One Young Woman–Covid 19, 1918, And Your Leadership

Thank you for seeking out more information from the experience of an unknown leader, 32-year old Edna Fletcher. Pictured above, she was a significant healthcare leader at Methodist Hospital (now Indiana University Health Methodist) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Below are brief points from her experience. I believe they can help you in your leadership right now and the days ahead. (Contact me at … [Read more...]

TTP: A 9 POTUS Checklist for the 2020 Presidential Election, Part II

So, from Part I of my series, you now know that 9 POTUSes won and completed a first presidential term, won their party's nomination for re-election, but lost in the election for a second term in the White House. Also, you have the six-item checklist to use in gauging whether or not we'll add the 10th POTUS to the group in November 2020. To refresh your recall of Part I, CLICK HERE. For you … [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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Polio Doesn’t Strike Franklin Roosevelt

What if polio doesn't strike Franklin Roosevelt? On August 10, 1921, Franklin Roosevelt awakens with his legs no different than the day before. He can walk. He can run. He can kick. He can jump. And over the weeks and months and years ahead, nothing changes about his legs. No massage therapy. No warm water treatments. No metal braces. No polio. So how might his life have different? … [Read more...]

The Mexican-American War

The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. Have you ever bothered to read anything about it? Ever heard about it? Perhaps a more basic question should be posed: ever heard of it? This event has a long shadow in the American experience. Here's how. (Winfield Scott and his US force near Mexico City) The Iraq War, or Gulf War II as I call it, wasn't the first conflict that produced internal … [Read more...]

New Post on Lincoln

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The Flight of the Intellectuals by Paul Berman

War divides. In American history the division caused by war is not just between one side and the other on the battlefield. It's also between those who support in and believe in the war and its waging, and those who do not. In this sense, the two wars that flowed out of 9-11—Afghanistan and the Second Gulf War—were no different than any other war in American history. They divided. Paul Berman … [Read more...]

9-11 and 10 Years On: Your Leadership and History

9-11 and 10 Years On: Reflections on Leadership and History First, let’s do a couple of points from popular culture. Top hit song from 1951: Too Young by Nat King Cole. 2001: Hanging by a Moment by Lighthouse. Top movie from 1951: A Streetcar Named Desire. 2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Fad from 1951: Gilbert's Chemistry Sets. 2001: Bratz Dolls. I mentioned having looked at … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Thank You Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes once said this of Inspector Gregory: "See the value of imagination," said Holmes to Doctor Watson, "It is the one quality which Gregory lacks. We imagined what might have happened, acted on the supposition, and find ourselves justified. Let us proceed."I lived this very moment yesterday in writing and researching my book on 96 hours of Abraham Lincoln. Upon … [Read more...]


I'm preparing for an upcoming client session featuring Lewis and Clark's expedition of 1803-1806. I'll be writing more about this in the next few weeks. Here is my first thought as I customize the presentation.Lewis and Clark had a goal, or a handful of goals, for their journey. President Thomas Jefferson wrote them out in the form of instructions. But as the journey unfolded, some … [Read more...]

I Rise In Defense Of Sagacious

So, they're changing the SAT. Fine. But I'm a bit chagrined at learning they're switching out words in the vocabulary aspect of the test. "Sagacious" is gone. A new word will be "synthesis."Now, I realize the folks in charge don't look at each individual word they eliminate and put one in its exact place. I get it.However, something feels a little too trendy here when we yank … [Read more...]

Real Leadership And Diversity

Today I presented at a working lunch. Though I didn't state it as such, the topic was leadership and diversity. A dime a dozen, I know--these talks about leadership and diversity are everywhere, reducing their value to nearly zero. But let me tell you about this. It was different.My historical topic was Theodore Roosevelt's exploration of the River of Doubt in 1913-1914. On this trip, … [Read more...]

The Singular Point

Go with me into one of my Creative Conversations. Our topic is your leadership. Our historical river is the life of Winfield Scott. Our goal for these few seconds is to have you think as part of a stream of time.Scott was the arguably the greatest American general for half of the 19th century. He served for 50 years and left a deep imprint on the American military and the American way of war. Here … [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...]

Sameness And Differentness

I've uncovered a point of leadership in writing my upcoming book on 96 hours of Abraham Lincoln. This point is the importance of sameness, differentness, and the leader's involvement in each.A leader probably spends most time in sameness. I'm referring to the appropriate desire to ensure that followers are on the same page, share the same vision, know the same common identity, and … [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...]

Neptune And You

Here's an exercise for your use of history. Neptune.What's the difference between the past of Earth and the past of Neptune? Answer that; it's not a trick question. I'd say that somewhere on the list of answers is this: people. Earth has people. Neptune doesn't. People are part of the story of Earth's past. Not true for Neptune.Now, what's the difference between … [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...]

Future Known

A client and I talked over coffee the other day. Actually, I had similar conversations with two separate clients, individually. They are alumni of Walkshop I, where we re-experience the day when Benjamin Harrison finished processing Major Change. On that day of finished processing, he signed up to serve in the Civil War. The topic we discussed was about the future. Specifically, when you have the … [Read more...]

No Point-Scoring: A Fresh Look At A Link In Foreign And National Security Policy

Some of you know that I have an expertise in national security issues with a specialization in irregular warfare. I'd like to draw on that body of knowledge in order not to score political points (you see enough of that with various talking heads yelling at each other on cable and the internet). My purpose is to illuminate an interesting connection in current foreign and national security … [Read more...]

The Why Of The Review

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated recently that the American military is undergoing a major review of itself. He explained that this was not unusual--the military often does this after a major war or wars. Routine.OK. Routine. But I want you to go a little deeper here.When you have a predictable basis for review and reflection, that suggests you may fall into … [Read more...]

The Young Man At McDonalds And John Quincy Adams

Stopping by a local McDonalds to work and enjoy a cup of coffee, I chanced to sit near a young man being interviewed for work at the franchise. He was maybe late teens, wearing a backwards cap on top of unkempt hair. Earrings. A couple of piercings in his lower lip. Very thin and pale. I'm guessing that, on any given day, you and I see probably a hundred young men who fit this description. … [Read more...]

John Quincy Adams

I use the life of a past leader to help strengthen the leadership of clients who engage my one-on-one service, Creative Conversations. I've determined that John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, would be a good candidate for a client who is interested in either of the following areas--how to bounce back from a jolting loss and regain a role and purpose in life; or, how to … [Read more...]

When The Classified Seals Come Off

One of the most consistent aspects of foreign policy and national security in the Obama Administration is drone warfare. As recently as a week ago, another round of drone strikes occurred, this time in Yemen. By my last reading, more than thirty people were killed. There are no reports of civilian casualties, so we must assume that terrorists, or irregular soldiers in my lexicon, were the … [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...]

For My Liberal Friends

Having offered a gentle nudge to my conservative friends, I take the same opportunity to do the same for my liberal friends. Consider below one of the greatest failings of modern liberalism.That would be in the response to collectivist governments in foreign affairs and international tensions.Around the end of the nineteenth century, liberalism became identified with collectivism. That affinity … [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...]

For My Conservative Friends

I consider myself ideologically to be a blend of classical liberal and modern independent conservative. Having said that, I'd like to offer my conservative friends a suggestion. They might want to spend time reflecting what could have been a conservative alternative to American civil rights legislation of the 1950s and 1960s. Cutting straight to the point--modern conservatism did poorly in … [Read more...]

Lee’s Life Hangs By A Thread

The story of how Robert E. Lee ended the Civil War compels me to draw a leadership point.The defeat of Lee and his army in 1865 pivoted in many ways on the efforts of one man, Ulysses S. Grant. Grant's approach to leadership of US armed forces ultimately compelled Lee to surrender. Grant was impervious to the massive US casualties that it took to force Lee's capitulation. No one man was … [Read more...]

A Response To Change

We all feel swept up in a tide of change sometimes. I bumped into an interesting response in my reading last night.I'm looking at the life of Jonathan Edwards, the great theologian in the British colony of Massachusetts during the 18th century. In 1742 Edwards was part of a massive up-swell of religious fervor. Along with the rapid growth of spiritual enthusiasm came a drive to change … [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...]

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...]