Make America Good Again

Ours is the only country intentionally founded on a good idea. What’s happening to that idea?

 Americans have never been afraid to argue with each other. After all, our country was born in dissent and founded by revolutionaries. Airing our differences is not just a long tradition, it’s one of the hallmarks of a free society.

But there are certain ideas that seem to invite no argument, and which resonate in the hearts of all Americans. Take these words: dreams, faith, opportunity and freedom. Or these: pride, honesty, hard work and craftsmanship. Or these: caring, compassion, contribution and community. These familiar ideals have united us across all generations and provided a beacon of hope for other freedom-loving nations throughout the world. Continue reading

What’s More Important— Goodness or Greatness?

basketball hoop on barnHe may be the greatest college coach who ever lived. Yet his friends, family, players, and millions of fans remember him more for his goodness than his greatness.

He lived to be 99. He coached basketball for 27 years at UCLA, winning 10 National Championships, a record that remains unequaled. He is the only person ever to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.

Humble and gracious, he kept track of each of his players long after they had gone on to other things, and most of them could quote his life philosophy by heart:

“What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player,” was one of his messages.

“Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow,” was another.

 “Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you,” was yet another.

 After 53 years of marriage, his wife Nell—the love of his life—died of cancer. For the next 25 years the old coach sat down on the 21st of every month and wrote her a love letter, placing it in one of her favorite places with his previous letters.

At age 97, in his last public interview, a member of the audience asked him what he would like God to say to him when he stood at heaven’s gate. Coach John Wooden replied simply, “Well done.”

Louisiana poet William Arthur Ward could have been thinking of Coach Wooden when he wrote: “Each of us will one day be judged by our standard of life, not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving, not by our measure of wealth; by our simple goodness, not by our seeming greatness.”


Caring is a Powerful Creative Advantage

Caring BLog ImageBad things don’t happen when we care; they happen when we don’t care.

None of us can do everything, but there’s one very powerful, almost magical thing we can all strive to do. And it doesn’t cost money and it doesn’t require any special technology or experience. And the most creative people and companies all do it. And here it is in just three little words: You must care. Continue reading

Don’t be a Twinkie

Twinkie1Change is in the air. Breathe deeply.

“A competitive world offers two possibilities,” wrote economist Lester Thurow, “you can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.”

For a classic example of what Thurow is talking about, just check out two iconic American products that have been around for a century or so: Hostess Twinkies and Coca-Cola. Continue reading

There May Still be Time to Save Our Planet

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.47.32 AMDon’t sit this one out.

We hear a lot these days about the sad shape the world is in, but there are good reasons to be hopeful too. We have seen what happens when enough good-hearted people make up their minds to collaborate on a big problem or opportunity.

This month the leaders of 150 nations are meeting in Paris to see if they can summon the collective will to avert what is probably the worst problem our world has ever faced: Global Warming.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell . . . Continue reading

The Only Person Who Likes Change is a Wet Baby

Change ImageI didn’t write that headline, Mark Twain did. Twain knew a lot about human nature; and he pulled no punches when he wrote about the stubborn way most people cling to old ideas and the comfort of the status-quo.

What was true in Mark Twain’s day is still true today, only more so. You and I are living and working in a time of unprecedented and accelerating change. Overnight, a new idea, product or technology can eclipse what your company makes, or how you make and deliver it. Rapid change brings unprecedented opportunities to companies that are adaptable and creative, but it can bring disaster to those who aren’t. There are thousands of examples; here’s one: Continue reading

Passion Persuades

Great leaders bring us heat as well as light.

The best leaders are able to mobilize people to action, not by the power of their authority or charisma…but because their ideas inspire people.

Inspiration may be difficult to define, but we all know it when we hear it (or, better yet, when we feel it). An inspiring idea grabs. It excites. It elevates. It appeals to the best parts of the human spirit. It captures the heart and the imagination of everyday people and pulls them forward.

Here’s an example. When the first big computers were introduced in the late 1940’s, the worldwide scientific community was abuzz with one idea: “Imagine what would happen if we put the world’s smartest man—Albert Einstein—in a room with the world’s largest computer.” It was an intriguing idea, but not very inspiring. Continue reading

Imagine a company where everyone leads.

Leadership is action, not position.

Good leaders believe that one of their most important roles is to create more leaders, not more followers. Good leaders surround themselves with good people, who in turn are given the opportunity to become good leaders. The result is an organization where virtually everyone thinks and acts like a leader in every position.

In an “Everyone Leads” type of culture, there is no such thing as an unimportant person, job, task or idea. When people roll out of bed each morning, they go to work knowing that, regardless of their title, they are not only needed, but appreciated. In these highly competitive times, we either rise or fall together. Continue reading