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 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 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'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 viewpoint. If these words stir some emotion in you, remember that it's not the'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 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, 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!