And the First Day it Rained

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Outbound Collective, Practical Leadership
This week I’m pleased to bring you my guest post on The Outbound Collective. Be sure to click the link and show them some love!

My mom was a prolific writer and tried mightily to get her short story published about the vacations she used to take with her 4 siblings and her mom and dad all crammed into a 1955 station wagon. The title of her story was, And the First Day It Rained…

I thought of Mom as we loaded the canoes near Ponca, Arkansas in the drizzle and prepared to launch into the icy water of the Buffalo River. It was April, and a late spring rain had drenched the Ozarks around us over the past two days, making our drive through the narrow mountain roads, ahem, “sporty.” Nonetheless, we managed to make it from South Texas to the Buffalo National River with all our gear and with most of our wits. After a bit of really outstanding barbeque and homemade fried pies at T’s BBQ in Harrison (thank you Yelpers) and last minute provisioning at the Harrison Walmart, we were finally here. Weeks of planning and thinking about the trip were about to be consummated. After a brief checkout at Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, we caravan-ed down to the launch point to meet up with our canoes.

You Had One Job

I spent a lot of time in the water growing up in the lakes of North Texas, and more recently eight years in the ocean daily off the Windward shores of O’ahu, but this was to be my first multi-day canoe trip. I was concerned that my ocean and lake experience wouldn’t translate to the swift water, but I wasn’t a novice in the water.

My one goal for the day was to stay in the canoe. I’d rafted Class IV rapids in Idaho, surfed double overhead waves on Oahu, paddled outriggers, and regularly paddle boarded and kayaked in strong trades and chest high surf. Surely, I thought, someone with my experience in the water could manage to stay upright in a river.

We finished loading in the 55-degree drizzle, stopped for a couple of photos, and launched into the grey, fast moving Buffalo, determined not to be “that guy” who ends up in the water with wet gear and an embarrassed smile.

Water is Water, Right?

I figured that despite my lack of recent swift water experience, I was likely the one with the most time in the water and the most time with a paddle. I tried to gently maneuver myself to the back of my canoe so I could steer, but didn’t want to strong arm my buddy and ended up in the front. We tried to switch ends just after launching—which didn’t work—and so after a little bit of wrangling the canoe we managed to get ourselves into a good rhythm for the rest of the morning. Our plan was to stop at Horseshoe Bend, about 4.5 miles downriver, and hike up to a place called Hidden Falls.

We almost made it.

Surfing the Buffalo

My canoe partner, Stan, and I were learning each other, and I was learning what it was like to be along for the ride. Like me, Stan was no stranger to the water either, spending time sailing the ocean and motoring around the lake near Corsicana, Texas. Canoes are a different matter altogether, however, and two-man canoes require the crew to be in sync. In a two-man crew, the guy in front is just the motor—the guy in back is the one who steers—and the crew works together to move the canoe through swift water and around obstacles. Stan and I were not yet a crew and that was about to become painfully apparent.

I was navigating with the National Park map so I knew Horseshoe Bend was around the next corner, but since neither Stan nor I had paddled that stretch of the river before, we really had no idea what to expect or which line to take. Our lack of synchronicity as a crew, a slightly off-center load in the canoe, and a bad read of the river had us going wide on the turn once we entered Horseshoe Bend. At the top of the bend a large tree overhung the river. We’d successfully ducked tree limbs all morning, but this one was to be our undoing.

Even as I write this, it’s hard to remember exactly what happened.

Cold Dunking Achievement Unlocked

What I think happened, was, as we got wide on the turn the big limb came right at me at nose height. I put up my paddle to shield my face and probably got knocked to the right gunwale. Stan, I think, must’ve leaned right or dug in his paddle to try to turn, and suddenly we were overloaded on the right side—tumbling into the 60-degree water. All that happened in about 1 second, because all I really remember is a loud crash from the plastic paddle hitting the tree, followed by the crash of leaves, followed by bone chilling cold.

I’d like pause my story for a moment here to thank three persons: God, the BOC guy at the put in, and Eddie Bauer.

Clearly, God sent an extra angel or two to watch over us because despite being canoe-rookies and Stan getting tangled in some gear, we both ended up in coming out of the water alive and with all of our gear except one water bottle. If He hadn’t been watching over us a potentially deadly situation could’ve been tragic. Instead, we just came out wet and cold.

Second, I usually paddle on the very mild Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country. The shallow river is popular for “toobers” and rarely approaches swift water with any rating at all. Because of the mild current and shallow conditions, I usually stow my PFD and paddle without it. The BOC guide suggested rather strongly we wear our PFDs if for no other reason than it would keep us warm. I’m not certain we’d have had quite such a happy ending without a PFD.

Third, I could’ve been doing a commercial for Eddie Bauer—pants, socks, web belt, fleece, and shell were all right out of Eddie’s closet. Because I had on good clothes, I dried out quickly and stayed warm even when soaked through in 55 degree air. If I hadn’t been a fan before, then I’d have become an Eddie Bauer fan for life after I dried out in minutes after my dunking!

Back to the action.

The water was so cold I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs to make myself heard above the roar of the water. I mouthed and pointed, “get to the beach over there” and we managed to steer our now overturned canoe dragging gear to the outside rocky beach at the apex of the Bend. After disentangling Stan from our tie down rope, began to gather up our gear. I had to go back into the water after a paddle and a couple of items that had come untied in the mayhem, but we managed to recover our gear and get dried out while eating our lunch. Amazingly, the sandwiches in paper bags in my Eddie Bauer daypack stayed dry. The first aid kit was soaked—but the food stayed dry. Small miracles.

It’s All Down River from Here

Hiking up to the falls was now off the agenda, we needed time to gather up our gear, dry out a little, and repack the canoe. After a breather and some food, I managed to shake my frustration at falling short of my only goal (stay dry) and get back in the canoe. Stan and I had planned to swap positions in the canoe at lunch each day, and now in the steering position and feeling in control of my own fate a little more, we launched back into the river.

Better loaded than our first try, and with the sun peeking out from behind the clouds, we made our way the last 6 miles through gorgeous canyons and a few more areas of swift water. Providence smiled on us again, and about 3pm that afternoon we pulled into a sweet camp on the edge of another horseshoe bend with a sandy beach and firewood already stacked up from the previous occupants. Dry clothes, a good fire, some hot food, and my spirits began to improve. By the firelight we relived college memories and shared things that’d happened since our last time together. A good night’s sleep would complete my rehabilitation after my involuntary swim in the frigid river.

Floating Down the Buffalo, Driving Southbound on I-35

The second and third days were much warmer than the first, and it didn’t take long for us to shed all our cold weather clothes and slather on the sunscreen to prevent bad burns. As we traveled further down the river, we started running into floaters who were on day trips. The silence of the first two days was broken by loud music and beer-fueled conversations with others on the river on the third. Our 34 miles ended sooner than we expected as we reached our take out at Carver Landing early afternoon on the third day. Tired, happy, and a little sunburned, we packed our gear, put on the dry clothes we’d left in the car, and headed south. It would be a long eight-hour drive back to Corsicana for an overnighter, then home to New Braunfels the next day.

It had been a great adventure with my old friends, and we parted with plans to return to the river again.


Mickey is a consultant, author, and keynote speaker. He believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 30 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams, Mickey’s Rules for Leaders, and The Five Be’s: A Straightforward Guide to Life.

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Throwback Thursday: Leading People With Positivity

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Leadership by Experience

 

scan0038A positive leader is a real strength to an organization. In fact, learning how to deal with adversity and leading people through it is one of the most important skills leaders must develop. Some people are so successful that when they eventually fail at something, that failure becomes an existential crisis for them. Organizations are not different: some are resilient and some aren’t. For leaders to be effective, they need to be able to put things in perspective leading people with “positivity.”

When I was in high school, I co-coached my brother’s Little League team when the adult coach had to quit for personal reasons. It was my first coaching job and I certainly learned a great deal about leadership from the experience. One particularly bad day, our game plan completely came apart. We’d gone through all our pitchers, and the other team was killing us. At one point things were going so badly, I walked into the dugout and dejectedly sat down. Seeing this, my Dad quietly walked out of the bleachers and whispered in my ear, “When you get down, the team will get down. Get up and get back in the game.” It was a great lesson in leading with positivity.

I’d like to say we won, but we didn’t. However, we were able to tell the boys they’d done good and congratulate them for never giving up even when they were getting creamed. That post game pep talk carried a lot more weight when we coaches maintained our positive attitude.

There’s many personal skills involved in maintaining a positive attitude, like the ones John Treas writes about over a Inc.com  5 Steps Toward Maintaining a Positive Attitude.

1. Manage rejection. It is easy to get discouraged when unwelcomed events occur. The trick is to put them in perspective: Most will pass and become unimportant with time. It’s easy to feel like a single failure or rejection is the end of the world, but it never is. In fact, setbacks often give you an opportunity to turn a rebuff into a win. One time early in my sales career, I was literally thrown out of a prospect’s office because she felt I hadn’t respected her tight schedule. I went back to my office, wrote a letter of apology, and sent a gift designed to make her job easier. She became a good customer, and we became lasting friends.

Of course there’s other ways as well, and each person has their own. Leaders should find what works for them. That said, whatever individual skills people use to maintain their personal positivity, leaders must translate that into helping their teams maintain their positivity. As I’ve written many times, leadership style is both highly personal and highly situational, so leaders must adapt to their environment. I agree with Treas’ ideas at the link, and I’d like to add a couple leadership behaviors I believe are important for leaders to model:

– Be truthful. People quickly see through “happy talk” when leaders are delivering bad news. Some leaders believe they can “sugar coat” unpleasantness and those words will carry greater weight than the actual unpleasantness. I’m sorry, but to someone losing their job or being forced into a significant changes euphemisms like “right sizing” or “we’re making a change” ring hollow. People respect leaders who speak truthfully, and while bad news can be delivered with gentleness and compassion, we shouldn’t attempt to use euphemism to minimize the real pain people feel with change. When teams have confidence their leaders are being truthful, the resulting trust helps people maintain a positive attitude.

– Think Ahead. It’s much easier to lead people toward a positive attitude when there’s a plan. Even when the road ahead is tough, the team’s attitude is much more likely to stay positive if they can see where they’re going. Nothing destroys team morale…positive attitudes…than figuratively groping through the darkness towards an unseen or ambiguous goal.

– Stay positive. The most important thing a leader can do is model the behavior they want their teams to exhibit. Once the leader gets “down” the team will quickly follow; conversely if the leader is positive it’s much more likely the team will stay “up.”

Just like that Little League team, leaders need to understand the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and helping their teams maintain theirs. What skills do you use to keep yourself and your teammates positive?

Friday Link Around: Managing Your Email Like a Boss

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

wpid-email.png

One of the questions I get most often is, “How do you read all your email?” With multiple email accounts, many stakeholders and customers, and working in a global enterprise I get dozens of emails daily. Despite the fact that I believe email is dead–Professional Social Networks are the future–we all do a lot of business on email.   If you’ve got tips and tricks, why not share it with the community in the comments section below?

It is rare for me to leave my desk at the end of the day with unread emails, here’s how I do it:

1. I don’t read every email. Sort on the subject, delete emails that look like duplicates, “reply to alls”, and office spam.

2. In Outlook, use Conditional Formatting to color code important senders. Read those first. My boss and other general officers and senior (“C-suite”) are red, key peers are blue, and headquarters’ key staff are green. Those emails then stand out and I can read them first.

3. In Outlook, use Rules to sort emails into sub-folders. There are emails you get regularly you want to get to, but don’t need cluttering your inbox: notifications, news, appointment requests, calendar invites, etc. Create Rules to dump those emails into a subfolder. You’ll see the unread emails and can get to them in the appropriate time. For example, I receive notifications for electronic staffing regularly–those electronic memos requiring my attention (performance reports, awards, approval requests, etc) go into my “Staffing” subfolder, and when I see an unread email in those folders I know I’ve got something to do.

 4.   In GMail, use Filters and Categories to sort email. You can use the Filters and Categories to sort email so only the most important emails are in my Primary box. Don’t underestimate the Skip the Inbox and Archive functions!

5. Delete, Delete, Delete. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters and the like–those all go into a single folder in GMail.  Since many of those are daily emails, if I’m unable to read them in a few days they’re usually out of date anyway. Many I’ll save and read, but if something is unread in my Inbox for more than a few days and I don’t consciously leave it unread for some reason, it gets deleted.

6. Unsubscribe.  If you find yourself deleting more emails you’ve subscribed to than reading it–hit the “unsubscribe” button.

There’s plenty of hacks and tips out there as well, here’s a survey of some of the best:

Lifehacker: Control Your Email

Lifehacker: Hack Your Email 99 Ways

Lifehacker: Become a GMail Master

PCWorld: 10 Tips for Mastering Outlook 2013

Alphr.com: Be an Email Jedi

Youtube: Outlook 2013 Tips and Tricks (video)

The Atlantic: Inbox Zero vs Inbox 5,000

Mashable: 5 Tricks to Finally Achieve Inbox Zero

 


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Friday Link Around: Top Posts on Culture

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

Durango-Silverton Line 1976

This week, the Friday Link Around takes on a slightly different focus – we explore what “culture” means to leaders. Leading organizations both large and small demand the creation of a cohesive culture of shared ideas and values. For startups, the transformation from “five guys in a garage” to a staff of dozens of employees with titles, HR policies, and the like requires leaders to create and maintain an organizational culture deliberately. I’ve written about culture many times on Leading Leaders, and below are the “Top Five” posts about culture for your reading pleasure.

Do you have any tips on creating and maintaining culture in your organization? Tell me about them in the comments below!

 

Commanders Lead Culture

Creating a Culture of Respect

What Can Jessica Alba Teach About Organizational Culture

Global Success Means Cultural Literacy

Raising Them Right: The Value of Onboarding


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Friday Link Around – Speed Mentoring Edition

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

scan0048Career development and mentoring are the themes for this week’s Friday Link Around.

I was excited to once again facilitate the Society of American Military Engineers Young Member mentoring session at this year’s Joint Engineering Training Conference (JETC 2016). It was a fantastic session using live polling and hands-on activities with over 150 engineers, architects, and business professionals.

My slides from JETC 2015 are here, the ones from JETC 2016 are here. I used a live polling service called PollEverywhere — the interaction makes the sessions fun and keeps the energy level up among participants!

Speed Mentoring is a fun way for people to meet potential mentors–think “speed dating” only with no pressure for romance. I adapted the 2015 program from this site, and then built my own this year. There are some great mentoring resources at mentoring.org

Want to know more? A mentor is:

“…a person who guides”

“…a helper…”

“… coach, guide, tutor, facilitator, counselor and trusted advisor…”

“… a trusted counselor or guide.“

“…paying it forward..” ( F. John Reh)

“…Mentors help fill your knowledge gaps…” (Pamela Ryckman)

“…Mentoring is relationship oriented


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

#TBT What’s My Purpose?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Pure Inspiration

When reaching the end of their careers, military veterans are often faced with difficult questions.  There are, of course, the practical considerations of finances and family, but the biggest question for the vet is not where he’ll live or how he’ll make his living.  The biggest question for the retiring vet is what’s my purpose?

The military vet has spent years in the service of others, often at great personal cost, and through thick and thin it has been their sense of duty, that the mission is more important than themselves that had kept them going.  Some have sacrificed much, others not as much, but as the saying goes all gave some.  So when the bullets are flying, or when Dad can’t be there for a major event in a child’s life, or another Christmas is spent talking on vidchat instead of being together around the table, the warrior and his/her family content themselves with the knowledge that the sacrifice was somehow worth it.  In short, military life has purpose.US Air Force Honor Guard (USAF Photo)

But when that service ends, the military vet more often than not needs to find something to replace the mission he had as a soldier.  It’s not as easy as you might think. There are Transition Assistance Programs in the military to help these (mostly) still young people cross over from the military into civilian life.  “Re-discovering” one’s purpose after 10, 20, or 30 years is not easy. These servicemembers still have a lot to contribute and many retain the desire to serve.

I suppose that’s why so many vets become entrepreneurs and why so many companies are eager to hire veterans.  Vets “get it”: they show up on time, they do what’s expected and more.

Enter Team Rubicon.  I spotted this inspirational story in Inc. Magazine about two Marine vets who started something that is impacting the world.   Even after their military service ended, their sense of duty didn’t:

In January 2010, U.S. Marine Corps veterans Jake Wood and William McNulty stared a catastrophic problem in the face.

In the immediate wake of the Haitian earthquake that month, aid organizations were stymied by reports of insecure conditions on the ground. Wood, who had been a Marine scout-sniper and left the military just months before, posted on Facebook that he wanted to travel to Port-au-Prince and could use his security and medical experience to help.

After viewing the post, McNulty was eager to sign on. A veteran of Marine Corps infantry and intelligence, he knew Wood via blogs and a few Skype conversations they’d had in which they discussed business ideas. However, they had never met in person before.

Through the Jesuit high school he’d attended, McNulty met a Jesuit missionary in Haiti, who desperately needed a medical team to treat men, women, and children injured in the earthquake. Suddenly the veterans realized this would be their mission.

Read the Inc. profile here:  Meet the Veterans Launching Nonprofits to Change the World | Inc.com

Team Rubicon PhotoI share this story for two reasons.

First, I think the private sector has a gold mine in potential outstanding employees in our military veterans. A vet understands leadership and followership, he has incorporated important values like teamwork and service into his character, and responsibility, honesty, and duty are a part of her DNA. When a vet tells you as a potential employer, “I can do anything”, he means it because he has done lots of things, often things he never knew was in him before he started.  I’d like to encourage the private sector to hire our vets…they’ll produce!

Second, on this Veteran’s Day it’s important to reflect on the ways that our vets continue to serve, even out of uniform.  They’ve lived a life of purpose…serving their country and their fellow warriors…and that sense of duty doesn’t go away when they hung up the uniform in the closet.  Americans do appreciate the men and women who serve, and I know those men and women who served and continue to serve appreciate their fellow Americans’ gratitude.  That said, I think some times our warriors are humbled by their fellow citizen’s adulation.   After all, they’re merely doing their duty as best as they know how.

Today, the 95th anniversary of the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month when the guns fell silent on the Western Front during the Great War, I submit that how our vets can continue to serve is worthy of a little reflection.

And for America’s warriors, past and present: God bless’em, every one.

Friday Link Around – Graduation

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

Durango-Silverton Line 1976

It’s graduation time! Graduation pictures are appearing on my Facebook feed: smiling grads and proud parents. In honor graduation day for so many, this week’s Link Around is all about the grad.

Top 10 Commencement Speeches

Time Mag: Graduation gift ideas

George Saunders has excellent advice: be kind

Inspirational quotes for graduates

Buzzfeed: 31 Grad Party Decor Ideas

Stylecaster: 25 more (just in case you didn’t like any of the first ones)

Write those thank you notes: WSJ: The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note (you can get my favorite book on the subject here)

Logo Cover - Front

My book, The 5 Be’s for Starting Out, makes a good gift!

In a world full of “no” and “don’t”, The 5 Be’s For Starting Out is a positive vision of who to “Be.” Based on a lifetime of mentoring young adults, The 5 Be’s is a roadmap to living a healthy, fulfilling, and successful life!

 

 

 

Check out PatioWisdom.com!

Or if you’re feeling more “whimsical,” try Patio Wisdom for a little inspiration and humor!

Inside are the musings from Living a Life at Full Speed, where wisdom comes from the School of Hard Knocks. It’s wisdom born of adventure and hardship, joy and pain, victory and defeat…and everything in between. Illustrated with the author’s own photos, and narrated with quips and memories, Patio Wisdom will leaving you in tears and stitches!

 


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Friday Link Around – Mother’s Day

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Holidays
Graduation Day, August 1987
Dad, me, and Mom, Graduation Day, Texas A&M University, August 14, 1987.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day! If you’re reading this and haven’t done something to honor your mom yet, you still have two days!

My Mom was always a strong presence in my life and my family–and along with what my Dad she taught me a great deal about how to be successful in life. As one of the “Great Women in My Life,” Mom taught me to love God, to love words, and to love life. I wrote a piece at Catholic Exchange some years ago about her and the other “Great Women” in my life; you can find it here. She died in 1990, and I think of her often, especially during milestones in my life or my family’s life. She would have loved hearing about my adventures Mom never met my kids, but I’d like to think that through me she’s spoken to them anyway.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 

The history of Mother’s Day

AskMen: Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

FamilyLife.com: Ten Ways to Honor Mom

Book Suggestion: The Art of the Hand Written Note

Shameless Plug for My Book (If Your Mom Likes Motorcycles)

#OptOutside with Mom in a National Park

DecentFilms.com: Top 10 Movie Moms


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Friday Link Around – ANZAC Day, Australia, and Allies

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

20160425_130711This week I had the great priviledge to be in Canberra, Australia on ANZAC Day. If you’re not familiar, ANZAC Day is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand and observed throughout the British Commonwealth. It originally commemorated the Australia New Zealand Army Corps landings and subsequent battles at Gallipoli, Turkey during the First World War, but has grown over the last hundred years to be a commemoration of the Australian and New Zealand veterans of all wars. For Americans, it’s like a combination of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

Just like in the rest of the British Commonwealth, people wear a red poppy on their lapel to remind them of Flanders Field–a solemn poem about the rows and rows of graves at Flanders after a terrible battle like the poppies covering the field. For ANZAC Day, the Aussies add a sprig of rosemary to remind them of Gallipoli.

I was impressed by the way all Australians fully participated in the commemorations, especially the crowds who attended early morning ceremonies all over Australia and abroad. After the solemn ceremonies, of course, came the celebrations at homes, parks, and pubs.

Finally, whenever I work with the Aussies I’m reminded what a great friend we have in them. They are earnest allies, and have been valuable partners with us in peace and war since the First World War. This week’s link around is dedicated to them!

The Battle of Gallipoli

The battle history of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps

The Australia War Memorial and museum in Canberra is not to be missed

American and Australian Airmen turn the tide in the Papua New Guinea campaign during WW II

Australians who’ve won the Australian Victoria Cross

Prince Harry and the Australians

Australians in Iraq and Afghanistan

Things to see and do in Canberra

A listing of US treaty allies (notice where most of them are–hint: it’s not Europe)

 


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and blogs.

Friday Link Around: Business and Intentional Leadership

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

Durango-Silverton Line 1976Last weekend I was honored to participate in the Inaugural Intentional Leadership Conference, held by the Hollingsworth Leadership Development Program at Texas A&M University. The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M has a long and proud tradition of leadership development, and I’m certain the ILC will add to that tradition! Be sure to “Like” their Facebook page to see the pics!

The ILC’s theme was “Corps to Corporate—Intentional Professionalism” so this week’s link around is all about business and networking.

Fast Company Magazine: Lessons from Epic Fail Startups

Entrepreneur Magazine: Networking is about relationships

LinkedIn: Most Fortune 500 CEOs don’t use social media

9by9Solutions: The “Deification” of Leadership?

LinkedIn: How Lego rebuilt themselves

LinkedIn: How a Silcon Valley manages his time

Aggie Muster Day was yesterday, here’s what that’s all about.


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and writes for his own Leading Leaders blog, and GeneralLeadership.com.

Friday Link Around: Senior Military Colleges, Leadership, & the Aggie Corps

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

scan0118The leadership lessons I learned as a member of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets were among the most formative of my military career. That’s me and my buddies after we marched past the reviewing stand at Final Review. We’d be leaving the Corps and each other following that Review. I certainly continued to learn and practice leadership, but my time in the Corps gave me a great start.

Tomorrow, I’m honored to be a presenter at the inaugural Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets Intentional Leadership Conference, so this week the links are about the Aggie Corps, the Senior Military Colleges, and the leadership lessons from the military.

So, what are the Senior Military Colleges? They are the schools with corps of cadets and military training programs that maintain the same standards as the Service academies (West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, and the Merchant Marine Academy). The Senior Military Colleges produce a significant number of officers, and do it in a full time military environment. For example, during World War II, Texas A&M produced more officers than any other school including the Service academies. The Senior Military Colleges are: Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, The Citadel, Norwich University, University of North Georgia, and the Virginia Military Institute.

In addition to offering Reserve Officer Training Corps commissioning programs, they offer leadership training programs:

Texas A&M Hollingsworth Leadership Development Program

Virginia Tech Corps Leadership Program

Citadel Leader Development Program

Norwich Master of Science in Leadership

North Georgia Corps of Cadets Boar’s Head Brigade

Virginia Military Institute Leadership and Ethics

Finally, here’s a little Aggie motivation for you: the Ross Volunteer Company’s Parents Weekend  Drill–it’s the culmination of a year of drill and parades for the state’s oldest student organization.

 


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and writes for his own Leading Leaders blog, and GeneralLeadership.com.

Good Friday Link Around [UPDATED]

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Holidays

It’s Holy Week in the Christian calendar, so this week’s links are all about Easter. As a trivia, history, and liturgy “geek,” I think this stuff is interesting so I’m bound in my geekness to share it with you!

The days of Holy Week have their own names, beginning with Spy/Holy Wednesday, then Holy Thursday (sometimes Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and of course Easter Sunday. Why Spy Wednesday? What the heck does Maundy mean? Well, “Spy Wednesday” because that’s the day Judas agreed to betray Jesus, and “Maundy” comes from the Latin phrase from that day’s Gospel.

From Wikipedia:

“Maundy” is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.

In the Catholic Church, Thursday through Sunday is called the Easter Triduum. Which of course, means “Three Days” in Latin. See? That high school Latin is coming in handy!

The Eastern churches won’t be celebrating Easter on the same day as in the West. Why you ask? Well, it’s because they use the Julian Calendar and the Western churches use the Gregorian Calendar. Yes, that’s right: Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII are still running things!

Ever wonder about the word, Easter? The actual proper name of the day is different between East and West.  In the West, it’s called the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord–”Solemnity” being the highest rank feastday. In the East, it’s called Pascha (English: Passover).

Besides the interesting historical and liturgical aspects (well, interesting to me anyway!), there’s other traditions, too.

Easter Bunnies? Easter Baskets? Colored eggs? The History Channel has a good rundown here. Wait, flying bells in France? 

For Christians, Easter follows Lent–a period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving–and so as you can expect there are many traditions that center around food. Germans have lamb, in France it’s, well, lamb and asparagus, in Mexico aquas frescas, in the UK is–ok, more lamb–AND hot cross buns. In the Pacific, the Chinese apparently often eat at a buffet. No, really. Here in Hawaii kalua pig is the standard Easter fare.

In my family, we have a tradition of making what we call “Easter Bread” to have for brunch on Easter Sunday. It’s a recipe that came from my mother’s family when they emigrated from Naples, Italy. The actual Italian name was probably “Torte di Pasqua” (Easter Pie), and contained various types of cured meats, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and herbs. In Rome, a little north of Naples, it’s called pizza rustica.

My family’s recipe was clearly heavily Americanized, with pepperoni, bacon, ham, swiss cheese, provolone, hard boiled eggs, and parsley. It seems Great-Grandmother got to America and had to make do with what she could find here. I’ve done some research, and I think I’ve gotten a recipe that’s probably closer to the original. My Gramma was pretty tight-lipped about the recipe, but as mia famiglia dispersed around the country, I’m passing it on to you so we keep the tradition alive:

Easter Pie (makes one 12” pie, serves 6-8)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients:

Crust
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (adjust as necessary)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
1/3 cup water (add more if needed to mix flour, but be careful!)
3 eggs well beaten

Filling
3 oz salami or other cured meats
5 oz ham
2 oz crumbled pancetta
2-3 hardboiled eggs (whole or chopped, whatever you like)
3 oz pecorino romano cheese
3 oz provolone cheese
1-3 oz mozzarella or other cheese as “filler” to stretch the filling as desired
Italian seasonings (we use basil, oregano, and parsley), about 2 tbsp

201297_1973999437509_2180694_oMethod:
Combine ingredients for crust and work into a ball. Ball should be moist but not sticky. Separate the ball into two equal portions, one for the top and one for the bottom. Roll them very thin to the size and shape of a medium pizza (bigger is better). Place the bottom piece of dough on a baking stone/pizza pan sheet.

Chop ingredients for filling into small pieces, except for the hard boiled eggs.

Roll the dough balls into disks, and place one on your baking sheet. Round pizza sheets work best! Place the hard boiled eggs on the bottom of crust. Cutting them in half long-ways works best. Mound the filling up on the bottom dough, then cover the filling with the top piece.

Trim the excess dough, making two braids, four “pretzel” shapes with three loops each (about 1 1/2 inches across), and a crown of whatever design works. Serrate the edge of the pie, that represents the Crown of Thorns. Criss-cross the braids, those represent the whips with which Jesus was beaten.

Place the one “pretzel” in each quadrant made by the braids, each represents the Trinity (three loops). Place the crown on top, that’s Jesus’ crown as King of Kings.

Brush the whole pie with egg yolk, sprinkle liberally with sugar, and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, checking often to make sure it doesn’t burn on the edges. Cover the edges or crown with foil as needed. When cooked all the way through, let rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy warm or cold. Some like to dip it in marinara sauce as well.  Buona Pasqua!


Mickey's Rules for Leaders eBook CoverMickey believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 28 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams and The 5 Be’s For Starting Out. He’s a frequent contributor to industry publications and writes for his own Leading Leaders blog, and GeneralLeadership.com.

“Commitment”

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Practical Leadership

It’s no secret that I’m an American Airman, and proud of the US Air Force and my service as an Airman. I’m proud of “my” Air Force because of my shared experience with my fellow Airmen, and I’m proud of “my” Air Force because my leaders have given me reasons to be proud.

The Air Force embarked on an effort to forge more professional Airmen, and part of that effort is to remind Airmen who they as Airmen. Reminding people who they are, and why they should be proud of who they are, is an important aspect of organizational leadership. In addition, helping people understand and appreciate who they are as people builds strong teams, and resilient people.

Enjoy the US Air Force’s video, “Committment,” and while you’re watching think about who you are and where you came from–and remember to be proud of that as well. Aim High!

Commanders Lead Culture

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

wpid-article-failure-of-leadership.jpgWe have a saying in the Air Force: “Commanders Lead Culture.” What this means is commanders have the ability to lead others in a way that lifts both individuals and the unit up, and to create a culture within the unit for mission success. It also means leaders have the responsibility to lead change when the culture needs adjusting. The Air Force, like many large organizations, expects its leaders to be engaged in creating the right climate within their organization, and to be engaged in the business of bettering their community.

Air Force Instruction 1-2 Air Force Culture directly quotes Title 10 of the United States Code when discussing the Air Force commander’s role in leading the culture of his/her unit and the Air Force in general:

All commanding officers and others in authority in the Air Force are required: (1) to show in themselves a good example of virtue, honor, patriotism, and subordination; (2) to be vigilant in inspecting the conduct of all persons who are placed under their command; (3) to guard against and suppress all dissolute and immoral practices, and to correct, according to the laws and regulations of the Air force, all persons who are guilty of them; and (4) to take all necessary and proper measures, under the laws, regulations, and customs of the Air Force, to promote and safeguard the morale, the physical well-being, and the general welfare of the persons under their command or charge. – Title 10 USC § 8583

Fortune Magazine’s John Kell makes the point that CEOs can do the same; not only internal to their own organizations, but also in their communities as well. In a time of increased (and virtually instantaneous) communication, informal power and authority have real impact on civil society.

No matter where they operate, leaders have responsibilities to many (often competing) groups: their boss, their company, their team, and community. Leaders must balance the needs of those stakeholders and be focused on the goal without losing sight of their connection to their community and their team. Additionally, internal culture is just as important. If people don’t believe in their leaders and don’t feel at home in their workplace, any shared sense of mission is lost and work becomes “every man for himself.” Setting the right tone that a company is not merely a “paycheck provider”, but also a responsible member of the community and an organization that values their employees is central to doing business in the 21st century. In truth, those values aren’t new: you only have to read A Christmas Carol and the Gospel story of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) to see that people have always valued what we now know as “corporate responsibility.” Here’s the takeaway: when an organization’s culture is right, people flourish and so does business.

Read on and share your thoughts below: can and should companies and their leaders engage in the marketplace of ideas, or should they just work to improve their companies? How should leaders establish and maintain the right culture in their organizations?

From the Blogs: What the Team Needs

Posted 1 CommentPosted in From the Blogs

I spotted this great article from People Development Mag on leading teams and wanted to share!  I like their model:

“What the Team Needs” -Lora Schafer

 

and it closely resembles my own:

The Leadership "COP" - Mickey Addison
The Leadership “COP” from “Leading Leaders” – Mickey Addison

 

 

Says Ms Shafer:

When initiative, productivity, creativity and execution are lacking, the costs to the team can be very real. The tangible results can be a lackluster product or service, subpar customer service, team members finding it difficult to work with each other, a leader struggling to get vital feedback. This costs your company, your department, your team and you revenue and reputation.

So, how do you get your team back on track when it is under-performing? How do you ignite a spark that will open up a higher level of performance and excellence?

There are 4 vital elements that your team needs for them to perform at optimal levels. However, they cannot attain these on their own. You, as the leader, must provide each of these element and support your team as they utilize each.

It’s a great article, and you’ll want to go read the whole thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a Heart Guy

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Practical Leadership
image
Photo: shutterstock via under30ceo.com

“There is a great cost when you neglect the human connection point in business.” –  Susan Steinbrecher, CEO, Steinbrecher And Associates, Inc.

I’m a firm believer in the human element in business and in life. After all, the reason we build things, make products, and provide services is for other people. Without “heart”, then we don’t need leaders–any old machine can do it. A colleague of mine once described himself as a “heart guy” when I asked him about his leadership style, and he surely lived up to that! We simply cannot forget leadership is about people first and foremost. While getting the mission accomplished is the raison d’etre  for leaders and teams to work together, there are very few endeavors that should consume the team on the way to the goal. Even the military where we understand the work may incur casualties or even deaths, we understand the need for people-centered leadership.

Ms Steinbrecher writes:

Leading from the heart is not just a nice idea or theory or some magical dream. By embracing a heart-centered approach to leadership, you will be in a more powerful position than you could possibly have imagined. After all, what can be more powerful than motivating an associate to go the distance for you and your organization because he or she is inspired by you and respects you so highly? More importantly, you will genuinely and deeply touch the lives of others by your actions.

I wrote something similar in Leading Leaders:

However, any successful style has to recognize the foundational truth that leadership is fundamentally a human problem. This means that leaders have to engage the people they’re leading and not treat them as if they were a math problem. We cannot treat people like machines, and we cannot ignore the fact that people have a basic need for affirmation and a sense of fair play.

In nearly 28 years of leading in the Air Force, and a lifetime of leading on the sports field and other arenas, I can attest to the truth that the accomplishments of which I’m most proud are when I’ve had a positive impact on another person. Helping others reach their goals is far more satisfying than reaching my own goals.  My hat’s off to Ms Steinbrecher and all the other “heart guys” out there–thank YOU for your leadership and care for your people!

 

Leading People With Positivity

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Leadership by Experience

 

scan0038Learning how to deal with adversity and leading people through it is one of the most important skills leaders must develop. Some people are so successful that when they eventually fail at something, that failure becomes an existential crisis for them. Organizations are not different: some are resilient and some aren’t. For leaders to be effective, they need to be able to put things in perspective leading people with “positivity.”

When I was in high school, I co-coached my brother’s Little League team when the adult coach had to quit for personal reasons. It was my first coaching job and I certainly learned a great deal about leadership from the experience. One particularly bad day, our game plan completely came apart. We’d gone through all our pitchers, and the other team was killing us. At one point things were going so badly, I walked into the dugout and dejectedly sat down. Seeing this, my Dad quietly walked out of the bleachers and whispered in my ear, “When you get down, the team will get down. Get up and get back in the game.” It was a great lesson in leading with positivity.

I’d like to say we won, but we didn’t. However, we were able to tell the boys they’d done good and congratulate them for never giving up even when they were getting creamed. That post game pep talk carried a lot more weight when we coaches maintained our positive attitude.

There’s many personal skills involved in maintaining a positive attitude, like the ones John Treas writes about over a Inc.com  5 Steps Toward Maintaining a Positive Attitude.

1. Manage rejection. It is easy to get discouraged when unwelcomed events occur. The trick is to put them in perspective: Most will pass and become unimportant with time. It’s easy to feel like a single failure or rejection is the end of the world, but it never is. In fact, setbacks often give you an opportunity to turn a rebuff into a win. One time early in my sales career, I was literally thrown out of a prospect’s office because she felt I hadn’t respected her tight schedule. I went back to my office, wrote a letter of apology, and sent a gift designed to make her job easier. She became a good customer, and we became lasting friends.

Of course there’s other ways as well, and each person has their own. Leaders should find what works for them. That said, whatever individual skills people use to maintain their personal positivity, leaders must translate that into helping their teams maintain their positivity. As I’ve written many times, leadership style is both highly personal and highly situational, so leaders must adapt to their environment. I agree with Treas’ ideas at the link, and I’d like to add a couple leadership behaviors I believe are important for leaders to model:

– Be truthful. People quickly see through “happy talk” when leaders are delivering bad news. Some leaders believe they can “sugar coat” unpleasantness and those words will carry greater weight than the actual unpleasantness. I’m sorry, but to someone losing their job or being forced into a significant changes euphemisms like “right sizing” or “we’re making a change” ring hollow. People respect leaders who speak truthfully, and while bad news can be delivered with gentleness and compassion, we shouldn’t attempt to use euphemism to minimize the real pain people feel with change. When teams have confidence their leaders are being truthful, the resulting trust helps people maintain a positive attitude.

– Think Ahead. It’s much easier to lead people toward a positive attitude when there’s a plan. Even when the road ahead is tough, the team’s attitude is much more likely to stay positive if they can see where they’re going. Nothing destroys team morale…positive attitudes…than figuratively groping through the darkness towards an unseen or ambiguous goal.

– Stay positive. The most important thing a leader can do is model the behavior they want their teams to exhibit. Once the leader gets “down” the team will quickly follow; conversely if the leader is positive it’s much more likely the team will stay “up.”

Just like that Little League team, leaders need to understand the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and helping their teams maintain theirs. What skills do you use to keep yourself and your teammates positive?

Learning from Starbucks About Mission

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs

starbucks logoOne of my core tenets is leaders must give teams a sense of mission:

In my book Leading Leaders, I recount the story of a friend of mine who took over leadership of a volunteer re-sale shop.

“She and her leadership team began by listening to the volunteers and addressed their personal concerns about the rigidity of the workplace, and then went on a communication campaign to remind all the volunteers why they were there. It was an effective leadership style but it required a great deal of work on her part to get the organization moving again. When she turned over leadership to her successor, the volunteers were happy and the resale shop was thriving again. It’s amazing what a great leader can do when she connects with her people and then connects them to the mission.”

Apparently, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and I are on the same page in this regard, for which I’m grateful every time I stop in at my local Starbucks for a cappuccino.  Listed first on a list of 12 business lessons from the global coffee giant is “mission.”

1. Have a Mission

Starbucks has one simple mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

That mission statement has served the company for more than four decades, because Starbucks is more than just a coffeehouse. It’s become an escape for anyone needing a break from the daily grind. It’s become a centralized meeting location for friends to catch up and business people to have meetings.

Starbucks wanted to provide people–no matter their age, profession, or location–with a unique experience: the coffeehouse as a place to relax, work, and socialize.

I’ve always believed one of a leader’s most important jobs is to give the team a sense of mission.  It’s the reason military units have such good espirit de corps, and will hang together even under the most dire circumstances. As a leader you have to have a vision, communicate it clearly, and then cheer on your team as they move toward the goal. If your people believe in the mission of your company, they’ll work very hard. If they believe in you as their leader as well, they’ll get to the goal with smiles and ready for the next challenge.

 

Fun Facts About American Thanksgiving

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs, Holidays

Via Stars And Stripes

Thanksgiving is among America’s most popular holidays, a time for food, family and football in celebrations that date back to the earliest days of the nation. In fact, the history of Thanksgiving is more complicated than the national myths about “Turkey Day.”

Here are some facts about the holiday that you may not have known:

Read the rest here.

The Army Has Heart

Posted Leave a commentPosted in From the Blogs
Airmen atop Koko Head
PACAF Airmen atop Koko Head. Hawaii Kai, Oahu. 2014

Over at Small Wars Journal, there’s an article about the Head-Hands-Heart Leadership Model that fits hand-in-glove with my own “Leading Leaders” philosophy. It’s a thoughtful and well written article about the basics of leadership: know yourself, know your people, know where you’re going.

Leading people is a “whole person” kind of endeavor: we have to engage our mind and heart and body in the effort or we fail. Moreover, we have to understand we’re dealing with real people as well–not robots–and as leaders we need to engage their whole person. Sometimes leaders will make mistakes, nobody is perfect, so when that happens remember your humility and try again. The article from Small Wars Journal is a good way to think about how to engage in deliberate interpersonal leadership that’s applicable in any environment!

The Hands, Head and Heart Leadership Model | Small Wars Journal

The diverse nature of the relationships in an organization, as well as the complexity of problems faced emphasizes the three aspects of leadership education we previously described, as well as the concepts of training. The Hands, Head and Heart Model uses the ideas inherent in both training and education to describe a leadership model that fits in a diverse organizational setting. Training involves doing, applying, executing, and behaving. Figuratively, it is the “hands” of the model. By contrast, education is the knowing or thinking and represents the “head” of the model. It involves principles, doctrine, rules, and knowledge of the individual or organization. The third area of the model is the “heart,” or the becoming part. This involves the end state or vision. It is where values, beliefs, and purpose come into play. The Hands, Head and Heart Model fits exactly with the Army’s Be-Know-Do Model developed over 30 years ago.

Short week this week, so here’s wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!