Monday, October 5, 2009

The Passionate Cyclist

When I first heard the voice I knew it had to be him, the voice has a certain tonal quality that makes it stand out of a crowd. The accent is somewhere between a Rhode Island coast and Massachusetts nasal. The last time I heard that unique sound was in 30 years ago in Northern NH. My job that winter gave me lots of time to cross country skiing and “the voice” was working at one of the areas that I spent time at.

Paul Curley has always been a cyclist he has raced professionally in Europe and here in the US. He was on the national team for a while. He continues to race to this day at the very highest levels in the 55 plus age category in cyclo-cross, Cat 3 in road cycling and other endurance sports. Initially it was his voice that caught my attention, but it was clear he was the center of attention to the other competitors in the race.

The starter came to tell the group of 55 plus racers at this cyclo-cross race that we would be starting in two minutes. Paul rode away for a little more warm up everyone watched him, I heard someone whisper “where’s he going?” like Paul has some secret ritual that he wanted to get in on. About five seconds before the starter’s gun went off. Paul rolled back into the front of the group. He was in the mix the entire 50 minute race and eventually won it.

Not able to catch up with after I race, I found his phone number and called him, he was putting the finishing touches on one of the two big rides he organizes each year for the American Lung Association: one is a ride across Massachusetts and the other is a ride from Plymouth to Provincetown. You can check out the rides at He is also a Technical Delegate for cycling events at the Special Olympics.

He still rides competitively when ever he can. His only daughter is a racer and had raced that weekend with him in Vermont. His wife he said is tolerant of his racing but he tries not to push it. Recently he has step down a category from the Pros to race in the Cat 3. This means while he is not racing at the highest level he is a 55 year old racing (and winning) against 20 year olds. I asked him to what he attributed his longevity in the sport and his ability to continue to compete at such a high level.

“I have a natural governor on my body that regulates how hard I can go so I do not blow up or breakdown.” His only overuse injury was a slight knee problem 30 years ago, and I have fun doing it.”

As modest as Paul maybe about his cycling, he has returned much to the sport that has given much to him, but not just coaching but organizing and giving back. He took his passion and made it part of his life.
You See Timmy: To be really successful, passion and fun have to be part of what you do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Entrepreneurial Obstetrician

Henry Lerner

The Entrepreneurial Obstetrician

My three boys were all home over the summer so I was able to get a full dose of them on a regular basis. It made me remember when they were born. The older two were born in Newton Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA. Our obstetrician was Dr. Henry Lerner.

Over the course of my wife’s (and mine tangentially) pregnancy we got to know Dr. Lerner, he was an inquisitive guy who was always asking questions, he was interested in the fact that I worked at Reebok. In between the times when our focus was off trying to bring a bouncy baby boy into the world, by this I really mean when I was not running around like chickens with my head cut off, pushing the baby, ice cubes coaching a first time mother, and trying not to faint etc). He suggested that Reebok should make sun glasses for newborns so they could get use to the light gradually after being in the dark all those months. Working at Reebok in its heyday, I had gotten use to everyone pitching me every kind of product, and why not we were on a roll (remember the Pump) I resisted the eye roll as best I could, thought the timing could have been better and tried to make the world a better place by introducing my son to it.

In the remembering it was funny, so I Googled him and the first website that popped up was: I called him and he called right back. I brought him up to speed on the boys-healthy etc. I asked him about his current work. It seems that a good number of babies are born with dislocated shoulders every year. The problem is getting worse every year because of obesity. Overweight women have larger babies and making the child more susceptible to a dislocated shoulder during birth.

I asked Henry if anything had come of the sunglasses for newborns and he said no, but he said I have ideas like that all time. He told me about his double shower head for couples to showering together. I was amazed here was a really smart guy with a great practice, putting his considerable medical skills to good use still thinking creatively everyday. Okay maybe a shower with two heads (or sunglasses for babies) will not change the world but it will make more fun to get wet.

You See Timmy: There are a lot of good ideas (and some not so good) that get their roots in talking to people-sharing those ideas-getting feedback. The first step in any idea is to tell someone. Tell someone your idea (just make sure their minds are not else where “like birthing babies Ms Scarlett”

Next Up-Riding Guy

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Spiritual Biologist

The recent death of Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary got me to thinking about a concert I went to during a break from college. The group was playing at small women’s college in Upstate New York called Wells College. I went with my friend Susan Higgins. Wondering what she was doing I Googled her and after 3 phone calls I caught her just before she was going to get on a conference call with the Sudan.

She wanted to catch up, and promised to call me back. I gave her my numbers-hoping. When she did call we spent about thirty minutes catching up about our lives, our kids etc. Sue got her degree in biology, now she works for a great organization called The Tributary Fund. You can find it at They educate village leaders like monks in Mongolia on conservation, it is activism on a global scale. Besides feeding the villagers important protein, Mongolia is becoming a mecca of sort for eco tourists especially fly fisherman. She spends a good chunk of her year in places like Mongolia making this connection happen to save one of their most valuable resources.

We remembered the concert and I asked after her parents. I first met her parents when I ran into Sue at a small ski area in Central New York near our homes. She was skiing with her parents and introduced me. We chatted and then we were on our way.

I saw Sue back at school, and asked how her parents were. Sue said they went on and on about what a great guy I was and could you believe that he took his glove off when we shook hands. I learned this from my Dad, who was the editor of a newspaper. It did not matter what the temperature was outside he always shook hands barehanded.

It seemed to me pretty quaint at the time and I could not believe what an impression it made on Mrs. Higgins but it did. Sue got to the point around our junior year she would roll her eyes when she said, “My parents said to say hello to you.”

You See Timmy
There are two things: sometimes finding the less obvious connection can make all the difference, and a small gesture like taking your glove off can make all the difference too.

Next up The Entrepreneurial Obstetrician

Friday, September 18, 2009


I just got off the phone with an old friend. We had not talked for 32 years. I called her out of the blue because Mary of Peter, Paul and Mary had just died and I realized that one of the last times I had seen her we went to a Peter Paul and Mary concert at Wells College in Auroa, New York.

Frankly it made my day not because Sue is still one of the most positive people I know, but it was fun to reconnect. So I thought what about reconnecting with other people I had not seen in a long time and write about it.

I am still working on the criteria for reaching out, but here are some thoughts:

  1. No contact with the person for the last ten years.
  2. Call them out of the blue.
  3. Find out what they are doing
  4. Write about what you learned from each of these people.

They do not have to be an old friend (talking to old rivals sometimes can be just as fun). The idea is to reconnect and figure out their impact on me(and others).

Where does the title of this blog come from? At the end of every Lassie episode, the father would put his arm around the main character, a 10 year old named Timmy, and say something like “You see Timmy-this is why you never make pets of wild animals” It was always some moral-some truth that he learned (we learned) in the episode.

For those of you who were not brought up on television in the 60’s Lassie was about a Timmy and his dog Lassie who had all sorts of improbable adventures, they had some moral or truth.

Every person we meet and build relationships with have something to tell us about the episode on our lives, whether it be a first love, hated boss, or someone who you went to a concert with 32 years ago.