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Bruce's Blog || Just sayin'. . .

Loving Old Books, Barack Obama Visits, and Customers Like You

Posted on November 16, 2019 by Bruce MacNaughton

Good Morning from Prince Edward Island, 

Put the kettle on, time for tea.

Earlier this week, we were one of 8 companies asked to exhibit our wares at a VIP reception prior to a ‘Conversation with Barack Obama’ being held in Halifax at the Scotiabank Centre.

Hence the photograph above, which I took from the new convention centre window while waiting. 

It was an honour to have been asked to be part of the reception. I had the pleasure of meeting other entrepreneurs in the trenches as well as professionals from many industries. There was lots of interest in our corporate offerings

After our exhibit time was up, we were given the opportunity to attend the “conversation.” Over 9,000 people came to hear what he had to share around a number of subjects brought forward by moderator Nova Scotia Co-operative Council CEO Dianne Kelderman.

He answered many questions, one that stood out for me was.  

“As President, what was your most difficult day in office?"

You could still sense his grievous emotion when he responded.

He said his worst day in office was the devastating loss of 20 children and six staff in the Sandy Hook school shooting of 2012 in Connecticut.

“Babies, basically,” said Obama, who spoke at a memorial two days later with the parents in attendance.

“It was heart-breaking and what made it more difficult was, if you ask about one of my biggest frustrations during my tenure as president, was the inability for me to get congress to respond in any meaningful way to that tragedy and the constant flow, this drumbeat of mass shootings that took place.

“The degree to which we now make easily accessible weapons of war, where you can buy semi-automatics that have nothing to do with hunting a bear, caribou or moose for a winter’s provisions is something that does not make sense. My inability to move the resistance of that small but highly organized faction within the United States was anguish to me because I saw myself in those parents and I only imagined what that might have been like for them.

“Bad day.”

Read more of what the 44th President of the United States had to say as reported by The Chronicle Herald here

I enjoyed the event greatly.  And must thank our local credit union (our bank of choice) for suggesting us to be the small business representatives from Prince Edward Island. 

Driving from Prince Edward Island to Halifax, Nova Scotia, I did what I always do when driving...I listen to podcasts. 

One that I have been enjoying as of late is a podcast by Neil Pasricha, called Three Books. Neil is one of the world's leading authorities on intentional living. Below is a TED talk he gave in 2010 where he shares a bit of why he does what he does. He has had an amazing journey so far.  His podcast is extremely refreshing and popular. No judgement on his part and only a spirit of “teach me”. There is so much to be learned and he embodies that attitude. 

“Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom.” Toni Morrison

Neil's podcast has inspired me to read more.  

While in Halifax this week, I had the first-hand experience of The Last Word Bookstore a second-hand book store.  I always loved libraries and now I love second-hand bookstores. 

Upon entering the space of pre-read knowledge there was a comforting aroma of old books. My curiosity was piqued as to why old books had "that" smell. Later, I researched and found on the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers website the following. 

We all know that aroma. Perhaps it evokes trips to the library as a child, or the cozy ambience of a grandfather's study. It's the distinctive scent of old books. Scientists say that "old book smell" is more than just mustiness; it contains hints of grass and vanilla. That's because all the compounds used to make the book release distinctive odours as they break down. For example, lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper, is closely related to vanillin. As it breaks down, the lignin grants old books that faint vanilla scent.

Now you know. 

The shopkeep was busy entertaining himself playing solitaire and chatting to the only other person present.  A Johnny Cash album emoting gospel music filled the room adding even more character. I loved it. 

I hope to get back and purchase an old woodblock illustrated edition of Moby Dick. A book, I have heard must be read. He didn't take debit cards and I had no cash on me.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."John Quincy Adams

On the drive home, I listened to via The Knowledge Project Podcast, a conversation between Shane Farrish and Daniel Kahneman, emeritus professor of psychology at Princeton, who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for the work he did on decision-making with Amos Tversky. He’s probably best known for his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, and his work on drawing attention to our cognitive biases. Their conversation revolves around how to make better decisions, our intuitions, what if anything we can do to reduce our cognitive biases, and how rules make great defaults.

In light of listening to Barack Obama live the night before, I found his comments about leadership, particularly about President Obama’s interesting. 

Below is taken from the transcript notes:

DK: I think it’s pretty clear that people prefer leaders who are intuitive and who are overconfident. Leaders who deliberate too much are viewed with suspicion. I think Obama was at a certain disadvantage relative to George Bush— 

SF: Because he was seen as more deliberate and thoughtful? 

DK: Yeah, he was more deliberate and then when you’re very deliberate, you look as if you don’t know what you’re doing. But when you act with confidence... So people want leaders who are intuitive, I think, by and large. Provided they agree with it.

I will let him have the last word, but before I go, I need to take care of business: 

Be sure to check out the gift boxes that we have prepared for gift-giving this season. 

Well, that is it for today, got to run. 

Thank you for taking your time with me today and I hope you have a great weekend and week ahead. 

Be nice. 

I have been listening to this beautiful album by Ahmad Jamal this morning. He turns the keyboard into a magisterial canvas. Take a sample a listen here.

With love from Prince Edward Island. 

Sincerely, 

Bruce

ps. 

A paperboy said to a customer one day, "Mr. Smith, I wish I had twenty customers like you."

"Gosh, that's nice to hear," said Smith, "but I'm kind of surprised considering I never tip all that well and always pay late."

The paperboy said, "I know, but I'd still like twenty customers like you. The problem is I have one hundred and forty!"