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Archive for January, 2010

Leadership: It’s Like Porn

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Now that I have your attention..(haha!)….I’ve been having a lot of thought and comments and dialogue in the past few weeks about leadership and what, exactly, it is. We know we all need more of it in this country. We know a lot of our ‘leaders’ or people in many high positions have let us down lately too. But, the older I get, the more I think leadership is like Justice Stevens trying to describe obscenity (in the form of pornography):  hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

There’s a ton of books out there on characteristics and traits of great leaders, but I’m struggling with whether or not leadership can be taught, and if it CAN be taught, what means and ends or objectives can be utilized to measure efficacy?  A scanton multiple choice test really doesn’t cut it in this realm.  There are clearly different types and flavors of leaders too. But, how can I as an educator get every one of my students to be the very best leader they can be while maximizing their strengths, values and talents?  This is one of the many things keeping me up at night, because we NEED MORE LEADERS in this country, pronto.  The lack thereof has led us to many a problem we have today.

So, in conclusion, if you have a magical leadership maker stashed away in a box at home – could you kindly share it with the rest of the class?

Let’s Cut Them Some iSlack

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Been reading a bunch of bashy comments on the new iPad by Apple.  Me no likey.  Here’s why:

While there are valid points as to the advantages and disadvantages to the product, I think the critics can have their opinions, but we need, in this country, to cut new innovations some slack.  Trying new ideas and new things is HARD WORK.  If we bashed Thomas Edison this much during is first couple tries at a light bulb filament, I’m not certain we’d have light today.

Everyone is whining that our economy is bad, people are out of jobs, etc.  But, maybe if we all celebrated new ideas and innovations a little more and let the MARKET declare whether or not something is great or not, rather than just straight up bashing something new before it even gets to market, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are as a country right now.  Instead, we’d all have more guts to try other new things, and be an even stronger society by having the courage to dare to dream, rather than sitting back and criticizing others’ new ideas.  It is WAY harder to create than criticize.

If you don’t want the new iPad, great.  Don’t buy it!  But if nothing else, we need to thank the folks at Apple for trying something new.

Dr. Jones’ Diagnosis: A Culture Crisis

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

I don’t usually focus my blog on my professional health care arena, but two points over the last 2 days have provoked this post.  First, this morning I received a copy of this letter in my in box from one of my healthcare pals, and checked it out on Snopes.  While it is a little old (on snopes it says it was written August 29 of last year), the point is still very valid and salient.  The second point was a chat with one of my mentors yesterday, in which s/he began to rant about why business owners have to pay for their employees’ healthcare.  We discussed Henry Ford and the rationale behind why he began to offer healthcare in the 30s or 40s (give or take a few years).  His/Her point was valid – why should people have the right to eat, drink, smoke and not exercise, yet s/he gets to foot the bill?  AND, s/he’s hiring the people in the first place and giving them a JOB and a steady INCOME so they can live better lives!

We are not facing a healthcare crisis in this country.  But instead, we are facing a culture crisis.  We have slipped into this entitlement mentality that someone owes us everything, including healthcare.  Now, while I believe that preventative care might be a borderline right, I honestly don’t see how someone with gold teeth, new cell phones and tats shouldn’t be self sustainable and get their own healthcare, or god forbid, get a job where they could have or afford healthcare.

Furthermore, I don’t honestly think my employer should have any determination of some of the most intimate decisions of my life.  We buy our own car insurance and home owner’s insurance.  Why SHOULD our employers be forced to buy us health insurance?  And really, when you think about it, if we want to keep our own civil liberties and rights to smoke, eat, and drink any way we choose, the employer SHOULD NOT be forced to pay for our naughty behavior.

Whoever Dr. Jones is and wherever he resides, he’s correct.  It’s time for us as a nation to quit focusing on the masses, and instead, focus on fixing the fundamental cultural entitlement notion BEFORE spending gazillions on healthcare just to “cover everyone”.  Maybe, if we all have to start paying our own healthcare insurance bills, we’d get up off our butts and get them onto the sidewalks and treadmills of this world and GET HEALTHIER!

I think a super smart state in the union would perhaps even take it a step further and not require employers to offer healthcare insurance, but instead focus on keeping health insurance costs lower and allowing all of us to pay for our own health care.  THAT would spur some serious economic development – at least on the small business owner front.  Who cares if you get a $5K tax credit only if you hire an employee if you still have to pay thousands just for their healthcare insurance, on top of their wages and all other benefits?

Fixing the World’s Problems, One at a Time

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Some problems I’ve been trying to solve in my head this week:

1. IUPUI parking – right now, in a word, is AWFUL.  So, I started a facebook group to support them opening up a grass lot (which is now frozen anyway) back up so we can park there while they build yet another parking garage, which obviously right now puts the campus at -400 spots.  Power to the students!

2.  Gay marriage – it has failed to stick in state courts where it is illegal, and has stuck in states only where it’s legal.  Why doesn’t a gay couple who got hitched in MA and moves back to another state argue 14th amendment violation under the commerce clause?  (a la Katzenburg v. McClung or Heart of ATL Motel)?  Or is that just completely insane?  Not sure, but any couple who paid for their own wedding knows that commerce and money exchange is DEFINITELY involved!

3.  The US unemployed and Haiti – US fed govt should hire some people who are willing and able to go to work in Haiti cleaning up the earthquake mess!  Then we know our aid is going to the right place, and helping out our people all at the same time!  This counts double for all the construction workers out of a job right now in the US.

That’s all I have for right now.

Rock Star Behavior – Note #54

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

As a rock star anthropologist, it is my job to study and note common traits of all rock stars.  Currently I’m working on a new project that is a challenge (multiple parties, multiple sets of paperwork), and I’ve noted a consistent pattern among the rock stars I’m working with, irrespective of calling or profession, which is this: they’re on it.  I mean really on it.

If you ever get the chance to email a rock star, you’ll note the fast email turnaround time.  Furthermore, you’ll note that whatever you ask them for gets done…quickly…with a sense of urgency.  For example, I gave one of the participants in my project a week to complete her part of the assignment.  She joked and asked me if I was kidding, then returned it completed the following day.

Friends, this is the habit of the truly super sonic rock star.  They get stuff done quickly, without hesitation, and without a lot of questions before seizing the opportunity.  While this might not work for EVERY profession, it can work for people in certain situations in EVERY profession. Rock stars grab opportunity like a ball and run like Forrest Gump.  Could you imagine Peyton Manning getting the ball and stopping the game to ask a bunch of questions?  Yeah, that really wouldn’t work.

The next time you get a cool opportunity that just happens your way – consider trying rock star behavior note #54 – and get ‘r done!

Drinking From the Firehose

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Anytime I’m delving into a new area of whatever to study, I tend to call the overwhelming amount of literature and knowledge, “Drinking from the firehose”.

With the advent of Google, drinking from the firehose of knowledge has become easy.  Almost too easy.  Now, oftentimes, we run into the problem of TMI – too much information.

Trendhunters and futurists think a new career line is going to be – for all professions – “filterers” or people who can take all the info, drink from the firehose, and distill it down to true, practical meaning, and block out the bad/poor information.

I think they are right.  Information overload has become a problem, and I think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.  However, in the future, those who can master drinking from the firehose are going to have a huge opportunity in front of them.

Drink.  Distill.  Boil it down.

Welcome to a new career!

Too Big, Too Small, Just Right

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Something has been gnawing at the back of my brain over the past few days, and it became a little more clear as I read this article from Fast Company on Starbucks, which is this:

How can a big company keep the small company feel?

Let me explain it a little more in depth.  When a company starts up – it is very entrepreneurial.  Usually one or two people start it, they work their butts off, but the rewards are that much sweeter to the business owner(s), because she or they have a personal stake in the success of the organization.  As an organization gets bigger, however, that spirit somehow dies at most companies.  Companies as they mature go public, and the pieces or fractions of ownership become so small, that I argue that no one really cares anymore about the success of the company.  The NYSE cronies might argue that the stockholders care, but honestly, I have far more passion and vested interest in my own small startup companies winning than I do with my mutual fund fractions of tiny portions of gi-normicorps winning.

Also, on the employee side, if I work for gi-normicorp, do I really know the company is winning or losing? Do I have a stake in the success?  I can’t say that working for a gi-normicorp has always been the best fit for me, probably because of this reason.  If I as employee can’t see or feel the success, how do I know I’m doing the world good, and good in the world?

I think the CEO of Zappos.com is really working on this, and he’s made it a priority for his company.  I think other companies who turn their organizations into ESOPs or Co-ops might be experiencing this shared success transparency more too.  That being said, is there an optimal size for a company?  Can companies get too big?  Apparently banks can.  But, there has to be a ‘just right’ size for a company.

What is it?

The Paper Gangster

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Although I certainly can’t speak for her, I THINK what Lady GaGa is trying to say with her lyrics on paper Gangsters is that essentially, talk is cheap.  It’s better to get things done.  Good on paper, but bad in follow through.

If that isn’t her intent, it certainly is mine!

I LOVE people who say they are going to do things and GET THEM DONE!  Larry The Cable Guy, to my friends who sign up to help me out with crazy ideas, to people who kick butt and take names….this post is for you!

Started off with a crappy news morning, but the day is getting better.  And to all you NON Paper Gangsters out there – YOU ROCK!  HAVE A FANTASTIC DAY!  And if you keep getting bad news (like I did this morning) – tell the universe to just leave it in the circular file!

Trouble, with Trouble

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Yes, it starts with T and rhymes with P and that stands for pool – but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I speak instead of…a dog, and his trust.

Trouble was a dog that Ms. Leona Helmsley acquired after serving 18 months in federal prison.  When she died in 2007, she left her Maltese a $12 million trust to care for Trouble.  Unfortunately, due to Section 408 of the Uniform Trust Code in the state of New York, a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive at the settlor’s lifetime, except to the extent a court determines that the value of the trust exceeds the amount required for intended use.  Trouble’s trust was reduced by the court to $2M.  Ms. Helmsley’s other billions left in a separate trust weren’t used for her intentions in her will either, as only a very small portion of the billions were used to “care for dogs”.  Bummer.

What is my point here, you may ask?  I’m not sure, other than I find it ironic that Trouble…got into trouble….with Trouble’s inheritance.  Can a Maltese live on $2M alone?  Not sure.  But I do know this: we can’t take it with us when we go, folks.  Furthermore, even if we plan for someone to benefit, the dead hand still might not rule from the grave.  And, the dead hand here certainly isn’t holding the leash, either, if the court reconfigured the wishes of Ms. Helmsley.  Even with the tightest of wills and intentions, the living still have power over the dead and their intent.

Where is Trouble now?  I couldn’t find the info online.  But hopefully, Trouble can get by with $2M.  Maybe the dog is learning how to play pool….

Stress

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Stress sucks. It can literally kill people.  Cortisol can be a killer!

From chatting with my friends who are overstretched, to hearing that Lady GaGa is passing out on stage and canceling concerts, to everyone being overtired, overweight and overburdened, it is important to know that, friends, yes, stress CAN do serious damage.

Here’s what happens when I get overstretched. (Oh, yeah, and I’ve passed out before.  It isn’t pretty.)   I stop.  I breathe.  I cancel the scurry.  I rest.  I restore.  Otherwise, I’d end up in an ambulance, and that not only is expensive, but it’s also NOT good.

Trust me, I eat the elephant each and every day like a lot of other people.  If I stop and think about everything I need to do, I can get totally overwhelmed.  But, instead of panicking, maybe we should all ponder the fact that there is much to be done, and use that as a force of inspiration, rather than just perspiration.

One of my former bosses, a nurse, said, “As long as no one’s crumping on the table, it’s going to be OK.” She’s right.  I don’t work in a setting where life and death decisions are made on a moment by moment basis.  To those who are, props to you.  I don’t think I could honestly do your job without crumping myself. But, for the rest of us, who AREN’T watching someone fighting for their lives right in front us every 5 minutes….if you get stressed out, consider stopping, breathing, and enjoying the fact that you are busy. You have work to do, and you’ll get to it in all due course.  Some believe it’s all done already anyway (Maktub).  So, all we need to do is get it done, be in the moment, and enjoy the satisfaction of the moment itself.