Labor day celebrates workers end of summer

For most Americans, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Parents send their kids back to school and stow the camping gear away. Everyone knows that autumn is on the way.


But Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was not a three day weekend when President Grover Cleveland signed the holiday into law in 1894. It marked the culmination of a contentious, blood stained struggle between a railroad owner and his unionized employees.

The Pullman Strike

Though the history is somewhat unclear, it appears Americans first celebrated Labor Day in New York City in 1882. Workers held a parade, of sorts, marching through lower Manhattan along Broadway. Two hundred members of the Jewelers Union started a trickle that became a deluge of between 10,000 and 20,000 working men and women. They marched to Reservoir Park. Instead of going back to work, as planned, they proceeded to have a party. Reservoir Park overflowed with 25,000 people and “beer kegs mounted in every conceivable place.”

By the end of the decade, nine states had joined the party and established Labor Day as a celebration of the working class. Unfortunately, a  disastrous economic depression hit the country in 1890, hitting the Pullman Company, maker of luxurious rail cars, as hard as anyone. Pullman lowered the wages it paid its workers by 30 percent.

According a recent Business Insider article, the workers lived in company-owned buildings, and shopped at company-owned stores. Industrialist George Pullman felt like he gave his workers a sanitary, safe place to live and would not, despite the pay reduction, lower the rent or decrease the prices of goods in his stores. This incensed the workers.

In May of 1894, the workers went on strike and, though it appears that the public was moved in sympathy of the strikers, Pullman was not. Instead of meeting to negotiate, he hired strikebreakers. The strike spread to include all Chicago trains, virtually stopping train traffic. The government sent in soldiers and the violence escalated. The final toll: millions of dollars in damage and 30 lives lost.

Cleveland crushes strike, celebrates Labor Day

President Cleveland “signed the bill into law just days after federal troops brought down the bloody Pullman strike.” It may have been a public relations move meant to appease Cleveland’s constituents. Cleveland, a Democrat, was supposedly a representative of labor. According to many, he badly mishandled the situation by authorizing federal military action that made the violent struggle bloodier.

As you can see, at first Labor Day was a party. Then it was a bloody struggle. And, finally, now, it is the muted last fling of summer, a day with a great deal of history but little fanfare.

Sleep is good for everyone, CEO and baby too

Brandon Frere famously made himself a promise that when he ran his own business he would never set an alarm clock. How did he know that getting enough sleep was a wholly rational decision that was both good for him, and—because he is responsible for hundreds of employees and thousands of clients—good for those around him?

Feeling Lonely and Isolated? Take a Nap

Recent research from UC Berkeley shows that sleep deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to social engagement. Unrested people live with the same sort of isolation as those with social anxiety. Even worse, well-rested people feel lonely after a brief encounter with a sleep deprived person. This creates a sort of social isolating virus that infects wider and wider circles.

Another study by the Rand Corporation quantified the loss to the American economy due to sleep deprivation at $411 billion per year. This is counted in terms of 1.23 million lost working days. Only Japan has worse per capita numbers. Even more serious, those who slept less than six hours per night were 10 percent more likely to die than those who slept between seven and nine hours.

There are many reasons why some people sleep less than others:

  • Age: Brain function responsible for regulating sleep begins to decline as early as 35 years of age
  • Genetics: A gene called “CRY1” regulates circadian rhythms. One variation of it causes longer circadian cycles, leading to less sleep
  • Career: Night and swing shifts are extremely harmful to healthy rest
  • Weekends: Sleeping late on the weekend can cause disrupted sleeping the rest of the week.
  • Relationships: Those in committed relationships are 20 percent more likely than single people to sleep seven hours or more per night.
  • Education: The higher level of educational attainment, the more you sleep. Over 70 percent of those with a college degree or higher sleep at least seven hours per night.

Why We Sleep

In Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, neuroscientist Matt Walker argues that lack of sleep takes a toll on everyone, from military fighters and first responders to airline pilots and truckers. It is also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, obesity, stroke, chronic pain, diabetes, heart attacks and more.

As a sleep consultant to the NFL, NBA, and numerous Fortune 500 enterprises, Walker is certain of the links between a good night’s sleep and optimal performance, on the playing field and in the conference room.

All of these studies seem to point to something that Frere knows intuitively: that allowing the body to get the sleep it needs is essential to how we operate and interact in the world, that a good night of sleep is one of the healthiest therapies we can give ourselves.

Sleeping until your body says it’s time to wake up is good for the body and good for business. It also saves you all that time hitting the snooze button.

ikigai concept to show purpose

Many entrepreneurs want to find their work’s purpose but don’t know how to describe it. The concept of ikigai, may be an elegant way of expressing what people look for when they want “purpose.” Ikigai can also be used as a planning tool to find the motivations of different goals or entire businesses. Ikigai is composed of four questions, are you doing what you love? Are you doing what the world needs? Are you doing what you can be paid for? Are you doing what you are good at?

What You Love

An entrepreneur may want to start at the top of the circle and consider what they love to do. Entrepreneurs don’t need to produce something that is loved, but the act of producing should be something they are passionate about. If a person is doing something that they love then they may be able to take on harder challenges. The more an entrepreneur cares about the business, the more they’ll be able to learn and persevere from those challenges. When work isn’t so trying, passion can make every day a little better.

What the World Needs

Fulfilling customer needs is at the heart of a business, but fulfilling employee, and personal needs are just as important. When a business tries to fulfill a need, It needs to make a strong argument on how it fills that need. Once an argument is strong, it should be obvious. Discovering how to make a business strong and obvious may reveal ways that the business can be improved. When a business is stronger and more obvious it is more likely it will fulfill the need it was created for.

What You Can Be Paid For

After being certain a business fills a need, an entrepreneur should sure people cares enough to buy what their business is selling. Money is a necessary system at the heart of a business, and most businesses won’t function without a good monetary plan. If someone loves the business but isn’t willing to pay, then the business may not be worth pursuing. Some turn their business into a hobby until it can make money. By using a little creativity, most endeavors can find a market.

What You Are Good At

Finally, a person should do what they are confident in doing. This shouldn’t stop someone from trying new things. It may be wise for an entrepreneur to perform tasks that are outside of their comfort zone. An entrepreneur may want to spend more time measuring whether a new task is possible, and deciding what skills are required. By measuring, it becomes possible to find out just how good a person needs to be to solve difficult tasks. If an entrepreneur needs to try something they are bad at but gets better through attempting the challenge, then that may be best of all.

Thinking with ikigai may be a good way to measure a business’ emotional value. By thinking with ikigai entrepreneurs may be able to figure out what causes people to care about their work.

Small businesses might not be as small as you think.

A business may feel large or small, depending on factors like building size, customer to employee ratios, and so on. Actually being defined as a small business in a legal sense, though, has more defined parameters. Deciding to stay a small business or working toward growing into a big business — that all comes down to the personal choice of a business owner.

The legal definition of a small business would likely surprise many readers. A business that has $7 million in annual generated revenue and 500 employees, depending on the industry, could still count as a small business. The numbers can go even higher for industries such as railroads and certain food services. When talking about small business, that’s not going to be what the average person thinks of. Most often, they’re imaging a small store with an employee count that doesn’t hit double digits and brings in a moderate amount of money. A business owner might have a different perspective on these numbers, but for the 95 percent of business owners that make up small businesses, they might still seem odd.

However, when thinking about how large certain businesses and industries are in America, those businesses can certainly seem small in comparison. Wal-Mart Stores was reported to have generated over $350 million in revenue; a big enough difference to bring to light what kind of scale is in effect here.

Growing to become a big business may take much more time and effort than a business owner was originally anticipating. But for some, the challenge may be worth it. For others, the business may expand over time, but the owner will have no problem remaining in the rather large parameters of a small business.

Entrepreneur at home office

Starting up a business takes money, a plan, and a fair amount of courage. Many of the people who start up a business would call themselves entrepreneurs, and some of them would be right. However, Brandon Frere, CEO and President of Frere Enterprises, would argue that not all people who start a business are entrepreneurs.

“Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Some of those people are what I call ‘technicians suffering from entrepreneurial seizures,” said Frere. Please be aware that’s not meant to be disparaging or say that people who may not specifically be entrepreneurs can’t be successful. Being an entrepreneur requires much more than people often realize: (1) customer service; (2) networking; (3) management on most levels; and (4) a solid understanding of how the business functions. The list of things a true entrepreneur needs to not just handle, but handle well can go on forever. A technician of a specific occupation might be the most amazing in a specific field, but if they can’t handle the rest of the requirements that it takes to successfully run a business, such as marketing tactics, they may not entirely be an entrepreneur according to Frere.

Being successful in a business may depend on many more factors than the ones that are plainly obvious. Being a successful entrepreneur is similar. Perhaps a professional in a field is looking to start their own business so that they can be in control of themselves. “(Someone) may find it much more difficult than they were thinking or just not what they really wanted. For some people, though, it may be just the kick they need to really become an entrepreneur,” said Frere.

Adult and five year old together happy

I’m not the five year old kid I used to be.  

Still, my inner five year old shows up and wants attention. He wants to join the party, in fact, he wants the party to be about him. And he’s going to be pretty unhappy when he finds out it isn’t. 

But I’m an adult. I have a family and they need me to be present and aware. My clients and employees also require my absolute focus so that I can see where we need to go and the paths we need to take to get there.

And that inner five year old continues to get in the way. Or does he?

Dealing With the Painbody

Eckhart Tolle talks about the painbody. He says that there are old emotional pains living inside us, an accumulation of painful life experiences. These experiences were not fully accepted when they happened.

Often, the experiences were just too much to deal with. You were just to young to understand what was happening and didn’t have the power to deal with it, so the experiences overwhelmed you.

Maybe you were five years old. Or four. Or three. Maybe you’ve experienced painbodies your whole life.

These experiences leave behind energy in the form of emotional pain.

So now you’re an adult and something triggers you. It’s happened to everyone.  Somebody cuts you off in traffic or someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time and the painbody takes over, shading interpretations of everything that comes next with stored up emotion. 

Everything becomes distorted and and warped by this painbody. And you react with emotional outbursts, acting out, and bad decisions. Until the energy runs its course and you suddenly come out on the other side and wonder what the hell happened.

Not Five Anymore

So here is the problem. I’m like you. I’m not five anymore. I have family, clients, and employees that need me to have clarity. You have responsibilities, too.  

So, what’s an adult to do?

Drowning out the painbody doesn’t work. There’s too much stored up energy. It will always comes back. Plus, who really wants to drown a five year old? Especially when the five year old is your inner self.

Be Present

The option is to be present. Try to realize and understand the five year old wants a say. Hear him out, give him some space. Become comfortable with this part of you. And learn to realize when someone you are with is in their painbody.

The more comfortable you become, the clearer you can be. Then you can see where the pieces fit, how to grow and where you need to go.  

Wherever I am, I have my five year old with me.

If I am present and aware, that inner five year old feels cared for, and I can bring my full vision and energy to my family, clients, and employees where it is needed most.