Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The only sure cure

In "Extraordinary Comebacks", we present the story of author Stephen King's recovery from a devastating accident. Work, he said, was the only remedy for pain -- it was much better than morphine.

Now, in a new book about the esteemed author Saul Bellow, he seconds that emotion. NPR reviewed the new book of his letters.


The only sure cure, he writes in 1960 from his house in Tivoli, New York, to young San Francisco writer Alice Adams, the only sure cure for everything that ails you is to write a book. I have a new one on the table, Bellow says, and all the other misery is gone.

His devotion to his work is instructive for all writers, especially the young. The years go by, letters flow. Admiration and awards and sales replace adversity, and one marriage yields to another, but the wit sparks up all the same, even as Bellow shifts from aesthetic critiques of books by friends into writing their eulogies - eulogies for Bernard Malamud, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison among them.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 was a comeback year

Time magazine cites:

  • Conan O'Brien
  • GM
  • Paul Reubens
  • Eliot Spitzer
  • Lisa Murkowski
  • Mark Twain
  • Betty White
  • Kanye West
  • Michael Vick
  • Jerry Brown

Friday, December 17, 2010

Deadly haunting, young Madoff succumbs

What makes comebacks special is that they are difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, never guaranteed, and sometimes life and death themselves hang in the balance, as it is with a tightrope walker strung between two buildings.In high winds.

Very tragic story here, Madoff Jr suicide.

"Haunting" is lethal.

Madoff Jr should have found the wherewithal to start over, somewhere, someplace, new name, new endeavor.

But he couldn't. He was 'haunted.'

The problem wasn't on the outside, it was on the inside.

The wisdom of Sparky Anderson

Many notables left us in 2010, including baseball manager Sparky Anderson. 76, who took his leave November 4. Like a Yogi Berra or Casey Stengel, Sparky was known for colorful language.

For example:

"I've got my faults, but living in the past isn't one of them. There's no future in it."

and, the even more metaphysical:

"It's like there and their. What's the difference, as long as you know there's a there there?"

Amen, Sparky, amen. RIP.

Friday, November 26, 2010

EC2's profit Louis Zamperini subject of new best-seller

We profiled Louis Zamperini in our newest volume, "Extraordinary Comebacks 2: 250 (more) Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success." Now he is the subject of an entire new volume by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, called, appropriately, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Our profile:

Lou Zamperini was nothing if not colorful. He was a juvenile delinquent, then a world-class NCAA miler and 1936 Olympian.

Then came World War II; on May 24, 1943 his B-24 crashed in the Pacific Ocean. He was 47 days on a raft, floating 2,000 miles. They ate shark livers and raw albatross. Their water: sporadic rainfall.

Then things got worse: on day 47, he and his companion were captured by the Japanese. He was starved, beaten, and subjected to medical experiments. His chief tormentor was a prison guard nicknamed “The Bird.” Even the other guards thought him a psychopath.

Zamperini lived through it. He made it back home to America. But inside, the rage was still burning. He drank, he fought, he suffered nightmares. Now we call it post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Then Zamperini happened to attend a revival put on by a young evangelist by the name of Billy Graham. He found faith, but still wrestled his demons. He kept overcoming, to the point where he became an inspirational speaker himself.

During the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, Zamperini’s story and dramatic return to face – and forgive -- his torturers were chronicled on CBS’s “48 Hours.” His book is Devil at My Heels (2003).

Active and vigorous into his eighties, Zamperini made one small concession to age. In 2003, age eighty-six, he gave up skateboarding.

PS, Mr. Zamperini, 93, is still going strong.

What a superb gift idea to someone going through heavy waters....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Buckeyes find a way to come back

Buckeye nation thrilled Sat. to Ohio State's dramatic comeback. Down 4th and 10, late in the game, QB Terrell Pryor looked downfield, saw nothing, tucked the ball, and ran his way to the first down, and ultimately victory. Character matters. Hats off to Coach Tressel and the entire football team, was simply breathtaking.

Watch it here on ESPN.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thomas Muster loses 30 pounds, back in pro tennis -- age 43

Monday, October 25, 2010 page one;  from the NY Times....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cheered by a Fred Astaire film

We came across an NPR story about Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues, Portugese superstar.  Her comeback from despair really caught our ear:

Rodrigues did think about suicide once, when she was faced with a throat operation that might have altered her voice. But De Almeida says things didn't go quite as planned.

"Always with Amalia, things can turn funny at any moment," he says. "It's sort of a mixture of drama with comedy, really."

Rodrigues came to New York, armed with sleeping pills, but instead the Fred Astaire movies she watched in her hotel room cheered her up. After a successful operation, she returned to Lisbon's Coliseum to give what turned out to be one of her most legendary concerts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Climb

Heard this tune on Lite FM recently. From Miley Cyrus, very catchy song, and thought I'd share the words with you, very a propos:

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

US Open: Verdasco notches comeback win

Down 2 sets, Spanish tennis player Verdasco just kept plugging away to finally defeat countryman Ferrer. Amazing effort: he never gave up, the key to every comeback. We loved every minute of it.  In the picture below, Verdasco had just sprinted cross-court to punch a drop shot back, win the match -- and collapse in elation.  Full story.

One newspaper called it this way:  "One of the best matches of the tournament ended with arguably the best shot of the tournament — Verdasco's winner in a 5-7, 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over No. 10 David Ferrer in the first of two all-Spanish matchups Tuesday night at Flushing Meadows."

See the exciting last point live on youtube:


Monday, September 6, 2010

A Blind Army Officer's Challenging Vision

For Captain Scotty Smiley, Losing His Sight to a Car Bomb Only Intensified His Fighting Spirit. Story featured on CBS Sunday Morning. See also his new book: "Hope Unseen".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Andrew Cuomo's Comeback

Now Cuomo appears poised to complete his political comeback by winning the job that his father held for three terms and that he has coveted for the better part of a decade. More....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Consider this

What have appeared to be the most striking successes have often, if they are not rightly used, brought the most overwhelming disasters in their train, and conversely the most terrible calamities have, if bravely endured, actually turned out to benefit the sufferers. Polybius

Friday, July 16, 2010

First, George Steinbrenner had to make a comeback --

We note the passing of Yankee boss George Steinbrenner, sports legend and pop icon as Costanza's boss in Seinfeld.

But before he became a legend, even Mr. Steinbrenner had to make a comeback. The Cleveland, Ohio native's (said he was the son of "one tough German") first involvement in pro sports was as an owner of the Cleveland Pipers, a short-lived basketball team that went bankrupt.

After that setback, his initiative to buy the Cleveland Indians? Rebuffed. So, now, 2 setbacks and counting. Third time's a charm, they say, and he went to New York with some $10 million and the rest is history.

His mantra was simple: win. For this writer of the comeback blog, that conveys also "never quit." For that tough-as-nails attitude, everyone knew him, and most loved him for it. Not so widely known was his active philanthropic activity, helping others in need, often average Joe's he read about in the newspaper. He didn't seek publicity for these acts.

R.I.P., George Steinbrenner.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thanks to Willie Jolley --

who hosted us on his XM Satellite Radio program today. To air this weekend.

His fine program airs live on Saturdays from 2-4pm EST and is re-broadcast on Sundays from 7-9am EST. Channel 169 The Power. I had heard Willie on the Tavis Smiley radio program several weeks ago, got in touch to say how much I enjoyed it, one thing led to another, and our friendship was recharged -- on air, for you to hear and enjoy.

In his introduction, Willie called me a "comeback scientist." What a great term -- and if you're human, you need to be a 'comeback scientist', too. It's not a question of whether you'll get knocked down, you will. The question: how will you get back up? In our books and blogs, we tell how, 550 times.....

Also, check out Willie's new book, mentioned below. We need to feed our spirits daily, we need to be "one day better, each day, no more and no less."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Has there been a bigger comeback week in sports in recent memory?

USA soccer scores in the 92nd (injury minutes are tacked on to the basic 90 minute game time) minute to advance in the World Cup. After the last rites had been given multiple times by ESPN commentators.

John Isner and Nicholas Mahut keep coming back, point after point, game after game, to complete their epic, heroic five set match over three days at Wimbledon. In doing so, they set numerous records for length of play, aces, games in a row without being broken, you name it. This was once in a lifetime -- we will never see this again. Period.

Most importantly, these great soccer and tennis athletes imprint some of their spirit on our hearts and minds, our consciousness, the message, always being the same: never quit, never, never, never quit. When you make that resolve, you permit great things to come your way.

Great things came all our ways -- this very special week.

On a personal note, we got to see Johnny Isner play up close and personal at the 2009 Winnetka Challenger (Chicago). He was coming off mononucleosis, and wasn't 100%. He was eliminated in the second round. I remember him looking a little lost, a little spent, late the night of his defeat, as he walked off into the darkness.

Out of that darkness, was to come great things.

One year later: ranked no. 19 in the world, he made tennis history, and made the name "Isner" (and "Mahut") synonymous with an almost unimaginable level of exertion, commitment, and ultimately in the case of our hometown hero, victory.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Willie Jolley on Tavis

We were on a 38 mile bike ride, round trip, listening to NPR, Tavis Smiley specifically, and our friend Willie Jolley comes on. Very refreshing on a hot day! Give a listen and learn about Willie's new projects: Turn Setbacks into Greenbacks: 7 Secrets for Going Up in Down Times. You'll get an uplifting word or two.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dubbed "worst team in pro sports" (2005) to ---

2010 Stanley Cup champions. Hats off to the Chicago Blackhawks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quotable: never too late

"Never too late, never too old, never too sick, to start over from scratch." -- Bikram Choudhury

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comes back from cancer to help others

Faced with death, many people bargain with God.

Jonny Imerman did, too. But after his life was spared (cancer), he made good on his side. Now he puts together his "Angels" to support and help newly-struck cancer victims, one-on-one.

His story....

In the future, he plans to expand from cancer to all kinds of maladies. What a world this would be if everyone had his generous, giving spirit....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book review: Can Wall Street "Quants" make a comeback? WSJ reporter/author Patterson tells how

The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It

by Wall Street Journal reporter Scott Patterson, is the inside baseball story of the quest for The Truth on Wall Street. That is, the fountain of money that never stops flowing.

-- As made manifest from the odds, the probabilities.

-- As interpreted by the "quants," traders who believe (or believed), above all else, in the numbers, data, statistics.

And why not? That's not immediately pejorative, though Wall Street has gotten a very, very bad reputation of late.

After all, odds, probabilities, are the stuff of everyday life.

We don't think about them consciously. But they're there.

You and I cross the street -- now -- because we see the odds of getting hit are nil. We didn't cross 10 seconds ago because we saw two semi's roaring towards us. We don't even think about these as "probabilities," per se. But they are.

And for those who do think about probabilities, and in connection with financial markets, from a vast resource of education (preferably Phd) and erudition and experience, the rewards can be staggering, as in a million per minute.

Quant trading started in -- wait for it -- Las Vegas, where odds-making (not image, sorry Andre, our favorite LV homeboy) is everything. This is where card counting got its start. Card counting is just probability analysis, on the fly. And card-counting, writ large, is quant trading.

Card counting pioneer, Ed Thorp, was the progenitor of quant trading. (He is the comeback story here, read on......)

Thorp begat Ken Griffin, Citadel. And on and on it went (and goes).

Some of the other featured players here include:

  • Cliff Asness, Goldman Sachs, Global Alpha, group leader, and founder AQR

  • Boaz Weinstein, Deutsch Bank

  • Peter Muller, Morgan Stanley

Author Patterson wields a deft pen, and never fails to grab the reader at the end of a section or chapter: you have to keep reading. Very entertaining.

To peel back the layers of secrecy and expose the histories, successes, failures, personal peccadilloes -- the whole story of 'the quants' -- is a very great journalistic accomplishment.

Just a very few interesting factoids the author presents:

  • p. 63 "In 1991, a company asked Thorp to look over its investment portfolio.....it took Thorp about a day to realize the fund was a fraud." The fund manager? Bernard Madoff.
  • p. 68 Thorp's, and later Griffin's, specialty de la maison: buying underpriced warrants and hedging by shorting the stock. That was the start for the financial powerhouse Citadel.
  • p. 298 "When (PIMCO chief Bill Gross) was 53, he decided to run a series of marathons -- 5 in 5 days. On the 5th day, his kidney ruptured. He saw blood streaming down his leg. But Gross didn't stop. he finished the race, collapsing into a waiting ambulance past the finish line."

There are many, many more.

THE QUANTS is not an indictment, per se, of the entire enterprise of quantitative trading, but does indict extreme leverage and the perils it presents.

The industry can make a comeback from its meltdown -- if it forsakes excess leverage, according the author. Patterson follows the first quant profiled and author of "Beat the Dealer" and "Beat the Market", Ed Thorp, who turns away from over-leverage, and generates excellent returns without it. (p. 300 -- System X, no leverage, 18% return 2008, on $36 million. This, during a period when Citadel "coughed up half its money, a year in which AQR fell more than 40%, and Saba lost nearly $2 billion.")

So, as per usual with Wall Street, we come back to the question of greed. Greed is good? Maybe like alcohol or fire or nuclear energy? A little bit, the right place, the right time. Managed. To overdo here is to destroy, and the problem is, we're all on the hook for it. THE QUANTS is big, intriguing, messy, clear, ambiguous, and provocative -- just like the financial industry it covers. It is, quite simply, a must read.

PS: Talk about "destroying Wall Street", as we were reading this volume, the Dow experienced the infamous May 6, 2010, "Flash Crash," for which many explanations have been offered, but the truth? We are still waiting; Wall Street doesn't tell all its secrets, not even to Mr.Patterson. As author Patterson wraps it up: "here come the quants."


PPS We received from a Chicago quant this youtube.com
. Another cautionary quant tale, a good one, told in
large part by a quant-turned-oysterman (he lives off his interest) and
we recommend it to you:


  • "Beauty is the right level of complexity."

  • "Condensing 300 pages of prose to one equation = beauty to a mathematician."

  • "A major rethink is required if the world is to avoid a major mathematician-led market meltdown."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Amazon.com Sales Rank: #76,352 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Popular in this category: (What's this?)

#76 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > By Topic > Motivation

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

After he was kidnapped, he came back to become one of Brazil's most successful businessmen

The story of retailer Abilio Diniz in this Forbes, well worth your time and attention.

Monday, May 3, 2010

If you take up cross-country skiing...

...pick a small country to start.

Back to school and out for baseball -- at 58

Here's the whole amazing, and inspirational story.

One kind of "comeback" none of us want

If you're donating old technology, or just throwing it away, beware. Deleting sensitive data -- your credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords -- does not actually delete them from the drive.

The data is still onboard, and savvy banditos can access it if they get their hands on your drive.

How to handle?

Surf over to Kill Disk. They have a free product that will "kill" your disk, or remove all data. There are two levels: one pass "kill" (free download), and high level, military-style multi-pass, priced from $39.95 to $59.95.

The free version is a no-brainer, and if you're hesitating at the tariff on the high-level versions, we have two questions for you: 1) how much is your peace of mind worth? and 2) how much will it cost you in time and effort to reclaim your life if all your confidentials fall into the right hands?

Can't happen to you? Happens to the U.S. government even; students found sensitive U.S. defense contracts on hard drives -- in Ghana!

You don't want your data coming back to you in another's hands to haunt you. Be safe. Take the necessary steps to protect your identity and resources.

Friday, April 30, 2010

EC rank

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 9:33 PM
Three years in the marketplace and EC keeps on ticking...........
"Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success"
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #76,209 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Popular in this category: (What's this?)

#91 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > By Topic > Motivation

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The strange story of Piper Kerman

What makes Piper Kerman's story so compelling? Is it that "look" she has, arms akimbo, staring out at the reader, in her full-page book review in April 2010 Chicago magazine, where we ran across her? Or the Twitter pic repro'd here? Or is it the story in Marie Claire (different tone entirely, more penitent). Is it the unwillingness to bury her head, and life, and act "ashamed" to satisfy society (she got involved in drug smuggling and did hard time -- now she's a communications VP in New York). Extraordinary comeback? Yes, we think so. Making a comeback requires that "in spite of it all" attitude, and Piper seems to have this in spades.

We're not sure, but there's something in her insouciance that draws the eye, and so we thought we would pass this comeback story on to you for your further consideration...you be the judge, meanwhile you may wish to get a copy of her book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

Monday, March 15, 2010

Second Acts on Forbes

Give a look to these interesting, inspiring stories

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Comebacks all around us
At Winter Olympics, e.g.

Speed skater J.R. Celski, 19, was told to forget about competing:

".....perhaps the most unlikely Olympian competing in the Vancouver Games which kick off today with the opening ceremony. Five months ago Celski suffered what many thought was a career ending injury, surely a season ending one. He crashed into the boards during a race at the U.S. Olympic Trials and sliced his leg with his own skate. The gruesome cut went all the way to the bone and just missed his femoral artery by an inch."

Read the whole story.

Another comeback engineer: medalist skier Lindsey Vonn, who battled shin bruises, and considered dropping out, but is glad she didn't. Yet another: Bode Miller, highly vaunted 4 years ago at Torino, but came up empty and slipped out of the public consciousness. Now, in Vancouver, reprising his winning ways.

Sports reminds us:

Where there's a will to compete, a will to win, great things can happen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best rating we've seen for EC: #32

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

6:16 AM

"Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success"

Amazon.com Sales Rank:
#25,237 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Popular in this category: (What's this?)

#32 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > By Topic > Motivation

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blind chef gets job at top eatery

Trotter's, Chicago. Read the Chicago Tribune piece....two words. A mazing.....