Browsed by
Category: Famous People

Meghan and Harry’s Wedding Revisited (Fiction)

Meghan and Harry’s Wedding Revisited (Fiction)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry invited me to sit in the nave for their wedding. I was stuck in Arizona that Saturday wearing grey shorts and a black T-shirt. I watched much of it on BBC, but had questions. What was up with that screen between the nave and the choir? What was it like to be filthy rich and crammed together on folding chairs?

I lucked out because, just last year, Elon Musk’s Elon-Navigator went commercial. His chrome-covered machine now transports a whole person anywhere they want into the past for a short time—sort of like a DVR, but real, not digital. The price for a twenty-four hour pass, believe it or not, was less than Concorde tickets in the 1970s.

I boarded the Elon-Navigator2.1 in Fremont, California. No waiting. Apparently most people are still afraid they’ll never be returned to the present. Half a dozen had been lost on 1.0.

I felt obligated to sit inside St. George’s Chapel because Lorraine Ali wrote in the LA times the day after the wedding that Meghan and Harry’s guests were caught with “stunned expressions, stifled smirks, and uncomfortable glances.” My reaction to the article was disappointment. Sure, I caught some ambiguously smirky smiles on TV, especially during Rev. Michael Curry’s sermon on love. Curry was moving around the pulpit in the oh-so-sober St. George’s Chapel as he could have at a church in Harlem.

I needed to join the guests to try to gauge their real feelings.

My assigned seat was still available when I got to Windsor, three seats to the left of the center aisle and a dozen rows back from the screen. Yes, that medieval screen really was built to separate the laity from the clergy centuries ago. At this royal wedding, it separated the simply rich of the nave from the rich-but-royal in the choir. I guess not all royals got to sit in the choir. The tuxedo next to me claimed to be the Earl of something or other.

I strained to see the Rev. Curry’s head at this live wedding. I used the opportunity to look around for faces near me that might be smirking. A dozen smiles looked joyful, not at all smirky. It was a big deal for an African-American bishop to deliver words and rhythms and effusive body language in a place like St. George’s. The grinners in my pew probably agreed that the stone that Martin Luther King Jr tossed into the Potomac River on Wednesday, August 28, 1963 with his “I Have a Dream” speech had finally released its rippling across the Atlantic pond onto the shores of Great Britain on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

Soon before Curry spoke, I felt I could touch Lady Jane Fellows, Princess Diana’s sister, who read the Song of Solomon from an archway in the screen. Curry followed up by riffing on Solomon’s ancient lyrics. “Set me as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.”  I’ve never wanted a tattoo, but I’d consider inking those words somewhere on my body.

Solomon’s words linked this couple’s passion to the passions of pre-Christian-era Israelite kings and peoples. They positioned this wedding as a milestone in the Windsor chapel’s long history of witnessing major human events. Elizabeth II, the latest monarch in 1200 years of the English monarchy, was witnessing it.

I wondered if some of the elderly in folding chairs around me might have been “those” nobles who spent their lives trashing divorcees, commoners, and non-Christians. Could those witnesses now be supporting these latest outliers? In their hearts? Really?

The chairs turned out wider and softer than I figured, but I felt as claustrophobic as in a middle seat of economy class on the world’s most stripped-down airline. Ironic. The major leaguers around me were accustomed to private jets, seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, and the entire stage of the Kennedy Center in D.C. to voice their opinions, if they desired. The closest “first-class” seat in St George’s nave had to be an aisle chair.

Still looking for genuine smirks, I did sense comedy and absurdity. It is likely ninety percent of the congregation never went to church, never mind believed in a Christian creed, or prayed. Europe and America have moved secular, so moving one’s uvula, tongue, and lips in communal prayer probably felt silly or hypocritical to most.

Or did it? There must be a few people like me who show up at any funeral or wedding and realize that the secular world has distracted us from trying to link up with something, or somebody, higher than ourselves. Simple logic and pure science scream religious rites are illogical, unscientific – maybe stupid and insane. Yet… at Meghan and Harry’s wedding we intoned the Lord’s Prayer as did our parents, and their parents, and our ancestors back two thousand years or so. Our ancestors’ bodies have crumbled to nothing in space and time, but we get to move our tongues and lips exactly as they did, trying to connect to similar divine powers.

There were no detectable smiles in the rows near me during the Lord’s Prayer. Nearly all lips whispered the words.

On the TV broadcast a few days before, there was much ado about the song “Stand By Me.” To me, it was a musical softball. Sure, it made points about history, but the delivery nowhere reached the emotional and rhythmic high it could deliver at a Sunday service in a cool neighborhood.

In contrast, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” song hardly got a mention by TV commentators. But live, it took my heart hostage. Correct trajectories of echoes danced around this Eden of perfect acoustics. I was a child again. I heard again what I knew to be otherworldly ancient music, that same mix of sounds that once introduced me to my own seven-year-old soul. It was Camelot. Similar harmonies had washed over me and my family from choir lofts at high masses.

Meghan and Harry’s choice of John Rutter’s 1981 arrangement felt early-Christian basic. It juxtaposed simple tones against delicate pairings of parts, then emotional mixes of all four choir parts. The lyrics felt like a warm cloak in mid-winter. They were the “priestly blessing” lifted word-for-word from the Book of Numbers. God in that early scroll spent gobs of time punishing and reeking vengeance over the Israelites. God was not all that empathetic. Mercifully the verses of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” unveiled a glimpse of divine caring. The repeated words in 2018 showed empathy once again – for two and a half minutes. They held promise of an eternal covenant of devotion and trust. They staved off mass depression from today’s global turmoil.

So you are asking me, “Jack, why did you go to the wedding? Are you some kind of school girl waiting for your prince to come?”

Here’s my answer. For this wedding, the tabloids were genuinely affirming a universal need for witnessing a positive win in world history. Personally, I crave positive historic anchors to celebrate life. And I don’t think I’m alone. Without anchors, we are doomed to live in endless chaotic fluidity – seldom connecting to history, perhaps never finding meaning. We learn from experience that weddings and funerals of our own families validate us and establish anchors. So when our leaders wed or die, it’s a chance to secure our tribe’s rightful presence in history books.

Meghan and Harry’s wedding may have set a record for connecting tribal dots in history.

St. George’s Chapel itself was already jewel-like in the 14th century when craftsmen began to build it. In 2018, we have established our own place as witnesses in that chapel, along with a who’s who of historic figures that include the infamous Henry VIII and third wife Jane Seymour, who both happen to be buried there.

The columns that we see ascend almost to the sky are surprisingly upstaged by acres of glass that can illuminate the interior on the foggiest day in Windsor.

Churches are gifts to everyone because their grandeur belongs to beggars as well as kings. The doors may be open for centuries to everyone. They were open to me the few times I have been lonely and out of money. Grand chapels like St. George’s provided physical and mental shelter when all other buildings for miles around were strictly commercial enterprises. Empty pockets triggered cold receptions there.

The Church of England service was no less theatrical than the building itself. Churches can be depended on for that. Whether we believe in a religious institution or not, we can be grateful for the pageantry when our hearts swell with joy or break down in sobs from losing loved ones. A wedding promise made in a church—especially in a gothic wonder of the world—gets to be a solemn vow. An anointed priest is said to represent God Himself. Paperwork demands royal seals and other signatures behind a screen. Witnesses see and hear it all through the full length of the choir and nave. As you and I witness the vows thousands of miles away, we want them to be real. We want our highest ideals to be realized and to last forever.

And we dress up for a wedding.

I realized one day in the late ‘70s that our world culture was on a slippery slope because I had not bought a pair of leather shoes for my sons until they graduated from grade school. My mother had given me leather shoes well before my first birthday. Are you laughing? Okay, unless you are a funeral director, FBI agent, Mormon missionary, or attorney, when is the last time you wore a suit?

They dressed up for Meghan and Harry, as our historic counterparts did for long lines of royals in baptism, marriage, or death over 700 years.

An Ascot Landau bore the bride and groom through the streets of Windsor. Yes, I was impressed with the regal carriage, the four horses, and the carriage men festooned in red and gold. The royal horses had descended from their own set of ancestors with the just the right genes to learn perfect prancing.

It’s just as impressive to realize that our own ancestors—nowhere near royal in their station, but only one or two generations back—rode in similar landaus and buggies that were taxicabs in cities like New York or common vehicles to get around in. Once upon a not-very-long-time-ago, nearly all people rode horses or were pulled by them.

Queen Victoria’s funeral procession to St. George’s Chapel in 1901 may have been Windsor’s biggest. The horses numbered in the thousands. They led and followed a single gun carriage with the queen’s coffin atop it. But on that freezing February day, the weather was nasty and the roads slippery. The horses pulling the queen’s cortege were spooked and had to be replaced with dozens of sailors who saved the day. The few people who ranked high enough to enter the Chapel had to be grateful for the shelter and the light from the acres of glass.

Some events stand out as worthy of processions and parades. Rome’s two hundred years of peace. The Renaissance. Women’s suffrage in 1920. My personal favorite is the establishment of the U.N. in 1945. The Marshall Plan in 1947. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963. The Civil rights Act of 1964. The moon landing in 1969. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. I would nominate the founding of Facebook in 2004, then the unveiling of the iPhone in 2007. President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade marked the beginning of the end of a long, sad era for the United States.

Are you remarking I mentioned not a single war, or even celebrations for the ends of wars? You are correct.

Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry definitely earned a procession that broke restrictive traditions and sought out a new era of love and a call for peace.

Some bystanders interviewed on the news remarked they were grateful for a break from international unrest. For half a day, we got to observe our better selves in grand circumstances.

Still in Windsor, I was toasting the day with a cousin from Canada in an Irish Pub with Guinness in our hands. The Elon-Navigator thrust me back to Fremont with suds from the River Liffey still half way down my throat.

 

 

 

 

The role of personality in sales

The role of personality in sales

Museum of the City of New York

Let me escape from the limitations of my own personality to imagine how people of other personalities would think to sell books. I am an Idealist, as impractical a person as you can find, so it’s a no-brainer to ask other personality types to help draw a roadmap for successful book sales.

My next book is heavy on history, ancestry, and psychology. Conservative Guardian types would of course make sure every possible bookstore ordered a few copies and had me speaking and signing books at most of them.

The ever innovative Rationals would see from the book’s contents that the target markets would be most receptive in Southern California, Arizona, and New York City.  The book’s theme of respect for history, family pride, and a really good mystery story could allure merchants well beyond traditional bookstores. Such would include gift shops in museums, tourist destinations and airports. Even local branches of national stores like Costco could go for it. (My writer cousin in Newfoundland managed to get a stack into her local Costco.) Rational marketers would be the first to insist on online sales through my own site and on plenty of other entrepreneurs’ online stores.

The most action-oriented personality group are the Artisans who can’t sit still and would insist I don’t either. For them, I should do performance readings at workshops in museums, different deliveries than what bookstores get. They would want to be in on the entire book design so that even non-readers would brandish their credit card at the mere sight of it.

Finally, I think there is energy to light up the cause from people and groups who care deeply about lives similar to mine. They include Irish cultural groups, historians, adoption story writers, wonderfully fanatic geneaology students, and fans of memoirists. All personality types are to be found in such groups and, from among them, riciculously creative people have produced TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries and Who do you think you are? Maybe somebody will take that extra step of producing a show around the book and hawking the original on their online platforms? Yes, why not dream big!

Can an Idealist be President?

Can an Idealist be President?

image

 

The people of the U.S. have yet to elect an Idealist president. Imagine a Martin Luther King running for the job. Already you feel that’s a stretch, right? However, two major Idealists who did manage to rise to chiefs of state elsewhere in the world include Gorbachov and Mandela.

The problem with American Idealists is they tend to think rich people and large corporations are inherently evil. Even if the moguls might be toxic, they are the wrong people to treat like an enemy.

Here’s my issue. The President of the United States is allegedly the most powerful person on earth. But how would it be possible to avoid mingling with, haggling with, even fighting with the rest of the powerful people in the world and still claim to be the King of the Beasts? To make the point clearly, Hillary Clinton’s participation in the Clinton Foundation is often interpreted as sleeping with our enemies, inviting corruption, and compromising America’s stance in the world. But hello! How could an American President not deal with all of these people — the wonderful ones as well as the horrible ones — and still wield American leadership with knowledge, experience, and strength?

Idealists tend to make a populist case of “us versus them” — regular people versus rich people. What they are missing is that a real President must work with the values and power and strengths and needs of absolutely all the people in the world. Yes, it is true that regular people, through the ballot box, must never let the wrong powerful people take over decision making for them, but neither will those with gobs of money and indisputable world power allow some “crazy” Idealist mess too much with their personal influence and bank accounts.

The reality of the world is that nobody’s ideology is perfect, nor could it ever be. All decisions are always in flux. We cannot stop fighting for what we feel we need to fight for, but we all must realize that nobody wins all the time, nor should they. There are no precisely definable good guys and bad guys on the world stage. It’s a crowded place. If you want to be a King of the Jungle, then you had better be willing to play ball with everyone else who aspires to be a king. If you want laws and economics to be more fair for everyone, as Idealists usually do, then you had better organize your idealistic armies in the voting booths with stronger fervor and passion than that of the princes who would be kings.

So can an Idealist get elected as a U.S. President? John Kerry is an Idealist. He almost made it. If Eleanor Roosevelt lived in today’s world, she almost certainly would have been a contender. The track records of both of those people demonstrate that some Idealists retain a sense of the world as it really is and have enough toughness and foresight to haggle and fight with mighty people of all types.

As a side note, you might be asking if Bernie Sanders is and Idealist and if he could play on the world stage with all powerful people, nasty or wonderful? It is this blogger’s opinion that he might not qualify because he seems overly judgmental and unforgiving of the rich and powerful, people who might eat him for lunch. In addition, Sanders is not as much an Idealist as an ideologue, like Ron Paul with his ideology, or Ted Cruz.

Is Hillary an Idealist? Not for the most part, in my opinion. If she has ideals, they are very long-term. In the short run, her policies are incremental, as any successful leader’s initiatives would have to be in today’s world. Hillary would be more utilitarian and practical than tactically clever or diplomatic. If she wins the election and chooses people in her inner circle who make up for her weaknesses, she may be an admirable Queen of the Jungle. If not, we could be in for a tough slog.

 

 

 

Are we born with a personality?

Are we born with a personality?

If we really are born with a personality, as many psychologists tell us, there is plenty of evidence to makes us think so, but also plenty to argue against it.

If I were a Badass Orange person, for example, you just might agree I was probably born with great physical abilities and an adventurous nature. I would tell you that, yes, I worked hard to get skillful, but that I honestly feel that I was gifted at birth with a terrific body type, a bottomless cauldron of endless energy, and a ridiculous comfort level with risky behavior. I’d say, yes, you are looking at a naturally born Badass. I am Orange, Orange, Orange.

On the other hand, we just might discover that our individual temperaments are nothing like our parents’. Our siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and our own children have core values in direct contrast to our own. How could our own DNA manifest itself so differently? How is it, then, that we are ‘born’ with this personality?

I challenge you to look back over your whole life for just a minute. How different are you, really, from the kid in grade school you remember? Was your main core value that much different from now? For example, if you were dependably responsible then, are you still that way now? I mean, is ‘dependable responsibility’ still more important than harmony seeking, than knowledge and competence, or than personal freedom? If that principal core value remains the same, there’s a case to be made that you came into the world with a strong DNA-based temperament. You always were and always will be Gold, a Loyalist, a logistical thinker.

Needless to say, you were a hostage of your parents until your teenage years, so you have to wonder how much of ‘who you are’ comes from a natural temperament and how much comes from the intense nurturing that your parents and community thrust upon you for over a dozen years. All those people influenced your thinking, your philosophy of life, your religion, even your politics and career choices. You have to ask yourself, “How many of my life choices came from the real me, from my innate temperament, and how many were influenced by the society around me?

Whose life?

So am I living my own life, or someone else’s idea of life?”

To paraphrase Rene Descartes, we can’t live until we reject everything we’ve been taught and then begin to design our own life. Descartes’ thinking must have come from the realization that a real, innate self needs to trump the weavings of the cultures swirling around us in order for us to truly fulfill our destiny. Ah, there’s the word: Destiny. And I don’t think the word ‘destiny’ here means ‘pre-destined fate’ that we really cannot control, but a pre-determined set of talents and intelligence that need to blossom under our own control, in the face of the cultures around us, to find the best possible path for a lifetime.

So do I think we were all born with a temperament? You betcha. Both nature and nurture contribute to who we are as whole persons, but I am certain our brains and bodies arrive with some kind of pre-installed hard drive (temperament) that develops into a whole character through configurations with the apps of life.

The trick, I think, is to discover the right path early in life rather than later. And if it’s clear our own path differs significantly from the paths of the gang that lives around us, our choice to follow our own right path will probably demand a ton of uncomfortable honesty and raw courage.

Many 2016 Prez Candidates Are RATIONALS!

Many 2016 Prez Candidates Are RATIONALS!

What do Bush, Clinton, Cruz, Fiorina, Sanders, and Kasich have in common? Together with several colleagues in the personality assessment business, I am betting that all six of them are Rationals, i.e., Green in my Four Windows program. The only major Greens (nothing to do with the environment) in previous elections were Obama, Clinton, and Gingrich.  This year’s crop is nothing short of astounding because only a few Greens have ever run and won in the United States in all of its history, i.e., only nine to date.

Rational Greens make up only about 10% of the entire world’s population to begin with. And it’s no secret that Green people are difficult to sell because they tend to be the opposite of touchy-feely, the opposite of empathetic, the least humorous. Rationals are as serious as a heart attack. Listen to any one of them at any time: They spew facts and strategy like Harvard professors. The good news is that all of them think long-term and big picture. And they don’t suffer fools lightly.

No question about it, candidates inside and outside the Democratic Party will be worthy challengers to Hillary Clinton, like never before. The debates are bound to be worthwhile. We can expect more depth than we have heard before and, believe it or not, probably less name calling and fewer dirty tricks in the advertising.

How important is blogging?

How important is blogging?

I have seen precious little evidence that blogging matters. Millions of people are blogging, but who is paying attention? I am guessing that a handful of bloggers have such unique material and compelling issues that they of course rise to the top. The rest of us must be flailing in the wind, blogging to ourselves and a few friends, hoping against hope that what we think and say even matters. Is it possible that Facebook is more effective than most blogs?

Yes, I see some people and organizations stand out like Fast Company, the social media version of it. I’ve recently discovered Gretchen Rubin who is BRILLIANT. How does one complete for attention with those heavies in the marketplace?

Well the answer, I guess, is to do stuff that seems to matter — and, eventually, a few people might care about it as much as you do…and then they’ll spread the word.

Choose Valentine Gifts by “Color”

Choose Valentine Gifts by “Color”

If you want an idea or two for your loved one this Valentine’s Day, here you go.

We know to give presents that our loved ones actually want, and not what we want, right? It’s probably hardest to buy stuff for people so different from us because we ourselves do not place the same value on the gift. For example, my very Orange adult granddaughter wants a new tattoo for the holiday. To begin with, I don’t understand tattoos at all and certainly would never spend any money on one for myself. But that’s the point of a gift, isn’t it? It’s a gift — something truly valuable to the recipient.

If you do not remember what the Colors mean, here’s the link: http://www.jackdermody.com/4w.html

Gold Gifts. Who is the traditional, responsible Gold person in your life? They like what’s “right.” Here’s a partial list: tasteful jewelry and clothing, practical furnishings and utensils for the home, the next piece of a cherished collection, gift cards for the right store, or an intimate item that further bonds your relationship.

Green Gifts. Your rational, deep-thinking Green friends and family members like stuff for their minds: cutting-edge software, books, intriguing games, coveted resources, tickets to events around their favorite subjects and hobbies, and useful material things that keep life utilitarian and efficient.

Blue Gifts.Those idealistic, harmony-seeking Blue folks in your life may be the least expensive to shop for just because they can value “the thought” more highly the actual gift. Are you good at making things that you can custom-tailor for your loved one? Can you write something special? How about tickets to music, theater, and concerts? Flowers and arty things? Or a warm piece of clothing they’ll always remember you by?

Orange Gifts. Truth be known, nearly everybody wants to get what Oranges want and usually get. Oranges just want to have fun. They want to enjoy personal freedom. So they get surprises, trips, the latest clothes, cool tools, exciting games, toys, musical instruments, vacation tickets — well, you get the idea.

Here’s my own take on gifting. The best gifts are given with no strings, no investment in the outcome — except in the hope the gift will bring genuine joy — however temporary — to the recipient. Say what you will about the materialism of the day, underneath the colorful ribbons and enormous credit card debt is a desire to enrich the lives of others.

How to Fail Interviews for Top-Paying Jobs

How to Fail Interviews for Top-Paying Jobs

The problem with a great resume is it will get you the interview. A bigger problem is the interview itself. My friend Beth walked into a panel of interviewers who squashed her like a bug with brutal questions that only expert interviewers will deliver. Beth was squashable because she did not prepare for Expert questions. She had claimed to be executive-level material for marketing and ended up in a room full of actual marketing executives. They beat her up.  For example, what books and journals are you reading right now? What would you do if…? Who do you know? Can you prove what you just said?

Expert interviewers are not just “experts” per se. They possess what I call “Expert” personalities whose values reek of geekdom. They live for knowledge and competence and are rigorous about who they work with…and more importantly, who they pay to work with them. Read more about them in Job Interviewers: Get Inside Their Heads. (Amazon.com)

If you are reading books that give you pat answers to “standard questions,” throw them away right now. To get a high-paying job, you must be the professional you claim to be. If you did not finish graduate studies in your field, you will not be perceived as professional. If you are not continually reading and learning and gaining recognizably important experience, then you are not professional. Top money is given to top performers. Period.

Do I sound like your dad? Good. Listen up.