Recently in Leadership Category

Warrior Writers Exhibit

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Last Wednesday, 09 September 2015, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the United States Naval Institute to the opening of the Warrior Writers exhibit at the US Naval Academy Museum. There was a very nice reception and I got to meet some interesting people, many I have only known through their writings, and others through their writings and FaceBook and Twitter. It was a great night.

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The exhibit was opened with some comments from the director of the museum, LCDR Claude Berube. LCDR Berube has written a novel called The Aden Effect and it is a very good read. His second book, Syren's Song, is due out in November and is available for pre-order now. Both of these books are published by the US Naval Institute. LCDR Berube's comments were followed by a few words from the CEO of the Institute, Vice Admiral Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.). Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN (Ret.) closed the opening remarks with his own words about the purpose of the exhibit. Admiral Staviridis is a prolific writer himself and one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend his latest book, The Accidental Admiral.

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As I talked to several people throughout the night, a common cause was evident among us all. The exhibit was not created to brag about all the Naval Institute has done; it was not created to attract new visitors, although I am sure it will; it was not created to simply fill empty space; no, the theme I heard repeatedly, and one I shared, was "if this encourages others to write, then it is well worth the effort and expense". The motto of the USNI is "Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."

The exhibit itself highlights important writing and events of each decade since the founding of the USNI. To reinforce this, the Naval Academy Museum has initiated a series of fourteen weekly podcasts; each podcast will focus on a single decade. The podcast can be found at iTunes.

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One part of the exhibit that I particularly enjoyed was the display of some of the books published by the USNI. In the same display case were some of the pens on loan from Admiral Stavridis and a note saying how much he likes to write.

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All in all, it was a great night; I talked to some wonderful people, saw a great exhibit, met some virtual friends in person, and was inspired. I am already thinking about a possible article for the Naval Institute Proceedings.

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Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

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I must admit that I have never converted to Mac in terms of my laptop or desktop, at least not yet. I did buy my daughter a Bondi Blue iMac when they came out, bought my wife a lime green iMac a few months later, and I have had a couple of iPhones and iPads. But that is not because I don't like them.

Steve Jobs was more than someone who made computers and phones--he inspired people. Who else is equally as admired by artists, musicians, and engineers? He exuded enthusiasm and that will be missed. Who knows how many artists, scientists, or engineers we have today as a result of this enthusiasm.

Tonight my prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues.

The damage resulting from the recent tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama has resulted in an outpouring of support from friends, neighbors, community organizations, and churches. We were fortunate to not suffer any damage in our immediate area but we could the next time.

I am happy with the support being given but I am also worried about the lessons being taught to our youth. I have seen numerous news reports featuring high school students who have made statements along the lines of: "I am helping because I would expect people to help me"; "You should help people because you get so much in return". Wrong! Parents, you need to teach your children that they should help others because it is the RIGHT thing to do. You do not help people for selfish reason of expecting anything in return--even feeling good about yourself. Sure, you can feel good about helping others but that is not why you should help others.

I've been waiting for this talk ever since I heard he was going speak. The talk is short, like all TED talks, but it has some valuable information for leaders. I've always liked General McChrystal, although we have never met. He eats one meal a day, I eat one meal a day; he sleeps about 4 hours a day, I sleep about 4 hours a day. It would have been fun working with him.

General McChrystal's biography.

Dateline: Mississippi State University, 10 December 2010.

I was honored to have been asked to be the guest speaker at the 10 December 2010 Joint Army-Air Force Commissioning ceremony at Mississippi State. There were four cadets commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the US Air Force and one commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. It was a pleasure to have been asked to speak and a joy to share some of the lessons I have learned with these new lieutenants who are beginning their careers.

After the ceremony I received some very nice complements on the talk and I was appreciative of them. I told several that what I told these new airmen and soldier were what I wished someone had told me when I was an Ensign. The text of my remarks is below.

Friend's Son on Colbert Nation

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A nice segment from the Colbert Report. I am in the same Sunday School Class with Lt. Col. Cummings mother and also knew his fater--a grerat man. Enjoy...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Brent Cummings & Josh Bleill<a>
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone reporter whose article resulted in the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, was told his request to embed with a unit was denied. Some reports I read said he had originally been told he could embed but that decision was reversed. Mr. Hastings is not too happy about it from what I have seen. I'm truly surprised that he thought for a minute he would be able to do this so soon after the article.

Let me be the first to say that the things Gen. McChrystal said were inappropriate for a military officer but, I do admire the man for not trying to squirm out of the comments and resigning. In my opinion, he left with honor.

What surprises me is the Hastings would think for a minute he would be welcomed back as an embedded reporter. I think he really does not understand the military and he seems to have no respect for it. First, if he knew anything about the military, he surely knew what consequences would be suffered by Gen. McChrystal once the article was published. The Inspector General is now conducting a review of those involved in the article to see if any are guilty of insubordination but one article states that Hastings has refused to cooperate with the investigation. That, to me, is a sign of his disrespect for the institution.

Let's look at what Hastings really did and why the only explanations I can up with for his surprise at being denied an embed is ignorance or tunnel vision. Hastings was invited to a house as a guest. Once there he drank all the beer, left trash all over the place, ate all of the food, kicked the dog, and insulted all of your family members. He leaves. Then, when he wants to come back a few weeks later for another visit he is told no and is surprised. He really must just not get it.

But what did he get for himself? Well he got an article that seems to have resulted in record Rolling Stone sales. He seems to have made somewhat of a name for himself. And it also appears he got a book deal out of the article. It seems to me like he came out with a pretty good deal.

But what did it cost? Well, it cost a great general his career. It broke up what seemed to be a good team (Petraeus-McChrystal) on the right track in Afghanistan. But the greatest cost may well be the lack of information and insight the American people--no, the people of the world--will get. His self-glorification means that every embedded reporter is going to be scrutinized likely resulting in fewer being able to report. Those who are allowed will be around military people who are closely guarded in what they say. The result will be less information, less insight, and less of an idea of what the people are who are fighting these wars.

And it was all unnecessary. Hastings could have reported on what he found in a way that would not have resulted in embarrassment and resignations. But then again, learning that military people may actually have opinions is not news. Reporting that some in the military approve of what the President is doing and some do not approve is not titillating. But publishing the article in the way it was published did help him make a name for himself. In my opinion he sacrificed his honor and it is unlikely anyone in the military will ever trust him again. On the other hand, by his actions after the article was published preserved his honor and will likely be trusted by all he meets. Rare is the individual who will stand up and willingly be held accountable for his actions; rare, that is, everywhere except in the military.

A Race Well-Run

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Dateline: NSPE Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL.

Today was election for NSPE and I was a candidate for Vice President. I did not win. I would love to have won the election, if I didn't want to win then why run, but I am not hurt, upset, angry, or irritated in the result and here is why.

First, Dan Wittliff, the other candidate for the position, is a great person and will be a great leader for NSPE. We may differ on a few issues but they are not major and he will serve NSPE well. Dan was not an opponent in the traditional sense, we were both merely running for the same office, so in no way do I feel beaten. In reality, we both were running for the position and did not know of each other until well into the process. This is a result of the way NSPE handles this contest.

Second, I was asked to run by others, specifically the Mississippi Engineering Society and I consider that to be a great honor. Because I did not wake up one morning and decide my life would be incomplete without this position I think it is a little easier to not win.

Third, I did not lose. I still get to be involved in NSPE and I get a life for at least another year.

Fourth, the encouragement I have received from the officers and delegates of NSPE to run next year has been amazing. I also had several people whom I respect greatly share how they voted with me and I appreciate their support.

Fifth, everyone, and I mean everyone, I spoke with mentioned how tough the choice was. I'd much rather lose a close contest than win one by a landslide. I did not get the final vote count but I believe it was close (at least that's the story I'm sticking with!)

Sixth, we seldom get what we want all the time. If you cannot handle the occasional loss, then you do not have the skills, backbone, and thick skin to be a leader.

Seventh, there is still work to do and there is always next year.

Eight, I received a lot of input, advice, and help from many friends as I prepared for this. I appreciate that help and support and it says much about the quality people I work with and call friends.

I wish Dan the best and have already told him I'm here to help.

ARTICLE: "School consolidation not needed, leader says". Starkville Daily News, 31 Dec 2009 p. A-5

Public officials are elected or appointed to carry out the wishes of those who elected or appointed them, within the bounds of reason and ethics. We all expect our elected officials to look out for our best interest but what should they do when they are appointed to serve on a board or committee of a higher authority and in effect, serve the interest of a large body. This not only happens with public officials but it also happens with military personnel. Military leaders often make decisions or give recommendations that may not be in the immediate best interest of those under their command or their specific branch of service.

The specific case which got me thinking about this today is Governor Barbour's committee to consider consolidation of school districts. Michael Kent serves as the Superintendent of Education for Madison County schools and is expected to look out for the best interests of that school district, the employees who work in the school district, and most importantly, the citizens of the school district. He was recently named to a committee to investigate the consolidation of school districts across the state. Mississippi has 82 counties but 152 school districts. The governor has suggested that state funds could be conserved if there were perhaps only 100 or so districts and has formed the Commission on Mississippi Education Structure to review the existing structure and make recommendations on consolidation.

Kent admits that he was surprised to be appointed to the commission because he has made it no secret that he is not interested in his district being consolidated with another. In fact, according to this article, he has said "protecting his district from any proposed school consolidation will be first priority while serving" on the commission. This conflict of interest, if you can even call it that, has been fully disclosed so it is not really a conflict at this point. The governor should be well aware of Kent's position and has the option of removing him from the commission or leaving him in place.

The real question, however, in the sense of duty, is how should Kent and other public servants in similar situations serve in such positions? Should their bias towards their local situation color their decisions for the larger public? Should they argue their position as strongly as they can and hope that others are arguing the opposite position? Can they really be of any service given they have already made their positions known and vowed to support them?

Public service is different from most other forms of service in that servants are serving the public good even though it may not be in their personal best interest. In this particular situation we have the governor who is looking out for the state as a whole who has indicated he favors consolidation and a commission member who has said he is opposed to consolidation, at least for his district. So what has happened here is that Kent has been placed in a difficult position. On the one hand he is obligated to "protect" his district; on the other hand he is supposed to help the governor improve education in the state and save money which may require consolidation.

The situation here is not uncommon; in fact it is better here than in other situations I have seen. In many committees, commissions, and task forces, biases exist but are never disclosed. Here Kent has made clear what his position is, as has the governor. Knowing this everything should be fine.

Dumb-dumb bullets, by T. X. Hammes, Armed forces Journal, July 2009, p, 12.

Col. Hammes has neatly summed up the problems with PowerPoint. It is clearly a great tool for sharing information but is lousy for decision-making. Hammes correctly says that if someone is making too many decisions to have time to read a paper on them, then they are making bad decisions.

What bothers me is that everyone has come to expect a copy of a PowerPoint brief so that they can share it with others. It troubles me when wants a copy of my "slides" but does not hear the presentation. I use PowerPoint as a tool to share information but it is not standalone. The PowerPoint and my talk go together and one without the other is worth less and sometime worthless.

In teaching classes students have come to expect that PowerPoint is posted on the web and often posted even before the class. I have mixed feelings about that and I tend to post my slides after the lecture. First, posting them before class can deter class attendance. Second, it can reduce note-taking. I've heard the argument that by having my slides in class makes it easy to take notes but I don't buy it. Part of taking notes is listening and determining what is important to you. The very act of thinking about what is said and writing it down makes the information yours and easier to recall. Placing a star by a bulleted line is simply not good enough.

The worst thing about using PowerPoint to make decisions is that the author of the presentation seldom seems to present both sides. Bullets are selected such that the decision-maker is led down a certain path--the path of making the decision the presenters wants made.

Last week I received an anonymous letter. I say I received it when in reality it was addressed to the College and not to any individual, but it ended up in my mailbox. It had no signature, no internal address block, and it had no return address on the envelope. The person had just as well signed it "Coward". I hate cowards, especially cowards who are not willing to stand up for themselves or their beliefs.

The gist of the letter was a complaint about an organization that is only loosely associated with the college and is in no way under our direct control. The letter questioned how we could "support" an organization that, in the opinion of the coward, acted not in our best interest in a decision they recently made. The coward was woefully ill-informed and took no time to check his (or her) facts. By leaving no contact information he ensured we would not be able to educate him, or even respond. It was in essence a drive-by letter. It accomplished nothing other than demonstrate how the author had an opinion but was not brave enough to have it attributed to him.

If you have an idea or opinion but are too afraid to have it associated with you then what good is having that idea. There are exceptions to this rule--Thomas Paine and "Common Sense" for example--but here lives were at stake.

Thankfully today we are able to celebrate because a few men were not cowards--they were not afraid to state their opinions and sign their names giving us:

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

The Unforgiving Minute

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The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig M. Mullaney. Penguin Press, 2009.

I just finished this outstanding book and can't recommend it highly enough. It is a very moving story of a soldier who completes West Point, goes to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and then to Afghanistan as a platoon leader. He explores challenges in his professional and personal life and reminds us all that the two are connected.

This book also gives insight into the war in Afghanistan, a place that has, until recently, been ignored by the news reporters. Some of my favorite lines from the book:

  • "Afghans say Americans have all the watches but they have all the time."
  • "At West Point we'd learned that responsibility preceded privilege. I had forgotten how odd that sentiment appeared outside the military."
  • "Every time units played musical chairs in Afghanistan, we became vulnerable again. Every time the music stopped, another unit would start over learning the physical and cultural terrain. The lack of continuity certainly frustrated relationships with local khans. Trust was hard-won in this part of the world, and we were treating Afghan leaders like contestants in a round of speed dating."
  • "The challenge of education is not to prepare a person for success, but to prepare him for failure. ADMIRAL JAMES STOCKDALE"

I encourage anyone interested in learning more about leadership, the military, or Afghanistan to read this book.

"Aide Quits Over New York Flyover", by. Christopher Conkey, Wall Street Journal, V. CCLIII, N. 108, Saturday/Sunday 09-10 May 2009, p. A-3.

The "panic" in New York by a low flying aircraft has caused White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera to resign. I understand his desire to take the heat for the administration but president Obama should not have accepted it. In the grand scheme of things this was a minor incident and Obama should have said enough is enough. Instead he has not sent a message that if you make a mistake it is your head he wants. Better to accept resignations than to face up to the press and tell them calm down.

It also makes me glad I don't live in New York. What happened to the heroic action we saw just a few years ago? New York needs them back.

Lorenz on Leadership

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General Stephen R. Lorenz, USAF was on the campus of Mississippi State University and gave one of the best lectures on ledership I have ver seen. The talk was directed towards the ROTC (Army and Air Force) cadets but he had nuggets for eveyone.

He gave his ten tenets f leadership which are:

1. Learn the art of balancing shortfalls. There is never enough money, time, or manpower.
2. Those who do their
3. The toughest word in the English language to say is..."Yes"
4. Don't lose your temper...unless you plan to.
5. Work on your boss's boss's problem...and you won't have any problems.
6. Self-confidence and motivation 95% of any great endeavor.
7. Study the profession and read--especially biographies.
8. Life is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash.
9. Being in our profession [the military] is all about service to others.
10. You never know you're going to make a difference.

General Lorenz also said that good grades will get you better opportunities but the fact that you do not have great grades will not necessarily keep you from achieving great things. He used self-deprecatng humor to drive his point home in saying the he made the top 75% of his class at the USAF Academy...possible.

I started to think about it and I came to the conclusion that the best leaders I have worked with were not always the top academicaly. They were surely intelligent, competent, and capable, but not always the straight-A students. In fact, the straight-A students have tened to be farly poor leaders.

I have to admit I truly loved his repeated appeals to students to read. Read anything but especially biographies.

Overal a great lecture. I hope we can get him back and have him talk to a larger audience.

Strategic Thinker, I Am

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Yep, it was confrmed this weekend that I my leadership strength falls into the domain of Strategic Thinking. I read Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie this weekend and used he code inthe back of the book to get my personal profile. I read StrengthsFinder 2.0 not too long ago (and Now, Discover Your Strengths before that) so I was able to log into the site nad use my strengths aready on file to get my leadership domain.

Based on their research, the authors found there were four leadership domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. Based on my top five strengths (out of the 34 they measure) of Learner, Strategic, Input, Achiever, and Intellection I fell into the Strategic Thinking domain. In fact, four ofmy five strengths (learner, strategic, input, and intellection) fell into the strategic thinking domain with my remaining strength of achiever falling into the Executing domain.

If you are familiar with the strengths movement then this would be a good book to get. You will not only get five strengths but you will also get your leadership domain. Strengths-Based Leadership does discuss the 34 strengths so there is a review. But, if you have not read any of the other books then you might start with one of them.

Victor H. Krulak, 1913-2008 "Military Innovator Who Sought New Approach to Battle in Vietnam," by. Stephen Miller. The Wall Street Journal, Vol. CCLIII, No. 2, Saturday/Sunday, 03-04 January 2009.

General Victor Krulak, 95, passed away on Monday, 29 December 2008. This is a nice review of his career and shows many ways in which he was a creative thinker. I recall discussing his ideas on how to win in Vietnam in my war college seminar and we all agreed that it was the only way to win that war. In fact, in places where it had been implemented, results were being realized. Unfortunately the American public was growing tired of the war and the method would take several years to win the war.

There are many parallels between General Krulak and General Petraeus. Both are innovative and sometimes unconventional. They have both forwarded ideas that were met with resistance. And, in the end, I think they both were correct while their critics were wrong.

His plan to win in Vietnam included winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people on a village by village basis one person at a time. It also included placing mines in Haiphong harbor which President Johnson thought might anger the Russians and/or Chinese. Therefore the President did not embrace this plan, passed over General Krulak for Commandant of the Marine Corps, and resulted in his retirement. As for the outcome of the war, well that is history.

Harry Potter and His Tattoo

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A Sermon Delivered to
Trinity Presbyterian Church PC(USA)

Starkville, MS

07 July 2002

I have a few confessions to make. My favorite snack is Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, my favorite sport is Quidditch, I would love nothing better than to ride a Nimbus 2000 broom and be the seeker on the Quidditch team. I've been sorted by the sorting hat into the House of Gryffindor and wish I could trade my email for Owl Mail. I think Hermione Granger is as cute as a button and she even reminds me a little of one of my fifth grade girlfriends. I am, I have to admit, a Harry Potter fan.

But I'm Too Busy to Help

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12 March 2002

Trinity is a volunteer organization. We have a few paid people, several who are underpaid, to take care of some of the work but there is not enough of them to go around. Our church is governed by the Session, sixteen volunteers. Our church work is done by the many committees. Our income is freely given by volunteers. The people in the chairs on Sunday morning are...volunteers. So the next time you are asked to do something for the church, remember, without your help, the work would not get done.

I've meet very few people at Trinity who were not busy. Some have said they had the time but I knew they were just being polite. They may have been unemployed at the time or retired but they still had commitments to be fulfilled to others. And it always seems that the people who are the busiest are the ones who quickly agree to do more. I know they are the one's we keep going back to ask for help.

I've wondered why the one's who do the most seem to be the one's who never say no and always get the job done. Last night I think I found the answer. While flipping through Bill Bennett's book, The Moral Compass, I ran across this poem. The author was not identified so I can only assume it was written by the prolific Anonymous, perhaps a volunteer. Read the poem and I think you will understand why we keep asking the same people to help. And please feel free to substitute woman, child, layperson, professional, gardener, or whatever you please. Trinity, perhaps more than most churches, realizes that we all have valuable contributions to volunteers.

The Busy Man

If you want to get a favor done
By some obliging friend,
And want a promise, safe and sure,
On which you may depend,
Don't go to him who always has
Much leisure time to plan,
But if you want your favor done,
Just ask the busy man.

The man with leisure never has
A moment he can spare,
He's always "putting off" until
His friends are in despair.
But he whose every waking hour
Is crowded full of work
Forgets the art of wasting time,
He cannot stop to shirk

So when you want a favor done,
And want it right away,
Go to the man who constantly
Works twenty hours a day.
He'll find a moment, sure, somewhere,
That has no other use.
And help you, while the idle man
Is framing an excuse.

William J. Bennett, The Moral Compass, Page 615.

Memories of 11 September 2001

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11 March 2002

With today being six months from that day in September and with every television station showing the videotapes and covering the speeches, it is hard to not reflect on the day that has changed America forever. I have not talked much about what I experienced that day, in part because I'm not the kind of person that talks about such things, and in part because it is tough to talk about what I saw and experienced. While most people saw nothing but terror and confusion, I had another perspective. I saw terror, sure, but I also saw bravery, courage, honor, an individuals resolved to protect and defend this country.

Not Teaching Our Children by Example

02 October 2001

In the wake of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Americans and many others have been extremely generous with their money, time, and efforts. They have shown what it is like to care for others and to share with those who are in need--a trait common in most every religion in the world--and certainly one most parents would want their children to learn and practice. What better opportunity can you have than the terrible events of the recent past to show the children of today that they should give to others who are less fortunate and to reinforce the lessons they have been taught? And what better place is there to reinforce this lesson than in our schools?

By "we" in this articl I refer to Southerners, of which I am one. Had I been alive then it is hard for me to say which side I would have fought on because I am really a Federalist at heart and would have had a hard time favoring a divided country.

04 March 2001

I've never been one to give the Confederate flag much thought. Recent events have brought the flag up in various arenas. The NAACP is boycotting South Carolina; yet another bill to have it removed from the Mississippi Flag has been filed; and political candidates have been quizzed when they visited states. The flag seems to stir emotions on both sides and I've, for the most part, found the reasoning to be silly--on both sides of the argument.

From Engineer to Weatherman

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This was actually written for the Mississippi Engineering Society Newletter when I was President under the President's column entitled "M.E.S.sage"

01 January 2001

It started with the intent of showing how engineers are involved in things most people would never think of and maybe showing a little bit of the fun side of engineering. A professional engineer, working in New York City, had the responsibility of determining if the winds were within acceptable limits for the balloon floats used in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The article was developed by the firm NSPE has contracted with to improve the image of the engineer.

The article was printed in the New York Times, included a photograph of the engineer, and was picked up by several media outlets across the nation. One radio station read the article and talked about it on the air. This radio station wanted more information so they called a local university for some comments. They ended up talking to someone in the geography department of the university. The article mentioned meteorology and this is what the radio station picked up on. There inquiry was directed to the geography department because that is the department that houses meteorology.

Was the article a failure? Some could argue that it was because it did not result in more favorable coverage of the engineer. I would argue that results of the article illustrates how profoundly misunderstood the image of the engineer and engineering really is. Why did the radio station call a university about meteorology rather than engineering? Is it perhaps because the radio station thought a meteorologist would interview better on radio? Perhaps it is just because the radio station didn't know enough about the situation to call and ask for an engineer.

Improving the image of ourselves and our profession is not an attempt to make a bad image into a good image. Polls show that most people think well of engineers, at least that we are ethical. No, the problem is not having a bad image, the problem is having a misunderstood image. What concerns me most about our misunderstood image is that our leaders in society may turn to those who have less knowledge about a problem rather than ask a qualified engineer. I also worry that with an image that is misunderstood, we may not attract some fine young people into the profession.

Gaining the image we want to have is going to be a long road. The recent attempts to get some positive attention may not have had the desired affect, it did serve to illustrate the degree of the problem we are facing. There are no quick fixes and, although we can use outside help, the bulk of the work remains with us. As engineers we must always project an image of the calm, understanding professionals we are. We must make efforts to explain ourselves in terms that can be easily understood by those lacking the depth of education we have attained. Only then will the public's perception of our profession change.

"State Face New Imperative: Turn to Global, Entrepreneurial and Innovation-based 'New Economy' to Boost Competitiveness," PA Times, Vol 31, No. 12, p. 1, December 2008 (American Society for Public Administration)

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that Mississippi was ranked at the bottom of this list along with West Virginia. The 2008 State New Economy index is compiled and released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation as a measure not of how a state's economy is performing but rather how they are embracing the new economy. It focuses on a single, narrow question: "To what degree does the structure of state economies match the ideal structure of the New Economy?"

One of the key factors driving the New Economy is the information technology revolution which is measured by the index. The states at the top of the list tend to be states with "a high concentration of managers, professionals and college-educated residents working in 'knowledge jobs'--those that require at least a two-year degree." Obviously the vast majority of this state fails to meet these criteria. Other states such as North Carolina are ranked lower than expected (25th), according to the article, due their concentrations of high-tech. In a sense that is also true of Mississippi. Our high-tech areas are concentrated and, while they are as high tech as any, they represent a small percentage of the population.

The concern is not so much where Mississippi is ranked now but the fact that Mississippi led the way in states that declined in their performance from the last survey in 2007. While 36 improved, 11 declined. Mississippi fell "in twice as many indicators as it increased, while Wyoming and Indiana also fell." Given this is the "New Economy" it is not going to go away so every state should be getting better, not worse. Mississippi has, in my opinion, focused far too long on the old economy (attracting automobile fabricators and their associated support industries, rather than focusing on the high-tech, new economy. This is not true in all of the state; the area around Mississippi State for example, has seen some high-tech industries develop. But it represents a small portion of the state.

To turn things around the elected officials in Jackson are going to have to change the way they think and focus on long-term goals. That is difficult for a state in which I have repeatedly heard elected officials say they did not want to tie the hands of those to be elected in the future. That kind of backwards thinking limits how progressive a state can be when long-term strategic planning needs to be done.

Reading Habits of President Bush

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"Bush Is a Book Lover," by Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal, Friday, 26 December 2008, Vol. CCLII, No. 150, p. A11.

This is an insightful article into the reading habits of our president. What began as a New Year's resolution in 2006, to read a book a week, became a competition between Karl Rove and President Bush. Rove, like many of us, had gotten out of the habit of reading as much as he used to and decided to turn things around. President Bush joined in and it was soon a competition. Rove has won each year but that is not important, what is important is that if someone as busy as the President of the United States still finds time to read, it makes it difficult for most of us to say we do not have the time to read.

The scores: 2006 Rove 110, Bush 95; 2007 Rove 76, Bush 51; 2008 (as of today) Rove 64, Bush 40. The President has also read the Holy Bible cover to cover each year through his daily devotional. The books have ranged from history to biography and even included some fiction.

Some points I found interesting in the article are on Bush's theory of competition. Rove states:

"The reading competition reveal Mr. Bush's focus on goals. It's not about the winning. A good-natured competition helps keep him centered and makes possible a clear mind and a high level of energy."

"There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one. Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic. Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them, and is intellectually engaged by them."

According to Rove, the President is never without a book. He reads instead of watching television and reads on Air Force One. To read as much as he does, he obviously reads most anywhere he can. It reminds me of a story I read about William F. Buckley a few years ago that pointed out he always had a book with him. I also always have a book with me. You never know when the car might break down or you might have some time to yourself. When I know I am going somewhere that will require a wait (the doctor, the dentist, to get a haircut) I always take my own book. It is nice to have magazines in a waiting area but I prefer to take my own books.

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions but this year I may have to break my tradition.

"Military Finds an Unlikely Adviser In School-Building Humanitarian," by Yochi J. Dreazen. Wall Street Journal, Friday 26 December 2008, Vol CCLII, No. 150, p. A9.

The military is listening to Greg Mortenson a co-author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time. Mr. Mortenson is being courted by the military now for advice on nation building. He believes that building schools is an effective way to fight Islamic extremism. He has already visited with Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.

"General Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, read Mr. Mortenson's book, which recounts his school-building efforts, and recommends it to his staff." Nation-building, something once abhorred by the military has now become a part of the military strategy. People like General Petraeus are, I believe, responsible for much of this. In the past he military was quick to divide fighting wars and rebuilding following the war. The military did the former, NGOs, aka civilians, did the latter, but in the new age of warfare it is more difficult to divide these two phases, especially when fighting an insurgency where winning hearts and minds is critical to winning the war.

"Education is the long-term solution to fanaticism,: says Col. Christopher Kolenda, who commanded an Army brigade in a part of eastern Afghanistan where Mr. Mortenson founded two schools. "As Greg points out so well, ignorance breeds hatred and violence."

This seems so obvious but many of us tend to miss the obvious. Not only does "ignorance breeds hatred and violence" apply to Islamic insurgents; it applies to people across the world. When you look at those who are the most racist, the most protectionist, and most violent also tend to be the most ignorant. Let's face it, when was the last time you read about a gang of Ph.D.s terrorizing a neighborhood?

Mr. Mortenson has come face-to-face with an issue that concerns me and one I have been looking into for several years--the military-NGO incompatibility. When offered to have $2.2 million secretly funneled to him to build schools, he "...realized my credibility in that part of the world depended on me not being associated with the American government, especially its military." This is a sad yet real part of the world in which we live. NGOs and the military could do great things by working together but there are serious issues which must be overcome and the most serious issue is the one of perception.

Mr. Mortenson has another book coming out in January. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Journey to Change the World... One Child at a Time, scheduled to be released on 22 January 2009 is geared for younger readers. If his first book is recommended reading by General Petraeus to his staff, surely this one will be recommended to the children of his staff.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

Lots of Talk, No Action

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Barack Wrote a Letter… Wall Street Journal, 29 October 2008, p. A16

The Wall Street Journal had a telling article about Obama’s work on the subprime lending crisis. In his 07 October debate, the Journal says, Obama stated that he “’never promoted Fannie Mae’ and that ‘two years ago I said that we’ve got a subprime lending crisis that has to be dealt with.’” The Senator wrote some letters to the Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke. The letters, says the Journal, called for decisive action. Obama suggested that they “’consider options’ and that ‘the relevant private sector entities and regulators’ might be able to provide ‘targeted responses.’” My favorite line from the article is “Then in paragraph four, the Harvard –trained lawyer dropped his bombshell: a suggestion that various interest groups get together to ‘consider’ best practices in mortgage lending.”

This scares me to no end. For all those who tout the Senator’s vast experience at “community organizing” this is the result of that experience. An executive makes decisions; an organizer gets people together to talk. When the Senator was blowing the top off of this crisis all he wanted was to get people to talk. We need decisions in Washington not gripe sessions. The lack of leadership in this candidate is astounding. The number of people who fail to see that lack of leadership is scary.

Presidential Search

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IHL has elected to not reopen the search for president. It’s a mistake, in my opinion, for several reasons. First the board does not seem to realize that perception is reality and the perception/reality is that anyone selected from this pool is the second choice. There is also rumor that one of the preferred candidates had associates bring forth the charges against Watson resulting in magnoliagate so he will be doubly-troubled. Third, and I think most important, the board’s own consultant said at the beginning of the process that the pool of candidates would be limited by having the interim in the mix. Well, he is not in the mix now so I suspect a much different pool of candidates would result.

What really troubles me is the reports that the previous presidential search had a pool of candidates of 100 but this one has a pool of 13.

What a man! I attended the Colin Powell talk tonight and was more than impressed. I read his autobiography many years ago and was impressed then but seeing him in person was even more impressive. He is clearly a very intelligent person and has a keen sense of humor. His talk was informative and entertaining.

We had some students present who embarrassed me, and their fellow students. Some kid (yes, kid) showed up on the floor wearing a “colorful” t-shirt and black and white checked shorts. Most everyone else was wearing business dress. Perhaps he thought he was cool, but I, and even the students sitting near me, thought he was ridiculous and an embarrassment to the university. Some students even called that he be taken off the floor.

Questions were submitted to General Powell and read by students who apparently had some role in deciding which questions to ask. One question dealt with how you could work with someone and work on topics you disagreed with. The implication was that General Powell continued to work on the Iraq war even though he disagreed with President Bush. The General set the student straight and noted that the question assumed he and the president disagreed. He clearly stated that he did not. He was in agreement with going to war but differed in how things were handled after the fall of Baghdad. Another question was so boggled and senseless I can’t even remember what it was. I only remember that the General did a great job in handling it with dignity. I was impressed with the answers given but disappointed in the questions asked.

His talk covered his time in the military, his time as SecState, retirement, and his outlook on life--he looks ahead, not to the rear.

General Powell is definitely a speaker to hear given a chance.

I attended the 2008 Air Force Ball in Columbus tonight with my wife. I was there actually representing the Greater Starkville Development Partnership Military Affairs Committee but Navy uniforms were authorized so I added a touch in joint service. It was held celebrating the 61st birthday of the Air Force and the 66th anniversary of Columbus Air Force Base. We had a good time, with good food, with good people. Harding Catering handled the food and I have never had Bridget serve anything I didn’t like.

The guest speaker tonight was Major General Michael Gould, Director of Operations and Plans, US Transportation Command. He did a really good job with is talk. Like most, not all, but most, flag and general officers he was able to give a talk that was on topic, had the right amount of humor and serious content, and was of an appropriate length. Sounds like it is easy to do until you try it yourself and realize how difficult it can be. Of course the central theme was the excellence of the Air Force and the pride in CAFB and among those serve. But the greater theme was family and keeping them first. He made some excellent points but, unfortunately, it is difficult to do, especially in today’s world with today’s OPTEMPO. On the other hand, by doing what we do, we allow others to have that family time.

My wife and I actually danced to two songs. Doesn’t sound like much but for someone who does not dance (me) it was a lot of dancing. I really did enjoy the night. Happy Birthday Air Force!

"Read, Think, Write, and Publish' by Admiral Jim Stavridis, U.S. Navy, US Naval Institute Proceedings, August 2008, pp.16-19.

In the August 2008 issue of Proceedings, Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN, Commander of US Southern Command makes a compelling case for military officers, actually military members, to air their ideas. In his article entitled “Read, Think, Write, and Publish”, he quotes Benjamin Franklin as saying “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” and then Admiral Stavridis adds, “Do both!” The John Adams motto “Read, Think, Write” has long since been adopted by the Naval Institute, and is also my personal motto, and now Admiral Stavridis asks that we all adopt it but take it a step further and publish. [John Adams actually said “Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”]

Such a request is not without its risks, however. Putting ideas out in the open can be a dangerous thing at many levels, especially at the personal level. Reciting the widely-accepted mantra of the day, or merely restating the obvious is usually not risky. But then again, it accomplishes very little. The best writings, in my opinion, are those that get people to think. Even if in the end the opinion expressed is not widely accepted or the idea is relegated to the trash can, the act of getting the thought started is worth the effort. Of course the audience must be willing to listen and willing to have an open debate and that, unfortunately, is not always the case. When an unpopular opinion is expressed publicly, whether is right or wrong, does not matter, it can carry a high personal price. This is something I recently learned the hard way.

My former church had been going through rough times. The internal issues, which are too numerous to list here, but which were, in my opinion, not being addressed. The Session was, again in my opinion, too concerned about not hurting feelings or not offending someone than they were in doing the work they were supposed to be doing. Now I must be clear here that this is not a condemnation of any individual member on the Session or in the church—the problem was one of the organization as an entity. There were strong members of Session but the Session as a whole was unwilling to look at the problems. Membership growth had stalled, if not declined; weekly attendance was falling; the number of people removing their names from elder ballot was rising; and the minister was being blamed for all of this. Sermons were, according to those dissatisfied, “too intellectual”, “too long”, “not exciting”, and a host of other things.

The church, over my objection and against my vote, removed the minister and then pronounced the problem was solved and we needed only a healing period. I was ready to leave then, like many of my friends did, but I stayed in hopes of being able to get things back on-track. However, what followed were group discussions and surveys which resulted in little and ignored those of us who were not into group therapy. Further, those like me were being told that we needed to get with the plan. But I had a finger on the pulse of the church membership and I knew that roughly a third of the church members attended so sporadically that they were clueless as to what was happening. Another third was happy because they “got their way”. The final third was still hurt, not happy with the things were going, but were either sticking it out to try to make things better (like me) or were sticking around because they did not feel comfortable going to another church.

Recognizing this I chose to write an article for the church newsletter. I had written them in the past and they often would stimulate some thinking. The article was entitled “A Message to Garcia” and referred to the story by Elbert Hubbard which recounted the struggles of Rowan to deliver a message to General Garcia in the Spanish-American War. I pointed out that there were those of us who were still not healed and that problems remained the church. I acknowledged that there were also Rowans’ within the church who were trying to deliver the message that all was not well. Interestingly, I also pointed out that the motto of our church was “Open hearts, open minds”, in hopes that the message would be heard.

What I found was that the church seemingly no longer had an open mind. The reactions to my article ranged from “I was wrong, everything was fine”, to “who is Garcia?” There were also those who came up to me and thanked me for saying what needed to be said. Rather than stimulate debate it raised defenses of those who wanted to pronounce the church healed. Further, it was stated that if I had concerns I should take them to the Session and not publish such articles. There was even brief discussion of having Session or a committee review articles before being published. Call it what you will but in my book the church with open minds was seriously discussing censorship.

The price I paid was coming to the conclusion that it was time to leave. I hated to leave; I had really hoped that things would turn around and get better. I joined another congregation in town and have been very happy ever since. They put God first in the church and their membership is growing. My old church has seen little to no growth and even fewer members are leaving their names on the ballot for elder elections. They now have a new minister and I truly pray things get better. However, before I left, the interim minister resigned. I have this hope because there is a need for such a church and because I still have friends who attend there. There are also some friends who attend there, share many of my thoughts and concerns but, for whatever reasons, are not comfortable joining another church.

I still agree with Admiral Stavridis and John Adams, but I am now keenly aware that reading and writing do not necessarily result in thinking, and there may well be a high personal cost associated with the publishing.

Back in July I made a presentation on engineering ethics to the annual meeting of the Consulting Engineers Councils of Alabama and Mississippi in Panama City Beach, Florida. I had planned to turn it into a little mini-vacation but my wife broke both her ankles and couldn’t travel. It turned into a quick drive down, do the presentation, and get back home—two nights and one day away.

I tend to be very critical on myself and I gave myself a B or B- on the presentation. But I just got the feedback sheets and it looks like the audience gave me an A to A+. Some comments were that the best part of the presentation was the presenter! Can’t beat that. I always sweat these presentations because ethics can be a very boring and very difficult topic to present.

Generation Entitlement

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The Navy and the Generation of Entitlement, by LCDRSteven L. Rogers, USN, Naval Reserve Association News, August 2008, p. 14.

This commentary struck a chord with me. The article mentioned that we have the baby boomers, the Gen-X and Gen-Y crowd, and even the Millennials, but the author described a new generation he calls Generation Entitlement. This is the generation that my generation messed up by trying to make sure they did not do without. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now I think we, and they, would have been better served by experiencing a little more adversity in their lives.

LCDR Rogers points out that “[t]hese individuals question all authority, care little about tradition, and refuse to embrace a work ethic which requires ‘earning your way’.” He also states they are arrogant, self-serving, and impatient. He says they do not belong in the Navy and I would add they do not belong anywhere.

Before I run the risk of generalizing about an entire generation, let me be the first to add that within this generation are a large number of exceptions. These are the people who are hard-working, dedicated, and believe in sacrifice. They look at what has been given them not as an entitlement but rather as a gift to be used to better themselves and society. They really are out there and I have had the privilege of meeting them.

However, I have also had more than my fair share of meeting the self-serving Gen E’ers. Over the last few days I have been dealing with more than fair share of them. They have been asked to sit out of school for various periods of time because of poor academic performance and have been petitioning for readmission. Far too many have had parents and distant relative intervene on their behalf. I have heard all kinds of excuses as to how they got in trouble and how not they really will work hard to do better. Some really have identified their difficulties and taken action to correct the problems. Others simply want a bye because they feel entitled.

I also have the privilege and honor of dealing with many other students who have shown remarkable maturity and insight. They have recognized problems that they have and are working to correct those problems. They are the students I like. They realize why they are in school and know that their success depends on them. Even though some of them have found themselves in trouble I have never spoken to their parents about those difficulties. I do know that their parents care, and care deeply, but they are letting their children handle the problems while they provide emotional support. These students will be successful. They are going places and I am proud to be a part of their journey. The others are destined for either failure or a big wake-up call in the future.

As for me, I much prefer those who do not feel they are entitled.

MSU interimm president to hold interactive chats

This was first titled "MSU interim president to hold Web chats" but was changed when a commenter pointed out it was not the web. It is an easy mistake to make though. After all, in this day and age anyone else would have had a web chat with questions submitted either on-line (similar to the web conference I was involved in yesterday!) or email them in. Going to extension centers for this? Give me a break. I think is more about solidifying Ag support rather than getting word out.

The word that comes to my mind is--disappointing. I also fear that our future is going to look a lot like our past. But hey, it's just my personal opinion.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—character matters. When forming judgments about people or institutions, the most important factor to consider is character. Although the saying that past performance does not guarantee future results may apply to investments, the past behavior of a person is the best indicator of their future behavior. Promises have no meaning unless the person making them has a history of living up to them.

Thirty-five years ago today, John McCain came home from the Hanoi Hilton where he spent five and a half years of his life. John McCain is a hero but he is a real hero, not one of the new-fangled heroes we have today. The term hero is thrown around so much these days that it has almost lost it meaning—but McCain is a hero in the truest sense of the word.

He is not a hero because he fought in Vietnam. He is not a hero because he was shot down while completing a bombing mission. He is not even a hero because he spent time in a POW camp. Those actions were merely part of or a result of doing the job he willingly chose to do. John McCain is a hero because of what he did, and what he did not do, while a POW.

During his time in the Hanoi Hilton, John McCain was offered early release because of who he was. He was not only severely injured while ejecting from his airplane as it was hit with a surface to air missile, he was injured further by his captors. The easy thing to have done would have been to accept the release. I honestly think that most people would have understood had he accepted the release. Instead, he stood fast and said he would go home as soon as everyone who had been there longer than he had was also released.

John McCain is a hero because after he came close to death in the fire on the USS Forrestal, he requested a transfer to the USS Oriskany so that he could continue to fly missions. It was from the Oriskany that he would fly his mission before being captured.

To see more about this check out this video.

Is John McCain perfect? No. Do I agree with everything he has done? No. Do I think he will be elected as President and then never make a decision I disagree with? No. Do I think he will be a man of character and make decisions for the good of the country, as best as he can? Absolutely. Why? Because he has character. He has the character that will allow him to put country before self. He has shown he can make the hard decisions—even they have significant personal costs.

Senators Clinton and Obama seem to be fine people but what we know of their character? Senator Clinton and her husband have yet to release records that could show her character. Senator Obama has done nothing but talk about change without really defining what that was. He has yet to point to any decisions he has made that had a personal cost.

If you agree with me, how about making a contribution to the John McCain contribution? Click here.


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A few days ago I was given the book The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary to read by a “Fred”. "Fred" called me today to ay she was changing jobs and asked if I could return the book. I told her I hadn’t finished it so she said she would put her address in my mailbox so I could mail it to her. Well, it was a short book so I took a little time and read this afternoon and returned it to her.

My “Fred” was actually Shelly. Shelly works at the counter of the Mississippi State Post Office and tomorrow is her last day before she moves to another post office. One day when things were very slow I went to the post office and when I walked up to the counter Shelly put Fred down to help me. I asked her about the book and if she enjoyed it. She then asked if I would like to borrow it. I said yes and she said she had one other person lined up to read it before me.

Fred is a book about doing a little extra to make someone’s day special. It is about giving that little bit of extra of customer service. In the book, Fred really is a postal worker; a “street walker” as my former Master Chief referred himself in is civilian job as a mailman. When I got the book I noticed that someone had given it to Shelly because they recognized her as a Fred. And a Fred she is indeed. I’ll miss seeing her every day when I walk in to check my mail.

Shelly is not the first Fred I have met; I’ve met several. One was an international worker, Indian I think, who was working at Sbarro’s in Washington. I was staying at the Crystal City Marriott and Sbarro’s was in the mall next to the hotel. I had some work to do in the room so I decided to gt a slice of pizza to take to the room. All of the pizza looked good and I asked about some of them. Then I narrowed my choice down to two and couldn’t decide. I almost got both but finally decided to only get one.

I had paid for the pizza and was sprinkling it with cheese and red pepper when the guy called to me and was handing me another piece of pizza. It was a slice of the other pizza I wanted. His English was not very good and I thought he thought I wanted both pieces. Then I thought about it and realized I had only paid for one slice. I told him this and said thank you but I have my pizza. He kept insisting that I take the pizza and I kept telling him I had my pizza. Finally he said, “here, me, you, friends.” I was astonished that this perfect stranger, in a large city, was given me a slice of pizza. I took the pizza and thanked him several times before I left.

Now, I do realize that the restaurant was closing in about 15 minutes and there would have been several pieces of pizza to throw out. But this guy did not have to give it to me. He could have kept for himself, but he didn’t. I honestly doubt that guy remembers that night because I was just one of thousands people he sold pizza to. But I remember that incident and remember his word. I also never pass up eating at Sbarro’s when I’m hungry and near one. His small gesture, his slice of free pizza won the company a loyal customer. He was a Fred, long before Fred was ever written.

I want more Fred’s!

Day One Leadership

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We had the final Day One Leadership Program luncheon for the Action Team Leaders. We all got certificates, an umbrella, door prizes, and an item from the grocery store picked by our teams to describe us. I got a bottle of V8 Splash because I “add a splash to the traditional”. It was a fun event but I’m sad it is the end of Day One for year.

One of my team members won the Day One Leadership Idol award from the pod and it was presented to her at the Air Force ROTC Dining In last week. She could not stay for the presentation following their presentation but it all worked out well.

I had a great team and I look forward to doing it again next year.

The University of Mississippi fired its head football coach Ed Orgeron today. It’s not my place to comment on what the reasons might have been for this firing, because I am not a football expert. But I do a thing or two about leadership and integrity and I have seen precious little of either in the upper ranks of leadership at the University of Mississippi. The specifics:

1) About three weeks the administration came out in support of Orgeron and said he would be back next year. I certainly understand that when the upper administration has to come out and issue proclamations of support for a coach that it means they have been fielding some irate fans and alumni. I also know it is the beginning of the end. So was the UM administration simply blowing smoke? That appears to be the case.

2) According to the Clarion Ledger, the Athletic Director Pete Boone said the statement of support was based on the assumption that the team would have a strong finish. But, he also was quoted as saying that one game was not responsible for firing the coach. The actual quote is:

"There's several criteria that I look at," Boone said in the news conference. "There should never be a point in time where one game, one call, one quarter has anything to do with such a monumental decision as this, and that's not the case here.

"That endorsement several weeks ago, it was in anticipation of finishing on a strong note, which Coach O and I both felt we would do. That did not happen. In concurrence with the chancellor, we felt for the Ole Miss people and the program that we needed to change directions."

Khayat did not speak at the news conference, but afterwards he told The Clarion-Ledger that Boone convinced him on Friday night that a change was needed. "It would be bad management on my part to get into everything that he does," said Khayat, when asked if he made the decision of if Boone did.

Well, let’s see what has happened since the statement of support. UM played and defeated Northwestern State. They then played and lost to LSU. Now come own, no one at the UM could possibly drink enough to think for even a second that they stood a chance at defeating LSU. Heck, the fact that they scored 24 points says a lot about the team. Then there was the loss to MSU. Oh yeah, and there was pillowgate—the 20 UM football players who stole clocks and pillows from two hotel during team stays. But the administration said that was all taken care of—you know; boys will be boys.

So, it appears then that there is a game that could have saved Orgeron his job but not one that cost him his job.

3) The administration, according to the Clarion Ledger, sent text messages to the football team announcing the firing because they were all out of town for the holidays. Now what kind of leadership is that? The proper thing to have done would have been to meet with the team and make the announcement prior to making it public. There was no reason why this could not happen. Boone says that he does not have anyone in mind to take the job so why could he not wait until Monday to make the announcement? What would it have cost the UM? They would have had a little more time to think things through, Orgeron could have enjoyed the holidays as best he could (even he knew the news was coming on Monday), and the players could have been properly informed.

The more I think about it the more I understand why the UM players stole the pillows and clocks. There is a definite lack of integrity and leadership on their campus.

Strengths Finder 2.0

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I completed the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment and got the following as my top 5 strengths:
** Learner
** Strategic
** Input
** Achiever
** Intellection

These compare to the follwing strengths that I got from taking the first version of this given in Now, Discover Your Strengths.
** Learner
** Futuristic
** Strategic
** Input
** Achiever

Not much difference and, according to the Strengths Finder 2.0 book, this means that futuristic which fell off my list and intellection that came on my list, are probably strengths that are just below the top five.


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Dateline: Boston Marriott Copley Place

Today was real fanny-buster. The day began with a meeting of the Southeastern region members which lasted for two-hours. Part of the business conducted was making a decision not to have a meeting in January. We then discussed, to a degree, the need and function of a regional committee as it was pointed out that the region was successful long before it existed as a region. It is true that we have produced a disproportionate number of NSPE Presidents.

Then, after a short break, I went to the leadership training for the House of Delegates. It was long but had some interesting aspects. I anticipated much of it would be actual training on how to be leaders, similar to what we did many years ago in a city I can’t remember, but it wasn’t. We spent much of our time talking about the structure of NSPE and the changes the organizations is undergoing. While it was important, is does not always make for exciting days.

My main complaint about the meeting is that we are spending much of our time talking about how governance works. Governance is important but it is not the purpose of any organization, it is merely the process by which an organization does its work. We must move on from how to do work to actually doing work. However, given the membership made this same observation at a consensus congress some five or six years ago and we are still talking about “how” rather than “what”, I have some concerns about where we will end up. The incoming President holds some promise but he also ahs some challenges. Taking over any organization with this much change going on is a huge challenge.


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Dateline: Home Study

In going through a drawer looking for something today I ran across a wallet card I picked up somewhere on Integrity. It had some interesting quoates that I put here.

The first step in greatness in to be honest. -Samuel Johnson

Do not try to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly. --St. Frances De Sales

Always do right. This surprise some people and astonish the rest. -Mark Twain

So live that you wouldn't be ashemaed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip. -Will Rogers

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. -Martin Luther King

For when the Onew Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks not what you won or lost--but how you played the game. -Granland Rice

I do the very best I know -- the very best I can; and mean to keep so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference. -Abraham Lincoln

And some more of my favorites:

What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Remember: On lie does not cost you one truth but the truth. -Christian Hebbel

No man of honor ecer quite lives up to his code, any more than a moral man manages to avoid sin. -H. L. Mencken

Dateline: Home Study

Article from the Clarion Ledger entitled Most University Presidents don't Serve on Boards. Wonder why? What could corporate America possibly be looking for that we do not want to have in academia? Must be that "L" word thing again. Perhaps corporate America knows something academia doesn't?

Dateline: Home Study

Vice Admiral Cotton said he gives the federal government an A+ for their response to Katrina according to this news story. I'm a big admirer of the good Admiral. His speeches are invigorating andmake you want to go do something. He also exhibits the core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

His announcement in this story merely shows the courage he has. It is oh so easy ot blame everyone and give grades of F to everyone involved in the response. No one argues about that, you simply become one of the many. But to say the government did a good job, and not just a good job but an A+ job, ahh, that takes courage.

Admiral Cotton.jpg

I'm not going to argue the A+ grade because that would be just plain dumb. Admiral Cotton sits in a office in the Pentagon, I don't. He obviously has a better picture of what was done and what was not. I must admit however, I do tend to lean more towards his grade of A+ than the pundits' grades of F.


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Dateline: Home Study

The calls have been pouring in for the last few days over Katrina, Homeland Security, and FEMA. The very politicians who put FEMA under the new DHS now are calling for removal from that organization because it "should report directly to the President." The reaction is hardly unexpected for poor leaders often want to "do something" when they don't know what else to do. And many times the easiest thing to do is to undo what you just did--especially if you have to have to appear to your constituents that you did something.

There are times that decisions should be reversed, namely when they were wrong, but other times they should be left alone. Placing FEMA under the DHS was not necessarily a bad decision and it should not be undone just for the sake of having something to undo. Things may be broken but all that means is that they need to be fixed, not scrapped.

Lest we forget the lessons of 11 September 2001, what has been missing is coordination--coordination between local, state, and federal agencies, not to mention between local and agencies themselves. It is still important, after all, for the police department to talk to the fire department in an emergency. Could they in New Orleans?

But the cries now are that FEMA needed the ear of the President. Why? If FEMA had a cabinet position, what would have changed? Would help have arrived sooner? Would more help have arrived? Is having the ear of the Chief Executive the requirement for quick action? If so, then why did the Louisiana National Guard not react quicker? They were under the direct control of the so-called governor Kathleen Blanco.

Bureaucracy is slow and troublesome at times, but it also serves a purpose. The bureaucracy is the structure by which things get done in government, and when the bureaucracy gets in the way, then ways need to be found around it and that can not be legislated. What got things going in New Orleans? Simple: Lt. Gen. Honore. He got things going because he summed up the problem, developed a solution, and took action; all qualities of a leader, and all qualities lacking in the government of Louisiana.

There is a model in existence already that should be considered and that is Goldwater-Nichols. There are similarities here and lessons to be learned if we only had leaders with memories longer the last election. Goldwater-Nichols created the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff who serves as the principal military adviser to the President. Instead of having the President get hit with requests and comments individually by the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and the Air Force, he has a single point of contact, the Chairman, JCS. And if through that process he does not understand what the Navy or the Army needs, then he needs to look for a new Chairman, not the elimination of the process.

We also have a Secretary of Homeland Defense who does (should) have the ear of the President. If the President didn't know what was going on and if was needed but not given, then we should look to the Secretary to see what went wrong, not simply give a place at the table to FEMA. If we give FEMA a direct connection today, what do we do for the next emergency where perhaps the National Guard, or the Navy, or even the state Fish and Game Commission need help? Should they all have a direct link to the President?

And let's lay of the President and others, especially Chertoff, for not having a complete picture of the situation. I've heard all the television news programs ask how they could not have known what was going on with all the coverage it was getting. Well, simple, the media is not perfect; sometimes it is not even good. For the first few days after the hurricane the major news broadcasters had you believing that only New Orleans was impacted. Mississippi and Alabama were all but ignored on television and had the government acted on that information, they would have mobilized too few resources.

It must also be remembered that journalists are just that. They have no special insight, no real strategic thinking skills, and often no real understanding the big picture. If they did they would be part of the action and not simply observing it: they would be doers, not reporters. The media do not know what the priorities should be, or even what they are.

Are there lessons to be learned? Yes. Will they be learned? Yes. Will mistakes be made during the next disaster situation? Yes. Why? Because we are all fallible humans and no matter how hard we try, we never seem to be able to get it quite perfect. We will get better, but there will always be something else to learn.

The biggest lesson to be learned from all of this is that the American people must learn to elect leaders at all levels of government. Voting based on promises of money, new programs, or shared beliefs on a few issues is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme. What is important is leadership, leadership to get a city, a state, a nation through the tough times that are unexpected. On 11 September 2001 the comment was frequently made that it was good Bush instead of Gore were in office. I still felt that way with Katrina. I felt bad for Nagin and Blanco. Without a doubt things could have been better, but they also could have been worse. Imagine Blanco or Nagin in the White House…makes me go brrrrrrrrr…


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Dateline: Home Study

Recent arguments have been that the federal government was too slow to repsond to Katrina. This ignores the fact that 1) the federal governemnt did prepare to repsond but it takes time, and 2) the local and state governments are the first responders and should have made better plans.

So what next? Amid all the calls for the federal government to take a more active role, will they be allowed to? Are the local mayors and state governors willing to sacrifice their power and be told what they need to do by the federal government? I think not, but that be what's coming. It will be interesting to hear the charges then, after Katrina has faded from memory some. And yes, katrina will soon be forgotten for crying out loud! Remember Camille? If you do then apparently you do not live in New Orleans or the Mississippi Gulf Coast because there were a lot people who wanted to "ride out Katrina". The results were much the same...death.

Heritage has a interesting article that points out that the current block grants are not working. Much of the federal money given to New Orleans used to buy equipment now sits under water at the fire stations. How would the now indignant Mayor Nagin of New Orleans have responded if the feds had tried to tell him what equipment he could buy and further, where he could put it?

As the song says, "you better careful what you ask for, becasue you just might get it." Take heed local and state leaders. Before you complain too loudly make sure you are willing to live with the solution.


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Dateline: Home Study

It seems the Dems in LA want the Feds help with Katrina but only on their terms. According to MSNBC the Bush Administration tried to get Louisiana governor Blanco, to turn over the evacuation of New Orleans to them. She didn't want to.

According to MSNBC's article entitled White House shifts blame for Katrina response

Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration had sought control over National Guard units, normally under control of the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request, noting that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. State authorities suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who is an adviser and does not have the authority to speak publicly.

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.

Apparently she can't do it on her own but she wants to stay in control. Wouldn't be bad if she were a leader but...she's not.

Dateline: Home Study

The Good Captain has done an admirable job of summing up my thoguhts on the problems in New Orleans in his post. This was a local and state failure. They had no plan, they took no action, they had (have?) no leadership.

Leadership is more about talks and about appearances. The older I get and the more I see the more I realize that many people in leadership ositions are far from leaders. Disasters such as Katrina drive this point home.

Dateline: Home Study

I've been asked several times or heard comments several times, over the last day or two, asking why the military did not respond faster to the hurricane. The answer is really quite simple--Title X of the US Code. To make it plain and simple: this is the United States of America, not Iraq. We have civilians who control civil law, not military.

Compound the problem further by the New Orleans Police Department officers who resigned. They certainly have no honor, no courage, no commitment. If the Mayor and Governor have any leadership qualities, they will pass a law forbidding those cowards from ever holding a public job again.

The National Guard can essentially be deputized by their respective governors and can then enforce laws, but the active duty can not.

Why didn't they get there sooner to provide humanitarian relief? Again, you have to first ask and then it takes time. From what I've seen the Navy actually began executing a plan before the storm hit but it takes times. If you put troops close, they become casualties. If you put ships in the Gulf of Mexico, they sink.

There was also a lot of damage. When the storm moved on and the winds died down there was very little infrastructure left. Roads were blocked, bridges washed away. I heard last night that some National Guard trucks were stranded in Meridian, Mississippi because they didn't have fuel. Why? It was a combination of the lack of electricity to pump fuel and the freaking idiots in the state (and now surrounding states) who panicked and made a run on gas.

Will it be better in the near future? Certainly. Will we have fuel here soon? I hope. Of course all the fans who came to town to see a football game that should have been canceled have surely consumed what little there was available earlier today. I wonder, is "I can't get gas" an excuse to miss work? I would not be surprised if we did not hear that reason in the next few days, particularly for those who commute to work from out of town.

Dateline: Home Study

My wife just got back from running a few errands and had a 30 minute wait in line at a gas station. Compared to what is happening in other places perhaps that is not that long of a wait. Compared to the people on the Coast who can't even get gas, or don't have cars to put it in, it is nothing. But the question I have is, why are we playing a football game, encouraging people to come to town in their SUVs, when there obviously is not enough gas for the residents? Where is the University leadership and why could they not call off the game?

As Gregg Ellis said in his article yesterday, there are reasons to have the game but there seem to be many more reasons to not have the game. I think this is yet another decision that will come back to bite some people.


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Dateline: Home Study

Katrina has come and gone, leaving death and destruction in her path. We suffered relatively little here. We lost electricity for a little over two days—nothing compared to how long it will be out in the southern parts of the state. Katrina certainly made us all aware of the power of Mother Nature and the relative powerlessness of man, especially man without electricity.

Without electrons I had no computer and pretty much everything I need is on the computer. I’ll move more of it on to my laptop but what I really need are removable hard drives. We use them in the military when working on the “high side” so that they can be locked up in the safe, but wouldn’t it be nice to have them at home for emergencies? In the event of an evacuation you could simply pull the hard drive and take it with you. Would that not be better than trying to pull paper files with insurance information?

It was also hot, especially at night. There have been editorials written about how we used to survive in the olden days without air conditioning. Yep, we sure did. I was a teenager before I lived in a house with air conditioning…in the southeastern United States! But you know, we always had a fan or two. At least at night, when the wind died down outside, we could have breeze blowing through the house. And those days were before the energy crisis of the 1970’s after which houses were super-insulated and sealed. In other words, in the olden days, houses were designed to function without air conditioning, today they are not. I wish the editorialists could remember that.

The other thing we are learning is that there are disasters and there are DISASTERS. Most of what we deal with throughout the year are isolated incidents such as a tornado. The damage is localized and relatively few people are affected. We can then send in huge assets to a small area and really work the problem. September 11, as tragic as it was, fell into this category. The Pentagon in DC and World Trade Center in New York were local sites. Panic spread and cities were affected but even then it was still localized and the infrastructure, for the most part, was functioning. Katrina is just the opposite—A large area was affected, infrastructure was not just damaged but is missing, and we can send in huge resources but they are spread over a large area. It will take a while to recover.

I also learned how stupid some people can be. Yes, stupid. True, some of the people in Katrina’s path couldn’t evacuate but many could. You can see them every night on the news now, especially in New Orleans, screaming for the government to bail them out of the mess they got themselves into. Yes, there are arguments that they didn’t have cars. Well look past the people and tell me what you see underwater. I see lots of cars and SUV’s. No, some people were stupid enough to ride it out and now they are paying the price. Unfortunately it cost some of them their lives. And it is not like this was unheard of. When you mention Camille in this state people immediately think of the 1969 hurricane, not some girl they met last week.

The people of New Orleans are an embarrassment to the entire South. It irritates me to see their complaints. Most of them should have left and then those who couldn’t have left would have been able to be rescued. Those who are suffering now are suffering, to a great extent, because of those who could have left but didn’t. Yes, they should feel guilty.

We are also getting a good sight of the lack of leadership in the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Mayor Ray Nagin (D) had no plan for his city. Today he escorted visitors to the front of the line to get a bus out of town…in front of those who have been waiting for days. I’m sure he will not be re-elected. Governor Kathleen Blanco (D) had no plan for her state. Amidst the screams of where is the federal government I must ask, where is the state and local government and where is there request for help. No one expects the mayor, the governor, or even the entire state to handle this alone but why were they not doing more? Why did they not ask for help? This is a republic where we value the rights of individual states. I think we generally oppose have the federal government step in until they are asked. Bottom line, more could have been done and it could have been done sooner, but the problem is not at the federal level.

I have also been embarrassed by the people of my state and my town. We now have a gas shortage because of complete idiots ran to the gas pumps in fear of a shortage and filled up their SUVs and 55 gallon drums with gas. There is not and never was a shortage but there is now because of outright stupid people making a mess of things because they are not capable of engaging their brains! There really are some outright stupid people wandering around. The rumors I heard about refineries shutting down were downright silly and I’m sad that more people did not see them for what they were—rumors.

A similar thing happened following 11 September. Fortunately I was in Norfolk (with reasonable people) while an idiotic elected official in our area actually told people to go get gas because it was going to run out. Now how could he have said that? Idiocy!

Tomorrow we play our first football game of the season. I’ll probably not be there because I think it is ridiculous that we are even playing. This state is asking for federal aid but we are not going to let it interfere with football! A few days ago the prospect that hotels would be turning out those who sought shelter from the hurricane to make room for fans coming in for the game. Some actually contacting those with reservations and they all said “cancel my reservation”. So there are some good, reasonable people out there.

Of course last night on the news the university “leadership” was trying to work out something and doing a little hand wringing. They asked fans to consider canceling their reservations. Hmmm. All it would have taken from the “leadership” was a declaration that the game was postponed, and that problem would have gone away.

Strong leaders are hard find. It takes strength to make decisions quickly and to make the tough calls. Being a leader is more than being boss, and is more than surrounding yourself in the trappings of leadership. While I’m disappointed with “leaders” at many levels, Haley Barbour (R) is coming through as a champ. I think he showing the nation what a leader is, just a Rudy Giuliani (R) did on September 11. Is it just me or is they a definite (D) and (R) thing going on here? Effective leaders, (R); ineffective leaders (D).

Another sign of good leadership is the ability to stay calm under stress. Anyone who watched the news can attest to the fact the Ray Nagin (D) and the NOPD Chief have been anything but calm. They must settle down, lower the tones of their voices, and instill confidence in the citizens of their city. Their current actions are leading to more problems. Fortunately communications within the city are limited so most within the city are not able to hear their ranting.

And a final lesson is that communications must be improved, especially in times of disaster or problems. Four County EPA was unwilling to even give estimates of when power would be restored. They said they had learned that estimates were always wrong and they wouldn’t make them. Well, two words of advice. First, find out how to make better estimates so that they are not always wrong. Second, your customers would like to have estimates so they could plan. Will be a few hours in which case we will wait it out or will it be days/weeks in which we may wish to go spend some time with friends and family? I really don’t think that is asking too much. When I talked to people who can not even give me an estimate my immediate assumption is that they do not have a plan.

One of the most frequently heard comments from the people in New Orleans is “tell us what to do”. They need information and no one is able to give them any. Why, because they do not have a plan. That is a sad state of affairs and, in my opinion, indicates what a true lack of leadership they have. With the military stepping in now, there will be a plan and things will get must better, much faster.

I’ve exercised with the military, government, and civilian organizations in the past. Things are going to get better because those exercises showed me that the military and FEMA are the best organized institutions I’ve ever seen. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore is on the scene now and is obviously taking charge.


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Dateline: Home Study

Today I went to the radio station for an interview about the Military affairs Committee but it turned to not be an interview at all. I was prepared to answer questions but I learned that the way it was going to work was for me to be introduced and I was to then talk for about a minute and fifty seconds. I managed to pull it off but more takes and it would have been better. The focus was on Memorial Day and inviting people to the ceremony we are planning.

Dateline: Home Study

The Newsweek story continues and Whitaker continues to hide. In today’s Washington Post there was another story about other reports of Koran abuse from detainees. Come on guys, the detainees have every reason in the world to make up stuff. Why do we not take the word of every criminal who claims innocence as seriously as we do radical militants in Gitmo?

Whitaker claims he was out of town so he is apparently not responsible. From the WashPost:

In the case of the Koran item, Whitaker said, he saw a draft version on April 29, Friday, and raised no questions. The next day, which is the magazine’s deadline, the final draft would have been approved by Periscope editor Nancy Cooper. Whitaker said he did not see the final version because he was traveling on personal business. Managing Editor Jon Meacham was out of town for an interview and for the White House Correspondents Association dinner. Washington bureau chief Dan Klaidman said he was also involved in the editing.

What a lame-assed excuse! “But sir, I wasn’t actually at the Concentration Camp where the Jews were killed so I can’t be held responsible.” I think we’ve been down that road and found that “not being there” is “not an excuse”. Whitaker needs to step up and resign, but he won’t.

Dateline: Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport

We finished up the policy board and timing was such that I was able to catch an earlier flight. Instead of getting home fairly late, I had the opportunity to get home not so late for a while it even looked I might be able to have a late meal with my wife. Delta Airlines was very cooperative in getting my flights changed and, even though there was an Air Traffic Control hold which delayed our departure from Jacksonville, it still looked like I might make it. Of course beyond control of Delta is that god forsaken airline called Atlantic Southeast Airline, or ASA.

Yet again ASA, or as well love to call them—Always Slow Airlines—cancelled my flight putting me back on my late flight. The reason given was maintenance. Now don’t get me wrong, I think airlines should be as safe as possible but ASA has too many “maintenance” problems for to believe they really have maintenance problems. Given their stellar track record and managerial ability, I am more apt to suspect that pilots did not show up, pilots were not scheduled, the aircraft was never used, or some reason other than “maintenance”.

But I really shouldn’t expect anything more other than incompetence here. Any child on street, unless they work for ASA, knows that maintenance is something you do to keep from having problems, not an excuse to use when you do have problems! ASA uses it all the time. A few years ago they had older Brasilia aircraft and I had no doubt that planes of that age were maintenance nightmares. But now they have new jet aircraft. So if they have new aircraft, why all the maintenance problems? Now you see why I am suspicious.

This flight out will probably be my last ASA flight because my time is worth more than the flight. When everything works well, flying to Atlanta can save time. But if a delay gets too long then the time savings goes out the window. Especially when they decide to cancel the last flight out and it means an overnight stay. Given that I only have about a four hour drive to Atlanta, I really can drive it in about the same amount time it takes to fly when you factor in airport waits, delays, ground holds, layovers, and the ever present “ASA Maintenance” problems.

I also worry about any organization that has this many problems. As I said, maintenance is something that you do to prevent failure and malfunction, not an excuse for it. So, if ASA is having these maintenance problems then there must be an inherent flaw in their maintenance system. And if there is a flaw in maintenance, then a catastrophic failure is surely in the not-to-distant future. I don’t want to be on that flight!

They did give me a meal voucher worth a grand total of $7.00 which, in this airport, is a Coke (yes, only coke products that I’ve seen here) and a bag of chips. If they really wanted to make me happy they would have given a pass to the Crown Room so I could a drink and have some Internet connectivity. But all I got was this stinking meal voucher.

I had, at one time, thought about a Crown Club membership but decided against it. For one it is too expensive for the times I fly. When everything works then I don’t have time to use it. When I do have delays I can’t see rewarding the airline with a membership when they are the reason I have to use it.

As a Republican I really am opposed to increased regulation but something must be done about the Airline industry. They have gotten out of hand and customer service has declined. Delta has cut fares on some routes but has service improved? Ideally the free market should take care of issues such as customer service but the airlines scream for government intervention. Remember the latest bailout? I say let them suffer. Let’s shut down some of these airlines and those that remain will likely get better. If the existing airlines are forced out of business, then if the market is still there for a new airline, one will start and perhaps be more responsive. ASA is certainly one airline I would not see going away. So, while I am opposed to increased regulation, I am also opposed to government bailout of a failing business with no promise of improvement. Either quit bailing them out, or tie a bailout to increased performance measures.

Now, to draft the letter to ASA, so that they can file in the trash, then off to spend my $7.00 voucher.

Leadership and the New Year

The new year begins and I go back to work on Monday (actually that is later today). The two weeks off for Christmas Holidays has been good but it always seems too short. I enter the vacation with a long list of things to do and exit it with a longer list of things to to do. I had planned to write and read and did not do nearly enough of either. I did however rest a little.

We now officially have a new Dean. He started before the holidays unofficially which gave everyone a chance to get their bearings before taking leave. There are many challenges ahead for us and now that this uncertainity has been settled, we can move forward. We were fortunate to have two outstanding interim deans but there is only so much anyone can do when they are given charge for an indefinite amount of time. The decision process took far too long butthat seems commmon in higher education. Change comes at glacial speeds.

One of the new tasks I have been asked to look into is how to best develop leadership skills of our students. I have had some valuable thinking time about that over the holidays and will try to get some ideas on paper this week. Higher education is certainly in need of leadership and I can thik no place better to begin that with our own students.

This afternoon I had even more time to think as I went in to the office. Actually I went on campus when things were quiet to get pictures of "flat Joshua" at campus landmarks for my nephwe but ended up in the office. I noticed that once again the floors were dirty and we have substandard custodial services. I decided that the only way the floors would get clean, to my satisfaction, wouldbe to do them myself. So, I puled out the vacuum cleaner and went to town.

I've met with the person who runs custodial services several times but I always get the same excuses; the budgets have been cut, they are understaffed, there are too many buildings, etc. While the excuses are true, they should not be excuses. Everyone has suffered budget cuts but we are educating more, not fewer, students. Our alumni were able to donate millions of dollars for the renovation of our building but the University can not keep it clean.

One thing I have learned over the years is that money is not always the motivator it is made out to be. Sure, there is a certain level you have to pay so people can survive, and you have to somewhat match the going rate in the market, but beyond that, money does very little to improve productivity. I've seen many people get raises and their productivity remained the same or even declined. What people value is being valued; they want to be a part of the team; they want to feel important. And that, my friends, takes leadership--leadership we seemingly lack in certain places.

Custodians are often underappreciated. They typically work at night or behind the scenes and do not receive much notice. The few exceptions I run across were while at USSOUTHCOM when they were always noticed. As they entered the doors it was announced that an uncleared person was in the room. Folders were closed, computer screens were locked down, desk drawers were closed, and some conversations were halted abruptly. We said hello as the custodian was escorted through the room to empty the trash and then left. Once the "Area Secure" announcement was made, we got back to work.

Our custodians no longer have ownership of a building anymore and I think it shows in the work. Years back a building "belonged" to a custodian and they took pride in their work. If something was wrong you knew was at fault. Now, there is too much room to spread the blame or credit and I think some pride of ownership has been lost.

Now that pride comes from the top. You have to have good people working for you but then the pride and sense of belonging to a team comes from the top. I have that feeling, why was I out vacuuming floors on a Sunday afternoon? And I'm not the only one either. In our office we all take pride in what we do and how our spaces look. It drives people in other departments on campus crazy sometimes byt we are very visible and people do form impressions of you based on appearances. If they see dirty, cluttered offices, their opinions are that we are dirty disorganized people and they question our ability to educate their children or meet their needs. It is really elementary but that seems to be missed by so many on campus these days. Our visitors don't care about budget cuts or staff shortages; they care about appearances.

One day, when I'm king, there will be some changes made. Leaders will be developed and those who lead best will be promoted and given even greater responsibility. The end result will be a more effective, efficient organization focused on meeting the needs of our external customers rather than worrying about budget cuts and staff shortages which, by the way, have been the norm for the 20 something years I've been involved in higher education. I doubt it will change anytime soon.

But no, for the bigger problem. How to make our students into leaders for tomorrow so we can break the leadership problem our country faces in many areas? Ideas? Email me.

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