When Our City Started A New Era: The Unforgettable Summer Night Of Benjamin Harrison

It's June 25, 1888. Benjamin Harrison is in his adopted hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. He learns that, shockingly, his political party has nominated him to be their candidate for the Presidency. He'll be the Republican nominee for the White House. But a bigger thing is at work, a larger meaning is in play. The reaction of the people--Democrat and Republican, white and black, old and young, men … [Read more...]

You Might Need Reminding

The weeks have more in them--the days have more in them--than we can keep up with. Sometimes the rush of events and actions overwhelm us. So, I thought you might need reminding, a gentle reminding, of a post I wrote back in early 2019. Well over a year later and the list I compiled needs to be remembered now more than ever. Of particular interest are the 4th and 6th bullet points. Without further … [Read more...]

The Graduation Of A Lifetime

My Saturday last is a lesson for all of us. The small moments of May 23rd have a larger meaning in the midst of Covid-19. I've got a feeling about the truth of this. I invite you to stay with me for a few minutes. I began the day with some dread, to be honest. High school graduation. My fear was that the Covid-revised ceremony would encapsulate our overall feeling of a sad end to our oldest … [Read more...]

The Bottom Of The River

The River, bottom and top This morning, over coffee, a sort of sun beam broke through the clouds. My wife had just read the Day 59 installment of my "Today In 1918" series. We talked about the story. In listening to her, I had a bit of an epiphany, as I mentioned, a sort of sun beam. The clouds, which if you've been around me you already know, symbolize my usual state of mind. The … [Read more...]

The Shadow Of Late Winter

On January 24 I wrote my first post to a closed group of Alumni about Covid-19 and its likely importance for your personal leadership. On March 5 I found lessons from 1918 and shared them in the post below (which I've reproduced here). It was for my followers on LinkedIn. It seems to me that it hit and still hits the mark. So, I'll ask you now, standing a few days ahead of Easter and spring all … [Read more...]

The Puzzle Of 1968

A lab technician in 1968 helping with response to influenza. I don't want to be misinterpreted here. But the more I write, the thinner the ice beneath me. A crack, I just heard a crack. Heck with it. I'm going forward, slowly. I'll have to depend on your judgment and willingness to offer me the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I fully support the current understanding of Covid-19 and … [Read more...]

A New Sheriff In Town–the lunchroom edition

OK, not me. But as headmaster of the newly opened Miller In-Home Girls School (MIHGS) that has opened at our house since the onset of Covid-19, this photo captures my persona, title, and overall self-image, to say nothing of ego. Two students, daughters age 18 and 10. Want to see the new world they're living in? Let's go into the MIHGS lunchroom, formerly known as our kitchen and nonstop … [Read more...]

I Now Equal Six

I now equal six. A month or so ago it was five. I'm adding one to make six. This is the number of events that have affected me deeply over my lifetime. Like me, you have a number. For me, three of them are personal and individual. A tornado in the mid-1970s, a baptism in the mid-1990s, and a set of moments made by my wife and two daughters over the past couple of decades. … [Read more...]

Up In The Sky

Our youngest daughter and I waited in our car for her school to open. Typical start, typical day. Then we looked out and saw this. Miles above us, a passenger jet carried folks to their next destination as Ava and I sat in our car. But it's the contrail that captivated me. A thought dawned and my photo, shot through a smudgy windshield, resulted. Here is my thought: the trailing … [Read more...]

The List That Can Save Your Sanity

The televised impeachment hearings of POTUS 45 are officially open. You'll be inundated with news, quasi-news, fake news, yuk news, and more. Much more. By all means, pay attention. But you don't need me to say that. My best role, my best advice, is to provide you with the list below and remind you of what it means. Consider, a century ago, in the twelve months and fifty-two weeks of 1919: … [Read more...]

Filling Shoes

A storm of sorts ripped through my town a couple of weeks ago. Not your typical storm, it was calm and quiet. It was off the radar, too, with no TV meteorologists waving their arms in front of moving colors. But I still call it a storm and I think you should know it struck. You see, this storm was death and in a 24-hour span death stole some of the future of my town. I'd wager that never in my … [Read more...]

Have We Started Yet?

The beginning, the start. As a leader, do you know when it is? Often you do. A project, a budgetary cycle, a strategic initiative, a team's creation, a grand opening, all of them have a specific point in time when they get underway. You're further encouraged to be confident in starting and beginning by so many things around you. A work week, a school year, a season, a movie, a meal, an athletic … [Read more...]

Beneath The Surface

Something happened the other day and it bothered me. I'd like to share it with you to see what you think. It's only a couple of minutes' reading. Here we go. On Twitter I follow a person who sends out a daily tweet on "this date in the American Revolution." Whatever today is, the guy tweets about some event that happened on that same day back in the American Revolutionary War, 1775-1783. It … [Read more...]

Four Decisions, Two Hours, and One Day

Benedict Arnold Saratoga Battlefield, Saratoga, New York Benedict Arnold. If you know the name you know why. He betrayed the American cause in the Revolutionary War. Switched his loyalty to the British in exchange for money and status. In America, his name is synonymous with treason, back-stabbing, the worst kind of sell-out. I still want you to know something different about him as a … [Read more...]

The Dot Perspective

When you're busy, one of the first things that gets ignored is perspective. Chucked in the bin, out with the trash. You don't have time for it. In the minutes taken to find perspective, something else has gone wrong, something else has gone bad. Perspective is a luxury afforded to those rich with time. That's not you. Stop. Take the time. Make the time. Perspective will reward you. It pays for … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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: 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...]

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...]

The Call

Dr. Deborah Kuhls spoke these two sentences. She's on the medical staff at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her statement is from today's Wall Street Journal and its coverage of the mass shootings and slaughter. In addition to remembering, honoring, and praying for everyone affected by this tragedy, I'd like for you to think for just a moment about Dr. Kuhls's statement. … [Read more...]

Strong’s Words

A lawyer active and interested in American politics, George Templeton Strong scribbled in his diary one day in 1854. He wrote, "Life and property grow less and less secure. Law, legislation, and judiciary are less respected; skepticism spreads as to the existence anywhere of anybody who will not steal if he has an official opportunity. Our civilization is decaying. We are in our decadence. An … [Read more...]

The Time in Strategy

An executive wanted my service as a coach on strategy and leadership. "Any historical examples come to mind on strategic leadership?" asked the executive. "Sure do," I replied, and off we went down the "River" of Martin Luther King's leadership during the march on Birmingham, Alabama in the first half of 1963. Our first surprising bend in the River pertained to time. Not time management. … [Read more...]

The Bridge From 2000

In the place where I live, out of nowhere, about a million of these little guys showed up this weekend. They are the 17-year locusts and as I write, they are humming their presence in the trees. They went into the ground in the year 2000. So how much has changed between their burial and their birth? You tell me. In 2000 a divisive presidential election split the nation into hostile … [Read more...]

A Story Otherwise Untold

The media's coverage of Donald Trump casts a shadow the size of Mt. Everest. I invite you to walk with me into the sunlight for some news of major importance that you likely didn't see over the weekend. It concerns one of the world's most urgent and alarming problems—North Korea. You'll be relieved to know that news is, on the whole, positive. You might also find the nature of this news … [Read more...]

The FBI Director and Me

"Come back to October 28th with me and stare at this, and tell me—what would you do?" Earnest words. A touch of drama, a dash of urgency. The speaker faces the group. The group listens and considers what next to think, to do, to say. The speaker was FBI Director James Comey. The group was a Senate committee. The scene was yesterday, at the US Capitol, testimony on the director's decisions … [Read more...]

The Past of a Winter’s Day

Above is a picture of my hike earlier today. Bitterly cold. Sharp wind. Ice forming along the edges and creeping out across the water. I make this hike two or three times a week. Weather usually doesn't affect it. Today is proof of that. My dog and I weren't the only ones out traipsing around. You can see from the picture that another creature had been there before. Look close. Those are … [Read more...]

Eight Words And Pearl Harbor

What do you think of when the anniversary of Pearl Harbor rolls around every December 7? I'll tell you my image in a moment but let's get yours first. Is is a photo of burning American battleships? Is it a recording of President Franklin Roosevelt's statement about a "day that will live in infamy"? Maybe you've had the good fortune to visit Pearl in Hawaii and have the chilling recollection of … [Read more...]

A Client’s Question Out Of Left Field: Happily So

I always listen to my clients. Two weeks ago, a client from Louisville, Kentucky—a team from Humana—asked me if I could think of a way to use the Louisville Slugger Factory in a special leadership module for them. They are in the midst of planning a retreat that includes a tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum. I happily said, "Yes!" The past is everything and everywhere down … [Read more...]

Hillary Clinton and the Ghost of Russia

Recall for a moment the aftermath of the end of the Cold War. One of the effects of the Soviet Union losing the Cold War was that it killed a longstanding enemy of the United States. I suspect the defeat of Hillary Clinton will act the same way for the Republican Party. The Soviet Union's death removed a unifying element that was a strong reason the US had a broad consensus internally on … [Read more...]

3 Pieces Of The Puzzle–My Upcoming Leadership Now Workshop

Tuesday, November 22, is a day I'm excited about. That's when, running from 11:30am to 1pm, I'll be doing a special Leadership Now Workshop at Capital Grille in Indianapolis. The title is "3 Pieces Of The Puzzle: Using History To Clarify A Trump President And The Impact On Your Leadership." The cost is $75 per person and includes an excellent lunch, meaningful fellowship, and powerful interaction. … [Read more...]

Some of the New Water Ahead

You'd have to be brain-dead not to realize that both the result of the 2016 presidential campaign and the campaign itself have opened a new era in the American experience. Some of you know that I call such things "a new Stretch of River." Part of the new Stretch is the water I'll describe below. Oh, and that's Justin Bieber in the mugshot. See where I'm going? Part of the new Stretch of … [Read more...]

Of Gaps and Horses

Well, the national horse race that is the American presidential election is nearing the finish line. I ask your indulgence on a final few thoughts. I'll start with 1912. When you look at Woodrow Wilson victory in the electoral college, it was a large span of victory. That span masked an underlying point of divergence from appearances--the opposition was deeply split. I think the same thing … [Read more...]

1+2

From strictly a horse-race perspective, here are a few of my near-final thoughts on the 2016 presidential election. First, as with so many other presidential elections, the basic fact that produces an outcome is turn-out. My gut tells me a lower turn-out favors Trump, a higher favors Clinton. But there's another pair of numbers that I think will matter, too. I'm referring to the pairing of … [Read more...]

Post-Election 2016 & Your Leadership

POST-ELECTION 2016 & YOUR LEADERSHIP Regardless of how the US presidential election turns out, we are in for a tumultuous stretch of time moving into 2017-2018. To most of us, it may feel rather like the biker in the photo. Recently, I conducted a special seminar on the 2016 election and an earlier presidential contest that I think offers some clarifying points for the road ahead. I believe … [Read more...]

Killing a New Myth – Wikileaks and Russia

Let's put to rest a myth that has emerged late in the 2016 US presidential election campaign. Wikileaks is said to be the tool of Russia and Vladimir Putin, his evil effort to affect the US elections. Awful! Frightening! Never happened like this! Perhaps, maybe, and wrong. The Russians--including the Soviet Union down to 1991--have engaged in American elections for at least five decades and … [Read more...]

Post As Past

I'm always looking for and thinking about words that pertain to the past. We have thousands of them along with hundreds of phrases and images that depict the movement of time from living to lived. I'll pick one for today—post. Stay with me and let's explore the word just a bit. If you're a sports fan, you may recognize this word immediately. Post-game interview or show. It's the slice of the … [Read more...]

Learning From 56 Years Ago

Heading into Monday's presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I recommend a look back at the only other televised presidential debate to rival this one in importance and impact--I'm referring to 1960 and the Nixon-Kennedy debate. There is something to learn here that affects your viewing on Monday night. First, like now, there was a powerful sense of old and new. These … [Read more...]

Two Waters of One River

Two cities sit on the same river. Their cultures of water, however, are very different. Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio reveal contrasting marks from their shared Ohio River. This realization occurred to me as I reflected on research for a Walkshop in Louisville and my frequent visits to Cincinnati to see my wife's family. The Ohio River in Cincinnati is narrow. Perhaps because of its … [Read more...]

As Is

This is a photo of one of the hundreds of landing ships carrying American soldiers into battle with the invasion of Normandy, France, June 1944. They are sitting there as is. They are ready to disembark as is. Their first step on the European continent--and in many cases that will be their last step in life--will be as is. The as-is organization can do remarkable things, just like these brave … [Read more...]

Coming Up On Five Months Ago

Nearly five months ago I posted on my blog that I thought the best way to understand Donald Trump's appeal as a political force was to look back to the phenomenon that was Bob Knight as an active college basketball coach. In the midst of what some are calling a "meltdown" of Trump's presidential campaign, I return to that point from early March 2016. I stand by it. I started out as a fan of … [Read more...]

Solutionism and 2016

Solutionism is one reason why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for US President in 2016. I don't like Trump as a person but I do think that if we step back, we can see a very interesting reality at work. Take a few moments with me to delve into solutionism. I'll define solutionism as the opinion, principle, value, and belief seen in the act of solving. More than solving by itself, … [Read more...]

The Troubles of Dallas

My deepest wish is to be wrong. In looking at things like Dallas, I'm beginning to wonder if we are entering a new phase, a new Stretch of River. I'm referring to the evolution of current tensions within the US. Race, law enforcement, and urban blight are within these tensions. The new phase or Stretch might be likened to the Troubles in Ireland and England. The hardening of conflict and … [Read more...]

The World After Brexit

Seem familiar? No, it's not a strange photo of Donald Trump. It's a picture of Boris Johnson, one of the main leaders of Brexit. Johnson shocked the British political world by announcing that he would not seek the post of Prime Minister. His announcement is the latest moment of upheaval that is measured almost in quarter-hour increments. You can't keep up. I have not written anything here about … [Read more...]

A Past Slice For Today

This is a 20 dollar gold piece from, you guessed it, 1854. You were doing one if you had these in your pocket. Let's take a slice from it for our use today, in 2016. In trying to sort through the confusion and strangeness of the 2106 presidential campaign, I've been thinking about an earlier time when the American political party system exploded. That was in 1854, the same year that freshly … [Read more...]

Serious Beginnings

So it began. Today (June 8) was the first full day of debate in the Continental Congress in 1776 whereby the delegates took up a specific question of American independence. The day before a resolution was introduced which proposed American independence. And now comes the discussion, the arguments, the back-and-forth, the insults offered and those held back, the shifting of opinion from one side to … [Read more...]

The Messed-Up Factor

Know who this is? Of course you don't. I wouldn't if I hadn't searched it out and posted it here. This is Chester Arthur, obscure President of the United States from the early 1880s. He is Exhibit A is what I'm calling my Messed-Up Factor. Part of the problem we're grappling with in the 2016 presidential election is the Messed-Up Factor. You see, we're to blame not because we're active or … [Read more...]

The Immediate Threat To Hillary Clinton: Not Trump

The politicians responsible for the resignation of Richard Nixon in August 1974 weren't from the Democratic Party. The ones who succeeded in removing Nixon were, like him, Republicans. This is a group of Republican senators who had just finished meeting with Nixon and had urged him to resign. Nixon complied. I offer this in light of the 2016 presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton's most … [Read more...]

The Illusion of Autonomy

A person I admire and respect talked about "the illusion of autonomy." That's when you're told by those in authority above you that, yes, you can make decisions; that, yes, your decisions will matter; and that, yes, you can shape what we will be doing." It reminded me of the fakeness that is driving so much of our election season in 2016. You hear over and over again that "authenticity" is … [Read more...]

Water Tides

Like the currents and tides, events flow back and forth between the US and Europe on one hand and between the US and Asia on the other. As we move into the nominee/nomination phase of the American presidential campaign, I urge you to remember this. We saw this happen last summer with the radical Islamic attacks in Paris. I suspect we may see it again as the story solidifies of what happened to the … [Read more...]

The Ripples of Beer

I make history. That's not an egotistical statement. I literally make history--I write stories about the past. As some of you know, I talk about history being a partial reconstruction of the total past. So, in that use of phrasing, I make history. Let me give you a brief look into how I would make part of the history of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton. In my … [Read more...]

Some of the Basics

Let's refresh on a few of the basics that I use. Grab whatever your beverage of choice is and take a moment with me to review. Remember, I'm self-titled--a consulting leadership historian. First, our life is a River. Yours, mine, ours, theirs, individual, collective. Life is a River. Point A is the start. Point Z is the end. The flow of time from A to Z functions, behaves, and acts much like a … [Read more...]

A Curious Document

In the midst of a deep, sweeping, and sizzling change, small things will appear. It's hard to know in the moment how to make sense of them. As a leader you will have to decide whether they are worth pursuing, whether they are an opportunity that needs your attention. Not every small thing rises to this level but every once in a while, one will. Here is stunning example from this past … [Read more...]

Narrow The Time

Narrow your use of the past to find a good guide to political turmoil in 2016. I point you to a period of 25 months--from spring 1854 to summer 1856. That's the interval between the passage of an explosively controversial law (the Kansas-Nebraska Act) and the birth of a political party that grows so quickly it nominates a presidential candidate two years later (John Fremont in the 1856 … [Read more...]

My Number 33

We have a long way to go until November 2016. Countless things can and will happen, some of which will be unexpected and with deep impact. Having offered the proper qualifiers, permit me to suggest that the Number 33 could prove of major importance to Donald Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination. 33 or more specifically, one-third. I suspect that if Trump alters one-third … [Read more...]

A View Of Our Heart

I ask you to consider an analogy based on this photo of open-heart surgery. I'm not trying to shock or sensationalize. Let's think about a political event last week that will quickly fade from the scene. We had a moment when we looked into the beating heart of the American experience. For the equivalent of a few seconds, we saw one of the most powerful impulses that make us who we are as … [Read more...]

An Echo You Must Hear

I'm getting lots of reactions to my post from yesterday--on the present and the dying thing. A dear friend of mine commented on Facebook, stirring me to address a key point. Before I do so, I'm listening to a song as I write this. It's a song of great moment. I'll put it on my website in the coming week. Look for it under You And This Song. Now, on to today's post. The wonderful image above … [Read more...]

A History Of The Present And The Dying Thing

I've never hidden the fact that some historians dislike my approach. They say I'm too quick to link the past to the present, the present to the past. I won't rehash my view on that now. I do, however, want to continue to apply my view. The chips can and will fall where they may. We are seeing a thing die in front of us. We see it on television, the internet, in our living rooms and on our … [Read more...]

From Then To Now: George Washington and 18 Days

I think you'll like this from my individual leadership consulting earlier this morning. A client and I are going down George Washington River together. This morning, I asked a question about 18 days. That was the span of time in 1775 from June 15 to July 3. At the start, on Day 1, Washington accepted the offered position of "General and Commander-in-Chief" of American military forces outside … [Read more...]

Colts Again: What Should Be True Now

A few weeks back I shared my thoughts about the succession decision of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to retain both General Manager Ryan Grigson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano. For me, the most interesting leadership point for succession was the need to do something different after the decision was made. By all accounts, relations between Grigson and Pagano were some degree of strained--whether … [Read more...]

An Open Letter To My New Harmony Friends

Last fall, my wife and I spent a weekend in New Harmony, Indiana. I address this Open Letter, respectfully, to the good people of that charming place (and to those folks in other historically based towns and villages). We understood from conversations with merchants and residents that this little town in southwestern Indiana was in the midst of some rather severe change and challenges. It was … [Read more...]

The Strangest Feeling

I was at lunch, my table next to a window overlooking a busy city street. I had ordered my meal, I was sipping hot tea, I was spending time with a new client who wants to use history to improve his leadership. Then, close to us, I heard the sound of cannon firing, another, and another. Looking out the window, I see the sight you see in the photo above (which I took on my phone). Look closely at … [Read more...]

A Trump Capsule

Stay with me a moment or two as I offer, respectfully, a thought on the staying and growing power of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. This is, if you will, a Trump Capsule. The closing of the Carrier plant in Indianapolis gives us a revealing insight into the rise of Trump and his current commanding position in the Republican field of candidates. If you haven't watched the clips of … [Read more...]

Like Two Rivers Together

Financial advisors tell me that mergers and acquisitions have been their biggest activity during the past year. It doesn't look to change. The year ahead, they say, feels much the same. Continued mergers and acquisitions in 2016, two entities coming together in order to survive. I see evidence of it in today's Wall Street Journal. Articles highlight Dow and DuPont's next steps together, … [Read more...]

The Place Of Leading

I confess. With one of my most popular services in leadership development, I confess that I didn't know until recently what it's most important value is to leaders today. 200 people have participated in my "Walkshop" service. A Walkshop is my concept of knowing a leadership story from history, walking to those places to see and hear and smell and think for yourself, and then applying key … [Read more...]

The Words In Your Head: A Challenge Of Major Change

What are the words you hear in your head when you approach the challenge of major change? The words in your head are the silent message that you hear over and over. Maybe you share them with someone else. Maybe you don't. Doesn't matter—the point is that you hear an echo of a previous experience, a powerful moment, an unforgettable story. Quite likely it's something you've lived yourself. On … [Read more...]

A Lesson From The Republican Campaign

The Republican presidential campaign of 2015-2016 has already taught us one very important thing. Wisdom untested is conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom has limited value. The conventional wisdom was that a governor would be the party's nominee for president. By having not only experience as a chief executive (we should call them Chief Governing Officers, or CGOs) but also a clear body of … [Read more...]

Parent-Death

It happens to all of us, the death of Mom and Dad. I suppose it doesn't always have to be specifically them, just whomever has filled the vital role of parent. I won't get into the thicket of that issue as we see it in 2015. Suffice for now, my only concern is parent death. I've lost both my mother and father. It was back in my forties. Dad went first, Mom after another six years. In my own … [Read more...]

An Ancient Beach

Last year I went with friends (who happen to be Historical Solutions alumni) on a fishing trip in central Ontario, Canada. It was a fly-in trip into the bush. One day late in the afternoon, after another fabulous day on a gorgeous lake, we were returning in our boats to the lodge. While in the boats, we spotted a narrow strip of what appeared to be a beach. We decided to land the boats there and … [Read more...]

Father and Daughter

Have you ever sensed a fundamental change in the time you have experienced? I'll try to explain so that perhaps you can answer the question for yourself. A few weeks ago, our oldest daughter—thirteen years-old—performed as one of the two co-leads in her school play. She performed three shows over the course of a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. She was flawless. But I'm not going to say more of … [Read more...]

Michael Jordan Is Too Short

You stand in the present, this moment. You look into the future. At this juncture, standing now and looking ahead, you're expected to make a decision. Let's you and I go to an interested example of what seems a very ordinary situation. It's 1984. You're an executive working at Adidas, a sports footwear company based in Germany but with markets in many nations, including a very important one in … [Read more...]