Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 21

Take a quick breath to take stock. Three weeks ago. Day 1, influenza begins at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. It's back after an outbreak some three months before, in the spring, a seasonal thing. Now, on Day 21, Saturday, September 29, 1918... ...a helluva day. At 1am this morning Major Ernest Gibson and his military comrades were ordered into line and told to start marching from their … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 18

A Jackie Band near Winnekta, Illinois, 1918 News large and important. Printed in newspapers, transcribed on telegrams, written in letters. Read by thousands, read by dozens, read by one. Word is spreading about life in a world that is—like it or not, choose it or not, know it or not—abruptly new. Day 18, September 25, 1918. For the thousands... A leading newspaper in Charlotte, North … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 16

An American worker, 1918 A guy named Wiley Eastwood is a good stand-in for hundreds of thousands of Americans today, Day 16, September 23, 1918. A hard-worker, Eastwood goes to his job—earns his pay, like always—but in the late morning starts feeling weak, fevered, coughing. Lunchtime comes and goes and he's worse. Finally, he just can't keep going. It's time to talk with the boss. Eastwood … [Read more...]

Learning From the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 15

Dr. William Welch, 1918 You turn the corner and there it is. A sudden shock. The look and feel of an unknown that is total, that is capable of swallowing up everything you are and everything you're ready to do. Beyond your experience, your expectations. Beyond all there is in you. You turn the corner and there it is. On this fifteenth day, September 22, 1918, a young mother and her two young … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 14

Crouse-Irving Hospital in Syracuse, New York Two weeks on, September 21, 1918, and the remedies started flowing in. Some folks say don't let your feet get wet and watch out for signs of blocked bowels. Others assert that chewing food well and drinking lots of water is the answer. Eating onions, drinking sour milk, the list grows of what people hope will be the cure, the trick, that keeps them … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 11

A Cincinnati barbershop, fall 1918 Just the "Grippe." Only the grippe. Don't freak out over the standard seasonal cough, fever, and aches that everyone calls "the grippe." Newspaper editors and writers are telling lots of readers today that the illness everyone's talking about is simply another outbreak of seasonal flu. They say it in Cincinnati today when one of the city's newspapers … [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...]

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...]

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 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...]

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 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...]

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...]

73 Years Ago – A Saturday in March

If you don't want to know anything else other than listen to the speech, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjx3IqURT6I. If you'd like to take a couple of minutes and, I think, gain more out of it, read below--you'll see another link and can view the speech then. (Whichever you do, thanks for pursuing. All the best, Dan) This is the story. I want you as a leader to absorb it, work through … [Read more...]

A Memory Alive

  Colin Powell is one of the most recognized figures in the American Experience of the late 20th century. Military officer, national security adviser, secretary of state, one-time potential presidential candidate, best-selling author, and more, Powell ranks among high as an influential leader in American life. In this short article, I'd like you to focus on one thing about Colin Powell. I … [Read more...]

Excavating January 30th

The Tet offensive began on January 30, 1968. As an event, it occurred throughout winter and spring of 1968. As a leadership story, it illustrates the powerful clash between facts and perceptions. Take a look at my 4-minute video here for a quick exploration of Tet and your leadership. After you're done, consider these questions for your leadership: Have I had an experience where I've … [Read more...]

TTP: The Trump Rule

TTP: The Trump Rule As promised, and promised, and promised again, henceforth and forever more shall it stand, drum roll, here is the Trump Rule: You must react to Trump's leadership in your own leadership. That's it. Underwhelmed? Don't be! Please remove your finger from that delete button for one minute...let me explain. Some of Trump's presidency is unique. Some isn't. Within the … [Read more...]

Meet The First President Trump

TTP: MEET THE FIRST PRESIDENT TRUMP I believe we've seen a US president similar to Donald Trump before. Allow me to introduce you to Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States. Other commentators have made the point, too. My arrival at this conclusion was done independently, after thinking through the histories of 44 American presidents.  Jackson and Trump share several key … [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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]