Year of Dragon, Day of Favorites

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I should think about 24 April or is it 424 which 4+2+4 = 10, which is my lucky number, which is a 1 and a 0, which may be why the IT industry tolerates me?!

Yesterday began with a breakfast in Raleigh hosted by the local Naval Academy Alumni Association. Retired Admiral Benny Suggs spoke about Leadership based upon his 30 years of naval service including 1,264 carrier landings and 10 years at Harley Davidson as a senior Marketing Vice President. A colorful man, as are most successful aviators, he described the attributes of leaderships as vision, passion, values and velocity (this is is different one). Working with others, through others and for the benefit of others is the underpinning of successful leadership. Segue for inside joke: the opposite of cost-cutting to achieve arbitrary financial results such as EPS in some year in the future. Inspiring way to begin a day with the reminder that what matters is what matters and not what is measured. Mine is not an entreaty for fluffy hopes for world peace but my conviction that, indeed, thoughts are things, which can lead to inspired achievements which can measured.

Speaking of Apple, their second quarter financial performance exceeded the expectations of all. The ‘market’ was so nervous that Apple would not continue to lead that it dropped Apple’s stock price nearly $70 over the past 2 weeks. My interpretation of these jitters: ‘they are good and no one is close but can they keep it up?!’ I revere this company because it knows what is about: vision, passion, values and velocity – with 0 carrier landings.

The day ended with our annual cook-out for the military veterans graduating from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Sanford School of Public Policy, about a dozen attendees. They’re off to Wal-Mart, ATT, John Deere, Google. Ages range from 28 to 32; Green Berets, Combat Engineers, Submariners, Infantry Officers, SeaBees, males and females. All with recent combat duty.

Inspiring assembly of our young. Easy to laugh; give and take comfortably. Figuring-out the transitions to civilian work because theirs has been a world of mission focus and this side of the fence is fixated on earnings-per share as a measure of collective achievement. Biggest laughs were the stories told from their job interviews: ‘have you ever held a leadership position?; please describe a difficult decision that you had to make that affected the career of another’; what management challenges would you expect if you had to lead a team of 3 to 6?; how does your GPA (grades) reflect your sense of integrity?” They wished that they could have answered about receiving mortar and rocket attacks; what armies really do when they confront enemy combatants; and what it feels like months later to know that your purpose in an organization was to put people’s lives at risk for the benefit of a perceived greater good. If only a couple of beers and a few burgers could thank them properly.

Islands of excellence in a storm of institutional incompetence

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Rather than level a broadside at the easy targets of debt-ceiling debates (sic) and big-time college football scandals – are the two related? and can it be a scandal if no one is surprised? – I’d like to introduce two outfits that seem to know what they’re doing. Spotify has wowed Europeans for a couple of years with its music service and the Washington Duke Inn’s elegant note confirming cancellation of a reservation well describes the complete experience at this hotel on the campus of Duke University.