Commentary by management consultant Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
In the Background
Jonathan Turley: The Covid Lab Leak is a Scandal of Media and Government Censorship.
A Warning for the Nation
The Me Times
Our language, our music and our manners are increasingly raucous, self-centred, and offensive, as though beauty and good taste have no real place in our lives. One word is written large on all these ugly things, and that word is 'me.'
- Sir Roger Scruton
Monday, February 27, 2023
The Apology Tour
The Thwart Depression Diet
Twitter. The news channels. The cable cartel. Talk radio. Your local newspaper.
Most, if not all, of them will bring your spirits down.
If you wanted to get depressed, a daily diet of those plus the moronic talk shows will do nicely. The ultimate effect of that consumption is the sense that you have a box seat to an on-going play: "The Decline of a Nation."
Turn off the television. Put down the scribblings of the local cancel culture wannabees. Take a walk and then, every day, read good books.
One early list would be the following:
- The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
- Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
- Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Roughing It by Mark Twain
- Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
- The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
- The Wonderful Country by Tom Lea
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Seek Out Good Teaching
There is only one problem with telling students to seek out good teaching in college. They're going to have some trouble finding it, because academic institutions usually don't care about it. Oh, they'll tell you otherwise, in their promotional material. But I advise you to be skeptical. The profession's whole incentive structure is biased against teaching, and the more prestigious the school, the stronger the bias is likely to be.
-William Deresiewicz, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & the Way to a Meaningful Life
America's Mental Health Crisis
Bloomberg: Niall Ferguson notes that teens aren't the only ones with mental health issues.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Jewish Life in The Third Reich
The New Criterion: Bruce Bawer on the extraordinary diaries of Victor Klemperer.
High Quality and Smarts
A Layman's Blog always has good stuff.
Lessons Learned While Growing Up
Wally Bock cites some big ones.
So, It's Poland Again?
Reuters: Russia is now making noises about Poland.
Many of those who have reservations about the war in Ukraine will have a very different attitude if Poland is threatened.
If the other side is strong in that area, why go there?
If they are counting on you using a particular approach, why use it?
If they don't want the contrast to be in a particular subject, then that's the one you should choose.
You cannot control what they will do, but you can control what you will do.
Friday, February 24, 2023
Coming Soon to a Clinic Near You
Tablet magazine: John Sailer on America's racialized medical schools.
Fighting the New Censorship
UnHerd: Louise Perry believes the war over children's literature has only just begun.
Thursday, February 23, 2023
The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling
Althouse is on the case.
Anticipating Our Narcissistic Age
City Journal: Darran Anderson on Christopher Lasch, "Seer of the Selfie."
[Photo by Steve Gale at Unsplash]
A Crisis Waiting to Happen
Commentary magazine: James B. Meigs on the vulnerability of our power grid. An excerpt:
The problem isn’t the weather. It’s the power grid. Most of us take our electric power for granted. We might not understand how the grid works, but we assume the experts know what they’re doing. It turns out the experts are nervous as hell. “Everything is tied to having electricity, and yet we’re not focusing on the reliability of the grid,” Curt Morgan, CEO of the power-plant operator Vistra Corp., told the Journal. “That’s absurd, and that’s frightening.” The federal and regional agencies tasked with keeping the grid running smoothly keep issuing warnings: We don’t have enough power to cope even with normal swings in the weather, they say. More blackouts are coming.
What if you tried something completely nontraditional?
What if you used a modification of the usual approach?
What would you do if you didn't have as much money or personnel or time?
How would a lazy person meet the challenge?
Which short-cuts would you take if completing the job in half the time would earn a five million dollar bonus?
And, of course, the truly magical way to foster creativity: go off and do something completely unrelated to the task and see what comes to mind.
[Photo by Zack Minor at Unsplash]
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Near My Desk
- The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History of Prejudice by Wendell Berry
- Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcensar
- On The Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman Dixon
- Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan
Presidential Executive Order on Equity
The already heavy hand of the bureaucracy just got a lot heavier.
Off the Grid
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
The Worldwide Privacy Tour
The New York Post has an update.
Beware of when deceit is called diplomacy, weakness is called kindness, cruelty is called candor, strength is called provocation, passivity is called contemplation, and surrender is called acceptance.
Loury on Firing Line
Resolving the Ukraine Mess
The New Yorker: David Remnick on a peace deal in Ukraine.
Monday, February 20, 2023
Crank It Up
Old Furniture in Your Mind
Check out the action at the Warren G. Harding Presidential Library.
[Photo by David Kovalenko at Unsplash.]
Have you written a book? Nicholas Bate describes how to avoid the "sensitivity editor."
James Lileks is of the same opinion.
So is FutureLawyer.
And here are three writers who have successful strategies.
Are You Game?
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Back By Popular Demand
On a November evening in 1941, five elderly Bristol Bombay transport aircraft lumbered along the runway of Bagush airfield on the Egyptian coast, and then wheeled into the darkening Mediterranean haze. Each aircraft carried a "stick" of eleven British parachutists, some fifty-five soldiers in all, almost the entire strength of a new, experimental, and intensely secret combat unit: "L Detachment" of the Special Air Service. The SAS.
- From Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre
Making It Look Easy
Check out this excellent post by Wally Bock.
I've advised clients that making it look easy is great but it helps to brief your supervisors on what went into the process or they might think it is easy.
The best executive I've ever known told me that his greatest regret was that upper management thought what he did was standard practice.
[They may have been surprised when he retired and praise for his work came in from executives throughout the nation.]
That Fine Totalitarian Hand
Cultural Offering points to the nitwitted editing of Roald Dahl's children stories.
The Real Franklin
The first thing to do is to overcome the image of a man perpetually at his desk, scribbling out the mountain of words that confronts us. Because Franklin wrote so well and so much it is natural to think of him with pen in hand. But the man we will find in his writings likes to be in the open air, walking the city streets, walking the countryside, walking the deck of a ship. Indoors, he likes to be with people, sipping tea with young women, raising a glass with other men, playing chess, telling jokes, singing songs.
- From Ben Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan
Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.
Friday, February 17, 2023
A Community Assignment
Community is not the Cloud or friends on Face Book or followers on Twitter.
Community is the bagger at the grocery store, the mechanic at the garage, your neighbors, your barber, the local principal, rabbi or minister down the street, the clerks at the library desk, the local fire captain, and the dentist two blocks over. It's the service clubs and choirs and the Little League. It can be found in bars, theater groups, motorcycle gangs, veteran halls, and used bookstores.
Assignment #1: Over the next three weeks, get the names of five community members. These must be people you have not met.
Assignment #2: Over the subsequent three weeks, go meet them.
The Ancillary Notes
While the Big Projects shake your desk and demand attention, there are other tasks that patiently stand by.
Put them on your Ancillary Notecard and review it at least twice a day.
No one wants to be taken for granted.
Everything is Very Simple
Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is very difficult. These difficulties accumulate and produce a friction which no man can imagine exactly who has not seen war.
- Carl von Clausewitz, On War
Thursday, February 16, 2023
On My List
We cannot pass enough laws and ordinances to substitute for a sense of civic virtue.
- Richard D. Lamm
Our Man in Florida
There are Liars in the World
Several years ago, I watched as an organization went through a series of conflicts that could have come from an Agatha Christie novel. People who had no reason to differ were at each other's throats, rumors were common, and clues as to their source quickly hit brick walls.
As the mystery was examined, it was clear to some of us that the extreme and hostile actions were sparked by information carefully fed into the system by one executive.
Most of that information was false.
It did not come from mere differences of opinion. The organization was being manipulated by a world-class liar.
Most of us presume that while people may not agree, they will at least tell the truth.
Not so. Skilled liars thrive on that presumption. They also thrive on the extreme reluctance to accuse someone of lying.
And that is a truth which should be remembered.
I have had the ReMarkable2 tablet for several weeks and am enjoying it.
The jazzy tablet has not replaced my regular legal pad but it is a helpful way to jot down thoughts and lists which can then be easily sent to a central location. The ability to know just where those helpful notes are hiding is a genuine relief. [Anyone who has gone searching for scattered legal pad sheets will know what I mean.]
Amazon's Scribe is also on the market. Some day I may make that plunge but, for now, the ReMarkable2 is a great and fun option.
Check it out.
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Checklists, Drafts, and Meetings
This is a week for checklists, drafts, and meetings.
A task is no sooner listed than little things attach to it like burrs and yet each one is important.
The meetings breed other meetings and the drafts breed other drafts.
But the numbers are now diminishing and we are nearing the final product.
That, of course, will simply put us into a new stage of anticipation and planning.
All will be marinated in flexibility.
The Twitter Files
To Grow Old
To grow old is to grow common. Old age equalizes - we are aware that what is happening to us has happened to untold numbers from the beginning of time. When we are young we act as if we were the first young people in the world.
- Eric Hoffer
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Happy Valentine's Day
[Photo by Hakuna Matata at Unsplash]
Back By Popular Demand
Know the Assumptions
Know and study the assumptions. Be very wary of confusing them with reality.
Assumptions are clouds with teeth.
On My List
Monday, February 13, 2023
As the Campaigns Approach
Vivek Ramaswamy is considering a run for the presidency.
Artificial Intelligence: Scary and Helpful
Commentary magazine: James B. Meigs on "A.I. Yai-Yai."
An excerpt: Does this take on AI strike you as somewhat rote? A bit mechanical even? Well congratulate yourself. You have just demonstrated a skill we will all need to cherish from this day forward: the ability to tell when the person talking to you is actually a machine. Because I did not write the paragraph above. Those serviceable if pedestrian sentiments were generated by ChatGPT after I typed in the prompt: “Please explain why conservatives should embrace AI.” (I condensed it slightly.)
I have started a list of concepts that I've found to be important to leaders, managers, and teams. It will serve as a comprehensive reminder when I am coaching people. The list will also be an important resource in daily business planning.
The list's subjects are described in very few words, often one or two. Nothing is lengthy but everything is important. The entire list is single-spaced.
I'm up to six pages and still going strong.
I recommend the technique, if only as a reminder.
In the contest of strong wills, Tito held his ground. He had refused to be intimidated by the infinitely more powerful Soviet Union and had shown personal as well as political courage. The Soviet press poured vitriol on him. There were even Soviet attempts to assassinate him. But Tito would not bow to Stalin's bullying. Stalin kept a note from Tito in his desk drawer, found only after his death: 'If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second.'
- From Personality and Power: Builders and Destroyers of Modern Europe by Ian Kershaw
Sunday, February 12, 2023
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Life Is Turning Into a B Movie
ABC News: Another UFO shot down.
May Need to Re-Watch
Stephen Landry's Blog has a remodeling idea.
Wally Bock is wandering with Mr. Sam.
[Photo by Sophorn Ratana at Unsplash]
This book has had a long gestation. It started with the fox-trot. The fox-trot has no raison d'être. There is no reason to dance at all except one - pleasure - and the greatest pleasure is calculated uselessness. One evening several years ago I stood on the sidelines at Manhattan's Lincoln Center, watching the dancers at the three-week event called A Midsummer Night Swing. They were smiling; they were having fun. I took one look and realized that dancing can make you happy. This is a book about happiness, about the pleasurable things you can do to promote it and to increase a sense of general well-being, of what is called sanguinity.
- From Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness by Willard Spiegelman
Friday, February 10, 2023
The Golden Years
City Journal: Amity Shlaes on the Ken Burns film "The U.S. and the Holocaust."
The New Cultural Revolution
Compact: "A Black Professor Trapped in Anti-Racist Hell."
In the Pipeline
Remembering Conquest's Insight
"The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies."
- Robert Conquest
The old historian's words often come to mind.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs are the sabotage du jour in many large organizations. Their actions are not only tolerated but celebrated and yet their short term and long term effects are very harmful.
What are some less specific culprits to watch for? Here are some big ones:
- A lack of urgency. [Items that should be urgent are routinely pushed to the back of the line.]
- Unneeded complexity. [The adage is correct: As soon as you are complicated, you become ineffectual.]
- A courage deficit. [If your team is deficient in people who lack the guts to take a stand, that is not a minor problem. It may be lethal.]
- An abundance of weasels. [One is too many and, if left alone, the numbers will grow. Weasels hire other weasels.]
Thursday, February 09, 2023
Teen Mental Illness Epidemic
Jonathan Haidt on when the teen mental illness epidemic began.
Gotta Name For It?
There are people who would rather destroy you than argue with you.
"The bottleneck is at the head of the bottle," goes the old saw. No business is likely to be better than its top management, or perform better than they do. A business - especially a large one - may coast for a little time on the vision and performance of an earlier top management. But this only defers payment - and usually for a much shorter period than is commonly believed. A business needs a central governing organ and a central organ of review and appraisal.
- Peter F. Drucker, The Practice of Management
Disturbing and Outrageous
The Hill: Jonathan Turley on what may be the largest government censorship system in U.S. history.
City Journal: Christopher Rufo on how to combat gender theory in public schools.
Wednesday, February 08, 2023
Make It a Haven
Home is no longer a haven, it's more akin to a railroad station.
- Maggie Jackson
When you think of an event, don't just think of the event. Mentally put yourself on the scene. What was the temperature? What was the time of day? Were people comfortable or were they stressed, tired, angry, afraid, impatient, or feeling something entirely different? What were the alliances? Who really wanted a particular result? Who opposed it or didn't care? How objective and extensive was the research? Which subject drew most of the attention? Was a particular viewpoint adopted or did indifference win the day? Can the results be easily reversed or has a lengthy commitment been launched? What are the likely consequences? Were there any weasel words? Is there an escape strategy? Is there a sense of urgency? What happens if the adopted course of action works? What happens if it fails? Were new problems created?
An event is a collection of events. Know the components.
Tuesday, February 07, 2023
Drop the State of the Union
I don't care which party is in power, the State of the Union address has become an embarrassment. It should be abandoned.
Let the President send a written assessment to Congress. The audience of trained seals may object but the average citizen will appreciate the change.
Less can indeed be more.
The Things That Surround Us
The things that surround us are inseparable from who we are.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton, The Meaning of Things
If your team's event is going to be in your colleagues' geographic territory, tell them about it.
Even if it doesn't directly involve them?
Tell them anyway. Think of it as a courtesy. Besides that, something more substantive may surface. A related point: If the action falls in a hazy area between your turf and theirs, consult them in advance.
Isn't that going to take time?
Sure, but it will save time down the road by preventing misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Go with this simple rule: If in doubt, coordinate. It fosters trust and trust is the coin of the realm.
Watch for Business Tips
The woods were lovely, dark, and deep, and full of noisy bastards. From his foxhole, Sparrow could hear the grunting and thrashing of combat, of bodies crashing through foliage. Some things breaking were branches, and others might be bones. Sound travelled more cleanly in the countryside. This might not be true but it was interesting, which mattered more. Sound travelled more cleanly, so what he was hearing could include the fracturing of legs and fingers as well as splintering twigs. His foxhole wasn't constructed; was simply a ditch in which he'd secreted himself while the opening sallies played out. The initial clash of armies was where you lost your cannon fodder. Once the dumb meat had been carted from the field, war passed into the hands of the thinkers.
- From Bad Actors by Mick Herron
Music From a Scary Movie
At A Layman's Blog.
Crank it up.
Monday, February 06, 2023
Now I'm Getting Worried
Nicholas Bate on ChatGPT.
We will not go back to basics. We will go forward to basics.
- Bodil Jönsson
Why I Gave My Daughter My Smartwatch
I asked if she wanted my smartwatch and received a quick "Yes!!!"
Not that the watch didn't have advantages. It was handy with phone calls and I found that to be helpful.
But I got tired of being superconnected. There is a fine line between connections and interruptions.
So I'm back to being Old School. The beloved Seiko wristwatch is packed away somewhere during our remodeling so, in a nod of amusement to my friend - the hyper-connected FutureLawyer - I got the above.
Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
In My Stack
Sunday, February 05, 2023
Find Something Beautiful Today
Saturday, February 04, 2023
Wally Bock with one of the easiest, but most effective ways to improve decision-making and performance.
Don't expect this is occur by itself.
When Customers Are Regarded as Nuisances
Through hard experience, I have concluded that the main function of call centers and "chat options" is to serve as buffers instead of facilitators.
Friday, February 03, 2023
Cultural Offering has a no-nonsense volley of advice from former POW Charles Plumb.
By an inseparable mixture of accident and inexorable destiny, Lincoln became president. The man who had taught himself Shakespeare and Euclid now ruled. It was, in one sense, a philosophic rule. His insights gave us back the reasons for existence. Through him we saw why this nation was "that last, best hope of earth," that last chance, as he said, for "all people of all colors everywhere" to have the burdens lifted from their shoulders. Through his mind we learned why the questions was not, Can free democracies be established? but, rather, Can they endure?
- John Agresto, The Death of Learning: How American Education Has Failed Our Students and What to Do About It
A Species of Vigor
They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.
- Eric Hoffer
Thursday, February 02, 2023
At Space Speaker.
The Solid Solution
My coaching practice has tripled.
Two writing projects caw from my shoulders.
A mega-project is nearing completion. [You may wind up reading about it in your newspaper.]
Our home remodeling continues with the faintest of lights at the end of the tunnel. [But who's noticing?]
And an arcane medical test is circling. Delightful.
Projects beget projects.
And there is, as always, one solid solution: Follow the best advice that you'd give to others.
[Photo by Erol Ahmed at Unsplash]
Wednesday, February 01, 2023
Two months ago, when I made the appointment, it may have been mildly amusing to note that I was being booked for 7:00.
As in seven o'clock in the morning.
On the night before, however, the amusement departed.
Perhaps my memory deceives me and elves got to my calendar.
Evil insomniac elves.
The Cult of Book Ownership
Cultural Offering passes along a mild criticism of our noble cult.
What the critics miss is that the relationship between the books and the cult members is one of mutual ownership.
The Inner Saboteur
Inside many an artist, leader, technician, administrator, and scholar is a saboteur.
Eliminate the funding, time, resources, and attention that you give to that role.
I Think I Want to See This
People who cannot grow want to leap: they want short cuts to fame, fortune, and happiness.
- Eric Hoffer