Disrespectable Laws Deserve To Be Disrespected

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

In the Tucson Sentinel today we learned that a No More Deaths volunteer was arrested for sheltering two people suspected of being in the country illegally.

There is a tension in the Rule of Law that helps keep government in it’s proper sphere. It demands both: 1) That laws be respected, and 2) That laws be respectable.

There is nothing respectable about laws that lead a govt agency to promote death by exposure of overwhelmingly peaceful migrants, there is nothing respectable about laws that target for arrest peaceful citizens seeking to prevent the deaths by exposure of those same peaceful migrants.

If you support, as I do, the Rule of Law in this country, I would suggest starting by supporting changes to our immigration policy to end the inhumane treatment of foreigners and citizens alike. This is not about criminality, this is about economics. You cannot overturn the human drive to survive and prosper with a wave of the legal wand.

Until such time as the US falls in economic success such that we do not attract migrants, or that other countries rise such that migrants do not feel the drive to leave, we will face this pressure at our borders. I believe the economic and historic research that concludes we are better with these new neighbors than without them, but even if you do not, our duty is to treat our fellow human beings with dignity and kindness.

We need to wake up and realize that we as a country have been shirking this duty for many years across many realms of government. A good place to start would be reversing our century long slide into migratory isolationism and brutalism.

That moment…

A scary/thrilling moment in the life of an entrepreneur is the first time you realize that there are normal tasks of your company that both (a) must be done and (b) you don’t know how to do them.

It’s scary because it’s the first time you feel how much you rely on your team. It’s thrilling because you see how your little dream has become something bigger than you.

Selling Girl Scout Cookies

26907747_10154925391380216_6675666031665677015_nThese are the cookies I bought after an impromptu sales training on a sidewalk in the middle of downtown.

Three lovely young ladies and a couple of moms had set up on Congress, I was walking by on the way to a meeting when I heard the familiar, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”

I walked past with a quick, “No, thank you.”

I made it all the way to the corner of Congress & Sixth before stopping, looking back twice, then turning on my heel. I needed to help.

If you or anyone you know is involved with young women learning sales, business, project management, etc. through this excellent annual tradition, PLEASE, help them by doing better than that old stand by question.

To start, it’s great that they are asking just about everyone! That is the most important thing. We only make shots we take.

But what if we had a better first question?

The main problem with that question above is that it is known and closed-ended, i.e. people are conditioned to say “No, thank you.”

A simple improvement is to try questions that get someone to stop and think:

1. “Hello, we’re doing a survey… Can you tell me what your favorite Girl Scout cookie is?”
2. “Good afternoon… What kind of service projects do you think are most important for young women to be involved in?”

Do I know where the conversation will go from there?? Nope! But I know you will get a lot more people stopping to talk, and each active conversation is an opportunity to close that you won’t have with that old tired question.

Next, think about the value proposition, i.e. WHY should a person give you their money, WHAT are they really trading for… Here’s a hint… It’s NOT the cookies.

Once you get them talking, your potential customer should now be engaged with a real live Girl Scout. Do they know that is truly a special opportunity? It is a chance for them to hear why these young ladies are out there on the street, what they get from the program, the specific places they will go and things they will do when they and their troop achieve certain sales goals during cookie season.

Girl Scouts on street corners in downtown, out in front of grocery stores, knocking on your front door, are NOT selling cookies! They are selling good citizenship, service hours, personal development, wholesome fun, academic achievement, and all of the rest of those outcomes that Girl Scouts provides and promotes.

THOSE are the things buyers (as members of this community) receive from that money all year long… Long after the Thin Mints box has been tossed in the recycling bin.

But that isn’t the value proposition most often being sold in front of the supermarket and door-to-door… For that these young ladies need to get people to stop and talk for a couple minutes.

But if they can get to that value proposition, the final ask will be for how MANY boxes not whether $5 is worth it.

To recap:

1. Keep asking everybody!
2. Start with a question that isn’t answered Yes or No.
3. Don’t sell cookies. Sell the Girl Scouts.

And remember to make sure the girls have fun!

Open Immigration Made America Great

One thing that really did make America great (a return to which could make us great again) was our uniquely welcoming disposition to immigrants from all corners of the Earth.

Not perfectly welcoming, not a utopian brotherhood of all singing kumbaya, but UNIQUE relative to the community of nations globally. To be an “Other” has never been as strange or dangerous in America as elsewhere in the world.

Our relatively free immigration policy was a great strength for most of the history of these United States. It encouraged, not the wealthy and well-born (who were often doing fine in their home countries), but the cleverest, the most tenacious, the most determined, to brave the difficulties of a new country, new communities, new careers, to make for themselves something better.

It is that DNA to make something better that was infused in American society by our immigrant forebears. Our great prosperity and freedoms in the US is the inheritance of that heritage we enjoy today and our children’s future will be better or worse based on how we decide to treat immigrants now.

Will we follow the good example of history and open our communities to those who need our help and shelter? Or will we impoverish our material and moral selves by treating the foreigner not as a neighbor, but with insults and racism and fear.

We are not a country that was built on border walls, travel papers, and golden tickets to only “the best and the brightest”… We were a country built on this:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!””

~ Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus (1883)

9 Things Every College Student Should Know… But Doesn’t.

These types of articles pop up around August and September every year. In fact, a year ago I wrote up a list of 9 things I wanted my college-bound daughter to know and I also asked my many professor and grad-degree-ed friends to chime in on what made them successful or what they would want freshmen to be thinking about.

But this type of list is invariably in one ear and out the other amidst of the firehose of information and life experiences hitting these 18 and 19 year olds all at once as they begin their post high school journeys.

So now I wanted to revisit the topic, both for those sophomores with some real college classes now behind them (and some accompanying scars and bruises to show for the process), and for those freshman who might just find a moment to listen and find their first year improved for it.

First, THE LIST:


9 Things Every College Student Should Know… But Doesn’t.

  1. Stay AHEAD
  2. 1 hour in-class = 2-3 hrs out-of-class
  3. Use professors’ office hours
  4. Use tutoring resources
  5. Get the urgent out of the way of the important
  6. Focus on growth, real experiences, & meaningful outputs, not GPA
  7. Learn to take care of yourself first
  8. Have fun
  9. Don’t take any of this too seriously

Below is an expansion of THE LIST, with more explanation and quotes and comments added from my friends and associates in higher ed:


1. Stay AHEAD.

It is a helpful trick to think about the importance of any period of time in college as inversely proportional to how far along you have progressed (e.g. Your freshman year is your most important academic year, sophomore year the second most important, etc. The first week of the semester is the most important, the second week is next most important, etc). Continue reading