Thursday, September 29, 2011

Time is running out, tell Congress not to raise taxes on volunteer firefighters and EMTs!

Volunteering in your community is one of the greatest things you can do. Emergency fire and rescue volunteers may be your neighbors and store owners. They deserve some of the stipends they may receive for their efforts. They are well trained and risk their lives to save yours and protect your property. Help them by contacting Congress and getting your representatives to stop raising taxes. Time is running out, tell Congress not to raise taxes on volunteer firefighters and EMTs!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Its about Respect and Rememberance

     May 30th is the day we will officially recognize and observe Memorial Day.  Interestingly, this day used to be referred to as Decoration Day and was the day we remember those who had given their lives in the nation's service and the day we decorated their grave sites.  Many towns hold services and in Bethel, Connecticut we hold memorial services and a traditional home town parade. 
     As a Vietnam Era veteran, I find it increasingly important to pay respect to those who have given their lives so I can enjoy the freedoms I am priviledged to have.  Maybe its my age, maybe its observing how young our people in the armed forces appear to be (we were too), maybe its about knowing how invincible and immortal they feel (great military training), maybe its now how much they love this country and are willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedoms. 
     We are all blessed to be in this country.  Anyone who has had to opportunity to visit other countries, to study other ideologies, to understand other cultures, knows the advantage of being an American and also knows and understands how the world has changed dramatically in how others see us as well.  All things considered, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. 
     I truly respect all of you who have served, are serving, or will be in the service of this country.  Its an awesome job, its incredibly rewarding, its dangerous, but you grow up with a whole different perspective of what your freedoms are worth and what you are willing to pay for them.  I am constantly reminded that freedom isn't free.  I have a very
high degree of respect  and admiration for your sacrifices and will make sure you are all remembered on this Memorial Day and every day I enjoy my freedoms.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IBM's Centennial and Leadership

Leadership changes are frequently needed dependent on changes in technology, business climate, the environment of world events. We are all experiencing all of these issues on a continual basis and to a great degree at extremes if we are personally involved. The latest series of world catastrophes accentuates our emotional reactions, sometimes masking the realistic view of events, natural world events, occurring naturally. There are events with huge impacts which we have no control over. Hard to believe, but we cannot control everything. Nature’s forces can be unrelenting and nature’s forces have no emotion, no feeling, no compassion, no judgment, just impact.

So, why bring this up in an article about leadership? Quite frankly, leaders focus on issues and events which they can do something about. They channel their energies and resources to resolve complex issues, prevent those which they are able in the future, learn quickly from the experiences and put a strategy in place to avoid the problem in the future and grow from what they have learned. IBM will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Sam Palmisano will also turn 60, which is the age where IBM’s CEO’s have stepped down and passed on the gavel. I have had the opportunity to work in IBM during the tenure of Frank Cary, John Opel, John Akers, Louis Gerstner, and Sam Palmisano. Each of these CEO’s had unique styles which were needed during their era. IBM has been successful because of this and “took a revitalized IBM and made it the envy of the tech world and the darling of investors.” (FORTUNE, March 21, 2011 pg 115). Sam has taken “long term” to a new level. IBM is his life and he connects with clients throughout the world to grow the business, increase his span of relationships, and ensure the next CEO inherits a much improved company. Who will be next? Will it be Virginia Rometty or Michael Daniels. Or, perhaps Rod Adkins. All of these potential candidates are extremely bright, thoughtful leaders with an eye on the future and with IBM blue blood coursing through their veins. They are experienced individuals who will have an application of their needed style and leadership as they take the reins of IBM and lead it into the future.

As Tom Watson Sr. said, “All the problems of the world could be settled if people were only willing to think. The trouble is that people very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.”

Has your organization taken the time to think about its future? Has it created a talent pool of future leaders? Do you have a program to nurture future leaders after identifying the required competencies and behaviors to meld all global cultures to thrive and excel? If you haven’t, you better escalate your efforts and get the people who can help you.

IBM's original logo, used from 1924 to 1946Image via WikipediaInterested in what IBM has done in 100 years and about IBMers?  Click on this link-> 100 years of IBM to see 100 years of IBM in 13 minutes.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What about the burning of the Quran

Books burned by Nazis (display at Yad Vashem).Image via WikipediaI found myself investigating the very core of my values when I heard about the pastor in Florida who is advocating an international day of burning the Quran.  At first I felt a strong disapproval, then slid into a feeling of agreement.  I started to feel as if "they" feel "they" can burn our flag, our Bibles, our books, why are "they " so upset about burning theirs? Isn't this about equal treatment?  You disrespect me, I disrespect you!  But wait!  Isn't our culture one which sets us apart from others?  Isn't our tolerance for your belief and for you to practice your religious beliefs a value which sets us apart?  Isn't it also our intolerance to actions which damage or cause injury to others as they practice their religion make us who we are?  I believe it is.  I believe our core values are the ones which set us apart from others.  I think the majority of us believe anyone is entitled to observe their faith and religion as they wish as long as it does not cause any type of harm to anyone else.  Alexis de Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America published in 1835, saw in America a balance of liberty and equality for individuals as well as community.  He observed the notion of Christianity and liberty so intimate in our lives that one cannot be conceived without the other.  He stated America is one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world.  He stated this in 1835!  Burning books is not the answer.  We Americas have a high tolerance for many people and many beliefs.  We voice our disgust and anger at flag burnings and destruction of religious artifacts.  However, we don't join into that type of barbaric and uncivilized behavior.  Its what makes us who we are.  Its what makes us Americans.  Its what puts us above the fray.  Book burning is not the answer and past history has proven this fact.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

United Stgates Postal Service - not all it says it is!

United States Postal ServiceImage via Wikipedia
     I recently sent a gift card to some friends in New Port Richie, Florida from the US Post Office in Newtown, CT. and asked what would be the safest way to send it as well as a US Passport I needed to send for renewal.  The Postal workers said, Certified Mail so I could track it.  So, I did.  They put it in an additional postal envelope, I signed some documents and off they went. 
     Fortunately the Passport made the cycle without a hitch.  The gift card did not.  I got into a semi heated discussion with the Postal clerk about the tracking (the tracking system said it hadn't even left the facility yet) and they said, "We can guarantee you its not here."  I obviously asked how, and they said that every piece of certified mail must go out the same day.  I then obviously asked, where is mine.  They said not here.  So, you can see where this is going.  Logically if their system says it hasn't moved and they said it because it hasn't arrived at the receiving location and having checked the receiving location, its not there, I would think the Newtown CT post office must still have it.  But, they say, "No." 
     Ok, I will play by the rules.  I wait 30 days, file a complaint.  The Newtown Office responds to the complaint by basically saying, it's not their problem.  I then call the USPS Consumer affairs people and Mathew, call sign BIOFKO on April 28th states I will have a response within 2 business days.  I call again today (May 11) because I have not received any response, which I think I have given then sufficient time to respond...well over 2 business days.  So, after talking to the Consumer Affairs people at their hot line they say that the only thing that is really trackable is express mail.  Hmmmm, interesting...  So, in reply I reaffirm what they are saying is that registered and certified mail guarantees nothing unless you send it express mail.  She says yes.  So get this...WE ARE ALL PAYING FOR THOSE EXTRA SERVICES WHICH GUARANTEE NOTHING.  And they wonder why they are losing business and customers. 
     In short, the trusted USPS is not longer to be trusted and our reliance on their commitment to service and wanting us to feel sorry for them for being underpaid and overworked, well, for me, that is just gone out the window.  I will pursue this as far as I can.  Its about trust and responsibility and ethics at this point and I am not giving up.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How much will you pay for your drop down oxygen mask?

In-flight safety demonstration on board a Luft...Image via Wikipedia
US airlines have been complaining about profits and loss of revenue and are thinking about innovative ways to get more money from their customers. The interesting thing is that they are driving their customers away with the petty way they are trying to save their business. We have some advice for the leadership of the major airlines companies and an easy way to increase customer traffic.

If you travel, and I am sure many of you have, you can almost recite the flight attendants messages, " the case of an emergency masks will automatically drop from above. Put your mask on first and then help children or others with theirs." The reason you do this is because if "you" are not panicking you will be able to help others later. If you don’t, you're out cold and then you add to the amount of victims. This is fairly sound reasoning and logical. So, why not charge for the use of the mask? The major airlines could take the leadership role and charge everyone $5 for potential use and make billions. Then, once they have forced them to pay for the mask...make the oxygen optional and charge for that too. Ok, you're probably thinking, what does this have to do with overall business strategy and being profitable? Actually quite a bit.

First and foremost, think about what airlines have forced their customers to do. First, you get charged for checking your baggage. This results in people packing carry on bags to the hilt and bringing with them on board. The result is less lost baggage, as recently reported by the major airlines, but increase in airline departure delays because of the need of more time for people to shove and push their way around while clobbering you in the head to get their bag into the overhead bin. And, flight attendants have increased their personal claims for back injuries helping to lift those heavy carry on bags. And what does the airline do, charge for carry on bags. Logically, I think, they are charging for a condition they created as well as problems in getting people seated so they can depart. This just doesn't sound fair to me.

Fixing the problem isn't as difficult as it may seem. It takes innovative leadership, an understanding of local culture, specifically US culture, and the presence of mind to think innovatively. Has it dawned on any of the CEOs that Americans will pay for quality service, for being treated with respect, and for comfort?

The plan: Allow for free bag check-in up to 50 lbs, per adult, regardless of the amount of bags. Allow for only one carry on per person and have it be a specific size, no exceptions. Preferably this should have a maximum size of the typical overhead sized carry-on, again no exceptions. Increase the cost of the ticket to a reasonable level that would cover the current add-on charges. Now, add some leg room, and offer a few amenities for free such as soft drinks and water. I can almost guarantee you will fill flights, you will gain customer loyalty, your customers will speak highly of your brand and your customer base will increase. I think it’s fairly obvious your ROI will be exceptional. Or, you may want to consider how much airline CEOs are willing to pay for their own oxygen masks.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Steps to turning around the economy

Economic recovery is right in front of your eyes. I’ve been having a number of discussions with my colleagues and other business associates in regard to the state of the economy. As we discussed our economic dilemma and ideas for fixing it, it became as obvious our formula for an incredible turn around was fairly simple. I am sure there will be many skeptics and naysayers. However it should be obvious after I make my point that we, the taxpayers have the answer at hand. And, by the way, we are actually paying for our own current demise. Shocked? You should be. Ok, let’s think about where we are and let’s think about the leaders we elected to run this country, our country.

All of our huge government projects are paid for with our tax dollars. I am assuming you are not surprised. The fact is we all should have a say into how those dollars are spent. We all should be writing and calling our elected officials and demanding if they spend our hard earned tax dollars we demand it gets spent on American manufactured products created by American labor using American materials. Yes, it may be more expensive but think of the long term effect on the state of the economy. We end up keeping our US citizens employed at our factories and bringing home an income and spending it locally and thereby invigorating and revitalizing the economy. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Well, it is. It doesn’t require a person with a degree from Harvard in Economics to ascertain keeping your money flowing in the local economy will make it stronger and you life much better.

Ok, here is what you need to do. It only requires you to take some action. All you need to do is demand, yes demand, your government to only spend your money on contracts which are filled by companies that employ US workers, using US materials and products made in the USA. Accomplishing this will easily solve our economic crisis. Paying foreign countries for materials, equipment, products, supplies, and a myriad of other things does not help us and will not solve the problem. Its time to turn the time and buy things only made in the USA.