Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Procedures, Interview, and Appoval of your Canadian NAFTA work permit

As promised, here's the rest of what you need to know to get your NAFTA Professional Work Permit to work in Canada:


When you are inspected you should advise the CIC officer that you are making an in-person NAFTA professional application as one of the 63 designated professional fields.

If you are flying into Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, you will be inspected at the airport. If you are driving, you will be inspected at the border. (Some of the smaller border crossings do not have a NAFTA officer, so you may have to make your initial NAFTA professional entry at a different border crossing. Some border crossings will accept NAFTA applications only during designated times when a NAFTA officer is present.)

The inspection interview:

Whether you intend to enter by air or automobile, the CIC officer will ask questions about your purpose in coming and how long you intend to stay. Review the letter from your employer in advance and refer to the letter when you are speaking with the officer. As a Management Consultant, for example, you will want to stress that you are not actually engaging in day-to-day work activities or performing work regularly performed by your client’s employees, but instead are entering in connection with a consulting project which seeks to improve your client’s business strategies, administration, organization, and/or operations.

Answer all questions honestly. If you fail to cooperate in any way, or if your answers create uncertainty about whether you meet the NAFTA professional requirements, you may be delayed or even denied entry.

You will be asked about any history of criminal violations. This is routine. If you have a history of criminal violations, you should review this in advance with your employer.

Approval and duration of stay:

A U. S. citizen admitted to Canada under NAFTA will receive a work permit allowing the applicant to live and work in Canada for the period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of one year. NAFTA professionals can receive extensions of stay in one-year increments. There is no outside limit on the total period of stay in the NAFTA professional category.

That's about it! If you want to discuss the process, leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Good Luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Prepare to get your Work Permit as a NAFTA Professional

As much as is involved in getting a NAFTA Professional Work Permit, when I undertook the process, I was glad that the company I contracted my services with was well prepared to make the process smooth for me.

I am sharing here a condensed fact sheet for those who want to know more about this process:

Eligibility requirements:

Under NAFTA, qualifying American professionals may be admitted to Canada to live and work temporarily in Canada. One of the principal advantages of entry under NAFTA as a professional is that, unlike many other employment-based temporary visa categories, NAFTA professionals need not petition CIC for visa approval in advance of entry. Instead, NAFTA professionals may apply in person at the time of entry at a Canadian Port of Entry. To enter Canada as a NAFTA professional, you must show the Canadian immigration officer:

  • You are a U.S. citizen

  • You will be employed in Canada in one of 63 designated professional fields

  • You possess the credentials required for your professional field

  • You understand that, in order to live and work in the Canada, you must maintain a valid immigration status, and you will depart Canada if for any reason your status should expire and you have not obtained another status allowing you to remain in Canada

What you should be prepared to present when you enter:

When you arrive at the Canadian Port of Entry, you must have with you and be prepared to present:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, passport, or a naturalization certificate)

  • A supporting letter from your employer

  • Copies your university degrees

  • A copy of your current resume

  • A copy of the contract or agreement between your employer and the company in Canada they have a contract with which should show the basic contractual arrangements between the parties; and

  • The $150 CAN application fee (cash, money orders and certified checks accepted; personal checks not accepted; credit cards may or may not be accepted)

Tomorrow: The Procedure at the border, the inspection interview, and details about the approval and duration of stay

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Working as a United States NAFTA Professional in Canada

So...have you ever wondered about the details of NAFTA? From our friends at Wikipedia:

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (Spanish: Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte [TLCAN], French: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain [ALENA]) is a trilateral trade bloc in North America created by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The agreements were signed in December 8, 1993 by the leaders of the three countries — Brian Mulroney of Canada, Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico, and Bill Clinton of the United States [1] when Jean Chrétien was in office in Canada. In terms of combined purchasing power parity GDP of its members, as of 2007[update] the trade bloc is the largest in the world and second largest by nominal GDP comparison. It also is one of the most powerful, wide-reaching treaties in the world.

"...powerful and wide-reaching," eh? This is very true. But I never thought I would become a beneficiary of this agreement in a very personal way.

You see, I contracted my services as an independent consultant to a company that needed my talents on a project in the Canadian Oil Sands in Northern Alberta. As I was briefed on the project, I was introduced to the concept of working as a "NAFTA Professional" in Canada. My company did a great job preparing me for the process of becoming properly documented to legally work in Canada.

What I did discover, however, is that there is precious little information out there to prepare or even inform people considering this type of work. What I hope to lay out for readers of this blog are things to consider when preparing for this type of assignment.

Stay tuned!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Center for Oral History at West Point

Wow! Thanks to classmate Donna McAleer, I have learned of an amazing project underway at the United States Military Academy at West Point. It is called the Center for Oral History. About the project:

"The West Point Center for Oral History will be the premier oral history archive of the story of the American soldier, in both war and peace. It will serve as a powerful learning tool for West Point cadets and as an important research center for historians and the general public.
Interview subjects will range from veterans of World War II through soldiers returning from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

Textbooks struggle to keep up with the challenges of 21st century warfare. This archive brings the cadets’ education up to the moment, allowing those returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to prepare those who will follow.
A Center for Oral History allows cadets and the general public the opportunity to hear first hand the experiences of soldiers from World War II forward. It also creates an historical record where one has not yet existed.
Finally, through film and publishing projects established in partnership with some of the most creative journalists, filmmakers and historians working today, this project will help close the gap of understanding that has long hindered public discussion
. "
Please go to the site and have a look at one of the most impressive videos I have seen in some time. As a grad, it gave me chills.
Here's the link:
This one is going to be awesome!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Morning!

The full time travelling consulting position is really very interesting.

I am working with clients trying to assist them in improving their operations. The answers are not earth-shattering revelations. The solutions are more on the order of data and fact, tried and true. Throughout my career in leadership, I am often amazed at how some organizations are literally paralyzed by their fear of change. This is ironic in the face of the fact that the only constant is change.

I also figured I would have more time than I currently do to blog and relax a bit. Nope. It's a rigorous gig that takes a lot of self-discipline to to well. Yesterday, for example, we left for the site at 5:30am. We worked there until about 12:30pm and then drove back the hour it takes to get back from the client's site. We then grabbed a quick bite for lunch and then headed back to the hotel for another series of meetings. I was thinking we'd finish up in a few hours....nope! It was 8pm before we finished and went to dinner! After a day like that, which is how most days go in the gig, there's absolutely no "me" time.

I come back, call the family, check my e-mail and hit the sack. Interesting to me how crammed the time is and how quickly it goes by.

As a leader, you have to constantly re-assess, constantly adapt to change. Teaching that skill, however, is even more challenging than practicing it...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Some interesting Fort McMurray Video

Here's some information I found about Fort McMurray. Enjoy!

And....Here's some video of the trucks we're working with up here! WOW!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Acclimated and Oriented

Whew! I am back in Fort McMurray on my third trip on this project and am feeling a little more like I'm getting in the groove. The project is rolling along and the first 10 day rotation went very well, so now it's time to get back to keeping everyone up to date. I think I'll start tomorrow with a couple of posts on how what an American professional has to go through to legally work in Canada. It's an interesting bit of paperwork, made easier for me by the company I am contracted with, but still very interesting. It was also easier for me living about 20 minutes from the bridges into Canada. I just went up on a Saturday morning and submitted all the paper work. It actually took longer to cross back into the US than it did to get my NAFTA Professional work permit in Canada! I can officially report our borders are secure and those Canadian shoppers aren't going to pull the wool over our eyes anytime soon!

More tomorrow!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Best Restaurant in Fort McMurray

Believe it or not, one really difficult thing about living on the road, especially in the Oil Sands and Fort McMurray, Alberta is finding a decent restaurant that understands and cares that most of the people dining out HAVE TO and have spent at least 3 hours that day travelling to and from the mines.
This evening, my teammates and I had experiences at both ends of the customer service restaurant spectrum. At one end, The Fort McMurray Raddison Inn restaurant. We sat down in a crowded restaurant and did not even see a waitress for 10 minutes. When one of my teammates motioned to one, she promptly ignored him. After 15 minutes and not even a glass of water, we got up and left. Boo to you Fort McMurray Raddison Inn. You do not care about your customers, your prices are way too high, and your service stinks.
We then decided to try out the Sawridge Inn. We walked in to the beauty you see pictured above....a restaurant that understood that most people just want some good food, reasonably priced, quickly, so they can get some rest and get up tomorrow and do it all over again. I have yet to see another restaurant here with a customer focus like this one. The food was excellent, the variety wonderful, even had the choice of pumpkin pie for dessert! And...the best part, $23can!
Hooray, Sawridge Inn! You really impressed us this evening and we will be back again. And here's a link to their site:
(...hmmmm....management consultant turned food critic....could be an interesting career change...grins....)

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Picture 222
Originally uploaded by Gokul Thirumalai

Found this pic on Flickr and it about sums up the way it feels to stand beside one of these behemoths! I finally got to climb around on one and it felt like someone hit me with a shrink-ray!

What an experience it is here in the Oil Sands. It truly is unique and unlike any place I have ever been. When you think "boomtown" you think excess and an unreal quality to normal things. One fella told me he purchased a 1500 sq ft mobile home on a 1/2 acre lot for...get this....$450,000! No kidding! A starter home is going for $650,000. Basic. 3 BR on a 1/2 acre. Incredible!

It's the oil, my friends. There are many companies tapping into the bitumen resource and the reserves are vast. The faster they can process the oil at the current high prices, the more money there is to be made. As long as oil stays high, this boom will continue and people know it.

I've heard that people come here to work for 12 days and then fly home for 12 days. and the companies they work for pay them to fly back and forth as well as incredible wages. Like you would not believe.

What a great time for our Canadian friends. If you live in Canada, you know a lot about the opportunity here. And many will make their fortunes here and retire early.

Can't wait to see what winter has in store! LOL!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fort McMurray, Alberta...What a town!

So I got here yesterday, right on time and had to rent a car. When i went out to the car, I noticed a 3 foot long crack snaking it's way across the front windshield. When I went back in to the counter and told the young lady, she said "yeah, they're all cracked."

Welcome to Fort McMurray!

The reason "they're all cracked" is that people typically drive the rental cars 75km north on the only real highway in the area to the Oil Sands mines. This is an incredible place where everyone here is making lots of money working long hours to extract Bitumen from the ground. The economy is crazy with a typical hotel room costing $209cn a night and gas at $1.25 a litre! They also charge a daily rate PLUS mileage for the rentals with or without the cracked windshield.

People are travelling from all over Canada to work up here and "strike it rich." It really is an amazing site, especially on the hour and a half drive north, just to get to the mines.

Stay tuned! More to come!

Monday, October 6, 2008

And so the Adventure Begins!

And so, with the alarm going off at 3:45am this morning and a brief cuddle with the Mrs., I am up and into the shower and off to the Toronto Airport where, Grande Chai Latte consumed, I sit writing to you this morning at 8:30am waiting on a flight. Though the day started early, the trip by taxi shuttle from home to the Toronto Airport (border crossing included) can take much longer if I leave later in the day, so I am content to get up early and wait here to ensure no travel issues.
My consulting work will take me to the Athabasca Oil Sands in northern Alberta, Canada. My project will be very interesting and challenging and I will post here what I learn about leadership, consulting, travel, working as an American professional in Canada, being away from home, and anything you ask me to write about.
On that note, please feel free to contact me here if you want me to address any concerns or questions you might have about things I write about. I know I found very little information on the Oil Sands that was of use on a personal/professional level, so I hope to chronicle as much information as I can about simple things like:
  • Who has the best Cell coverage in Fort McMurray?
  • Where to stay and when to book
  • Best travel options and things to consider
  • NAFTA professional status acquisition and documentation
  • Crossing the Border regularly
  • Staying in shape on the road
  • Attitudes and personalities in the world of consulting
  • What it's like to travel to work

Later this week, I will try to chronicle the adventure of getting a work permit as an American NAFTA Professional working in Canada from a practical viewpoint. It's something I had no idea about, but have completed and gone through and can share tips and pointers.

Wish me luck and come along for what should prove to be an interesting ride!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Missing in Action? Nahh......

I must apologize.

I have been remiss in not keeping up with the Blog. There's no excuse, really. I am just caught up in getting the consulting thing going full time. And I have been successful.

Full-time consulting after 20 years of being responsible for everyone and everything should be a welcome change. I have a knack for leadership and have tried for those twenty years to give an excellent return on investment for the organizations I have managed and led for.

Now it's time to take it to a different level. I will keep discussing lessons learned and sharing with my readers tips and advice for being a better leader.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oil Sands and Big Trucks!

Cat Dump Truck
Originally uploaded by mr. sneakers


What a big truck!

These vehicles are used to haul the oil sand to the refining process in the oil sand fields of Northern Alberta, Canada. Never thought I'd ever get to Alberta, let alone Fort McMurray, 400 miles north of Calgary, but that's where I am heading.

I have decided to pursue consulting full time and my first project will be "way up there." I am very excited about the opportunity to apply my background in an environment where people actually want my help to take their organization to the next level, or to implement intelligent solutions that enable them to work smarter, not harder.

Corporate America, especially those antiquated, old-school, muscle-managed organizations that have not seriously updated their business practices in 50+ years, often looks the gift horse in the mouth. Many backwards industries still think the way to motivate people is to "beat them until they do what we want." They disrespect their people constantly and thus devalue their most important assets.

I say, good riddance to that life.

I say hello to a world where I can truly work with people who can make a difference in organizations that want and will appreciate my help.

Hello, consulting!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Check out this video on Livestrong.com

Inspiration takes many forms.

Today, I got an e-mail from a classmate letting us know that his son, Alex Boehme, had suffered a severe injury with complications and has fought a hard battle to regain his strength and get back to the game of soccer that he loves. Here's a link to the LiveStrong website and Alex's Video:


So, when you're feeling like you've got too much to handle and you're overwhelmed by the day-to-day problems that you face, take a look at Alex's video and some of the others on the LiveStrong site and be inspired to overcome your problems.

The only way to make a difference in your own life is to take action and work to make a difference. Don't let life happen to you. Take control, take action, and take the lead in controlling your own destiny.

And please remember, whether you think you can or you think you can't...you're right!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Passion For the Game

So last night, the boys fought a hard game against a very tough team and had a chance to win it, but failed to capitalize. The final score was 12-7 and it really was a great game. Jim did not get to play as the coach kept all of his first stringers in the whole game (not something I agree with).

When Jimmy came out of the locker room, he was very upset. He was in tears over the loss and said it was hard to lose when they were so close and played so hard.

It was then that I realized he was learning to become a teammate and developing a passion for the game and his team. To see that blossom in a young man is a very cool thing.

As a leader, if we could inspire this kind of passion and commitment in our teams, we'd be unstoppable. What is it about the game of football that stirs the passions? Could we bring a similar passion to our work? Some work teams, rare though they are, function at this level. They are usually teams where:
  1. Each team member knows his responsibility and accepts the importance of that responsibility.
  2. Each team member cares about the other team members and wants to see them succeed as well.
  3. Each team member shares equally in the rewards of winning.
  4. Each team member realizes the synergy: "WE" are stronger than "me"

Want a lesson in what teamwork is?

Sometimes you need look no further than your son.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

OSHA and Leadership

Originally uploaded by volcanojw

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov

Interesting organization that typically strikes fear in the hearts of many manufacturing leaders. This is because there are many skeletons in the closet of most organizations. Things that managers know they should do something about, but continue not to do those things....important things....because "it costs too much," or "no one has gotten hurt on that thing in a long time," or my personal favorite "there's too many social issues surrounding that safety improvement."

The fact of the matter is, if you're waiting to do the right thing until after OSHA inspects, you're wrong. A leader puts the safety of his people ahead of everything else. A leader says if you can't do it safely, don't do it at all.

Too many times, as in the case of a recent death of a worker in a G%#dye$r chemical factory, problems that everyone knew existed, like not practicing emergency evacuations or having an accountability system where all the noses are touched and counted before saying "all present and accounted for," never get corrected until it's too late.

I for one won't tolerate it. Will you?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Love > Fear

Love > Fear
Originally uploaded by dk79

I like this sign. It about sums up what's going on right now for me and my family. You should look to those you love when the road gets a little bumpy. You must believe you will get through whatever life throws at you and the ones you love will always be there for you.

I watched a movie that has been our for a while, "Akeela and the Bee." If you have not seen it, it's an inspiring story of overcoming fear through the love and support of family and friends. I leave you today with a quote that is central to the theme of the film.

Our Greatest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson

Thursday, September 4, 2008


To my supporters, thanks. You are most important to me.

To my detractors, learn to like yourself and you may begin to like others.

To those of you who don't know what this post is about, stay tuned. You will in time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Who's got my SOX?

As I was discussing business with someone today, we touched on the Sarbanes-Oxley act. I found the whole history kinda fascinating, especially since many organizations still have woefully inadequate controls in place on largely antiquated processes and violate this act daily with impunity. It's a leadership challenge that could end with jail-time for the uninformed leader. Be cognizant of your responsibilities under this act or it could come back to haunt you.

The information and links below are from our friends at Wikipedia:

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub.L. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745, enacted 2002-07-30), also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 and commonly called SOX or Sarbox; is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems and WorldCom. These scandals, which cost investors billions of dollars when the share prices of the affected companies collapsed, shook public confidence in the nation's securities markets. Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (R-OH), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0. President George W. Bush signed it into law, stating it included "the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt."[1]

The legislation establishes new or enhanced standards for all U.S. public company boards, management, and public accounting firms. It does not apply to privately held companies. The Act contains 11 titles, or sections, ranging from additional Corporate Board responsibilities to criminal penalties, and requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement rulings on requirements to comply with the new law. Debate continues over the perceived benefits and costs of SOX. Supporters contend that the legislation was necessary and has played a useful role in restoring public confidence in the nation's capital markets by, among other things, strengthening corporate accounting controls. Opponents of the bill claim that it has reduced America's international competitive edge against foreign financial service providers, claiming that SOX has introduced an overly complex and regulatory environment into U.S. financial markets.[2]

The Act establishes a new quasi-public agency, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, which is charged with overseeing, regulating, inspecting, and disciplining accounting firms in their roles as auditors of public companies. The Act also covers issues such as auditor independence, corporate governance, internal control assessment, and enhanced financial disclosure.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Originally uploaded by Germ..

Summer's over folks! Back to work!

As we head into the last part of 2008, try to stay focused on what's important. Leadership, in all it's forms, is a challenge...much more than management. There's no "on/off" switch on people, so you have to engage their brains. Management does not do that....leadership does.

I've blogged here often on the difference, so frequent readers should know the mantra: You "manage" things. You lead people. If you are capable, that is. Too many people who are not in charge of their own emotions are actually given responsibilities for others. This often leads to disastrous results for organizations and people's careers. Many an otherwise capable and efficient operation has been destroyed, along with countless people's livelihoods, by incompetent managers masquerading as leaders.

Don't be one of those people. Leadership can be learned. It is not a trait bestowed at birth. It's also not a quick or easy study. Learning leadership and becoming a leader is a natural process. A natural process that has, at its core, your desire to admit where you need to work on yourself first. Leadership, after all, starts with an understanding and improvement of ourselves.

Are you ready for that kind of responsibility?

Are you worthy to lead others?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day
Originally uploaded by twm1340

Hey everyone! The summer has come to an end and the cold weather is just around the corner. Time for one last summer weekend before closing up the pool and getting ready for football.

For those who know me, I say no worries. It's cool.

For those who visit often, please remember the reason we celebrate Labor Day.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

A word about Free Speech...

...And some wonderful organizations (courtesy of Wiki pedia) that help people litigate against those who would try to impose Internet Censorship:

Web sites which fall foul of government censors in other countries are often re-hosted on a server in a country with less restrictions. Many websites which are forced to re-host their content do so on American servers and thus escape censorship while remaining available to their target audience. This is especially the case with neo-nazi and other sites promoting racial hatred, since these are prohibited in a number of European countries. Nevertheless the US Government has attempted to regulate certain acts and speech on the Internet (see US v. Baker).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an organization dedicated to protecting freedom of speech on the Internet. The Open Net Initiative (ONI) is a collaboration between the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, the University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme (University of Cambridge), and the Oxford Internet Institute, at Oxford University which aims to investigate, expose, and analyze Internet filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion.

Many countries utilize filtering software sold by US companies. The Chinese government has developed some of the most sophisticated forms of internet censorship in order to control or eliminate access to information on sensitive topics such as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Falun Gong, Tibet, Taiwan, pornography or democracy. They have also enlisted the help of some American companies like Microsoft, who have subsequently been criticized by proponents of freedom of speech.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Link to Soldier Demographics

Ronald Wilson Regan
Originally uploaded by Albert Charron

I was a young kid 2 months out of high school when I got on a plane for the first time in my life and departed for my future. The fella above, Ronald Regan, was the Commander in Chief. August 1, 1981. Off to basic training. 140 lbs soaking wet. Son of a steelworker, adopted at birth and raised in a middle class, blue-collar home. I joined the Army to serve my country, learn a skill, and save money for college. The opportunities that came my way after that day are my blessings.

Today, a classmate of mine from the Academy, Dan Carlo, sent me this link:


This is a link to a research paper on the demographics of who serves in the Armed Forces today. It's a very scholarly and informative piece that de-bunks quite a few myths about who is defending our freedom. I love the fact that things haven't changed much in the demographics since I was a young soldier.

Pray for them.

Thank them when you see them.

Do what you can to help their families if you get a chance.

Honor their service. They're doing it for us.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fellowship and Communication Development

TM Logo
Originally uploaded by Misnomer971

I greatly enjoyed this evening's Toastmaster's meeting...right up to the General Evaluator's rant, that is.

I invited some friends to our meeting and was pretty happy with the proceedings until one of our members whose role it was to give a general evaluation of the meeting, chose instead to rant and rave and insult people. How disappointing.

I have published articles on volunteer leadership and blogged here about the same topic. It is always disappointing when someone who should know better, lets emotions take over and does a lot of damage to their own reputation by lashing out inappropriately, especially with a group of volunteers.

There are ways to criticize constructively and none of them include personally belittling someone in front of a group or ranting about things, regardless of what your emotional opinion may be. It's also very embarrassing when there are several guests in a meeting whom you are trying to show what your club is really about. There was nothing professional or constructive about this person's assessment and it just came off like an attack on well meaning, though not perfect, club members who stepped up to fill difficult roles and did their best. Again, how disappointing.

I wish I had a videotape of this general evaluator's ranting so that I could show the person just how horrible it was. Of course, when we misbehave we really don't want to see a replay. It would be nice to give a critique though of when someone, in the heat of the moment, steps way over the line.

The bottom line to remember is this: when volunteer organizations cease to be fun....when others in the club make us uncomfortable or attack us....it is then that people find a better place to spend their time. Be cognizant of this BEFORE you rant and you may save your club some grief...and some members.

I think mom and dad said it best with the old truism: If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some Days There is Nothing Left in the Tank

(317) running on empty
Originally uploaded by Sarajea

Ever have one of those days where you get kicked in the teeth so many times (figuratively) that you just feel like there's nothing left in the tank?

That was my day.

Let's commiserate for a moment.....


Time to get up, dust off and prepare for tomorrow.

You too! Get going!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Much has Changed at West Point

This is an old post card of West Point. Recently, I was sent some links to some new aerial pictures of our rockbound highland home. I asked the pilot and photographer, Lee Ross, for permission to post these very special links here. His website is http://www.skyviewpictures.com/ Check these out!





And for those in the know, don't worry about Georgie. He's been safely stored away until they find an appropriate place for him. I guess he knows where the library is now! LOL!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Power Call: Crossing the Chasm: Becoming a Better Leader

What a great call we had today! (see yesterday's post for details)
We discussed leadership and how to become a better leader. There were a few participants that had some very pertinent questions and the leader of the call, Torin Ellis, was just plain awesome in directing the conversation and drawing people into the topic. Hat's off to you, Torin, for a great call! In covering the topic, I spoke on three salient points of becoming a better leader:
  1. The "Born Leader" is a myth. Leadership is learned. Leadership is not some esoteric privilege given by fate to predetermined blessed individuals. Leadership is learned, much like we learn other valuable skill and lessons in life. Those desiring to be a better leader nee to keep an open mind, have the true desire to be a better leader, and seek our someone, or several someones, to provide coaching/mentoring/or, at the very least, a vicarious example to follow. We all admire someone who we would like to emulate as a leader. Go and find out how they learned to be a better leader and give it a shot!
  2. Leadership is not about you....it's about those you lead. Sometimes, people become the leader for the wrong reasons...perks, power, money, etc. Leadership is actually about humility and having the ability, when someone who reports to you screws up royally, to look in the mirror first and as the question: "How did I fail this person as a leader?" If you can do that first when you feel like throttling the person who screwed up, you've got a good start on understanding leadership.
  3. To become a better leader, lead with The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Often, people get the inverse in their heads. To wit: "I'll treat you the way you treat me." If you can maintain your composure and treat others the way you would like to be treated, even when you are not being treated nicely, you have what it takes to be a leader....the calm at the center of the storm.

Great questions. Great call. An incredibly smart group of folks. What more could a guy ask for?!?

Join us next time, will you?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rescheduled Power Call on Monday Mover!

Let's try this again!

I was recently asked to speak on Monday Mover's Monday Powercall. Here's a link to the site:

The selected topic is Crossing the Chasm: Becoming a Better Leader.

The rescheduled call is Monday, August 18th at noon (Tomorrow!) and is a 15 minute call designed to pump you up about leadership. If you'd like to participate, please visit the site for the details.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stay Calm

emotion - stayed calm
Originally uploaded by Love, Laurren

Nice image, this....

Calm, tranquility, warmth, beauty.

Some days the pressures of life become too much and we explode or lose control. I witnessed a bit of this today.

As leaders, we must often be the calm at the center of the storm. When everything is falling apart, we must stand fast and keep it together. And it's not always easy. That's why so few are very good at leadership. Too many give in to emotion too easily.

Stay focused and believe in your abilities. Stay strong for those you lead and be the example of strength when others need you to be.

Then take a breath and enjoy the sunset.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Critic

Theodore Roosevelt
Originally uploaded by Pegasus ST

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Too often in our lives, we give credence, by choice or by requirement, to the critic. Those who are critical of all that we do sometimes impact us on many levels.

As Teddy says, the critic doesn't count. If you're trying your best and giving it your all, to hell with the critic.

Be what you are meant to be and take comfort in the fact that you matter more than anything your critics have to say. Be true to right principles and honest and respectful with others and the rest will fall into place.

Believe in yourself.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Anonymous Cowards

Thumb Sucking
Originally uploaded by Cheeky Boy!

You gotta love those cowards that can't sign their comments. Especially those who don't have the intestinal fortitude to look a person in the eye, man to man, and actually have a conversation about their disagreements or different points of view.

I moderate comments here as I like to keep things on a professional level. That being said, I will post any comment (clean, please) from anyone with a real identity. Some people will never truly face life head on. They will always point at others as the reason they don't have what they want. It's always someone else's fault. Whenever someone else gets ahead, they somehow feel like they got screwed. Pathetic really. These are the kinds of folks who cry foul when someone else wins the lottery, even though they never buy a ticket. To them life is a zero sum game: If someone else wins, they lose.

Don't be one of these sad and pitiful creatures. Stand up for yourself. Be a man/woman and make your own fortune, make your own luck. If you disagree with someone, look them in the eye and tell them why. It's okay to disagree with one another. It's healthy to express your own viewpoint. That's all the words here are....my viewpoint. If these words stir some emotion in you, remember that it's not the words...it's your response to them that is controlled between your ears. That which separates us from lesser animals on this planet is between stimulus and response, we get to choose. If you choose to be upset by what's written here, remember, it's your choice.

If you don't like it, that's okay. You clicked on the site. You read this far. You can just as easily go somewhere else and read whatever you like. It's really that simple. Vote with your mouse.

If you choose to come back, that's okay too. If you disagree and want to open a dialogue on your thoughts, post a comment with your identity on it. That's cool. We'll chat and maybe agree to disagree agreeably. But we'll deal with each other respectfully and directly. That's what grown-ups do, right?

But please don't post comments anonymously.

Cowards are not welcome here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


somnambulist by Jackie Alpers
Originally uploaded by Jackie Alpers

I find the concept of Intensity very intriguing.

We can define intensity in any number of ways, all of which boil down to the same thing...


To focus, you must know what your target is and what it is you need to accomplish. This is exactly where many organizations and leaders fall short. You see, if we respond emotionally to a disappointing situation, anger is mistaken for intensity. If you must be angry to be intense, please go become an "individual contributor" because you should not be in charge of others.

Emotions are part of who we are. Leaders must be in control of their emotions at all times when dealing with their responsibilities. That, my friends, is not a simple task. We are, by nature, emotional beings. As leaders, we must learn the warning signs of when we are acting from anger and work to avoid putting ourselves and our subordinates into those situations. Take a breath, go get a drink of water, take a walk around the grounds, whatever it takes to regain your control. If you do lose control, it is your duty as a leader to apologize as soon as you are emotionally able to (and as soon as the target of your ire is emotionally capable of receiving your apology).

To focus appropriately, work with your team to determine what is most important and go to work on dealing with that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Truth is a Twitchy Thing

Originally uploaded by Jeremy Dunham

It is always interesting to me when people get upset when someone simply tells the truth. The emotion is typically wrapped up in personal issues like:

  1. He's a jerk, so I'm not going to listen to him!
  2. She always exaggerates, so why should I listen to her this time?!?
  3. Yeah, it's true, but it's none of his business so he should butt out!
  4. He shouldn't write this stuff because someone might be offended....(grins!)

The fact of the matter is that truth is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow. We are often so deep in the trees of our jobs, our personal lives, our families...that we can't always see the forest. Just because we don't like the truth does not make it any less true.

This is also one of the reasons consultants have work (yeah!). Organizations often already know how to fix their problems, but the emotional and social issues are so dysfunctional they have to hire an outside entity to take the politics out of the way....to strip away the emotional smoke that clouds the truth.

Leaders have to be as honest as the truth. If it hurts to hear it, okay. Deal with it. Don't bury your head in the sand. Face it, listen to it, and deal with it like a responsible, and let's face it, fallible adult. We are not perfect. I make mistakes all the time. I don't always like to hear the truth about my mistakes either, but I try to take a step back and deal with it.

As a leader, respect can only be earned by realizing we are not always right and that someone else might have a better answer. We can grow from this realization and motivate others by our example.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Week From Hell

Hell or Paradise?
Originally uploaded by ul_Marga

Soooo....Let's recap, shall we?

Monday: First day of prep for the Dog and Pony show followed by Toastmasters.

Tuesday: Second day of prep for the Dog and Pony show (at my desk at 4:30am) followed by my son asking to do the paperwork to join the Marines to become a Platoon Leader after college.

Wednesday: Final preparations for the Dog and Pony show followed by drama at the Rotary meeting followed by hours of grilling the recruiter and finally signing all the forms for Joe to go for his physical the next morning.

Thursday: Dog and Pony show day. Much angst and criticism while trying to manage my son's recruiter who got him to MEPPS late, and left him sitting while those wonderful military doctors forgot who/where he was, followed by his disappointment over a minor ear problem they needed more information on keeping him from actually getting in.

Friday: Week from Hell almost over. Funeral for a friend's dad, long workday followed by a nice evening with the children in front of a campfire talking about...stuff.

Saturday: At work at 6:20am (yes, Saturdays are required and we try to share the load, but my turn in the hopper sucks....), home by 9:45, dad fixing stuff then an emergency call to come to work by the safety manager/plant manager to address safety concerns that apparently no one else could handle (that, in truth, had already been handled by the excellent Safety Captains already on the shift), followed by going home to watch a movie and collapse.

Sunday: End of the week from hell. Up at 6am, off to church at 8am to thank my God for the challenges he set before me and the strength to continue to achieve and lead, over to the Eden Corn Festival to drop off some fliers for our Rotary Car Show next week and to watch my daughter have a wonderful time riding the rides on the midway. Home to shuck some corn and here I am in front of the PC....

Whew! On the importance meter of life, death, and all things universally important, this week doesn't mean much. On the stress meter, I must say the week has been very challenging. When you have responsibility for others...family, employees, volunteers...some weeks are incredibly tough. Trust in yourself and in your family and in your employees and in your volunteers and in your God. You will be successful if you believe you will and apply yourself with confidence to your tasks.

But....I sure am glad it's over!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dealing with Temporary Setbacks

United States Marine Corps
Originally uploaded by crosstrippin

My oldest son, Joe, Jr., has decided to join the Marine Corps.

Wow. Feels kinda funny to see that in print.

He wants to "stand on my own two feet, Dad."

Wow again.

The Platoon Leaders Course is in his future and he wants to serve his country. I'm very proud of him. Today, when he went for his physical, he was two pounds under the minimum weight for his height. He also needs to provide the Marine Corps doctor with some documents from his medical file about a busted ear drum.

After waiting all day for this disappointing news, my son says, "temporary setback, Dad."

I'm so proud of him.

His first adult decision...an eagle perched on the edge of the cliff, about to fly on his own...

Bittersweet for me. I, more than most dads, understand this desire in him. Been there, done that, got a BDU t-shirt...

Still chokes me up a bit though....

Love you, son.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Crossing the Chasm

Chasm Face
Originally uploaded by Tejananda John Wakeman

I was recently asked to speak on Monday Mover's Monday Powercall. Here's a link to the site:


The selected topic is Crossing the Chasm: Becoming a Better Leader.

The call is Monday, July 28th at noon (Tomorrow!) and is a 15 minute call designed to pump you up about leadership. If you'd like to participate, please visit the site for the details.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sorry Caleb Campbell, but now it's time to do your Duty

A few months ago, the young man pictured above, Lieutenant Caleb Campbell, lost his focus because the Army told him he could go play pro football. Now, there have been many talented players in the history of Army football. All of them have understood that they would not be professional football players because the Army required them to repay the citizens of this country for their world class education by serving their country for 5 years as officers in the Army.
Fair, equitable, honorable requirement.
Well, the Army thought about this stupid change to their long standing policy and said to Lieutenant Campbell yesterday "Sorry, son. We were wrong. It IS more important for you to do your duty to your country first, just like the 50,000+ graduates before you. You can go play with your football later." Here's a link to the article on Yahoo:
Do not feel sorry for this young man. Be glad that more responsible and intelligent heads prevailed and forced him to do the right thing...forced him to do his duty to his country.
He is also not going off to war any time soon as he will be heading back to the Academy to help as a graduate assistant in the Department of Athletics. That assignment will have him doing something for others who want to play football at Army....a much more honorable way to keep a hand in football...
He did not pay to go to West Point, YOU paid for him to go with your tax dollars.
He played a game and was willing to let his 900+ other classmates pay for their educations with service to their country, including his teammates, while he went to play a game.
His actions were selfish, self-centered, and an embarrassment to all of us who served our country after we graduated. (Yes, I graduated there in 1987 and served on active duty and in the reserves until 1998).
Thank you, Uncle Sam, for getting it right.
Go serve your country, Caleb Campbell. Do the right thing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Simplicity of life....
Originally uploaded by viacreativa

Too often people complicate things.

Too often, in our zeal to communicate a complex idea to someone, we complicate the communication with big words and lengthy explanations until our subject's eyes glaze over or frantically look for a way out of the conversation.

As a leader, communicate from the receiver's perspective...put yourself in their shoes and make your message succinct and to the point.

How's that for simple and to the point?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Enough Meetings Already!!!!

catatonic despair
Originally uploaded by psychonautfromatlantis

"...This is the meeting that never ends,
It just goes on and on my friends.
Some people started having it not knowing what it was,
and they'll just keep on having it forever just because...
...This is the meeting that never ends...."

Wow! What a wasted day! I was in meetings from 9am this morning to 3:15 pm with a 55 minute break to try and run my department. Oh my goodness!

Do you disrespect people's time like this? Do you schedule things last minute and then, without a plan, hold meeting attendees hostage? If you do, you should be shot! (well, not really, but you get my drift...)

Do yourself and your hostages a favor...give them a little respect, for cryin' out loud! Make an agenda, set time limits, communicate needs before the meeting, and give your hostages some time to fit the meeting into their important and busy schedules.

If you don't, the next time you find yourself wondering why your meetings are unproductive and people would rather go for a root canal, you can just look in the mirror for your answer.