The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

outside the Inside


I found myself offering the following bon mot to a younger fellow in my community based on something of a repartee we’ve found ourselves engaged around:

Keep looking inside. Eventually you will start to recognize what others see from the outside, and your perspective makes more sense to the majority. that makes you relevant.

I get to coach so many people across the four seasons of life that I’m fortunate enough to be constantly reminded that few of us can rest on laurels, or get too relaxed about our critical roles in life.

I had Haley Anne leaning on my shoulder while I was tapping that message into existence. she’s had a tough week with a cyber bully from another school. I’ll discuss this more later, but I despise Facebook all the more, and a lot of the social networking platforms available are simply dangerous platforms from which evil can launch all manner of assault. Haley Anne needed her Daddy. and, we are getting ready to start driving lessons. …wow…

in any event, she read the message aloud a few times and finally rewarded me with:

okay… the more you read that it actually makes sense.

I think it helps that we’ve had a running dialogue, whether she realized it or not, over the past few months about perspective, and what it means. it can be a trying concept. but, it’s foundational. and, it makes my point, here. the fellow referenced above is now over thirty. Haley Anne just shy of fifteen. I’ll be one hundred years old in fifty years.

I have a lot to both learn, and teach. and, I really do need to keep thinking from all the angles.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork


China and the evolution revolution – the vital difference between a trend and a fad


You’ll have no choice but to relish this example of evolution, of a kind.

And, I see a global revolution, of it’s own kind advancing like a glassy-fronted wave. And, it could very well “break” (that’s a good thing from a surfers view) right here on the shores of our own country (that’s the United States, by way of reminder).

Here is the background:

The word out of Shanghai is that factory workers demanding better wages and working conditions are hastening the eventual end of an era of cheap costs that helped make southern coastal China the world’s factory floor.

My people on the ground there are advising me that a series of strikes over the past two months have been a rude wake-up call for the many foreign companies that depend on China’s low costs to compete overseas, from makers of Christmas trees to manufacturers of gadgets like the iPad.

Where once low-tech factories and scant wages were welcomed in a China eager to escape isolation and poverty, workers are now demanding a bigger share of the profits.

So… It’s revolution intersecting evolution, then.

The government, meanwhile, is pushing foreign companies to make investments in areas it believes will create greater wealth for China, like high technology.

Many companies are striving to stay profitable by shifting factories to cheaper areas farther inland or to other developing countries, and, not just a few, are even resuming production in the West.

They have little choice. Many of today’s Chinese factory workers have both a taste of western influence, and now higher ambitions than their parents, who generally saved their earnings from assembling toys and television sets for retirement in their rural hometowns. This change-oriented generation are also choosier about wages and working conditions. “The conflicts are challenging the current set-up of low-wage, low-tech manufacturing, and may catalyze the transformation of China’s industrial sector,” said Yu Hai, a sociology professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

Even with recent increases, wages for Chinese workers are still a fraction of those for Americans (even their distant Indian brothers). However, studies clearly indicate that China’s overall cost advantage is shrinking. That’s a trend and not a fad.

It might turn out that outsourcing, in general, was the fad.

Labor costs have been climbing about fifteen percent (15%) a year since a 2008 labor contract law that made workers more aware of their rights. It should be noted that tax preferences for foreign companies ended in 2007. Land, water, energy and shipping costs are unquestionably on the rise.

In its most recent survey, issued in February, restructuring firm Alix Partners found that, overall, China was more expensive than Mexico, India, Vietnam, Russia and Romania. We’re investigating the Philippines (but, then so are most law enforcement agencies, eh).

Makers of toys and trinkets, Christmas trees and cheap shoes already have folded by the thousands or moved away, some to Vietnam, Indonesia or Cambodia. But those countries lack the huge work force, infrastructure and markets China can offer, and most face the same labor issues as China.

Here is an opportunity, if not form of prediction:

So, ironically the evolution of our own economy may be setting the stage and create opportunities for companies around the globe to bring manufacturing and related services back to the United States. We have massive infrastructure and trained people throughout the midwest ready, willing and able to take-on the assembly line for a chance at a dignified living. Now we need our own government to step-up and incentivize companies to create another industrial revolution.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork


old things seem New to me


So… I grew up in a military family. Ha! It’s painfully and juxtapositionally obvious, but also perplexing to most in my path. My Dad retired from the United States Air Force as a full Colonel. Many of my memories around Dad and his own measure of success – not to mention his influence over me are often detailed in this Blog. By reference, and an apparent favorite: do not miss your Chance to blow it.

However, I cam face-to-face with a relevant application of his example and influence from long ago just yesterday.

Setting the stage…

Early on, living the life of a scion of the Officer’s Club, I was exposed to the cream of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, and learned what those gallant men and women meant when they lived and died by the credo: “Peace is our Profession”. without realizing it at the time I came to appreciate experience, expertise and the chain-of-command. I witnessed first-hand, the synergy employed and enjoyed by gray-haird General’s mixing daily with fresh-faced 2nd Lieutenants, all firm in the belief their lives and contributions made a vital difference to one another, and the sanctity of our Constitution.

This means it never occurred to me that age, in-of-itself, was relevant. Only performance; and, all of it driven by courtesy and respect, and the call to action around a shred purpose. None were judged by anything but their ability to command and take commands that resulted, daily, in an efficient process that enabled them all to put their very lives into one another’s hands, without a second thought.

For example, I’ve never looked at an older man and saw weakness or lack of relevance. I saw only the likely potential of wisdom based upon one experience or another.

On the other hand, it’s never occurred to me to look at young people, as relative as that term has to be, and saw a lack of potential or ability.

Mind you… I’ve had my own adventures, hinted to in this Blog as well, but understood by only a few. But, my most recognized contributions have come through my duties as a Dad – and, that of a business man, that others approach for advice, guidance and stewardship.

And, for the first time in my business life, Friday in fact, I came face-to-face with a small team of burgeoning entrepreneurs, still in college, that invaded my offices – with the intention of enforcing accountability.


I’m in the midst of acquiring another startup that I’m convinced has a product that is a marketing-oriented game-changer. These soon-to-be-graduates are currently customers of the company. They are not pleased with the progress of their unique project. Our people say there is “scope-creep”. The customer says there is poor communication and missed deadlines. I want customer satisfaction and, thusly, affirmation of my investment.

Time will tell all.

But, in any event, at the large table in my board room, I found myself with three hearty and ferocious businessmen that, by age alone, qualified them to be my children. Although their graduation from college is imminent, with less than two months to go, they seemed small to me. And, they were naive, to be sure. But, eager and passionate, more importantly. And, they were irate over what to them was a lack of accountability on the part of the company. That is something that I’m unaccustomed too. My own ventures to date have been the example and hall-marks of accountability and service. So, I started the meeting open-minded. I coach soccer teams that are now at the U14 and U16 age bracket (and, they were all once at the U11 bracket). But, this was different. The first thought was mental arithmetic. I had started my own business at nineteen, also while in college (with the help of my Grandad’s money). I sold that business a week after graduation. So, I could, at many levels, relate to these young men.

But, I was biased. I knew it right away. Not defensive because they were displeased with a company I was involved with. No… I was actually age-biased.

I liked them well enough. I put them into the hands of a Project Manager that I’m mentoring myself, and even bought the entire lot lunch. We committed to deadlines and will work, with intent and a will, to see those critical deadlines met – all based upon collaboration.

But, this is me now. I’ll be fifty in October. I know I’m fitter than most. I’m always being sized-up by representatives of every generation; and, this group was no exception. I could do fifty pull-ups (I have the bar across the doorway of my office) with them hanging onto my back. And, that is how I viewed the entire matter… I’ll sling that crew over my should and see them to success. But, along the way I have to recognize that I’m going to be seeing more people that are younger than me, than older – and, my role in the business community is going to evolve, but possibly in ways I might not have considered before now.

So, every turn creates another opportunity to learn. But, also a challenge to be that example I experienced and have tried to live by daily, sitting at the feet of men that strode like giants around the world and taught me compassion, respect and accountability.

I’ll pause here and admit that I was sorely tested, a few times, to admonish them with a firm: “Stop interrupting each other”, and, “Please stop chewing on my business card”. But, they were, from their own perspective, probably working with an “old dude” with a big reputation for the first time in their emerging professional lives.

My own daughter, Haley Anne’s visage was flashing before my eyes. So to, were the eager faces of the students at Radford University, Georgia State and MIT, where I get to lecture from time-to-time came to mind. I’ll add my plans around “brian’s BEANS” as well. And, so that stage continues to be set, and my experiences are new and levied by other new things – including newer people and opportunities.

And, all these younger people are going to hold me accountable.

I’l have it no other way as they teach me and make me better and fitter to represent and reflect every talent God can squeeze into, and out of, me. This is where the Heterodox finds itself.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork


many bridges


I met Jarrett at our local AT&T store.

I was impressed by his maturity and product knowledge. I also deeply appreciated the extra effort he took in working with my daughter Haley Anne over her latest cellular telephone. He was very patient and technically relevant.

Jarrett also noticed that a good many people visiting the store knew me. He had the presence of mind to Google me while we were still in the store, and asked if he could meet with me for instruction and career advice.

We did meet a few weeks later. That exchange offered me some insight into the mind and life of a young Muslim family man in our community. I gave him a list of three things that I wanted him to do in the form of research. This was, certainly, a test. I’m always curious to see who God has gifted with both the situational awareness and discernment to take advantage of this type of opportunity.

Jarrett, and somewhat to my disappointment, came back with a long email that invoked more pity on my part than admiration and hope. But, that can certainly change with encouragement. and, I will be sure to follow up with him.

Meanwhile, I’ll share a few paragraphs from his original communique, and then my response to him, in it’s completeness – with vital expectations to be had around lessons to be learned…

Here we go:

“I’d been debating on getting back to you. Wondering what are the true benefits of doing so. All in all I respect and appreciate you for giving me the free time to talk. You quickly assessed me and gave me instructions on going forward.”


“I was left feeling like I was getting in too deep with the  commodities, or I had no clue what was going on and should leave it alone. On the other hand feeling like I was just as deserving of reaping the benefits of bringing two sides together to do business.”


“I think about your question a lot. “My Passion”.”


“I appreciate your rational, but I find it hard for you to really understand my point of view. I find it hard for any two people from our two different worlds to see the others point of view. Yet there is still room for respect and mutual agreements, and appreciation. Allah has created soooooooooo many different characters, its amazing amd beautiful to learn them if you can. Take it easy  Brian. let me know you got this God willing.”


“Good morning Jarrett.

I’ve given this email from you some thought for awhile now.

You are a young man with a younger family. That is a tough position and point in life from whence to venture into commodities. That business requires very specialized training, and is best approached when you are surrounded by professional people committed to mentoring and teaching you. It’s definitely not something novices or faint-of-heart can or should wade into unprepared.

So, this will always take me to the “passion” element.  Given your stage in life I’ll recommend that you interview leaders of any sort in your community. Ask them where they see the emerging trends over the next five years. Sort out a way to integrate those growing needs with talents you have and skills you could develop. Then allow your heart (passion) to tell you which of those trends can best intersect. That nexus is where you will find your affirmation and a career foundation.

Meanwhile, and I add this with compassion and and open-heartedness, your final paragraph only demonstrates your youth and inexperience. I’ve been mentored by men of several different faiths, numerous nationalities, and all walks of life. What I found is that the most successful of them shared many of the same qualities and traits. They had high standards for integrity. They were responsible and accountable. They worked hard. Most importantly, they NEVER, not once, felt sorry for themselves. And, they always had a plan. Always. And, they stuck to it.

So… Do your research. Develop a plan. Find good men to quantify that plan. Don’t get defensive if they push-back. Be open-minded, and open-hearted. In the end, prey that your example can be a lens through which your own children see a world that is open and full of naught but opportunity and promise.”

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell

photos by John Campbell


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