Naked and Afraid

Naked and Afraid – Like many, I took some time off around the Labor Day holiday to recharge. For me, that entails being a couch potato and finding the most mindless stuff possible to binge-watch. This time around, the remote landed on Naked and Afraid, a reality show on the Discovery Channel where a man and a woman (who don’t know each other) agree to be dropped off together in a remote part of the world, totally naked, and try and survive for 21 days. If they make it to 21 days, they go home with an appearance fee of $5,000; if they don’t, they go home with nothing. They are each allowed to choose one item to bring (typically they choose a fire starter and some sort of knife). Then the adventure begins, and for the next 21 days the contestants seek to find food, water, and shelter.

Although I started watching because the show seemed ridiculous, I slowly became fascinated observing how two people interact without any indicia of the material world to distract them.  Sure, there is some element of showmanship as they know they will be on television, but unlike other reality shows, there are no big houses, stages, food, or audiences to judge them – heck, there aren’t even any clothes to distort the interactions. All they have are their raw survival talents and personalities – their own mental toughness and abilities. Remarkably, the more episodes I watched, the more I realized that there are three great lessons we can all learn from this show.

Lesson One: Attitude. It’s amazing to me how many people, irrespective of their situation and surroundings, are just total jerks. We all know them – the Debbie Downers who complain about everything – and Naked and Afraid certainly has its share. These contestants, who voluntarily choose to be on a show without clothes or food, spend the entire time complaining about how they are cold and hungry, rather than do what the winning contestants do, which is to spend their days finding firewood and a food source. As in life, the contestants that consistently do well are those who are and remain positive and productive, while those who do poorly are negative crybabies. What I love about the show is that these losers have nowhere to hide; there’s no one to point fingers at or blame, no social media behind which they can create a phony façade. Nothing exists (not even clothes) to mask who they truly are.

Lesson Two: Luck. The show’s remote locations are chosen randomly, making some of the contestants just plain lucky as some locations are much more difficult to survive in than others. This got me thinking how all of us come into this world naked and likewise unable to control where we are born. Yet where we are born is such a critical factor in what opportunities we will have to succeed in life. And while many of us want to believe that we are successful because of our incredible abilities, the reality is that a great deal (if not most) of our “success” is determined by such luck. We as Americans, just like the lucky contestants, arrive in a free land that is prosperous; I happen to be very lucky, having been born a white male in America. Compare that to a woman born in a third-world dictatorship that devalues women in their society, or a black man who had been born in the South 200 years ago. For me to fail to recognize how luck has greatly contributed to my success would be a terrible error in my own judgment.

Lesson Three: Teamwork. Most importantly, the key factor to succeed on the show is teamwork; people who work together go much further in the competition than those that work separately or, even worse, those who are opposed to each other. What a great reminder for Americans today. We should be ashamed that instead of working together to maintain our civility and help others achieve theirs, we have instead chosen to divide ourselves into two teams, the Red and the Blue team, who at all costs will do anything to defeat the other. At what point did we forget that we are all Americans, united by a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that protect our innate rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  And why do we need teams at all: isn’t simply being American with a common goal of freedom for all good enough? Seems tragic, and maybe ironic, that I couldn’t find answers to these critical questions from the actions of our elected officials, but instead needed to turn to Naked and Afraid to learn these lessons about basic human civility.

WINE OF THE WEEK

This week’s wine is the 2012 Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc ($34.99). This wine is quintessential California; light with hints of grapefruit and pear, it pairs as wonderfully with a grilled chicken caesar salad as it does with an elegant fish or white pizza. Had this for the first time at the East Hampton Grille, and found it’s an easy bottle to fall in love with.

AROUND TOWN

Hampton Classic – A few weeks back, I enjoyed a gorgeous (and scorching) day at the Hampton Classic. It was a terrific day to catch up with clients and East End friends over lunch and wine at our chalet, which was decorated with paintings by talented local artist Samantha Meserati. It may have felt like over 100 degrees that day, but it was the ideal way to wind down a wonderful summer!

Old Friends – Over breakfast last week I caught up with my old friend Eliatt DiLieto, who recently became COO/CFO at North Shore Window & Door. He’s been a friend for more than 10 years and I’m excited to work with his new company.

It’s All in the Numbers – Thanks to Howard Fielstein of Citrin Cooperman for presenting “Basics of Forensic Accounting” at our office last week. As I told our attorneys, it’s easy to tune out when an accountant talks for an hour, but Howard was a dynamic speaker who kept everyone riveted! I’m happy the relationship between CMM and Citrin Cooperman is growing and I look forward to more collaboration.

Nine, Wine, Music & Dine – A huge thank you to our long-time clients and friends who have been with CMM since the beginning, as they came out to celebrate our 10th anniversary this week! I was humbled by all the wonderful people who celebrated with us at our Nine, Wine, Music & Dine event at St. George’s Golf and Country Club. Playing nine holes of golf was a huge hit, and we spent the evening catching up, enjoying live music by the Gallagher Brothers, sampling many of my Wine of the Week selections, spreading the word about our CMM Cares initiative with United Veterans Beacon House, and even honoring two guests with our first CMMY Awards! (Congrats Scott Maskin of SUNation Solar and Don Catalano of iOptimize Realty for racking up the views of your CMM Live appearances!)

BAA – I was proud to deliver opening remarks at the HIA-LI 24th Annual Business Achievement Awards yesterday and spread the word about my efforts as Board Chairman to promote the growth of the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

Last year’s ceremony marked the “coming out” of the HIP Economic Impact Study, which I commissioned to explore and demonstrate the major role of the HIP on our economy. The facts revealed by the study were staggering, but facts are meaningless without action. So yesterday, I detailed our progress over the past year building relationships with our local educational institutions to create a direct workforce pipeline for businesses in the Park, working with local and state government to attract dollars (and a seat at the table), and partnering with real estate experts to explore new zoning. I also described just a few of the many efforts my incredible board members are working on, including a solar initiative to help landlords in the park save on energy costs and a small business task force to provide a voice for an often-overlooked but critical sector of the market. We’ve already made significant progress and are just getting started. You haven’t seen anything yet!

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