A Surprising Sight From My Jeep

Sitting in my Jeep outside a community college, I was early to my meeting yesterday. I had about 20-30 minutes before my meeting, so I picked up a book that I’ve been keeping in the car for just such occasions. While reading, I noticed something about the people—the students—who were slowly arriving in their vehicles and walking into the class building. Woman; woman; woman; woman; and woman; and … [Read more...]

Message Lamented

In the past week I have received emails from two organizations that strike me as truly lamentable. Maybe you've gotten some of your own. I'm referring to the reaction of governmentally funded entities amid the rising dispute over federal spending. As far as I'm concerned, this is almost a nonpartisan issue--the hard math suggests that governmental spending, especially on the federal or national … [Read more...]

Hunter Of Treasure And Detective Of Crime

I met this lunch hour with a group of folks from a small county in southern Indiana. A client of mine had arranged the luncheon for the purposes of discussing how to use the county's history for leadership development. It was a great lunch.In the course of it, someone commented on my description of what I do. "You're a treasure hunter, aren't you?" Yes, I had to agree with that. … [Read more...]

The Alchemy Of Success And Failure

The blend of success and failure in our leadership is an alchemy. They bubble and brew over time. What pours out of the cauldron at any given moment will look slightly different for each of us as leaders. The relationship of the two--the interaction of success and failure--will change as we move through our lives. I'm struck by this fact as I continue to research and write about Abraham … [Read more...]

Blood Through The Words

"I promised myself," he said, "to never live that nightmare again." These were the words of CEO Patrick Kron, of Alstom Inc. in France.You can just feel the blood of his feelings.He declared this sentence after convincing his board of directors to accept the effort of General Electric to buy part of Alstom.Back about ten years ago, Kron had the displeasure of being involved in the debacle of … [Read more...]

Core Group

Core Group is a set of people within an organization. They are bright, passionate, dedicated, creative, and willing to take a risk or two. Core Group brings them together and unites these qualities of the separate individuals. In their unity, they become a tangible asset. Core Group is one of the takeaways from my work on transformation of the American military 1974-1992. An organizational client … [Read more...]

Boiling Down

In the book on Lincoln that I'm currently researching and writing, I've bumped into a thought on information and leadership. I'll call it the "boil-down" effect.A leader is supposed to take information and reduce it to its most meaningful essence. That's a vital challenge for us in 2014 because we get so much that passes for information--stuff that's really garbage but … [Read more...]

Two Rivers

Tomorrow at noon I'm presenting to a dozen people on Theodore Roosevelt's discovery expedition of the River of Doubt in 1913-1914. The group is made up of clients of a Merrill-Lynch financial advisor. It's the fourth time I've presented a "lunch-and-learn" and will be great fun.As it happens, this spring is the 100th anniversary of Roosevelt's expedition. I'm … [Read more...]

I Can’t Let This Pass

I can't let this pass. I try to stay out of current political fights as much as possible. There's just no winning from my position. But every so often, I just can't let this pass. And here we are--Ukraine, Russia, and the United States. I rise to speak from the perspective of history and leadership.I take very strong exception to two statements, one by President Barack Obama and one … [Read more...]

The Shadow Of A Deep Memory Covers An Entire Life

I'm talking with a person about the early life of John Quincy Adams. I state that a key takeaway from JQA is a powerful memory from youth which stayed with him the rest of his life. That memory was witnessing--eye-witnessing and personally experiencing--the War of the American Revolution. It never left him. In a way, the war never stopped.The person listening to me thought for a moment. Then, … [Read more...]