Mother Trees

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, or is it?

Is every man only looking out for himself? I’ll warn you that I’ve searched far and wide for cliches today….

I was recently reading about networks and communities. No man is an island, after all. 😉 In my reading, I kept coming across the concept of ‘mother trees’ and a biologist named Suzanne Simard, who talks about big trees support seedlings, enabling them to grow. Like the mother trees in Avatar, these large, older trees rise above the forest and connect to other trees via a network of fungal threads. It appears these mother trees not only share nutrients with weaker trees, they’ll also do so when it means sacrificing their own needs. In return, the seedlings grow and will provide nutrients to others, including the mother trees.  Ms. Simard describes forests as complex networks of trees who communicate and support each other, making the whole forest more resilient.


Some of you will say that’s a bunch of hooey and use words like “anthropomorphize”, meaning we’re attributing human traits to non-humans, but how else do you describe the passing of nutrients when needed? We can debate anthropomorphism another day and get back to my original question: Is every man or tree only looking out for himself? Or is it all for one and one for all?

I vote for B. We’re a community and our networks make us stronger. Our ability to support each other in times of need means that more of us survive, both literally and figuratively.

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Back to Ms. Simard for a moment. She also mentions that forests can be more vulnerable because of the trees’ networks. If you damage the mother trees, the whole forest declines. Or, if you let loose a scourge (I always wanted to use that word…. 🙂 ), like the bark beetle, the trees’ network may collapse. How do you make a forest less susceptible to a scourge? Diversity. Instead of one or two types of trees, you have many types of trees, some that are resistant to a particular attack. The more diversity, the less the risk of the community failing.

My point in as few words as possible:

  • Mother trees (hubs) matter. These are the people who connect us to each other and help us get what we need, especially in times of stress.
  • Even the smallest seedling can contribute to the well being of others and their community.
  • Diversity fortifies our community against harm.

As you go through your week, I hope you look at your world with fresh eyes. Who are the mother trees in your network? How do the smallest, youngest, weakest members contribute? How can diversity strengthen you and your community?  In short, how are we better together?

Get Back on the Bike

Good morning!

Are you ready for Monday? It’s the last week of 2Q and the midpoint for 2016 – can you believe it??? The year is half over!!

We live and work at a fast pace; I’m sure you know about the pressure to keep up and also get it right, day in and day out. How do you balance the two – faster, faster, faster versus accuracy, rigor and sureness?

if we wait until we're ready

That wise sage, Lemony Snicket, said it well, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.” Isn’t that the truth? Taking too long to get something done is often the same as doing nothing. Yet, we often take more time, not less, to make decisions. Why is it so difficult to move faster? My bet is most folks would say the risk of not getting it right makes them cautious, sometimes overly so. Reality bites. Failing isn’t fun but it’s also completely normal because real life is full of failures and recoveries. If we only worry about the failures, we miss the opportunities, don’t we?

daring adventure HK

One way of taking the sting out of failures is to talk about them. By hiding them away, or hoping folks don’t see them, we make them bigger than they really are. Instead, how about we talk about our failures, big and small, and also what we learned from them? Let’s think about them just enough to put them in context and then put them aside.

I’ll get you started, here’s a random list of my failures:

  1. Didn’t make it into Stanford.
  2. Had to withdraw a tariff filing.
  3. Called someone by the wrong name on multiple conference calls.
  4. Didn’t pass an undergrad biology class.
  5. Fell off my bike. Repeatedly. While standing still. In front of a bunch of other riders, some of whom I worked with. Pfffft.

Now here’s that same list with the other half of the story:

  1. Graduated from UC Berkeley.
  2. Fixed the tariff and refiled it.
  3. Apologized.
  4. Took the class again and passed. Graduated summa cum laude from two graduate programs.
  5. Got back on the dang bike and pedaled.  Crossed the finish line of the Hotter Than Hell. Whoot!

I’m ok with my failures. I’m even better with the other half of the story. How about you?Does thinking about your failures and putting them in perspective make it easier for you to take a risk? I hope so. I hope they inspire you to keep trying!

Have a great week, let’s wrap the month, the quarter, the first half of 2016 STRONG!


You Matter

I saw an item in the news recently and had to share – and, yes, I’m in total Moir Mom Mode (or M3) after reading the NY Times item on distracted driving and risky behavior.

Let’s talk about managing risk …

When you get in the car, do you buckle up?

Sure you do. I’ll bet you also make your passengers (kids!) buckle up. Why? As my generation would say, “We didn’t have seat belts and we turned out ok.” Absolutely, great logic. That makes total sense. (Warning: you’ve entered the sarcasm zone.)


What are the odds of you getting in a car accident on any given day? Probably small, right? According to Forbes, the car insurance industry estimates you’ll file a collision claim only about every 18 years (2011 data). No biggy, you’ll probably be fine today. Seriously.

So, again, why buckle up? Even if you have an accident today, chances are it won’t be deadly – the same data says only 3 out of every 1,000 accidents involve a fatality. It’s all good, right? The odds are totally in your favor. If you get in the car today, you’ll likely return home safely. No need to take any precautions since you made it home yesterday in one piece.

 Before we jump in the car, though, let’s break down the possible consequences of an accident:

  • Best case? Minor fender bender with no major damage, no injury, no insurance impact. But (!) you lose the time and incur the stress of an “oh, crud” moment (I’m trying to rein in my potty mouth here, insert your word-of-choice).
  • Likely case? In your mash-up, there’s enough damage to require insurance to repair things (the average claim in 2010 was $23,750), there are injuries to you or the other party, you earn a traffic ticket if you’re at fault, you get increased insurance premiums and, the above “oh, crud” stress and time impact.
  • Worst case? Mayhem strikes and one of y’all don’t go past Go or collect your $200, there’s major guilt for the drivers, major financial impact, loss of license (that last seems trivial in comparison to the first item in this list, doesn’t it?). No need to even talk about the “oh, crud” stress.

Do I need to ask again “why buckle up?” Point made? The odds may be low of an accident but the consequences can be life altering. Smart risk management of a low probability/high impact situation says you do something to reduce both the probability and the consequences, especially if it doesn’t cost you anything. You’re smart, so you take precautions to prevent accidents like buckling up in case the dice roll against you.

When we get on the road, we’re one of many drivers. How do you decrease your chances of an accident?

  • You drive smart with good defensive driving habits.
  • You don’t drive under the influence (the #1 cause of accidents, BTW).
  • You don’t drive tired, either. It’s as dangerous as driving under the influence.
  • You don’t speed, uhhh, much, and you obey traffic signs (because that soooo makes up for the eensy-weensy speeding, snark!).
  • You keep your car in safe driving condition.

Sure, you say, “I’m all that and a bag of chips when I’m on the road, it’s all good.”

But what about handling your devices?

Do you talk on the phone while driving? If so, I hope you’re at least hands-free (which is the law in countless cities like here in San Antonio, 14 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands). Thirty eight states even ban any phone use by novice drivers.

Do you text? How about taking or looking at pics, tweeting, checking out Facebook or posting on Instagram/Snapchat/Vine? Checking your Clash of Clans village? Yelping to find the address of the restaurant/store you’re going to? Surfing the web? Picking a playlist?


Nearly 25% of auto accidents involve a cell phone (all data below from, which cites government data; the NYTimes item above has different info which may be explained by the source and the context of the info).

  • Texting makes a crash up to 23x more likely.
    • On average, you are distracted for 5 seconds if you text while driving; meanwhile, your car travels the length of a football field (at 55 mph). Boom!
  • Dialing makes a crash 2.8x more likely. Wait, what was that number? I know, it’s in my contact list, I just need to scroll for it…
  • Talking or listening makes a crash 1.3x more likely. See what I mean about a gabfest? 
  • Reaching for a device makes a crash 1.4x more likely. Geez, even picking up the thing is distracting.
  • 34% of drivers admit they have texted while driving, 52% say they have talked on a cell phone while driving, 20% say they have surfed the web while driving. (I’m not sure I believe any of these…. Based on my informal observations, I’d say those numbers should be way higher. Why wouldn’t folks admit they’ve texted/phoned/surfed while driving? Maybe….errrr, because they know it’s not safe?)
  • 77% of young adults think they can drive safely while texting and 55% say it’s easy to text while driving. 48% say they’ve seen their parents do it. There’s a reason why the majority of states have banned cell phone use for new drivers.

I’ve made my point. Now, let’s recap.

You buckle up because the consequences of an auto accident can be life altering.

And you don’t text or fiddle with your device while you drive, right? Take the It Can Wait pledge and share it so others do the same.


It’s time we put driving while distracted in the same category as driving while under the influence – it’s not safe and nothing you can think of justifies the risk. If it’s that important, pull over. X b4 u drive

Need more info on how to manage your teens’ driving? Check out or

Drive safe – You matter to me!