In the last few weeks, our world has seen trucks mow people down, racial unrest, Pokemon Go taking over the streets, police being shot, government coups, and people coming together for peace…so I am taking a break from my normal blogging fare to share some thoughts from my heart.

People, by and large are going about their daily routine. You are likely reading this before, during or after a day at work where you do your job to make a living. Most people have hobbies and interests they like. People volunteer to help causes we believe in. People love their families. We all have people we care about. Most of us just want to get through the day without anyone close to us, or ourselves, being hurt or killed.

So what makes some people make a plan to take the lives of others? Who sits down one day and says, “Gee, I think I will do my best to ruin everyone’s day by killing a bunch of innocent people?” I don’t have an answer. I don’t believe anyone just jumps to that idea. Most sane people would revolt internally at the mere thought of it.

This brings me to one thought. We must all do our job. Not just the one that keeps food on the table. The one of looking out for our fellow humans. What can you do today to help someone else’s life be a little more manageable. Can you give a kid a word of encouragement? (It might make the difference in their life that keeps them from growing up to be a terrorist.) Can you buy lunch for the person behind you in the drive thru? Can you tell a woman that you like  her earrings? What good deed can you do today? You might not change the world, but you could change the world for one person.

 

If you are the leader in your organization, you can’t afford to put your head in the sand when the crisis hits. You need to hit it head on.

In 1982,  Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol hit a major bump in the road. Some crazy person was adding cyanide to the Tylenol capsules and then returning the product to the shelves for someone else to buy. Johnson & Johnson took action and recalled ALL of the Tylenol bottles. It cost them. They took a loss hit of over $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars). They weren’t at fault, but they took decisive and clear action. When they re-introduced Tylenol to the market, they had added tamper resistant bottles and the caplet which is harder to mess with. This along with a great PR campaign helped restore the trust that was lost in the public eye.

In 2002, When rumors spread that Caribou Coffee that  was partially owned by Atlanta-based Crescent Capital, the investment arm of the First Islamic Bank of Bahrain, was funding terrorism, the CEO Michael Coles, (Who interestingly enough is Jewish), didn’t respond decisively. This meant that rumors flew around the World Wide Web over the next few years. It is the opinion of this blogger that this rumor and the lack of hitting it head on is the primary reason that the name Starbucks has spread far and wide as the king of coffee while Caribou Coffee isn’t even in close now. (It was solidly in a position of second place back in 2002 and could have challenged Starbucks for the leading position in the specialty coffee industry.)  In Coles’ defense, he felt that there were operational issues that needed to be tackled first thing when he took over and he didn’t’ come on as CEO until about half a year after that rumor was already in circulation.

When Odwalla Foods found that  E.Coli was found in some of their apple juice bottles leading to one death and a handful of sick people, they promptly recalled all the bottles at a cost to the company of around $6,500,000.00 (Six and a half million dollars) The company gave daily press briefings about their progress…they didn’t shy away from the press in the time of crisis. They year of this disaster was 1996, in 2001 they were bought out by Coca~Cola for $181,000,000.00 to be part of Coke’s Minute Maid brand. They came a long way from the small upstart company that was nearly knocked dead by a few bad bottles of apple juice.

The point of these stories is that when you take on the crisis the leader of the company needs to make fast decisions and not try to duck the issue. Hit it head on and do whatever you can to restore the public trust in your organization.

 

I know that many of my readers are outside America, I am American, in case you weren’t aware. Today celebrates 240 years that this country has stood together under the banner of a free democracy. We fight among ourselves, but when we are attacked from the outside, we tend to pull together like one huge family. I believe America is a great country. It isn’t for everyone, but it offers everyone an opportunity. We don’t all have the same starting point. Some of us are born into poverty. Some were born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths. We see over and over again though that the person with a dream and the guts to get off their butt and do the work it takes to make that dream come true are rewarded in this country.

We are never more than one generation away from losing that right. We can’t take it for granted. That said, while we have that right, I encourage all Americans to do your patriotic duty and do what you can to make your dream come true.

 

Is it music? Is there are certain amount of sunlight in the room? An inspiring read? What is it that makes you want to step up and take the risk? When are you most likely to want to do that work to make your dreams come true?

  • Do what you can to recreate that environment.
    • Read more
    • listen to that music
    • find that thing that makes you want to do it.
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat

Soon you will find that you regularly are inspired to do your best work. You can’t wait to punch holes in the edge of that box you are in. You are stepping up to lead your tribe. You are learning, doing, inspiring something new.

 

 

I have been teaching at the university level for almost two decades now. One thing I see constantly that never ceases to amaze me is students who come to college with no clue what they want to do. The worst case scenario is that their parents told the student that they had to go to college so they could get a good job later…but the poor student is having to take loans to get through because their grades weren’t good enough to get scholarships and the parents aren’t paying for it. These well meaning parents are really just saddling their pride and joy with massive debt as they start their careers.

I can’t tell you how many young adults I have talked to over the years who with tears in their eyes due to anger pour out their hearts about how they feel duped. They paid for an expensive degree and now they can’t seem to make ends meet because they have the loans to repay that eat up 1/2 their paycheck. I feel for them. Yes, I understand that they made the choice to take out those loans. (Not always. *) 17-18 year olds aren’t old enough to drink in the United States, because people in power believe that their reasoning skills aren’t fully developed. That may be debatable, but we do let them sign away the next decade of their life in exchange for a false promise of a “good job” when they finish college.

So what is the solution. I believe it is to teach young people to really research what they want to do with their lives. Help them in high-school with examining their strengths, weaknesses, personalities…so that they will have a goal. That goal then may, or may not, include going to university.

*A girl I was very close to many years ago told me of how her father sat her down the night before her wedding to explain to her that those forms he had her sign when she went off to college were really loans in her name. The whole time, she thought her father was paying for her education. She and her husband thought they were starting marriage debt free…surprise! Parents, please do NOT do this to your child!

 
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