What does breast cancer and bullying have in common?

Admittedly it may seem rather odd to think that breast cancer which almost 12% of all U.S. women will experience in their lifetime and bullying which 56% of students have personally felt would have much in common

Here are three things that this unusual paring have in common:

  • First, October is awareness month for both breast cancer and bullying.
  • Second, dramatic reductions in the rates of breast cancer and bullying have occurred in the last 3 years according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Third, breast cancer patients and people being bullied both have the power to succeed in the critical moments.

In this post it is my honor to share the story of two people one with breast cancer one who was being bullied both succeeding in the critical moments.

Before we meet these remarkable people let’s become more aware of what is at stake in the struggle against breast cancer and bullying.  

Breast Cancer

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in US women.  In 2011, 2,140 US men were diagnosed with breast cancer. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
  • Though death rates have been decreasing since 1990 — especially in women under 50.  Still in 2011 about 39,520 women in the U.S. died from breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®  

Bullying

  • 56% of students have personally felt some sort of bullying at school. 90% of students between 4th and 8th grade are victims of bullying.  1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% percent of the time.
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. One out of 10 students drops out of school because they are bullied.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Stories of courage and action:  

In June of 2011 Peat Hampton was at the top of his game.  He was a computer programmer from suburban Houston a husband a father and an athlete. During a shower after taking a swim Peat felt a lump on his breast.  Because of what she learned from the American Cancer Society, Peat’s wife Cindy instantly knew that something was wrong.  Two weeks later her fears were confirmed Peat was one of the 2,140 men in the US diagnosed with breast cancer.

Peat was devastated by the diagnosis a “man’s man”… not only did he had cancer he had the “women” cancer.  In the two weeks before his surgery Peat was down in the dumps until he met another “man’s man” Roger Windom. Roger an Iraq war veteran was diagnosed with the “women” cancer while on the battlefield. After successful treatment Roger was back in the war zone within in a year.  Roger’s message to Peat…man up!  There is no “man’s cancer” there is no “women’s cancer” there is just cancer. Have the surgery and then go tell other men in your shoes about your experience.”

Peat summed the courage and had the surgery. Now a year later he is part of the largest group of cancer survivors in the U.S., the nearly 3 million people who have been successfully treated for breast cancer.

His health restored Pete then took action he joined Roger and others to raise breast cancer awareness among men. They have formed a group called “Pink Men” which has gone across the country sharing information and saving lives.

Tracie Altman is the model teenager.  She is an accomplished student at the top of her class, she was the stage manager for her high school musical, and she was the editor of her school newspaper. However, despite all of these accomplishments Tracie was being bullied. She was the target of crude and degrading Facebook posts bullying her for being fat, bullying her for being a nerd, bullying her for being gay.

Showing awareness and courage beyond her years Tracie did not let the attacks bring her down instead she took action.  Using her platform as the high school newspaper editor Tracie penned articles about bullying.  Aware of the problem perhaps for the first time her fellow students started to take action. Tracie’s Facebook friends posted her articles for others to see, and reported the names of those who bullied her. The school board was so moved by Tracie’s articles they took action, developing a comprehensive bullying prevention program including awareness training for teachers, and students along with procedures to report bullying. These measures have helped countless others all because of the awareness, courage and action of Tracie Altman.

The Bottom Line

While the examples of Tracie and Peat demonstrates the power to succeed in the critical moments.  Others facing the same critical moment have not been successful.

  • Many have suffered and died perhaps needlessly from breast cancer because they were not aware of its symptoms.
  • Many have been bullied because they or others lacked the courage to stop it.

For those of us who do not have breast cancer or who have not been bullied it up to us to take action for those who have.  For when we do we are increasing awareness, we are giving courage so that those who are in the critical moment can take action.  If we can do this then breast cancer and bullying will have one more thing in common…they will both be things of the past.

5 Ways to Motivate Millennials

As we dig out from the “Great Recession,” millennials, roughly the 70 million people born between 1980-2000, will take front and center in as jobs come back and older workers retire.

This group has been shaped largely by the rise of “instant communication” such as emailing, texting, YouTube, and Facebook.  They have entered the workforce better educated and, from a capability standpoint, ready to do the work on day one better than any generation before it.

However, as the millennials become more fully engaged in the workforce, their baby boomer managers are besieged with how to deal with a group that is sometimes referred to as the “Peter Pan” Generation because of a perceived tendency with them to “delay into adulthood”.  Often millennials define being an adult based on certain personal abilities and characteristics rather than more traditional “rite of passage” events.   This desire for “life style” purity in all things including work have led millennials to bolt quickly if the job is not a perfect fit for their lifestyle despite the paycheck or future it may offer.

It has been my honor to enjoy a front row seat to the rise of the millennials, from multi‐tasking video technology prodigies, to potential game changing employees leveraging their ease with all things digital to produce tangible business results.   My front row seat has been first as a parent of a 1989 vintage millennial and second as a strategist and recruiter of millennial talent for some of the best companies in the world including: Advanced Micro Designs (AMD), Eaton Corporation, and Sara Lee.

In my view, millennial talent has gotten a bad rap for being difficult to work with.   Surprisingly, what I have found in dealing with this group is that they are not difficult at all. In fact, they process 5 key bedrock work principles that would win the endorsement of even the most conservative baby boomer.  Knowing these principals is key to successfully unlocking the potential of your millennial talent.

1. Millennials are brazenly ambitious

If you believe that millennials are not patient, that they don’t want to wait their turn, that they want to be named CEO after only a week on the job…Guess what, you are right!!!   However, as a manager you can and should take full advantage of the abilities of your brazenly ambitious millennial.  Give them responsibility–fast.  They will surprise you with what they can do. Empower them from day one or risk losing them to an employer who will.

2. Millennials thrive when they are listened to

It starts with respect.  Millennials have lots of ideas that they will want to share.  At AMD, we held regular listening sessions where our millennial talent could make suggestions to senior management.  We found that they were not afraid to speak–even to the CEO, and that many of their ideas were really good. Listen to your millennial talent. Hear them out. You may need to advise them on the “how” and “when,” but do not dismiss them.  Keep them engaged.

3. Millennials are motivated by dialog

The research suggests that when millennials are simply told what to do without an opportunity for dialog, their productivity dip as much as 75% from the same work tasks when opportunities for dialog exist.  Millennials want to discuss things and participate in the decision-making process. Managers who use a participative approach featuring dialog get far better results from millennial talent.

4. Millennials improve massively with training

When Eaton Corporation started making deliberate investments in training, they found a dramatic reduction in the gap between actual skills of millennials and their desire for more responsibility. Even modest investments in training millennials will pay off in the form of greater productivity and results.

5. Millennials soar when they are believed in 

Leaders at Sara Lee know that millennials are confident when they believed in, supported, nurtured and have opportunities to use their talents.   When the company designed programs to showcase the talents of millennials, their confidence grew and their performance soared.

The Bottom Line

Despite their advanced technical skills, and quirky relationship with adulthood, it is rather obvious that the needs and desires of millennials are eerily similar to most of us. The key to motivating them is the same key for all of us…engagement.  Recruit millennials, hire millennials, engage millennials and their motivation and talent will serve your company well.

 

5 Important Reasons Why You Should Vote

It has started in small hamlets, midsize town and large cities.  It has started with everyone from firefighters, to teachers, to veterans and even CEO’s taking part.  It has started with the exercising of a right that attempts have been made to suppress, a right that billions have been spent to influence, a right that people have fought and died for.  What has started? ….Voting has started!

Early voting has started in many of the 31 states where it is in place leading up to the November 6th General Election.  Our government was designed for citizen participation so it is rather shocking to know that in 2008, when Barack Obama faced off against John McCain, turnout was 61.6% slightly up from the 60.1%  turnout in 2004, according to data compiled by George Mason University’s United States Election Project.

If estimates for this November are correct, we are looking at a third consecutive national election where only 6 out every 10 Americans decided to vote.  A recent article in Psychology Today summarizes findings from a US Census Bureau study of why people in 2008 did not vote.

“Topping the list of reasons for not voting is a lack of interest (13%) or a dislike of the candidates or issues (13%),” Psychology Today said. “More than a quarter of registered nonvoters in 2008 didn’t vote because they weren’t interested or didn’t like their choices.”

Many reported illness or disability (15%), especially among older registered nonvoters.  Others were too busy, or had conflicting schedules (17%).  That’s about a third of the registered nonvoters.

Of the remainder, many had some logistical problem with the process:  6% had problems with their voter registration, 3% did not have a convenient polling place and another 3% had some sort of transportation problem.

The Census Bureau study along with other polls and surveys suggest that most of the people who don’t vote are not engaged in their community, don’t find much difference in the candidates or the parties and don’t think their participation will make much difference.

The purpose of this blog is not to promote any candidate; rather, it is to promote voting –voting for the employed, voting for the unemployed, voting for everyone.   If you feel disengaged, discouraged, or downright disheartened and are not planning to vote, let me suggest 3 reasons why you should reconsider going to the polls either now, during early voting, or on November 6th.

1. Voting is a way to speak your mind and let your voice be heard!

Your vote is your voice. When we vote, we are actually telling elected officials and lawmakers how we feel about education, public safety, social security, health care, and other important issues.

2. Your vote really does count!

Remember: there is power in numbers, and when we vote and get our family members to vote, we can truly make a difference. If you don’t vote for what you believe in, others will – and you may not like the outcome.  Don’t believe it?  Look at how important each vote was in these elections:

  • 1960

If only 4.500 voters in Illinois and 2,800 voters in Texas changed their minds, the sum of their votes would have shifted the presidency from John Kennedy to Richard Nixon.

  • 2000

The 2000 presidential election was one of the closest in American history. Al Gore won the popular vote by a margin of 543,895 votes, but George W. Bush became president because he won Florida and its 25 Electoral College votes by only 300 popular votes.

  • 2004

The 2004 presidential election was also close coming down to a shift of 3,000 votes in Ohio giving the election to George W. Bush over John Kerry.

3. Our children are depending on us to represent their voices too!

Because our children can’t vote, we have to do it for them. That’s how we make our concerns about schools, safety, housing, and other issues heard. When we vote, we are looking out for our kids, and their futures.

4. Voting changes communities!

Do you ever wonder why one neighborhood gets passed over for things it needs, while another seems to get it all? One big reason is voting. When we vote, we can get results that we can actually see.

5. Voting honors our history!

Throughout the history of our country voting has been a right that citizens had to fight to gain.  When the constitution was written, only white men who owned property could vote.  The work and courage of freedom fighters have extended voting rights specifically for women and African Americans.  Many believe that the right to vote continues to be under assault with voter ID laws, the reduction of early voting hours, along the purging of voting lists.

Regardless of your view on these matter there is no mistake that the right to vote should not be taken for granted.  I urge you to honor the bravery of those who fought for your right to vote, by exercising that right in this election.

The Bottom Line: It has started…now let’s finish it!

Often times, we voice our concerns to elected officials, but if we aren’t voting, our concerns may not matter at all to them. Voting can actually give you the credibility to make your concerns a top priority for legislators.

– So it has started, now it is time for you to finish it — vote in this election!!!!  — I am Marben Bland, and I approve this blog.

10 Money Saving Tips for Savvy Travers

I travel a lot and as a small business owner I am always looking for ways  to save money while providing a level of conform that will allow me to arrive at my destination refreshed and ready to do my best.   Over the years I have met some really savvy travelers who have devised some brilliant and innovative ways to stretch a buck.   You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to save money, all you have to be is a traveler with a desire to get the best for less.  If you are that kind of traveler here are 10 money saving tips from my savvy traveling friends.

Food

Sure saving money on airfare is great but how often is saving money on food as we travel is  overlooked. Our first 3 tips can help stretch your dollars while having a tasty dining experience. 

1. Book Accommodations That Serve Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and one you shouldn’t skip to save money. Before booking your accommodation, make sure they include breakfast in the rate. That way, you can fill up on free food and eat lighter later in the day.

2. Plan Your Meals – Figure out where you will be and eat before you actually go out. This is not just good for your wallet, but your stomach too since you will probably find economical restaurants that tastes great.

3. Stay At Accommodations With Kitchens
Grocery shopping and cooking your own meals is not only healthy, but also budget-friendly. It’s also fun to discover new grocery items you don’t have at home. Even if you don’t want to cook every meal, incorporating it into your eating itinerary will save you a lot of money.

4.Pack Your Own Food For The Airport & The Flight
Let’s face it airports have mastered the food business, the selections even in the small regional airports are rather good as the major fast food players, Subway, McDonald’s and alike are now feeding travelers. However, the prices for that Big Mac or foot long sub are typically 10-20% higher than their off-airport locations.   The TSA will allow passengers to bring sealed packages of store bought and homemade food.  Clearly your selection will be better and you will save a ton of money.  Save big money on water by bringing your own TSA approved empty bottles and simply filling them at airport water fountains.

Transportation    

We all know about Expedia, Priceline and other online booking sites for travel.  Here are 4 tips that can save money as we go beyond the box of air travel.

5. Night Train and Flights – If the transportation is going to be long, consider traveling at night to save money on accommodation and many hours of time. Many people have a tough time sleeping on these, but it’s all mental. Once you get used to it, you will be able to have a good night’s rest.

6. Take the Slower Transportation – If flying is too short for you to take advantage of sleeping while traveling, take a bus ride. When you are sleeping, you won’t mind that the bus ride is 7 hours.

7. Car Rental Coverage – Some insurance and many credit cards have car rental coverage so take advantage of those when you rent a car. All you have to do is pay with the credit card that will cover you. (Just make sure you decline the coverage from the rental company when they ask)

8. Gas Up The Rental Car – If you are renting a car and need fuel, just fill her up with regular gas since that’s what the car rental company uses anyway. Also, decline those services that fills the gas tank up for you. Even though it seems like the advertised price is cheap, they charge you for a full tank of gas regardless of how much is left in there when you bring the car back.

Discounts

The world of travel discounts are there for the taking.  Tips 9 and 10 are about finding and taking those discounts.

9. Reward Points – Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, sign up for those reward programs since you might qualify eventually. It’s all free anyway and if you finally get enough points, you can get always get something free.

10. Age, Student and Membership Discounts – Many attractions like theme parks, museums and others have discounts for senior, children or students. If you are traveling, remember to take your ID and membership cards (e.g. AAA card) with you that might qualify you for these.

Bonus Tip: Ask

You will be amazed by the upgrades, discounts and freebies that can be obtained by simply asking.  However, be aware that the key to asking… and then receiving is to be nice.  I urge you to be nice to the front desk clerk, the person behind the rental car counter and always the airline employee.   These folks have a difficult job and they deal daily with a fair share of gruff.   A smiling, pleasant and understanding attitude from you will go a long way toward the savings you deserve.     

The Bottom Line

I have always viewed travel even business travel as a wonderful adventure; however the adventure can be so much more fun when you are saving money.  Save travels and have fun saving.

P.S. I am always looking for ways to save money during my travels and to pass those money saving tips to others.  Join the fun send me your tips to me at marben@marbenbland.conm .  I will pass them along in my next travel tip blog.   

When not traveling Marben Bland is the CEO of The Marben Bland Group a consulting firm focused on high-performance leadership, career coaching and business innovation.  Send your comments to marben@marbenbland.com

 

How to live to be a 100 and beyond – A Top 5 List

This weekend I had the honor of attending birthday parties for two wonderful women. The first party was for a youthful 87 year old, the second was for a remarkable 100 year old woman.   At both parties I had the great pleasure of enjoying the company of my 86 year old mother and her friends, all between the ages of 85-90 years old.

There is no denying that longer life expectancy is swelling the number of seniors — people over age 65 — in our population. My mother and her friends belong to the fastest-growing subset of that superannuated group. They prove the most interesting for researchers — those over age 85 and in particular the centenarians born in the second decade of the 20th century.  Think of the change and progress these people have lived through: the Great Depression, World War II, the civil rights and women’s rights movement the moon landings, the social media revolution and the election of the nation’s first African-American President.

In the most recent census, health officials predicted that by 2050, more than 800,000 Americans would be pushing into their second century of life.  By all accounts, these new centenarians are far from the frail, ailing, housebound people you might expect. In contrast, the majority of them are mentally alert and relatively free of disability.  They remain active members of their communities. In fact they may simply represent a new model of aging, one that health experts are hoping more of us can emulate.  Both to make our lives fuller and to ease the inevitable health care burden that our longer-lived population will impose in coming decades.

While there is no one secret formula for long life, there are some specific behaviors to grow the soul to live longer.  We recognize that longevity depends on genes, your life style and being blessed in staying free from chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke and dementia.  In speaking with my mother and her 85 year old plus friends I discovered some timeless truths to not only longevity but to success in life.   Clearly these truths are not new, however what is new is the exceptional take these extraordinary women provide.   I offer you these truths in as a top five list of how to live to be a 100 and beyond.

5. Be Resilient

My mother and her friends have lived wondrous lives and they truly embody the American dream.  Not affluent, they were born into the Jim Crow south where their horizons were legally limited by race and culturally narrowed by gender.  These barriers never stopped them as they used education, the great equalizer in our society, to take full advantage of the gains of the civil rights movement to become leaders in the new south achieving economic power. With their husbands, they raised strong healthy families that have continued a legacy of success.  When I asked how they made these remarkable accomplishments despite all the odds, they answered simply we were “resilient”.   For these ladies being resilient meant putting their dreams in action by setting goals and not being deterred when setbacks happened.  They knew that in the end hard work, determination and above all faith would see them through.

4. Laugh … a lot

The ladies there saw their lives as one big situation comedy where everything, raising children, office politics, illness and even the death of a spouse were fair game for the comedic gist.  During our time together laughter was a constant, from good natured ribbing to heartfelt stories about long departed love ones.   These ladies were having the time of their lives.  As one of the ladies with a smile put it,” laughter truly helps us in placing our lives into clearer focus, we really don’t take ourselves too seriously – because you know the funny thing about life is none of us are going to get out of it alive so we might as well laugh it up.”

3. Blaze your own trail

My mother and her friends advised that consistently following the masses will get you in trouble.   While obedience and adherence to rules are necessary, it is awfully important to forge your own way with confidence and independence.  The lives of each of the ladies I had the pleasure of being with over the weekend were testaments to the trails that they had blazed in business, education, and the arts.  And they did it “their way”.

2. Smell that rose now

“Son you have to always stop and smell that rose now….because when you come back to that rose the bloom could be gone” is the sage advice of my mother.  During a trip to Hawaii a few years ago she and her friends devised a campaign to urge their “busy” children not to slow down but to cherish the “roses” in our lives.  From the mundane to the spectacular and everything else in between we should live to find the “roses”.

1. It is all about faith

“God gets all the credit for my long life.  Without Him I am nothing” is what one lady speaking for all said about their relationships with God.  They each describe a deep, long lasting and abiding faith that sustains, conforms and guides them in all walks of life.    Their advice about faith is; a small amount of faith will go a long way as evidenced in Matthew 17:20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.

In the daily exercise of their faith these women said they were in constant prayer and communication with God.  They read scripture daily and followed these simple guidelines for making decisions in a Godly manner: 1. Does it line up with the Word of God?  2. Does it edify God and/or His people?  3. Does it significantly impact your life in a positive way? 4. Does it lead you to Jesus and deepen your relationship with Him? 5. Do you have God’s peace about the situation?

The Bottom Line

My mother and her friends are the best examples that I know of living a life that is well lived. While I may not have uncovered the singular secrete that will allow me to live to 100 and beyond, I know that this weekend I found no better guiding truths for making the attempt.

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Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk – By Alex Knapp – Forbes Magazine

Alex Knapp is the social media editor and a staff writer at Forbes Magazine.   Recently Alex posted an excellent look at leadership from the perspective of none other than James T. Kirk of Commander of the Starship Enterprise.  With attribution to Alex Knapp, I am re-posting his blog comments for my Smart Job Search readers.    

Captain James T. Kirk is one of the most famous Captains in the history of Starfleet. There’s a good reason for that. He saved the planet Earth several times, stopped the Doomsday Machine, helped negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, kept the balance of power between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and even managed to fight Nazis. On his five-year mission commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, as well as subsequent commands, James T. Kirk was a quintessential leader, who led his crew into the unknown and continued to succeed time and time again.

Kirk’s success was no fluke, either. His style of command demonstrates a keen understanding of leadership and how to maintain a team that succeeds time and time again, regardless of the dangers faced.  Here are five of the key leadership lessons that you can take away from Captain Kirk as you pilot your own organization into unknown futures.

1. Never Stop Learning

“You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”

Captain Kirk may have a reputation as a suave ladies man, but don’t let that exterior cool fool you. Kirk’s reputation at the Academy was that of a “walking stack of books,” in the words of his former first officer, Gary Mitchell. And a passion for learning helped him through several missions. Perhaps the best demonstration of this is in the episode “Arena,” where Kirk is forced to fight a Gorn Captain in single combat by advanced beings. Using his own knowledge and materials at hand, Kirk is able to build a rudimentary shotgun, which he uses to defeat the Gorn.

If you think about it, there’s no need for a 23rd Century Starship Captain to know how to mix and prepare gunpowder if the occasion called for it. After all, Starfleet officers fight with phasers and photon torpedoes. To them, gunpowder is obsolete. But the same drive for knowledge that drove Kirk to the stars also caused him to learn that bit of information, and it paid off several years later.

In the same way, no matter what your organization does, it helps to never stop learning. The more knowledge you have, the more creative you can be. The more you’re able to do, the more solutions you have for problems at your disposal. Sure, you might never have to face down a reptilian alien on a desert planet, but you never know what the future holds.

Knowledge is your best key to overcoming whatever obstacles are in your way.

2. Have Advisors With Different Worldviews

“One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.”

Kirk’s closest two advisors are Commander Spock, a Vulcan committed to a philosophy of logic, and Dr. Leonard McCoy, a human driven by compassion and scientific curiosity. Both Spock and McCoy are frequently at odds with each other, recommended different courses of action and bringing very different types of arguments to bear in defense of those points of view. Kirk sometimes goes with one, or the other, or sometimes takes their advice as a springboard to developing an entirely different course of action.

However, the very fact that Kirk has advisors who have a different worldview not only from each other, but also from himself, is a clear demonstration of Kirk’s confidence in himself as a leader. Weak leaders surround themselves with yes men who are afraid to argue with them. That fosters an organizational culture that stifles creativity and innovation, and leaves members of the organization afraid to speak up. That can leave the organization unable to solve problems or change course. Historically, this has led to some serious disasters, such as Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Organizations that allow for differences of opinion are better at developing innovation, better at solving problems, and better at avoiding groupthink. We all need a McCoy and a Spock in our lives and organizations.

3. Be Part Of The Away Team

“Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

Whenever an interesting or challenging mission came up, Kirk was always willing to put himself in harm’s way by joining the Away Team. With his boots on the ground, he was always able to make quick assessments of the situation, leading to superior results. At least, superior for everyone with a name and not wearing a red shirt. Kirk was very much a hands-on leader, leading the vanguard of his crew as they explored interesting and dangerous situations.

When you’re in a leadership role, it’s sometimes easy to let yourself get away from leading Away Team missions. After all, with leadership comes perks, right? You get the nice office on the higher floor. You finally get an assistant to help you with day to day activities, and your days are filled with meetings and decisions to be made, And many of these things are absolutely necessary. But it’s sometimes easy to trap yourself in the corner office and forget what life is like on the front lines. When you lose that perspective, it’s that much harder to understand what your team is doing, and the best way to get out of the problem. What’s more, when you’re not involved with your team, it’s easy to lose their trust and have them gripe about how they don’t understand what the job is like.

This is a lesson that was actually imprinted on me in one of my first jobs, making pizzas for a franchise that doesn’t exist anymore. Our general manager spent a lot of time in his office, focused on the paperwork and making sure that we could stay afloat on the razor-thin margins we were running. But one thing he made sure to do, every day, was to come out during peak times and help make pizza. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. The fact that he did so made me like him a lot more. It also meant that I trusted his decisions a lot more. In much the same way, I’m sure, as Kirk’s crew trusted his decisions, because he knew the risks of command personally.

4. Play Poker, Not Chess

“Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker. Do you know the game?”

In one of my all-time favorite Star Trek episodes, Kirk and his crew face down an unknown vessel from a group calling themselves the “First Federation.”  Threats from the vessel escalate until it seems that the destruction of the Enterprise is imminent. Kirk asks Spock for options, who replies that the Enterprise has been playing a game of chess, and now there are no winning moves left. Kirk counters that they shouldn’t play chess – they should play poker. He then bluffs the ship by telling them that the Enterprise has a substance in its hull called “corbomite” which will reflect the energy of any weapon back against an attacker. This begins a series of actions that enables the Enterprise crew to establish peaceful relations with the First Federation.

I love chess as much as the next geek, but chess is often taken too seriously as a metaphor for leadership strategy. For all of its intricacies, chess is a game of defined rules that can be mathematically determined. It’s ultimately a game of boxes and limitations. A far better analogy to strategy is poker, not chess. Life is a game of probabilities, not defined rules. And often understanding your opponents is a much greater advantage than the cards you have in your hand. It was knowledge of his opponent that allowed Kirk to defeat Khan in Star Trek II by exploiting Khan’s two-dimensional thinking. Bluffs, tells, and bets are all a big part of real-life strategy. Playing that strategy with an eye to the psychology of our competitors, not just the rules and circumstances of the game  can often lead to better outcomes than following the rigid lines of chess.

5. Blow up the Enterprise

“‘All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.’ You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the sea beneath you, and even if you take away the wind and the water it’s still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones.”

One recurring theme in the original Star Trek series is that Kirk’s first love is the Enterprise. That love kept him from succumbing to the mind-controlling spores in “This Side of Paradise,” and it’s hinted that his love for the ship kept him from forming any real relationships or starting a family. Despite that love, though, there came a point in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, where Captain Kirk made a decision that must have pained him enormously – in order to defeat the Klingons attacking him and save his crew, James Kirk destroyed the Enterprise. The occasion, in the film, was treated with the solemnity of a funeral, which no doubt matched Kirk’s mood. The film ends with the crew returning to Vulcan on a stolen Klingon vessel, rather than the Enterprise. But they returned victorious.

We are often, in our roles as leaders, driven by a passion. It might be a product or service, it might be a way of doing things. But no matter how much that passion burns within us, the reality is that times change. Different products are created. Different ways of doing things are developed. And there will come times in your life when that passion isn’t viable anymore. A time when it no longer makes sense to pursue your passion. When that happens, no matter how painful it is, you need to blow up the Enterprise. That is, change what isn’t working and embark on a new path, even if that means having to live in a Klingon ship for awhile.

Final Takeaway:

In his many years of service to the Federation, James Kirk embodied several leadership lessons that we can use in our own lives. We need to keep exploring and learning. We need to ensure that we encourage creativity and innovation by listening to the advice of people with vastly different opinions. We need to occasionally get down in the trenches with the members of our teams so we understand their needs and earn their trust and loyalty. We need to understand the psychology of our competitors and also learn to radically change course when circumstances dictate. By following these lessons, we can lead our organizations into places where none have gone before.

3 Golden Truths We Can Learn From The U.S. Women Olympic Team

An Impressive Success!!!

Without question the women of the U.S. Olympic team turned in a specular performance at the 2012 London Olympics.   Their feats were even more remarkable when considering what they were able to collectively accomplish.

  • Of the 5 world records established by the U.S. Olympians during the games all were set by female athletes.  Highlighted by Rebecca Soni who broke her own world record in the 200 meter breaststroke.
  • Female athletes contributed 55% of America’s total medals and 66% of the gold metals. Without women pulling more than their fair share, America would probably have finished a distant second behind China in the medal count.
  • So dominant were the U.S. women that had they seceded to from the men and formed their own team, they would have been third in the medal count.

An impressive success indeed!!!

Our women did more than just kicked butt and took names in London; their extraordinary show of excellence provides three golden truths about gender equality.  These golden truths show the power that gender equality has not only in sports but in every walk of life and what is possible when our nation lives up to the creed; “That all “men and women” are created equal”.

Golden Truth Number One: Leveling the Playing Field Works

There are many reasons why the U.S. women were dominant, but one very clear one is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year: Title IX.   Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, mandating equality in college athletic and team sports for women.

Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, gave the legislation full marks in moving America toward dominance in women’s athletics.  “Title IX has fundamentally altered the landscape of what it means to be female and an athlete,” said Kane. “In one generation, we’ve gone from girls hoping there is a team to girls hoping they make the team.”

Golden Truth Number Two: The Distinctive Advantage Women Provide the U.S. Economy  

The United States Olympic Committee sent a total of 539 athletes 261 men 278 women to the Olympics in London to compete in 25 sports.  For the first time in its history, the U.S. was represented by more female than male athletes at an Olympic event.  208 of our athletes won at least one medal and as documented earlier 66% of those metal winners were women

Women comprise 50.9% of the U.S. population.  While countries we compete against like China have a higher number of females in their population the equal access to the tools of economic growth, education, jobs, and capital that the U.S. provides gives our nation a distinctive economic advantage.  Because like our Olympic team when we fully engage our half our population –women, the entire country benefits.   Data from the 2010 census provides strong evidence of the growing power of females in our economy

  • 38% of women 25 and older now hold a bachelor’s degrees a full 10% higher than the corresponding number for men.
  • 28% of all business are owned by women up from 10% from the 2000 census.
  •  7.5 million people are employed by women owned businesses.

 

Golden Truth Number Three: There is More Work to be Done

Despite the splendid performance of the U.S. Women Olympians every athlete knows that there is much more work to do.  Our women will be stiffly challenged in 2014 during the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympic Games.  Nations envious of our female achievements will be gunning for the Americans in 2016 as the games will be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

There is also more work to be done on the economic stage along with the economic gains by woman sighted in the 2010 census we find these nagging realities:

  • Women earn 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by men
  • Women currently hold 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions
  • The unemployment rate for men dropped more than 1 percent between 2009 and 2011, while women’s unemployment rate rose about half a percent during that same time.

The Bottom Line

While there’s no question that women’s sports lag behind men’s in attendance and funding, the performance of our woman’s Olympic team proves that Title IX has helped transform the landscape of women’s athletics. In the two generations after its passage, it’s no longer considered unusual for a girl to play sports growing up; indeed, it’s become more unusual for girls not to play a sport. With more girls starting sports, more girls have the opportunity to learn that they like them, and the more girls who play sports as kids, the more women who excel at sports as adults.

However, the torch must be passed from success on playing field to equality in the pay envelope, achievement in the board room, and reduction of the female unemployment rate.   If we can achieve this, the golden truth of the 2012 U.S. Woman’s Olympic team’s triumph will be a golden legacy of greatness for our country.

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The Marben Bland Group houses over 60 professional career consultants, business experts and social media strategies with  20  plus years of collective experience offering a wide range of social media, recruiting and job search services worldwide.