Jul 13

My Best Friend

If someone had told me 25 years ago that Chris RepMan, Jr., Cody would one day be my best friend,
Kilimanjaro 015 I’d have asked for an ounce of whatever he was smoking. But, I’m thrilled to say that Chris is, indeed, my best friend. I share this personal tidbit because it flies in the face of a highly controversial New York Magazine cover story entitled, “I Love My Child. I Hate My life”.

The article, which is based on mind-numbingly extensive research, says becoming a parent doesn’t make one happier. In fact, it makes people sadder and undermines relationships. Experts quoted in the text say the findings “…expose the gulf between our fantasies about family and its spiking realities.” Holy counter-intuitive!

The article tracks a parent’s happiness from childbirth on and shows that it’s extremely low in the first few years of an offspring’s life (thanks to zero sleep), peaks when the child is between six and 12, and then tails off big time during the teens (no surprise, there). But, get this: the more children one has, the less happy one becomes (so much for twins). And the richer the parents, the greater their misery. Holy lose-lose!

And, talk about a relationship buzz kill. The cover story says parents spend less than 10 percent of their time ‘alone’ and that 10 percent is typically spent “exhausted and staring at a TV set.” Sound familiar? If one needed a coup de grace to the entire ‘parenting is what life is all about’ argument, check this out: 40 percent of all arguments between spouses are about their kids. Game. Set. Match.

So much for the image and reputation of becoming a parent. But, here’s the real kick in the head. Single people surveyed near the end of their lives always list ‘not having a family’ as one of their biggest regrets. So, it’s a classic damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

As for this blogger, I’m thrilled with my kids and very proud of them. Has raising kids adversely impacted my marriage? Probably. We still argue about them all the time. But, I know I speak for Angie when I say we wouldn’t have passed up parenthood for the world. And, how many dads can say their son also happens to be their best friend? That’s my bottom line. What’s your POV?

Dec 14

All aboard for the pain train!

My daily commuting experience on NJ Transit is almost always marred by some sort of delay, over-crowded and under-heated cars and a cell phone user who insists on sharing his conversation with everyone.

December 14 - makeup The worst offenders, though, are the women who 'put on their face' right alongside me. As I'm reading a book or paper, or editing a bylined article, Jane Doe has her compact out and is carefully applying her lipstick, powdering her nose and fine-tuning the eyebrows. Recently, I sat across the aisle from a woman who was actually plucking out her gray hair and flicking the strands in the aisle.

I was simultaneously amused and appalled.

Leaving behind one's newspaper and empty coffee cup is one thing (and, in some ways, it's a silent 'up yours' to NJT for its horrific service). But, yanking out one's hair in public is way, way over the line.

Ah, but there's the rub. There is no line anymore. As the pillars of society implode so, too, do the rules for conduct and behavior. I think it's actually worsened in the wake of the recent economic downturn. I see and experience behavior that leaves me speechless.

I believe one should be prepared for work when one boards the 7:28. So, here's a note to Jane Doe: leave the damn cosmetic box at home. In fact, if you don't immediately cease and desist, I'm going to bring my shaving kit along and lather up as you're plucking. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Readers, please feel free to share any other particularly egregious behavior you’ve witnessed by others during the morning commute.

Sep 28

I am the happiest man in the world

September 28 - mountain

Those were the final words of 71-year-old multimillionaire Clifton Maloney, spoken shortly after successfully summiting the 26,000 ft-plus peak of Cho Oyu, the world's sixth highest peak. Maloney, the husband of U.S Representative Carolyn Maloney, went to sleep after making the comment and never woke up again.

What a way to go! If I could orchestrate my own passing, I'd do it the way Maloney did: accomplish something truly magnificent, share my post-event adrenaline high and then leave my friends and companions with some memorable words.

I'd hate to die behind a desk. Or, after being struck by a car or, god forbid, on the NJ Transit 7:28 to the city.

Not this blogger. I'd like to go right after 'killing' a stand-up comedy performance. Or, completing a grueling 18-mile run. Or, like Maloney, summiting a brutally-challenging peak.

We're not given the option of picking the time or place of our departure. But I'd like to think that, wherever he is at the moment, Clifton Maloney has to be pretty pleased with his manner of passing. He went out at the happiest moment of his 71 years on earth. To me, that's living.

Aug 04

Being Steve Cody

Guest post by Laura Zanzal

August 4 When my alarm went off Thursday morning, I got up, started to get ready and then thought to myself, “Wait a minute!  I’m the CEO!” I was back in bed faster than you could say, “Laura Zanzal, managing partner and founder.”

To prep for my job role as Steve, I carefully packed my gym bag and studied options for my turkey burger.  All kidding aside, my day as Steve was informative and flew by. It was an eye opener to how demanding his schedule can be as well as how many impromptu, yet important, meetings Steve is expected to attend. Furthermore, it was interesting to see how “quick on your feet” and confident you have to be in this job role. In one particular meeting I sat in on, Steve was expected to work with a select few to come up with some humorous ideas for a client – in just a few hours. While I’m used to brainstorming and deadlines, I’m not in a position where I’ve ever had to think of an idea and run with it almost immediately. It was definitely interesting to watch ideas bounce off one another, with a more serious tone than what’s typically found in a brainstorm.

Being Steve though definitely had its perks. Between a spacious office with a—gasp—door to a personal assistant who happily called my roommate with Happy Hour specials, it was definitely comfortable and I look forward to these perks as my career progresses. As much as I hate to say it though, I did miss being in the trenches. I was disappointed that I didn’t know the “gossip in the cubes” and missed all the casual conversations through the cube walls. Once you are all alone in an office, it really makes you realize how fun your Peppercom family truly is.   

All in all, I think the job swap was an excellent idea. During my reign as Steve Cody, I found myself telling everyone about the swap – from friends and family, to even those employed at Steve’s gym. The common response, “Wow, your boss is really cool. I wish I could do that.” More companies should embrace the job swap, since it was a great learning experience for both myself and Steve, and I think both of us now have a greater appreciation for our jobs.

Aug 01

All Work and No Play

It took me quite a few years to figure this out, but pursuing one’s hobbies or dreams outside the workplace is hugely important. It’s important to one’s health and well-being. It’s important to one’s psyche. And, yes, it’s even important to one’s individual "brand."

For me, it’s all about stand-up comedy, climbing and, now, swimming. To Deb Brown, it’s all about ice hockey. To Kelly Walton and Beth Starkin, it’s about singing and acting, respectively. And, to Michael ‘Mickey’ Cowdroy, it’s all about playing bass guitar in a rapidly-rising rock band.

By day, Mickey is a meek, mild member of Peppercom UK’s crackerjack staff. But, by night, he’s riffing along with his two band mates in what seems to be a very hot pop/rock ensemble.Sts9old

Mickey tells me his group finished in the runner-up spot in a recent, nationwide competition (the winning band landed a gig as the opening act for The Police). Now, they’re about to engage in another countrywide battle of the bands.

The odds are obviously stacked against Mickey’s becoming the next Keith Richards. But, as the New York Lotto TV commercials like to remind us, "…..Hey, you never know."

In the meantime, I applaud Mickey, Deb, Kelly, Beth and the many others like them who want more from life. For me, it’s simply a case of better late then never. And, for Mickey, I say, "Rock on!"