny, but I try to keep that in check.

Recently, I've joined the Women in Public Service Project, started by Hillary Clinton. They've challenged me: Why is women's leadership important to public policy and entrepreneurship? Why do you support women's leadership as the next frontier?

craig + hillary

Until then, I'd been winging it, just doing what felt right.

However, I guess I needed to better articulate it, so …

1. Fairness. Treat people like you want to be treated.

Personally, I'm a nerd, feel that life should be fair, that everyone gets a chance to be heard, and maybe to help run things.

Sure, life isn't fair, but that won't slow me down. A nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.

2. To generalize: Women listen and work with one another to brainstorm solutions. To speak lightly of that, consider the cultural stereotype, that women prefer to ask for directions whereas men often prefer to try to figure things out and then get lost.

Note to self: JUST LISTEN. That is, don't ALWAYS attempt to solve the problem, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO LISTEN. (Courtesy of "You Just Don't Understand" by Deborah Tannen.)

3. "The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world." -Charles Malik

That is, we're living in a very small period of tremendous social change, where the people who are best prepared, who have the best listening and cooperative skills should get their chance of running things. I don't think we'll see revolution, we'll see a rebalancing of power, shifting from traditional sources of power (authority and money) to power based on the size and effectiveness of one's network.

… and finally, to self, JUST LISTEN.

Read On and Move Forward if you are a Veteran

Hey, VA doctors have told me that no one goes to war and comes back unchanged. Readjusting to civilian life can be challenging no matter where you are; at home, in the workplace, or at school. Now there's help through an online counseling service designed to help Vets and active duty service members battling with readjustment issues, depression, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Furthermore, the free counseling support reaches Veterans in the privacy of their homes through a program called Moving Forward.

This new program is the real deal. It helps Vets re-adapt to civilian life with stress-assessments, relaxation exercises, and interactive games. It's based on a highly effective cognitive behavioral treatment program that's been used successfully with Veterans and service members across the country.

moving forward

Here's what really makes this program different: Anyone who uses it remains completely anonymous.

Vets, and anyone else who needs help coping with life's challenges, can access this site with private trainings for free! Moving Forward is a great way for Vets to access counseling services, and has been used by more than 18,500 web users since it launched on Veteran's Day in 2012.

Try it out by visiting:

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