Take a trip down memory lane of America and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) cinema. Clearly, times have changed and along the way, our storytelling has evolved, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Dave Kehr taps into something about our culture.
Toy Story tapped into this shift in culture with the move from the favorite cowboy toys in Woodie, to the new space toys in Buzz.
Instilling purpose in my organization has been the game changer in our success. This interview with Gerry Anderson puts the power of purpose into focus. Follow this up with a repeat of an interview with Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi on vision and culture being the drivers for big companies too and you will start getting the picture of the WHY that I strive to be.
Turning Purpose Into PerformanceGerry Anderson, the CEO of DTE Energy, and Robert Quinn and Anjan Thakor, professors at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the Olin Business School at Washington University, respectively, discuss how an aspirational mission can motivate employees and improve performance. Anderson talks about his own experience. Quinn and Thakor explain their research showing how leaders can foster a sense of purpose that sharpens competitiveness. They wrote the article “Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization” in the July-August 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review
Listen to Indra Nooyi – HERE
I found this interview with Lance Armstrong fascinating. Freakonomics did a great job of telling his story, his aftermath and what he learned. In the end, the Lance Armstrong story is about redemption. I found his story of tenacity and grit appealing but his ‘everyone is doing it’ excuse was a bit disheartening. Clearly, he lied, but he justified it as everyone lied. When asked if he didn’t dope, what his chances of winning a Tour De France would be…answer….0%.
When Dubner pressed in on how he’s different or similar to Alex Rodriguez and his doping scandal, Armstrong responded that he fell further because;
- He was a single star, not on a team
- He did a lot outside of the athletic arena that was high profile
- A Rod was allowed to return to his sport
The big question was;
DUBNER: Well, let me offer a fourth possible explanation. As everyone has said throughout history, the cover-up is way worse than the crime — usually, right? The situation as I see it is that: a) you were the tallest tree in the land, you win seven, that’s going to be number one; and number two, even though your argument and the argument of a lot of people is everyone was doing it, when you were confronted with it and charged with it all along, you didn’t kind of duck it, but you denied it with a vigor and a venom and sometime really viciously against individual people, that when it came out that it was true — to me, that’s what people don’t want to forgive. And if that’s what it is, the difference between you and a Mike Vick and you and A-Rod — I’m curious whether you think that maybe is a worse infraction.
ARMSTRONG: If you believe what you read — and, believe me, I’m the last one to believe everything I read — but if you believe what you read, and let’s just use for the purposes of this discussion, there was not just one offense, there was two, which is worse. There was an extremely litigious nature to his action and reaction. And so not to debate it with you, but there is no difference.
So to carry on my 7 Deadly Sins rational, Pride, of course, Wrath of course (in Armstrong’s response), Gluttony (why not stop at 3, or 4 or 5 wins and hang out as the face of Live Strong?). Armstrong has demons he’s working on, as do we all.
The commentators were not kind to this interview:
I’ve weighed in before on game-changing technologies that can change the global economic and social fabric. Battery storage is one area, power generation is another. Here’s an update from Forbes about Lockheed Martin’s secret Skunk Works lab.
Try to get your mind around the potential changes that technology has brought to the world. From Guttenberg and the printing press to Zuckerberg and Facebook, technology is the great disruptor. Supply and demand and the role of scarcity in that equation can be completely disrupted by a new invention or an entrepreneur bringing a Big Hairy Audacious Goal to market.
One day, I’m sure we’ll be living this scene from Back To The Future;
Forbes – New Fusion Reactor
Lockheed Martin’s secretive Skunk Works® laboratory registered a patent in March for a revolutionary technology that could solve the world’s energy problems for good – but don’t pop the champagne yet. The design is for a compact fusion reactor (CFR) which theoretically produces cheap, clean, near limitless energy – all from a device that could fit on the back of a semi. If it sounds far-fetched, that’s because it is. The sustained generation of a fusion reaction has evaded scientists since the idea was first conceived over 70 years ago.
Lockheed Martin thinks they can change that.
A controlled thermonuclear fusion reaction is the holy grail of energy technology. When two hydrogen atoms join together to form a single, heavier atom, a vast amount of energy is released. This process is the same that gives the sun its power. Think of a star as one massive fusion reactor.
No carbon emissions or radioactive waste are produced in the reaction, and ocean water is all the fuel you need for a hundred thousand years of operation. Oh, and a fusion reactor is incapable of melting down – when a fusion reaction fails it simply snuffs itself out.
The challenge with fusion lies in harnessing and controlling the unstable reaction.
Though the fusion process has been theorized since the early 1900s, research did not begin in earnest until the 1940’s when Soviet scientists unveiled their design for a Tokamak reactor – a device which uses strong magnetic fields to contain hot globs of plasma (around 540 million degrees Fahrenheit) generated from atomic fusion.
The further I get in my business life, the more clear it is to me that the biggest part of my job is to grow others and develop people. Hat tip to one of our Principals (Jason Edwards – Parker Colorado) for this theory which I’ve adopted;
Basically, all areas of your life demand balance. Work life and home life…health…and most importantly as a leader, being technically focused balanced with setting the purpose of why your organization is doing what it’s doing. For me, it’s educating the next generation on the principles of what created Western Civilization.
As a leader, I could spend all my time on the technical aspects of my job. I can get lost in execution. From construction, curriculum, operations to regulatory functions, it is easy to get sucked into ‘doing’. What I’ve learned over the past 25 years is anyone can do but without a concerted focus on ensuring that I’m communicating our purpose, the team sputters out and stalls. These past few years, I’ve been extremely focused on the “Why” of our organization. A special thanks to a management consultant that we worked with, Bob Shaff, from Customers For Life. Bob helped to bring into focus the Why of our organization.
My role now is to focus on the basics of blocking and tackling but also to instill in my leadership team the purpose of why we do what we do. I happen to now be in an industry filled with teachers who were called to a profession which at its core is the purpose. The teacher’s purpose is to impact a child’s life, their calling is to create a better community and their purpose is to create a better world. I’ve watched these teachers come to life, many times following years in public schools and they are downtrodden. Many are questioning their career choice. All are looking for a place that shares their purpose. Because we encourage a focus academic rigor and character development instead of out of balance focus on test scores or bureaucratic wrangling their spirit is renewed. This year, we’ve added 125 new staff members and I’ve tailored my kick-off presentation with a heavy dose of the “Why” of our school exists.
The WHY Presentation
I start my presentation with a pop culture reference from the movie City Slickers. The old grizzled cowboy (Curly) that takes the lead character, Billy Crystal on a journey of self-discovery asked the big question; The meaning of life comes down to one thing. The movie is about the rudderless, mid-life crisis, city slicker, selling advertising air and his finding his purpose on a cowboy journey. Spoiler alert, Curly dies before the question can be answered.
This summer, I’ve been digging into Carl Jung, Neitzche and Victor Frankl all with an eye towards what lies deep in me and what are some of the triggers in me that shows up in my life. From father to husband to leader of my organization, I must first understand my motivations, triggers, and shortcomings before I can show up as an authentic man to those in my life. This journey has been lifelong and is never finished. I’ve chronicled some of the steps along the way The path for me started in 1999 and continues today.
From the big question posed in City Slickers by Curly and the meaning of life being ‘Just one thing.’ I follow up with a story from Vitor Frankl book, Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s a tragic story of Psychiatrist, Frankl’s years in a Nazi concentration camp.
Frankl tells the story of a fellow inmate who dreamed that he was granted one wish, and he wished to know when he would be free. The voice in his dream told him that his suffering would end on March 30, 1945. When the camp did not seem like it was going to be liberated on March 29, the man fell ill, and then died the next day. While death ultimately fulfilled his dream and brought his suffering to an end, Frankl suspects that his crushed hopes brought about his death. The man no longer felt he could hope for the future. Frankl notes that the death rates in the camps between Christmas and New Years were higher than at any other time of year, likely because people hoped to be home for the holidays and gave up when they realized they would not be.
Frankl quotes Nietzsche to the reader to explain the prisoners’ situation: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Frankl came to understand that he needed to stop expecting something better from life, and instead ask himself “what life expected from us.” In other words, he believed that he owed it to life—to the fact that he had born and was still on the Earth—to make himself the best person possible. He writes that the ultimate meaning of life can be found by taking responsibility for one’s actions and making use of opportunities to better oneself.
The Frankl stories illustrate an extreme. Faced with the lack of purpose, we actually die if reality throws us a curve. The purpose is the “WHY” of getting up every morning. Without purpose, we turn to pills, isolation, numbing of life via TV or social media. As a leader, it’s my job to ensure that all my organization, knows our purpose, our True North. The reference to Ordinary Men in the slide is about a book I read this summer about the beginning of the Nazi’s take over of Poland. How ordinary plumbers, engineers, lawyers and policemen could turn to such darkness after the put on the German uniform is a powerful lesson. Read more on this phenomenon in Aenon’s post; How Evil Happens.
The Heros Journey
To illustrate the purpose for me, I explain my personal journey, my unique background that has prepared me for this moment and the calling that brought me to education. The story goes from seeing a problem in my community in chronicling the death of America via my talk radio job. I go from a dark place in 2013 (12 Arguments on the Decline of America) to finding a way to do something about this monumental task.
I capstone my presentation of the Hero’s Journey. The metaphor of slaying the dragon appears in mythology and is flushed out in Jung and Nietzsche’s work. The concept is, that dragons or obstacles appear often in life. If we can teach our scholars to slay the little dragons, like getting along, failing a test, not turning in an assignment, we set a foundation that allows them to handle the big dragon that life will eventually throw at them.
The bigger the dragon and the more of an opportunity for you to actually be “killed” by the dragon the larger the hero’s journey. The bigger and more dangerous the dragon and the greater the satisfaction once the battle is won. From cancer survival to divorce or job loss everyone will experience dragons. Do we let them paralyze us or do we overcome and live a richer more meaningful life? That is the hero’s journey, that is the journey I’m on and that is the journey I’m inviting other teacher heroes to join.
Give a listen to the latest Art of Manliness – The Excellence Dividend, the new book by Tom Peters (of Good To Great fame). The interview powerfully illustrates human contact, development of leaders and what makes the good organization work. I strive to add these ideas to my organization.
Google learned what the top 7 traits that make a great employee….number 8 is STEM skills. – The rest are soft – HERE
A new rinkle from my prior posts…Fusion GPS and DOJ…husband and wife connection.
Boston Globe – FISA Documents Reveal FBI Collusion
In other words, the FBI used oppo research paid for by the Democrats as justification for government spying on a political opponent and other Americans.
But there’s more. In another incredible coincidence, Fusion GPS had hired scholar and professor Nellie Ohr as a “paid Russian expert.” Nellie Ohr happens to be married to Bruce Ohr, deputy attorney general in the Justice Department. Bruce Ohr is alleged to have passed his wife’s anti-Trump research to the FBI. He was demoted for failing to disclose not only his wife’s employment with Fusion GPS, but also his own meetings with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
The FISA court was never told any of that. They were never supposed to know. None of us was ever supposed to know.
When thousands of DNC emails were leaked to the public through Julian Assange’s organization WikiLeaks, we learned that Hillary Clinton had abused the primary process, nearly bankrupted the DNC and effectively stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders. We also learned the press played favorites with Clinton, getting her approval before running stories and forwarding debate questions to Clinton in advance. (The official line is Russians hacked the DNC computers and gave the emails to WikiLeaks. Assange and former U.S. and U.K. intelligence officials vehemently deny this, and maintain it was an inside “leak,” not a hack. The DNC refused to turn over their servers to the FBI for inspection.)
And then there is Hillary Clinton’s misuse of a personal email server to handle classified State Department information. We now know that then-FBI director James Comey decided not to prosecute Clinton before the investigation was even concluded. We also know that FBI attorney Peter Strzok rewrote Comey’s initial report to change Comey’s description of Clinton’s conduct from “grossly negligent” — which was a violation of the applicable federal statute — to “extremely careless.”
This is the same Peter Strzok who expressed his loathing for Donald Trump in many of the tens of thousands of texts he exchanged with his lover and fellow FBI attorney Lisa Page. Strzok infamously assured Page that they had an “insurance policy” and that they “would stop” Trump from becoming president. At a congressional hearing two weeks ago, Strzok arrogantly insisted that his bias did not affect his job performance.
He must think we’re all idiots.
There are so many areas of Carl Jung’s work that I’m drawn to. You’ve heard the name but I encourage you to dig into the man and his work. His life’s work was about the inner psyche of each of us and how it shows up, what happens when it’s broken and towards the end of his life, his work shifted to how entire societies can collectively work for good or turn to evil. (Like Nazi Germany).
Jordan Peterson references Jung quite a bit so I thought it would be important to dig in. On the journey, this summer, I read Gulag Archipelago and Ordinary Men. By looking at the extremes of what men are capable of it helps to understand what lies in each of us. I find that the repeating of history, the dynamics in a business team and my ability to lead and motivate people all to share their roots in aspects of Jung’s work and my theories around the 7 Deadly Sins.
This is a great, long form, background on Jung. The last half hour is excellent. Dig into Jung, dig into your dreams and dig into your shadow.
Why does this happen in our modern day?
What would you do if this came to your hometown?
We all think that we’d be this guy and do the heroic thing….but would we?
If you thought you know about Watergate, I can’t recommend enough the Slate podcast series about Watergate, Slow Burn. Neyfakh goes into deep rabbit holes around the Watergate story. This seven-part retelling helps those of us that didn’t understand the nuances of the story to fully immerse ourselves into the blow by blow of probably one of the darkest times in American history. What I appreciated is Neyfakh’s telling of the story without tieing in parallels to today’s politics. He lets the listener make inferences and boy are there some patterns repeating some 40 years later!
HERE is the link to the podcast.
Here’s what struck me during the listening of the series;
1. I knew Nixon was a broken man and I’ve written about him on this blog in the past (below). I got a deeper insight into his paranoia and a clear view of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Of course, Madison’s quote rings true; If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In the end the three branches of government kept the system in check. My theory on how the 7 Deadly Sins lives in each of us is once again proven. Nixon had a career mired absolute ambition, pride and wrath.
2. Nixon used every apparatus of government to wield his power. I’ve covered the taping of Trump’s campaign offices by the NSA and hope that all Americans see what a slippery slope those events exposed.
3. The 4th Branch of Government (the media) and honest men were important to bring Nixon down. So in the end, the systems of checks and balances rose above politics and the Republic was preserved. Trump’s media bashing is another slippery slope. In our days of social media echo chambers, our news is more segmented than ever. If you turn on Fox News or CNN you know exactly what you are going to get. This echo chamber didn’t start with Trump. He and his election are what I like to call and Equal But Opposite Reaction to the prior administrations’ (Bush 2 and Obama) sins. All hands are dirty in this debate. Only an educated citizenry can take in the information and decide for themselves on what is true. I’ve written a lot about the state of education in America – HERE. Suffice to say, we are on the wrong track and I’ve rolled up my sleeves to try to fix it in my own small way.
4. The conservative movement, in this case the dog whistles to segregation and backlash to the hippie movement, needs to be checked. The blind devotion to Nixon in the face of such abuses of power is scary. Both Obama and Trump supporters should carefully watch out for what they wish for. Listen to Episode 5 and get a sense of what Trump supporters today and Nixon supporters in the early 1970’s have in common.
Slow Burn – WITH LEON NEYFAKH
You think you know the story, or maybe you don’t. But Watergate was stranger, wilder, and more exciting than you can imagine. What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down a president?
Join Leon Neyfakh for an eight-episode podcast miniseries that tells the story of Watergate as it happened—and asks, if we were living through Watergate, would we know it?
In the end, our form of government is not the best, but as Winson Churchill said
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
The Republic survived a Civil War, a Great Depression, World Wars, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Barrak Obama and it will survive Donald Trump. The systems of checks and balance and the power of the voting booth seem to win out in the end. A government for and by the people pervails. Now math, that’s hard to outrun. The math is creeping up on us and when the spark hits and bubbles burst, we need to be careful not to run to government filled with broken men to solve our problems.
More On My Prior Nixon Posts;
Nixon, My Second LEAST Favorite President
Blind ambition, narcissism, a man grabbed and consumed by power, you name it, Nixon suffered from it. From early in 1968 where he was behind extending the Vietnam war to make Johnson look bad;
There was no doubt, said Johnson, that Nixon’s campaign team was trying to scupper peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. They were afraid that peace in Vietnam would help Nixon’s Democratic rival, Hubert Humphrey, to clinch the election.
Johnson threatened to go public with his information. The election was just days away.
But Johnson never did go public. He received an emphatic denial from Nixon in person the next day. And perhaps more importantly, Johnson never had the definitive evidence he needed tying Nixon himself to the efforts being made by his campaign team.
A new discovery by historian John Farrell might well be the smoking gun that Johnson needed. It’s published in The New York Times.
The peace process in 1968 was real. The Soviet Union had persuaded North Vietnam to come to the table, the US just needed to deliver South Vietnam. At the beginning of November, both sides made goodwill gestures to prepare for the talks. The Communists stopped shelling cities and halted attacks across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. Johnson ordered a halt to the massive US aerial bombing campaign. “We’ve had 24 hours of relative peace,” he said in that Nov. 2 call to Nixon’s friend, Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). “If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there.”
To starting of the EPA, OSHA, enacted price and wage controls and probably the most devastating short-term move any President could make was that he took the US off the gold standard and cut a deal to make sure the Petro-Dollar was adopted by all oil-producing nations. Frustrated by a slow economy going into the 1972 elections (the Watergate election), Nixon removed America from the gold standard and forever put the central bankers and the federal reserve in charge of running up the largest deficits in history. With Kissinger at his side, securing the Dollars place as the primary currency for the trade of oil gave America a 40 year run of prosperity. Prosperity at a cost. The constant battles and interventions in the middle east are always in the name of protecting American interests….the petrodollar.
“Can you imagine what this man would have been like if somebody would have loved him?” —Henry Kissinger
Here’s one of the biggest decisions made that Nixon made. It was an election year, we were leading into the Watergate scandal and Nixon knew he’s got a temporary bump from leaving the gold standard. Fast forward 40 years and we can see what the fiat money system has morphed into. My favorite line ‘the many responsible lenders of the International banking community’.