Ira Bryck, Helping Leaders Grow


There are many powers I’d love to try, but if I had a choice between super strength and being invulnerable, I think I’d take take the latter.

I’m already strong enough- and there’s rarely a reason to pick up my car.

 But to walk along an icy road, knowing I won’t break a hip? Fabulous!

At the same time, there’s that thing about “no pain, no gain.” Just as we learn to not touch a hot stove, life teaches us to play well with others, not to bet what we can’t afford to lose, and to act with fairness and transparency, because everyone knows what you’re up to, so stop it!

And yet, I have not learned in my almost 66 years how to be fully vulnerable. Butbeing not vulnerable doesn’t make me invulnerable. It still hurts, I’m just too scared and unskilled to be all I can be with others.

I’m pretty sure I’m not worse at this than the average human. I’ve consulted to many business families, and believe me, you can be successful in business and a C+ in owning your own stuff.

For many years, my New Year’s resolution was “be more laid back.” And nobody is more amazed than me that I may actually have succeeded at that. My more nuanced new resolution is to not be afraid to feel myself. To be able to do that is my new definition of invulnerable.

I just had a flashback to when I was 15, working as a soda jerk at HoJo’s in Manhasset, NY, on the Miracle Mile. I had been working in my family’s store since I was a child, and this was my first “real” job. My memory was of one waiter there, a high school age greaser, who took great pride in his work, knew the inner workings of all the systems and mechanics, and was a real inspiration for me. As they say in romcoms, he made me want to be a better person. I learned so much about work ethic from him, as well as from several waitresses who knew every conceivable hack, at my next job, at Charcoal Chef, down the street. You never know who your greatest teachers might be, and what you will learn, that wasn’t on the lesson plan.

It’s easy to dismiss holidays as meaningless or painful, and I did that for years, but I’m appreciating more how humans benefit from having rituals, so they can wish and hope, forgive and be forgiven, express gratitude, admit failures and plan for improvements.
And hell, why not overeat and buy non superfluous gifts?
If we don’t do it as a society, we may not find time to do it as individuals, so I support the conscious, collective, intentional getting a bit tipsy, proclaiming my affection, and somehow get into the head-space to allow ourselves to dream. And to make that dream come true.
Starting and running a company is a demonstration of your faith in life. Improving ourselves is part of the promise we make, when we commit to make something good, and create a support system for our employees, partners, customers and society.
As we enter 2019, I wish and hope for you the same exact thing I wish for myself: the energy, clarity, interest, perspective, and everything else too numerous to list here, so that you can make your life – not to mention: your business – all it can be.
Happy New Year!!


Our world has never been

in such a predicament,

you think, until you realize

that since the beginning, some A-hole


ran some country; and their drunken effects

alter your life, inflicting in ways that seem so real

You, here, now, hurt by bitter, savage, miserly

honchos, royals, brethren of old


Still you have good days and bad

still, you’ve made something of yourself

despite the world resisting your success

despite your own mind, another despotic force


You went beyond, making your home safe

you risked a reliable, plodding path

you dragged yourself to where you were needed

and jumped in (first planning, then jumping)


So now, from whatever your height or depth

how will you alter lives?

what does your name on the door do to help?

what business is it, of yours, to add to the good?


                     -Ira Bryck 12/19/18

you may have heard the one about the man whose wife thought she was a chicken

His friend asked him “why don’t you take her to a psychiatrist?”

“Because I need the eggs” said the man.

What are you laughing at?

There are, no doubt, ways that you’re denying reality, for whatever payback you think is worthwhile.

How does one see clearly, beyond the crazy delusions we all swear by?

I have been meditating (with a couple of lost years) since college, and darned if I can tell you.

But I think it’s been helpful to stay in touch with a lot of people with whom I can share experiences, and over a lifetime, learn what matters, what’s real, and even accept the helpful and harmless lies (as in Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional religion, Bokononism) that help us achieve peace of mind, and a good life.

It is endlessly helpful to me to have a community that reflects, supports, challenges, nurtures and loves me. I got that from my nuclear family, and lifelong friends, but also from communities established for a various purpose. I get that from serving on boards, participating in all kinds of blogs, groups, conversations, walk & talks on the beach, sunsets, romantic comedies, puppies and toddlers.

My father explained to me, when I was quite young, that the purpose of life (and religion, and family, and friends) was to “wipe our mirror clearer and clearer, so we can see ourselves.” And I’m relieved and glad to say, at 65 I certainly feel clearer than at 25. The rock tumbler that is life has shown me how to be a bit more relaxed, take myself a bit less seriously, be a bit more of a helpful friend, family member, co-worker, and community member.

I remember a very wise high school classmate had, as his yearbook quote “Jump right in, it’s the only way.” (one of Jean-Paul Sarte’s least despairing quotes). Van Halen said it a bit less concisely: “Ah, might as well jump, (Jump), Go ahead and jump, Might as well jump (jump), Go ahead and jump, Jump, Might as well jump, (jump), Go ahead and jump, Get it in, jump (jump), Go ahead and jump”

I hope this clarifies the benefits of living and learning. In conclusion:

I hope you feel better after taking off 2 minutes to read this

I hope it means something to you, and you will jump right in, clean your mirror and read “Cat’s Cradle” again

I hope this essay somehow intrigues you to get more involved with the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley

Please see, below, for several things you might find quite valuable.

Get in touch with me to talk philosophy, family business, or whatever you want.




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