Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Plodding Along


My most productive days are when I work slowly and deliberately, especially on matters which I have tended to postpone.

And "Get it done perfectly" is far inferior to "Get it done well."

Smile

Finished teaching the council presentations workshop. Walked to the car through 100 degree heat. Cranked up the air conditioner. Headed for the highway back to Phoenix. Turned on the classical music station (KBAQ).

"Appalachian Spring."

Big smile.

Real Life Leadership



Wally Bock points to some "Leaders and Strategies in Real Life."

How We Think



[Photo by John Salvino at Unsplash]


Non-Reader: What a mess!

Reader: How many of those have I read?

True



You do your job so everyone around you can do their job. There's no big secret to it.

- Tom Brady of the New England Patriots

"Rough Riders"



Writing in the Hoover Digest, Historian Victor Davis Hanson examines some famous leaders with rough styles.

First Paragraph

Thirty-five years ago a young man dropped from a moving freight train in West Orange, New Jersey, and hurriedly made his way to the laboratory of Thomas A. Edison. When asked to state his business, before being permitted to see Mr. Edison, the young man boldly replied, "I am going to become his partner!"

- From Selling You! by Napoleon Hill, a book which, you may guess, was not recently published.

Quote of the Day

It is a sin peculiar to man to hate his victim.

- Tacitus

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Two Washington Women"

The death of Dovey Johnson Roundtree, at 104, brings back memories of her most famous case. Roundtree, an impressive black lawyer in Washington, successfully defended a young black day-laborer, Ray Crump Jr., on the charge that he murdered Mary Pinchot Meyer on the C & O Canal towpath, just below Georgetown University, in 1964. Meyer, an artist, was the sometime lover of John Kennedy and ex-wife of high-ranking CIA man Cord Meyer. Her murder (11 months after JFK’s in Dallas) gave rise to conspiracy theories because her personal connections were spectacularly suggestive. Her brother-in-law was Ben Bradlee. James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s somewhat bizarre and unwholesome chief of counterintelligence, was a sometime friend. After she was murdered, Angleton and Bradlee rummaged in her house and studio, searching for her secret diary. Bradlee eventually found it and turned it over to Angleton, who claimed that he burned it.

Read the rest of Lance Morrow's essay in City Journal.

Department of PreCrime


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This may be a great time to re-watch "Minority Report."

The Espresso is Kicking In




[Photo by Jon Tyson at Unsplash]


Reviewing the day. Email regarding speech at a conference. Phone call about a possible workshop on tact in the workplace. Preparing for tomorrow's workshop on "How to Make Presentations to Councils and Boards." Website changes. Birthday greetings to a friend. Preparing material for client meetings on mission, vision, and values statements. Client re in-house workshops on supervision. Work on a client's policy manual. Administrative stuff. Reading. Another espresso. More reading.

Oh, and an extensive "don't do" list.

How We Think



[Photo by Jens Johnsson at Unsplash]


Optimist: Beautiful woman at the beach.

Pessimist: There must be a shark out there somewhere.

Well, The Seventies Were Crazy

In a mad pursuit of movies trivia, Althouse tracks down which song beat out "The Rainbow Connection" for the Best Song Oscar in 1979.

At least I think she is correct. It is surprising how many film sites report different winners for Best Picture for that year.

["The Rainbow Connection" deserved to win.]

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018



[Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink at Unsplash]


Remembering and honoring such sacrifices are the least we can do.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

As Memorial Day Approaches



[Photo by Daniel Foster at Unsplash]

A reminder: "Taking Chance" is an important and powerful film.

Remember Greatness

A moving clip from the Churchill funeral.

Veterans Affairs Bill


Good news! A major veterans affairs reform bill has passed the Senate on a 92 - 5 vote and is headed for the White House. President Trump has said he will sign it.

Two Essential Books

Image result for wooden on leadershipImage result for the effective executive


There are many excellent books on leadership and management, but I believe these two are truly extraordinary. 

First Paragraph

Captain Crozier comes up on deck to find his ship under attack by celestial ghosts. Above him - above Terror - shimmering folds of light lunge but then quickly withdraw like the colourful arms of aggressive but ultimately uncertain spectres. Ectoplasmic skeletal fingers extend toward the ship, open, prepare to grasp, and pull back.

- From The Terror by Dan Simmons

Friday, May 25, 2018

Reminder



[Photo by Jammakassi at Unsplash]


Being happy never goes out of style.

- Lilly Pulitzer

Currently Reading

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First Paragraph

There were no stars that night on the bush airstrip, nor any moon; just the West African darkness wrapping round the scattered groups like warm, wet velvet. The cloud cover was lying hardly off the tops of the iroko trees and the waiting men prayed it would stay a while longer to shield them from the bombers.

- From The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth

Bock's Reading Assignment



As always, Wally Bock's weekend leadership reading assignment is excellent and the books he recommends are first-rate.

Art Break: Cooper



Art Contrarian looks at the posters of Austin Cooper. The above is from a 1931 exhibit.

Dark Horses



It is easy to conclude that Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle would not have attained the highest position in their respective nations had there not been a crisis. [I believe that Churchill's second prime ministership should not count because by then he was a former prime minister and a national hero.]

Are there any circumstances in which such types of leaders can attain the top job without a crisis or a perceived crisis? 

I believe that people do not opt for the unusual or eccentric leader unless there is a compelling reason to do so. When the waters are calm, they will choose a B or even a C leader over an A+ one because (1) they don't know the person is an A+ leader and (2) the B or C types seem to be safer choices.

The extraordinary leader may perceive that the waters are not truly calm, but until others agree with that assessment, their chances of attaining the top spot are small.

Mountains and Lost Girls

A touch of the unusual before the weekend:

Post-Meeting Translation




[Photo by Wil Stewart at Unsplash]


I can tell you what took place at the meeting immediately after the meeting but if you want to know what the meeting revealed then I may need a few hours to sort that out.

Remembering Philip Roth

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There is a great post at Live & Learn.

It has been years since I read one of Roth's novels but that is pure neglect on my part. I always enjoyed his work and can remember certain scenes to this day.

Note to self: Read at least one Philip Roth novel this year.

Never Said



"I wish that speech had been longer."

"I wish there'd been more PowerPoint slides."

Not the Standard Fare

The trailers for "Viridiana" and "Pan's Labyrinth."

Great Movie Posters

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Quote of the Day

Get it 'til it's perfect, then cut two minutes.

- Fred Astaire

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Creativity

The trailer for "Yellow is Forbidden."

GE's Decline

Fortune magazine: Geoff Colvin explores "What the Hell Happened at GE?" An excerpt:

“Jeff just didn’t listen to his subordinates,” says a former finance executive. “Pushback went away under Jeff,” says a former staff member. “When the top guy is the smartest guy in the world, you’ve got a real problem.”

What's in Your Expectations?


A police captain once told me about a frequent personnel issue he encountered with new lieutenants. He said that in the days when the department had an old-line police chief who felt unencumbered by pesky employment laws or HR nerds, if an officer got on the chief's bad side, the chief might say something along the lines of "Don't even think about buying any sunglasses. You're not going to be seeing daylight for the next five years." 

The implication, of course, was that the officer would be assigned to night-shift as a punishment.

The captain said, "When the officers who grew up under that environment got promoted, they thought they would have similar power. I have to explain to them that we don't do that anymore."

It may help if all of us search for our own out-dated expectations.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Life's a Beach

There is a new version of "Papillon."

When Outside of an Ordered World



[Photo by Josh Calabrease at Unsplash]

Some environments are so chaotic that the best you can do is to move in a direction that is generally desirable. You need to do so with speed and flexibility. You lack the time to look for precedents. It is unlikely that any exist.

And the solution that worked yesterday may not work today. 

Recognize that and things begin to make sense.

It's a Jungle Out There

The trailer for "Mowgli."

Great Movie Posters

Image result for master and commander poster amazon

Quote of the Day

Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.

- Guy Kawasaki

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First Paragraph

It was the night of the full moon over Miami. The shooting started early.

- From Nobody Lives Forever by Edna Buchanan

The Mighty Index Card


It captures thoughts, reminds us of chores, lists times of meetings, and serves as a simple bookmark.

When all of its many uses are considered, it is a gigantic bargain. 

Even buying them brings pleasure.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Governmental Affairs: A Developer's Story


The continuing saga at Anderson Layman's Blog of the redevelopment of the "Old School" in Newark, Ohio has been fascinating. Each stage has had its unique tale and now the joys of dealing with more than one government agency are detailed. An excerpt:

Let me say here that those of us active in large commercial and development projects tend to have solid working relationships with local government. Just the nature of the work. Newark has long been blessed with intelligent, hard working, competent, and fair people sitting in positions of authority. It has been my experience that this is not true in all jurisdictions. But I digress.

In the case of the Old School, two separate and distinct governmental agencies, with different agendas, rendered opinions and set forth requirements for the project that were contradictory.

Bloggers are Dedicated to Research

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Ann Althouse has subscribed to Playboy for the interviews and the ads. 

It also gives access to the archives. Hmm.

"I Am Circus Juventas"

Catch the enthusiasm as Patrick Rhone (of Rhoneisms) and some other extraordinary people talk about the Circus Juventas program in this video.

Truly impressive!

Laurel/Yanny

I intentionally stayed away from the "Laurel/Yanny" stories because the story itself seemed frivolous.

When I finally heard the now-famous repetition, I was surprised that it wasn't even a close call. [I clearly hear "Laurel."]

But then the story becomes far more interesting. How could people hear such different versions? And in what other areas might similar differences occur?

Vox has the sound and gives an explanation.

The Danger of Casual Friday



[Photo by Clem Onojeghuo at Unsplash]



Cultural Offering has a clip from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" that illustrates the problem.

Political Correctness

Althouse has a video of the debate on "Political Correctness: A force for good?"

Pro: Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg

Con: Stephen Fry and Jordan Peterson

Six Common Misperceptions about Teamwork



[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]


The Harvard Business Review article by Richard Hackman.

That's the Ticket

A barista pouring coffee into a mug that says ugh on it at Bar Nine



[Photo by Nathan Dumlao at Unsplash]

We don't need to change, we just need to:
  • Do more of what we've been doing.
  • Find a unique product.
  • Get some wealthy backers.
  • Reorganize.
  • Shift top management around.
  • Get some snazzy stationery.

Hmm

The trailer for "Shoplifters."

First Paragraph

"You're sure that I won't be killed today?" The spy rubbed a hand against his smooth face and looked down at the wet Central Park grass beneath him. It was very early in the morning, and beyond the park the sounds of New York life were distant and mellow. He frowned and shook his head slightly. A fine, windless rain fell. "This whole thing seems odd."

- From Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn

Quote of the Day

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

- George Orwell

Saturday, May 19, 2018

In My Opinion


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Nicholas Bate is a Beatle and Abbey Road is their best album.

Bock's Assignments


Wally Bock has issued his Weekend Leadership Reading Assignments.

"Beach"



This poem by Rick Georges (FutureLawyer) goes way beyond the beach.

Diversity Training at Starbucks




[Photo by Mike Kenneally at Unsplash]


Writing in The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson casts a skeptical eye on the much-publicized diversity training at Starbucks.

As a former EEO officer who has advised - and continues to advise - organizations on diversity as well as leadership/ethics issues, I agree with his skepticism. The most questionable diversity programs are ideologically-driven. Such programs often leave the attendees more divided than they were when they walked in the door while achieving little that is positive.


The Starbucks approach, while probably well-intended, has the early warning signs of an ideological slant beneath the warm glow of public relations gloss. It may well produce more problems than it solves.


The Visionary Role

A group of individuals having a meeting near a transparent glass showing beautiful city view.


[Photo by Charles Forerunner at Unsplash]

So many of the daily chores of a manager fall under the roles of consultant, administrator, and cop that it is easy to overlook the leadership role of visionary. People want to know where the team is headed and that it will be worth the trip. The visionary role is easily mocked - its insights hardly come from a mountaintop - but teams have a tangible need for someone who can make a convincing case that he or she has a strong grip on the reality of the moment and knows how to master it.

The consultant, administrator, and cop roles are important but, as the saying goes, it does you no good to run if you're on the wrong road.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Moving into the Weekend

A low-angled shot of an elderly man in glasses playing the accordion next to a trumpetist


[Photo by Dan Gold at Unsplash]


Music always sounds better on Friday.

- Lou Brutus

Just a Lump of Coal


Give me your data.

"There is a saying in Silicon Valley that there is no such thing as a free app - if the app is free, then the individual using it is the product. In other words, today's Silicon Valley corporation views people as resources to be mined and exploited, not unlike, say, coal in the nineteenth century."

- Thomas E. Ricks

[Execupundit note: That's a clever saying but I don't really see the relationship as one of exploitation. People can have various reasons for - and benefits from - using a free app.]

Rare Vintage

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The trailer for "Panique."

Richard Pipes, RIP

Richard Pipes, author, presidential advisor, and noted historian, has died.

An excerpt from his book, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime:

At bottom, the totalitarian regimes of the left and right varieties were united not only by similar political philosophies and practices, but by the common psychology of their founders: its driving motive was hatred and its expression violence. Mussolini, the frankest of them, referred to violence as a "moral therapeutic" because it forced people to make clear commitments. In this, and in their determination to raze the existing world in which they felt themselves outcasts, at all costs and by all means, lay their kinship.

"The Oracle"


A far-sighted dry goods executive has passed away and now Wally Bock can reveal the man's secret for knowing when big changes are on the way.

RBG and Nino


"Jonathan Swift in a White Suit"

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Matthew Continetti on Tom Wolfe's campaign against intellectual idiocy. An excerpt:

Wolfe was flummoxed, Grass silent as their co-panelists described the nightmares and injustices taking place outside the hall. "Suddenly," Wolfe recollected, "I heard myself blurting out over my microphone: ‘My God, what are you talking about? We're in the middle of a … Happiness Explosion!"
That was not what the crowd wanted to hear. A "tidal wave of rude sounds" drowned out Wolfe. But he found an unexpected ally in Grass, who spoke up once more. "For the past hour I have had my eyes fixed on the doors here," he said. "You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they came through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow."

Meeting Reflections



[Photo by Hue Graphy at Unsplash]

Lately, I've had an unusual number of meetings and, in addition to the preparation and the meeting itself, there is also post-meeting reflection time.

That particular time needs to be specifically preserved because it doesn't automatically block out segments of the calendar. It is one of the most important aspects of meetings and yet can be the most neglected.


"You were there, weren't you?"


"Yes. Now I need to give some serious thought about what happened and what did not happen as well as what was said and what was not said."


"Oh."


People of a more casual bent may think you are strange but many a strange practice pays off.