Recently posted quotes:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it." -James Madison (1751-1836)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Leadership – Part 2

I am sorry that some of you out there do not know of Alvin York or even Audie Murphy. Those of my generation grew up reading about them in our history books. They were leaders of the first order. Their actions inspired others around them, and those that heard of them, to undertake actions that they would normally let pass. But, maybe not just let pass; they would not even consider. Look them up. Wikipedia has short pages on each; it doesn’t take long.

Let’s get back to what I started to say yesterday: skills versus talent. Skills are traits that can be taught in some fashion or another: seminars, role playing, and revolving positions come to mind as good methods of developing skills. Talent, you can not teach. You can have a hand in developing it, just don’t try to teach it. Talent is a factor of the environment where the individual develops.

How do you test for leadership? This is hard to answer. You can put candidates in situations, challenge them with tasks under some pretty difficult conditions and evaluate results. But, if you haven’t discovered the difference between skills and talent; how do you determine who passes the leadership quiz? Some need the challenge of stress, some need the challenge of thought, and still some need the challenge persistence.

Skills, especially skills honed over a sufficient period of time, will allow the trained to out perform the true leader sometimes. I have been in situations where groups have been tested, you know like in the ropes course layout; and having experienced some of these layouts many times, the answer comes too easy. This is an unfair situation to those without the experience or opportunity.

So, in the short space we have here; how do you test leadership. If you are a hiring manager and are looking for a leader for one of your subordinate units; how do you go about selecting someone to fill that position? Will you settle for the best you have and try to develop over time. This is often the mistake that managers make. Even more often, they do not posses the leadership talent to do the development themselves. A bad situation!

Even worse, if you have to go outside the organization to find a leader; how can you tell that he//she actually posses the talent to do the job? This is a real conundrum that faces many executives today.

Think about the opportunities that will present themselves over the next two to five years. Assuming a ramp up post economic recession and the retirement of hordes of baby boomers leaving the workforce; how will management fill the coming opportunities with true leaders?

This is where we go next.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Leadership – Part 1

How do you get to be a leader? Are you the leader already? Are you a leader or just a manager? Maybe you aren’t either, but wanna be! So, how do you get there?

Leaders aren’t trained; but managers and supervisors can be. Leaders are products of their environment, not of some training school or academy. People can be trained skills and behaviors; but leadership is a talent. Talent is a development of the environment and surroundings that have formed you over a number of years and experiences.

Some leaders are easy to spot; you just can’t miss them. Then there is the leader who pops up outta nowhere. He//she wasn’t a leader before being forced into being one. The talent was always there; simmering just under the surface. Military history gives us the two best examples: SGT Alvin York and 2LT Audie L. Murphy. No one would have ever taken either of these two to be the leader they demonstrated that they were until the exact right set of circumstances called them out, so to speak. They then lead. Both were recommended for and awarded the Medal of Honor. Each also was the most decorated individual of their respective conflicts (WWI & WWII).

Products of their environment!

So, who out there is a leader. There has to be some around. In the everyday world that most of us play our daily game in, it can be hard to tell a leader from those that aren’t. Oh yes, there are the CEOs, presidents, directors and the such of the organizations we each earn our daily bread from; but just because they have a title, it doesn’t necessarily make them a leader.

Look around and give it some thought. Where are the leaders of today?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guns on Campus Legislation still in the MIX

Leaders, statewide, need to quit sitting back and hoping this dies on the vine. It just might pass – wouldn’t that be something?

Every thinking individual needs to come out against this tomfoolery and put a stop to it right now.

The pro-Guns guys are hitting this as hard as they can; it’s all about their Second Amendment rights or so they would like you to think. We have lived without this law for decades and can keep on living without this.

Gun guys will argue that there is not a downside to this legislation as we have had a CHL law in place for a decade proving the point. Actually, this is just as false an argument as the anti-gun guys arguing the reverse – we have had a CHL law in place for a decade and there has been no evidence that it has really protected anybody.

A few university professors have come out in favor of the bill; but to date not one university president has indorsed the legislation – very few have spoken up at all. Are they silent for the same reason that the legislators are vocal? Where are they when they should be heard?

The back and forth comment section on the Statesman website is humorous at best. There is so much bad info there; it is regrettable.

Consider this:

The DPS website states that there are 314,000 CHL’s in place out of a population of twenty-three million Texans. That’s 1% and 1% is not gonna protect us from a wacko; it just will not happen.

The instructors have to go through a renewal course every two years to maintain certification. Holders of CHL’s have to recertify every five years. Why aren’t the holders treated as restrictively as the instructors; after all they are holding the guns?

There hasn’t been any drastic case of “blood in the streets” or “wild west” incidents over the life of the CHL period. Pro Gunners would like you to think that is a result of the pistol packers out there. Actually, the converse might falsely be argued by the anti-gunners.

The simple fact probably is that the law requiring the proofs//checks that it takes to obtain the license also conversely renders those with CHL’s to be very unlikely to initiate an incident AND are very unlikely to be involved or where an incident might occur – it looks like the carry ability and carry need have offset one another thereby nullifying the need in the first place.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Universities and Gun Control

I was proud to see Bill Powers come out opposing Guns on Campus today. Finally a cool head with a background of respect stated an opinion. (William R. Powers, Jr. – President of the University of Texas at Austin)

This is what has been missing from the debate so far to date.

Those in the Legislature, primarily the Senate, have just been posturing for position to appease a small, but vocal, part of their constituency on this subject.

If this isn’t what the Senate Republicans have been doing, its time for their form of “lack of leadership” to move on. There are much better people out there that can do this job without the absurd type of legislation the Senate has wrapped itself up with during this session.

Universities must remain “gun free” zones. As Mr. Powers wrote: “Universities should be a safe environment for free speech and civil discourse. Students are expected to express their opinions and make decisions about social interactions free of intimidation. So are faculty, counselors and other staff members.” (Commentary in the Austin American Statesman, dtd 22 May 09, p A10)

I would hope the other leaders of the major universities have the gumption to stand up and speak out also. This threat to our ability to build the best leaders of tomorrow can not go unheeded. Neither can it be sweep under the rug as if there is no way this kind of legislation can make it to the Governor’ desk. It just might get there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Here we go AGAIN – Bicycling around Austin

Man, I love to bicycle but just haven’t got a bike anymore; haven’t had one for sometime. But, there is now a proposition before the City Council to spend in excess of $250mm on bike lanes. The Statesman article shows stats representing rider use within the population. Seems that something less than 1% of those going to work on a daily basis in our fair city do so by bike. Less than 1%, that’s right; less than 1%.

And what is this about the City’s Bike Czar, Annick Beaudet, program manager for the city bicycle and pedestrian program. Is this Annick Beaudet’s entire job?

The program was initiated in 1994 so it has been around for quite some time. Initially, the plan was staffed with a manager and two staff members and was to be funded chiefly by grants. The Council asked for pedestrian issues to be included in the program in 1996.

The city of Austin now has a plan that took two years to write, that’s right, two years. They want to get more of outta cars and on bicycles; it seems we are falling further and further behind Seattle and Portland- we really can’t let that happen now can we?

It just seems to me that there is just not enough justification for spending $250,000,000 on bike lanes, trails and bridges; especially within the economic environment we currently are experiencing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gun Control and where we are headed?

It looks like the Congress has been eating at the same trough that the Texas Legislature has been feeding out of; another bill allowing people to carry guns somewhere they aren’t allowed to do so now.

What is going on?

This has gotten way outta hand!

Before you know it, we will have guns everywhere; the grocery store, church pews, elementary school restrooms and who knows where-else?

Where are the cool heads of our Leaders?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Underperforming School Sees the Light of Day

W. W. Samuel High School in Dallas, Texas has passed the TAKS test after rated underperforming for the 5 previous years. English Math & Science. Oh Boy!

How do I know this? Because my daughter called me yesterday – so excited! She teaches 11th grade English Literature there; has done so for the past two years.

They have worked very hard. The English department passed last year, but the math and science departments did not. This year all three passed with improvements in their scores of double digits. It can be done. All that is required is the right motivation and a little time.

Way to go guys!

Friday, May 15, 2009

ATF and gun control

Watching the comments to the Statesman article in today’s paper makes you want to throw up. There is so much miss-information being bantered back and forth that logic couldn’t get a word in edge-wise.

Tracing 90% of Mexico’s confiscated guns back to the US: is it 90% or just 17%. The actual percentage doesn’t matter. It’s the total of weapons being purchased here to go there. Seventeen percent of a big number is a big number. Its illegal and should be stopped.

Then there’s the argument about the AK-47 “look-alikes” and its comparison to a 30-06 rifle. Here’s some of the facts:

AR-15 vs. M16 or M4
Semi Auto vs. your choice (one guy said 3 round burst – if you have a twenty or thirty round mag inserted; it’s a 20 t0 30 round burst – not 3 rds

AK-47 vs. 30-06
7.62x39mm cartridge vs. 7.62x63mm cartridge
120 grain rd vs. 180 grain rd
2300 ft/sec vs. 2900 ft/sec

AK-47 is a little less powerful until you compare the standard magazine load: 30 rounds to the 30-06 5 round or 7 round capacities. The difference in power means absolutely zero when you are on the receiving end; you’re just as dead either way.

As to the argument that the Austin Police Department officers would rather have a CHL holder (concealed handgun license) out there when they arrive on the scene; I not so sure I would like to be that guy. The APD’s record over the last two to three years concerning officer involved shootings would convince me that I would want no part of having a gun drawn when APD shows up to a scene.

Cooler heads will have to prevail. Luckily none of the wackos are in charge of our lives and will never be.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leadership Development

I am working on a story today that primarily concerns leadership development. There seems to me to be very little of this going on, especially in industry. I don’t know why. There is too little time set aside for developing the leaders of tomorrow; both in the interview//hiring phase and the on-the-job development phase.

How does management plan for the viability of the organization structure? This contingency is as important as any other. When the ramp-up starts from the current economy//business cycle, there will be more movement of management and leadership talent than one might initially imagine. The movement will not come from the ranks of the unemployed. Oh no! They will be looking for proven talent and that will be first and easiest found in the ranks of the employed.

The organizations that ignore the opportunity to develop those that they already have just may find themselves in a real hurt. The proposition of looking for experienced talent when everybody else is also in the hunt should jump out as a real motivator to management to get in gear and train, develop, train again and develop those under their own roof where possible.

The time required to accomplish an in-house training program is minimal compared to searching, finding and orientating new talent.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“Juicing” Gus

Yesterday afternoon, my hardware order for a new electric fence controller came in and I went over and picked it up; shiny red and everything.

Today, Buck and I got real sweaty replacing the old controller with the new controller. It really looks pretty hanging there on the fence just inside the gate and next to the AC unit. I went around checking out the stobbs and pounding back in those that have come loose recently; replacing a few here and there. I had to completely replace the two plastic stobbs right at the gate to Pupland; Patsy had torn them up with weed eater – no biggie, I have plenty.

I also had to rework the gate hookup; everything didn’t reach after lopping off the bad twisted wire.

I found the tester and plugged in the controller; all the time hoping it was gonna work like it should. I checked the controller – the light was pulsing and the noise sounded just right. The wire at the first gate seemed to be getting a good charge. The sun was so bright I couldn’t see the light indicator flashing, so I tried a few other spots; same problem.

I moved over to the area behind the Puphouse where there was some shade and was shoving the probe into the ground when I heard it.

Gus had been lit up and he was letting the entire neighborhood know that he didn’t like the “JUICE”. The fence works and has started doing its intended job.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Leadership and Moose Stories

I spent a great deal of the morning thinking about what I have been writing about and the people who joined with me during the endeavors that took place of which I write.

The events, often humorous to look back on, were often, at the time, anything but humorous. Most of the time these happenings took place under some of the most extreme circumstances that can be imagined. Everything from -112ºF to +112ºF, bears in the mess tent, hurricanes to earthquakes, aircraft excitement and mishaps; you name it and we were probably there.

Actions by people like David (Fitz) Fitzsimmons, Martin Snyder, the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Dickey Love, SSG Jones, SFC Toric, Herr and the rest made the adventures all worthwhile.

Great hunting stories: scrambles downhill, pilots in the mist, and the game warden laughing his &%**# off.

They’re all getting down in digital remembrance; then we’ll see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Police Video not working – Again

This morning’s fatal shooting with officer involved is at least the third time in recent years where the camera was not running//operating as it is required to be during a shooting incident.

How can this be a common occurrence and happen, so it seems, every time there is an Austin police officer involved in a shooting? This can not possibly be a coincident!

What is the problem? Do the cameras fail this often? Is there collusion amongst the officer corps against policy? Just where is the problem? The public should now be demanding answers.

I believe the Chief to be an honorable man; but questions arise in connection to those surrounding him. Or, can it be the union that is the culprit?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Education and Guns and the Legislature and the Governor

Still we debate: the State Board of Education and Guns on campus. How long has this discussion been going on – the whole session plus more backwards in time? Where is the leadership in this state?

The Board has become the laughing stock of most of the nation. I bet those guys in Mississippi are having a high time now that the heat is off of them. This guy McElroy from my hometown of Bryan has gone about as far as he can be allowed. The legislature should deny his conformation and cause the Governor to move on and appoint a leader that can lead with both sides of his//her brain engaged – textbooks to Darwin to creationism; solve the problem.

The Guns discussion is backed by one of the biggest lobby efforts one can find. These guys are leading the legislature astray; they need to be stopped by cooler heads also. An opinion written and published in the Austin American Statesman today points out that there has been some bad data put forward by the Guns side. If this is true, we have been greatly misinformed for some time now.

All the quite little letters back and forth aren’t helping: (1) comparing spoons (obesity) and glass (alcoholism) to guns (deaths by violence); and (2) the inevitable “prior my cold dead fingers” and it’s my right – the constitution says so. These voices are getting us nowhere; they are just taking up a large portion of our allotment of oxygen.

I would like to see the background and qualifications of those making these arguments in both cases; along with the expertise, background and funding, for that matter, of those elected officials backing these measures. We expect them to make decisions and vote with their eyes opened and their brains engaged. I, for one, am fed up!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Texas bipartisan redistricting bill

I just finished reading Statesman editorial about the log jam over State Senator Jeff Wentworth’s bipartisan redistricting bill. This seems to me to just make good sense.

I can’t figure out why the eleven Republicans oppose the bill. Didn’t they learn anything from the last election? I firmly believe there is a movement afoot to toss out all the stick-in-the-muds and replace them with fresh faces and “thinking” minds.

Here I sit in Austin, Texas with no state senator representing me. The old 10th Congressional district disappeared some time back. Now Austin sits in three districts. Wentworth, who represents me, is from San Antonio. Part of East Austin is in the same district as part of West Houston. Then there is the part of Austin that resides with somebody to the East and South of them; far to the East and South. What were these guys thinking?

This will never get through the current elected body. They all have to go.

They should have been working on this instead of the factious “voter fraud” ID bill and the ridiculous thinking of GUNs in the workplace and on campus.

Wentworth just doesn’t seem to be in step with his constituents that I am in step with.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan

This area has me worried a whole bunch. I just watched Hillary and the guys sign a memo of intent to cooperate with each other. Boy, do they need to!

There is much at stake here. The NUKES are not the least of the problem. The Pakistan government is weak and the Army is strong. I look for the Army to assert itself very soon; someway, somehow.

The democracy of Pakistan is still very weak. The leader only got the job because his wife was killed; no other reason.

Iran still just sits on the side of both and bides it’s time. Watch out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just Vote!

Just now have returned from voting! Man, it was as easy as pie. No hassles, no lines; just me, the election judge and his helpers. There was nothing to it.

This early voting is the best. Only time better was when I lived in Mesquite, right across the street from the elementary school that was our poling place. Get home, walk into house, out front door, across the street, inside to sign in, vote and walk back across the street to supper.

Five minutes top. Today, it took me almost fifteen.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More on Twitter

I keep picking up followers on Twitter. There is absolutely no reason for this. They seem to pick out a word or phrase in my “update” and for that reason alone, they start “following”.

A lot of the posts I look at when I check out the new follower don’t seem to be rooted in reality. Go figure.

I have removed some of those I selected to follow already. Too much of nothing doesn’t add up to much.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Figuring out Twitter

I have been trying to figure out how this Twitter thing works and I think I have finally struck the mother load. I made a comment today about “no cases of swine flu in my back yard” today. Before you know it, I started getting emails about new people following me on Twitter.

I now have no less than two state governors there plus some interesting people from all over. Some of these guys were interesting enough that I am now following them.

You just gotta pick the right topic to comment on; more than that you have to pick the right “word” to use. It doesn’t have to be the right words; it’s more of a word (singular) thing. The narrower the search is the broader the results are.

Go search for “back yard” AND “swine flu” and see what you get.

Hadn’t tried before?

I hadn’t tried to post a pic before, so I thought I would see what happens.

Mr. Buck and Little Gus in repose! Finally quieted down.

Contact - As in staying in:

Finally had an email from Mr. Brown! All seems to be going well with him and his. His dad is getting along real well. He keeps busy in his semi-retirement doing the “around the place” stuff – 16 acres and the house. Gail is back working at the Wall-Mart. Preston and the rest are getting by.

It’s important to stay in contact with those that mean something to you. Never let go of a friend; ya just don’t know when you might need that one again.

It becomes harder and harder as we spread out; but with email the effort is minimal. The main task is to keep addresses up to date as possible.

Those guys in the North Country seem to be doing OK, per Trisha.

Dave Gaskins has started a new adventure just recently.

I even heard from a cousin on Facebook today!

We here keep movin’ forward.