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...]