Archive for April, 2007

An excerpt from, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
Lee Iacocca

For more info click here

 

THE TEST OF A LEADER

I’ve never been Commander in Chief, but I’ve been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I’ve figured out nine points — not ten (I don’t want people accusing me of thinking I’m Moses). I call them the “Nine Cs of Leadership.” They’re not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let’s be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It’s up to us to choose wisely.

So, here’s my C list:

A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. “I just scan the headlines,” he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” Bush disagrees. As long as he gets his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound system, he’s ready to go.

If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn’t put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he’s right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care. Before the 2006 election, George Bush made a big point of saying he didn’t listen to the polls. Yeah, that’s what they all say when the polls stink. But maybe he should have listened, because 70 percent of the people were saying he was on the wrong track. It took a “thumping” on election day to wake him up, but even then you got the feeling he wasn’t listening so much as he was calculating how to do a better job of convincing everyone he was right.

A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping. There’s a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty. Senator Joe Biden recalled a conversation he had with Bush a few months after our troops marched into Baghdad. Joe was in the Oval Office outlining his concerns to the President — the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanded Iraqi army, the problems securing the oil fields. “The President was serene,” Joe recalled. “He told me he was sure that we were on the right course and that all would be well. ‘Mr. President,’ I finally said, ‘how can you be so sure when you don’t yet know all the facts?'” Bush then reached over and put a steadying hand on Joe’s shoulder. “My instincts,” he said. “My instincts.” Joe was flabbergasted. He told Bush, “Mr. President, your instincts aren’t good enough.” Joe Biden sure didn’t think the matter was settled. And, as we all know now, it wasn’t.

Leadership is all about managing change — whether you’re leading a company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt. Maybe Bush was absent the day they covered that at Harvard Business School.

A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I’m not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I’m talking about facing reality and telling the truth. Nobody in the current administration seems to know how to talk straight anymore. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem. I don’t know if it’s denial or dishonesty, but it can start to drive you crazy after a while. Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it’s painful. The war in Iraq has been, among other things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who didn’t cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we’ve stopped listening to him.

A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” George Bush has a lot of power. What does it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops (not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to their deaths — for what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show his daddy he’s tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.

A leader must have COURAGE. I’m talking about balls. (That even goes for female leaders.) Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.

If you’re a politician, courage means taking a position even when you know it will cost you votes. Bush can’t even make a public appearance unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He did a series of so-called town hall meetings last year, in auditoriums packed with his most devoted fans. The questions were all softballs.

To be a leader you’ve got to have CONVICTION — a fire in your belly. You’ve got to have passion. You’ve got to really want to get something done. How do you measure fire in the belly? Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. President — four hundred and counting. He’d rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that the high point of his presidency so far was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.

It’s no better on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006. That’s eleven days less than the record set in 1948, when President Harry Truman coined the term do-nothing Congress. Most people would expect to be fired if they worked so little and had nothing to show for it. But Congress managed to find the time to vote itself a raise. Now, that’s not leadership.

A leader should have CHARISMA. I’m not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It’s the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. That’s my definition of charisma. Maybe George Bush is a great guy to hang out with at a barbecue or a ball game. But put him at a global summit where the future of our planet is at stake, and he doesn’t look very presidential. Those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he enjoys so much don’t go over that well with world leaders. Just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who received an unwelcome shoulder massage from our President at a G-8 Summit. When he came up behind her and started squeezing, I thought she was going to go right through the roof.

A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You’ve got to know what you’re doing. More important than that, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent? Well, let’s see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we’ve got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we’ve run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that’s just for starters. A leader has to be a problem solver, and the biggest problems we face as a nation seem to be on the back burner.

You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE. I call this Charlie Beacham’s rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford’s zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham, who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner, with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to tell me, “Remember, Lee, the only thing you’ve got going for you as a human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you don’t know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you’ll never make it.” George Bush doesn’t have common sense. He just has a lot of sound bites. You know — Mr.they’ll-welcome-us-as-liberators -no-child-left-behind-heck-of-a-job -Brownie-mission-accomplished Bush.

Former President Bill Clinton once said, “I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality-based world — and I like it here.”

I think our current President should visit the real world once in a while.

THE BIGGEST C IS CRISIS

Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

I wonder if men do the same thing?  I was walking down the hall at the school where I work and I heard snippets of 2 conversations that gossiping ladies were having.  The first conversation I heard were between 2 black women.  They were dissing at least 3 black women.  The were saying that Oprah is a sell out, extremely depressed, not happy with her life, and they think she is a lesbian.  They went on to say that they don’t like Oprah because she doesn’t represent everyday, ordinary women.  As I walked away, I heard the fading conversation of how Fantasia, of American Idol is a disgrace to the piedmont triad here in North Carolina.  And I kid you not, they actually called her a “HO”.  This was just last week after the whole Imus thing.  I was thinking about what I heard on “The View” where they said, “Say no to ho!”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. 

I was trying to shake all of the negative thoughts from my brain, as I walked around the corner to the break room looking for coffee.  I found a group of white women talking in the same sort of tone.  The snippet I heard from them was that Hillary Clinton was washout.  The dark haired woman in blue said, “No one in their right mind would vote for a woman who can’t even handle their man.”  Before I left the breakroom, they had moved on to how trashy and slutty the women at work were.  In their opinion, the women in this particular school spend way too much time going after the men in the school.  The brown haired woman said, and I quote, “It’s not the men’s fault, they can’t help it, but the women should know better.  Did you see what a ho D—- was in the man gettin’ skirt?”

Twice, in less than 5 minutes I heard women calling their own ho’s.

Ok, what in the hell is wrong with us women?  Why do we purposely search and destroy our own so viciously?  We’re screaming about equal rights, and wanting to be treated with respect, but in our own little circles, we’re trashing the hell out of any woman who gets any success, or is working hard to make a difference.  But if someone outside that circle calls them a ho, trashy, easy, whatever, place your adjective ______ here, women go nuts.  Shouting how unequal everything is, and they can’t believe anyone would have the nerve to call any woman these  names.  “After all, we’re your mother’s, sister’s, daughter’s, aunts, wife’s, girlfriend’s, and grandmother’s.  We deserve to be respected!” 

Yes, I agree…we as women have to work harder to prove that we’re even half as competent as a man.  But maybe, just maybe, we could be to blame.  We spend so much time dissing each other, why should those outside the circle react any differently?  We deserve to be respected, and that means having enough self dignity to respect ourselves.  Imus is not the only one calling ho, but he should know better none the less…But so should anyone else. “Say no to Ho!” and “Respect yourself!” DAMMIT

The Joy of Beer

Posted: April 28, 2007 in All, Blogroll, Love, Thoughts

I love Beer.  When I was 7 or 8 years old my grandparents let me taste theirs.  Most kids that age would spit it out and scream in horror, “NASTY!”  But from the very first sip, I was in love.  I remember when I was around 12 years old, I was at a street festival with my dad and his girlfriend.  He didn’t want to have to go back through the beer line so quickly, so he bought 2 beers.  He had his back to me with one beer in his hand.  The other was on the ground right next to me.  I looked around and didn’t see anyone looking, so I picked up the beer, put it to my lips, and had a nice, long sip.  Mmmmmmm About that time I noticed 2 police men looking right at me.  Luckily they bought my dads story about how that happened, and that he didn’t buy his 12 year old daughter a beer, so we weren’t arrested.  They just told my dad to finish his beer, and get out of the beer garden immediately.  We did.

Now, I almost always have beer in  the fridge, and glass mugs in  the freezer.  The colder the beer, the better! There’s nothing worse than a luke warm beer, except of a hot beer of course.   I don’t want one everyday.  But sometimes after a hard day at work, a beer or two is just a perfect ending.  The problem is, it is so full of carbs and calories.  I love Sam Adams, but it is neither carb or calorie friendly at all.  So, that has to be the occasional special treat.  So, it’s hard to find that special beer that is low carb, low calorie, but not watery.  I really enjoy Bud Select, with only 3.9 grams of carbs and only 99 calories.  The flavor is just full and bold enough, with a smooth finish. If you know of some to recommend, please pass it on.  Here is a website that has a carb and calorie comparison.  I might try some of these out.  I haven’t heard of some of them, or they just don’t sell them here.  None the less, it will be a fun experiment.

  

Scott Adams, the author of the Dilbert comic strip has a blog  that allows him to address things that the strip will not.  In his post called Fuel, he is asking you to consider your moral compass.  I read it as justifying your support of the war on terror, and the deaths that result.  This might not of been his full intention, but it really made me think.  If you support the war, read this and just give it a moment of consideration.  I thought it was a good guide to where does ones moral compass fall, and how do we, as humans rationalize the horrific things we accept as normal.    What do you think?

Fuel

Imagine you could make fuel out of poor people. The only downside is that the poor people have to be converted to a combustible liquid in the process. Imagine that although there are many alternatives to using poor people as fuel, those alternatives cost way more. In fact, the alternatives are so much more expensive, widespread use would impact your standard of living by about twenty percent.

Obviously using humans for fuel would be wrong and you wouldn’t do it. But I’m not done confusing your moral compass.

Now let’s say the people who are used as fuel are volunteers, of a sort. For every twenty people who volunteer to become SUV fuel, only one will be randomly selected. The other nineteen get a host of benefits including pensions and paid educations. Let’s say human fuel is so economical that one human converted to fuel pays for the benefits to the other nineteen. And the one poor person fuels an entire town’s energy needs for a year.

In this scenario, you’d be powering your car with liquefied poor people, but your conscience would be cleared by the knowledge they all volunteered. It’s a free country. They took the chance of being one of the nineteen lucky ones, but it didn’t work out. Some volunteered because they thought it was their best chance for upward mobility. Some thought it was their patriotic duty. But it was their decision. No one forced them.

Let’s say the politicians argue that in the long run, this policy of using poor people for fuel will save lives. The thinking is that we’ll eventually develop other fuel sources, but for now we need the strong economy to pay for health care and a strong national defense against terrorists and whatnot. All of the volunteers are hailed as heroes.

Under those conditions would you use poor people to fuel your car?

Bonus question: Are you already doing something close to that?

[Update: Please stop leaving Soylent Green, Jonathan Swift, a

Sliders, and “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” comments. You are not the first. And this post only reminds you of those. It’s not the same.]

The pet food scare has been linked to the wheat gluten found in the pet food. The problem seems to have come from the Wheat grown in China. There are a lot of Vets that are recommending to avoid all pet foods and treats that contain wheat gluten.  And now there is evidence that pigs have eaten some of the recalled pet food, although it doesn’t appear right now that those pigs have reached the human food chain.    I think we’ve just begun to scratch the service of the pet food industry.  There has been evidence linked everywhere that pet food is full of stuff that’s bad for our pets. check out this website for more resources: www.truthaboutpetfood.com   I’m not saying that Menu foods is taking part in this.  I am saying, there are no regulations on pet foods.  Basically, anything the pet food company wants to put in, it goes in.  The pet food companies can put in the cheapest ingredients to gain the most profit.   It doesn’t matter if the pet food is any good for the pet or not.  We  need to get some sort of regulation put in place to protect our pets.  I think this problem with wheat gluten will be only the beginning to a very long chapter in the pet food industry.

Susan Thixton
“The Truth About Pet Food”
www.truthaboutpetfood.com
 
Susan Thixton the author of The Truth About Pet Food Recommends these brands of pet food:

-Nutra
-Solid Gold
-Life Abundance
-NoVo Brand
-Evo Brand
-Natura Balance
-Rockies Puppy Training

Susan Thixton has given a grade to these popular brands

-Pedigree: F
-Beneful: F
-Purina One: C-
-Nutro: B-
-Lassie brand: B
-Nature’s Balance: C+
-Whiskas: F
-Science Diet: D+
-Eukanuba: D+
-Kirkland: D

And she says if you see these ingredients in the list, especially the top 5, do not buy that brand

-BHA
-BHT
-ethoxyquin
-meat and bone meal
– animal digest

-wheat gluten                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 

really p.o.’d

Posted: April 24, 2007 in All, Blogroll, child abuse, Health, Life, rants, Thoughts

I really just don’t get it…and I guess I have no one to blame but myself.  I have been having physical problems for almost 3 years now.  Because of my extensive abuse I suffered as a child, I don’t go to the doctor unless I feel like I’m dying. (the wonderful results of having your body used and mistreated) I haven’t been to the dentist in almost 20 years.  Finally, I got to where I couldn’t take it anymore.  It took every little piece of everything that I am, but I called the OB/GYN.  It took a month to get an appointment.  Now, I have a diagnoses of an 8 inch fibroid that is tangled up in the muscle.  The doctor wants to do a hysterectomy. (I won’t even go into all of the confusion, fear, and question I have with that issue) None the less, there is a catch.  I have to wait another 6 weeks before they can do surgery.  I am in a lot of pain, there are not any pain pills I can take that work.  I’m being treated for acid reflux until my gall bladder test come back.  I have severe hydronephrosis (sp) of the left kidney, that is enlarged and bringing much pain as it is.  My blood pressure is through  the roof at around 152 over 100.  I’m trying to work with special needs kids with all of this pain and discomfort….and the doctor’s office doesn’t seem to give a shit.  So my question is this, how many of you have had these problems with health care?  What did you do about it?  But hell, they’re the almighty doctor, and I’m a little bitty no body. What can I really do ?  All I’m left with is, the health care system sucks!

Sorry for the rant, but I’m uncomfortable, I’m in pain, and I’m tired.  Thanks for listening/reading!

Guns Gone Wild

Posted: April 22, 2007 in All, Blogroll, Controversy, politics, rants, Thoughts

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But, what is a gun? Simple question, or is it? Guns are weapons. They are built and designed to kill.  And with every passing year, guns are built to destroy more, damage more, and to be bigger and better than they were the year before.

Yes, you can use them for target shooting, but that is not their purpose. Why is it that you have to do more to earn the privilege to drive a car than to earn the privilege of owning a gun? Why is it that one needs to practice, go take a test, and pass that test before obtaining the right to drive? And you need to continue to retake that test every few years in order to keep that license. However, I can go into a gun shop, fill out a form, permit a criminal background check, and in 10 minutes walk out with a gun? No practice required. No education required. No test required. Nothing further is required of me to keep that gun for the rest of my life, so long as I do not become a felon.

If you want a gun to shoot a deer, a squirrel, or even a beer can, I really don’t give a damn. But if you are my next door neighbor, I deserve the security to know that I can trust you with the power to shoot and kill me from the comfort of your lazy boy. I deserve the security of knowing you have had the education on how to use that gun, and how to store and clean it. I deserve the security in knowing that you are not a schizophrenic who hears voices that tell you to shoot anything that comes within 5 feet of your house. Your body, your life, your choice to own that gun. But if it has the potential of effecting my body, my life and my choices…I want and deserve for you to have restrictions and control over your possession of that deadly weapon.

I can’t go into a airport with a bottle of water because of terrorist. But a man who was in a mental hospital because he threatened to kill himself or somebody else can be released from the hospital, go into a pawn shop, and walk out with a gun…with the power to kill. I can not even begin to understand the logic in this. The NRA is a powerful organization. They become downright hostile if anyone even breaths the word gun control. They immediately go into a war like mode, and twist and turn the words of the person who is fighting for tougher gun laws. If I had any kind of influence at all, this very post would send them into a frenzy. They would immediately twist my words into saying that I am against all guns, and no one should be allowed to have them, under any circumstances. They would come up with whatever they could to destroy and shut me up. But luckily, no one really gives a damn what this 30 something has to say. None the less, this 30 something is mad as hell that there are not enough restrictions on a machine that is made to weaken, injure, and destroy. I really don’t give a damn about your amendment rights, when they have the potential of interfering with my amendment rights. And until we can meet on some level ground, there is not a chance in hell that I will be shutting up anytime soon!  Guns have gone wild, but you haven’t seen anything yet unless something is done to end this madness.