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Leadership examples summarized from a wonderful football coach

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<a href="http://www.pagantuna.com/posts/schembechler-bacon-and-leadership.html

This website summarizes some interesting insights pulled from a recollection of an interaction between a football coach and a team defense captain. Every leader needs to develop their own style, but all effective leaders share common attributes. Check out the summary bullet points and enjoy Bacon’s presentation. The vocal emphases, physical gestures, facial expressions and modulated presentation pace are masterful.

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World Statistics Day

Today is World Statistics Day!

Help me celebrate by building a histogram, cranking out a Pareto Analysis, or drawing a Normal Distribution and post it on your wall.  May all your desired effects be robust and overwhelm the noise!  J

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The Mystery of Math

I’m convinced that there are eternal and ultimate truths. I won’t argue about the nature of creation or it’s origin. I’m a believer and have strong faith in a supreme creators and will discuss Orthodox Christian theology with anyone who wants to listen and hold a conversation. I further believe that math is the language of the universe. It is simply too perfect and makes me stand in awe. Here’s a link to a video that shows some of the wonders and mysteries of math and what others have said. I like the quote at the end of the video. Math is like a very capable servant, who,,, if you ask nicely, will take you to the solution. You have to ask nicely!

E.O. Wilson’s Letters to a Young Scientist

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Here’s a TED Talk I found and will summarize in a few days.

http://on.ted.com/Wilson2012

This is a lecture and some notes that every young person who is entering or contemplating a life in the “sciences” should hear and absorb. Professor Wilson presents his notes of great wisdom with humor and genuine concern for his protege’s development. I wish I had heard these words forty years ago. J

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Young men should read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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I had a brief encounter today with a 16-year-old young man. We were sharing a brief conversation while tables were being cleared after our weekly coffee and social hour after church. I wanted to use Tom Sawyer’s punishment of white washing his aunt’s fence as a metaphor for some part of our conversation… But before I drew the metaphor, I asked if he had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He said he didn’t get that assignment in his English class and had not read the book.

Oh, am I sorry! I highly encouraged the young man to pick up a copy and read it. He said he spends his free time playing video games. I hope I wasn’t over bearing, but I suggested he’s missing some huge opportunities. I can’t believe any 16-year-old boy wouldn’t love to read the crazy antics and imagine themselves playing the role of an adventurous Tom Sawyer.

I think we write for three main reasons. Maybe the are more but these are what I see. (1) We write to record our thoughts. (2) We write to communicate our thoughts with others. And finally, and most importantly, (3) we write to refine and develop our thoughts. I encouraged my young friend to read good literature because he can gain the refined insights from our and history’s greatest thinkers. This is how great people have learned for centuries. Our interaction got truncated and we said our goodbye’s with this being my last comment. I wish we could have continued our conversation so I could have encouraged him to not only read but to start writing and developing his profound thoughts. It’s never too early or late to start.

Mentorship Skills & Adult Learning: Reflection, Contemplation, and Drawing Insights

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I was fundamentally impressed by the US Senate Watergate Hearing during the summer of 1973. I was working the midnight shift in the steel mills during my summer break from undergraduate university studies. Working during the night allowed me to watch some of the proceedings as they happened during the business day. I was tremendously impressed how the various witnesses, while under oath, could give detailed accounts of where they were, what they did, who they talked to, and what they said over a year or more previous to the hearing. I thought this was extraordinary because I couldn’t remember what we had for dinner two nights ago. This was the genesis of my keeping a personal journal and record of my activities. Initially, this was a simple calendar with some brief comments and note. The major entries were the names of girls I was dating and how much money I spend on each date. As time passed, my calendars became more sophisticated and soon became a record of my “profound thoughts and insights.” I didn’t realize it but I was developing myself as an adult learner. Adults learn by reflecting and revisiting the actions and interactions they experience. By making overt contemplations and evaluations of their experiences, adults draw insights that reinforce and define their core values and beliefs.

During a recent 1-on-1 with a work associate, I learned of an interaction he had with another employee. My friend conveyed how he sat with a “halfhearted employee” (that might be too strong and negative of a characterization) and explained the benefits of engaging a particular task with high energy and enthusiasm. My dear friend happily explained the employee’s change in heart and motivation at the end of their discussion. This is a wonderful and encouraging story and, and from my perspective, a great growth opportunity… for my friend. I suggested that he develop a journal and use his low productivity time (airplane time traveling to and from distant facilities) to compile his thoughts and experiences. By recording the details of his mentoring interactions, he will cause himself to reflect and contemplate the interactions. By doing this, he will gain insights and see how some of his words and shared thoughts made deeper impact than others. This will reinforce his sense of success as a mentor and will help him refine and hone his skills. This will lead to important questions, like, “What can he do to reinforce the employee’s sense of engagement and successful enthusiasm?”

We talk about Six Sigma Master Black Belts serving as mentors and guides to Black Belts, Green Belts and others in our organization. This is not an easy skill to cultivate and my suggestion above is some of the best advice I can give you. You can read all sorts of books and articles and attend seminars and classes, but your real development happens when you exercise the techniques. To excel and become an expert mentor, you have to evaluate your current state performance, identify improvement opportunities, implement improvement actions, and then re-evaluate your performance. Taking the time to make thoughtful journal entries, contemplating and drawing insights, and continually refining your soft skills are behaviors we should perform as part of our personal quest for continuous improvement.

I hope and trust that you join me in striving for never-ending improvement… for our organization and for ourselves.

Love those coconut macaroons

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Coconut macaroons are hugely special for me. Besides exciting my taste buds, they rekindle sweet memories and help me remember who I am and from where I came. I recently ate one and the experience led to other sense-memory recollections…does this happen to you?

After my father completed his undergraduate and Master’s part-time (with daily, 2-hour, one-way commutes back and forth to the University of Pennsylvania!), he sent my mother to school. While she completed her undergraduate and Master’s programs going part-time, it was routine for Dad and his kids to clean the house early Saturday morning. But then he and I would blast out to the markets.

He had a whole circuit of places to go. One store for meat…another for vegetables…and another for fruit. We’d spend a bit of time talking with my Dad’s old buddies and some shop owners — good acquaintances from the weekly shopping routine. And, sometimes, we’d stop by the shoemaker to drop off or pick our shoes.

Wow! The smell of worked leather is something rich and memorable. It was here that I met the first guy named “Jake” besides me. Jake Hanyevich was always sitting in the shop and talking to Mr. Glovatsky, the shoemaker. Mr. Glovatsky and Jake Hanyevich came from the same town in Ukraine as my grandfather, so we were almost family. Of course I called the shop owner “Mr.” out of respect; but I could use Jake’s common name because,although he was past 65 and I was nearly 7, we shared the same name. I couldn’t say much because everything was spoken in Ukrainian, Russian, or Polish. While these guys weren’t highly educated, nor the conversation formal, whatever we discussed always led to much laughter. Somehow the old men always made me feel welcome and part of the group, even though I could hardly say more than, “Good morning. I’m fine. How are you? Thank you very much.”

Dad and I made our way from the shoe shop down the street to a market in the old city center for baked goods. This place still sold live chickens and had lots interesting stalls. There was sawdust on the floor to absorb blood and other drippings — the smells were memorable. Green coffee beans were on sale — a guy would roast them as dark as you wanted. You could also get freshly roasted peanuts. There were peanut shells and residual flour on the floor. You could purchase 1, 5 or 500 pounds of flour, peanuts or coffee.

But we walked past most of it, to the very back of the building to the bakery. We purchased bread, cakes and pies for the week…French…Vienna…rye…or pumpernickel. We would surprise Mom with a different bread each week, and it was always very good. Dad almost always purchased two coconut macaroons and we ate them as we walked out this big building that was nearly a city block deep.

I ate a delicious chocolate macaroon two days ago and remembered the market… my dad and mother, how they taught me to work and study… all those sights and smells from more than 50 years ago. One macaroon led to such poignant associations. Has this happened to you?