Showing posts from 2007

Wishing You Health, Happiness, and Prosperity to 100!

Happy Holidays! The Given: As I approached my Providence property last week, I saw a familiar site. Our neighbor, Donald, was working in the front of his house. This time, he was shoveling snow, clearing the foot dumped on Southern New England Thursday. A few months back, he was cutting full Cedar Trees, Rhododendrons, Mountain Laurel, and Boxwoods; landscaping to make his home more open to prospective buyers. The Doubt: Donald will be 98 in February. I try to visit him every week, to get a dose of his positive human potential. This week, he was baking chocolate chip cookies. Every time I visit, his daily paper is ruffled. He rifles through the information and reflects on the good and bad in the world. Donald is a positive deviant. He bucks the negative trends and maladies facing this nation’s aging population. Average male life expectancy in the United States 75.2 years. He maintains his own home and lives independently. He’s in excellent physical, mental, emotional, spi

Goetz Custom Boats - Surviving to Thriving

A Thriving Team Story – Goetz Custom Boats Happy Holidays! The previous two blogs highlighted personal (Bernie’s) resiliency factors and positive interpersonal (Coach Monica’s) influencing skills. Discussing organizational success factors seems to follow naturally, so this month’s article is about team Goetz. Eric Goetz and I met while he attended the Brown University Practice of Management Certificate Program I helped develop and teach. It ran between 1994 and 2006. After he completed the fifty hour long program, Eric became a guest speaker and now visits and presents his company’s case to universities where I guest lecture. I also sit on Eric’s advisory board. So, please enjoy the following. You are encouraged to share your thoughts and recommendations. They will be forwarded to Eric. Following the case are tools and theories we used, in part, to help Eric. These are included to benefit you. If I can help you apply them to your organization, please let me know. Also, if y

One Look from Coach Said Everything

Note: Ted Monica of Madison, NJ, the Madison High School Football Coach from 1955 to 1980, was honored on September 14, 2007 in ceremonies to name the football stadium at the high school the "Ted Monica Stadium at Twombley Field". The following letter was published in my hometown paper, The Madison Eagle, on September 13. Please excuse some redundancy from a previous blog. Coach embodied many the characteristics of a great motivator. These theories follow the article.    Coaching and Motivating Others Coach Monica was a Lombardi disciple. In fact, he helped the Green Bay Packers on draft day for years. He and his football program were highly organized. He was very tough and gruff on the exterior, but we responded to his honesty and underlying goodness. For me, he represented the ultimate definition of a coach, or teacher. He was smart, a real expert in his field and very sharp and perceptive. Coach had a very strong presence and voice, and great eye contact. Hi

Managing Self, Coaching Others, Leading the Team

During the past sixteen years, I've consulted with a broad spectrum of clients from individual contributors to senior executives, and from executive boards to hockey teams. The tools and applications my clients find most helpful are being compiled and published in a book to help people who influence: Manage Themselves, Coach Others, and Lead Their Teams. The next few blogs are planned to highlight some of these beneficial practices. Managing Oneself: Individuals are refreshed and productive after a good vacation, or energizing event. Life Balance allows people to maintain perspective and important relationships. Below please find life balance wheel components. Please note, these components are not used with my corporate clients because they are protected classes. Other than the career component, they can't be considered when hiring or promoting a person. However, I share this tool with my individual clients, so they can privately isolate areas interfering with their capacit

Great Teachers and Learning Organizations

Does your mind ever wander while you are supposed to be paying attention in a class or meeting? Do you ever feel "cheated" by apathetic teachers or managers who can’t engage and organize people? Between fifth and ninth grades I barely made it through school, partly due to clueless teachers, partly due to family problems, and partly due to my sense I lacked control. Then, when I started tenth graded, a light switch seemed to flip on in my brain. I started reading on my own, interested in learning vs. memorizing test material. Math made sense. I loved structuring equations and finding solutions. I loved learning. I read everything available about the power of the spirit and positive psychology. And, I was exposed to my first great teacher, beyond my parents, my head high school football coach, Ted Monica. Coach Monica was a Lombardi disciple. In fact, he helped the Green Bay Packers on draft day for years. He and his football program were highly organized. He was very


At 1:30 AM Saturday morning a loud rustling in the woods behind our yard woke me. I went to the bathroom window and looked. I was still sleepy, so I shook my head to make sure I was not hallucinating. A large person, with a faint light, was trudging through the woods, just beyond our property line. Every few steps, he, and I knew it was a man by the painful noises he made as he fell onthe brier filled brush, rocks, logs, and stumps. He was moving from my right to left. Just about three feet to his left was our property line, a complete clearing. I know the area well. My back is recovering from clearing the one hundred foot by one hundred foot area between our grassed yard and this wooded nature preserve / wetlands. In 2004 I cut down about eighty scrub trees, grounded the stumps, cut the oak for fire wood, chipped the rest for paths, cleared all the brush with a "Gravely", a monster machine able to clear trees 3" in diameter and less, and herniated a disc. Before I yelle

Ozzie to Ozzie

To help leaders influence and engage people, following please find the organizational needs family sitcoms depicted over the past fifty years. Family is a fundamental team unit. Family sitcoms show how leadership and team needs evolved and changed over the past fifty years. Dynamic units, like families, tend to change non-stop, while bureaucratic organizations like the United States Government, Ford Motor, and the Catholic Church, can become too focused on internal issues to meet audience expectations. When organizations respond to market needs with alacrity, they thrive. It's possible for organizations to change with the times by aligning members around shared values and principles, regardless of members' cultural and demographic differences. The most popular TV show in the 1950's was "I Love Lucy". Perhaps Lucy's popularity was based on her comic antics, and her manipulating Desi. These were welcome diversions from traditional, idealized, 1950's T

Father's Day

Father's day is upon us. So much effort is dedicated to creating and finding the right father's day gift. Once I became a father, I realized the best gifts are unintended blessings from my kids. For instance, when our eldest daughter was learning to talk, she and I visited Thayer Street in Providence to pick up some gyro sandwiches at Andreas. Mohawks were popular amongst Thayer's crowd. A young man with foot long spikes walked in front of the car. I watched her eyes follow him up the street. She turned to me and asked: "daddy, is that a dragon?" Our son was going to bed one night when he was four. He looked troubled. I asked if anything was wrong. He said he had a secret. Assuming he'd hidden an accident, or had broken something fragile, I sensed this was my opportune time to build his trust. I said he could share with me. Everything would be OK. I wouldn't be upset. He turned, quietly, and said: "I love toys. I really, really love to

Mother's Day

Last week I attended mediation training in Boston. The timing was interesting, with the dates following mother’s day. My mom was a natural leader, and mediator. She stood just five feet, three inches tall. This, combined with her terminal illness, made her physical presence less than imposing. However, her will and spirit, and beautiful face, made her indomitable. She turned every incident into an opportunity to learn, or to help. Growing up in NJ, we had a neighbor named Andre Passamato. Andre drove his Harley Davidson to work when the weather turned nice. He left his home between 5:30 and 6:00 AM every morning, revved his engine, and shot out of the neighborhood like a bat out of hell. As a result, he woke everyone up along both sides of the street. The neighbors were up in arms, tired of waking early and losing an extra hour of sleep every morning thanks to Andre's motorcycle alarm. They feared approaching Andre. He had big tattoos and a Fu Manchu mustache. He looke

"You're Not Going To Believe This!"

It's been a tough few months. We memorialized another one of Linda's cousins last week. Steven died in his sleep at the age of 47, leaving his wife Maureen and two young children, Tyler and Andrew. Despite Steven's serious job with Gillette, where he managed arbitrage programs allowing Gillette to, by the minute, invest in advantageous international markets, he was the life of any party, with amazing stories. His stories helped me reflect on twists of fate. Below please find a few. A few months back, Tyler said his dad was, as usual, reading on their back porch in Plymouth when he heard, and saw out of the corner of his eye, what he thought was one of the family's two cats walking up the porch steps. Steven continued to read, and clicked his fingers to attract the kitty. He reached to pet the responding animal. The fur was thicker than usual, and the belly much broader. To his horror, Steven looked down at a fat raccoon, now enamored with Steven's hospitali


The fifth year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks coincides with a unique date for me. I am the exact age today as my mom was when she died in 1979. I was a senior in high school at the time, and the prognosis from my teachers and relatives was not too good. They felt, thanks to my age and transitory place in life, I was more apt than my siblings to suffer long term negative affects from my mom's early death. I always disagreed with this and felt, regardless of someone's age when his or her parent dies, it creates profound change. Yet, this impact does not have to be totally negative. I'd love to be able to update my mom, to fill her in on what's transpired in my life since her death. Even though I can't directly communicate with her, there are signs she's aware. There will be more on these later. But first, this article is intended to help you and folks you know who've lost a loved one young. The Problem: The death of a young parent. Hundre

Mental Models

Mental Models "We are here (In Zimbabwe) and happy. The sun is shining--we pray for rain in church. Not many look like us so people are especially friendly." Barrett Hazeltine, my friend and Brown faculty advisor, sent this last week. After celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and Barrett's 75th birthday, last year, Barrett and Mary decided to return again to Africa to help raise, this time, Zimbabwe's spirits and economy. Rain came a few days later, but not enough to ease farmers' worries. What struck me was Barrett's last line. One of my first friends in this world is Nayan Lassiter. We still stay in touch. Nayan was my next door neighbor in Madison, NJ. His family had a compound with his grandparents, great grandma, and visiting cousins, in one home, and Nayan and his family in another house. They also had a huge patio, studio, and pool. It was a great entertainment center. When we were young, I never noticed Nayan's different skin tone