The NFL, CBS, the Value of Money, and Enlightened Self-Interest


“So you think that money is the root of all evil? . . . Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.” — Ayn Rand Letter 1971-1976 (“Hunger and Freedom)

I often refer to service of others in my philosophy.  Indeed, serving your fellow human is a huge part of living a life of virtue.  Without a doubt, my serving others plays a huge part in my happiness. However, this does not mean I do not expect to be compensated for my service.  In many cases, in our current society of exchange I expect my neighbor to thank me for the value he has received by providing me with a “certificate” of his appreciation (in other words, a note of legal tender…money).  By providing money to me, the receiver of my service has said, “you have provided me something of value, I have labored to earn this money, and what you have provided is worth that labor.  Thank You.

However, direct payment isn’t always how value is exchanged.  On this site, I hope to provide something of value to you, while also exploring the philosophical life.  This is provided free of charge…well, sort of.  When CBS televises, the NFL playoff game between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots (go Houston!), both the NFL and CBS do so “free of charge.”  What they know, however, is that millions of fans are provided value in watching the game.  For 3 hours, they get to be part of something, whether it’s the feeling of being part of either team’s effort, just to escape for a while and have fun, observe the strategy of the game, or even observe the prowess of the athletes…millions find value in those 3 hours.  More importantly, advertisers know the fans are watching and want them to know that they can provide value as well, so they pay the NFL/CBS some big bucks to get their products in front of these fans.  These ads will mostly miss.  Many viewers will not even pay attention, others will watch the ads simply for the entertainment value, but if 1/10th of 1% buy the product and 1 million are watching, then that is 1000 sales, which would lead to those buyers telling their friends and maybe remaining a returning customer.  Value is very important in this whole setup.  Everybody divides their value into tiny fractions, and everybody is a lot of people (I think 7 billion or so at last count).

My game is just beginning.  Not too long ago, was the opening kickoff.

My game is just beginning. Not too long ago, was the opening kickoff.

Whew, that was a mouthful, but it had to be said.  Anyway, I provide you with (I hope) just a tiny amount of value with each posting.  Just enough to make you (and me) think, and hopefully read again.  Maybe you’ll even share the post with friends, and they will tell their friends…and on, and on.  Hopefully, you will come back.  Like the NFL, I hope that these posts can take you to a place of value, and like the NFL I hope advertisers will see this through my number of hits, views, shares, loyal audience, etc.

Essentially, I am banking on my own ability to convey the Heroic Stoic philosophy to an audience such that they find value in my work.  First of all, I can look myself in the mirror each day and say that what I do is a worthwhile effort.  Additionally, I can view whether my work is catching on.  Without a doubt, this endeavor is not only for money (really, it’s not even close), but at some point I think the value of what I provide will manifest in “certificates” of value (i.e. money).

Certificates of Appreciation

Certificates of Appreciation

This, I think is the essence of enlightened self-interest.  I pursue my life, as well as my work because it satisfies me, AND I hope what I provide is a fair trade for others’ labor.  I help you, you help me, etc. We trade, albeit indirectly.


Living in Moderation (LIM) Part 4 – The 3 “Knows”


So, to have tranquility, I need to be aware of three things about the “indifferents” of my life:

  1. Know what they are
  2. Know that they are impermanent
  3. Know that pursuit of them will not bring me happiness

So, let’s figure out #1.  OK, so what are the “indifferents?”  For me, here are some easy ones:

  1. Wealth
  2. Status/Reputation
  3. Health
  4. Survival or mere life
  5. Physical Appearance
  6. Popularity
  7. Talent/Ability

Joe Theismann: had lots of talent…then he suffered a career ending injury.
CLICK PHOTO to see the top 25 Career Ending Injuries

I’m sure there are many more I can add to this list.  All of these things listed are nice to have.  However, every single one of them is largely out of my control and have no guarantee of being around tomorrow.  I can appreciate them when I have them, and certainly can maintain them as best I can, but I shouldn’t obsess over them.





Steve Sabol: Excellence, Legacy, and Impermanence


On September 18,2012, Steve Sabol, the creative genius behind NFL films, died of inoperable brain cancer.  He was diagnosed with it in March of 2011.  Reading about this event, as well as Steve’s life, and remembering my youth watching NFL films got me thinking about excellence, legacy and of course, the shortness of life.

I will never forget watching NFL films with my buddies back in my high school days.  I played high school football and my two best friends were both sons of high school football coaches (our coaches).  Needless to say, I was barraged with stories of football glory and dreams of NFL stardom growing up through high school.  NOTE:  only one of us played in the NFL…and it wasn’t me.  However, we all played in college, although I did not last the full four years…thank goodness I had realized I needed a backup plan—END OF NOTE.  Anyway, these films more than anything else about the NFL, made me reach to become a real champion.  Initially, I thought about football greatness, but eventually I realized I must strive to be great in whatever I pursue; I should be a champion, a hero, in my own life.  NFL films helped me strive to be someone to be looked up to.  The films themselves have faded from my memory, but the spark remains.

One particular excerpt from NFL films I remember well (at least the basics).  It goes something like this:  The screen is black with the following quotation written on it, which remains in view just long enough for you to read it:  “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”  Then, the screen fades, and a football field appears…the deep-voiced announcer begins, ”In the Midday sun….”  and the story of an NFL star, game, or season proceeds.  This is epic filmmaking!  I looked and looked for that video on the internet, but to no avail.  I am sure it is in the NFL films archives.  Chances are it had something to with “Mad Dog” Mike Curtis of the Baltimore Colts (1965-75 click for a cool youtube video), but like I said, no luck.  Nonetheless, this film and those like it left a lasting impression on me.  It made NFL game day feel like a noble and heroic competition day, complete with a game that must be struggled through to obtain victory!

Destined for NFL stardom? Uhh, no!

So, Steve Sabol was an innovator of excellence, the guy behind the camera and the production, portraying the NFL as something more than it was (a monopolized league playing sports games with athletes for hire).  He inspired me, and I am sure he inspired others.  Surely, he put in long hours preparing, editing, and creating.  He lived his life dedicated to the production of an excellent product.  For this product and for his dedication, I admire him.  Indeed, he has left quite a legacy for many to follow.  I will pass this legacy on to my children:  that “spark” of competition, that dream of excellence or even the “perfect game.”  Maybe even the perfect product (like a blog, for instance)!

In time, Steve Sabol’s legacy will fade.  Chances are, in 100 years nobody will know his name.  All things considered, his life of less than 70 years…not terribly short nor impressively long, will be nothing more than a blip in history.  He is slightly famous today, and honored by news stories, but in 200 years, one might not even be able to find him in the historical archives.

Thus, is the duality in which we live; striving for excellence, making an impression, a legacy, while existing in but a blink of time.  In Zen, we acknowledge our impermanence, in fact the impermanence of all things.  As a Stoic, I know that my impermanence is my destiny.

An old graveyard…even those who used to visit are gone.

Which reminds me of something Stoic that Marcus Aurelius wrote:  “Think continually that all kinds of men and of all kinds of pursuits and of all nations are dead, so that thy thoughts come down even to Philistion and Phoebus and Origanion. Now turn thy thoughts to the other kinds of men. To that place then we must remove, where there are so many great orators, and so many noble philosophers, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Socrates; so many heroes of former days, and so many generals after them, and tyrants; besides these, Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes, and other men of acute natural talents, great minds, lovers of labour, versatile, confident, mockers even of the perishable and ephemeral life of man, as Menippus and such as are like him. As to all these consider that they have long been in the dust. What harm then is this to them; and what to those whose names are altogether unknown? One thing here is worth a great deal, to pass thy life in truth and justice, with a benevolent disposition even to liars and unjust men.”

A final thought:  Do any of you know who Philistion, Phoebus, Origanion, Heraclitus, Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Menippus were?  Heck, what about Marcus Aurelius?

Winning the Competition – On Being Your Own NFL Champ (or the next American Idol)!


Let’s face it, life is a great competition.  Most of us thrive on it.  Why else would NFL football, America’s Got Talent, American Idol or any of these reality TV shows like Big Brother or Survivor be so popular (my quick survey shows that 13 of 30 prime time shows on CBS have to do with some type of competition/winning)?  The releases of new game consoles like the upcoming Wii U, Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 are always big news and they are hot commodities.  Why?  They allow us to compete against cyber opponents and others.  Our desire to compete and win fuels the marketplace!

We love to watch, participate, and win competitions!  If we can’t win, we pick a pony like our favorite NFL team or player (RG III) or American Idol star and they win for us.  If we can’t kick a football, or run a 4.9 40-yard dash, we might pick up a game console, and compete against our friends or maybe even some unknown rival over the internet.

Competition is healthy.  It motivates us to be better, but it can be discouraging.  Why?   Because so much of what is involved in competitions is out of our control.    We can’t control the quality of our opponent…they might actually be better, or they might just be having the “game of their life.”  In team sports, we can’t control the actions of our teammates.  On top of all of that, are external factors like weather, wind, a bad controller (on that Wii U you’re going to buy).  Sometimes, you just have plain dumb luck, like a bad bounce or an untied shoe.

In real life, our competition may involve our standard of living, or the future for our family.  If we perform our job better than others, we hope that we will get a raise, a promotion, a sale, etc.  Of course, that does require that somebody actually notice our excellence.  There certainly are ways to get noticed, but much of that is indeed out of our control…just like in friendly competition.  It really is no different.  The employee you are next to might be well-connected (or even the boss’ daughter).  The boss might be watching right when you make the worst error you’ve had in months.  That new product you are trying to sell just might not be what people want.  These obstacles are all things to learn from, and improve upon…and maybe they make us work even harder.

The Boss’s Daughter!

So, if so much is out of my control, what am I to do?   Here is what I try to do:  I strive to produce the very best result I can under the conditions given.  My goal is to be the very best I can be.  When I am not doing so, I know it.  In essence, I determine whether I’ve succeeded in everything I do.  I am my own judge and jury, and if I honestly examine my inner self, there is no cheating.  At the end of the day, I must look myself in the mirror and judge my actions.

Ha, I just snuck in some Stoicism 101…and you thought it was about football or that silly America’s Got Talent show, hee hee!