One Philosopher's Adventures
This is going to be a simple scrapbook of some of my travels and experiences as a philosopher. I'll post photos and text as I fly around to speak to groups and ponder the mysteries of life and success. I've been doing this for nearly 25 years now, but I'll start the scrapbook with some of the places I've visited in 2014, the year this new website came into being. I hope you enjoy the photos and short reminiscences.
Note: When I first put this up, I started with the outset of 2014 at the top, and newer adventures down farther on the page. As of November 22, the day I'm writing this, I'm going to reverse the order of what comes next, putting my most recent sample journey up top here, for any reader who's following. TM
First, In case any of you guys might be interested, there's this really great interview about my work and life that I was asked to do recently, and it has appeared. The interviewer, highly regarded philosopher David Baggett, is far too generous in his kind remarks but he asks some great questions about why I've done various things over the years, at UNC, Yale, Notre Dame, and beyond. If you have 5 minutes and are curious, a good quality to have, it's here: http://moralapologetics.com/interview-of-dr-tom-morris/
ASC Leadership Conference, The Summit, Big Sky, Montana
This was my first trip to Montana. What a beautiful place! And I'm glad because it wasn't the easiest location to get to from my home in Wilmington, NC - an early morning flight to Atlanta on a Boeing 737-800, a second one to Salt Lake City on a 757-200, and then the third flight of the day from Salt Lake to Bozeman on a small CRJ-200. In row 2 behind me were three YPOers from Orange County, California, on their way to a small retreat. I enjoyed immensely the stretches of their lively conversation I overheard. They could have had their own radio show. Their entertaining, quick patter and nonstop stories kept me from the book that I had open in front of me. I hope they had a great time on their trip and caught a lot of fish.
In the small Bozeman airport, I rented a black SUV to get up to Big Sky, an hour's drive away. Bozeman is in a big valley surrounded by impressive mountains, still snow capped on the late June day I arrived, when the temperature back home was 96 with high humidity.
The road from Bozeman to Big Sky takes about an hour and ten minutes. It's a nice two lane highway that runs for half the distance close beside the picturesque Gallatin River, where in some stretches you see wild white water rafting, just off the road. Everyone I saw in this adventurous pursuit was wearing a yellow helmet, which I've been told helps if you fall out and hit the rocks, and it also allows people to find you quickly and extricate you from the 38 degree water. Brrr.
Other stretches of the river, higher up in the mountains, were peaceful and smoothly flowing, with lone fishermen here and there, casting their lines into the water for trout and other fish - or maybe just the Zen of it all.
Rather than wearing me out at the end of a long travel day, the drive really refreshed me, and I found myself saying out loud to no one, several times, "This is really beautiful." I felt like I was in the middle of a movie set. Small waterfalls fed the river here and there. And the river itself was a perfect size. It was also very near to the road, so the views were always good. I can't imagine any time of year that this wouldn't be amazing.
At The Summit Hotel check-in, I realized that I was feeling a bit of air hunger, panting from just the chit chat I was having with the desk clerk, and the experience was later repeated when a guy brought room service dinner to the room. "Wow," I thought. "How am I going to give a lively 75 minute talk tomorrow when I can't say hi to anyone without losing my breath?" It turns out that the hotel is at 7,500 feet, the precise altitude at which sea level dwellers like me really feel the difference. And I was scheduled to speak, on the second floor! I live, by contrast, at 34 feet. I've spoken before at 7,200 feet, and once at 8,200 feet, but that was years ago. So I Googled a bit and discovered the problem. I grew up hearing that the air is thinner in the mountains. It turns out that the oxygen level is constant, at about 20.93%, but the barometric pressure, or atmospheric pressure, is less, so the atmosphere cooperates less in getting oxygen into your lungs. At sea level, the atmosphere is your partner, pushing what you need into you when you breathe. And so when you arrive at 7,500 feet and that's not happening, you feel out of breath. Then you often do the exact wrong thing, you start breathing faster with frequent shallow breaths. The articles I read suggested instead taking slow deep breaths. Bingo. That solved the problem, and my 75 minute session the following day was great. I was able to maintain my usual enthusiasm of delivery and movement around the room with the 50 or so top executives from companies that are members of the Adhesives and Sealants Council (like Bayer, Dow, and 3M), and I had no troubles at all, physical or philosophical! The talk was "True Success: The Art of Achievement in Times of Change" and was specially tailored for the conference theme of "Focus on the Future."
How do you focus on the future? We want to be prepared for whatever comes our way. So groups of executives leading companies and divisions of companies often have people meet with them and talk predictively about the future - giving "Here's what we think may happen" presentations. But we human beings are notoriously bad at predicting what's to come. Most big events are surprises to all the experts. So, then, how else can you prepare for the future? But mastering the practices that will work and help you have success, regardless of what comes your way. That was my topic: The ideas that have stood the test of time, in good and bad times, throughout thousands of years. Those ideas will work today, and tomorrow, whatever the future may hold.
We had a great session and a very nice lunch afterwards, where the lively conversation continued. Then I had to drive back to Bozeman for a night at an airport hotel, in preparation for an early morning departure the next day, and three flights home.
At dinner, the rental car company called my room and said someone had put a big long scratch on my SUV that I hadn't noticed. Oh well. Next time, maybe, I'll buy their insurance, once pitched to me by an enthusiastic desk agent who extolled its virtues by saying, "You have a wreck - you walk away. No matter how bad the wreck - you walk away. Guaranteed." I said, "Guaranteed?" He smiled big and said, "Guaranteed!" Well, I thought to myself, this is quite a guarantee. It's like conferring a super power. That 18 wheeler careening around the bend up ahead? If he crosses into my lane, and totals my car, head on, as long as I signed up for the insurance, it's guaranteed, I just walk away. Yeah, so, maybe next time.
The flight back to Salt Lake was great, and so was the one to Atlanta, where I had a 2 and a half hour layover, that became longer and longer, as thunderstorms surrounded us. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It was all quite impressive. Then, "Ladies and gentlemen, I hate to give you bad news, but the Wilmington flight has just been cancelled. If you'll just make your way to various kiosks along the terminal, or to the main service desk, we'll accommodate you on later flights." While everyone around me was sitting, stunned, or getting all worked up in negative emotions, I went into action, got on the next available flight, by phone, scheduled for the morning of the next day, and snagged a room at one of the closest airport hotels. Negative emotion never helps. Action does. As soon as the door closes, look for another one.
I had a great room service dinner, and a nice breakfast the next morning at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel, ATL. But if you're ever there, don't opt for a view of the runway like I did. It's fun but noisy. Get on the other side of the building for a good night's sleep. Then it was home to Wilmington, after a gate announcement that "We don't have any pilots, but think they'll get here soon" - where, once again, I didn't worry, but took it all ... philosophically. Then when I got back at home I could tell all my friends the stories I had collected in Big Sky - especially the one about the bear who climbed through the open window of a new car that a guy had borrowed from his wife, ate all the snacks the guy had left in his back seat, then blew the horn repeatedly for more food, and finally, could not get out in time to find a nice nearby bear restroom, but instead had a very large accident in the guy's front seat. Compared to that, I'll take my scratch. I hope the guy could take it philosophically, if not "grin and bear it."
ASCA Annual Meeting, Orlando
My first talk for the Ambulatory Surgical Centers Association was in Boston, right after the Boston Marathon Bombing. I could see the debris from my hotel window. And all the news outlets were camped out in the building. Ours was the first meeting allowed in the city after that tragic event. This session in Orlando was a second talk for the group. The first time, we did True Success. On this second occasion, I spoke on The Four Foundations of Greatness.
When I travel, I love to talk to my drivers about their work and their lives. On this occasion, the man who picked me up from the airport ended up telling me about his roommate's sudden heart attack, which happened as he got ready for a shower. At the age of 41, he was dead. Then, hours later, one of the executives at ASCA told me of one of their colleagues, who had just suffered a massive heart attack on a jog, and had died days before at age 47 and at peak shape. Two lessons within hours about how short life can be. We need to make the most of every day we have.
The night before my talk, the president of the association and I did a teaser interview session on stage in front of about a thousand or more people. I talked about my background and the four words I was going to present to them the next day, words that have changed lives all over the world. I didn't say what they were. After the session, a lady came up to me and said, "I'm going to stay up all night wondering what those words are!" I said, "If you do, then don't fall asleep in my talk tomorrow morning!"
Then I attended a huge walk around reception in the adjacent exhibition hall, where I met lots of people who had been at the Boston meeting, and I even saw a former Notre Dame philosophy student, now a CEO. The next morning, the talk itself was great fun, as always. And right afterwards, I had to fly back to Wilmington, NC for an evening talk, the same day, and on a different topic, which was also great fun.
The evening group had also wanted me for an afternoon session, but I was going to be flying home then, so my friend Matt Ham did that session for me, and did a great job.
PMMI Executive Leadership Conference, Ponte Verde Inn
I was scheduled to fly to Jacksonville, Florida, on my birthday, April 13, to arrive at JAX at about 5PM and get a car service to the Ponte Vedra Inn, to arrive about 6. But then all the weather services agreed for the first time in human history, that there would likely be a lot of thunderstorms to dodge, so rather than risk delayed or canceled flights, I rebooked earlier in the day, arriving about lunch time. And, boy am I glad! I was at the beach to speak to the top executives of the companies who manufacture the machinery that packages almost everything we ever buy. How do your Cheerios get into a box? These guys. How do your bottled waters get into the bottles? Yep. These guys. And likewise, for everything.
These guys know how to have a good time together, even though some of them are likely competitors. I don't think I've ever seen a group of people who were so much fun together in all their social activities. Within about an hour of my arrival I was on the beach being taught how to play bocce ball, a decades long tradition in PMMI. And, boy, were these packaging honchos good! I was paired up with a really good guy named AJ, an executive originally from India, and he taught me the game well enough that we won our first match, knocking off the president of the organization. Sorry! AJ's skill plus beginner's luck, and of course a little dash of philosophical wisdom.
First you toss the little white ball. And then you try to get your bigger balls closer to it than your opponent is able to accomplish. If he gets closer, you try to knock his ball away. It was a big tournament that went on for hours as teams were eliminated and people cheered. A great time was had by all.
Then, we went back to our rooms and cleaned up and then broke into groups and got to go to lots of great restaurants in the area for dinner. I was in a group with VP and meeting organizer Tom Egan, and we enjoyed a place called "Eleven South" in nearby Jacksonville Beach.
I had an amazing dinner: mesquite grilled tenderloin, asparagus that was perfect, whipped potatoes and some incredible Italian wines ordered by a member of our party who had just flown in from Milan. Despite the rigors of international travel, he was unruffled in an elegant dark suit and white shirt, with a great polka dot pocket square (white cotton or linen with blue dots) adorning his jacket pocket, and what looked like a beautiful large steel JLC Reverso watch - a classic - peeking out from his cuff. Yeah, I didn't look nearly as nice. But then again, I'm not an Italian from Milan. But Barry, from England, who was sitting beside me, was more casually dressed like me. And Chris, directly across the table was casual. So I was fine.
After the dinner, which went from about 7 till 10, we retired back to the Inn where the conversations continued, with all the groups back together.
The next day, after a morning AV check that went on longer than normal due to our need to fix a powerpoint glitch that I'd never seen in thousands of talks, I had a nice club sandwich for lunch, dropped down and did pushups on the floor of my room, and then sit-ups, and went down to the ballroom for my session, which was great fun. I must have talked with people for at least an hour after my closing keynote. Then that evening, we had a reception and dinner at the Inn's Surf Club. I arrived at 6:20 and couldn't pull myself away until 10:20. Great people, great conversation, great food and drink.
The next morning, it was up at 5:45 and a quick breakfast before flying home, happy but tired!
Hewlett Packard's Advisory Board for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia - At the Hotel Cafe Royal, in central London
My wife Mary and I had the opportunity to spend a wonderful week in London at the great Hotel Cafe Royal with Hewlett Packard and their Advisory Board for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia - CIOs and CTOs from big companies on three of the continents that HP serves. The beautiful hotel is in central London at 68 Regent Street, just steps from the core of Piccadilly Circus, the British Times Square. It also adjoins SoHo, the West End theatre district, and is very close to elegant Mayfair.
The week was packed with activities. We didn't sleep on the flight over, but caught a quick nap on arrival at the hotel, and then walked up to Selfridges for some family gifts. Mary then wanted us to go to Buckingham Palace right away the next day. The Queen was too busy to philosophize - you know the demands of pomp and circumstance - but we still had a nice time there. Below, you'll see Mary at the front gate, greeted by armed guards with automatic weapons. But a philosopher gets used to greetings of all kinds, and the spouse of a philosopher does, too. At least they weren't shooting. I'm not Socrates.
After doing all the tourist sites we could fit in, we found ourselves magically stumbling upon (as distinct from stumbling along - there was no alcohol involved) fashionable Jermyn Street, where I was able to do a little shopping at Turnbull and Asser and Thomas Pink. A philosopher has to get out of the toga at least now and then, after all.
The hotel was near a great Whole Foods Grocery, and a cobblestone pedestrian street full of restaurants and pubs ran from our back door all the way to the classic department store, Liberty of London, where you can find beauty in thousands of forms and old creaky stairs and wooden floors that are full of character. The pubs are, of course, full of libations dear to any philosopher's heart and good for whatever ale's you. Yeah, Ok, the joke is about as high quality as the fish and chips we had, and not nearly up to the level of the beer.
The week culminated with some amazing sessions on the future of technology and computing. I'm so lucky to get to sit in and hear HP's best people talk about what's coming in the next few years. Here's a quick summary: Sci-Fi stuff will soon be materializing for us all.
Then I got to speak for an hour and a half on True Success. It was such fun to bring the wisdom of the ages into an afternoon of discussions that had otherwise been focused on the future. In my time, we got to talk about the greatest insights of the past that can help us do the future right. And it was one of those special moments in time and thought where we were able to fligh high with philosophy - higher, I think, than we could have been even on the famous Eye, here behind me.
GE Hitachi Nuclear
My event with GE Hitachi Nuclear was rescheduled and held at a historic convention center in downtown Wilmington, NC near the waterfront, whose riverside walk is pictured above, reflecting light into the Cape Fear River not far from my home. It was Engineers Week, celebrating the patents and other achievements of the impressively accomplished engineering team at GE Hitachi. We enjoyed a tasty dinner and then I spoke on True Success. We laughed a lot and had a great time together. In my years at Notre Dame, the engineering majors were often my best philosophy students. The same proved to be true with this group - they seemed to genuinely appreciate both the ideas and the jokes! It was a fun filled evening.
Snow Days: Cancelled Events in February, 2015
We don't have this often in North Carolina, but in February we had just enough ice and snow that two events were cancelled at the last minute, one only hours before. I look forward to rescheduled dates for GE Nuclear and North Carolina Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
AAPEX, The Silverado Resort, Napa Valley, California
When it was freezing back home at the coast in North Carolina, during that short period of chill we call a winter, I was in Napa strolling the grounds of the Silverado Resort in 77 degree weather. What a great place, surrounded by mountains, and of course, amazing wine. I was there to speak to the owners of some of the biggest farms and agribusiness enterprises in the Americas. At night, after the talk, lots of us sat outside around big fire pits, continuing our conversations, as the temperature dropped into the upper forties. One of my favorite places. And wonderful people.
The CEO Summit, Eller Enterprises, Las Vegas World Market Center
Wow. Just wow. Have you ever been to Downtown Vegas? This was my first time staying on Fremont Street, at the famous Golden Nugget. Amazing. So Crazy Entertaining! There is a street scene the likes of which I'd never seen, anywhere. And no, I won't go into details, which, of course, must Stay in Vegas.
In addition to the wild digs, I had such fun with the room full of CEOs at the World Market Center within site of my room. Yeah, Vegas Level Fun. In a philosophy session. Because that's what I do.
St. James Plantation, Southport, NC
I had a great time starting the new year at St. James Plantation, Southport, NC, speaking to their sales force. The setting was beautiful, and the people were just great. It's one of the great resort developments at the coast in my home state.
Hewlett Packard Headquarters, Palo Alto, California
The Executive Briefing Center
I had the chance this week to speak to the Hewlett Packard Advisory Board for the Americas, at the HP headquarters, in their Executive Briefing Center, in Palo Alto. It was such a treat to bring my version of ancient and modern philosophy to about 25 or 30 amazing people who are the CIOs and top technology officers for such firms as DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, AOL, CITI, 3M, Conde'Nast, BP, First Data, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Qualcomm, and Rogers Communications, along with several great HP executives. I had a spectacular time with them, both in my hour and forty five minute session, and at a reception and dinner afterwards. I even got the chance to attend a special hour with them on the current state of advances in 3D printing - futuristic stuff, to be sure! Hey, maybe one day I won't have to fly across the country for such fun. Instead, they can just print a version of me on stage! And if so, maybe we can even do a 3D version of Photo Shop. I mean, they don't have to print ALL the wrinkles, and can save about five pounds of materials, if they'd like. "Take a little off the sides."
I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto where the food, as is the case with the brand overall, was fantastic. The staff was great, and my room, overlooking a highway, was nearly silent - perfect for philosophical contemplation and creative flights of fancy.
The day after my talk, a huge storm was arriving in San Francisco, and was scheduled to dump more rain and bring more wind than any such weather system in 5 or 10 years. Fortunately, I had an early flight and we were one of the last planes that left as scheduled. Rain was descending in nearly horizontal sheets and the wind howled its goodbyes as we took off, shook and bounced for about five minutes, and then passed out the southern edge of the system and had a smooth flight to the east coast.
The HP people are doing exciting things these days to help create an amazing future for us all. It was just a great experience to be able to play a small role in what's going on there now.
TetraTech, the Encore Hotel, Las Vegas, Against the Desert Sky
Vegas is always a treat for a philosopher. You get to see the whole range of human nature on display. And the hotels typically have great food, which was true of the Encore. I recommend heartily the room service salmon, grilled medium, with jasmine rice and asparagus. I tried a wine I almost never have, a white zin, but it sounded good, and made for a perfect match with the salmon.
I was here to speak to TetraTech, a company focused on water engineering. Most of the audience members were engineers, and we had a great time together. Some of my best philosophy students at Notre Dame long ago were engineering majors. Such analytical and precision thinkers always get my jokes. My topic was "True Success: The Art of Achievement in Times of Change."
The night before my talk, I realized that I didn't have a hairbrush or comb with me, and I went downstairs to price one in the lobby shop. But not needing the equivalent of a Rolex for combing my early morning unruly locks, I chose to go all McGyyver and make a comb from raw materials in the room. I found a shoeshine cloth in a stiff cardboard sleeve, and using that, I made the hair tool pictured below.
The Philosopher's Buff Comb: For Wise Hair Care and Grooming. Price Available on Request.
On other matters, the most salient feature of the Encore is its lavish use of vibrant colors throughout. Here, for example, is the pool area at night.
And I should give you at least one interior shot. I liked the crazy color densities everywhere.Your rods and cones sure get the stimulation treatment. Below is the front lobby bar area.
At one point, I thought about finding a quiet spot to sit and read, but quickly realized that would be about 10 miles to the west. But the books would wait.
I always get a huge kick out of Vegas and am glad to have gotten back to experience a new hotel. I've probably spoken here 20 or 30 times over the years at such places as the Flamingo, Mandalay Bay, the Venetian, the Bellagio, the Rio, the Contemporary, the Mirage, Caesar's Palace, and other locations, and it's always great fun for a philosopher cultivating the capacity to enjoy the process along the way.
International Real Estate Investment, La Costa Resort, California
What a great hotel! I was here with the incredibly astute people of IREI speaking on "The Essential Jobs@Work: Success and Leadership Secrets of Steve Jobs." There's also a Backstage Video interview I did here, about Jobs and his main qualities, and you can see it on the Talks Page of this site.
After the session, there was a big party outside by the pool areas. I had a lot of fun meeting people from around the nation and the world who had come together for the session. We philosophized into the night.
The Center for Ethical Leadership, The University of Texas at Austin.
This session brought together student leaders from colleges and universities all over the country, and many from Mexico as well. My topic was "Leadership Magic from Harry Potter" based on my book If Harry Potter Ran General Electric: Leadership Wisdom from the Wizards. It was a lively and raucous audience that I enjoyed a lot. Our exploration of Potter wisdom was like an exciting Quidditch Match. And we caught the Golden Snitch of wisdom. That evening, we had a reception and party high above downtown Austin, in the glass walled meeting space of a major hotel. I had a great time answering people's questions about leadership, courage, practical philosophy and life.
I also met the happiest town car driver, and one of the happiest people I've ever come across. His name is Abraham Asrat, and I've blogged about him on The Huffington Post. An Ethiopian by birth, Abraham lives joyously every day. We had so much fun talking together as he drove me from place to place. If you're ever in Austin and need a car service, find out about Abraham the Ethiopian! In the Bhagavad Gita, the warrior Arjuna is having a rough day, and begins getting advice about life from his charioteer, his driver that day, who turns out to be Krishna, Lord of the Universe, and he has some pretty good advice. If Abraham is your driver in Austin, I think he can help you deal with any day you have, and his advice will be just as nice!
Farm Credit Bank of Texas, Westin Galleria, Houston
This big hotel is connected with the huge Galleria Mall in Houston. It's a great spot for walking and people watching. An old philosophy friend, Dr. Jerry Walls, visited me for the afternoon when I arrived, and we had a great time talking philosophy and life, while walking the mall.
This was my third talk for the Farm Credit Bank of Texas, and each time, I had a really nice experience. They're really good people running a fine business. And they're fun to philosophize with.
Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, CT
When my mother and father were in their late teens and twenties, they worked at the Martin Aircraft Company in Baltimore, so I grew up hearing stories about aircraft design and building, a part of Pratt and Whitney's industry. It was a treat to speak to their top executives, lawyers and compliance officers at their fascinating air museum, where some of the military jet engines are just HUGE.
We talked about ethical success and then had a nice lunch together where the lively conversation continued.
Mutual of Omaha at the Grand Del Mar Hotel, CA
The Grand Del Mar is rated by Trip Advisor as the number one hotel in the country, and you know why as soon as you walk through the front door. The place is meticulously, spectacularly, and luxuriously beautiful, and everyone is so friendly and helpful that you feel at ease immediately. Just twenty minutes or so north of the San Diego airport, it's as if you've entered another world.
I had an early morning session with Mutual of Omaha executives and their guests, leaders of companies they do business with, and we had a great time reflecting on issues of life and business success. At breakfast before the session, we sat outside on a perfect morning. I couldn't believe how nice the temperature was and how fresh the air seemed here in Southern California. But the hotel is nestled off in a place apart, and the area around it has a lush, unspoiled, natural feel.
The Morehead-Cain Foundation Dinner, Chapel Hill, NC
Drinks and dinner with the Morehead-Cain Foundation. My wife and I were treated to a great night in Chapel Hill when the Foundation was launching a new website and a new program for connecting Morehead-Cain Scholars around the world and throughout the decades. It was my task to improvise a new talk around certain themes, and to do so in my normal style of weaving ancient wisdom and funny stories into a mix that would both entertain and enlighten. The evening was great fun, as I created my presentation nearly on the spot, both due to and despite days of planning.
Without a Morehead scholarship, it was very unlikely that I'd have been able to attend college at all. No one on either side of my family was a college graduate, so far as I knew. And my mother had informed me during my senior year of high school that there was no money for college. But then I was nominated for a Morehead, and went to a local interview, where sixteen promising students were questioned, and six emerged. Then, it was on to a regional interview, again with about the same numbers interviewed and selected for the next round. Finally, I ended up in Chapel Hill wearing my lucky suit and tie and hoping for the best.
I remember being introduced to the people sitting around the big table who would be my interviewers - Vermont Royster, then Chief Editor of the Wall Street Journal, an Admiral, maybe a General, and other notables whose accomplishments could easily intimidate a small town soul music guitarist with little experience of the broader world outside of my band's travels. And then, the day the letter arrived, I was astonished that I was being invited into this fraternity of high achievers, which not long afterwards began inviting young women into the program as well. Patterned on the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, the Morehead, now the Morehead-Cain, has been bringing students to UNC-Chapel Hill from all over North Carolina, from the great boarding schools of the nation, and from England, since the 1950s. It's always fun to be with the alumni of this amazing foundation - CEOs, filmmakers, congressmen, lawyers, doctors, founders of television networks, musicians, bestselling authors, the man whose job is to save the US Postal Service, and lots of people who've done things you've never even thought of.
We had an exceptional time together, and my favorite car broke down afterwards and had to be towed to the nearest dealership twenty miles away. So there you go. But everything got fixed within a few days, and we were able to drive back to Wilmington in a brand new Audi A8L loaner. It was nice, but I still like my car much better. All in all, a great visit.
As I write this, I'm sitting in the great little restaurant of the Hotel Winneshiek in downtown Decorah, Iowa, at a big window, overlooking the main street intersection, doing my morning people watching and having breakfast. Yesterday, scrambled eggs, sausage, and hash browns. Today, fruit, granola, and toast. A philosopher needs a healthy variety.
I did a Tuesday night talk on success for students, faculty, and staff, as well as townspeople. Then, I met with philosophy students and faculty Wednesday morning for a session on Blaise Pascal. A short rest and then I spoke at an afternoon session on Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity for students and faculty. At dinner I joined the president of the college and some faculty and staff, along with about twenty students, where we talked about lots of things, from movies and books, to philosophical issues. Wednesday night I did a session on change.
I gave a session Wednesday morning called "Pascal on the Religious Question" and wanted to draw on my book Making Sense of It All, a book that I wrote 24 years ago. So on the plane to visit, I had to re-read what I had written so long ago to see what I had said! It was pretty good! Actually, I really enjoyed it, but I'm far too humble to say more. Here I am on the plane working hard to come up with something for that session:
On a walk across campus, someone took a photo of me with Greg Jesson, head of the Center for Ethics and Public Policy at Luther, a guy who has put together a Porsche engine, while doing major construction on his own house. A philosopher with skills! And he's a great teacher, as well.
Unigroup, The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs
Wilmington to Atlanta, dashing through the airport to make my connection. Then on to Denver, where a car picked me up and took me the hour or so to Colorado Springs. This is one of the most beautiful hotels I've visited, and I've been fortunate to speak there several times. It's always fun, and I always forget the altitude, so within the first five or ten minutes of my talk, I'm sucking air, big-time. I'm a guy who lives at the lofty elevation of 34 feet above sea level, so although I think I'm in great shape at the ocean, it's a little different when you're at 7,000 feet or above!
The night before my presentation, I had a great dinner with one of the top speaking agents in the country, a man with serious musical talents whose original songs have been used in 18 film soundtracks. I had a great grilled salmon with a Pinot Noir, and he had a mix of appetizers with vodka. We philosophized about life.
One of my favorite things about this hotel is that I usually stay in the West Building, a bit out of the picture above, on the right side. To get to the main building, you walk across a beautiful lake and it's just such a great experience. The topic was True Success: The Art of Achievement in Times of Change.
ComRent at the Marriott Resort, Hollywood Beach, FL
ComRent evaluates the reliability of power supplies to companies and government agencies for whom power is mission critical, like Google, or NASA. They're all about power reliability, and in a sense, that's my business, too, but it's the power that comes from great ideas that have stood the test of time.
Hollywood Florida has one of the most famous beach boardwalks in the country, but my schedule didn't allow my walking it on this visit. Next time!
I loved sitting in my room and gazing over the beautiful beach outside the hotel. What a soothing sight. People meet in beautiful places because it's just so conducive to creative thought. And of course, the beach needs philosophers just as much as universities do!
The Forging Institute Association, Hyatt Regency, Indianapolis
I spoke in Indianapolis to a trade association of people who own and run metal forging companies - the people who heat and hammer metal to make things used pretty much in every other manufacturing industry. It was interesting to learn about their work, and to have the chance to help them philosophize on bringing up the next generation of leaders in their businesses. We talked about True Success and how the wisdom of the great philosophers can apply to their work and lives.
The Hyatt is in a good location, connected by a skywalk to a big mall in downtown Indianapolis, and down the street from lots of famous restaurants and bars, as well as more shopping. Some bad weather was rolling through while I was there, but we never had to go outside to experience the best of downtown Indy!
Encore Capital at the Grand Del Mar, California
What a treat to come back here just months after my last visit! This place is mystically beautiful, serene, and elevating to the spirit. How often do you sleep in a hotel with no noise from the hall, none from outside, and none from the air-conditioning or heating system? It's an oasis of silence and peace. I'm here for a talk to the leadership of Encore Capital.
The CEO of Encore is a man I've known for years. I spoke for his previous company MBNA when he was CFO, and then Western Bank Alliance when he was CEO. Now he's running a really interesting international enterprise that buys what's considered to be bad debt and helps people who otherwise could not do so to pay off their loans and reestablish their credit. I spoke to the leadership of Encore, including many who run things in India. It was a wonderful audience and I hope to philosophize with them again on other topics.
I ate all of my meals with room service during the time I was at the hotel, so I could work while eating. But I often heard myself say out loud, during the meals, "Wow! This is good!"