Boulder Magic

This is a view from our balcony of the morning sun on the front range. We moved to Boulder Colorado last year from Florida after seeing my health deteriorate steadily for about five years. The move itself was so difficult that I got much sicker and practically stayed in bed for three months. Since I know people are curious and I want everyone to know I don’t have anything life threatening, I’ll try to explain a little more about my illness and show you some more pictures of Boulder.

I still don’t know absolutely for sure what happened to me but I do know a couple of things. I’m not suffering from one single problem but rather from the combination of several which include among other things mold allergy, chemical sensitivity, low cholesterol, sleep apnea and side effects from medications. Any of them taken by itself might have been just an annoyance, but taken all together it became serious.

Ever since high school, my cholesterol has been unusually low. I always thought that was a good thing and never realized that it could cause health problems. It was in high school that I first saw a doctor for fatigue. Fifteen years later I was starting to understand I had poor sugar control and seeing my sleep progressively more disrupted. I changed my diet to adapt — giving up sugar, alcohol, caffeine and high glycemic foods. I also started using many supplements which eventually gave me gastritis. But I didn’t know it was the supplements causing my stomach problems and so… I kept taking them. I did, however, stop eating fatty foods almost completely as they aggravated my stomach.

What I didn’t know is that cholesterol is the precursor for making key hormones that regulate the immune system, metabolism, nervous system and many other critical functions like bone density and muscle repair. So, by not eating any fat for a couple years I may have aggravated an inherited error of metabolism causing my cholesterol to drop abnormally (down to 99). In so doing I deprived my body of essential nutrients.

This alone might not have been enough to throw me, but I’m also allergic to mold, dust-mites, ragweed, etc. This could be linked to the cholesterol deficiency, but mold allergy can also come from chemical exposure which I suffered for a period of about 7 years growing up. It turns out that the toxins emitted by mold are VOCs, the same chemicals that I was exposed to and that commonly cause illness and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in Industrial settings.

Either way, living on the east coast all my life was not helpful. Mold levels are high year round all up and down the coast. Florida may have the highest mold counts of all. But whatever the cause, I was collapsing in Florida. As it turns out, the front range in Colorado (pictured above) has the lowest mold counts in the country (rising to just 500 whereas Florida is at about 5,000 year round). This is because the winds predominantly blow from the west bringing clean dry mold-free air off the Rockies down into Boulder. Furthermore dust-mites can’t live over 5,000 feet above sea level.

About three months before I left for Colorado, in the middle of my growing problems, a doctor recommended I use Ambien thinking that most of my health problems might evaporate with better sleep. Ambien did help me sleep much better and so I used it for about 5 months when, one day, my prescription ran out and I didn’t refill it. I was already in Colorado and my health had improved a lot so I was feeling confident.

But I found out the hard way that Ambien can cause dependence and stopping it suddenly can have dramatic lasting side effects. That night when I didn’t take my Ambien, my nervous system went berserk and has still not completely recovered five months later. Here’s what the data sheet says:

The U.S. clinical trial experience from zolpidem does not reveal any clear evidence for withdrawal syndrome. Nevertheless, the following adverse events included in DSM-III-R criteria for uncomplicated sedative/hypnotic withdrawal were reported during U.S. clinical trials following placebo substitution occurring within 48 hours following last zolpidem treatment: fatigue, nausea, flushing, lightheadedness, uncontrolled crying, emesis, stomach cramps, panic attack, nervousness, and abdominal discomfort.

After reading what patients say about Ambien on the Internet in forums and in places like, it seems clear to me that the FDA has some serious problems with truth telling. However, I did notice eventually that the safety sheet says not to take Ambien for more than 11 days consecutively. Why then did my doctor prescribe enough for me to take every day for as long as I wished?

After my ‘crash’, my doctor switched me to Ativan which I used for a couple months before switching to Diazepam to taper off more easily. Both the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines were unpleasant too, so it’s probably not surprising that I became very weak. While I was on the benzodiazepines, I was so weak I couldn’t walk more than a few blocks and just speaking wore me out.

Over the years I’ve seen good doctors and bad. Many things recommended by doctors aggravated my situation and some helped. I learned that there’s just too much to know about the body and how medications can affect it for any one Doctor to be reliably helpful and to avoid hurting a patient with complex problems.

So I’ve learned to always research side effects before taking any medication or supplement and to remember that my doctors have not actually taken the medications themselves that they are offering. It took me almost three months to ween myself off benzodiazepines and it was a very unpleasant process complicated by a series of severely challenging circumstances. If you ever get in trouble with a benzodiazepine, don’t trust your doctor to know what to do — read this.

Fortunately for me, my therapy seems to be healthy living – a well varied diet with lots of good fats, clean air and exercise. In the fall I started hiking, just about 100 yards on the first day (but uphill) and going a little further each day. I was worried about the winter thinking I might be shut inside shivering for months.

It didn’t happen. It gets cold and windy sometimes, but the sun shines a lot here and good gear is everywhere in Boulder at stores like The North Face, Mont Bell, Helly Hansen, REI, etc. So, I’ve learned there’s no such thing as cold weather, just inadequate clothing. And I’m completely in awe of the beauty of the Boulder winter.

To prove the point, I went for a hike after fresh snow fell during the night. The temperature was 1 degree F while I was making breakfast. The snow sparkled brilliantly in the sun and was very dry and crunchy in the crisp cold but halfway up my hike I was already sweating and by noon the temperature was above 35 degrees. Here are some pictures of this hike on Hogback Trail which starts a few blocks from where we live.

Above is the first plateau on the hike and this view is of Boulder’s famous Flatirons in the distance. This is about twenty minutes from the trailhead. From here the trail climbs steeply up a set of stairs and the view gets even better:

Look closely in the foreground and you can see the trail I’ve come up. This is about 30 minutes up for me. There are mountain lions up here, so most people avoid hiking this trail at dusk when lions are looking for deer. The view of Boulder is supberb here:

Boulder is a relatively small city with a population of 100,000 so you can see just about the whole thing in this view. I put a red dot about where we’re living on the north end. Here’s another look at the Flatirons towards the South:

And finally, looking North this is Dakota Ridge:

This trail is difficult to hike in snow and ice. I’ve only hiked all the way around once and it took me 90 minutes and knocked me out for a week. It is a climb of somewhere between 800 and 1,000 feet. Even so, Boulder being what it is, a couple of nuts passed me by jogging up in the snow that day. In the Spring, I hope to be doing it in about an hour and ten minutes and hopefully several times a week.

As you can see, my illness has had a spectacular silver lining. I wake up every day loving Boulder and frequently am struck by the beauty of the mountains while pumping gas or coming out of the grocery store as those views are sometimes even more dramatic than the close ups.

My illness and distance from the business has had other benefits too. Watching Carolina take over many or most of my responsibilities and watching the LatPro team thrive with minimal guidance has given me deeper feelings of appreciation and respect for all. But most importantly, I’m so thankful for the chance to spend time outdoors with my family and for the changes in myself that only deep suffering could have forced.

It has been just over 100 days since I started eating fats again and I feel my strength growing steadily. I still face challenges, though. My biggest hurdle is sleep — I wake up 4 or 5 times every night to eat and though I get about enough total hours, I almost never sleep continuously for 3 hours. That’s holding my recovery back more than anything else. Still, I’m confidant that gradually this obstacle will melt away too.

See you on the trail.

The Greatest Wealth Is Health

The greatest wealth is health. ~Virgil

This is a difficult topic for me to write about. I’ve been dogged by health problems since my second daughter was born four and a half years ago. But for a number of reasons I’ve said little about my struggles to the LatPro team.

no meetings

  • Leading is not complaining. First and foremost, leading a team is about helping others. It’s about removing obstacles and creating a positive and efficient environment. Leading is not complaining, it’s listening. So, if you are a leader, you don’t dwell on your own speedbumps, whether your roof has a leak or you are physically ill. Complaining sucks energy from others. So you keep your problems at home and do your best to energize your team.
  • Sympathy is depressing. When you stub your toe, a little sympathy is nice. If you have a chronic illness, you want to forget about it. It feels good when others understand your limitations and offer assistance but conduct business as usual.
  • Staying focused. Building a company is like climbing a mountain. The pinnacle of the mountain exerts a strong pull on you like a powerful magnet. You can’t see the pinnacle when you start climbing or even when you are halfway to the top, but you know it’s there and you feel the pull. The higher up you get, the more exotic the scenery and the more exciting the climb. Your mind and body become tuned entirely to reaching the top. That’s how I feel about our team and the company. We’re climbing a mountain and we’re going to the top detours and all.

I love the company. We’ve given it top priority for ten full years and will continue climbing in spite of a detour or two. I love the mountain.

My actual health problems are not the acute kind that hospitals treat. I grew up with a lot of what I considered peculiarities or quirks. But over the years my quirks started to intrude more and more into my life and started to become actual limitations. I made diet and lifestyle changes which have been helpful. I stopped eating wheat gluten, high glycemic index foods and all processed foods. Then I quit eating fruit. I avoid caffeine and alcohol entirely and go to bed early.

But in spite of perfectly clean living and a very expensive whole foods diet, I’m still plagued with gastrointestinal, respiratory, immune system, bone density, sleep, and metabolic problems to name a few. I’ve been to many doctors and am currently seeing one of the most highly regarded in the country, someone who specializes in solving chronic illness mysteries.

For the past couple years I hoped my problems could be explained by some type of infection I could have picked up in childhood travels to Mexico, Africa or Eastern Europe. Or even annual camping trips to Northern Canada where we drank from the lakes and bathed in them.

But having nearly exhausted those possibilities, I’m drawing closer to considering the possibility that my problems are similar to those of my father. He suffered with a chronic illness for 15 years but was suddenly cured when he moved to Colorado. He is allergic to mold which is always in the air everywhere. But in Colorado the mold count is very low, around 500 parts per million as compared to Florida’s average 5,000 ppm.

When he spends time anywhere on the East Coast, he’s fine for the first 3 or 4 days, and then lies down bedridden with fatigue. When he gets home to Colorado, he recovers completely in a couple days. He attributes the onset of his mold allergy to a long term exposure to hazardous chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) to which I was also exposed for at least six or seven years.

Whether caused by chemical exposure or not, I’ve long known that I’m allergic to high concentrations of certain types of mold. The first time I discovered this was in Guatemala where I was staying with a local family as part of my language study program. I was put in room that was so moldy, the walls and ceilings were gray or black with it. Within minutes of entering the room, my ears began to itch and feel clogged. My eyes watered and itched and my sinuses ran. My throat itched and I generally felt like I had suddenly contracted the flu. I took a jug of bleach and scrubbed every inch of the walls and it became tolerable long enough to get transferred to a dryer house.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to know whether the lower grade mold exposure everyone experiences daily in Florida is responsible for the kind of chronic problems I have. The only way to figure it out is to go somewhere dry and see what happens. So after four months of severe respiratory problems this spring, I traveled to Boulder, Colorado and spent five weeks at my parents home. There my respiratory problems cleared and my energy level improved. I also noticed a marked improvement in my thought clarity.

So what do we intend to do now? First, we’ll go back to Boulder sometime in July for a couple of weeks and see if I’m consistently better in Colorado and worse in Florida. If I am, we’ll probably move to Colorado and I’ll travel to Weston as often as I can.

I wouldn’t have imagined this possibility a year ago before we implemented the Rockefeller program at LatPro. But I’m so pleased with the results of our daily, weekly and quarterly planning processes, that I’m sure we can keep the company humming and growing at a strong clip, even under such unusual circumstances.

Of course, I know it’s not just the Rockefeller program. Without the good chemistry we have in our team, our management tools would amount to nothing. I believe in the capabilities of our team, and if I have to move, I know we can keep the company healthy in spite of the geographic challenge. Come to think of it, we already have a far flung footprint with people in Delaware, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Brazil, Guatemala, Argentina, and Colombia. I think we can handle Colorado too.

Inspirational movies for business leaders

I especially enjoy sports and coaching movies because they often provide a great metaphor for business life whether you are in the job board business or any other. First the motivational movies and then pick-me-up list for those days when your business gives you the blues!


Coach Carter

 Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular, controversial coach, a hardliner who firmly believes that scholarship and a sense of ethics go hand in hand with excellence on the basketball court. A man of his convictions, Coach Carter benches his undefeated team of high schoolers when they turn in poor academic grades (much to the chagrin of the players’ parents and many of his fellow teachers). Co-stars Ashanti. Thomas Carter directs.

Glory Road

Glory Road tells the true story of Don Haskins (Josh Lucas), a high school basketball coach who, in 1962, took the reins of the Texas Western Miners, an underdog NCAA Division One team. Haskins’s insistence on recruiting the best players available to him, regardless of the color of their skin, revolutionized the sport … and changed the course of history. Director James Gartner’s inspiring drama triumphs both on and off the court.

Goal! The Dream Begins

For as long as Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) can remember, he’s had a passion for playing soccer, a pastime his father wishes he’d give up. But when British scout Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) spies Santiago playing in an amateur match, Foy persuades him to come to England — and the world soon takes notice. Some of the hottest stars from the world of football, including David Beckham and Zinédine Zidane, make cameos in this action-packed romp.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

With a pint-sized caddie (Joshua Flitter) at his side, amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) shocked the world at the 1913 U.S. Open when he outplayed defending British champ Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). But Ouimet’s rise to the top wasn’t easy, with a hard-nosed father (Elias Koteas) and a hard-knock life to overcome. Actor Bill Paxton (in his third time out as a director) helms this inspiring true-life story based on actual events.

The Heart of the Game 

Attending predominantly white Roosevelt High because her mother thinks she’ll have better opportunities under the school’s successful coach, gifted black hoopster Darnellia Russell puts herself — and her coach — through the wringer. Shot in a suburban Seattle high school over a seven-year period, director Ward Serrill’s stirring documentary explores the complicated relationship between gender, race and organized sports.

Invictus(2009) PG-13

In this drama based on real-life events, director Clint Eastwood tells the story of what happened after the end of apartheid when newly elected president Nelson Mandela used the 1995 World Cup rugby matches to unite his people in South Africa. Based on John Carlin’s book, the film stars Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon (both Oscar nominated) as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the scrappy South African team that makes a run for the championship.


Average Joe and devoted Philadelphia Eagles fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) manages to land a spot on his favorite NFL team in open tryouts. He’s just lost his wife and his job as a substitute teacher, but by
impressing the coach and winning a place on the field, Papale turns a terrible year into a winner in this inspiring film (based on a true story) from the producers of the similar, baseball-themed The Rookie.

Man on Wire 

Philippe Petit captured the world’s attention in 1974 when he successfully walked across a high wire between New York’s Twin Towers. This documentary (nominated for Best Doc for the Independent Spirit Awards) explores the preparations that went into the stunt as well as the event and its aftermath. Obsessed with the towers even before they were fully constructed, Petit sneaked into the buildings several times to determine the equipment he needed to accomplish his daring feat.


Relive the miracle on ice all over again as coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) takes a ragtag band of college hockey players and molds them into an unstoppable juggernaut (Team USA) that did the impossible — beat the Soviet Union and won Olympic gold at Lake Placid. Do you believe in miracles? You will after you watch this inspiring movie.

On a Clear Day

When Frank (Peter Mullan) loses his job at the docks, he quickly realizes that, at age 55, he’s too old to start a new career but too young to simply stop working. Despondent about his life and past mistakes, he decides to take on the ultimate challenge — to swim the English Channel. With the support of friends and family, he thinks he can rise to the occasion and bear the physical pain, but is he ready to come to terms with his emotional pain?


A small-town high school football coach (Ed Harris) befriends an illiterate, developmentally disabled man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) nicknamed “Radio,” who has always been the target of jokes and teasing. Although their friendship raises eyebrows at first, Radio’s growth under the coach’s guidance ultimately inspires the local
townsfolk. Based on the true story of the life of James Robert Kennedy.

Saint Ralph

Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a typical teenager with atypical questions, the largest of which concerns his mother. She’s fallen into a coma, and the 14-year-old has set his sights on winning the 1954 Boston Marathon in a makeshift barter with God to make his mother well. His teacher, Father Hibbert (Campbell Scott), wants to encourage his dream, but in doing so, he goes up against the reserved, ever-realistic Father Fitzpatrick (Gordon Pinsent).

Twelve O’Clock High

Hard-as-nails World War II Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) must turn a discouraged group of American bomber pilots into heroes. Along the way, the once-alienated general comes to view the men as family. No longer a heartless commander, Savage — with the aid of his loyal adjutant Maj. Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger) — learns how difficult true leadership really is. Director Henry King’s Oscar-winning war drama boasts actual
air combat footage.

The World’s Fastest Indian

Based on a true story, this drama follows 67-year-old grandfather and New Zealander Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) as he flies across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats and blazes into the record books at 183.586 mph on his customized Indian Scout motorcycle. Set in 1967, this film is the second pairing for Hopkins and writer-director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Thirteen Days), who also worked together on The Bounty (1984).

Things could be worse

A Beautiful Mind

John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russell Crowe)
was a brilliant economist — when his mind was clear. But life changed
forever with the revelation that he was schizophrenic, although his
brilliance persisted amidst the anguish his mental illness caused for
him and his wife (Jennifer Connelly). Ron Howard directs this Oscar-winning drama that picked up honors for direction and acting (Connelly) as well as the Best Picture prize.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Mathieu Amalric stars as author and Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby — who suffered a stroke in 1995 that rendered him mute and completely paralyzed — in this adaptation of Bauby’s autobiography, which he dictated by blinking his left eye. Julian Schnabel was nominated for the 2008 Best Director Oscar (and won the Golden Globe in the same category) for his poignant docudrama about the strength of the human spirit.

Emmanuel’s Gift

Oprah Winfrey narrates this inspirational look at living with a disability in Ghana,
as seen through the eyes of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born with a
badly deformed right leg. While most of the nation’s 2 million citizens
who are deemed “disabled” suffer discrimination, abandonment and
ridicule, Emmanuel has dedicated his life to traveling the country via
bicycle to open people’s minds and to transform lives.

Mozart and the Whale

 Based on a true story, this romantic drama follows the love affair of two people with Asperger’s Syndrome — a subtle form of autism with a side of savant. Donald (Josh Harnett), an emotionally dysfunctional mathematical genius, leads a support group for those with the syndrome. When an attractive music and art genius (Radha Mitchell) joins the group, Donald’s falls for her, but their unique natures make for a challenging relationship.

Music Within

After losing his hearing as a soldier during the Vietnam War, Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston)
returns to America, where he falls in with an unlikely circle of friends and finds a new calling as a spokesman for the disabled. His activist efforts eventually lead to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This inspiring and entertaining true story won the Audience Award at the 2007 AFI Dallas International Film Festival.


 A richly deserved Oscar went to Geoffrey Rush for his riveting portrayal of Australian virtuoso David Helfgott and his ultimate triumph over a domineering father (Armin Mueller-Stahl, who also earned Academy honors for his supporting turn); schizophrenia; and an obsession with the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3. Sir John Gielgud, superb as ever, plays Helfgott’s tutor, with Lynn Redgrave co-starring as Helfgott’s future wife.

Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains

 In 1972, a plane carrying players, coaches and friends of a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes. Using dramatic reenactments and interviews with the remaining survivors, this documentary recounts the
riveting story of their horrific ordeal. The harrowing tale of human survival (which inspired the movie Alive) became even more dramatic when it was discovered the men ate the dead bodies of their friends to go on living.

The Visitor

Widowed professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins, in an Oscar-nominated role) finds himself drawn to a different rhythm when he discovers an immigrant couple, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira), squatting in his Manhattan flat and becomes wrapped up in their lives. Hiam Abbass co-stars as Tarek’s mother, who forges an unlikely connection with Walter when Tarek is thrown into a detention center.

Waste Land (2010)

Renowned artist Vik Muniz embarks on one of the most inspired collaborations of his career, joining creative forces with Brazilian catadores — garbage pickers who mine treasure from the trash heaps of Rio de Janeiro’s Jardim Gramacho landfill. In this Oscar-nominated documentary, the catadores prove to be unique and surprising individuals in their own right, waxing philosophic as they impart a valuable lesson about what society discards.


Books I like

booksin addition to favorite movies, here are books that I love, like or have found useful:



  • $1,000 and an idea: entrepreneur to billionaire by Sam Wyly
  • built to last by Jim Collins
  • don’t shoot the dog, the new art of teaching and training by Karen Pryor
  • good to great by Jim Collins
  • I was blind but now I see by James Altucher
  • mastering the rockefeller habits by Verne Harnish
  • maverick by Ricardo Semler
  • positioning: the battle for your mind (my review)
  • primal branding by Patrick Hanlon
  • radical honesty by Brad Blanton
  • roar! get heard in the sales and marketing jungle: a business fable by Kevin Daum and Daniel A. Turner
  • the power of full engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal by Jim Loehr
  • the seven-day weekend by Ricardo Semler
  • the slight edge by Jeff Olson
  • start small finish big by Fred DeLuca
  • what should I do with my life by Po Bronson



  • abraham lincoln: the prairie years and the war years by Carl Sandburg
  • team of rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

survival, sports & outdoors

  • angels in the wilderness: the true story of one woman’s survival against all odds
  • assault on lake casitas
  • deep survival: who lives, who dies, and why
  • how to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie
  • i don’t want to talk about it: overcoming the secret legacy of male depression by Terrence Real