Archive for September, 2008

What I FEAR.

September 22, 2008

After reading and listening to one too many reports designed to update voters on the state of the Federal bail out for Wall Street, I have come up with the only way to respond right now without losing my mind . . . I would like to suggest that the Congress name the act as follows:

The Financial Equality, Absolution and Remuneration Act of 2008 or “FEAR”.

F is for the small group of dealmakers from the financial sector who will be the beneficiary of this taxpayer largesse (I wish I had known we had this largesse before today).

E is for allowing all “bad debt” to be valued the same regardless of what its real (or original) value was.

A is for our pathethic way of rewarding corporate titans for their past sins.

R is a fancy word for “will pay you back, compensate and reward you for making a lot of money and then wanting more”.

What do you fear the most?


Why community matters.

September 21, 2008

Late yesterday I traveled to my Father’s home town of Patton, Pennsylvania to visit with extended family members and attend Mass officiated by our cousin Bishop David Choby of the Diocese of Nashville, Tennesse. The Mass was a celebration for all members of the Choby Family who where able to attend and a memorial for deceased family members.  The Queen of Peace Parish graciously hosted us in their beautifully renovated sanctuary and welcoming Parish Hall.

During his homily, Bishop Choby emphasized the meaning of family and the community of faith to which we belong.

Across town, other community members were gathering for the traditional Cambria County Homecoming Ceremony and football game.

Today we all returned to our home communities and stepped back into other communities of which we are part.

Community matters because it gives us a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging, and provides for us a core set of values that guide our daily living and decision-making. Community allows us to live out our values.

Whether in Church or in the football stands, community matters.

Ingredients for an effective leader’s culture: Values, choice and action

September 19, 2008

I have been reading a great book entitled, “Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory” by Philip Carl Saltzman. In Chapter 3, “Agency in Human Action: Social Process and Transactions”, he summarizes his thoughts with a very powerful concluding sentence.

“Normative rules and values are transformed or replaced as patterns of choices and transactions shift. In processual theory and analysis, societal institutions and cultural values do not determine human action; rather action generates social institutions and cultural values.”

This statement summarizes and explains why so many of our leaders fail to see themselves as agents of change. I often say when teaching, “Don’t ask how to do something, ask why it hasn’t been done.” Saltzman’s perspective gives us the answer: human action.

What really matters today? IT matters.

September 16, 2008

As I worked in New York City today I realized that many of our leaders think that the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers is the breaking news of the day. I have news for them . . . what is the breaking news of the day are the myriad of other housing and banking challenges American families are facing as I write this blog entry.

Families in Texas don’t know where their next hot meal is coming from, residents of Northeast Ohio are seeking shelter and electricity in the wake of Sunday’s wind storm, and residents of New York City still have to get up tomorrow morning and go to work whether or not Lehman Brothers is open for business.

I think our leaders need to face the facts: our housing industry is in shambles, our banks are ghosts of what they once were, and thousands of more families became homeless today due to foreclosures, out of control utility and insurance costs, and because our country’s leaders don’t get IT!

That is, whatever IT is to you today!

Reflection time for female leaders.

September 4, 2008

A change of seasons always brings time for reflection. However, in Northeast Ohio, a time for reflection has been thrust prematurely upon us because in the last 30 days we have lost two great leaders: The Honorable Fannie M. Lewis, Councilwoman of Ward 7 – Cleveland, and The Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones – U.S. Congresswoman of the 11th District -OH.

As always, reflection brings the opportunity for understanding. Leaders like Ms. Lewis and Ms. Tubbs Jones reinforced three important leadership lessons for me: leaders don’t ask for permission, they just do; leaders build themselves a support circle of fellow leaders, male and female; and, authentic female leaders of our time are most effective when they define leadership on their own terms instead of trying to break through the glass ceiling installed by others.

Being “first” matters, but leading first matters most! I will miss both of you!