What Did You Talk About at Work Today?

My team!!! We just had our weekly check-in via Zoom, and you know what they wanted to talk about? Yes, you know! They didn’t want to go to breakout rooms, either. “Let’s just talk!” Our discussion gave me so much more hope.

You see, a lot of the conversation I’ve seen calls on white folks to check-in on their black and brown colleagues. To understand our pain. Help us feel better. Recognize and use their “white privilege” to make things better for us and ours. That’s a gross oversimplification, but there it is.

Having been black for a long time, I know that what happened to George Floyd isn’t nearly new. It’s been going on for a long, long time. Too long, but still. It’s systemic. It goes on because someone benefits from it going on. That’s what privilege means. It’s there. You don’t have to think about it just like fish aren’t aware they’re swimming in water.

So what I really appreciated was people, white people, not just feeling my pain, but taking upon themselves the responsibility to do their work. To research. To read. Ask questions. Speak up. Confront ignorance. Demand action. Lead.

Too many people, leaders, feel the “need-to-be-seen-as” doing the right thing. Saying the right thing. I appreciate most the folks who are doing the right thing, taking action, simply because it’s the right thing. That’s hopefully more sustainable and not relying on how I feel.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had colleagues reach out to me with concern, and want me to know they are thinking of me, are concerned about me, even love me. I so appreciate them because I know them, and I know they mean it.

What I love even more is knowing they’re doing the work.

Livestreaming jazz on a Sunday afternoon. #jazzchurch 05!

Today’s #jazzchurch livestream featured music by Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Cannonball Adderley, Roy Hargrove, and Dave Holland, just to name a few. We end with great Pharaoh Sanders song I was reminded of this week, “Hum-Allah.” The songs this week seem to fit my mood given all that’s going on in our world! We could use some uplift, some new resolve, peace, and some hope!

I hope the music does that for you! Enjoy!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 05 - Only Three Mistakes - Sunday, May 31, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played.

Tune in 1-3pm PDT next Sunday for another edition of #jazzchurch!


For the past month, I’ve been streaming some of my favorite music. I call the “program” #jazzchurch. Years ago, I declared, “ jazz is my religion.” While I grew up going to church every Sunday, I got away from all that in my rebellious teenage years. My church just wasn’t doing nearly enough, I thought.

What the church did do, even for me, was provide spiritual sustenance. That feeling has never left me. I connect most deeply with the music we sang and listened to back then.

And then I discovered jazz. Not that it was hidden or anything. Maybe jazz found me? I fell in love with the music, even learning to play myself.

And you know what? The music is where I go to search for and find meaning and connection. I love the idea of being in the moment, and live streaming like this is one way to achieve that. I think, “what do I want to hear next, what does it mean to me, and how does it connect me to this moment?” Hopefully, to the next moment too. It’s two hours of music in two hours’ time.

You can listen to today’s stream and learn a little about the songs I played in this blog post.

Livestreaming Jazz on a Sunday afternoon. #jazzchurch 04!

Today’s #jazzchurch livestream featured music by Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, and Betty Carter, just to name a few. As I listened I thought to myself, “these songs have some great bass lines.” If you know me, well, that makes a lot of sense!

Anyway, some great music, and a mistake or two to learn from. Enjoy!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 04 - Sunday, May 24, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played.

Livestreaming jazz on a Sunday afternoon. #jazzchurch #3!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 03 – Sunday, May 17, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the songs I played that are publicly available.

#jazzchurch 02 by thertrevdrbillebob - Sunday, May 10, 2020

Welcome to #jazzchurch where I livestream some of the music that’s resonating for me right now. Today we featured music by The Baylor Project, SFJAZZ Collective, Dave Holland, Keith Jarrett, among others.

Listen here:

bbebop · #jazzchurch 02 - May 10, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played today:

#jazzchurch 01 by thertrevdrbillebob - Sunday, May 3, 2020

I enjoyed my first Twitch first streaming session and look forward to doing it again. So much music in my head wanting to get out!

Bill Berry · #jazzchurch - 2020-05-03
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing most of the songs I played that are also available to stream. Follow me on twitch.com to be notified for the next #jazzchurch live stream.

Bill E. Bob’s #jazzchurch

Once upon a time, I declared jazz as my religion. No dogma, just the pure unmitigated sound of the music known as jazz. Today at 1 pm PDT, after a little encouragement from my friends, I’ll live stream some songs I love (#LoveStreaming!!!).

Welcome to #jazzchurch! Let’s see/hear/feel what happens…

Lost Car

I’ve lost my car in some strange, unknown place. I know it’s here somewhere, maybe a block away. Over there? Nope, not there. How about over here? Nothing works. I can’t Google it. I can’t connect to it with my iPhone (what’s an iPhone???). The button I press on the key fob results in no horn sound I can hear. I think I remember the landmarks, the lost road signs, but retracing my steps lead nowhere.

The only way out of this dilemma of tragic proportions is to wake up and realize this was only a dream. And I wake up and I realize that, no, this time, not a dream. Or maybe the dream isn’t over yet? I remain stuck.

Worse yet, everyone else around me is stuck too. We’re all looking for the same damn lost car and it’s just not here. It’s not anywhere. We’re nowhere.

If you’re not one of us lost souls, if you know the way out, please share it. Please share it right now. ¡Immediatamente!

Thanks for listening.

Just a Closer Walk With Thee

I texted my sister today to see how she and her husband were doing. They’re doing well under our current circumstances, working from home, social distancing, etc. I asked whether their church services had gone virtual, and offered help with Zoom this week so that’s available next Sunday.

I was thinking about my sister and brother-in-law. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that, as a church pastor and “first lady” in New Jersey, they were aware of and dealing with a lot of death among people they serve, people they know. I should have thought about that and was still surprised.

So I’m making “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” my #song4today. As Cory Henry says in response to “take us to church,” “It is Sunday!”

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Inspiration He Received During the COVID-19 Crisis

Governor Andrew Cuomo ended his presentation today with this story about how an upstate New York nursing home inspired him during a dark COVID-19 period. It’s under six minutes, and I encourage you to watch it.

Andrew Cuomo Press Conference - 12 April 2020 from Bill Berry on Vimeo.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

“And here a nursing home comes forward and says, ‘We want to lend you 35 ventilators to bring downstate.’ I tell you, for me, when I heard that, when I heard that news, with all this bad, all this negative, something inside me said, ‘You know, we’re going to be okay. We’re going to find our way through this.’ Because there is an inherent goodness in people that will surprise you, and they will rise to the occasion, and at the end of the day, goodwill win against bad. I believe that. And love will conquer all.’

“I wanted to say thank you for me, from me, because they brought me inspiration and hope and energy at a time when I personally really needed it. And that call, and that generosity, and that love buoyed my spirit and my feelings and was such a lift for me.

“I remember I went and I talked to the team. I said, “Can you believe how beautiful a gesture this is?” So I wanted to say thank you, as Governor, and for me, myself, and I, Andrew Cuomo, thank you to the people of Pathways.”

Brought me to #tears…

MustRead: A letter to the UK from Italy: this is what we know about your future

My ALF colleague David L Hirschberg shared this letter written by acclaimed Italian novelist Francesca Melandri to fellow Europeans ‘from your future’. She has been under lockdown in Rome for almost three weeks due to the Covid-19 outbreak and lays out the range of emotions people are likely to go through over the coming weeks.

“I am writing to you from Italy, which means I am writing from your future. We are now where you will be in a few days. The epidemic’s charts show us all entwined in a parallel dance.

“We are but a few steps ahead of you in the path of time, just like Wuhan was a few weeks ahead of us. We watch you as you behave just as we did. You hold the same arguments we did until a short time ago, between those who still say ‘it’s only a flu, why all the fuss?’ and those who have already understood.

“As we watch you from here, from your future, we know that many of you, as you were told to lock yourselves up into your homes, quoted Orwell, some even Hobbes. But soon you’ll be too busy for that.”

Click to read it all!

Why most D&I programs don’t work

I’ve been taking a deeper dive into Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion this year, and still just learning. Getting people to learn new ways of thinking, and having that result in changed behavior? Well, that’s just hard.

I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite management books:

People don’t change that much.
Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out.
Try to draw out what was left in.
That is hard enough.
First, Break All the Rules, p. 57.

Almost by definition, EDI work seeks to put in what was left out, something largely not there in the first place.

To accomplish that kind of change, we need to go deeper than seeking changed behavior. We have to change mindset. We’ll be more successful in achieving EDI if we first focus on understanding and changing the underlying mindset.

Mindset –> Behavior –> Results

I exchange pleasantries all the time. Colleagues ask me, “how are you doing?” and feel disappointed if I don’t respond, “Awesome!” Like, “What’s wrong?” Disappointed.

All that to explain why this puzzle was so right-up-my-alley, my wife let me handle it. :-) #awesome!! #winning!!!

That Time I Decided to Just Listen…

(Unsplash photo by Hans-Peter Gauster)

Once upon a time, I was fixing to get ready to walk into a leadership team-building workshop. While improving the team had sorta been my idea, past retreats hadn’t gone too well. They all seemed to focus on why I wasn’t like everybody else and I decided I wasn’t doing that again.

Before leaving home that morning, I wrote in my journal. The basic idea is to clear my head, empty my thoughts onto paper, and contemplate what I want to do that day. I always start with the date, followed by the name of a song that’s reverberating in my head. This day I chose a Eddie Harris song called “Listen Here!”

In keeping with the theme, I wrote myself the following instructions:

Listen
Ask questions
Be curious
Ask humble questions
Listen
Summarize
Synthesize
Pass
Say “I don’t know.”
“Let me think about that.”
Speak the kind truth? Nah!!
Observe
Shut up!
Listen!

### How’d That Work?

I thought the day was going well until my boss approached me during our lunch break.

“Bill, are you okay?”
“Sure. Why do you ask?
“Well, you haven’t said anything all morning, and that’s not like you!”
“Oh, I’m fine. I’ve just been listening. Taking it all in.”

You see, I’d forgotten to actually participate in the conversation. While I didn’t want to provide my colleagues ammunition they could use to attack me, I also didn’t want that to be noticeable. So I chimed-in more the rest of the day.

Message From Above?

During the afternoon session, a buzz from my watch notified me that a new Harvard Business Review “Ideacast” had been downloaded to my iPhone. The title? “Become a Better Listener!” Surely this was a message from on-high that, despite my faux pas, I was on the right track.

In the next day or two, I listened to the podcast. It featured an interview with Mark Goulston about his book, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. I read the book.

Goulston’s book was published by the American Management Association, and they offered a class based on Just Listen. I took the class.

The podcast, book, and training were all excellent. Goulston’s work featured a deep-dive into brain science to help explain how and why we respond to stimuli the way we do. The book and class also provided practical tips for handling different situations we face and to improve our ability to listen.

A Journey Begins

I ended up taking four AMA seminars over the next year:

  • Just Listen!
  • The Voice of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire, Influence and Achieve Results
  • Leading with Emotional Intelligence
  • Transformational Leadership: How to Inspire Extraordinary Performance

I learned a lot in each class. I was clearly searching for something, and, I’m pretty sure I found it!

More on that in a future episode…

Lessons Learned?

What questions do you have?

10 Poems By Langston Hughes You Should Know

I, Too

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

Ten Poetic Quotes by Langston Hughes

My friend Jackie shared a link to Ten Poetic Quotes by Langston Hughes and it gave me a much-needed pick-me-up!

I can’t decide which quote is my favorite, so I’ll go with this one:

“Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it… what you wish in your secret heart were not funny, but it is, and you must laugh. Humor is your own unconscious therapy. Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you.”

I’ve been #workingonit!!! for a long time. #ALutaContinua!

Today is SuperBowl Sunday. And Groundhog’s Day.

It also represents a Palindrome for the ages:

  • 2020-02-02
  • 02/02/2020

Backward and forward, and both ways dates are typically written internationally. Cool!

The sun is out. It’s cold. Maybe there will be a beautiful sunrise tomorrow? Sunset last night was, by all reports, er, um, cool!

Niners vs. Chiefs

I’ve been a Niners fan since moving to the Bay Area in 1986. I half-rooted for the Niners and Chiefs this season when I was paying attention to football at all.

What does I’m with Kap mean?

He protested and paid the price, which is what you have to do when you protest! So no more football for Kap. Was the protest worth it? And what’s my role?

Both/And

The Democrats got Health Care passed. ACA, aka Obamacare. And then they lost and lost and lost.

Was it worth it?

Is the goal to win, to keep power? Or is the intention to enact good, helpful policies?

It’s complicated because, without power, you can’t enact. And without power, you can’t protect and grow what you’ve adopted.

It appears America, the experiment, is failing. What can turn it around? Important question since we’re electing a President this year, not to mention one-third of the Senate.

Politics, as currently set up:

  • the media
  • social media
  • $$$
  • Personality
  • Message
  • Vision
  • Strategy

All these things are problematic at best.

Happy #PalindromeDay!

deep! and true!! Time is the one thing we don’t have enough of and can’t make more of.

Time is moving on, You better get with it, before it’s gone…

#IDidntKnowWhatTimeItWas

blah. blah. blah.

“I have always admired the ability to bite off more than one can chew and then chew it.” – William DeMille

I Quit My Job After a Particularly Good Beach Day

“Once upon a time, I worked at a magazine, reporting to a cowardly white woman who, early in our working relationship, told me that she didn’t consider me a threat because ‘a black woman will never have this job.’”

“I grew up with that Olivia Pope mentality that as someone with my race and gender, you have to work twice as hard to get half as far. I think that also meant that I had to work twice as hard to gather half the courage it took to quit a workplace that did not deserve my talents but still benefited from my excellence. It was hard to walk away from what looked, at least on paper, like a very good job.I’m a woman of color and a first-generation American. It is practically encoded in my DNA to put up with inordinate amounts of microagression, if not outright aggression. I talk about this with my girlfriends who share that DNA, a lot. For us, quitting requires more than the ‘take this job and shove it’ swagger that sometimes presents when people of a different hue and class do it.”

#ThisResonates! #IdeasFor2020!

Charlotte Observer Editorial (2018): Let’s remember the MLK who wasn’t liked

“Martin Luther King Jr. was not a well-liked man. He was one of the most polarizing figures in the United States during his final few years of life. He was not the cuddly creature we re-invent every King Day to lie to ourselves and our kids about how he only wanted us to get along. His approval rating began to rise only after he was no longer here to demand America live up to its ideals.

“King wanted peace, but not at the expense of equality. He wanted little black girls and boys to play with little white girls and boys, but not if it meant pretending racism didn’t exist.

“He respected authority, but challenged those wearing badges and carrying batons and sitting in the Oval Office.

“He wanted moral clarity, not cheap comfort. Were he alive today, he’d still be hated by those wedded to the status quo. Because he’d notice the poor still being vilified as lazy. He’d see large corporations, like Walmart, brag proudly about modest pay increases then quietly announce thousands of layoffs. The GOP would still have enacted a tax law skewed to the rich then pass work requirements for Medicaid benefits – something they have never required of wealthy Americans receiving government largesse. He’d know the government pays private collectors triple what they retrieve in back taxes from the low-income while high-income tax cheats skate.”

Here’s the original unfiltered (but highly edited) version (@zap).

Are the Democrats Ready for Trump’s Impeachment Trial?  - The New Yorker