The Four Quadrants Theory

Since I’ve started this Big Day experiment, I’ve come to realize the whole thing has a side benefit I hadn’t expected. It’s a kind of therapy. It’s a valuable diagnostic tool even if you never actually do a Big Day. Just thinking about what you might do, if you were magically handed a free 24…

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A Broken Elevator and a Lightbulb Moment

I stepped into the elevator on the 25th floor to start my journey home at the end of a downtown workday. The only other passenger got off. The elevator descended, then eased to a stop. A voice said: “This elevator is now out of service.” The Open Door button didn’t work. None of the buttons…

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A Day in the Life — and the unseen energy it took to make it.

“The family are having a leisurely afternoon, but our cyclists are paying for it, big-time.”   Here’s a story of a single day experienced very differently by two groups on either side of it. It’s part of a wacky demonstration cooked up by a British documentary film crew. I dare say that, as we creep…

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No one under 50 unless accompanied by a senior

Lee Haber remembers watching his grandfather bundle himself up against the Winnipeg winter wind and head out to the library to study. He had decided, deep into retirement, to pursue a degree in economics. He graduated at age 74. “Did it serve what we might call any ‘real purpose’?” Lee asks. “Not really. But that’s…

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Time is on your side

In the early days of the Rolling Stones, when the band was playing small pubs in Richmond, Mick Jagger had very little room to move on those tiny stages. He was forced to improvise dance moves he could perform on the spot. These became a quirky signature, part of the band’s appeal as the Stones…

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20 sports in 13 hours: Walter Mitty-ing it at the Olympics

August, 2016, Rio de Janeiro.   Midway through the Summer Olympics a “free day” loomed in the schedule of New York Times reporter Victor Mather. There was nothing specific he had to cover. He could hang fire, visit the sights, relax in the hotel. Instead, he decided — and who can blame a sportswriter who’d just…

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Instant Karma Day

Devastating story out of San Diego (take a moment and read it here: you won’t forget it) got me thinking about the phrase “Pay it forward.” Remember that? It was hatched by the novelist Catherine Ryan Hyde and caught on big-time following the Joel Haley Osment film. “Paying it forward,” as a social impulse, still…

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Chris Murphy’s Big Day in Washington

This week US senator (D Connecticut) Chris Murphy pulled off a Big Day for the ages. At 11:20 am on Wednesday — four days after the Orlando nightclub massacre — he stood up on the floor of the senate chamber and spoke out for gun control. And spoke And spoke. He talked for almost 15…

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Airplane Mode

One day in 2015, Peter Shankman, social-media guru and angel investor, realized he was in tough. He’d fallen behind on a book he was supposed to be writing. The publisher wanted it in two weeks. He was nowhere near finished. He looked at his calendar. He knew he’d never get the book done in the…

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Problem, solution

“What is the problem to which this is the solution? That’s one of my favorite questions – and has been ever since I heard Neil Postman ask it. He was buying a new car that came with power windows. He said, “No thank you, regular windows are fine: they’re less expensive and less likely to…

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