The Reason For Tears

Why was I nearly crying? After a lot of soul-searching, I think I know. But let me set the stage for you. In the end, you may want to give it a try for yourself. Our family decided that this year's Independence Day celebration would be a day early, on July 3rd. As we often do, we planned to attend an outdoor concert, held at Conner Prairie, a living history site north of Indianapolis. The 1812 … [Read more...]

TTP: Measuring Shadows

The magic number is 9. That's how many US Presidents have won a first-term in the White House, secured their party's nomination for a second-term, but failed to win re-election. To refresh your memory, here are the 9, starting with the most recent and moving backward: George HW Bush; Jimmy Carter; Herbert Hoover; William Taft; Benjamin Harrison; Grover Cleveland; Martin Van Buren; John Quincy … [Read more...]

Page 11

Today's Wall Street Journal, the first section, the 11th page. There were two articles. I read them both and in an instant I thought of 1914. Here's why. The current reporting pertained to the tensions between the United States and Iran. Officials from Iran and 118 other nations are meeting in Russia. That's where Iranian representatives are making their case to the crowd that they should build … [Read more...]

The Facial Tic

Think of one of your defining experiences. It stays with you year after year, a visible thumbprint on who you are as a leader. Chances are good that whenever you face Major Change your mind turns to that defining experience. It molds your response. Let me introduce you to the man on the horse in the photo. George Marshall. He's riding at the front of President Franklin Roosevelt's inaugural … [Read more...]

Black Saturday

Black Saturday is the most human day of Christian Holy Week. If you're a Christian or spiritually curious, you'll want to read on. If not, you're still welcome to continue reading but I'd understand if you choose to move on with your day at this point. I just wanted to offer a thought or two about these 24 hours. Friday is done. The event is over. We believed in the man, up to various points … [Read more...]

With The Smoke And Ash: A Few Thoughts On The Burning Of Notre Dame

>> The venerable church stood as the Black Death raged, the anti-religious terror of the French Revolution exploded, the crowds of the Paris Commune rioted, and two world wars rained violence. But it is the incompetence and carelessness of poor renovation that did the damage. >>It's been a tough year for France. A vital organ has been bruised. >>Watching people crying at … [Read more...]

TTP: The Moment Never Dies

One moment, one event, can live a long, long time. And if it happens on a public stage or in the public eye, the staying power can take on even greater magnitude. Once more, we have a shared point between POTUS 7 and POTUS 45. Well before any action they took in the White House, this moment had, in the public's mind or at least the collective minds of their followers, made Andrew Jackson and … [Read more...]

Grassroots To Symbol To Monument

In late 1961, Martin Luther King Jr sat down for an interview in England. He told his questioner that he had become a symbol. King knew he symbolized the movement he was leading. He was now the public face of nonviolent protest on behalf of equal rights for African-Americans. I found this story for part of a Creative Conversation (my leadership coaching service) that I'm doing with a client. … [Read more...]

Beyond The Noise And Beneath The Fog

By the time you read this, President Donald Trump's summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un in Vietnam will be a fading memory. Two days from now it will be buried in dust and dirt. In a month, the event will be fossilizing under forty other layers of dead news cycles. Before we reach that point, I'd like to invoke William Shakespeare. You see, it was Shakespeare who, at least for me, wrote … [Read more...]

Answer On A Cold Walk

Yesterday, I had lunch with eight interesting people. The facilitator, whom I'll name below, asked a question toward the end of our meal. Most of the people answered. I did not. One thing I've learned over the years is that I'm better off not saying anything if I don't have anything clear or real to say. Then,this morning on a hiking trail through the woods, it hit me. Clarity. Realness. My … [Read more...]

Of Two Cents and Bush One

Here's my two cents, as they used to say, on the memory of George H.W. Bush, or "Bush One." Before I begin my brief story, let me say that the elder Bush always struck me as a good and decent man. He was a public servant of immense experience and exposure. He will be missed and should be remembered. Now, come with me and get a beer, a "Pound" as it was called in Nick's English Hut in … [Read more...]

A Weird, Early Ritual

A weird ritual starts my day. A few minutes after 5am I pour a cup of coffee and say a prayer of thanks for one more day. Coffee mug in hand, I head out the side door of our garage. I walk a short distance around the side of the house and into the driveway. This is the end of the preliminary part of the ritual. In the dark, I stoop down at the edge of the driveway, like a catcher in … [Read more...]

A YARDSTICK FOR NUMBER TEN: LESSONS FROM NINE ONE- TERM US PRESIDENTS

Nine Presidents. In all of the American past, nine US Presidents have attempted to win re- election and lost after having secured their party's nomination. Nine people in the White House who sought a second term but failed. Nine. Are you and I living in the midst of Number Ten? Let's use history in a creative way to find the answer. I invite you to join me in an energetic and … [Read more...]

From 1833-1834 To 2019: Jackson, Trump, And Quasi-Impeachment.

Because of chaos around the White House, 2019 is going to be a difficult year. The political climate in the US will be awful, worse than 2018. If you're a leader—if you have followers—that climate will affect them. Let me help you help them. I invite you to participate in my upcoming Talkshop, "From The 1833-1834 To 2019: Jackson, Trump, And Quasi-Impeachment." I'll be guiding you through the true … [Read more...]

The Number 133

133. Keep that number in mind the next time someone shrieks that "we're on the verge of another Civil War!!" I thought of this today as I read an interesting column in the Wall Street Journal. It was about the Democrats in the House of Representatives and the potential selection of Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker. The column, written by Karl Rove, highlighted all the Democratic representatives … [Read more...]

TTP: The Role of Ratings

There is a particular aspect of Donald Trump's approach to the presidency that may have been overlooked. Television ratings. Before 2016, Trump was steeped in the world of television ratings nearly as much as he was in real estate and commercial development. Television ratings form a key part of his way of separating success from failure, of what to do from what not to … [Read more...]

The Remarkable Speech of William Lough Jr.

(The posting below is for the use of my participants in the Cowles-Fogg book club. However, if you're a random visitor to my website, I certainly invite you to read this post. For the book club members, though, I'd ask you to consider whether or not Lough's comments would have been persuasive if you'd been sitting in the audience back in 1907. Would you have gone out the next day and changed your … [Read more...]

Of Z And Thee

A setback slammed into you on a Friday. It was unexpected. It was on a large scale. It was quickly told to other people. By Monday, if not sooner, you're trying to recover. We've just summarized the recent past of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Over the course of a day, his company lost $123 billion, more than the gross domestic product of Kuwait and the largest single business loss ever. We … [Read more...]

The Framed Photograph

                        The framed photo of General George S. Patton's grave marker had these words scribbled across a corner: "Dear Donald, let's remember our common history." And so, on July 25, 2018, one President handed a gift to another President. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave the present to American President Donald Trump. The written remarks were from … [Read more...]

The Gap Made By A Pen

Doing the right thing can mean doing the fair thing. I want to do the right and fair thing in pointing to today's column by conservative commentator, George Will. Earlier in 2018, I wrote a post criticizing Will. He had just penned an article about the death of Billy Graham, the famous Christian evangelist. The article was scathing. I expressed disagreement with the writing and disapppointment … [Read more...]

TTP: Stronger Stuff In The Glasses

"The Trump Rule" was a creation of mine back in December 2016. Over a tasty lunchtime fare of chicken and salad, I shared with workshop participants three stories from the American past to help them understand the emerging Trump Presidency. After each story and as the cookie tray was passed around the table, I offered a takeaway. The Trump Rule was one of my takeaways. I told folks that the … [Read more...]

A Good Three

All in all, a pretty good few days for me. That's how I judge it when I can honestly tell you that since the weekend, three clear insights have settled into my life. Three good things. One was from a book review written by Daniel Richter, published in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Richter reviewed two books written about war in seventeen century colonial America. Those books … [Read more...]

TTP: An Open Letter To The Four Horsemen Of The Trumpocalypse

      I'm a big fan of them. For today I'll dub John Podhoretz, Abe Greenwald, Noah Rothman, and Sohrab Ahmari as the Four Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse. They're the commentators of Commentary, a magazine devoted to, as Podhoretz dutifully recounts in every podcast, "intellectual analysis, political probity, and cultural criticism from a conservative perspective." They are also fair-minded … [Read more...]

The Virtue Of The Desk Drawer

Flat-out angry and boiling mad. That was Abraham Lincoln as he sat behind his desk. He wielded the pen in his hand like a knife, writing words and sentences that sliced into the person meant to receive this harshly-drawn letter. It was mid-July, 1863. Lincoln was furious at US General George Meade. Lincoln believed Meade had allowed the enemy of the United States, the rebel army led by … [Read more...]

Words Under The Ocean

They were deep under water for less than a minute. 8000 words, broken down into roughly 32 pages. Into a cable like the one shown above. Tap. Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap.... Today, February 22, 1946, an American diplomat in Moscow, George Kennan, finished this extraordinary document. Having written it over the course of several days, Kennan used the document to report his views on the Soviet Union … [Read more...]

The River: The First Weekend In February

Seven days ago I waited for a busy weekend, the first weekend in February. On Friday we hosted a neighboring family for dinner at our house. On Sunday we hosted a group of friends for a Super Bowl party. Seven days later and all of it is in the past. Now, in writing of it to you, I'm turning last weekend into a piece of history. I'm remembering it intentionally. Both events were wonderfully … [Read more...]

The Union Of The Tablecloth

"The tablecloth between them has been cut." This was the comment by business analyst Roger Entner, quoted in an article ran in today's edition of the Wall Street Journal. Entner's remark pertained to the previously warm and longstanding relationship between two top CEOs in the wireless phone industry. Like a quote from Warren Buffett the day prior, this statement included an image of great … [Read more...]

Tapeworms And Leadership

Yep, gross as it is, there's a connection. Let's turn to Warren Buffett and an announcement he made this morning: "The booming costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy." This vivid statement was part of Buffett's unveiling of a three-partner effort (Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, and Amazon) to respond to healthcare costs. The connection I want to make between the … [Read more...]

TTP: Thoughts Over Wine Tonight–The 1832 Election And The 2020 Election

Tonight I have the blessed privilege to enjoy a glass of wine with some very good folks. I'll be talking briefly with the members of the Westfield (IN) GOP Club at Wolfies in Westfield. My topic is as savory as the pinot noir--the lessons of 1832 for 2020. You see, I've maintained that Andrew Jackson was the first quasi-Donald Trump. So, it's natural for me to suggest that we can gain a lot of … [Read more...]

TTP: Taking A Pick-Axe To Nine American Presidents

A vein of resources lies buried in the past. With my pick-axe in hand, I mined for answers to a particular question: What does the past say about POTUS 45, Donald J. Trump, winning re-election as president in 2020? I explored the stories of nine American presidents. Each of them sought re-election to a second consecutive term in the White House. Each won their party's nomination but lost on … [Read more...]

TTP: Reaching Across Time: Four Thoughts on Steve Bannon and Duff Green

Permit me a few additional remarks on the commonalities between Donald Trump (the second Jackson) and Steve Bannon in 2108 and Andrew Jackson (the first Trump) and Duff Green in 1831. As you'll know from my recent posts, I regard Green as Bannon-like. Green was the moving force behind the United States Telegraph, a new kind of political newspaper in the 1820s and 1830s, one that featured scandal, … [Read more...]

TTP: Steve Bannon As Duff Green

I've spoken and written often about the connection between Donald Trump and his leadership forebear, Andrew Jackson. Jackson, in my view, is the first Donald Trump. I don't say that to go on a tangent that is specifically pro-Trump or anti-Trump, pro-Jackson or anti-Jackson. I simply maintain this position because I think it works, it helps illuminate the present and future. The new break … [Read more...]

The First Thing You Say

George Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff, walked into the War Department (shown in the photo) on December 7, 1941 and said this: "We are now in the fog of war."  That was his chosen first statement to his immediate followers at the War Department after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Take a moment and let that 8-word statement sink in. Try to imagine sitting in a nondescript office … [Read more...]

The Builder-Leader

Say hello to another type of leader and leadership--the Builder-Leader. I'm working with a private client in my Creative Conversations service. The client came to me with a particular situation. They were in charge of an organization with an impending physical expansion. It would be a major new physical space. My client asked me to think of a historical leader we could follow "Down River", as I … [Read more...]

Why These Three Are Thought Leaders

I posted yesterday about Thought Leadership. I referenced three leaders I've used with clients as examples of Thought Leadership. Today, I realize I should give you a fast explanation as to why William Sherman, Theodore Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr are, in my view, examples of Thought Leaders. Read on--this will just take a moment--it's possible you'll see them in a rather different light … [Read more...]

Thought Leadership

Thought Leader. Are you a Thought Leader? Permit me to help you answer the question. A Thought Leader is someone whose leadership includes thinking about new ways to do things. He or she does the things that leaders do—dealing with followers through the vision, goals, planning, communication, problem-solving, inspiration, and more. In addition to these, however, a Thought Leader takes on the … [Read more...]

A Mountain To Scale

Yesterday, General Electric's stock price fell to its lowest point in the past five years. The cause appeared to be new CEO John Flannery's announcement of slashed dividends and only a limited closure list of the company's far-flung business units. But that's not what struck me about the events of yesterday. Flannery also remarked that as part of his response to the challenge of turning … [Read more...]

A Different View of History and John Kelly–A Reply To Noah Rothman

I'm a big fan of Commentary magazine, a faithful subscriber. My remarks below pertain to one of my favorite Commentary writers, Noah Rothman and his recent article entitled, “General Kelly's Disastrous Interview.” If you haven't read it, click https://www.commentarymagazine.com/american-society/john-kelly-bad-ideas/  before proceeding with my post. I offer my thoughts as a fan might at a football … [Read more...]

General Electric, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Link Between

What's the connection between the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL and General Electric? Reset. That's the term used by John Flannery, the new CEO of General Electric. After recent reports of dismal earnings and forecasts for GE, Flannery announced that this year was a “reset” year. He acknowledged, openly and clearly, that the massive corporation had not only failed to meet expectations, it … [Read more...]

The Historical Site I’ll Never Forget

Eery. Strange. Nothing but evil. These are my descriptions of an historical site, the one site out of the many I've visited over the years that I'll say, with no hesitation, is the most eery, the strangest, and as a place of significance is filled top to bottom with nothing other than pure evil. Not Hitler's vacation hideaway, not the Nazi's model concentration camp at Dachau, not the slave … [Read more...]