With every day, two things get more prominent in my 58 year old life.

More stuff on my older body hurts. Most recently, after a bike crash, it’s a newly arthritic right thumb. It’s harder to open the jar of dill pickles.

The second thing is that, every day, I more realise how very little I actually know.

I recently did an audit of my own ignorance. I walked from my flat to my office which is about 500 metres through the central part of Parramatta. I looked at things and asked myself: do I know how that thing /…


When I was a political candidate in 2007, a local newspaper dubbed me “the loudmouth New Yorker”. They probably thought it was insulting. I took it with pride!

And, the older I get, I become even more outspoken. Perhaps, that’s about no longer really caring about success and status — but very much caring about democratic discourse. Perhaps, it’s about no longer having too many professional or political constraints — and being very much a free agent of radical centrism.

Perhaps, it’s about claiming the opportunity that comes from inheriting a quirky mind from my parents, a commitment to critical…


I went “lockdown loony” a few days ago.

Long story short, a dude in my building flagrantly and rudely ignored the rules when it comes to masks and number of people on our high-rise’s lift etc. I enforced those rules in no uncertain terms, eg, equally rudely.

This led to two middle-aged men trading school-yard insults in the foyer of our up-market building. We almost got to the “your mother!” stage and total meltdown before some tiny remainder of maturity, and the concierge, intervened in. He probably saved us both from court dates and defibrillators. Thanks, Mo!

The whole incident…


Today, the Biloela family will be given permission to remain in Australia and, from a compassionate perspective, that is an undeniably a good thing.

Today, rather than acknowledge the grace amongst us, Australia’s on-line combatants will sully that good thing.

From those bent on seeing the world only through a partisan political lens rather than a humanitarian one, we will hear the following types of statements.

From the Left of the spectrum:

· “This only happened because the Government was forced into it.”

· “It took way too long for this to occur and the Government should be ashamed.”

·…


Identity politics. Half the time I don’t know what’s meant by a term wielded like a Star Wars lightsabre.

I do, though, have a guesstimation that nowadays: a) some people feel better by being able to call themselves what they individually feel themselves to primarily be, and; b) some people feel worse cos they think that undermines us as a social whole. The two ‘some people’ don’t appear to like each other very much.

All of which seems a bit upside down to me cos the people in the first group tend to also think of themselves as ‘progressives’ and…


If you ever catch a cuppa with an Australian Federal or State politician who is out of Government and in Opposition, he or she will inevitably lament the situation of their Party and themselves.

You’re likely to be told about the lack of resources, the lack of critical data, the inability to ‘make a difference’, and the difficulty of ‘cutting through’ and getting one’s messages out. Some have described to me their feeling that they’re in some airport waiting lounge ceaselessly waiting on the plane that is power, prestige and policy influence.

Some in Opposition become obsessed with the Leadership…


Some old golfer with a gut won a big tournament in the States overnight and, as we march around the park with beer bellies and Olympic-level sneakers, McCluskey reckons it’s a vindication of everything he, his generation, and the realm that we survey have ever stood for. He cites it as evidence that there’s still hope for washed-up white males. I note it as we get to around 5k steps.

As young workmates in the early 90s, me and McCluskey would drink at the Concourse bar in the bowels of Wynyard Station on the way home to our respective and…


‘The Coalition has abandoned debt and deficit in a monumental shift to its political narrative.’

That’s the refrain we’ve basically heard from many of Australia’s political journalists since the release of the Government’s last budget and its emphasis on spending on aged care, mental health and other social policy areas.

If one moment singularly captures how bad some sections of Australian political journalism has become, we have arrived at.

Let’s breakdown the bad. Let’s look at the flawed assumptions and lazy thinking.

First and foremost — by like a half-marathon ahead — the current take on the Budget reveals the…


This past week, in a tiny town in upstate New York that he and his family have called home for more than sixty years, a good man was buried with his coffin proudly draped by an American flag. State Troopers in their Smokey and the Bandit hats provided a guard of honour at his funeral.

Zen Sawchuk, my uncle, was 95.

When a loved one passes, we set out the historical markers of their lives. It’s how we “locate” them in the world and in our own adjacent lives. We can also reflect on what gracious gifts the deceased have…


Every profession has a “black box” that it’s not keen for customers or the public to look inside. Or, where it hides the little tricks of the trade that create the industry’s perceived value and operators’ return on investment.

“Black boxes” pay for a lot of ski holidays in Aspen and private school fees on the North Shore, and can therefore be firmly jammed shut lest their contents become commodified.

When it comes to media management and public relations, the “black box” can be even harder to get inside because it’s an industry based on words and images. …

Pete Shmigel

Pete Shmigel writes, coaches, advocates for mental health, and serves on Boards - after surviving 3 CEO gigs and professional politics.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store