Wednesday, February 28, 2018

On the Street in Lagos

Use Google Maps to navigate along some streets in Lagos, Nigeria and you will count your blessings.

Drucker: Integrity - Humility - Generosity

Pastor Rick Warren talking about the character of Peter Drucker.

Absolutely True

Cultural Offering features a warning from Jake Williams for web developers.

I don't think the developers understand how irritating that practice is and how quickly it can cause people to leave a site.

The Listening Habit



[Photo by Allef Vinicius at Unsplash]

Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking.

- Bernard Baruch

A New Batch of Random Thoughts



My new book is at Amazon. It contains 701 Random Thoughts, most of which at one point were posted on this blog. 

Here are some new thoughts that will have to wait for the next volume:


We could invent an alternative to email in which more thought would be given to sending messages and more time would be permitted for a response. The messages could be called "letters." ~ It was a dark day when "talking points" were invented. ~ There are many organizational codes of conduct that are unwritten (and even denied) but that does not mean that they may be violated with impunity. ~ Whenever you write a particularly good sentence an alarm bell should sound. ~ Develop a relationship mentality, not merely a project-oriented one, or else you may quickly find that you have a dearth of new projects. Why? Because projects come from relationships. ~ When it comes to some forms of consumption, it is easier to abstain entirely than to ration smaller portions. ~ Customers never care about your excuses. ~ Children should be acquainted with a good dictionary, a good encyclopedia, and a good almanac. ~ In a large organization, it is a mistake to assume that anyone is powerless. ~ A key benefit of the study of history is what it can tell us about the future. ~ When describing an important strategy, don't forget to touch the heart of each listener. Give them a greater purpose and not simply logic or assignments.


First Paragraph

This book was born on a cold, drizzly, late spring day when I clambered over the split-rail cedar fence that surrounds my pasture and made my way through wet woods to the modest frame house where Joe Rantz lay dying.

- From The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Scorsese's Picks


Martin Scorsese lists five films that he learned a great deal from.

Quote of the Day

The oft-quoted tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, 'When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.' However, in government more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride horses.
  5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living impaired.
  7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
  9. Providing extra funding/training to increase the dead horse's performance.
  10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
  11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to feed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than live horses.
  12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses. And, of course...
  13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.


- Sheldon Rovin, in a draft to Systems Thinking, quoted in Systems Thinking for Curious Managers by Russell L. Ackoff

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Supreme Excellence

A black-and-white shot of a man in a suit using a MacBook on his lap

[Photo by Olu Eletu at Unsplash]


In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Quick Look

The trailer for "From Here to Eternity."

Time

A vintage analog clock showing what it is by the time before the alarm beeps.

You need time to think. You need time to complete projects. You need time to rest. 

You need meaningful time. 

Two or three minutes here or there won't be sufficient. A few hours or days might not do the trick. Time is the universal currency and and yet we underestimate its significance. We focus on money and staffing and technology - all of which are important but time is the real ruler and often it is a tyrant.

What do top decision makers need? Time. What do people in the most risky situations need? Time. And that is one of the cruel jokes that time plays on people. Those who need it the most have it the least. They are beset by grasping people who want some of their time.

That's why presidents and heads of large organizations have gatekeepers; smooth-talking filters to keep out those who would squander the decision maker's time.

If you don't have a gatekeeper, then that job is yours.

How good of a gatekeeper are you?


First Paragraph

This seemed a fitting place to die. A place where she had once known every field and tree, every valley, where the rocks had names, where meeting places were described in clandestine languages adults could never understand. A place of gushing mountain streams shining like burnished steel in the summer sun. This was where she'd felt safe. Now even this place felt poisoned, ruined, all beauty and purity choked to death.

- From White Rose, Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey

Quote of the Day

One of the first admonitions of a good rowing coach, after the fundamentals are over, is "pull your own weight," and the young oarsman does just that when he finds out that the boat goes better when he does. There is certainly a social implication here.

- George Yeoman Pocock

Monday, February 26, 2018

In Place of Retirement



FutureLawyer has the answer. I agree.

Keep moving. Keep thinking. Keep working.

[Photo by Warren Wong at Unsplash]

Supervision and Detective Frank Drebin

There may be a subtle commentary on supervision in this Leslie Nielsen video.

First Paragraph



On a summer afternoon, a team of engineers and a group of executives at one of America's largest companies met in a classroom deep in the heart of their sprawling executive training facility to discuss their multi-hundred-million-dollar five-year plan for developing a new diesel and natural gas engine. Their goal was to enter a new market space: excitement was running high. The engine, named Series X, had broad applications in many industries, from energy generation to locomotive power.

- From The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture & Drive Long-Term Growth by Eric Ries

"This one didn't have anything. That was the big attraction."

At Cultural Offering: A story about living on a small island off of Maine.

When I read the article, the place seemed appealing but while checking the satellite picture on Google Maps, I began to feel trapped.

The Young Steve Jobs

A job application that Steve Jobs completed in 1973 is going to auction.

At that point, he had not acquired his love of detail.

If You Were in College Again


If you could travel back in time to your college days, what would you do differently?

My own choice is easy. I would make a habit of getting to know professors by visiting them during their office hours and asking more questions.

Novels for Leaders

Image result for i, claudius amazon

A marvelous novel about power and how one of the least likely men, surviving the snake pit of Roman politics, became emperor of Rome. 

Its sequel, Claudius The God, is also first-rate.

A Civilized Man


I always feel better after visiting The Hammock Papers.

Quote of the Day

But what do we mean by civilization? We mean, literally, the art of living in cities. But this follows, historically, the rise of agriculture as opposed to the earlier and pastoral type of economy. Without the plow, without the basis of settled cultivation, no city - and therefore no civilization - is even possible.

- C. Northcote Parkinson in East and West

It's Monday




[Photo by Clark Tibbs at Unsplash]

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The 500 Greatest Rock Songs

Cultural Offering presents his list and since the man knows more about rock songs than I'd ever imagine I shall strongly concur.

BTW: Great photo at his site. It must be from Kurt's college days.

Weekend Reading


Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading for all of us.

I especially like the point about first thoughts.

Notebook Turducken

This photo at The Cramped should bring a smile to all notebook and journal fans.

It also gave me a twinge of envy due to their creativity and beauty. My own journals have scrawls that could match a confession note from the gulag.

How Many Hours Do You Waste?

A Goalcast video by Jordan B. Peterson.

His "12 Rules for Life" is still at the top of the best seller list.

Language Skills

One of the greatest scenes of all of the Indiana Jones films.

Ten Minutes!



I recall an article in The Wall Street Journal a few years back that revealed the results of a study - yes, there is always a study of some sort - finding that the makers of microwavable food sought to keep their products' cooking times within 10 minutes. 

Why? 

Because Americans believe that any cooking that takes longer than that is "serious cooking."

We want it now. Ten or eleven minutes of prep time may create a state of famine, rendering us barely able to crawl to the table.

I recently remembered that finding while doing the following:
  • Waiting for a small document to download;
  • Drumming my fingers while an email message took forever - it seemed like forever - to be sent;
  • Staring at a microwave as it heated a cup of tea.
We all have our areas of impatience. For example, I am the soul of patience while in traffic. Delays rarely bother me. Sainthood is in order. On the other hand, waiting on people who are late to a meeting triggers a strong desire to lock the door.

I'm trying to work through that.

What are the "time triggers" in your life?

Three Levels of Trust



The multi-talented Tanmay Vora, who is often recognized as one of the top HR bloggers in India, does a sketchnote of Randy Conley's three levels of trust in relationships.

Novels for Leaders

Image result for the last hurrah book amazon

This is not just a great, and very funny, book about politics. There are leadership lessons to be gleaned in Frank Skeffington's attempt to be re-elected as mayor of Boston. Several film versions of the novel have been made. All are pale reflections of the book.

When in Rome

On a visit to India, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes a fashion statement and learns that when in Rome, there are times when you should not do as the Romans do. 

Quote of the Day

With some people you only need to point to a remedy; others need to have it rammed into them.

- Seneca

Friday, February 23, 2018

Originals


TED talk: Adam Grant, who writes very interesting books, on the surprising habits of original thinkers.

Art Break: Purvis



Art Contrarian looks at the Austin Reed posters by Tom Purvis.

Bate's Treasure Chest

Nicholas Bate writes books and a blog packed with helpful information. Thinking of writing a novel? Today's post is accompanied by a list that goes way beyond that because he writes about the business of life.

The man never sleeps.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Living Biblically."

Yes


From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention. Pay attention to the frog. Pay attention to the west wind. Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train. In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.

- Frederick Buechner

Using History to Teach Leadership

The Gettysburg Leadership Institute conducts an intriguing workshop for senior local government managers on-site at the battlefield. An excerpt from the class description:

 As part of a walking tour, we will study the impact of the battle on the population of 2,000, which had to provide services for the more than 51,000 casualties as a result of the battle. Over 152,455 men and 550 cannons were positioned in an area encompassing 25 square miles. Additionally, an estimated 569 tons of ammunition was expended and, when the battle had ended, 5,000 dead horses and the other wreckage of war presented a scene of terrible devastation, which will serve as a case study on disaster management. 

Random Thoughts: The Book is Out


Over the years, many readers and friends of this blog have asked that the occasional Random Thoughts posts be put into a book.

Those requests have been granted. I'm glad (and relieved) to say the book is out. 


It is a hodgepodge of 701 thoughts, including a few that have never appeared on the blog.

The book can be purchased here at Amazon


Be sure to get plenty of copies for friends, enemies, relatives, business associates, and casual acquaintances.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Last Movie Star."

Quote of the Day

The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.

- Gregory Bateson

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two Characters

Reprise: Jimmy Durante visits Monty Woolley in "The Man Who Came to Dinner."

Eclecticity Light



Where does he find this stuff?

On the Street: Nogales

Google Maps: Near the border in Nogales, Arizona

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Boys of '36."

Bock on Books

Image result for the boys in the boat amazon

Wally Bock reviews the book.

[He just added to my reading stack.]

Novels for Leaders

Image result for anton myrer once an eagle amazon

A novel that follows its characters through a wide range of America's wars and contrasts the leadership of one officer with the careerism of another.

Eternally Relevant


TED talk: Jorge Sa explores the questions of Peter Drucker.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Young Karl Marx."

It should be shown back-to-back with "The Inner Circle."

The Calm

A fountain pen on a spiral notebook

Find a quiet place to plan the next seven days.

Nothing fancy.

Use a large note card or a journal and jot down the tasks.

If you don't go overboard with expectations then when you do more it will be a pleasant surprise.

[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

Quick Look

The trailer for "Electric Dreams."

Books for Leaders

Image result for Titan chernow amazon

Can a biography be almost too fascinating as well as surprising? 

Yes.

Quote of the Day

Managers who don't know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure.

- From Systems Thinking for Curious Managers by Russell L. Ackoff

-

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Courage

image

Let us remember and honor Cadet Peter Wang.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Party."

First Paragraph

Like tombstones of forgotten graves, the decayed apartment buildings in the Friedrichstrasse pooled haphazard shadows in the approaching dusk and both men expertly used the cover, walking close to the walls. Although together, they carefully avoided physical contact and there was no conversation.

- From Charlie M by Brian Freemantle

How Can That Be?

From The Babylon Bee

"Man Joins CrossFit Without Telling Anyone."

"The Poison We Pick"

Andrew Sullivan on the opioid crisis. An excerpt:

More than 2 million Americans are now hooked on some kind of opioid, and drug overdoses — from heroin and fentanyl in particular — claimed more American lives last year than were lost in the entire Vietnam War. Overdose deaths are higher than in the peak year of AIDS and far higher than fatalities from car crashes. The poppy, through its many offshoots, has now been responsible for a decline in life spans in America for two years in a row, a decline that isn’t happening in any other developed nation. According to the best estimates, opioids will kill another 52,000 Americans this year alone — and up to half a million in the next decade.

Rest in Peace

My home is in Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.

- The Reverend Billy Graham

I Am in the Swamp of Technology



Fighting snakes and gators. Back soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Embrace the Boredom

It is likely that some many of the most important things you do this day or this week will be boring. 

You won't be following a dream or indulging in a passion. You will be doing something that needs to be done.

And your ability to do that will determine whether or not you can eventually follow a dream or indulge in a passion.

Novels for Leaders

Image result for war and peace amazon

Tolstoy's classic is one which, because of its size, many people plan to read someday, perhaps, when they get around to it. Don't procrastinate. Although the depiction of General Kutuzov's strategy against the invading Napoleon is valuable in itself, the real value for leaders (and anyone for that matter) will be found in the novel's sharp insights on human nature.

Mr. Time Management

As chairman and chief executive officer of a global alliance of auto companies—including Groupe Renault, Nissan Motor Co., and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., all three of which he also leads as chairman or chairman/CEO—his travel schedule begins to fill up six months to a year in advance. A typical month for him consists of a week in France, a week in Japan, and the remaining two weeks split among the U.S., Morocco, Russia, India, or any of the other countries where his companies have factories or executive offices.

Read the rest of
Bloomberg Businessweek's article: "If Davos Were a Person, It Would Be Carlos Ghosn."

First Paragraph

Although he was one of the most famous men in the world, Henry Peel was a will-o'-the-wisp. Paparazzi could not plague him because they didn't know what he looked like. Hardly anyone did. The only known photograph of him was the one on his student ID at Caltech. He was fifteen years old when the picture was taken. The image was blurred. He never posed for a yearbook picture because, working alone during the summer between his junior and senior years, he solved the problem of the room temperature superconductor and shortly thereafter dropped out of college. Not long after that he patented a feasible design for a fusion reactor. His discoveries earned him a large fortune before he was twenty-five. As time went by, he perfected other inventions that had been regarded as unachievable and made more money - a lot more. Forbes magazine, estimating that he was richer than all the billionaires on its annual list of the filthy rich, called him a trillionaire. He was the only one in the world.

- From Ark: A Novel by Charles McCarry

Quote of the Day

All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Manhattan Night."

Silicon Valley and the City of the Future



In The Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin paints a disturbing picture of urban designs that could jettison the concept of privacy.

"I was wrong"

Major General Grant

My dear General


I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did -- march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln



[The above is taken from Abraham Lincoln Online]

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Looming Tower."

Biographies of Leaders

Image result for john adams amazon

The tendency to jump from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson overlooks a man who was a leader almost in spite of himself. 

David McCullough's biography of Adams provides a fascinating view at an astute political thinker who attracted followers through competence and integrity.

It is not only a book to read but to re-read.

The Inauguration of George Washington


As depicted in the series based on the David McCullough biography of John Adams.

And here is the trailer for that series.

It is Presidents Day

Image result for warren harding

Do something presidential. No, wait. Make that something nice that's also presidential.

Quote of the Day

I feel I no longer fit in with these times.

- Calvin Coolidge

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for the restored version of "The Third Man."

It is described as the best British film ever made. 

I think it may well be the best film ever made, period.

Southern Rock

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes.

Perhaps


All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.

- Frank Zappa

No Magic Shower

One of the arguments for being very wary of dicey corporate practices overseas is that however much executives may argue that they are simply "doing as the Romans do," at some point those same executives will be returning home. They won't emerge from a magic shower that washes away their questionable foreign conduct. Those loose ethical attitudes may linger.

I find a similar problem with what is currently going on at many college campuses. Students who have shown an eagerness to suppress free speech are future teachers, HR officers, lawyers, and judges. 

As with the business executives, we should not assume that they will go through a transformation. The number who do not may seriously affect the future of our society.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Secret Agent."

Art Break: George Wunder



Art Contrarian looks at the details within Terry and the Pirates.

Novels for Leaders

Image result for The killer ANgels amazon

It would be impossible to compile a list of novels for leaders without including this classic by Michael Shaara. I read it years ago and a vivid memory is the impact of the fact that when the forces of the North and the South met, both sides usually were commanded by men who knew one another. They either had been at West Point at the same time or had served together during the war with Mexico. That meant they knew the personality and temperament of their opponent and often had a grasp on that person's likely approach.

Check it out.

First Paragraph

Mellas stood beneath the gray monsoon clouds on the narrow strip of cleared ground between the edge of the jungle and the relative safety of the perimeter wire. He tried to focus on counting the other thirteen Marines of the patrol as they emerged single file from the jungle, but exhaustion made focusing difficult. He also tried, unsuccessfully, to shut out the smell of the shit, which sloshed in the water that half-filled the open latrine pits above him on the other side of the wire. Rain dropped from the lip of his helmet, fell past his eyes, and spattered onto the satiny olive cloth that held the armor plating of his cumbersome new flak jacket. The dark green T-shirt and boxer shorts that his mother had dyed for him just three weeks ago clung to his skin, heavy and clammy beneath his camouflage utility jacket and trousers. He knew there would be leeches clinging to his legs, arms, back, and chest beneath his wet clothes, even though he couldn't feel them now. It was the way with leeches, he mused. They were so small and thin before they started sucking your blood that you rarely felt them unless they fell on you from a tree, and you never felt them piercing your skin. There was some sort of natural anesthetic in their saliva. You would discover them later, swollen with blood, sticking out from your skin like little pregnant bellies.

- From Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

Great Book Titles

Image result for ghost fleet amazon

Quote of the Day

Pay attention to what they tell you to forget.

- Muriel Rukeyser

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Ice

The Hammock Papers, usually a place of serenity, has video and sound of a person skating on thin ice.

The sound is spooky and you may find your tension rising as the skater glides along.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Kremlin Letter."

Reading to Consider


Inc.: 32 favorite books of high achievers.

Any list that has a Saul Bellow novel gets my attention.

As We Approach the Presidents Day Weekend


The excitement builds.

In many homes, the fans of Warren G. Harding are retrieving decorations from the attic. In others, Buchanan and Carter advocates do likewise. The Andrew Johnson Fan Clubs normally meet in bars, sipping beer and bemoaning the evils of impeachment. William Henry Harrison followers, whose slogan is "Quality, Not Quantity," volunteer in medical clinics. 

Nixon devotees don dress shoes, brood, and wander the beach.

All of that is well and good but let's go back to separate holidays for Washington and Lincoln.

FutureLawyer Enters an iPhone Store



If the reality TV people had any sense, they'd head for south Florida and begin a series about a lawyer with a solo practice who also is a poet and a tech wizard with parrots in his lobby and a disdain for Apple products. The first episode could involve a purchase of an iPhone. Hilarity ensues.

Media Manipulation

Sheryl Attkisson speaking on "Astroturf" and media manipulation.

Great Book Titles

Image result for octavia butler amazon

Quote of the Day

You'd be surprised at how much it costs to look this cheap.

- Dolly Parton

Thursday, February 15, 2018

In the Background

Image result for mini world indila amazon

Quick Look

The trailer for "Moonstruck."

Fear and Intuition

Here is a video of Gavin de Becker, author of "The Gift of Fear," talking about paying attention to intuition.

De Becker runs a personal security firm in California; one which provides protection for many celebrity clients.

I've been recommending his book for years and have pressured family members into reading it.

A Taste of Why "The Civil War" series by Ken Burns is Great

Shelby Foote on the South's chances in the Civil War.

Here's a clip on his view of the importance of the war.

Candid Conversation

"What did you tell them?"

"I told them we wanted to hear the truth and that they should be absolutely candid about any problems that are facing us either now or in the near future."

"Did they believe you?"

"I hope so because they will be crucial players in turning the place around."

"Would you say they were open?"

"They talked quite a bit."

"But were they open?"

"I'm not sure.  One conversation isn't enough. We need to earn their trust."

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Sorrow and The Pity."

Great Book Titles

Image result for Elektra and Wolverine: The Redeemer

Quote of the Day

Economics has gained the title Queen of the Social Sciences by choosing solved political problems as its domain.

- Abba Lerner

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Peterson of "The 12 Rules for Life"

Cultural Offering notes the Psychology Today interview with Jordan Peterson. 

Dr. Peterson's thought-provoking book is a best-seller and deservedly so.

Bear Down

A sad tale of vicious discrimination at a bar in Tempe.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Shakespeare in Love."

Poetry for Wooing



Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love."

But then reality steps in with Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd."

[Update: My apology for the earlier spelling error. Unforgivable.]

Organizing Computer Files

Ah, the joy of organizing computer files. 

I have been remiss in sorting the worthless from the important although the good news is I can quickly spot the difference between the two. The entire exercise is a lesson in humility. "Why did I ever think File X was important enough to save?" 

It is also a reminder to name files in such a way that their subject is easy to ascertain. Anything too specific or too broad can be mysterious and mystery is not good with files. 

The real joy comes not from finding some forgotten work of brilliance - that has yet to occur - but from deleting masses of those suckers. [A machine gun sound effect would add to the pleasure.] 

"If in doubt, throw it out" is the mantra of office re-organization wizards and it works well with files. I am toying with the idea of creating a File Limbo, in which those close to salvation could linger, but I fear that could be a dodge.

The culling continues.

Happy Valentine's Day



Not a day to forget.

A Job with Meaning


Years ago, I heard a man talk about recruiting for police officers. 

He said that if the recruiters emphasized pay and benefits, they got blank stares but when they emphasized community service, the applications shot up.

Whether the subject is recruitment, supervision or motivation, when you provide genuine meaning you will reach the heart.

Great Book Titles

Image result for auntie mame amazon

First Paragraph

The coppers smashed my father's printer when I was eight. I remember the hot, cling-film-in-a-microwave smell of it, and Da's look of ferocious concentration as he filled it with fresh goop, and the warm, fresh-baked feel of the objects that came out of it.

- From "Printcrime," a story by Cory Doctorow in the book, Overclocked