Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Iron sharpens Iron

Posted: April 3, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

I had dinner with my youngest brother the other night and was reminded why it’s important for men to have other men in their lives. We are both extremely busy but when we get together our conversations are usually pretty substantial. He reminded me of a conversation we had a couple of years ago that completely changed the course of his life. It wasn’t long at all but the impact was lasting.

This is the value of deep relationships. Over a period of years you build capital with each other that can be used to sharpen one another unlike any other type of relationship. When you feel like someone actually cares for you then even advice given in casual conversation is so much more meaningful.

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Today is opening day and my Sox (WhiteSox) put it on the Royal’s with a dominating pitching performance.  Opening day and this performance reminded me why I love baseball and the White Sox.

Sox

There’s not many more memories that stick out more to me than going to a White Sox game with my mom.  My mom knows about as much about baseballs as she does installing servers.  But, every season since Harold Baines (I’m guessing because his of his swing?) played for the White Sox my mom would take me and my older brother to White Sox Games.  We lived on 45th and Indiana while Old Comisky was about 3 miles away.  My mom would pack me and my brother up and we’d make the walk to the ball park.

I remember one standout pitching performance.  I was maybe 6 years old and hadn’t really caught the fever for baseball.  It was the top of the 7th inning (maybe 6th) and there was a base hit by the other team.  Everyone in the stands got up and starting clapping.  I remember tugging at my mom and asking her why was everyone clapping for the other team.  She explained that this was the first hit the other team had the whole game.  I remember thinking, “Wow that’s really nice of Chicago fans to encourage the other team.”  Let’s just say that since then I’ve learned a little more about the importance of a no hitter.

I remember the bad sight lines, the smell of old beer and the horrible bathrooms (reminds me a lot of Wrigley).  But most of all I remember the time spent with my mom and my brother.  We had some really good fortune.  I can’t say that I remember going to a game with my mom and the Sox ever losing. I wonder if my mom would be interested in Season Tickets?  🙂

Let’s GO WHITE SOX!!!!

Chicago School Closings – Keep the kids safe first

Posted: March 22, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized
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I really respect Dr. Steve Perry.  He’s truly someone to admire for the work he’s done in creating a model school in CT.  His work on the TVOne show Save my Son is ground breaking.  However, he has strong opinions on what should be done with the schools in Chicago that I don’t entirely agree with him.  In general, I believe that chronic under performing schools should be closed.  Why keep a school that just can’t cut the mustard open?  However, Chicago is in a situation where the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is strap for cash.  They are in a budget hole for 1 Billion Dollars.  One of the ways to help close the gap is to close almost 60 under utilized/under performing schools.  This will force students to potentially go to schools outside of their district.  This isn’t an insignificant number of kids.  Some of the argument from”experts” has been parents and kids just need to deal with the inconvenience in order to provide a better educational environment for the children.

 

 

Perry Quote

 

This isn’t just an issue of “convenience” for parents and kids.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but kids are getting shot in Chicago.  If you are a single parent and you have to leave to get to work at 6:30 and leave your child on the bus stop at 7:00, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.  We can’t even protect our children when they are going around the corner to the neighborhood school.  How in the world are we going to protect them going to in some cases a marginally better school miles away?  All due respect to Dr. Perry but, I’ll listen to him on this issue when he puts his son on the bus stop by themselves on the corner of 59th and Wood St. in Englewood at 7:00 in the morning for an entire school year.

In choosing between two evils, I choose the option where my child has a higher chance of being safe.  We have to figure out a way to efficiently manage capacity while ensuring we are protecting these kids on the way to school. We can’t just say “shut them down” without considering child safety first.

 

My son almost made me cry

Posted: March 22, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized
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So, I’m back in Chicago.  Part of the motive is financial as I get to reduce my living expenses moving back into the old place.  But, I could have rented the house out and still saw a benefit.  The main reason I’m back is to help bring about change.  I moved because the city was dangerous and I had teenage boys.

My sons are prayerfully safe and off to college living near campus.  So, me and my wife are back in the city.  My oldest son really is concerned about our safety and didn’t understand why we made the decision to move back.  I sat him down and talked about why we moved in the first place.

The phase of life where I need to protect my sons in that way is over.  Now the phase where I need to help raise other boys and provide leadership within the community has come.  After having this conversation with him he said, “You don’t have to do it alone.  I’ll help you too.”

This is all a father can ask of his grown son.  Not that he takes over the family business or is a success in corporate America but that he grows to be a man of integrity.  It almost brought a tear to my eye when he said these words.  But, we don’t have time to be sentimental.  We have to get this house in order so we can start having people in our home and making a difference in our community.

Posted: March 12, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

This is an awesome testimony of raising a man as a Single mom in Chicago. Great job Kimmah and thanks for sharing!

The Hitt List

I was an unhappy child growing up. Always wanting more time and attention than my single mom could spare to give me. I was one out of four kids and she hardly had time to sleep much less devote to my childlike whims. My birthdays were always lack luster because for some reason money was always slow in the summer time. My mother, like me, was an entrepreneur. I can remember only a few happy birthdays. One where we spent the night at the Embassy Suites and another where a friend of hers with a boat took us out on Lake Michigan on a warm summer afternoon. I also remember birthday cards with food stamps and I.O.U’s.

I became pregnant at 20 and I brought my son into the world shortly after my 21st birthday. My mother passed away less than a year later. My father was never involved in…

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I’m not dumb. I just talk funny.

Posted: February 27, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

So, I’ve been doing short videos on Youtube talking about different topics in enterprise technology. This is the first time in a few years I’ve actually listened to myself talk. When I was a kid I spent 45 minutes a week for 8 years going to speech therapy. My teachers had a hard time understanding me because I would cut off or slur together words instead of taking the time to fully enunciate my words.

This got me a rap of not being very bright and effected my confidence in and out of the classroom. I never really fully developed the skill of fully enunciating my words but I remember a distinct time when it affected me as an adult. I went on a job interview at a fast food restaurant and eventually got the job after hounding the manager. A few months after proving myself to be a pretty good employee the manager confided in me that he thought I had a mental development problem. He said I turned out to be one of his best hires. As politely as I could I told him, “I’m not dumb. I just talk funny.”

Watching the video’s reminded me that I still talk funny but, I’m much more confident and it kind of goes with the whole geek thing that I’ve embraced in the portion of my life.

Chicago rated 4th worst city to live in

Posted: February 23, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

I was surprised to see that New York, NY made the Forbes 2013 List of America’s Most Miserable Cities.  Then as I went down the list I saw Chicago was number 4 on the list.

Chicago which has to following things going for it.

1. Taste of Chicago

2. More than 27 museums

3. One of the most vibrant downtown’s in the nation

4. More biking trails than almost any other city

5. Lakeshore Drive

6. A lake that doesn’t look like any “lake” you’ll ever see

I love Chicago.  It has more going on than any other city that I’ve been in excluding maybe New York.  I moved for a while to MD and completely missed the city with big shoulders.  However, in my travels I can see why Chicago can get a bad rap.  The political corruption is infamous.  Our former mayor (Daley the Son) was known as the Teflon Don.  He had more political allies take a fall for him than bowling pins in The Big Lebowski.  The weather is among the worst.  And the gun violence is quickly making Gary, IN look like a safe haven.

I was still amazed to see that we made this notorious list and ranked so high.  I hate to pick on other cities but have you visited Baltimore or even seen The Wire? I once got lost in Baltimore.  And all I have to say is Baltimore ain’t Chicago.

Baltimore

Don’t trust the trustworthy

Posted: February 21, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

It’s never the shady character we need to worry about.  It’s always the guy we trust that is our downfall.

jesse-jackson

Jesse Jackson Jr.

We all know a slippery slope when we see one.  However, it’s funny how we think just because we see the slippery slope before taking the road we believe we can navigate the most dangerous parts of the path.  The point of the warning isn’t to help navigate through the slop but to avoid the slop all together.  I’m sure once he shares his story Jesse Jackson’s warning will be much like all of the other disgraced  public figures prior to his own tale.  I’m sure he reasoned to himself why he should help himself to campaign funds but, I’m more interested in those he convinced to take part in his scheme.

Why would they help in such an obviously illegal plot?  Why wouldn’t his wife raise a red flag.  She is after all a seasoned lawyer.  Why didn’t Jackson Sr. recognize something was afoot with his son’s life style (maybe a whole different topic)?

Stealing $750,000 in campaign funds is not a simple task that one person or a couple of people can do.  It takes a corrupt organization to pull off the scheme.  There are checks in balances in place that prevent things like this from happening.  So, the Jacksons needed collaborators to help them in their fraud.  The Jacksons were a very well respected couple within their district.  The community and their supporters counted on them to help move the community forward.  With this comes a trust that is extremely dangerous when betrayed.  But danger in the traditional sense.  The worry isn’t that you will be cheated out of money or benefits.  But this betrayal goes to the heart of human nature.  The ability of people you trust to get you to do things you would not normally do.  To go against your own morals.

The Jacksons’ story reminds me of a report I heard on NPR Planet Money some months ago.  A mortgage lender was sharing how he went to several people for help in creating fake mortgages.  To his surprise every person that he asked to support his criminal activity didn’t hesitate in saying yes.  The reason they gave was that they trusted him.  Over the years, like the Jacksons he built a reputation as a man of integrity   He had done so much good to this point in his life that the people he approached with the scheme didn’t give it a second thought.  They figured that if a man that has displayed such integrity to this point would ask them to do something unethical or even illegal it must be OK.  He was in a sense their moral barometer.

You see, we know not to trust the untrustworthy.  It’s the trustworthy we have to question.  So many people fall for cons because the Bernie Mahoffs of the world seem extremely trustworthy.  Their record’s are impeccable so, when they come to us with opportunities that seem too good to be true we take them at their word instead of following our normal logic.  The lesson in this tragic fall from grace is that you have to stay grounded in your own morals.  You have to constantly run scenarios through your mind like, “If this was on the front page of the NY Times would I be embarrassed.”  You may not just save yourself but also the very person that you respect and is asking you to betray your shared morals.

 

Winner’s win and losers have really great excuses

Posted: January 30, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my 2013 goals is to run 1500 miles.  I’m starting to understand how difficult of a goal it will be to achieve.  On average, I’d have to run 125 miles a month.  That’s a pretty big number for me.  My best running month is 100 miles so, I’d have to average better than my best.

Today, I’m in Atlanta, GA for work.  I’ve been putting in crazy hours and got in late last night.  I awoke an hour later than I usually do and decided not to go for a run because I would be late to my client site.  This is completely reasonable.  Then I remembered that I’d work late again tonight and I wouldn’t have time for a run.  So, I got up, got dressed to go running and hit the door and wouldn’t you know it that some pretty ominous clouds are out.

Bears_goal

I turned back around and was headed back to my hotel room to get dressed and be on time for my client engagement.  Then one of my favorite personal sayings hit me, “Winners win and losers have really great reasons why they don’t.”  It would have been understandable and acceptable for me to continue to get dressed for work but that’s honestly taking the easy way out.  We love stories of people who against all odds achieve incredible things in life.  They achieve these incredible things in part because they make sacrifices many of us would deem unacceptable and I dare to say most of us would agree with the reasons why they should have gave up.  This is why we call them heroes.  They are willing to do the hard things we wouldn’t.

I turned back around went outside and ran one of my slower 5 miles.  But no matter the pace I’m 5 miles closer to my goal of 1500.

Winners win while losers have great excuses for why they didn’t win.

 

Changing lives by tumbling

Posted: January 27, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

The Jesse White Tumblers have been a staple of Chicago for a long time.  They are one of the most successful outreach groups in the black community in Chicago.  The focus of the team is to create opportunities through gymnastics for at risk youth. I was pretty surprised by the numbers Illinois Secretary of State check off during an appearance of his Jesse White Tumblers at a performance at a group meeting for my job the other day.  His Tumbler’s have –

  • Been around for 53 years
  • Have had 1500 kids come through program
  • Have 7 teams that will have performed 70 performances by end of the 1st month of the year
  • Performed across the nation and globe

More importantly, a number I was encouraged to hear was that of the 1500 youth to come through the program only a 110 have gotten in trouble with law enforcement.  That was a pretty staggering number to hear when some sources say 1 in 4 black men will be incarcerated in their life time.  I have to admit that at times I’ve just gotten too comfortable with the work that this organization has done.  It’s similar to everything in life.  I’ve just seen them too many times.  But it has been a few years since I last seen them perform and the freshness of seeing them has reminded me of just how amazing the group is in both talent and mission.

JesseWhite

Seeing them again has encouraged me to step up my volunteer efforts and reach out to the youth of the city.  I’m so grateful for these private organizations and look forward to sending financial support to the building of the Jesse White Community Center.