Friday, November 27, 2020

French Quarter Break

 


The Key

In Thanksgiving conversation yesterday, one blog post came up. 

Was it about leadership, management, ethics, communication, business, or government?

No, it was this one.

Celebrating Nonconformists

Jonathan Turley sees Thanksgiving as a good time to celebrate nonconformists. He also notes the ominous signs that free expression is imperiled. An excerpt:

One of the more chilling cases of this trend is Richard Stengel, the man selected to lead the transition team on media agencies and policies. He wrote a Washington Post column last year that denounced speech as a threat to harmony. He failed to convince readers that what they need is less freedom. “All speech is not equal, and where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I am all for protecting thought that we hate, but not speech that incites hate,” Stengel argued.

An Infantile Intolerance

Unherd: Douglas Murray writes on Jordan Peterson versus the crybullies.

It is time to fight back against moves to squelch freedom of expression. Those moves aren't just coming from campus radicals.

Advice from Adrian Savage



Over the years I have posted this advice from Adrian Savage, the leadership author and scholar:

You don't need a life plan. You don't need motivation, self-confidence, peer support or even luck. All you need is the willingness to take the most obvious step - then repeat the process again and again, regardless of how you feel. Try it. Happiness comes from seeing the results of your efforts. You don't need it before you start.


[Photo by Charl Folscher at Unsplash]

Imagine His Surprise

 Steve QJ only now just realized that he is white.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Pilgrim Spirit

In a selfless act of heroism, Cultural Offering has decided to forego the Swanson's TV Turkey Dinner option.

Some history from 2018.

Crank It Up

 


Get Down

 


Remember: The American Soul

We were sitting on the patio under a black, moonless sky, our faces lit by the flickering light of a few candles in the center of a large stone table. We all had iced drinks in our hands or in front of us. His interruption took the form of very slowly putting down the glass that was in his hand - so slowly and so quietly, and with such a measured, even movement that at first it seemed like some kind of ritual gesture. Everyone suddenly became quiet and looked at him, waiting. I remember listening for a long time to the waves of the bay and watching the lights of San Francisco across the water. The wind was shifting and turning cool. People were putting their collars up and hugging themselves, but no one dared get up. Foghorns were answering each other like far-off, unseen sea creatures.

Just as slowly and evenly, he angled his long, lean body back in his chair and gazed at nothing in particular. Then he turned his head as though it were a gun turret and looked directly at the husky, bearded young man who had just been speaking about the crimes of America. In the flickering candlelight, his bony face seemed wondrously alive and menacing at the same time. What he said to the young man - and of course to all of us present - was only this:

"You don't know what you have here." Then, after an uncomfortable pause, "You simply don't know what you have."

- From The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


A holiday about gratitude. Always needed. Always great.


[Photo by Preslie Hirsch at Unsplash]

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Art Break


Art Contrarian looks at the work of illustrator Frank Tinsley.

Spooky

 


Class Prep

The elevated desk works well. I am going to have to move a large photo of Churchill on the wall behind me so I can squeeze in a flip chart but I'll have plenty of room for hand gestures and other elements of the performing arts.

Because every class is a performance. The presentation cannot be dry. It must be memorable.

The Thanksgiving Film

 


"Service Stations"

 


There are days when I deeply miss what used to be called "service stations."

"Want me to check under the hood?"

And when a free glass came with a full tank of gas.


[Photo by Boston Public Library at Unsplash]

Aldous Huxley Smiles


The delayed adolescence and hyper-fear of risk-taking that have become evident in recent years makes me wonder if a sizable portion of our population would eagerly give up freedom in order to live out the rest of their days in a "Club Fed" type of prison or a very hip nursing home.

[Photo by Zacke Feller at Unsplash]

I Am The Pie Man


 My sole Thanksgiving chore is picking up pies at Village Inn.

It's tough, but someone has to do it.

[And after Thanksgiving, I will be The Walrus.]

When They Seek to Destroy Freedom of Thought and Expression

Penguin Random House employees in Canada are upset about the firm publishing a new Jordan Peterson book.

[I will, of course, make a point of buying that book.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Music Break

 


True Humility

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

- C.S. Lewis

Quick Look

 


Appearance of Impropriety Update

The Babylon Bee: Famed archaeology professor fired after photos surface of him wearing a Nazi uniform.

Yes, Please!

Jonathan M. Ellen on vaccine news and hope for a more normal future.

Be Alert

The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued, but the ones that are assumed.

- C.S. Lewis

Big Tech and Political Manipulation

 


Find Your Style


[Photo by Vladimir Fedotov at Unsplash]

Two Executives


The first executive has a lot of rough edges, is blunt to the point of rudeness and sometimes even far beyond. But this person has one saving grace: he or she produces results.

The second executive is ultra smooth and sophisticated. Picture-perfect and quite charming. But this person has one flaw: talks a great game but doesn't seem to produce very much.

You can learn a lot about an organization by seeing which one is favored.

It Was a Sad Day When Philip Seymour Hoffman Left Us

 


Office Update

My home office "reformation" is progressing nicely. 

The electric desk is assembled. Another, more traditional, desk arrives in early December. Both desks have large work spaces and the elevated desk will permit me to stand while teaching classes on Zoom. A reading chair, a bookcase, and a new filing cabinet also are in the pipeline.

The two desks will have very different "personalities" and will be separated with a diagonal walkway leading to a small reading area.

I know I should have addressed the matter of the floor first but that was not possible. Getting the furniture in order will be a relief and will speed up completion of some projects. The issues with the floor can wait.

P.S. Major cheers for banker's boxes and trash bags.

This is a Great Time for Stoicism

 


Monday, November 23, 2020

Full Film with Sub-Titles


 

The Polish war film, "Birth Certificate."



And Some Thought "Office Space" was Brutal

 


To Be Read and Re-Read

 


Find Your Style

 


[Photo by Kyle Cut Media at Unsplash]

Put That in Your Planner


The Strategist has
the 21 best planners for 2021.

I've been using a Levenger Circa Planner for years but am always looking around.

Not a Christmas Movie


 

The Silence and the Silencing

The media is virtually silent on these threats to coerce lawyers and legislators into silence. That is not viewed as a threat to the rule of law.

Read the rest of Jonathan Turley's essay here.

Confessions Matter


The New Criterion: When Princeton's systemic racism confession backfired.


[Photo by Kirubakaran Manoharan at Unsplash]

Still Reading the Book


 

Get to the Point

Steve Layman (of A Layman's Blog) reviews a book on decision-making with an observation that could be applied to many a business book:

"This is an interesting and worthwhile book.  If it was 100 pages shorter, I would have recommended it."

Do It Now or Consciously Delay


My son and I had a talk the other day about the practice of the late and great rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (often called the Rebbe) who followed a practice of immediately doing important things.

Did that mean that the Rebbe had no sense of priorities? Does that mean that his practice should always be followed?

No. It means that he knew the power of immediate action and that he was wary of the immense temptation to lapse into unnecessary delays.

I suggest keeping two people in mind: 

Rabbi Schneerson with his "Do it now" approach and former Secretary of State George Shultz with his advice to "Don't just do something. Stand there."

Each can be right but not at the same time.

A Pre-Pandemic Epidemic of Loneliness


From City Journal in 2019: Kay S. Hymowitz on the problem of loneliness. An excerpt:

Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. It’s not much comfort that Americans are not, well, alone in this. Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”

Rather Sad

 


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Beware

 


Once you start reading this book, it is very hard to put down.

Find Something Beautiful Today


 

[Photo by Mick Haupt at Unsplash]

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sign Me Up


80-year-olds of the future

New York Post: Scientists reverse the aging process in a new study.


[Photo by Naassom Azevedo at Unsplash]

Hmm

 


In the Stack

 




It Only Works If I Believe

 David Kanigan has some very good reminders from Michael J. Fox.

Down on the Farm


 

Future hit TV show.

Some Key Questions for Boards


"Why . . . do boards tend to spend hours debating small issues while large ones sail by comparatively unexamined? Why do groups of competent and assertive individuals allow themselves to be held hostage by the loudest or most insistent board member? Why do boards spend hours making decisions that they then forget they made or that go unrecorded or, if recorded, are difficult to locate? . . . Why are boards of effective individuals so often ineffective groups?"

- John and Miriam Carver in The Policy Governance Model and the Role of the Board Member

No Lockdown

 


Hidden Victims


 
Naomi Schaefer Riley on the effects of remote learning on vulnerable children.

Weekend Leadership Reading

 


Wally Bock has the assignments.


[Photo by Austin Distel at Unsplash]

Alive and Thriving on Twitter

"The most striking among Milgram's findings is the inverse ratio of readiness to cruelty and proximity to its victim. It is difficult to harm a person we touch. It is somewhat easier to afflict pain upon a person we only see at a distance. It is still easier in the case of a person we only hear. It is quite easy to be cruel towards a person we neither see nor hear."

- Zygmunt Bauman in Modernity and the Holocaust

"What Tech Calls Thinking"

 City Journal: Michael Gibson reviews Adrian Daub's new book on Silicon Valley.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Scan the Skies

 


A Narrative Already Written

Bravo to Wired for going further into the account of the South Dakota emergency room nurse who allegedly encountered angry COVID deniers.

Another Unifying Gesture

Jonathan Turley on the demands for a blacklist at Harvard.

Mind-Blowing

 


Questions



One of the signs of an obvious question is that people are reluctant to ask it. ~ Some questions only require one honest answer while others should be periodically asked in order to see if feelings and circumstances have changed. ~ The person who asks a question may elicit more attention than the question itself. ~ Never leave the asking of tough questions to the same person. That burden should be shared. ~ Individuals who only will tell you the truth if you ask the right question are practicing a form of deception. ~ Knowing which questions are regarded as off-limits can tell you a great deal about an organization. ~ We all know that valuable information is often obtained by smart people asking dumb questions but nonetheless asking such questions requires courage.

Art Break


Art Contrarian looks at Ernest Hamlin Baker's covers for Time magazine.

What?

 


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“I called him up from a phone booth. The voice that answered was fat. It wheezed softly, like the voice of a man who had just won a pie-eating contest.”

- Raymond Chandler

Stylish Candor

 


Listening to "JR"

The Guardian: Actor Nick Sullivan tells of how he brought 120 characters to life while recording the audio version of "JR."

If you've ever encountered William Gaddis's novels, you can imagine the effort behind an audiobook.

Gurri: Claims of Competence of the Elites



The financial crash of 2008 and the pandemic of 2020 have been moments of great clarity, when the claims of competence of the elites and the experts have been exposed as hollow. The rhetorical style of the industrial age was utopian: if only we mix the right amount of data with great enough power, we can fix the human condition. That illusion should have vanished when the Soviet Union went out of business but, perversely, it has clung to political debates in democratic societies. We should know by now that human knowledge is frail and limited. A little humility in elite rhetoric would go a long way towards restoring trust.

- Martin Gurri in an interview with Jeff Yates.

Hmm

 


10 Rules for Thanksgiving

 


I wrote this post several years ago and it is now an Execupundit tradition:


  1. Thou shalt not discuss politics at the dinner. There is next to no chance that you'll convert anyone and any hard feelings that are generated may last long after the pumpkin pie is finished. Why spoil a good meal?

  2. Thou shalt limit discussion of The Big Game. This is mainly directed at the men who choose to argue plays, records, and coaches while their wives stare longingly at the silverware. The sharp silverware.

  3. Thou shalt say nice things about every dish. Including the bizarre one with Jello and marshmallows.

  4. Thou shalt be especially kind to anyone who may feel left out. Some Thanksgiving guests are tag-alongs or, as we say in the business world, "new to the organization." Make a point of drawing them in.

  5. Thou shalt be wary of gossip. After all, do you know what they say when you leave the room? Remember the old saying: All of the brothers are valiant and all of the sisters are virtuous.

  6. Thou shalt not hog the white or dark meat. We know you're on Atkins but that's no excuse.

  7. Thou shalt think mightily before going back for seconds. Especially if that means waddling back for seconds.

  8. Thou shalt not get drunk. Strong drink improves neither your wit nor your discretion. Give everyone else a gift by remaining sober.

  9. Thou shalt be cheerful. This is not a therapy session. This is not the moment to recount all of the mistakes in your life or to get back at Uncle Bo for the wisecrack he made at your high school graduation. This is a time for Rule #10.

  10. Thou shalt be thankful. You're above ground and functioning in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time. Many people paid a very heavy price (and I'm not talking about groceries) to give you this day. Take some time to think of them and to express gratitude to your friends and relatives. Above all, give special thanks to the divine power who blesses you in innumerable ways.

France and Islamist Terrorism

 


Doxing, Harassment, and Certification

Jonathan Turley on an attempt to rescind certification of the Michigan results.

Miscellaneous and Fast


First Paragraph

Some revolutions begin with a gunshot, others with a party. This one was kicked off on a Friday night in downtown Athens, in 415 BCE. Alcibiades, a prominent Greek general and politician, had invited a small circle of friends to his villa for what was to become one of the more famous bacchanals in history. Hooded in the stolen robes of a high priest, Alcibiades swept down his marble staircase, recited a forbidden incantation, and produced an ornate decanter. Carefully, he poured a single shot of a dark liquid into each guest's glass. A few words, an exuberant cheer, and everyone drained their cups.

- From Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal

Quick Look

 


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Justice Breyer at Harvard

 


Discrimination in the Name of Diversity

Commentary magazine: Christine Rosen on how Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans.

Office Remodeling

Should be done by mid-December.

The electric adjustable desk arrives this week. 

The large quasi-traditional desk arrives in December.

May paint one wall bright yellow.

Just to wake me up.

So Bad It is Sort of Good

 


Music Break

 


Find Your Style


 [Photo by Sule Makaroglu at Unsplash]

Currently Reading

 


Quotes for Today

 A Large Regular has a great assortment of insights

[Any collection with Christopher Hitchens and Thomas Sowell gets my attention.]

Revolution on Cat's Feet


Real Clear Books: Rod Dreher sees a quiet totalitarian revolution coming.


[Photo by Steve Harvey at Unsplash]

The Substackrati: Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Columbia Journalism Review: Clio Chang on Substack and its writers. Clio soon lets us know her take:

But as you peruse the lists, something becomes clear: the most successful people on Substack are those who have already been well-served by existing media power structures. Most are white and male; several are conservative. Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, and most recently, Glenn Greenwald—who offer similar screeds about the dangers of cancel culture and the left—all land in the top ten. (Greenwald’s arrival bumped the like-minded Yascha Mounk to eleventh position; soon, Matthew Yglesias signed up for Substack, too.)

My First Class on Zoom

 


As part of my management consulting practice, I have been teaching a workshop on "Equal Employment Opportunity" for decades. 

Decades.

Equal Employment Opportunity is a fascinating subject.  The various types of discrimination are discussed via fast-paced case examples and there is always one goal: to provide practical information that is easy to understand and which can be put to immediate use. 

Well, the bad news is that when the pandemic hit, all of my workshops began to evaporate. My coaching practice continued but marketing in-person training became next to impossible.

But now there is good news. I will be teaching my first EEO workshop via Zoom in December.

I look forward to scheduling many more.


[Photo by Jon Tyson at Unsplash]

The Latest in Thanksgiving Garb

 


Pie Tip

You're in a hurry. You're supposed to bring pie to Thanksgiving.

It is hard to beat the quality, variety, and convenience of Village Inn.

[I especially recommend the French Silk.]

Monday, November 16, 2020

Slanty Toilets?

Political Calculations has the story of a new toilet design that may have been crafted with evil intent.

Memorable

 


The Chump Effect

That father was expressing an emotion growing more common these days: he felt like a chump. Feeling like a chump doesn’t just mean being upset that your taxes are rising or annoyed that you’re missing out on some windfall. It’s more visceral than that. People feel like chumps when they believe that they’ve played a game by the rules, only to discover that the game is rigged. Not only are they losing, they realize, but their good sportsmanship is being exploited. The players flouting the rules are the ones who get the trophy. Like that Iowa dad, the chumps of modern America feel that the life choices they’re most proud of—working hard, taking care of their families, being good citizens—aren’t just undervalued, but scorned.

Read all of James B. Meigs in City Journal.

The Return of Tower Records


Rolling Stone has the details.


[Photo by Seth Doyle at Unsplash]

Miscellaneous and Fast

 

The Little Grey Cells

 


The New Criterion: Anthony Daniels on killing time with Agatha Christie.


[Photo by Hulki Okan Tabac at Unsplash]

Find Your Style

 


[Photo by Tyler Nix at Unsplash]

Henny Youngman Management


The great comedian Henny Youngman once joked that when he said he couldn't afford an operation, his doctor offered to touch up his x-rays.

Many managers resemble the doctor. Rather than directly addressing a problem, they "touch up the x-rays" so they can pretend that the matter either doesn't exist or that it has been resolved.

The question for any major action: "Does this stand a reasonable chance of genuine progress or is it touching up the x-rays?"

To Start the Week

 


Saturday, November 14, 2020

"Elite Opinion is Never Wrong"

One learns to distrust fashionable opinion. When I was a boy in Washington, D.C., the best people said that Whittaker Chambers was a dreadful fellow—a sinister little fat man with bad teeth, a strange and neurotic ex-Communist, not to be trusted. Ideologically fashionable people have their standard of Not Our Class, Dear. Chambers was N.O.C.D. Alger Hiss, on the other hand, was very much Our Class—slim, urbane, the Fred Astaire of the American establishment.

Read all of Lance Morrow's essay in City Journal.

Another Reason to Read Raymond Chandler

“He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money.”

- Raymond Chandler

A Touch of Civilization

 


Expect Visitors

 


Find Your Style


 

[Photo by Sule Makaroglu at Unsplash]

Get Your Kicks

 


The Kindle version is on sale today at Amazon.

Hiking the Trail in "Birdshooter" Boots


Althouse notes the NYT story on Earl Shaffer's diary of his hike of the Appalachian Trail.

She cites different sources but a line from Seth Gobin lingers: "It breaks life down to its most basic elements."

Omission

With regard to the story that historian and MSNBC commentator Jon Meacham commented on a Biden speech without disclosing that he helped write it:

That revealed a sin of commission and a major screw-up by Meacham.

[As for the sins of omission where a news channel fails to cover - or only superficially covers - a significant story because the channel favors a particular candidate, well that, of course, is not news. In their world, news is not news until they determine it to be so.]

Our Country

 


First Paragraph

 Would you say there's any end in sight, Charlie?

- From Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Weekend Leadership Reading

 


Wally Bock has the assignments.


[Photo by Laura Chouette at Unsplash]

Friday, November 13, 2020

Art Break



Art Contrarian looks at the work of Frederic Remington

Upcoming Christmas Movie

 


Binge


There are so many good posts at Cultural Offering it is difficult to know where to start.


[Photo by Food Photographer Jennifer Pallian at Unsplash]

THE Cover

Patrick Rhone provides evidence that some paper-book covers will be enshrined forever in our memories as THE cover for a particular paper-book.

Quick Look

 


Reversing Himself?

Jonathan  Turley on Chief Justice Roberts and the Affordable Care Act.

Goldilocks and Stuff


There are two key questions when it comes to "stuff": 

  1. "At which point are you bothered by a lack of stuff?" 
  2. "At which point are you bothered by an abundance of stuff?"

Measure your frustration level and seek the Goldilocks standard.


[Photo by Klara Avsenik at Unsplash]

Bock's Books


Wally Bock has book recommendations for business leaders.


[Photo by Clayton Cardinalli at Unsplash]

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hmm

 


"Miracles Out of Nowhere"

Cultural Offering has the trailer for the Kansas video.

The rock band Kansas, of course.

Many Dog Owners Can Relate to This

 


Miscellaneous and Fast

 


Burberry Does Gene Kelly

 


When It Comes to Freedom, Winter May Be Coming

On the Michigan Attorney General's Office threat of criminal prosecution regarding a video alleging voter fraud:

1973

 


Bate as Espresso


Many thanks to the incomparable Nicholas Bate who, if consultants and bloggers were coffee, would be a fine espresso. 

His blog is a daily visit and don't forget to read his books.


[Photo by Sabri Tuzcu at Unsplash]

Organizations and Some Random Thoughts

“Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.”

- William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade


Some of my related random thoughts:

It is usually in the best interests of top management and the employees that an organization be well-run but that doesn't mean it is. 

And even if an organization is well-run that doesn't mean it will continue to be so. 

There can be pockets of excellence or mediocrity in any organization. Those may exist at any level and may even exist side-by-side.

The individuals with power have to struggle to acquire new ideas. 

Those with insight have to struggle to gain power.

So much of the scene is blurred and transitory. Excellence may be especially fleeting and knowledge - true knowledge - may be a ghost.

Everyone is scrambling.

Excerpt

It was easy for Doctor Plarr to remember the first time he met Charley Fortnum. The meeting occurred a few weeks after he had arrived in the city from Buenos Aires. The Honorary Consul was exceedingly drunk, and he had lost the use of both legs. Doctor Plarr was making his way up to Bolivar when an elderly gentleman leant from the window of the Italian Club and called to him for help. 'The bloody waiter's gone home,' he explained, speaking in English.

- From The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Poetry with a Punch

 


Quick Look

 


Veterans



Today is Veterans Day in the United States.

Regardless of the branch, there is an immediate link between those who have served in the armed forces. They share a common experience of challenge and devotion to a higher purpose.