Simple Pleasures

I read lately that Miley Cyrus is very upset over her parents’ split. Rumors abound that her mother had an extramarital affair. Ms. Hannah Montana’s net worth is estimated to be anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion. But it seems no amount of money can console Ms. Cyrus and her achy, breaky heart. I’m not saying she thought it would, but I bet the rest of us did. How could anyone with that amount of money have problems?

Also, many members of the Michael Jackson family have come forward in recent months to tell the real story of Michael just before his death. His mother admitted she suspected him of drug use; his father justified his strict attitude in raising his boys by claiming that “Michael the superstar” was a result of “Joe the relentless father.” Even eldest brother Jackie told Oprah that the family is moving on through the pain.

It is odd that these family members were silent as Michael faced all of the rumored accusations, but now–after his actual, physical departure–they are “dealing with the pain.” It seems to me Michael was carrying a few of those folks long after four of the Jackson 5 faded out. This is clearly a troubled family with money (as usual) at the root of the problems … and some real baggage to sort out as well to determine the real price of fame, which seems very high.

Good Deeds And Bad Dudes

Many people have stood and gawked at the jaw-dropping spectacle LeBron James has become. The NBA’s two-time MVP has found new ways to tarnish his reputation that the greatest rumor-making gossip columnist could not have invented. Watching the growing irrelevance of this spoiled prima donna has become possibly the most rewarding experience Clevelanders could have imagined. LeBron came from nothing, and for years his loyal followers smiled silently, reading one story after another about how “together” this young man was.

Now, it turns out all that news was highly controlled and carefully distributed. His fame went right to his head; it turns out he’s been a spoiled brat for years. Ah, LeBron, how you could have made us Clevelanders (and thereby yourself) so proud. As Michael Jordan reportedly says, “Maybe you’re just making excuses.”

A Means To An End

Daily Web site visits to MSNBC or Yahoo! include topics about saving money, investing money and buying gold instead of saving cash. We are taught how to get a job, keep a job, get a raise, change jobs, work from home, and, most importantly, find a job we love (so we never have to “work” again). But has anyone started to notice that although it may be all about the satisfaction and rewards from work for some of us, there are others for whom work is merely a means to an end, as if there were more to life than being paid, promoted, and kept?

My friend Steve recently shared a story with me about a conference he attended in the early 1980s. Early in the morning one day, he happened into the hotel dining room, finding only one other table, occupied by an older gentleman. The man wore a white suit and a bolo tie, and when he looked up to see my friend, his spectacles and white goatee gave away his iconic image in a second. It was none other than Colonel Sanders, who was at the conference to make a presentation about branding and franchising. He had begun that process in the mid-fifties before it was really a common practice, and now the KFC people circulated the Colonel regularly as a good-will business ambassador of the company.

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