Seven Core Values

Character: Your Guiding Light

A great leader not only knows what his or her values are, they allow those values to guide every decision. There are seven core values listed here, of which I subscribe with all my strength:

1. Honesty.  We deal with one another in a straight-forward manner. 

Honesty is the key building block of trust. In terms of leadership, being honest boils down to being sincere and forthright to everyone. Ask, “What if I’m not totally honest and my team finds out?”

2. Integrity. We act in a manner consistent with our words and beliefs. 

You can’t just give lip service to your principles, morals, and values; you have to live them every day. Leaders don’t just preach good character, they embody it.

3. Respect. We treat others with care and consideration. 

You want respect, and so does everyone else, so think about what it means to you and you’ll understand how to give it to others. Treat people with care and consideration and they’ll go the extra mile. Treat them with disrespect and they’ll undermine you at every opportunity.

4. Courage. We pursue beliefs with strength and perseverance. 

Having the courage to tell the truth may not make you popular, but it pays off in respect.  More importantly, it pays off in self-respect.

5. Openness. We share information freely. 

When you ensure that everyone has access to information, you send the message that everyone is important and you want each person to participate. You must set an example of openness if you expect to be trusted. Not trust = no credibility.  No credibility = no influence. If you don’t have influence, you’ll be a leader in title only.

6. Diversity.  We seek, value, and respect differences among our teammates. 

RAVE–respect, appreciate, and value everyone. The great goal is complete and total inclusiveness, nothing less.

7. Balance. We strive for stability and vitality in our lives. 

People with balanced lives do the best work. You should be happy at home and happy at work, and healthy in body and mind, because that’s what makes organizations strong.

10 Leadership Strategies

Each of these has an entire chapter dedicated to it. These are here for reference.

#1:  Remember, everyone is important

#2:  Break the mold

#3:  Make your people your brand

#4:  Create magic through training

#5:  Eliminate hassles

#6:  Learn the truth

#7:  Burn the free fuel

#8:  Stay ahead of the pack

#9:  Be careful what you say and do

#10:  Develop character

Continuous Process Improvement: Time to Rethink

changeDo your eyes roll back at the thought of change? Your stomach knot up with the idea of making corrections to a course? Hopefully, this post will set you to thinking more about the wonderful opportunities that lie before you.

“We’ve always done it that way” is a trap. It could mean you’ve been doing it wrong for a long time.

To make anything better requires thought. So when I write, “think about it,” that’s the place to start. With the thought process. Nothing worth improving ever fixes itself. It requires thought, planning, and action.

Your job as a leader is to help your business grow by paying attention to your teammates and your customers and by constantly fine tuning your processes.  You want every job to get done efficiently  and without hassles.

“We’ve always done it that” leads to stagnation and rot. There’s a pithy saying:  Life is like a tomato plant.  As long as it’s green, it’s growing. When it gets ripe, it starts to rot.”

Be green in your thinking. Be alert and alive and aware.  Look for opportunity to improve in all things. Once you adopt this mindset of growth, change becomes easy.

I don’t espouse change for the sake of change. But when the need to change a process, no matter how small, becomes evident, change is required.

Small changes are much easier to adapt to and swallow. Those who are resistant to change may require additional time to educate on the why, and you should take this time. The reasons behind doing what we do are vitally important to be shared with anyone and everyone affected by a new process.

Effective processes make the routine things run smoothly and consistently.  They free people up to do the things needed to turn a good business into a great business.

If you really want to maximize the potential of your employees and the satisfaction of your customers, the last thing you want is to subject them to hassles caused by bad or inefficient procedures.

Process and procedure. Policy. The way we do things. Rules. Operating guidelines.  These are all words for the same thing — they all define the way we interact with other people and the physical environment and technology in order to accomplish specific tasks in the best and most efficient way.

Ignore the details at your own peril.

Bottom line:  Identify process problems and act as quickly as possible to fix them. 

Action Steps for Training

actionstepsThe following action steps will ensure effective training is taking place in the organization.

  • Make sure every teammate is fully steeped in the corporate culture.
  • Create clear statements of your values and mission, and see to it that everyone understands their meaning.
  • Inculcate a sense of purpose in everyone at every level of the organization.
  • Take seriously your responsibilities as a teacher, coach, and counselor.
  • Teach your teammates how to perform the technical aspects of their roles and how to exceed customer’s expectations.
  • Explain clearly the key drivers of customer satisfaction for each person’s role.
  • Create multiple ways to communicate regularly with teammates.
  • Give constructive feedback promptly and effectively.
  • Make sure everyone understands what’s expected of him or her.
  • Conduct periodic tests of knowledge and skills.
  • Remember, you’re teaching by example every minute of every day.

Training and Development

Reading the book Creating Magic, by Lee Cockerell. The following comes directly from the book.


If you have to ask whether you’re doing enough to train and develop your people, the answer is you’re probably not. There is no magic number for the number of hours needed, and no hard data on this. However, there are questions you can and should ask yourself on a regular basis:

  • Do the teammates act as though they just have a job, or do they perform with a sense of purpose?
  • Can every teammate explain the organization’s vision or purpose?
  • How easy is it for teammates to access opportunities to learn?
  • How many people have been developed and promoted under my leadership?
  • How many classes, courses, or seminars does the organization offer? How many do I personally conduct?
  • How often do experts from inside or outside the organization share their knowledge with the teammates?
  • What are our results on measures of customer and teammate satisfaction?
  • Have those results improved steadily or declined?
  • How does our organization stack up on performance indicators?

Remember that great teachers usually make great leaders. Make it a priority to give everyone the tools, coaching, and sense of purpose he or she needs to be the very best.

Target Practice



Have you been to the shooting range? Indoor, outdoor, your backyard.  Wherever it may be, shooting live ammunition is a sobering experience.

Never fired a pistol? A shotgun? Right here, I have to admit I’m pretty weak in this regard. My entire experience is made up of one blast from the barrel of a 12g shotgun in 6th grade.  40 years later, I bought a Beretta PX4 Storm. For those who may not know, that’s a handgun that shoots 9mm ammunition.

Parked in the lane shooting at paper targets, wearing ear and eye protection against the roar of the cannon going off in the booth next to me, I asked myself, Why? And the only answer I got back was simple. For the experience.

Two years later, I sold the Beretta.

A year after the sale, I purchased a Savage Arms home defense shotgun and a Smith and Wesson handgun. At the same time. And just yesterday, I was back at the range with Dave, trying out his S&W Shield, his Glock, and a Sig Sauer. All handguns of different calibers.

Standing there facing the target, finger on the trigger, I once again asked Why? Why am I doing this… again? And why did I buy a shotgun? Especially a black shotgun with a pistol grip? Guess it has a certain menacing, cool factor to it. I’m drawn to that bad boy stuff, even though I don’t practice the dark arts myself.

The answer to Why? came back, same as before. For the experience.

I will never aim a gun at another human being. The pistol is for target shooting only. The shotgun is for shooting clay pigeons.

“Pull!” Just try to hit that flying orange disc as it launches across the sky. I’ve never done that before. Still waiting for the 10-day holding period to expire before I can pick the gun up.

When the weapons are finally cleared, and are safely in my possession, I’ll write more.

Is shooting safe? It certainly is safer than driving a car and many other things we do daily. In fact, it is extremely safe. Nobody gets hurt when things are done in a controlled, supervised environment, by people experienced in the ways of the weapon.

Target practice is a great stress reliever, too. All thoughts are focused completely on the object in your sites. Your breathing is controlled, your learn to relax and focus. You become very still for a brief moment in time.

It centers me, this act of pulling a trigger and feeling the terrifying release of energy. The arm jarring blow of a 40 caliber bullet exploding from a 4-inch Glock barrel keeps your mind on point.

I anticipate a rather delightful time at the outdoor range when, for the first time, I aim at those orange clay flying targets. I’m sure it will be a hit and miss affair. But through it all, I’m training my body and mind to work in closer harmony, building a skill that I’m sure I’ll never use for anything other than target practice.

Writing Is Like Breathing


Writing is like breathing.  I have to do it to live. I don’t recall when I became interested in expression through words. Speaking is one thing.  Writing is another.

I’ve done a lot of both.

From work in broadcast journalism, print journalism, on-air newscaster, and amateur poet, I’ve done a fair share of writing and speaking. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing working as a nurse. I should write about it.

Being away from the workforce for these past 2 weeks has caused me to think more about what I’m doing in this world. Without getting too deep into it, I’ll say the primary thing that’s him home the hardest is this — I’m not really satisfied with myself when I’m not busy.

I have 10 more years before I turn 65. Ten years to work. Write. Speak.

These next 10 are going to be the best years of my life. I’m healthy (except for my hemorrhoids) and rich. Rich by 3rd world standards, at least.

Come June 1st, it’s time to start a new life. Gone are the old days of working 3 days a week. Now it’s five. I’ll be up at 5 a.m. to read and write. Off to work at 6 a.m. to arrive ready for action at 6:30 a.m.

I realize it is action I need, and and working in a busy environment provides me with the stimulation and the offers a significant challenge. I like a challenge. I have never backed down from a challenge.

One big challenge ahead is the need to inspire people. Not 100% sure at this writing how I’ll accomplish that, but I do know I’ve been given the directive to provide leadership, and I fully intend to fully engage with my teammates.

As I exhale, I realize I’ve just written another post. Which is meaningful to me, because when I sat down to write, I had no idea what my topic would be. Now I know.

Credit Cards


Some say don’t use them. Some say you will only go into debt and never get free. Others say use them with caution. Here’s what I say.

Credit cards can be beneficial. As long as you pay off the balance on the card every month without fail, you will never pay interest.

Many cards have point systems. I use a Chase Freedom UNLIMITED card that pays me 1.5 points for every dollar spent. I’ve already cashed in close to a thousand dollars over the past 2 years.

That’s free money, friends.  Additionally, today I don’t pay credit card interest. Never, ever.

There was a time when I paid interest, and lots of it.  There was a time when I was so upside down, so in debt to credit cards, that I thought I’d never be free. Ever. Someone had to die to get me clear of that debt. Such an awful way to clear things up, and that inheritance money could have been put to better use if I’d never gotten so upside down to start with.

This post isn’t about how to get out of debt. It’s about credit cards, and their value. Yes, I know, they can get you in trouble real fast, especially if you’re using them to make basic life payments, and you just make minimum payments on the outstanding balance each month.

But for those who can control their wild spending, and who have the means, a good credit card can actually make you money. I simply run all of my expenses through the credit card. That is, all the stuff I’d normally pay cash for.

The points really add up fast. And the cash rewards just keep coming. This is how I use cards, and Chase likes me a lot. Because they make their cut off the merchants who I’m paying with my card. It’s a win-win situation.

Sure, I could be burned again, if I ever decide not to pay off the card every month. But then, I’d have to be somewhat brain afflicted in a bad way. I may currently be afflicted, but I believe it’s in a good way.

I am not suggesting you follow my lead. I am only sharing what works for me. If you choose follow my lead, that is your prerogative.

Lost Wallet

Sometimes I loose stuff. When I do, it’s nice to know that whomever finds my stuff will be able to contact me. This has happened many times.

My wallet has been left on the Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland. It’s been left in a McDonald’s joint. Both times it was returned. But finding my phone number wasn’t easy.

I decided to make it easy, so I had my number laser engraved on the wallet. Now, anyone who finds it can just call the number.

It’s a good thing I did this. Because yet again, I left the wallet behind. This time in an airport. The person who found it turned it in, and the airport security people called me. I had the wallet the next day by Federal Express. The person who called me jokingly said, “It looks like this has happened before. I’ve never seen a phone number engraved on a wallet before.”

Well, thank you. The wallet is now chained to my person, so it should not happen again. But just in case, there’s a phone number engraved on the leather.

Time Off

Been off work for a week and a half now. It’s been a time of introspection, as well as time for doing whatever I want to do.

I’ve been flying with Kevin in his Moony. I’ve been shooting with Dave at the range. Disneyland has been the place to hang out a couple of times. Finished cleaning out the rock riverbed. I probably should have written about each day, and kept a journal of sorts, but I just started this blog.

So now I can write stuff down daily. That way I’ll always know what I’ve been doing, in case I forget. Just look at the blog, Tom.  It’ll spark your memory. Good idea. Thanks for thinking about me like that.