Monday, March 31, 2008

18 Years Together

This is how we looked 18 years ago....

Today was our 18th wedding anniversary. I took the day off and we spent the day like two old married people. I bought her a set of golf clubs as she had expressed an interest in learning to play the game I have played so badly for 22 years! Because we are in Buffalo, there are a couple of "golf-domes" around: indoor driving ranges where you can go when it's nasty out and work on your game or just release some frustration.

When we went there today for the first time, to the Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome, we were pleasantly surprised. Nice space, driving range, mini-golf, pro shop, is very complete. I called one of the instructors and set us up for joint lessons so Terri can get off on the right foot and I can see if I can find my right foot.

What's this got to do with leadership? takes a lot of give and take to stay together forever. We love each other deeply and life has many ups and downs, especially with 5 children. Yes. 5.

Through all of our challenges as a married couple, we have endured because we each know the most important part is staying together, working through the tough times and relishing the good times. We've created quite a life and we try to set the right example for the 5 lives we have brought into the world. We provide leadership and guidance to each other, as well as to our children. Our love is our compass.

Remember to hold sacred those relationships that mean the most. (I Love you, baby!)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Amherst South Rotary Pancake Breakfast

Today, three of my boys, Ben (15), James (14), and Matt (11), and I helped out at the Amherst South Rotary Club's annual Pancake Breakfast at the Tan Tara Golf Club on North Tonawanda Creek Road. What fun!
As we ran around the kitchen making pancakes and sausages, I watched the children talking with each other animatedly and having a great time together. All this while giving some time to help Rotary raise money for their good works in the community.
Leadership is about service. Rotary's motto, "Service Above Self," describes what giving back to your community is all about. If we could all go about serving others as happily as little Sophie did, singing as she washed the dishes and happily putting away the silverware without a care in the world, I really believe all of our communities would be a better place.
Take the time to set the example for your children and others who look to you for leadership and guidance. Give back to your community through service clubs like Rotary.
It's a great feeling!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Honoring Those Who Have Served

The Pentagon
Originally uploaded by

A friend of mine sent me the post below. I worked in E-ring at the Pentagon my senior summer at The Academy for about 6 weeks. It's an impressive place and I am sure it has changed much since the summer of 1986. (Geez!....that's 22 years ago!)

I like the fact that this e-mail from a friend made me fondly remember the bonds of brotherhood we had as soldiers, airmen, swabies, etc. No other experience, before or since, has filled me with such a strong sense of belonging, of higher purpose, than my time as a soldier. Our families are that for us now, but it's different. When we were young and idealistic, service to our country was the crucible that tempered our mettle; our strength of character. Our lives were forever impacted by this experience.

Please remember this one very awful statistic: For every soldier killed in the War on Terror, we have brought back 10 maimed soldiers. Remember them, remember their families and then go and do something about it. Remember your service and value theirs in some tangible way. GO ARMY!

"Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website."

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.

Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air=conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area.

The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares. "10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair,also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands hurt.Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

"They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

"These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers,and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

"Did you know that? The media hasn't yet told the story.

"God Bless America & God Bless Our Troops

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Centering Quote

Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People
Originally uploaded by

I have a planner that I use faithfully. It is from FranklinCovey, and is called the "7 Habits Planner." I like it because it has daily quotes, a weekly compass, and helps keep me centered. Today, in the midst of much personal and professional turmoil, while trying to do too much, I read this at the top of today's page:

"No one can keep running for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Your mental and physical capacities are significantly depleted when you push yourself too hard and for too long. Take time for the rest, relaxation, and renewal you need. Renewal allows you to take on the challenges of daily living." -The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, pages 303-304

I cannot tell you how much those few words helped me get re-focused today.

I hope they help you when you read them as well.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

But, Joe, I'm Confused! What Does All This Have to do With Leadership?

1/365 [dazed & confused]
Originally uploaded by

So I am sure some of you are asking yourself: What does all of this Six Sigma stuff have to do with leadership and motivation?

Simply put, when you put on the mantle of leadership, you accept a great deal of responsibility. When a large amount of people are counting on your leadership, let's say the whole of Erie County's Taxpayers, you must must must be very careful with that responsibility. You see, it's not just the taxpayers that are counting on the decisions made by Chris Collins; it's their families as well.

That's huge.

The mis-management in government is well documented and, frankly, embarrassing (to those with enough dignity to be embarrassed...). We only have to look to recent transgressions by our former governor to see how quickly that "one little mis-step" becomes the ending of an entire lifetime of public service and a personal disgrace (again, if the fella has enough personal dignity to be embarrassed).

Chris Collins has the responsibility that he sought out, bought and paid for (as that is really all the political campaigns are about, and he is using buzz-words like "Six Sigma" strictly for the intelligentsia to tell you how to think. Most everyone that would support this effort is an academician or makes a living touting the wonders of "Six Sigma."

What Chris Collins and Al Hammond know full well is that they are pursuing "Lean" methodologies. Lean is about taking out waste. Six Sigma is about improving quality. That's the long and short of it. But "Lean" conjures up thoughts of reducing headcounts and tightening the belt. Not good images for a political campaign. he's stuck with the "Six Sigma" smokescreen and we intend to blow that particular of smoke away to reveal what this is really about. We don't know for sure what that is at the moment, but we know what it appears to be about: Politics, cronie-ism, mis-use of the taxpayer's money, and an attempt to keep the average Joes like us guessing what they are up to.

If you'd like to join the discussion, pro or con, please let me know at, or comment here. We are just beginning to expose this abuse of the trust you have placed (mis-placed?) in Chris Collins and doomed initiatives like "Six Sigma."

Leadership requires integrity. Let's talk about the issue and see if our leaders can answer to their constituents. My guess is they won't because they know we're right.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Soo...let's explore this thought some more....

Do you know why it's so hard to get the rank and file behind Six Sigma improvements?

I do.

If the workforce does not trust management, there is real fear that cost savings means loss of jobs. This why my earlier comments about the folly of Six Sigma in Erie County government, or any government for that matter. Government workers do not trust the government to protect their jobs. They have seen too many furloughs and layoffs at the hands of inept leadership and do not trust that politicians represent anyone but themselves.

Can you blame them? A reader known only to me as "dss" wrote in the sidebar chat:

As a social worker my customers are the clients. the people who need the help with their lives not having their road paved. some of them are tax payers too!

This is absolutely correct, dss. Many of these people are taxpayers, just like you and me. I must ask this question on this topic: If Six Sigma improvements were slated for your department, and you were asked to get involved by helping the Chris and Al show figure out how to "save money" by being "more efficient," what would be your first thought?

My money is on "yeah, right. And who's job being cut is going to make things more efficient?" How many jobs have been eliminated, dss, without any real changes, other than to put more work on the jobs that remain?

You're right to be focused on your clients, your "customers." I submit you are not in the majority of government workers. Social services is a complex area, but even you must admit the policies and procedures there need some updating and could be much, much more efficient. Still want the Chris and Al show to help you be more efficient with Six Sigma? Or would a good dose of good old common sense help update some of the policies in your department without costing millions of dollars?

I'd love to hear more on this topic, so drop me a comment or leave one in the sidebar. We need to discuss this so we can show the Chris and Al show that we don't want it because it's a waste of time, money, and effort.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Six Sigma Will Not Work in Government, Especially in Erie County, NY!

Chris Collins and Al Hammonds, Jr's folly of trying to use Six Sigma methodologies to save money in Erie County government are a sham and a waste of taxpayer money.

Wanna know why? Government employees are not interested in serving their customer: you, the taxpayer. They are more interested in protecting what they have staying fixed in the unproductive and dysfunctional ways they have always used. Sad, but the true reality.

Six Sigma, and the proponents that use it as an insidious tool to either line their own pockets or pilfer from yours, is too complex to stand alone as a way to improve an organization, especially in government. For the implementation of Six Sigma to work, it must be sustainable when all the know-it-alls (trainers, consultants, Al Hammonds, Jr., Chris Collins, etc...) walk away. That is the main reason no matter what these yahoos try to fix, they will wind up failing and failing at your expense.

Sustainable Six Sigma, or any improvement for that matter, relies on the people at the user level believing and wanting it to succeed. That's just not going to happen in Erie County government, period.

And therein lies Hammonds' folly. He's a theoretician, a politician, and an academician with no real world "chops." He's never been the guy in charge of the department, full of long-term union workers, that has to try and make something like this work. He has no idea how to engage the rank and file. He is so naive, he doesn't even know that it is his biggest challenge and one he is unequal too.

Whatcha gonna do, Al, when all those folks you want to help you improve the government begin practicing "malicious obedience," knowing that by the time you can even touch them or their jobs for telling you to go to hell, your political pal, Chris Collins, and you will both be another bad mark on Erie County politics, looking for new jobs, when the voters replace you?!?

Guess it won't matter that much by then...Al Hammonds, Jr alone will have pilfered over $440,000 in salary and God only knows how much more in benefits (currently about 40% of your salary) in four years of ultimate failure.

Not bad work if you know the right people. Work for four years, fail to deliver, and make that much money at your customer's expense, with nothing to show for it...sounds like a sweet gig, if you can sleep at night after selling out.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Six Sigma Sham in Erie County NY!

This person, Chris Collins, deceived voters in Erie County by telling them he would run Erie County like a business and portraying that as a good thing.

This dazed and confused looking person, Al Hammonds, Jr., is the charlatan who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the people of Erie County by saying he had nothing to do with the hiring of The Center for Industrial Effectiveness to train county employees in Six Sigma.
I am more than ticked off at the behavior of these two politicians. You see, Mr. Hammonds was the senior project director at The Center for Industrial Effectiveness. Mr. Hammonds sent out an Erie County mandated RFP for bids on this training. The bid process is supposed to ensure everyone gets a fair shot at the business.
HA! And again I say...HA!
First, the RFP (Request for Proposal) read like a course catalog from The Center for Industrial Effectiveness (here's a link to the RFP so you can decide for yourself). Second, he clearly stated in the RFP that he was to be the only point of contact for inquiries and responses to the proposal. Third, he gave everyone interested the minimum time to respond, 14 days. Fourth, he did not even acknowledge receipt of Nth Degree's RFP submission. And, the most disgraceful act was actually making sure the Buffalo News printed this after the fact:
Hammonds had said that he was not a part of the four-member committee that ranked the offers from institutions that wanted the county’s training contract and had no role in selecting UB’s Center for Industrial Effectiveness.
WHAT?!?! Mr. Hammonds apparently thinks we're all too stooooopid to see through that line of crap. He was the SENIOR PROJECT DIRECTOR of UBs Center for Industrial Effectiveness! Is he serious?!? "Me thinks thou dost protest too much..."
This is clearly a case of political insiders doing what they always do: Lie to get what they want, Cheat the taxpayers out of real progress in government, and Steal your tax dollars to do it.
In following posts, I will try to enlighten you as to just how ridiculous it is for Chris Collins to even attempt this silliness, and why paying the dazed and confused Al Hammonds, Jr. $110,000 a year to waste your tax dollars is a crime.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What Not to Serve For Lunch (and a Poem!)

convegno interessante
Originally uploaded by
andrea pi

As I sit here, struggling to stay awake, during another training session built around someone reading from their PowerPoint slides, I am forced to my wanders.....why did they serve pizza and wings for lunch!!!

Was that a about a poem:

I'm full and I'm sitting,
My brain feels like quitting
from the pizza and wings I have eaten.
The topic's a snore,
the presenter...a bore.
The desk's coming up fast! I'm beaten.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Be smart, ye teachers of others! Avoid the carbs (in this case the massive carbs!) when you attend or feed a meeting. If you're feeding the meeting, go light: Green salads, wraps, juices and water. This is particularly important if your topic is dry as toast, lengthy, and boring....(can anyone say OSHA training?).

We all have to present some pretty mundane stuff from time to time. Try to make it interesting; videos, an occasional joke or humorous story, an audience participation exercise, etc. Your audience will thank you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ready to Learn How to Make a Million Dollars?

It's funny sometimes how things cross my path.

As I went to to look for a picture depicting the thought "millionaire," I came across some pictures of the contestants on a show called "The Next Internet Millionaire." What an interesting concept, eh?

So I googled the term and here's what I found:

It looks like a lot of fun and a chance to learn from a fella that's been there: Joel Comm

He is a self-made Internet millionaire and the show is a reality gig about teaching others the ways to become an Internet millionaire while reducing the number of contestants to the one who will enter into a joint venture with Joel to become an Internet millionaire themselves.

If you've seen the show, you're one up on me until today. Post your thoughts about it here. All the episodes are online, so you can watch and learn at your leisure. Just don't forget where you learned of it and come back here and give us your thoughts.

Now go! Learn! Work less and make more!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wanna Know A Secret?

Now that you've gotten off your butt and made a plan, does it still feel like there's more work than you can do? I will share with you my time management secret. This secret is even bigger that the recently published book, The Secret.
Are you ready? Do you think you can handle it? Here it is:
If you feel like there's more to do than you have time to do....
You're Right!!!
What? The folks at SkillPath are cringing as we speak! I can hear Dale Carnegie rolling over in his grave....well, maybe not him, but surely this annoys those info-mercial guys who assure you success if you purchase their books, tapes, DVDs, etc and "one-of-a-kind" time menagement tools to learn the secrets that are causing you to lose time and fail to meet your lifelong objectives. They appeal to the masses looking for "quick-fix" solutions. They sell their wares and we see them in next year's garage sales (for a lot less than they originally cost!), right next to the Thighmaster and the weight-bench.
My secret is free. No info-mercial here. You cannot do it all today! That's the reality; that's life. You can, however get the important stuff done. I'll call this my "feel better about learning Joe's secret" corollary.
Only you know what is most important in your life. No slick guy in a suit with stacks of degrees and a painted-on smile is necessary to teach you that. It is mostly intuitive and, when you develop a plan, you have to put the stuff that is most important at the forefront of your plan.
Mow the grass or go to your son's ballgame? Watch TV tonight or take the kids to family swim night at the YMCA? Pay the bill for my credit card or use the money to buy a pizza? Share your knowledge of stuff like this or keep it to yourself?
You are a smart person. You know in your heart what's important. Listen to that voice in your head telling you the right things to do. Those things do not change. Right will always be right and you know it.
Put that stuff at the top of the list.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"I Have a Plan"

The hilarious video above is from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. I love this clip and have used it in training classes to demonstrate the importance of planning as well as the importance of executing the plan properly.

Once you've gotten off your butt (see yesterday's post), you have to decide what to do. Many people find themselves rushing from activity to activity without much thought to why they are doing what they are doing. They run to the grocery, then to the library, then to take the kids to baseball, and maybe get to the gym. As the number of tasks in a day increases, so does the level of complexity.

A simple way to keep it all in order and to get more done is to stop and make a plan. Once a week should suffice. You will probably have to adjust your plan for unexpected things, but at least you'll have a framework for those unexpected things to fit into.

Do you find yourself saying "things are so hectic in my life, I could never make a plan that will work!" I submit that the only way to be more balanced and to fit it all in is to plan.

A simple weekly calendar outlining what you plan to accomplish and when you want to accomplish those things is a good starting point. Many "time management" classes have formats and formulas for doing this. If that works for you, fine, use them. If you are put off by all the structure and details, then simply list things by day on a weekly calendar sheet and focus on one or two things each day that are important.

Keep it Simple. Sit down once a week (Friday is my planning day for the following week) and plan the upcoming week. If you need structure, I recommend the Franklin-Covey planning system. If you don't like the formal structure, that's okay too. Just make sure you write down the plan to make it real. Keeping it in your head is just dreaming.

If you are interested in my simplicity seminar regarding planning and goal setting, drop me a line in the comments here and I will share the details of the next class offering. We're thinking of a web video format as well that we can send to you if you are interested.

My favorite quote on planning: "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Get Off Your Butt!

Get Motivated
Originally uploaded by

Like the imagery?

On a lazy Sunday morning, it's easy to be as motivated as that piece of wood. "Awwww. But it's Sunday...wah, wah, wah." The problem is, that many people are as motivated as this piece of wood the rest of the week too! Maybe not the whole day, but good portions of it...

Do any of these sound familiar:

  • "I worked all day so I'm just going to sit and relax and watch some TV."
  • "I deserve to be able to relax"
  • "There are just not enough minutes in the day"
  • "I am just so wiped out! I can't move another inch."

Any of these is occasionally understandable. Any of these every day is potentially deadly. You see, no one can take charge of your life but you. You have to first lead yourself to be effective in any other leadership role. This begins with what Stephen Covey calls habit one: Be Proactive.

I like to call it "Get Off Your Butt!" As the father of 5 children, we don't need anything fancier than that to describe what it takes to clean up a room, do homework, get good grades, keep mom and dad off your back, be better at sports, etc. As a leader of others, I don't need anything fancier than that to describe what it takes to wear your safety equipment, produce what you are capable of, get to work on time, give and receive respect, etc.

"Get Off Your Butt" doesn't take a lot of theorizing and explaining either. For about 80% of the population, it is "intuitively obvious to the casual observer." If any of the other 20% are reading this blog, it really just means if you want something to happen for you, get up and make it happen.

Stop waiting for your "ship to come in." Build your own damn ship! Stop waiting to win the lottery and go after the riches that exist in this abundant world. With all of the information at your fingertips, there really is no reason to wait.

And while you're at it, forget the phrase "I shouldn't have to...." You have to. No one will do it for you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What True Courage is About

At the bottom of this post, I am including a link to a story from the Army Times about a soldier who will receive the Silver Star for, as the miltary said:

"bravery, unselfish actions and medical aid rendered under fire saved the lives of her comrades and represents the finest traditions of heroism in combat"

Yes, you read that word correctly...."her." Thank God for people like 19 year old Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown.

True courage knows no particular sex, race, creed, color, or age. True courage is selfless and giving. It represents the best of the human spirit. True courage is worthy of note whether or not it results in medals and accolades. Heroes do not act courageously to win acclaim. They do it because it's the right thing to do.

And hereos are all around you if you pay attention.

Nice job, Spc. Brown!,13319,163630,00.html?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What did Spitzer do Wrong?!?

Gov. Eliott Spitzer
Originally uploaded by
Lindsay Beyerstein

I had a conversation today with a colleague who is from India. We were discussing the developments with New York State Governor, Eliott Spitzer, and the fact that he was recently caught in an FBI prostitution sting.

My colleague's comment was "what did he really do wrong?" My first response was "ask your wife!" Then we discussed the issue a little further, from two cultural views of America and Americans.

He noted that we (Americans) seemed hypocritical in our indignation over Governor Spitzer's behavior. He said, "look around the plant at all the girlie pics (he works in maintenance) and listen to the way people talk. These are not moral people." I explained that while many people in our country do not always demonstrate their ideal behaviors, that we are subject to the frailties of our human existence, that does not keep us from expecting certain moral and correct behaviors from our governmental leaders. Most importantly, those who represent the laws of the land should not be caught breaking those laws

We look up to these people (okay, maybe not all of them, like Monica Lewinski's ex-Boyfriend's wife....) and admire them for their achievements and look to them to represent us, to exemplify the behaviors we aspire to.

My Indian friend admitted that the politics were the same all over, but then went on to extol the virtues of Monica Lewinski's ex-Boyfriend and how our economy was booming when he was in office. I pointed out that the impeached former President gutted our military strength and was not properly focused on our position as a world superpower, indirectly resulting in September 11th, 2001.

We agreed to disagree agreeably. This is typical of how most of my conversations with liberals end. The rest end with me being called names....grins....!

What did Spitzer do wrong? He spoke of himself as a crusader for truth and justice. He built a reputation as a hard-nosed opponent of crime and those associated with crime. The "Sheriff of Wall Street" is arrogant and condescending. And the cowardice he displays by not doing the right thing and resigning immediately speaks to all that is wrong with career politicians, so consumed with ambition and power that they have lost their morality and would sacrifice what little personal honor they may have left to keep that power.

Eliott Spitzer, I submit to you what someone much smarter than me pointed out: "What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Never, Never, Never Quit!

"Winston Churchill 30 December 1941" By Yousef Karsh
Originally uploaded by

Often we encounter setbacks. Sometimes we encounter problems that seem so large as to be insurmountable. Sometimes it feels like life won't stop knocking us down, repeatedly....and hard.

Take heart, my friend. You are the only one that can pick you up and dust you off. No matter how many times you get knocked down, you can pick yourself up. You've got to believe in yourself and your aspirations. You've got to be strong. No one can do it for you.

Winston Churchill once gave a speech that consisted of these four words. In his many years of heroic and legendary courage and bravery, this short speech has stood the test of time. Because it still speaks to the indomitable strength of the human spirit.

Get up. Be strong. You are equal to the challenge.

Never, never, never quit.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Compass and the Clock

Which of these two items, a compass or a clock, is more useful to you every day? Many of us immediately think of the clock as more useful. You see, we chase time, try to manage our time, try to meet deadlines and commitments in a timely manner. We get up on time because we have to get to work on time because if we don’t this time, there may not be a next time because there’s no time like the present and time is short, time is running out, time and tide wait for no man and we can’t wait ‘til it’s “Miller time!”

I submit to you that in the grand scheme of things, the compass, or more importantly, what the compass represents, is more useful. The clock is about urgency; the compass is about importance. My mentor, Stephen Covey, has put it in a framework that speaks to me and I would love to share that with you this evening. That framework is one that elegantly sums up those things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. That framework is this: Each of us has at our core the need to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy. Let’s explore!

First, the need to live is to meet our physical needs as human beings: food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being, health. I, and later, my wife and five children, have lived many places in the pursuit of those basic needs. 20 moves to 18 places, 9 on my own, 11 with my wife and our children. 27 years....together as a family

The next need, the need to love is to meet our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. In every place we have been, we have tried to find the best things to be thankful for. In every place we have been, often times thousands of miles away from our extended family, we have been thankful for our faith, our friends, and our family, near and far.

The third need, the need to learn, speaks to our mental need to develop and grow. My learning as a young soldier, my graduation from college, and my subsequent learning over many years in manufacturing and leadership are nothing compared to what God has taught me through raising our children. We have taught them much but learned so much more in the process. Thank God for kids!

The last need, the need to leave a legacy, is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal peace, and contribution. It’s why we belong to the church and pray for guidance. It’s why we try to give back and help our communities through groups like Rotary and the Boy Scouts of America. It’s why we work so hard to ensure the safety and well being of our families. It’s why we want so much for our children.

In conclusion, I hope I have provoked some thought. I challenge each of you to think on these needs and the fact that they are all vitally important: to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. It doesn’t take much to realize that if any one of these four needs goes unmet, our quality of life will be reduced. As the clock drives us to address the urgent, let the compass be your guide what is truly important.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

When you Feel Like Screaming....

Don't you be yelling at me.
Originally uploaded by
Mareen Fischinger someone, don't!

Often, at work, the path of least resistance would seem to be to scream at someone. We all struggle with this. That person who let you down. That son-of-a-gun that didn't do what you told him to. That mean-spirited person you don't get along with that cratered your project because of their attitude and laziness.

You might feel better for a little bit, but it really isn't going to help you in the long run. It's a short term fix that violates any trust you have built with the receiver of your angst. You see, the harder "right" is usually to take whatever time it takes to collect yourself and pocket your anger. Then think. Just think.

In the thinking is the answer. Usually, the person you want to scream at is not really the problem. It's usually a situation or process that has failed. Not a person. Maybe it's a lack of training. Maybe it's a lack of understanding or communication. Usually, you're probably partially to blame as well. That's the pill that's a little bitter to swallow.

So, take a breath....there....that's better. Now be the excellent leader you can be and address the problem, not the person. You'll be respected for that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tonight's Rotary Speaker: Jim McNally!

Tonight, at the Amherst -South Rotary Club meeting, one of our members brought a very entertaining speaker: Jim McNally.
His speech was very entertaining as he chronicled his 45+ year career as a coach through a series of hats! He's a native of Western New York and has retired here after many successful years as a college and NFL Offensive Line coach.
Thanks, Jim!
And here are some links to more information about Jim (he's even got a page on Wikipedia!).What an incredible guy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Congrats Cadet Charles Nadd!

Charles Nadd, College Winner
Institute for International Sport Essay Contest
Charles is a Cadet at The United States Military Academy at West Point. Below is his winning essay on sportsmanship:
Hard Work: There is No Substitute
"Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem."— Saul Steinberg
Sitting with my closest friends in the stands behind home plate on a warm Florida night towards the end of my Senior year, I watched as our high school's varsity baseball team upset our cross-town rivals' heavily-favored squad for the Regional Championship.
It was there that I realized why baseball has become our country's national pastime. It embodies the winning spirit that has defined America for the past two centuries, it highlights the sometimes mysterious workings of luck's sly hand, and it reminds us how much hard work goes into making any dream worth realizing come true.
Far too many of today's professional baseball players have tainted that concept of hard work with the unethical, unfair use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. In doing so, they have undermined the sport that we all love and, consequently, the values that define our nation.
Most baseball fans will never play at the major league level. They will all, however, take the values that they learn from the game into their own professional lives. Today's star athletes have a responsibility to show America's future businessmen and women, doctors and surgeons, lawyers and judges, politicians and government leaders, that when faced with tough situations, responsible adults ought always choose the harder right over the easier wrong.
I have often thought about what goes through a player's mind in the moments before he dopes up to bulk up. It must be the saddest of places, knowing that you and the natural qualities that were bestowed upon you that allowed you to make it into the big leagues are not adequate enough to meet your selfish, greedy desires to grow into an artificial super-man.
As artist Saul Steinberg remarked, the keys to the art of baseball include courage, good luck, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem. Through a major athlete's unethical choice to add such chemicals to his body, he or she forfeits the red badge of merit, shrugs at the concept of luck, turns away from patience about fate, and, worse of all, escapes any thought of that "sober self-esteem" that defines a true "professional."
This dangerous spiral away from the values that define baseball is troubling, but, fortunately, does not mark the doom of the great American pastime.
With a renewed commitment to upholding the excellence and standards of the game, baseball players at all levels – from the youngest tee-baller to the highest-paid major league star – can remind our nation what it means to sit in the stands behind home plate on a warm Spring night and cheer with our brothers and sisters on the field when dreams are realized – thanks to persistent, honest hard work. There is no substitute.
Thanks so much for the correction from the member of the Class of 2011. Nice work, cadet!
The essay above is the correct one. Again, Congrats, Charles! Nice job! And I appologoze for the Old Grad moment!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Who's Right?

question mark ?
Originally uploaded by
Leo Reynolds

As I recently pondered my conversations with a few colleagues on the subject of leadership, I started to wonder: who's right?

I mean, we all have opinions and experiences and views. We all have had many experiences with leaders of all capabilities. Many of us have read books on the subject of leadership. At the end of the day, how do we figure out who's right?

I am definitely not an expert. I know what has worked for me and I have been a student of leadership for over 20 years. Stephen Covey is usually my touchstone.

I submit that the litmus test is one of right versus wrong. That each of us needs to search our values and principles for what constitutes what is right when it comes to Leadership. I have previously submitted that we start simply with The Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Dignity, respect, integrity, dependability, consistency...these are just a few.

Would you please add to this discussion by commenting on what helps you decide who's right? I'd love to hear what you think.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Money Cannot buy Respect

This is Alan Weiss. (the pic is from his e-mail newsletter, Balancing Act.) He's a very wealthy writer and consultant. I took personal exception to his newsletter content and what I felt it reflected about him as a person.

So I unsubscribed and told him why. He even sent an e-mail back (auto-generated) asking for me to take a minute to tell him why I quit his newsletter. This is where it gets surreal.

This fabulously successful and wealthy guy actually sends me back this exact message:

Aren’t we judgmental? I guess the other 7,500 must grin and bear it.
Have a good life.

I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe! Imagine, a person like this asks for feedback on why someone would unsubscribe to his newsletter and then actually writes back to say, in effect, that my opinion is somehow flawed because he still has 7500 other subscribers! LOL!

My reasons for leaving were value-based. I felt his newsletter did not fit with my values and the person he revealed himself to be was not someone I wished to associate with. Simple, right? (If you send me your e-mail address, I'll forward you the e-mail exchange and the newsletter that prompted it so you can decide for yourself)

Alan Weiss is a very smart fella who has made a lot of money being a...well...a very smart fella. That's cool, right? But he apparently doesn't like people to disagree with him. I actually ruffled the feathers of "The Million Dollar Consultant" enough to cause him to write to me! And be snotty doing it! Again, LOL!

All the money in the world doesn't make anyone right. All the money in the world doesn't make anyone any better than anyone else. All the money in the world won't buy you respect. Neither does 7500 newsletter subscribers....

Per my previous post, the pants still go on one leg at a time....

Saturday, March 1, 2008

White Collar Man - Blue Collar Heart

White Collar Blue Collar
Originally uploaded by

Raised in a Steelworker's home and being the first in my family to go to college, I often find myself relying on my roots to help me through the challenges presented to me as a "manager of others."

I firmly believe that much of my success is a result of my blue collar upbringing. I was raised in a middle class home in east Baltimore. My father worked for Bethlehem Steel and my mother stayed home to raise the four of us; me and my three sisters. I joined the United States Army right out of high school to become an aviation mechanic, to serve my country, and to earn the money to go to college. I was blessed with an opportunity to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point and earn a degree in Leadership Psychology and a commission as a lieutenant of Field Artillery. Upon leaving the Army, and for the 18 years since, I have been a successful leader in the manufacturing industry and a white collar "manager of others."

Yesterday, I was reflecting on why I was successful. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. So hard, I had to write down a phrase that will, in all likelihood, become the title of my first book on leadership: White Collar Man - Blue Collar Heart. It defines what my success is based on. I have been blessed to have opportunities to do amazing things, but have never lost fact that all men are created equal.

My father once told me, as I considered going to college, to never forget where I came from and that every man puts his pants on one leg at a time. He wanted me to remember that respect was earned. Too often, "managers of others" lose sight of the fact that no one is beneath them and that, regardless of education, pay, or social status, we are all created equal.

Most of all, I think dad knew I needed to rely on my roots to be successful. I learned an awful lot from that man, without even realizing it. I'll bet, if you think about it, you did too.

Thanks, Dad.