Thursday, August 11, 2022

You're Doing It Wrong


This is a longish post, but I hope it's a beneficial read.

Most organizations have very talented individuals who can accomplish tremendous things; however, that talent generally goes to waste because employers are essentially doing it wrong resulting in sub-optimal performance. Yes, there are very successful businesses out there by conventional standards, but underneath the success are several anchors dragging them away from being the best that they can be. 

Here is the original sin - In 1968, Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman conducted a longitudinal study of 1,600 3-5 year olds using a standard assessment test. The results: 98% of 3-5 year olds tested at the “creative genius” level. Five years later, the same children with the same test – 32% tested at the “creative genius” level. Five years later, the same kids with the same test – 10% tested at the “creative genius” level. Only 2% of adults test at the “creative genius” level.

We’re actually born creative geniuses, it’s how we’re originally wired; however, schools and work beat it out of us. Our brains are quite capable of maintaining that creative genius as we age, but, in most cases, we’re literally re-wired to not be creative. Though our education system is largely to blame for destroying our innate creative genius, employers finish it off. 

One of the issues in organizations is that we ask the wrong questions that lead to decisions that muffle optimal performance, but larger than that, because we ask the wrong questions, we implement processes and systems that institutionalize de-humanizing practices. Here are a few examples of the wrong questions and alternative questions that will result in better decisions for everyone:

Wrong: Where do I cut costs?  (This leads to bad decisions, chief among them - layoffs)

Right: Where are my dollars most effectively spent to achieve my goals? (This leads to correctly allocating resources toward true priorities that usually retains employees)

Wrong: Is this a good investment? (This leads to speculative analyses that are often out of context when comparing against alternative investments)

Right: Does putting money here more effectively meet my goals? (This aligns priorities with resource requirements and it includes the correct context for a decision)

Wrong: Do I have the right staff? (Again, context. Right staff for what?)

Right: Have I effectively matched my staff's talent, skills, training, education, willingness, and philosophy with my goals? (Aligns priorities with people and context)

A few lifetimes ago, I was a district manager for a large convenience store chain where my contrary approaches to business resulted in outstanding results, often by asking the right questions. District managers and store managers were bonused on year over year growth in operating profits (adjusted for uncontrollables like street construction in front of the store, etc.). If this was the case, what was the right question to ask to get to the most beneficial course of action? In my case, I asked the question, "what is the cost of an additional dollar of revenue?" The costs were always operational costs since the "below the line" costs were outside of our control, things like corporate cost allocations against each store, taxes, insurance, and the like.  I taught my store managers to do a marginal cost analysis that revealed the true cost of a new dollar.  Some stores had a marginal cost as low as 74 cents, which meant it cost 74 cents to bring in an additional dollar. On the other hand, I had a store that had a marginal cost of $1.14, meaning that it cost a $1.14 to bring in that additional dollar, not a good deal. The good news is that we could easily identify which P&L line items were the culprits and fix it.

I won awards for best operating profits though my zone (district) had the highest in-store salary costs. This runs counter to what most leaders are taught and what they practice in their businesses. Why did I have the highest in-store salary costs? Because I fully staffed my stores and paid well for assistant managers and third shift staff. Assistant managers were hard to come by because of evening and weekend hours and third shift employees set up the stores for the next day. Back then, there was no paying at the pump, you had to come into the store and that's where we made our money; margins on gasoline were razor thin. If the store was set-up properly and clean, the per transaction average was higher, thus higher revenues against a fixed cost of labor equaled a greater operating income - in finance this is called operating leverage. Most leaders don't get this - spending more on labor to INCREASE profits.   

Layoffs can only be seen as a total failure for several reasons. A lack of planning and foresight, the wrong priorities were pursued, employees weren't utilized correctly, and so on. Yes, external factors can severely affect a business; however, it's really just a priority shift requiring a countervailing strategy to offset the external factor. If the only reaction is layoffs, then the priorities were never correct. Repurposing talent and skillsets should be happening all the time, but is not the case in most organizations, which results misaligned missions, strategies, priorities, and worst of all, sinking employee morale and engagement. 

The job of a leader is people, not the work. Hiring and development of staff is at least 50% of a leader's job, at any level. My proudest moments as a leader were when I was able to coach, mentor, and develop my employees out of their jobs and provide a higher path that suited the trajectory of their careers. I hired a project manager who actually came out of HR's reject pile (another sad story of corporate America, the abdication of hiring to sterile applicant tracking systems) who eventually became a VP in a few short years. I was able to get another team member his VPship in two evaluation cycles in which he became the youngest VP in the division (over 5,600 people). I had three contractors who were completely unfamiliar with banking upon their hire with whom I taught banking and we put together a very accurate second line of defense risk model for our credit portfolios. But, that's not what made me the proudest. What made me proud was that all three contractors landed full time positions in the company.

My philosophy has always been not to force fit people into roles, but to create a role around their particular talents, skills, experience, and most of all, their aspirations. My job as a leader, whether a formal role or not, is to fully support people...and the work will take care of itself. I don't prescribe how to do anything (unless there is something specific like compliance and regulatory requirements), I give the mission parameters and let the boots on the ground make the real time decisions and trust their judgments.    

If we transformed our organizations to truly be about people, not in a slogan or mission statement, but in the day to day business, we would see a tremendous uplifting of human beings and oh, by the way, profits. We can do better, by a long shot.  

Monday, August 16, 2021

What I believe


I think that we are too cynical and we put too much emphasis on what we are against (I am guilty of this), so here is my statement of what I believe -
I believe that Jesus Christ is my redeemer and died a cruel and horrific death as salvation for my sins.

I believe that all lives matter; therefore, abortion as a form of birth control is inhuman and wrong.

I believe that the United States, even with all our warts, is an anchor for the world and has kept humankind from self-destruction.

I believe in the wisdom of our Constitution and its intent to limit government, not individuals.

I believe in science, the rigor of the scientific method, and open scrutiny of scientific results.

I believe in open dialogue on any subject free from any form of censorship.

I believe that education (free from political bias) and skilled trades are the great equalizers of socioeconomic disparities.

I believe in the power of individuals; therefore, I believe in equal opportunities, not equal outcomes.
I believe that our planet is precious and should be protected from harm but based on reasonable (non-political) and evidence-based solutions.

I believe that humans are explorers by nature and we should always endeavor to reach for the stars (both in space and here on Earth).

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Growing Undeserved Arrogance and the Facts


I have always stated that getting the COVID vaccine is a personal choice as are ALL medical decisions. That said, I have also shared evidence-based information with regard to several aspects of the pandemic. This does not make me “anti-vax” or a conspiracy theorist, it makes me a critical thinker trained in science who questions a forced narrative and the suppression of facts that are contrary to that forced narrative – I do this with the intent of helping others make informed decisions, something they are not getting from “official” sources and the media.
It is becoming apparent that there is a segment of those who have chosen to be vaccinated that are taking a misguided, uninformed, and sometimes arrogant position against those of us who choose not to participate. I have seen comments that are completely reprehensible – “I will avoid those who are not vaccinated like the carriers of the plague that they are”, “people who are not vaccinated should not receive treatment for COVID if they become ill”, and “then you will die if you contract the virus” among others. The last example is from a former friend of mine directed at me. This former friend actually called data that I cited from The Lancet, a highly respected, peer-reviewed medical journal, “inane” and “obtuse.” That’s where we are – evidence-based clinical research being called inane and obtuse. For that reason, I give up on people like him.
I am tested for COVID every week at work, I have an optimal serum vitamin D level, and my immune system has always been robust (I rarely get the flu, once every 5 or 6 years, so I opt out of that vaccine also). The bottom of my left ventricle is dead and I have moderate kidney damage, both due to my heart attack four years ago. There is no data on the long-term safety of the vaccines and the true efficacy based on absolute risk reduction is quite low (less than 2%). Too many people are having bad reactions to the vaccine, which IS NOT normal. For those reasons, I choose not to participate. I have been out and about since the initial lockdown and have not contracted COVID. Does that mean that I will not contract it sometime in the future? Not by any means, but I choose to live my life free of fear and free from government and societal intrusions into my personal liberty.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Collective Lie


I have a unique approach to interviewing job candidates that gets to the meat of the process immediately.  But more than that, my process gets to the truth which allows me to trust the remainder of the interview.  Prior to the interview, I will pick out a small part of their stated experience in their resume, most often something obscure and long ago.  I will ask the candidate to expand on that experience.  As they speak, I ask them to go further.  If they can keep going down the rabbit hole with me, I now know that I can trust the rest of the resume as being true.  This allows me to shelf the resume and spend the rest of the interview actually discussing the job and their thoughts on what they bring to it.  It has been a highly successful process for me and the quality of my hires has been top tier. I have successfully applied this approach to other areas of my life. 

An article was published in the January 2021 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, a respected peer-reviewed journal, that indicates hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a very effective component of an early intervention protocol for COVID-19 patients (  The article details a treatment algorithm for ambulatory patients (the vast majority of COVID-19 patients are ambulatory) where HCQ is a core component of the protocol.  Early on during the pandemic thousands of doctors worldwide were discussing the success of HCQ as an early intervention treatment, but those voices were shut down by a concerted effort between the mainstream media, big tech, governments, the CDC, and the WHO.  This suppression and censorship continued until this article was published.  Uneducated and uninformed citizens across the globe took to social media in droves to denounce those who touted HCQ as a treatment for COVID patients.  President Trump was derided for mentioning the treatment.  By July 2020 there were at least 65 studies worldwide indicating the efficacy of HCQ as an early intervention treatment, yet the suppression and censorship continued.

Now, apply my approach to discerning the truth to the COVID-19 situation and tell me what is believable when it comes to information coming from the mainstream media, big tech, governments, the CDC, and the WHO?  If what we were told about HCQ was a concerted lie, what else is a lie?  Can we trust anything else being told to us about COVID, the lockdowns, the masking, the numbers of cases and deaths, the cause of deaths, the origin of the virus, and biggest of all, the vaccines?  What about the riots, the election, the events of January 6th?  We are living through a collective lie that millions, and maybe billions, have bought into in a big Orwellian way. 


Epilogue – The initial lie was the most open and outrageous.  Early last year we were shown videos from China of people collapsing in the streets and being treated by emergency workers in hazmat suits, and dead bodies lying on the sidewalks of Wuhan.  We now know these videos to be false and out of context.  The collapsing people and emergency workers were from training films having nothing to do with COVID-19.  The dead bodies were actually people sleeping in a city 600 miles from Wuhan.  The purpose of this deception was to scare you into submission.  It was a purposeful and willful lie meant to ensure that the masses would comply with the oppressive policies fueled by the lies to come. 

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Brave New World?

2020 represents the beginning of the world’s spiral into a dystopian abyss, the death of a republic, and the creation of a purgatory where truth is dead.  Leftists, globalists, and technocrats may believe that this is the beginning of a brave new world but, in reality, it is a world of cowards and snakes who will prosper in agreed upon lies.  SARS-CoV-2 is but an excuse to create a world run by deep state fundamentalists whose only goal is self-aggrandizement at the expense of yours and my freedom and labor – we are serfs to be used and lied to.

Big tech giants and the mainstream media seek to silence the truth in alliance with these technocrats; they seek to create a world of social control where freedom is mocked and the voices of reason are silenced.  The newspeak of 1984 is not only here, it’s far more pervasive and dangerous than George Orwell could ever imagine.    

What do true patriots who believe in the innate freedom of the individual over the body politic do to combat this slide into horror?  We continue to believe in the truth, we keep speaking the truth, we keep living the truth.  Unlike the cowards who vainly ridicule us, we have the strength of faith – faith in our Lord, faith in individuals, and faith in the incredibly prescient ideals of our Founding Fathers. 

More to come…

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Trades, Talent, and High Value Work


I returned to the office in June as part of a "Return to Office" pilot program because I am, in no way, set up to work from home. During this time, my employer has been doing renovations to prepare for the workforce to return after the pandemic. As part of the renovations, there is work being done on the escalator banks that require scaffolding. All of the escalator banks are 4 floors in height with the exception of one which is five floors in height. I am completely awestruck by the work it takes to build the scaffolding and the talent and skill that goes into it. There are several other trades in the building doing renovation work and I admire and value them all.

The skilled trades have not become irrelevant as society grows in technical sophistication, nor will they, but there is going to be a shortage of skilled trades workers if we don't do something about it.  High school curricula and guidance counselors push college as the future of choice for students; however, it is not the only route to professional success.  I had two fathers involved in racing (both were mechanics) and so was my brother, but I never got involved...and I wish that I had.  I wish that I had learned to build racecars, engines, transmissions, rear-ends, etc., but I was too involved with football and other not so healthy endeavors.  I took shop classes, but I sucked at them, thus never tried to become proficient (FYI - you always suck when you first try something).  

Getting back to the trades, we need to start following the lead of Mike Rowe and re-emphasize the skilled trades in schools and trade schools and apprenticeships after high school. I am a proponent of having degree programs that integrate professional programs with trades.  For example, combine a computer-aided machining trade with mechanical engineering or combine carpentry with architecture. I want to partner with the states' boards of higher education and colleges and universities to make this a reality.        

Thursday, October 8, 2020

I beg to differ Joe Rogan


I am a huge fan of Joe Rogan; however, he has repeatedly stated something in which I have a differing opinion.  Joe Rogan, and I am paraphrasing here, says that the difference between a cult and a religion is that in a cult the leader is alive and in a religion the leader is dead. I would like to offer my apologetics for Christianity to the discussion. 

My indefatigable truth - nobody would ever willingly die for a lie. Most people's argument against that statement has been that Muslim terrorists die for their religion.  That's fallacious reasoning and here's why.  Muslim extremists have no idea if their beliefs are a lie or not.  For that matter, neither do modern-day Christians, we have faith in the truth; we will not actually know until we die, which is the same for any other faith.  

In the case of Jesus, there are several differences.  There is no arguing that the physical man existed and that there was a crucifixion. Two historians, both of which were alive in the natural lifetime of Jesus, wrote about Jesus and the crucifixion (a natural lifetime being a period in which Jesus would have lived had he not been executed).  Josephus, a Jewish historian, refers to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate.  Tacitus, a Roman historian, referred to the same as well as referring to the early Christians in Rome. The natural lifetime context is important because people who actually knew Jesus were still alive during Josephus' and Tacitus' time.  There is no argument that the man Jesus existed during the timeframe that the Bible references and that he was executed (crucified).  The argument is over Jesus' divinity.  

Now, let's get to the point of nobody willing to die for a lie.  Of the twelve Apostles, who actually knew Jesus, all but one were martyred for their faith, some with more historical clarity than others. Other prominent disciples outside of the twelve who also knew Jesus were martyred.  Here is my argument - all of these men knew the truth, they knew whether or not Jesus was actually who he said he was, they were there during Jesus' life and resurrection.  Can you honestly say that these men would willingly be tortured and executed in very cruel ways if they knew that who they claimed Jesus to be was, in fact, a lie?  I have a hard time believing that, personally and intellectually.  Would you die for what you know to be a lie?  No, you wouldn't. The early Christian martyrs died because they knew the truth.  And that is my truth.   


There has been no credible anthropological or archaeological research that has disputed or dispelled the Bible, only confirmational findings.  To Joe's point that the early Christian bible was a product of the Church three centuries after the fact (the fact being Jesus, though the bible refers back many more centuries before Christ, mostly through the Jewish Old Testament), the church actually studied the documentation to determine authenticity and veracity just like scholars do today.  There were points of disagreement within the church; however, they came to a general agreement regarding what should be scripture and what shouldn't. And yes, they knew how to deal with the multiple translations (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin).