Sometimes simple = powerful

Tie shoes

One primitive lesson I learned over twenty five years ago still sticks with me to this day.

It was the way I was tying my shoes.

I was doing it wrong.

What an “aha!” moment it was.  After I learned the better way, the quality of my life went up (albeit small) and I had one less thing to worry about.

If I were asked to provide a tip to others, the topic would not have entered my mind.

Perhaps I thought it was so simple that everyone knew this already.

Perhaps I thought it was too short and sweet.  Not “meaty” enough.

Perhaps it would be just too embarrassing for someone so educated to share something so uncomplicated.

Or perhaps I thought this should be left to others (e.g. parents, elementary school teachers).  Someone else should do it.

Yet, we all tie our shoes.

Most of us (certainly me) have experienced the frustration of having them untie on us or look disheveled.

Back in 2005, Terry Moore decided to share this in a presentation at a TED conference.

The length of the presentation?  Only about 3 minutes.

It now has over 4.5 million views.

Sometimes the simplest advice can have a powerful impact.

Going forward, I will be less afraid to share what I’ve learned.  I won’t assume that others have or should have done this already.

If I get criticized for being too basic or obvious, I’ll look down and see how they tie their shoes.

Be well.


Fundamentals. Lessons from the past that still apply today.


I used to love playing basketball. I still do (although I don’t play as much nowadays).

I was never really that great at it. I barely made the team as a Freshman in high school and was cut as a Sophomore trying out for Junior Varsity.  But that was ok. I enjoyed the overall experience.  It’s a great game.

Back when I was in grade school, I remember convincing my mother to sign me up for a basketball camp.  It was there I met the high school basketball coach, Vaughn Stapleton.

That week of camp, he drilled one word into our heads so often that it was almost annoying.


His message was basically that in order to be a really good basketball player, you have to acquire and master the basic skills.  Advanced skills are nearly useless (and can be a liability) if the basics aren’t sound.  And, it’s almost impossible to spend too much time honing your core skills.

This was a bit of a shock to me.  You see, I was enamored with wanting to acquire the advanced skills.  That’s why I was going to camp wasn’t it?  This is what really impresses others right?  The basic skills are straightforward, boring, tedious and time consuming.  Sure, we can work on them a little; but let’s move on shall we?

But we didn’t.

Day after day, drill after drill, we worked on the basics, then we played games.  When critiquing performance, more often than not, it came down to the fact that I needed to get better at my fundamentals to improve.

Guess what happened?  After a week at camp, I became a much better basketball player.

More importantly, I listened and remembered the messages.

Even to this day, I still use these basic lessons.

If the fundamentals aren’t solid, there isn’t much to build on.  If something isn’t working the way I’d expect or like, I first do a check to make sure that the basic structure and assumptions are sound.  In many cases, that not only helps but it prevents major problems down the road. It applies for at work as well life.

Sounds pretty simple right?  (duh!)

Well, in the sophisticated business world of global insurance/reinsurance & risk management, you would be shocked to see how many products, processes, teams, systems, etc. either have problems or fail due to the lack of sound fundamentals.

I’m not sure I really understand why.  Perhaps the basics are boring and require tedious hard work?  Perhaps they are “obvious” and taken for granted?  Regardless, when they aren’t sound, trouble always eventually results.

I will try to always keep working the basics and ensuring that the fundamentals are sound.  If I can figure out a way to pass this on to my sons, they may benefit was well.

And hopefully I’ll be able to shoot some hoops with my sons when they get back from scout camp later!

Be well.