COMMENTARY: A Personal Note from Michael Josephson

Dear Reader and Friend,

I hope it’s not presumptuous to address you as “Friend,” but I’ve shared with you so many of my deepest thoughts — including my recent sense of loss and uncertainty when the radio station KNX in Los Angeles cancelled the Character Counts broadcasts — that I feel a genuine intimacy with you. I’ll turn 69 in a few weeks and I had been seriously thinking of  “hanging it up.” (Please care enough to read on.)

But I received hundreds of letters, including nearly 80 essays submitted in our “Have Lunch With Michael” contest. (Don’t forget to read the top 10 and vote at our Contest Page.  The encouragement and expressions of gratitude moved me to tears and made me realize I’m not ready to surrender my opportunity to play a meaningful role in the lives of those who value my work.

So, with the help of more than 1000 responses to my request for input as to how I might adjust to my new reality, I’ve decided to make an all-out effort to build a dynamic online community. I hope you noticed that this newsletter leads you to a new blog that includes much more than my commentaries. Please go directly to and poke around. I am trying to make it a place worthy of regular visits, and of course, your willingness to broaden our reach by recommending us to friends.

I have also considerably increased my engagement in our two Facebook pages, the official CHARACTER COUNTS! page and a more personal What Will Matter page. If you are on Facebook, please “like” both pages so you can receive my commentaries and other posts daily. Soon you will be able to get audio versions of my commentaries from iTunes.  (Hopefully this can replace listening on the radio.) We will even have an app that will give folks owning iPhone and Android smart phones access to everything on our new blog.

To make this work I really, really need your help and I am asking you to consider taking on a personal challenge to convince at least five new people to subscribe to the newsletter and like our Facebook pages. I’m told the most effective way to do this is through multiple e-mails or posts — not a small commitment.

In the comments section below, let me know what you think, what you’re willing to do, and any other ideas you have to make this work.

Comments 62

  1. Dear Friend Michael/Mr. Josephson:
    Thank you for always sharing your deepest thoughts and for reminding all of us of the importance of ethical conduct in all areas of life. It sometimes seems that introspection and a moral compass have given way to expediency and situational ethics in our society. You serve a necessary role by providing food for thought day to day, as we work toward developing a keener sense of what constitutes ethical behavior. Some might say that is the role of religion, but I would argue that rather than pigeonhole our beliefs of right and wrong into the neat cubbyholes of mandates and tradtions, that we weigh our actions with a finely-tuned conscience that transcends dogma. Just a thought or two, and a word of gratitude for the messages you convey.

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  2. I am sharing this with my network. Your commentaries are thoughts to live by. I’m very excited to see you expanding your online community. Please let me know how I can help.

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  3. Isn’t is an amazing thing when, from the darkest night, you awake to a beautiful sunrise? I have the feeling there are many sunrise’s left in you. Like the Phoenix, you will rise and find a different platform to continue your commitment to building character in a society that is lacking it.


  4. Dear Michael,

    Your commentaries, your writings, the thoughts you share and the quotes you post have helped me on more days than I can count. I cannot tell you how many mornings I turned on the radio to hear your commentary and it was EXACTLY the words I needed to hear.

    Lately I have felt like hanging up the towel in regards to my career aspirations but just reading that you have felt the same way when you have been so successful at reaching people, made me realize once again, that it is just fear and distress talking and not the goodness and light and positivity that is right underneath this layer of muck!

    I will post and repost and respost your writings to my page and ask my friends to take a look at your pages. Most people I know are on a spiritual journey as well.

    Thank you for being a constant source of inspiration and for never letting me forget who I really am.

    Kim Russell

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      Kim, your note is appreciated on several levels. It pleases me greatly to hear that our conversations have been valuable to you and that you are so willing to help bring others into our community of learners. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. – MJ

  5. Prof. Josepheson:

    69 and hanging it up? I’m one of your former students. You always impressed the importance of being able to use the tools you taught to serve others. I recently turned 70. Six years ago I considered, oh so briefly, of “hanging it up.” I “reinvented” myself and pursued a new field of law — bankruptcy: bringing relief to folks who are in real pain. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done since graduation more than 40 years ago. If we are blessed with health, the opportunities are endless.

  6. MIchael,
    Hanging it up? Then what? You have a powerful message to share with the world. Why on earth would you stop now?
    I found you recently quite by accident so I may not know the whole story but from what I do know of your work it is reaching an audience that derives benefit and joy from it. What more could we ask for?
    I will be 80 tomorrow and am far from “hanging it up.” My life work and mission continues to give me satisfaction and make a difference in the lives of people.
    Yes, I am asking you to share the gift you were given as you have been doing for many years.
    Peace and gratitude to you and yours.

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  7. Dear Michael

    Your email was the first thing I read this AM…what an inspiring way to start a day and especially today, a day which I believe to be our nations most meaningful holiday…a national day of “Thanks”.

    Today I will give thanks for the wonderful life I have with my life partner-my wife and our to incredible children and the family and friends we will be with later today for dinner. I will also give thanks for the inspiration you provide me each time I read your column.

    I read the two comments replying to your thoughts of “hanging it up” which helped inspire me to send you this note. I’m one of those who treasured your broadcasts on KNX. The problem was I don’t commute to work in a traditional way (work from home) and the only time I would hear your commentaries were when I happen to be in the car when it was broadcast. The cancellation of your broadcast has forced you to embrace alternative distribution channels to get your message to your audience…these channels can and will reach a greater audience. The social media tools available to all of us allows you to deliver and us to consume your messages in a more personal and meaningful way. Technology as you know constantly changes, however, the need for your message is forever persistent. I’m glad you have decided to continue your work, our community, our country, needs you more now than ever before.

    I wish you and your family my warmest wishes for a very special and thankful Thanksgiving holiday.

    Dennis Walsh

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      Thanks Dennis for your kind words about the commentaries and your positive thoughts about the ultimate effectiveness of a more robust online presence. I just hope you and others will send friends and promote the site so we can build a bigger base. I slso hope you come to enjoy the additional material I am posting and that you find it worthwhile to visit often and poke around.-MJ

      1. Michael, it’s working already. By that I mean I became aware of your site thanks to Dennis W sharing with me this morning. You matter, you count, and I’m thankful you chose to “hang in there” vs. “hanging it up.”

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  8. At 69 you are far too young to retire. If you stop doing this, what will you do. I have been told, by my Doctor, in 1993, that if I just sit down I will last at most 7 years. I am sure you have more to offer life than to quit working. no matter what you choose to do, do something.
    I have read or heard your words for many years, some original, some passed on, but all worth considering again. If you choose to keep doing a blog, I choose to follow it, Keep up the GOOD work as long as you can.
    I have followed that doctors instructions, will be 77 next month, The work has changed but I have not stopped doing something.

    May you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.

    Your Friend

  9. I truly miss your voice on KNX but I’m so happy to receive your emails. I will certainly be sharing this link as the sig line on my emails and will encourage my contacts to subscribe and read your words. I have to admit I don’t always agree with you but I still admire your way of expressing what you obviously truly believe. When I do agree with you your words are often part of my daily conversations. I like being able to use your thoughts to give my almost teenage granddaughter something to think about. Have a happy and safe and remember how many of us are counting you as among the things we are most thankful for.

  10. Happy Thanksgiving, Michael!
    What a wonderful surprise as I wait for my turkey dinner to be ready to be greeted by Character Counts on my email! Thank you so much for everything you do. I still miss you at 6:52 A.M. on KNX. This was not a smart move on their part, but I know God will continue to bless you and multiply the venues for your incredible work.
    I remain a non-facebooker, tweeter, chirper, etc., so I’m not sure what the future will hold for me and access to Character Counts. I look forward to receiving the emails.
    Please continue your work! We are not ready for you to hang it up! How are your daughters? Let us know how she is enjoying New York!

    God Bless You and Your Family during this Holy, Holiday Season,

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  11. Don’t even think about the R word; there is so much work to be done and believe it or not, we’re actually listening!!!!!
    In good health………..Kate

  12. Dear Michael,
    I only recently discovered your work, while researching for a university project, where I created a blog about philosophical ethics for children. I was actually quite surprised to find such a thing as ‘Character Counts’ existed in the US, where moral behaviour is so intertwined with religion, and not always in a positive way!
    Being in Australia, I’d never had the opportunity to listen in to your radio show, but I was very disappointed to hear the station had decided to cancel your spot. I’d be most interested to follow an online community, and if there are podcasts, so much the better to connect with your messages. You might find your voice reaches a much wider, international audience! Please don’t retire, your voice of reason and tolerance is so very much needed, and appreciated.

  13. Dear Michael,

    I miss hearing your morning commentary. You were the “reset” button on a new day. I cannot begin to tell you how many times your wisdom pulled me through. I’m glad you’ve decided to stick around. We need you!

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  14. Dear, dear Mr. Josephson;
    I thought KNX canceling your broadcast was bad, but to wake up to my email form you, sharing your thoughts about ‘hanging it up’, well, please reconsider. Your ‘messages’ have resonated so deeply in my life over the years; so much so, that my daughter has oftentimes been heard saying, “Mom, you’re going Michael Josephson on me”! I can appreciate your sense of loss regarding KNX failing to renew your contract as I’m sure it was the catalyst by which some your ‘life’ motivation was fueled. Conversely, those of us who dialed you in on our radios feel the loss. Your kindness, instruction, and thought provoking mentoring served to keep me, personally, from hanging it up!
    As you have been

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      Thanks Gwyneth — as the father of 4 teen-age girls your “Mom, your going Michael Josephson on me” is now one of my favorites — I just get the rolling eyes treatment. Please be sure to read the rest of the note where I say I’ve decided to keep on going and try to build a dynamic online community to replace the KNX radio audience but i need help from folks like you to bring in your friends. Thanks for the encouragement.

  15. Hi my Friend,

    I so enjoy your commentaries, and really enjoy listening to your voice. I always listened to you on KNX, and miss that so much, that this weekly email helps. Thank you! Happy Holidays.

  16. Glad you are going forward with this new venture. I always enjoy reading your commentaries and would miss greatly not having them as a part of my life. Thanks for the wisdom and common sense that you share. I anticipate your new means of communication will be even more successful than your radio broadcasts. I am glad you took the opportunity to “hang in there”.

  17. Hanging up? Please do not even think about it! Your words have given me the push I needed in the hardest of times and with economy as is I have had plenty of experience in that area! I would like you to think about coming home on a Spring day. When you enter your home you would close the door behind you, then you would open the windows to let the light come in. In performing such action you will also hear the voices of children and the chirping of the birds. You will notice the beauty of the clouds with the blue sky back drop. Most likely you will remove your shoes, wiggle your toes, serve yourself a beverage and grab something to read. When our job is no longer ours we close the door behind ourselves and by doing that we have the time to “see” what it is offered in the many windows of “our” home (life). It is up to us to tune our ears to the positive. For a flower to grow it needs manure…well, for us to grow we need our life to be fertilized by the challenges offered by change. We have seen your kite dancing in the sky. Relax. Your words are not going to be limited by a few miles stuck in traffic. Like the kite seen through a window each of your commentaries has taken the form of a hot air balloon. The internet is your Alburquerque. Before you had to spread the word about the pillars, now the pillars are standing and we search and goggle for your words. No travelling required. Relax and wiggle your toes. LVA

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  18. In a world of robotic and non-human connections, there are very few people who can still inspire us and give us the much needed wisdom to stay human. You have been a source of inspiration and have helped energize me to teach what is right to my children. This past may, my daughter’s entire bat mitzvah speech centered on one of your stories( the young boy, the old man, looking for G-d…..). Her speech of 20 minutes long, left no dry eyes at the temple with 300 attendance! I hope you will successfully continue doing what you so beautifully are doing and keep on inspiring us and touching our hearts for a long time to come. With much appreciation. Mojgan York

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      Dear Mojgan, Thanks for this very encouraging story. It’s great to be appreciated. i hope you and your daughter like my Facebook page so you can get commentaries and other quotes daily

  19. Dear Mr. Josephson,

    I am a high school English teacher at an independent, Christian school in South Carolina, and about three times a week, I share your writings during our devotional time with the students in my homeroom class. (By the way, we conclude with the students’ prayer concerns, a prayer for all, and the Pledge of Allegiance.)

    Whether it is your musings regarding a child who is nearly grown or the ethics of the Joe Paterno controversy, your writings are pertinent and on-target for my junior and senior high school students. Your thoughts and words prompt thoughtful as well as didactic moments for my students as we discuss and attempt to clarify the difference between what is right and what is wrong in today’s society.

    I believe, as do most of the teachers at our 450-student school, that it is not only my responsibility to teach grammar, writing, and literature to my students, but also the appropriate social mores that seem more and more compromised in today’s world. The issues you present help my students, along with a little direction from me, think about and hopefully define for themselves what kind of people they want to be.

    In this way, Mr. Josephson, you touch not only me, but at least 20 students on a regular basis, and I suspect even more students or parents who later hear about what we have discussed. This year, we even agreed as a class that it is so much better to be a shopping cart putter-upper than a shopping cart leaver!

    Simple lessons, but effective and life-changing! Please know there are many of us out here supporting and learning from you on a daily basis!

    God bless and keep those commentaries coming …

    Rebecca M. Green
    English Department Head
    Thomas Sumter Academy
    Sumter, South Carolina

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      Thank you so much for the affirmation and kindness. I am pleased and proud that you have found such value in my commentaries.

  20. Michael,
    I am getting back to your annoucement of a possible retirement (few days late) and have had a chance to read all lthe comments which partly, at least, changed your mind. I remember first meeting you in 1999 at the Arizona Accord which later became the foundation for Pursuing Victory with Honor. Throughout my career as Executive Director/President of the Iowa Games (which you always referred to the Iowa State Games.) I didn’t mind since in my earlier career I coached at ISU in basketball for 12 years of my 25 years. Anyway we have tried in every way to incorporate CC! in all we have done here at the Iowa Sports Foundation; from sportsmanship medals, to scholarships for good character and to even giving at no cost to all the coaches of the Iowa Games PVWH Coaching manuals as well as other materials like the great book “Season of Life.” Over the past 7 years we at the Foundation with Character Counts! Iowa have hosted a Pursuing Victory with Honor Summit and have moved it around the state. We have held the summit at ISU, U of Iowa, Drake, Univ. of Northern Iowa and Morningside College. Without your lead we would have never held these meaningful summits for high school coaches and athletes. This past October we set an attendance record with 770 athelets and coaches here at ISU. Even though I am retiring from my position as President I will continue to be involved with the ISF and will always be supportive of CC! Thank you for all you have done and glad you are not retiring. Keep up the good fight. Jim

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  21. Hello Michael,

    I have enjoyed your newsletters for some time, and I have reposted some of the stories you reference on Facebook

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  22. Dear Friend Michael,
    I did notice that at the 50 minute to the hour..You haven’t been there. But your teachings and your commentaries have stuck in my head and heart. For a few years I didn’t miss one….Your ethical comments are what we need in the world today. So many times we forget! To greet one another, to respect one another and just to listen to one another!….You have taught me all of these things. I am a Mother of 3 and a Grandmother of 2. Like yourself my husband has all girls. So when I could physically come in the door in the AM after hearing your broadcast it always made my morning with my Family a little nicer.

    Thank you for all you do and who you are.

    Best regards,
    A Friend forever,

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      Darlene, you very kind and generous words are much appreciated. Ihope you will find a way to access my commentaries still either thru an RSS feed, Face Book or by visited the blog directly and often at I don’t want to lose cntact with good folks like you.

  23. As a former student of yours as well (all three years, culminating in Ethics and Negotiation) I have watched you develop “Character Counts” over the years and have felt honored to have known you personally during law school. Please don’t stop; the fact that one media outlet shut off the spigot does not mean that there is not a better outlet somewhere. I will like your pages and spread the word. Please note that you made a great impression on at least one student. I credit your classes with instilling in me a sense of honor at being an attorney and always wanting to do the “right” thing. I look forward to what is coming next!

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      Thank you Cheryl. I am so glad I had an impact on you as a law student and that i am still of some value. Your support is much appreciated.

  24. My kids’ school has a character building program that focuses on a different aspect of character each month, ie: good citizenship, respect, responsibility, honesty, etc. You could get schools involved by grouping your commentaries by elements of character & principals or teachers could read one daily or weekly as food for thought for the students.

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  25. To My Friend, Michael,

    I was blessed to be a student of yours back in 2003 for two sessions. I was to be the new Diretor of Character Counts in a brand new Jr. Hi. But someone in the district changed their minds. I did purchase the materials and did what I could being a full time teacher. I retired in 2005, due to a couple of things – a great vision and the poor health of my husband who died two years later.
    I am now 72, and I can sincerely say I wanted to hang it up, but it happens only in God’s time and not ours. I am back substituting and I taught Character Counts to two different classes Monday and Tuesday.

    My perception of your giftedness is not about religion, but relationships, and to be perfectly honest I truly believe you are going to be bigger and better on the Internet than on radio. Not only will you be ale to teach a larger audience, but you’ll have the entire world to communicate with and learn from, or at least hear from.

    You are in the Master’s hand and He paints boldly and broadly. Enjoy your new adventures!!

    Love, Barbara Brandt ( I always sign love, as that is what my life is all about).

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  26. Thank you for not ” hanging it up” yet. “writers never quit writing”… “thinkers never quit thinking. Enjoy what you’re doing , that is if you do… Secondly, I ‘m surprise you didn’t get in social media sooner.

    I will contact all my friends and group to add you to their FB.
    Good luck. With this new approach You’ll have more exposure, internationally and don’t have to fight the traffic to go to work at knx!

    Thank you again.
    Happy holidays to you and yours.

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  27. Dear Michael,
    When I heard about the Penn State scandall I immediately went to your website to gain valuable insight to this horrific matter. You are the voice of reason in this crazy life we lead. You have helped me make better choices every day!

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      Thanks Julie – it is truly gratifying to be valued. Please stay in touch on our new blog and send your friends. Are you also connected on Facebook? – Michael

  28. Thank you for the years of inspiration and guidance. You have helped us be a better parents, spouses, friends, and career professionals. More importantly, you have provided all of your listeners the opportunity to recalibrate their moral compasses. One day it may be a confirmation that we are on course, and the next day we may gain the tools to make a needed or subtle course corrections in our decision making, understanding, attitudes, and overall character. You have created thousands upon thousands self proclaimed teachers and psychologists. I can

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      Scott, thank you for being one of the reasons I continue to do what I’ve been doing. It means so much to me to learn that you think i helped improve your life. I hope with this new blog format I con continue to do so. Please stay in touch.

  29. Dear Mr. Josephson,

    You have made my life better by reading your commentaries. I know, I strive everyday to be good and ethical person, in aspect of life and I have achieved this by your big help. You made my life easier and happier. I wish thank you with all my heart for helping me to be the person I become. I hope you will continue your excellent commentaries; although, if you think the time for you has that you need to retire from this job, andto do other endevours and will make you and your loves happy, I will support your decision wholeheartedly. I will miss your beautiful writing but I wish you all the best,

    Respectfully yours,

    Tess Josue from Calgary, Canada

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      Hi Tess, thank you so much. It means a lot to me to know you have found value in my work. It was letters like your that convinced me to continue to write and make my commentaries available by e-mail and directly at our new website I hope the new blog format provides even more for you and that you will continue to stay engaged.

  30. I come to you after responding to a request by one of the essay writers to read her essay. I have heard you on radio in the past but did not listen often to that station, but was always impressed with the importance of your messages in living a successful and meaningful life.

    I will “like” you on your Facebook sites and look forward to hearing from you in the future, in whatever format you come to embrace.

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  31. Dear Michael: Every day I listened to your ethics commentary while I was driving and each time I would say out loud: Thank you Michael for bringing sense and decency into our world! You can’t imagine how much I’ve missed hearing you and to discover this website on my IPad last night was a REAL GIFT!

  32. I always looked forward to your commentaries on KNX. I have to admit that I don’t listen to KNX nearby as much as I did before. I have used your Character Counts program in my classroom and at day camp. The students respond very well. They talk about have a TeRRiFiCC character. I love the online newsletters. I little extra material on this important topic is always appreciated! Thanks! You are making a difference!

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  33. Dear Micheal ,

    I listen to your commentaries on radio , and download the ones I miss ,I admit its really inspiring , it’s really a loss to be removed from radio , but it’s an uplifting fact that we can still listen to them through your blog .

    thank you

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