Monday, January 30, 2017

Musings on Leadership and President Trump

Leadership:  I’ve worked for great leaders and I’ve worked for some pretty bad leaders, what I’ve come to learn is there are several common characteristics of good leaders.  They are:

1)   Problem Solvers – Great leaders are good problem solvers, this means they gather and use data to find the root cause of problems.  They develop a hypothesis on an approach to solve a problem and then collect data to either prove or disprove the hypothesis; they involve their team and solicit data and opinion.  They search for others that faced a similar problem and they study alternative solutions.  They don’t assume anything about the problem, not the source of the problem, not the solution.  They are thoughtful and disciplined.
2)   Empowering – Great leaders empower and instill confidence both within their organization and outside their organization.  They give their teams the tools they need to do their jobs and hold them accountable.  They also assume responsibility if their team does not achieve the intended goals, they don’t blame mistakes or failure on others in their team or on extenuating circumstance.
3)   Collaborative – Great leaders surround themselves with people that can challenge their thoughts.  They consult others regularly for their opinion.  They roll up their sleeves and join in the problem solving, while not necessarily solving the problem on their own.
4)   Communicative – Great leaders can communicate the vision and direction for the organization.  They justify and inform the team and outsiders for their direction, actions and end goals.
5)   Humility – Great leaders rarely take credit for the success of the team.  They are quick to acknowledge the contributions of other individuals and the team.
6)   Honesty – Great leaders are honest and their integrity is unquestionable.  They will not compromise integrity or follow questionable practices to achieve the end goal.  They will find the right way to approach the solution and be successful without betraying their integrity.  They maintain themselves beyond reproach.

As most of you know, I was not happy with the outcome of the election last November, but for the most part, I’ve stayed fairly quiet.  I must say, I want Trump to be successful; I want America to be a better place to live and work at the end of his term in office than on the day he took office.  I don’t want President Trump to fail, for if he fails we are all worse off. 

However, I am not too hopeful given what I have observed both in the run up to President Trump assuming the Presidency and in the first several days of his Presidency. To me he hasn’t shown the key factors I find to define great leadership.

Let’s take it from the top:
1)   Problem Solving – President Trump has a lot of problems to solve, just listen to his inaugural address.  We can agree or disagree with his list of problems, that is politics, but that’s not my issue at this point (more on that in subsequent posts).  Trump does not appear to be intellectually curious.  By that I mean he doesn’t appear to solicit other’s opinions that may differ from his and try to understand a different approach to the problem.  He doesn’t appear to look for data that will either support or refute his assumptions either about the problem itself or the proposed solution.  He doesn’t appear to think through his actions and potential implications.  His approach to problem solving does not appear to be thoughtful nor disciplined.
2)   Empowering – I don’t know the inner workings of his team, but it doesn’t appear that he is very empowering to his team.  He appears to be the type of leader that doesn’t encourage debate or dissension; it seems he only wants “yes-men”.  He also does not instill confidence through his actions in the people outside of his immediate sphere, including the American people.
3)   Collaborative – Again, this is hard to assess since I’m not able to see how he interacts with his team behind closed doors.  However it is hard to imagine that he fosters an open debate among his team given how openly hostile he is to any outside criticism.
4)   Communicative – President Trump is a total failure in this area.  He seems to only communicate via 140 character half thoughts via Twitter.  Good leaders articulate a vision and explain the data behind their decision making process.  They also explain how the reached their solution, other solutions considered and how their solution is the best course of action to solve a specific problem and potential effects and fallout of pursuing that course of action.  If he would focus on this more, and empower both his press secretary and his staff to communicate the same message effectively would dramatically improve his standing and limit criticism. Great leaders have very good communications teams.
5)   Humility – President Trump gets and absolute zero in this regard.  Time after time he has shown that he deserves all the credit for anything potentially positive and everyone else is to blame for anything negative.  It seems that this is just a core trait that he doesn’t possess.
6)   Honesty – This is another trait that Trump appears to lack.  He may or may not be capable of being honest, I don’t know.  But it is something he must work on.  Without honesty each and every decision will be tainted and questioned.  He never appears to tell the entire story.  Honesty would serve him well in overcoming many of his critics.

The first week of this presidency has been an unmitigated disaster.  Never in history has there been so many people openly protesting his presidential actions in the first week of a Presidency.   We probably haven’t seen protests on this scale since the Vietnam War. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Musings on Baltimore

There been lots of chatter on airwaves, across social media and every news channel for the past week.  If interested here are some of my rambling thoughts …

I can’t fully grasp how desperate and disenchanted some people must be to resort to the type of violence and protests that broke out in the streets of Baltimore  -- Nor can I grasp the thought living day in and day out not knowing if today was going to be the day that the police stop me for no apparent reason.  I can’t imagine being 57 years old, a long time employee of Ford Motor Company, no criminal record, and being yanked out of my car for slow rolling a stop sign.  Then getting punched in the head16 times, tasered, and arrested for possession of cocaine (after the video shows the officer planting it in the car).  That's what happened to Floyd Dent in Inkster, MI a few weeks ago.  I can’t imagine watching my son leaving the house everyday and just praying that the police don’t pull him over or stop him for any reason.  I can’t imagine having to teach my son that he has to be vigilant every day so as not to raise an suspicion from a police officer.  That's the reality for my African American friends.  I can’t imagine …

What happens when people feel oppressed?  After a long time of constant feelings of oppression, violence usually erupts.  Look at these three sets of pictures:

Tiananmen Square:






Notice any similarities?  This is what reaction to oppression looks like.  Most every American I know applauded the scenes in the first two sets of pictures and then condemned and derided the scenes in the last set of pictures.  

  • This is what it looks like after years of racism and oppression.  
  • This is what it looks like when communities of people lose hope.

If we and our government and our security forces don’t change, we can continue to expect more of the same. 

What did Albert Einstein say?  “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If as a country we can’t see this for what it is, then in the long term we are doomed.

We must take a step back and re-invest in ourselves, our people, our communities, our education, our infrastructure.

That’s all for tonight, I’m sure there is more to come …

Monday, May 4, 2015

Why I’m voting NO on Michigan’s Proposal 1

I wanted to take a few minutes and let folks know my thoughts and position on Proposal 1.  Let’s take the issues 1 at a time:

      1.     This proposal offends me as a voter.  We elect the state representatives and senators to run the business of the state.  This proposal alleviates the legislature of their responsibilities and pushes it right back to you and me.  This is the work we pay them to do, and it is their responsibility to maintain the road infrastructure in our state.  If they don’t have the revenue through the current tax structure to improve and maintain the infrastructure, then it is up to them to find a way to increase revenue.

      2.     Increase the Sales tax from 6% to 7%:  Fundamentally, I oppose any increase in the sales tax.  Sales taxes in general are considered “regressive” taxes, this is they burden the poor much more than the middle and upper classes.  Why?  Because the poor spend 100% of their income to support their family needs (rent, food, transportation, clothing, etc.), while middle and upper income families only spend a portion of their income on the purchase of goods and then set some income aside in savings and investments.  The savings and investments are not subject to the additional sales tax; gains are taxed as income.

      3.     The new gasoline tax structure proposed language obfuscates the real impact of the tax.  While most reports of removing the sales tax from gasoline, leads one to think that gasoline prices will go down.  This in fact is false.  While gasoline sales tax would go away, it would be replaced with a revised gasoline tax, which is in fact higher than the current gasoline tax.  Again, this burdens the poor more than the middle and upper classes as the poor spend a higher percentage of their income on gasoline.

      4.     License plate fees on new vehicle purchases would also increase under this proposal by eliminating the 10% discount on new car registrations.

      5.     This proposal includes a new $75 surcharge on electric vehicles.  This is just ridiculous, as we should be providing incentives to people that buy these zero emission vehicles.  We shouldn’t be penalizing them.

      6.     While the proposal attempts to offset the sales tax burden on the poor by increasing the earned income tax credit from 6% to 20%.  However, this is just restoring this benefit after the legislature removed three years ago.  So, Michigan took the credit way down 3 years ago and now say they will restore it to offset the sales tax burden on the poor.  Wrong – it just needs to be restored with no increase in sales tax.

So bottom line, Proposal 1 is a mish-mash of poorly thought out regulations that the legislature didn’t want to resolve through their own legislative processes.

I’m not going to let them off the hook!  The Michigan Legislature needs to provide comprehensive tax and spending reform and that needs to provide funding for roads, education, the poor and all other business of the State.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's Anniversary -- Jan 22 2013

Hi Folks, haven't posted here in a while, but today I went a bit gonzo on one of our local politicians Facebook page after he posted something negative regarding Roe V. Wade.

Here is what he wrote:
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade supreme court decision. Since that decision has been made, over 55 million babies have been killed. To put that in perpsective, Mao Tse Tong is responsible for the death of 30 million people during his communist cultural revolution. Adolf Hitler is responsible for the death of over 12 million people at the hands of his National Socialist (i.e. Nazi) party. Josef Stalin is responsible for the death of over 22 million people as he climbed to power as the communist leader of the Soviet Union. America, we need to recommit ourselves to the truths that we hold to be "self evident" namely that we "are endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".

Well, I am sick, sick, sick of so called Conservative Christians shoving this vitriol down peoples throats.  So, here is what I posted in response:

I'd like to personally thank Justices Burger, Douglas, Brennen, Stewart, Marshal, Blackmun, and Powell. They have saved millions from being born into a world that did not welcome them, saved them from hunger, starvation, and poverty. Saved them from the conservatives that would deny them social support and services. Saved them from a life filled with sorrow and disappointment. Saved them from drug addicted parents. Saved them from a very cruel world. I am so tired of conservatives preaching that life begins at conception, but then refuse to provide for the health, education, and care of those same lives once they are outside the womb. Once you prove that you can care for the babies that are born, maybe then you can consider alternatives to abortion.

If you think that God believes life begins at conception, then you should read Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4, Ezekiel 37:5&6. All reference life given with breath. Fetuses don't breath. In Exodus 21:22, it states that if a man causes a miscarriage, then he is to be fined, however if the woman dies, the man should be put to death. Does this not show that a fetus is not afforded the same rights as a living person? 

In Numbers 5:22 the Lord actually orders an abortion (read Numbers 5:11-22 for context). Numbers 5:20-22 states: 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

If you don't like abortion, don't have one. But don't judge others who may be in terrible circumstances that you can't possibly understand. Especially when your judgements are based on a politically motivated and questionable interpretation of the Bible (at best).

Those who say, "If you're a Christian, you have to be against abortion, and therefore you must vote republican," are simply reciting talking points from false teachers.

In the end, if abortion was such a grievous sin Jesus would have mentioned it. He said nothing.

I know many of my friends don't agree with me, but at least know that I do my research, too.  

Most of my material was provided courtesy of

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Didn't accomplish a thing ... Really

Always makes me laugh when others say this guy hasn't accomplished anything as a President.  Yeah, I know the economy isn't as good as we all hoped it would be by now, but we're on the right trajectory.

This is going to be a crazy few months leading into the election in November!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Founding Father's & Healthcare

Long time since I posted anything on this blog.  Too much to do and so little time.  I've had lots of ideas of things to post here, but today I finally had a few spare minutes, so will post something quick.

I read an interesting blog by Forbes contributor, Rick Unger.
Clearly the folks running this country shortly after the Revolution realized how important the health of it's citizen's plays into the overall economic health of the nation.  They went as far as taxing employees to set up and run hospitals so they could insure the employees were healthy enough to carry out their jobs to contribute to the economic growth of the country.  What an interesting thought.

Why is it that the Republican's try and say that the Founding Father's of this nation would be opposed to the current Obamacare plans?  It's pretty clear they thought it was the roll of government to insure healthcare was in place for the merchant sailors, can't that be extended?

Here is another article in the Washington Post on the same topic:

Let me know what you think ....