Family Restaurant Night – Boys & Girls Club

TAG serving The Boys and Girls Club

TAG's Volunteers
Leaders, Servers, Philanthropists

On June 12, 2017, TAG and its army of volunteers gave a few families in Santa Ana an unforgettable evening.  The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana hosted the event lead by Lupita and her great staff.  The goal was to invite a handful of families that have children attending the Club to a wonderful evening of good food, good company, and some live entertainment (thrown together by TAG).  The thought was to encourage families to eat together, enjoy each other, and strengthen family bonds.  In today’s busy world, it’s easier said than done for families to be able to enjoy family meals together.

Restaurant at The Club

TAG showed up to the Club early to set up tables, chairs, flowers, cutlery, etc – and did their best to give the families a 5-Star experience.  Musical instruments were available and the TAG’s “gutsy volunteers” did their best to accommodate requests.  🙂

Volunteers were in the kitchen preparing the food (catered by local restaurants).  And of course as meals were finished, the crew did an excellent job cleaning up and preparing the B&G Club for another day of serving kids after school.

Kitchen Crew
06.12.2017

The highlight of the evening was to see the families enjoying their time together appreciating a great evening of food and entertainment.  Kids are always a pleasure to serve, and having fun is always easy at the Boys & Girls Club.

“Being able to help out at the Boys & Girls Club was a special experience.  Just doing something as simple as serving a meal goes such a long way to these families and being able to be a part of it was very rewarding.  I am so thankful for the staff for allowing us to be a part of it and thankful for the continuous work they put into the community on a daily basis.” – Kelsey Dieter (HR Manager of TAG)

The Kids

Easy to have fun at The Club with The Kids

We appreciate the Boys & Girls Club staff for always having hearts of gold serving their local communities.

We appreciate our volunteers for selflessly giving their time and energy.

And most of all, we appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the community and do our best to serve and give back.

A Little Warrior Needs Help

There are some things that happen in life that are difficult to understand.  Why do bad things happen to good people?

I was given some really bad news last week (September 14, 2012).  An old friend of mine (James) that I grew up with in Humboldt, Canada, let me know that his son (Tyler) was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Unfortunately the tumor cannot be removed by a surgeon; it can only be treated with radiation.  Tyler is 5 years old.

James, his wife (Kelly), and Tyler are about to engage in a very difficult war with cancer.  They are about to uproot their lives and temporarily live in another city to give Tyler the best treatment available.  It’s hard to imagine how difficult this will be for these young parents.

During this crazy time, the old gang from Humboldt started calling, texting, emailing, praying, and asking how we could all help.  It was certainly a proud moment for me to be part of a special group of compassionate friends.  We all live in different cities, and sometimes we don’t see each other as often as we’d like.  But make no mistake, everyone is stepping up for James in one way or another.

We all want James to put every ounce of his attention and energy on Tyler.  We don’t want James to be concerned about bills piling up at home, a temporary loss of income, and some increased expenses.  In the near future, we hope to put together some fundraising efforts.  I hope many of you will join our cause to help this family pour their love and focus on to their little warrior.

For now, please keep Tyler in your prayers.

Do you need it? Do you want it?

People today buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t care about.  

 

Think about that.  To a certain degree, we all buy in to that statement.  Some a little; some a lot.

Below is a post that I found online that articulates a mindset that would be a healthy adoption for all of us living in countries of abundance.

 

 

Here are my wife’s comments when I showed her the article:   “That’s a great article.  We should post it somewhere, and reread it whenever we think we need to get a bigger and better tv…”

I just purchased a 60 inch Smart TV about a month ago….   😦

 

Enough is Enough

What does it take to make you happy?  How much do you have to have to be grateful?

To the barefoot man, happiness is a pair of old shoes.  To the man with old shoes, it’s a pair of new shoes.  To the man with new shoes, it’s more stylish shoes.  And, of course, the fellow with no feet would be happy to be barefoot.

This leads to the ancient insight:  If you want to be happy, count your blessings, not your burdens.  Measure your life by what you have, not by what you don’t.

Yet in our modern world where we’re continually exposed to endless increments of more and better – others with more money, better TVs, and bigger houses – this is very difficult.

For some people, the pleasure of having something good is drained as soon as they see someone else with something better. Our sense of contentment is created or destroyed by comparisons.

A life consumed with unfulfilled wants is an affliction.  The antidote is the concept of “enough.”

This starts by thinking more clearly about the difference between our needs and our wants, between sufficiency and abundance.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more and striving to fill our lives with things and experiences that give us pleasure, so long as we don’t believe we need whatever we want.

When we think we need what we really only want, we make our desires preconditions to happiness, thereby diminishing our ability to appreciate and enjoy what we do have.

It’s easy to think that happiness is achieved by getting what we want when it’s really a matter of wanting what we get.

In the end, enough is enough.

Life Is Like A Jar Of Rocks


A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2″ in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full?  They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He then asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous – “Yes.”

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour their entire contents into the jar — effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.  “Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The rocks are the important things – your family, your spouse, your health, your children — things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.  The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks.  The same goes for your life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Play with your children.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your husband or wife out dancing.  There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.  “Take care of the rocks first — the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled.  “I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”

Revlon Walk – May, 2012

I am so proud of the people that I work with.

When people walk in to Team TAG, they are empowered to grow personally and professionally.  One of the coolest initiatives that we have is “Spiritual Growth”. In simple terms, that means that we want to give back to our communities with our time, our money, and all available resources.

On May 12, 2012, several of our team members joined the Revlon Walk to raise money and awareness for women’s cancer.

Check out Stefanie’s testimony below.  Great job team!

 

“Team TAG participated in the 19th annual Revlon Run/Walk for Women fundraiser. We are all proud to contribute to this impressive charity event. So many families and friends have been directly affected by women’s cancers. It is a great inspiration knowing we helped toward the cure. The Revlon Run/Walk is one of the largest fundraisers in the country for women’s cancers and the event is backed by the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

We joined more than 30,000 participants on Saturday, May 12th for an awesome day of making a difference in the fight against women’s cancers. Revlon Ambassador Halle Berry, Mario Lopez, Matthew Morrison, and Stacy Keibler came out to support the cancer research event. At the starting line, they kicked off the beautiful morning with welcoming smiles and cheers. With the event being on a big family weekend (Mother’s Day) the office still had a great turn out. Nine walkers represented Team TAG with signs, ribbons and full of team spirit! We skipped, we power walked at times, and walked & talked the 5k race that led us through the amazing USC campus. It was a fun bonding time! The participants included Stefanie Tringham (Team Captain), Manilynn Disuanco, honorable mother, Evelyn Disuanco, Sam Chen, Andrew Barkman, Drew Easton, Sam Yu, Phi Duong, and Yesa Matvelieva. A shiny gold medal was given to each walker at the finish line inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with thousands united under the common goal of defeating women’s cancers; one step at a time.

This was an inspiring event, and the employees of Team TAG were proud to support it.” – Stefanie Tringham

Meltdown in College Education

I have a couple of concerns regarding college education:

  • What will the costs be by the time my children attend college?  The rate of increase seems a little out of control.
  • What is the value of the education?  In other words, in the real world of hunting for great opportunities, what will employers, investors, and business partners really look for regarding a person’s education?

Over the years, I have worked with all kinds of college graduates.  It seems like most people are graduating with more realistic expectations:  they will be competing for jobs; they aren’t entitled to jobs.  I’ve heard a few stats as of recent like 85% of college grads move back in with their parents after graduation,and 25% of college grads in Los Angeles are unemployed.  The world is a different place today than it was a generation ago (regarding employment opportunities for college graduates).

I came across this article below written by Mark Cuban.  In it he is comparing our housing crisis to a potential education crises – at least related to the economics and financing of both.  Enjoy the article.

The Coming Meltdown in College Education and Why The Economy Won’t Get  Better Any Time Soon

This is what I see when i think about higher education in this country today:

Remember the housing meltdown? Tough to forget isn’t it. The formula for the housing boom and bust was simple. A lot of easy money being lent to buyers who couldn’t afford the money they were borrowing. That money was then spent on homes with the expectation that the price of the home would go up and it could easily be flipped or refinanced at a profit.  Who cares if you couldn’t afford the loan. As long as prices kept on going up, everyone was happy. And prices kept on going up. And as long as pricing kept on going up real estate agents kept on selling homes and finding money for buyers.

Until the easy money stopped.  When easy money stopped, buyers couldn’t sell. They couldn’t refinance.  First sales slowed, then prices started falling and then the housing bubble burst. Housing prices crashed. We know the rest of the story. We are still mired in the consequences.

Can someone please explain to me how what is happening in higher education is any different?

It’s far too easy to borrow money for college.  Did you know that there is more outstanding debt for student loans than there is for Auto Loans or Credit Card loans? That’s right. The 37mm holders of student loans have more debt than the 175mm or so credit card owners in this country and more than the all of the debt on cars in this country. While the average student loan debt is about 23k. The median is close to $12,500. And growing. Past 1 TRILLION DOLLARS.

We freak out about the Trillions of dollars in debt our country faces. What about the TRILLION DOLLARs plus in debt college kids are facing?

The point of the numbers is that getting a student loan is easy. Too easy.

You know who knows that the money is easy better than anyone ? The schools that are taking that student loan money in tuition. Which is exactly why they have no problems raising costs for tuition each and every year.

Why wouldn’t they act in the same manner as real estate agents acted during the housing bubble? Raise prices and easy money will be there to pay your price. Good business, right? Until it’s not.

The President has introduced programs that try to reward schools that don’t raise tuition and costs. They won’t work.  Right now there is a never ending supply of buyers. Students who can’t get jobs or who think that by going to college they enhance their chances to get a job. It’s the collegiate equivalent of flipping houses. You borrow as much money as you can for the best school you can get into and afford and then you “flip” that education for the great job you are going to get when you graduate.

Except those great jobs aren’t always there. I don’t think any college kid took on tens of thousands of dollars in debt with the expectation they would get a job working for minimum wage against tips.

At some point potential students will realize that they can’t flip their student loans for a job in 4 years. In fact they will realize that college may be the option for fun and entertainment, but not for education. Prices for traditional higher education will skyrocket so high over the next several years that potential students will start to make their way to non accredited institutions.

While colleges and universities are building new buildings for the english , social sciences and business schools, new high end, un-accredited  , BRANDED schools are popping up that will offer better educations for far, far less and create better job opportunities.

As an employer I want the best prepared and qualified employees. I could care less if the source of their education was accredited by a bunch of old men and women who think they know what is best for the world. I want people who can do the job. I want the best and brightest.  Not a piece of paper.

The competition from new forms of education is starting to appear. Particularly in the tech world. Online and physical classrooms are popping up everywhere. They respond to needs in the market. THey work with local businesses to tailor the education to corporate needs. In essence assuring those who excel that they will get a job. All for far far less money than traditional schools.

The number of people being prepared for the work world in these educational environments is exploding.

You would think traditional university educators would take notice. Beyond allowing some of their classes to be offered online, they haven’t. They won’t. Its the ultimate Innovators Dilemma. They don’t believe they should change and they won’t. Until its too late. Just as CEOs push for that one more penny per share in EPS, University Presidents care about nothing but getting their endowments and revenues up. If it means saddling an entire generation with obscene amounts of school debt, they could care less. This is how they get their long term contracts and raises.

It’s just a matter o time until we see the same meltdown in traditional college education. Like the real estate industry, prices will rise until the market revolts. Then it will be too late. STudents will stop taking out the loans traditional Universities expect them to. And when they do tuition will come down. And when prices come down Universities will have to cut costs beyond what they are able to. They will have so many legacy costs, from tenured professors to construction projects to research they will be saddled with legacy costs and debt in much the same way the newspaper industry was. Which will all lead to a de-levering and a de-stabilization of the University system as we know it.

And it can’t happen fast enough.

IMHO, the biggest problem the economy has is the enormous student debt new college grads and those leaving college find themselves with. In the past leaving college meant getting a job and getting a used car and/or an apartment with some friends. Yes there was student debt, but it wasn’t any where near your car payment. You could still afford the car and the apartment. Now its the exact opposite. Today, the minute you graduate college you face the challenge of debt against a college education whose value is immediately “underwater”

As a result spending habits have changed dramatically. Now when you leave school you move back home. You take public transportation or borrow your parents car. The only thing new you buy is the cheap work outfit you need. Savings ? Forgettaboutit. It’s not happening. Your entire focus is on hitting your monthly nut for school debt , credit card and maybe a car or apartment. The crush of college debt has taken an entire generation of graduates, current and future out of the economy. Which is exactly why the economy hasn’t grown and won’t grow beyond microscopic growth rates we have seen so far.

So until we get the meltdown in college education, don’t expect much improvement in the economy. Who gets elected won’t make a dang bit of difference.

Update: Let me add some clarification here based on some of the comments. I include the Online For Profit Mills that live off of the government delivering student loans as part of traditional education.Phoenix, Strayer, etc, they are not the new generation of Branded Education I am referring to. They are a big part of creating the bubble. i should have gone into more depth here. I will save it for another post.

As far as the purpose of college, I am a huge believer that you go to college to learn how to learn. However, if that gaol is subverted because traditional universities, public and private, charge so much to make that happen, I believe that system will collapse and there will be better alternatives created.

Online video classrooms with lively discussions dont need a traditional campus to teach kids how to learn. Discussion groups built aroundKhanAcademylike classes dont require a traditional campus to teach kids how to learn. I’ve seen better discussions and interactions on twitter than in some of the traditional classrooms I have visited. The opportunities for online interactive video classrooms is going to grow quickly and will be far more cost effective than traditional universities.

Leave the for profit online schools that create more employment for debt collectors than their students out of the equation and we still have an enormous bubble in Higher Education that is having a horrible impact not just on the economic life of their students, but on the economy as a whole as well

The Higher Education Industry is very analogous to the Newspaper industry. By the time they realize they need to change their business model it will be too late. Higher Education’s legacy infrastructure, employee costs /structures and debt costs will keep them from being able to re calibrate to a new generation of competitors.

Derek Fisher: Stud

My boy D-Fish.  For years, Fisher has been one of my favorite basketball players.  I viewed him as the “spiritual leader” of the Lakers.  He was the one that would pray with the team before games.  He was the one that made the clutch shots when they needed him.  If Kobe is Batman, then Derek is Robin.

I was sad to see Fisher traded, but I was disturbed to hear HOW he was traded.  I am a Laker fan.  The Lakers commitment to winning has been awesome.  I’d like to see the organization treat the people that make the organization with a ton of love and respect.

Enjoy the article below that I found on-line.  It sums up the feelings that many of us “Fisher Fans” have.

 

Virtually all my friends and fellow fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were content with this justification in response to my protest of the Lakers’ surprising decision to trade a much-loved 16-year-veteran player who had made a huge contribution to the team’s unity and success over the 13 years he’d been a member.

When I claimed it was unkind, disrespectful and disloyal, some just shrugged, satisfied that if it was a smart financial move to avoid or reduce the “luxury tax,” it was justified on its own.

Others believed (or wanted to believe) that the act was not a “salary dump,” but a justifiable move to improve the team, and that improving the team in a way that increases the chances of winning is the highest ethical obligation of management.

None were particularly concerned about the way the dismissal was done — without even a courtesy “heads up,”* nor thought that the impacts on Fisher, his family, friends, teammates, and fans were legitimate factors to hinder an otherwise smart business decision. After all, everyone knows pro basketball is just a business.

There are two things wrong with this reasoning.

First, the implication of the “it’s just a business” phrase is that business decisions should be judged only in terms of lawfulness and effectiveness. This is nonsense. There may be those who want to take the humanity factor out of business, but they can’t. When as a business action affects the lives of people it can and should be looked at through the lens of ethical and moral principles. Second, even if ordinary businesses have greater leeway to ignore certain ethical values, professional sports teams are not just like any other business; they have special characteristics that impose special moral obligations.

Let’s start with the notion that lawful business decisions are immune from moral judgment because the only thing that matters in business is making a profit. I respectfully suggest that this view — advanced by free market economists like Milton Friedman,** or later by the fictional character Gordon Gekko (who declared in the movie Wall Street, that “greed is good”),” — is a nonstarter.

I know of no prominent business leader asserting this position. In fact, in discussing the financial crises precipitated by legal but irresponsible mortgage practices, one of the most influential bank executives in the world, Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC, said:

Of course you need a profit, but it is a by-product, a hallmark of success. It is not the be all and end all. It is not the raision d’etre of business. What is the purpose of business? Friedman says the social responsibility of business is to make a profit but that will no longer do. Plain common sense will tell you that that cannot do.

An alternative to the Friedman/Gekko position is the view that businesses and business executives should acknowledge and live up to principles of corporate social responsibility, a concept grounded in the premise that business organizations have ethical obligations beyond obeying the law and satisfying the needs of owners and shareholders. These include a moral duty to look out for the welfare of a network of stakeholders: employees, suppliers and vendors, the community in which it operates, and society at large.

If a company terminated employees shortly before their pensions vest as a cost-cutting measure; closed a plant without consideration of its impact on employees, their families and the community; or knowingly polluted ground water, few people would give it the same free ride that basketball fans are giving the Lakers. (It’s no coincidence that the word “fan” is derived from the same root as fanatic).

Of course, each of these situations raise different and distinguishable issues, and my point is not to equate what the Lakers did to these examples, but to say that it is appropriate and important to evaluate business decisions in moral terms.

Derek Fisher was an employee, an exceptionally good employee, and in my view, he deserved, and the Lakers could have treated him with, greater respect, kindness and loyalty. What the Lakers did was lawful but it was also awful.

Sports is not just a business.

It is much more. I believe that team owners and executives have an even higher responsibility to demonstrate honor, fair play, decency, and integrity than regular businesses do.

In 1999, in an effort to articulate a framework of ethical principles and values for youth and amateur sports, a conclave of many of the most important people in sports issued this statement:

At its best, athletic competition can hold intrinsic value for our society. It is a symbol of a great ideal: pursuing victory with honor. The love of sports is deeply embedded in our national consciousness.

The values of millions of participants and spectators are directly and dramatically influenced by the values conveyed by organized sports. Thus, sports are a major social force that shapes the quality and character of the American culture.

Our views as to what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals are shaped by the dominant values conveyed in in sports and by high profile athletes. 

Those who influence these values have an enormous power to uplift and improve the nature and character of our society.

Yes, these statements were made in the context of amateur sports but, from an ethical perspective, I think they apply with even greater force to professional sports.

There’s no doubt that professional sports are a major social force that shapes the quality and character of the American culture, or that our views as to what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals are shaped by the dominant values conveyed in in sports.

So, what message does the act of blind-siding Fisher, his teammates, and fans send? It’s just a business; players are commodities, it’s either all about money or all about winning.

If the decision was just about money, it was unnecessary and unjustified.

The Lakers are one of the most successful and profitable franchises in sports. They owed Fisher more than his minimal contractual rights.

Derek Fisher is not just likable like Lamar Odom, or Luke Walton, or any number of other nice guys who were traded – yes, that is part of the business. He was a truly iconic leader who was material in winning championships and holding the team together through rough times.

He deserved to have some choices, some notice, some extra consideration — even to be untouchable from a trading perspective.

He deserved to serve out his term in dignity, even if he sat on the bench or was converted to coaching  while doing it. And you know what? The Lakers could have afforded that.

But what if the decision was it was about winning rather than money? What if the reason the Lakers traded Fisher was to improve their chances of getting another championship? Surely winning is a much more noble goal than increasing the take-home profits of the owners. Isn’t winning all that the City ofLos Angelesand Lakers fans everywhere want? Surely it’s ethical to do whatever you have to do to win.

Really? So winning really is everything?

To be sure, lots of people put winning above all else and, therefore will tolerate, even applaud any action that improves their chances of satisfying their hunger for championships.

Well, I’m a huge Laker fan, a season ticket holder. I go to almost every game, and I feel good when they win and bad when they don’t. But I also have come to care about the players. I care if they get hurt, not only because it is a competitive disadvantage, but because they are people who have inspired and entertained me. I owe them something for that – and so do the Lakers.

No, winning isn’t everything.

Honor is.

 – M Josephson