Best Music

Updates to the BEST MUSIC list… As a reminder, here’s how it works: one song per artist; list is in no order of favorites, only listed by artist. I welcome any and all feedback.

  • AC DC – Shoot to Thrill
  • Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion
  • Alice Cooper – Under My Wheels
  • Alice in Chains – Them Bones
  • Allman Brothers – Whipping Post
  • Amanda Palmer – Coin Operated Boy
  • Bad Brains – I Against I
  • Beach Boys – Surfin USA
  • Beastie Boys – Sabotage
  • Beck – Loser
  • Big Country – In a Big Country
  • Bitter Sweet Alley – Time to Move
  • Blink 182 – The Rock Show
  • The Blues Brothers – Hey Bartender
  • Blur – Song 2
  • Bob Marley – Could You be Loved
  • Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man
  • Buckcherry – Lit Up
  • Bullet Boys – Smooth Up In Ya
  • Buzzcocks – Ever fallen in love
  • Boston – More than a Feeling
  • B-52′s – Rock Lobster
  • Cheap Trick – Surrender
  • The Clash – Train in Vain
  • Coheed & Cambria – In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth
  • The Cramps – God Damn Rock ‘N’ Roll
  • The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
  • The Darkness – I Believe in a thing called Love
  • Death – Keep on Knocking
  • David Bowie – Space Oddity
  • Dead Kennedy’s – Holiday in Cambodia
  • Dead Milkmen – Bitchin’ Camaro
  • DEATH – Keep on Knocking
  • Def Leppard – High ‘n’ Dry
  • Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus
  • Drowning Pool – Bodies
  • Elvis Costello – What’s So Funny (’bout peace, love, & understanding)
  • Fabulous Thunderbirds – Tuff Enuff
  • Fastway – Easy Livin’
  • The Fixx – One Thing Leads to Another
  • Five Finger Death Punch – Under and Over it
  • Flipp – Freak
  • Foo Fighters – Everlong
  • Foxy Shazam – I like it
  • George Michael – Faith
  • The Grateful Dead – China Cat Sunflower / Know you Rider
  • Georgia Satellites – Battleship Chains
  • Godsmack – Keep Away
  • Guns N Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
  • Halestorm – Love Bites (but so do I)
  • Hank Williams – I’m so Lonely I could cry
  • Heartless Bastards – Parted Ways
  • Iggy Pop – Lust for Life
  • INXS – Listen Like Thieves
  • Iron Maiden – The Trooper
  • J. Geils Band – Musta Got Lost (live)
  • Joe Jackson – Is she really going out with Him
  • Judas Priest – Desert Plains
  • Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire
  • Kaiser Chiefs – I predict a Riot
  • Kid Rock – All Summer Long
  • Kings – This Beat Goes on / Switchin to Glide
  • Kingsmen – Louie Louie
  • KISS – Strutter
  • KIX – Cold Blood
  • Led Zepplin – Kashmir
  • Leonard Cohen – First we take Manhattan
  • Lit – My own worst Enemy
  • Living Colour – Cult of Personality
  • Marilyn Manson – Mob Scene
  • Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend
  • Meatloaf – Paradise by the Dashboard light
  • Merle Haggard – I think I’ll just stay here and Drink
  • The Misfits – Die, Die my Darling
  • Motley Crue – Too Fast for Love
  • Nightwish – Amaranth
  • New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
  • Nick Lowe – Cruel to be Kind
  • Nirvana – Smells like Teen Spirit
  • Outkast – Hey Ya!
  • Otep – Confrontation
  • Otis Redding – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
  • Ozzy Osbourne – Over the Mountain
  • Paramore – crush crush crush
  • Pearl Jam – Alive
  • Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill
  • Police – Don’t Stand So Close
  • Pop Evil – Boss’s Daughter
  • Primus – My Name is Mud
  • Prince – Kiss
  • Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Quiet Riot – Slick Black Cadillac
  • RATT – Round & Round
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge
  • REM – Radio Free Europe
  • Rod Stewart – Maggie May
  • Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
  • The Romantics – What I like about You
  • Ramones – I Wanna be Sedated
  • Rancid – Roots Radicals
  • Rick James – Superfreak
  • Sam & Dave – Soul Man
  • Sam Cooke – Chage is gonna Come
  • Sammy Kershaw – Queen of my Double Wide Trailer
  • Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet with Butterfly Wings
  • Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin
  • Squeeze – Black Coffee in Bed
  • Steve Miller Band – Take the Money and Run
  • Stevie Wonder – Superstition
  • Stone Temple Pilots – Sex Type Thing
  • Sublime – What I got
  • Suicidal Tendencies – I Saw Your Mommy
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Veruca Salt – Seether
  • Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy
  • Weezer – Buddy Holly
  • The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
  • White Zombie – Super-Charger Heaven
  • Willie Nelson (with the Highwaymen) – The City of New Orleans
  • Wilson Pickett – In the Midnight Hour
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Reflections on Mother’s Day: Personal Goals

This time around, I’ll yield the podium to Mary Ericson who had offered up her thoughts on her personal goals.


There are three rules that my boss shared and wish for us to follow:

  1. Expectation drives behavior
  2. Don’t feed the stray cat
  3. Alert the tower at 10,000 feet

Today, I’d like to talk about the three rules my mom taught me:

  1. Don’t step on others to get what you want.
  2. Do your best and God will do the rest.
  3. Don’t make a Plan B.

My biological father passed away when I was five years old.  So, for ten years my mother raised three girls as a single parent.  At times, it was difficult financially, especially when tuition fees were required for us to be able take our quarterly examinations.  Despite it all, she worked hard and managed to put us through an exclusive international school in the Philippines.  Now that I have my own children, I don’t know how my mom got by without putting us through public education.  Throughout the difficult times, my mom would remind us constantly, “Don’t step on anyone just to get what you want”.  She always believed in the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated.  There is always the possibility that you will run into someone again, whether it be in a future career or even the afterlife;  Thus the importance of Rule #1.

I have always been a fan of Math – unsurprising since I work at an engineering company.  But it didn’t come easy. I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to learn things on my own or try to challenge myself by taking the most difficult professors at LTU.  But back in grade school, whenever I would ask my mom about a math problem, she would always say, “I was absent the day that one was taught.” Thing was: it was like she was sick at every Math class. Of course, she would reassure me by saying, “Just do your best and God will do the rest.”  Whether you are of faith or not, one basic principle remains. As Frank Stronach, the founder of Magna, tells us: “The harder you work, the more luck you have.”  Thus, the importance of Rule #2.

The final rule is certainly not the least – and is actually my favourite: “Don’t have Option B”.

As a Program Manager, it is always a good idea to have another option in my back pocket especially when dealing with customers. But I wouldn’t be where I am if it were not for this rule.

Ever since I started disassembling my toys and our old TV remotes, my mom had her head set on one idea: “You will be an engineer!” She even started introducing me to her friends as “my future engineer”. She made no reservations or concessions in providing for my educational needs all throughout my college years – simply, anything I needed to become an engineer, I got. It was the same for both my sisters. For mom, focusing on an “end goal” would always ensure that you would get there.   Thus, the importance of Rule #3.

While I have learned more rules (like my boss’ career rules) and will continue to learn from my life experiences, I believe these three rules have defined who I have become and will continue to guide my life ahead.

So what about you? What are your “three rules to live by”?

Let me know what you think,

Marygracesoleil J. Ericson

Posted in Career, Leadership, Parenting | Leave a comment

Honoring your priorities

As a personal policy, my work calendar has always been available to each person within the organization, mainly because I want anybody to be able to find me, or to be able to assess whether or not they are comfortable asking me to change my schedule. I do not understand why some of my co-workers would desire to maintain their entire schedule in  hidden state as most applications ( I currently use Microsoft Outlook as my default calendar/e-mail application ) have the option to make specific events private.

Now that we’ve set the foundation for today’s discussion, let’s get on with things shall we?… I’ve mentioned in previous discussions that I’ve spent portions of my career engaged at and with Fortune 100 corporations. One company’s policy was that individual calendars were visible throughout the organization. Prior to the start of a weekly change meeting, I would take the opportunity to clean up a few calendar items on my laptop as attendees filtered into the room.  The Director sitting to my right glanced at my calendar and chuckled loud enough for both of us to hear. He commented on the fact that I had accounted for travel time to and from a an event later that afternoon. Now, this could have been an offsite meeting, a lunch with a friend, or an afternoon round of golf, but in this instance the event happened to be my child’s soccer game.

I had remarked that this was a priority for me and that I needed to ensure that I could be at the event and allow for travel time to the field and back to the office. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as a response… this could have gone badly if this individual wanted give me grief about being out of the office during the day, but in this case he simply smiled, nodded his head, and returned to his business. To my personal amusement, I would discover years later that this fellow followed a similar practice.

The short of this is that if we are committed to honoring our priorities, then we need to fiercely protect against the little things that will work hard to get in the way. If those priorities are a family event, a work meeting, or a deadline, then we have to work to ensure that time is allocated to each. For my example, I was ensuring that I would have time to attend the soccer match including the time that would be required to travel to and from the field.

Admittedly, I have not always been as successful as I wanted or should have been, but in an attempt to honor my priorities, I had established a few guidelines to help keep me on target.

  1. My daily schedule needs to be available to others either online, or by posting a physical copy outside my office.
  2. Meeting conflicts should be addressed immediately – if others need me to be present for their discussion, then I need to be intentional in responding to their invitation – they can modify the time of the meeting, provide for remote access, or ensure that I get feedback on the outcome of the discussion and what is needed from me.
  3. When I travel as part of my job, then I should account for “drive” time or when appropriate “walk” time within the company campus.

Previously, I have addressed the importance of effective meetings, and what we are discussing today absolutely aligns with that topic. In addition to being prepared, setting agendas and starting meetings on time, consistently following my guidelines provides me a means of honoring professional commitments and how they align to my personal priorities. As years have passed, the value that I place on my time has increased exponentially and I have found that I need to be intentional in protecting that time.

An intentional attitude in embracing these values is one component that in transforming organizational culture. Of course, this is only the first step (and the easiest). I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit of a stretch in linking a work calendar to transforming an organization, but as Richard Dreyfus had professed in the movie What about Bob?… It’s all about baby steps.

Remaining intentional.

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Hello, this is your Gall bladder calling

My father was and continues to be a significant influence in my personal and professional life. He was the most impressive individual that I’ve known, and continues to be the yardstick by which I measure my success in being a good friend, spouse and parent. I’ve referred to some of the conversations that he and I have had as “nuggets”, and had elaborated on one of those early conversations in a previous post.

My father was well aware of my passion for my work, had seen the hours that I had been keeping, and seized the opportunity to speak with me. Nearing the end of our conversation, he asked, “On your deathbed, what would your single biggest regret be? Could it be that you didn’t achieve a certain salary or job title? Could it be that you didn’t work hard enough for your employers? Or could it be that you did not spend enough time with your family?”

The importance of the advice that he had shared with me oh so long ago was lost until life intervened (as it often does), and helped reinforce dad’s wisdom.

Many years ago, my son was 10 months old, and my wife was pregnant with our second and third children – twin girls. At the time, I was working at an assembly plant that produced the flagship vehicles for my employer. We were in the midst of launching a new vehicle; A vehicle that was the toast of the North American auto show. The press was in love with the vehicle, dealerships were counting the days until their units arrived, and thousands of customers had placed deposits on vehicles that they had never seen.


The process of bringing a new vehicle to market is akin to herding cats (an overused analogy, I know). The culmination of two years of vehicle development is the coordination of 100 different suppliers to complete their activities and deliver their contribution to the vehicle at the exact same moment. The task of starting production of the Prowler, was compounded by the fact that we were installing a new assembly line from scratch. As you can imagine, the entire team experienced were exhausting days for the entire team.

After a successful production launch, work continued at the manufacturing plant to stabilize the daily build. I had noticed that I had not been feeling “right” for 3 or 4  consecutive weeks… I was experiencing pain in my abdomen that I attributed to an ulcer because of the stress at work. My personal diagnosis was rejected by the doctor early one morning in the emergency room – my gall bladder was hemorrhaging and required immediate surgery. The result was an eight inch scar where the doctors had opened me up and removed the unruly organ.

Recovery was estimated at four weeks and was accompanied by instructions to lift no more than 15 pounds during the first two weeks. For the first week, I was able to do little more than sit in the recliner and hold my infant son. Immediately, it became clear that the boy was not comfortable when I was holding him… My body and they way that I held him did not feel the same as his mother. He was not happy, and did not relate to me at all… My own child did not know who I was and freely (and loudly) voiced his objections. My father’s question repeated over and over in my head.

This was one of the few times that in my life that I can remember that moment of realization to change. And thanks to a nugget, it would be the catalyst that would re-define my future relationships. Eighteen years later, I can confirm that the boy did become accustomed to (and still enjoys) being held by his father.

Thanks dad.

Go and be intentional.

Posted in Family, Friendship, Parenting | 1 Comment

A guy walks into the Doctors office…

For a very long time – admittedly all of my adult life, I’ve entertained a lifestyle that was consistent with my personal mind set – do nothing half way – all in – full throttle. My diet consisted of eating and drinking whatever I wanted… in quantities that I wanted… and whenever I wanted. And physical exertion was limited to less strenuous activities such as golf. I did not subscribe to Harvey Penick’s thoughts on “knowing the course”, so when I golfed it was nearly always with the use of a cart. Slogging 18 with a bag over my shoulder was definitely out of the question.

In 2002, my weight had risen to over 270 pounds, and I came to the conclusion that the doctor may be right. Something had to change… So I half-heartedly attempted to rein in some of my behavior, and managed during the next decade to get my weight down to the 250 pound range. A move in the right direction, but as my blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose readings would attest, it was not enough.

In the Spring of 2013, the conversation with my doctor during my annual physical went something like this…

Me: How’s it going Doc?
Doctor: Well… You’re ugly, grossly over-weight, and if you don’t make serious changes in your diet and exercise I’m going to have to cut off your feet because of diabetes, but not before you go blind. Oh yeah, you’re setting yourself up for a stroke.
Me: hmmmm
Doctor: And all of this is going to happen much sooner than you think… You are killing yourself… The clock is ticking.

I left the doctors office, went immediately to a local pub, and consumed my fill of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries. Call me a slow learner.

Fast forward six months to Thanksgiving 2013. I’ve talked with people who are able to identify the exact moment that they had the “Aha!” moment which caused them to make a significant personal decision. I, however, have no personal recollection of what finally “clicked” in my head and got me motivated to change my behavior. At some point, I began paying attention to what I was eating and showed a bit more restraint. By Christmas, I had trimmed another 10 pounds. As I began the new year, I was spending a great deal more effort paying attention to what I was eating, and by February what I was eating and its impact on my weight was a high priority.

In March 2014, I added daily exercise to my regimen, and the lifestyle transformation was in full swing. I should be clear about my approach to this “change”… I am not one to weigh my food or count down to the single calorie. Whatever I was going to adopt had to be something that I could sustain indefinitely – this was not a diet, but a lifestyle change that would be my path into the future. Quite honestly, there are things that I am not willing to go without, such as an evening treat of two fingers of Glenfidditch or the occasional slice of pizza. Adhering to this new lifestyle simply meant that I could still enjoy the occasional treat, and that when I did, I would need to make accomodations elsewhere if I was going to be successful.

There are three essential items that I have used each and every day to keep me moving towards my goals:

  1. My iPhone which collects and summarizes two critical applications that I use to track what my intake is and my level of activity.
  2. Lose It – An application for the IPhone or Android phones, LoseIt tracks what I eat. As I eat and snack during the day, I take five seconds to input what I’ve consumed, and the app does the rest. LoseIt aligns everthing to  the goals that I’ve set and gives me a clear status report at any point during the day. LoseIt also has a nice website interface that provides additional information and weekly reports chocked full of data.
  3. The Fitbit Flex is a bit of electronic bling that I wear on my wrist. I set targets for levels of activity, and the Flex and it’s iPhone App keep me informed of how I’m doing each day in reaching my activity goals for total steps, minutes of significant activity, miles walked, and sleep. Fitbit also offers a pretty nifty web interface as well.


So how is this working out? I continue to pay close attention to my diet and I’m exercising on average five days a week. In May 2014 I returned to the doctor for my annual physical weighing in at 210 pounds – 40 pounds from a year earlier. My bloodwork showed significant improvements in all of the areas that had concerned my doctor a year earlier. “You’re still ugly“, the doctor told me, “But you’re heading in the right direction”.

Go and be intentional…

Posted in Family, Health, Motivation | Leave a comment

So you’re a Manager… Shame on You!

From personal experience, I have found that leadership and management are two notions that are often used interchangeably. I’ve always thought of these two concepts as being quite different and a recent discussion wth a collegue got me thinking that the vast majority of those charged with the responsibility for running organizations and developing their talent really don’t have a clue. They are managers.

How it works: A company’s management team generally consists of people who are experienced in their field, and who have worked their way up through the ranks of the company. A manager knows how each layer of the system works and generally possesses a solid technical knowledge. These people have been assigned titles like Senior Manager, Director, Chief, or Vice President. Organizationally, there is a structured hierachy with nested levels of people given a measure of authority within the organization commensurate with their title and position. Of course there are rogue groups out there who buck convention, but nearly all of the organizations that I’ve been part of during my career have followed this tried and true business template.

The ability to lead is just one of the many assets of a truly successful manager. But the converse is not true… An example: Have you met (or heaven help you, worked for) somebody who was a brilliant engineer, and as a result was promoted to manage the group that they once were a member? Over time, it becomes clear that despite their technical prowess, they are a horrible manager. Nobody disputes the fact that this person knows the product and process, but their ability to gain support from and to motivate their team is lacking. The fault isn’t necessarily with the individual who has been promoted, but with the senior management who has made the decision… Those individuals are not equipped to discern whether their choice for that new manager position is going to be a good leader. They are following the process that those who came before them used.

And this is why I will suggest that care must be taken in distinguishing between a leader and a manager. Pure and simple, the main aim of a manager is to maximize the output of the organization through administrative implementation. If that is the mind-set that you are aligned to, then you’ll ue that as a goal when hiring your next manager. Again, from my experience, I’ve found that within organizations, it is not the always the manager who emerges as the leader, rather a subordinate member with specific talents who takes the group in a certain direction. Teams are more likely to extend themselves on the behalf of a these leaders as opposed to the manager.

So, be honest with yourself: If you were stripped of your title and authority, would people still be engaged in supporting the direction that you are charting? The short of this week’s post is that we manage things… cost, time, risk. But we lead people.

Scott Williams is one of us that gets it:

For now, go and be intentional…

Posted in Career, Leadership, Management | 1 Comment

What i’m listening to

A good friend and skilled writer, Marc Reichardt regularly shares his thoughts and opinion over at Dichotomous Purity. One of my favorite topics that Marc covers is an in-depth review and analysis of each episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones. Additionally, Marc shares from time to time what music he is listening to, and that got me thinking.

So much of the punk scene in Detroit is of the goth genre, so it is refreshing to hear a local band churning out garage-band inspired punk. I guess that you’d call Protomartyr’s music post-punk, but I’ve been a fan since first getting turned on to the band in 2012. Most recently, I’ve been reading a growing number of positive reviews as a result of their appearance at SXSW. Their most recent releases are available on iTunes.

A co-worker turned me on to Death (yes, that’s the name of the band) in January of this year. The band was formed in 1971 by the Hackney brothers. After hearing the story of how their music had been discarded in the 70’s and was re-discovered 30 years later in the attic of an old home in the city of Detroit captured my attention. The two of us immediately downloaded the documentary “A Band Called Death” and watched it during lunch – it remains one of the best movies that I’ve seen in the past year. If you haven’t seen it, then go download it on Amazon and watch it immediately.  The music has been on constant rotation in my car since… I cannot get enough!

Graves provided the vocals for the 1997 release American Psycho and 1999’s Famous Monsters for The Misfits. In 2013, he released a re-visioning of much of this music on The Lost Skeleton Returns, and then followed up with a release of an acoustic version of the entire album. Although the Danzig led music will always be my favorite Misfits fare, it’s a return to a chapter in the Misfits story that is very much worth the time and energy.

That’s it for this time around… go and be intentional.

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