Thank a Veteran

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier,
Who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

- Father Dennis Edward O’Brian, USMC

 

Does this video help put the modern world into perspective?

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book in the Patriotic Development® series coming this Winter (2011).

 


 

Are you sure you're winning?

Are you frustrated with losing?

Each of us has a burning desire to succeed, to win and a la Charlie Sheen we’ve been fooled into thinking we can “fake it until we make it.”  Well, for better or for worse, we’re not Charlie and faking it certainly doesn’t work in my mirror.

You can be better.  You can win. As I get older, what ceases to surprise me is that the answers to everything we need to know, about whatever we want, are already available.  Here are a few.

Whether you believe as French political philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, “We get the government we deserve,” it is rather consistent, that all factors being equal, we attain the success we deserve.  Early on some of us are taught that winning is a result of working hard.  Later, perhaps from being raised as “knowledge workers,” we learn that winning is a result of working smart.  Which do you believe?  I happen to believe that it’s hard to be smart all of the time so we unfortunately must be both (depending on the day).

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

Being disappointed by others is never fun.  Disappointing yourself is worse.  There have been many days I’d start full of vigor, ready to get a truckload of work done.  I would even make a list (and it would be long but I would be confident).  As the day moved along, I’d get good at adding to the list but the crossing off -not so much.  What did I do wrong?  Well, it wasn’t making the list.  What I had trouble doing was making my “day.”  It’s entirely unrealistic to assume you will get nothing but work done all day.  You will eat, you will daydream and if you’re lucky you will interact with other humans (and they will add to your list too).  Social activity, imagination and basic needs are all required for daily living.  So plan for all of these the way you plan your work:

  1. Make a personal list along with your work list of things you are excited to accomplish (including lunch)
  2. Schedule time to use your imagination because you likely will (daydream) anyway
  3. Plan email breaks, meetings and other necessary social interaction.  You are a social animal after all

I delivered a presentation a few months ago to a group of high school students.  I was invited to speak by American University.  I surprised the students by suggesting that when they got to college to plan all of their fun, first.  I asked what they would do after they planned time for fun and their predictable answer was, “I guess study.” Their parents, also in the audience, were pleased.

SPOT REDUCING AND OTHER MYTHS

In 2009 I took the opportunity to earn a fitness certification through the National Strength Professionals Association( NSPA).  I learned a lot about what I didn’t know about strength training and nutrition.  This was in spite of my dedicated teen years of fruitless muscle building research.  One thing I did know going in was that you can’t “spot reduce” fat in your body.   For example if your torso is sporting a spare tire but the rest of you is “fine,” don’t expect your trainer to ignore strength training, cardiovascular training or body composition to focus on your gut.  I found this to be the same with being successful in other life categories like business.  It’s nearly impossible to be “spot excellent” with any consistency in life.  Have you ever been great at finding something to wear with a messy closet?  Can you concentrate at work when your life at home is a mess?  How about vice versa?

“The reason we admire people who are truly winning, is because deep down we know they’ve mastered many of their flaws.” ~ Jason Howell

It’s probably one flaw that’s holding you back from winning.  One little weakness you know about yourself, that prevents you from getting what you want.  Here are some keys to getting from average living to winning:

  1. Identify what you want, say it out loud and write it down
  2. Realize to some people your goal sounds ridiculous (ignore that)
  3. Identify the bad habits you have so you can work with them

Managing your bad habits can make an impact on your likelihood to win simply because of the mindset it puts you in.  No spot succeeding, you work to “win” in all areas of your life.  The “balance” of this approach while tricky at first, makes the winning more enjoyable.

Life is not always easy but it has a way of balancing in it’s own timing.  Why not help it along? I have found that when I proactively put things I can control in balance  – clean my bathroom, workout regularly, delete old e-mail, make the dreaded “cold calls” – my life’s goals start to line up nicely.  A little elbow grease mixed with a little magic.

That’s one formula for the winning we deserve.

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book in the Patriotic Development™ series coming this Fall (2011).

 


 

This presentation is long, but identifies an innovative way to approach a very complex set of problems.

Thoughts?

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book in the Patriotic Development® series coming this Fall (2011).

 


 

It didn’t take Standard and Poor’s United States debt downgrade  to sour you on the economy, our leaders or life in general.   Your employees and your co-workers will likely walk into work today with one more reason to feel anxious.  If they’re curious at all, they will be watching the stock market.  But there are things you can do to mitigate the growing distress and apathy towards the future.

You are still in control of your destiny.  And you affect the people around you.   Your company, your community and your country need you to succeed more than ever.  Here are a few ways to get beyond that low morale mindset.

  1. Take a hard look at reality and a soft look at yourself
  2. Pick 2 or 3 people to “check in” on
  3. Start work on something really big

TAKE A HARD LOOK AT REALITY AND A SOFT LOOK AT YOURSELF

Reality usually scares people but you’re so smart that you’ve probably already imagined a crisis much bigger than reality.  That’s the problem right?  Your challenges seems really big and you’ve tripped up trying to fix them so many times before;  why should today be any different?  Because it is indeed, a different day.  Write down your challenges so you can see them on paper instead of in your head. Pretend they are someone else’s problems and then see if you can identify a solution.  Be a little easier on yourself too and more courageous about meeting the challenges you see on that paper.  You are bigger and better than anything you’re facing.

PICK 2 OR 3 PEOPLE TO “CHECK IN” ON

A while ago I started making a list of people who were going through a tough time.  I wrote their names down on an index card so I could remember to contact them.  This worked well until I lost the index card.  If you manage to hang on to your list or if you are lucky enough to work with people, just walk over and “check in” with them.  Genuinely ask how they are doing.  Once a friend of mine asked me about three times how I was doing.  The third time I figured she wanted a real answer.  I told her how I really felt about life at that moment and the honest conversation made my day (and hers).

START WORK ON SOMETHING REALLY BIG

Founded in 2007

Nothing excites me more than coming up with a new mission.   And I do mean mission.  When was the last time you thought of something new to “do with your life?”  Recently I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to one of the forgotten heroes of our wars, an American military widow named Taryn Davis.  After her husband was killed in Iraq in May of 2007, this then 23 year old started the American Widow Project (AWP).   This is her mission and the mission of everyone associated with AWP:

“The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter………Military Widow to Military Widow.”

There’s no more valid a cause for low morale or depression than losing a loved one that is  a part of your daily life.  Ms. Davis shows however, that you can turn sorrow into a gift for many, many others. What mission could you start?  What gift could you give others through that mission?

The daily news cycle is designed to grab our attention. Staring at the “car accidents of life” is their business model.  Help the people around you take a real look at their own lives and identify the control they actually have.  Help them identify the resources they’ve already earned or have been given.

As individuals, as a community and as a country we have so much here in the United States of America.  Let us not leave the leadership to our elected leaders or our economy to the economists.  Let’s use our resources to create something good and inspire the best out of each other.

And let’s start today.

 

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book on Patriotic Development™ coming this Fall (2011).

 


 

CEO Carl Schramm argues that new businesses  are the engine of economic growth rather than large, medium or even just “small” businesses.  Watch and listen to the ideas and if you like any of them, share them with your peers…and maybe your representative in Congress.

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book in the Patriotic Development™ series coming this Fall (2011).

 


 

Jason Howell: Speaker, Author & Catalyst

Now that this year’s fireworks are a glittered memory, what will you do before recognizing the country’s 236th anniversary (next year)?

Last night I enjoyed the fireworks at my friend’s Outback Steakhouse in Fairfax, Virginia.  Tim Burrows is a big deal in Fairfax and as manager of that location, he throws an amazing party.  We all left with a heightened sense of American pride as is typical; if you sit back and just watch the annual replica of the rockets red glare.   I wondered quietly, “What’s next?”

YOU

People often ask what I talk about as a speaker or what I write about.  The easiest answer I can give them is I talk about YOU:

  • The son or daughter you try to be
  • That spouse you want to be
  • The employee or business owner you aspire to be
  • That person who on your least cynical days, still believes that you too are a “big deal”

What does our country, mired in $14 Trillion of debt and parallel challenges just as large, really need?  Our country needs you.

Beyond the rocks, water masses, purple mountain majesty and our flag (that’s still there), our country needs you, to be everything you thought you could be.  Our challenges are domestic and foreign much like our competition.  It isn’t enough to compete well locally without considering the ramifications of a global economy that’s growing in size and savvy around us.  When it comes to savvy, countries like China, India, Brazil and others have been getting better educated and better capitalized as one would expect emerging nations to do over time.  When it comes to size, China and India alone account for over 2.5 billion people versus the United States of America at just over 310 million.  If you like arithmetic, you’ll notice that as a relative ratio the USA is merely 12% of India and China in size.  If history is any measure however,  I like our odds when it comes to global competition.

THE WAY FORWARD

Take yourself on a brief historical journey of our country’s growth by reading Tyler Cowen‘s brief essay entitled The Great Stagnation.  Unlike Dr. Cowen, I am neither an economist nor a Harvard graduate; though we both received our Bachelors of Science degrees from George Mason University (Go Patriots!).  The reason I recommend his writing is because it awakens a basic understanding of innovation.   Many of our earliest heroes at the turns of the 19th and 20th centuries understood this clearly:  a true innovation is the implementation of a new invention.  New inventions take creativity, effort and in business they must be monetized to forcefully effect the economy.  By way of contrast, this is how Dr. Cowen explains our contemporary innovations:

“Contemporary innovation often takes the form of expanding positions of economic and political privilege, extracting resources from the government by lobbying, seeking the sometimes extreme protections of intellectual property laws, and producing goods that are exclusive or status related rather than universal…” Professor Tyler Cowen, George Mason University

He goes on to reference the false “innovations” that precipitated the last financial crisis.  True innovation must become a conversation that we have with our bosses, our clients and even our families.  How can we produce new items and services of value not just for ourselves but for the world’s eager consumption?

What is it going to take?  Everything we are and everything we have always wanted to be.

JULY 5TH, 2011

Your new years resolutions are dusting themselves off and getting ready to be shared once again, just before 2012.  Ignore them, as they will do what they annually do.  Think of a larger mission, one that takes into an account the generation that will follow yours.  On the day after our U.S. Independence Day, what will you resolve to do for the sake of your country’s future?  Beyond the platitude of my use of the word “country,” what will you do for the people who have not yet learned to compete globally as well as domestically?  What can you teach them about the success you have learned and earned over the years?

In 2050, when domestic and world demographics shift again, what will you tell people when they ask what you did to sustain the competitiveness and independence of the United States of America?  The answers to these questions is what I have entitled Patriotic Development™ and I hope you will join a generation of people who will answer our country’s call.

Happy 5th of July.

 

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book in the Patriotic Development™ series coming this Fall (2011).


 

From left to right, back row, they are T/5 L. C. Carter, Jr., Private John Bonner, Jr., Staff Sergeant Charles R. Johnson. Standing, from left to right, are T/5 A. B. Randle, T/5 Homer H. Gaines, and Private Willie Tellie." March 11, 1945. S/Sgt. W. H. Feen. 127-N-114329

Who are these guys?  The description from the Office of War Information is as follows:

“Seeking to rescue a Marine who was drowning in the surf at Iwo Jima, this sextet of Negro soldiers narrowly missed death themselves when their amphibian truck was swamped by heavy seas.”

I captioned their names on the photo to the left; but as important to the memory of the soldiers of Iwo Jima (and our country) I had never heard of them before.  So goes the stories of so many soldiers and so many men (and now women).

As thoughts of Memorial Day swirled around my head this weekend I tried to imagine what it would be like if I personally knew a casualty of war.  What a luxury I have as so many of us have, that I have to imagine.  Memorial Day isn’t just for the families and friends of the fallen, it is for all of us who have lost and all who have sacrificed.

Even as our soldiers fight overt war in foreign countries, we fight a war right here for the home they will hopefully soon come back to.

People often ask me why I wear an American flag on my lapel.  Actually, what they more directly ask is whether I was in the military -no.  Sometimes they wonder I’m sure, if I have family in the military.  I do, but that’s not why I wear a flag pin on my suit lapels.  As Americans having endured overt war for nearly 10 years it is easy for us to forget the sacrifices of people thousands of miles away; either fighting in foreign countries or fighting to survive in this one.  As people that live in America, we are all connected.  We are American more than because of official citizenship but rather by beliefs in ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’  Sometimes we get a little lucky too. I wear the flag as a reminder to myself that as they say,  “freedom isn’t free” and my luck isn’t guaranteed. I wear my flag to remember that there are always those who are fighting, and always those who are dying for the sake of the fight (and the cause).

Memorial Day is everyday because somewhere in the country there is always someone who is remembering another, who has long passed away in body, but not in memory.

Personally I refer to family members of mine that left me recently and just too quickly passed away.  In the words of President Ronald Regan when he referred to the astronauts of the ill-fated Challenger Space Shuttle in 1986:

“The crew of the space shuttle Challenger, honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.  We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning as they prepared for their journey, and waved goodbye and slipped the ‘surly bonds of earth’ to touch the face of God.” ~ President Ronald Reagan

The way we live our lives is truly what we have.  It is what is worth remembering on Memorial Day and everyday that we can.  The war we fight at home is less tangible but more insidious.  It is a war against apathy, against inertia and against the dangerous state of boredom itself.  It is also a war against helplessness.  ‘We the people’ have always believed that we could change the world and we as inhabitants of the United States of America are still living the truth of that through the surviving experiment of our Republic. We are indeed survivors and we are “thrive-ers.”

Each one of you has someone or something you dearly remember and it doesn’t take a holiday – nor certainly a holiday sale – to bring it top of mind.  Honor that memory and that feeling by seeking out the biggest challenges in your community and your country.  Try to change things that matter to others even more than they matter to you.  A legacy is usually built on the significance you had in the lives of people, you have had the good fortune to meet.

One day you too will need to be remembered.   Someone close will be around to tell your story and honor your memory.  And long after your life, many who knew you little will say, “Wow, well done.”

Happy Memorial Day and God bless America, today and everyday.

 

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his newest book in the Patriotic Development™ series coming this Fall (2011).


 

It is easy to be hoodwinked into thinking that the reason we fixate on the royals – and especially their weddings – is because of their wealth, stature and beauty.

As one of the few that watch the nightly news I am surprised how many important news “anchors” are in London for the mere fact of covering the latest wedding.  Perhaps with 750,000,000 viewers having watched the wedding of Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana of Spencer I should not be surprised by the corporate media’s push for presence.  But what is our fascination for wanting them there?  Why is it apparently “official” that we Americans have more press on site than the Brits (yes, I watch Access Hollywood too)?

I hope you haven’t stopped reading because of my admission of viewership frivolity.  Notice the photo I chose to grace this posting.  It is hardly the prettiest picture of the soon to be royal couple; though there are thousands I could have chosen from.  I chose a photograph that highlighted the symbolism of Great Britain and the prince and soon-to-be princess that are now at her center.  As pretty as they are, Prince William Mountbatten-Windsor of Wales and Kate Middleton of Bucklbury are merely the latest players in our admiration of purposeful grandeur.   We too want to be purposeful and we want that purpose to be grand.

Notice I didn’t use the word “delusion” as in “…delusions of purposeful grandeur.”  I am after all married to an admirer of the royals and would like to remain that way.  More to the point, I believe that our ideas around living a life that means something to someone other than ourselves is something to be admired.  It is part of what distinguishes us humans from the instinct-only drive of those we call animals.  As we admire those whom we assume to have purpose, like the royals, now is a good time to assess our own level of intentional purposefulness.  Especially before like Christmas, the wedding day passes and we regress to our regularly scheduled lives.

There are a few ways to both asses and invigorate our level of purposefulness (no, I didn’t make up that word):

  1. Start tracking your time
  2. Wonder aloud what you would like to be known for
  3. When you’ve settled on #2, write it down and read it aloud daily

The "Royal Invitation"

There is no life more fascinating than yours.   Oh sure, when you were married or in the future when your wedding is held, it isn’t likely that the Queen will be sending the invitations -but what of it?!  The biographies in the bookstores are littered with people I have either never heard of or never thought much about; still, their life stories are fascinating.  I don’t need to use my imagination about your life story to guess that it has been filled with ups and downs, love and lost love, success and embarrassing failure.  So has mine.

The difference between your ability to admire your own life versus others, lies merely in the appreciation of it.

Much like the Financial Planner begs us to do with our money, it is difficult to know how we are spending our time until we begin tracking it.  What do you do all day?  What do you do during each day that you are doing those things?  And what happens during those days?

Because they are your days, it is unlikely that you pay them as much reverence as someone else might.  No doubt “the royals” feel the same about their lives yet you admire them for being known…for being royal.  What would you like to be known for?  Whatever it is, you can be.  Everyone from Tony Robbins to Napoleon Hill says that it is not the resources we lack to be who want to be, it is our lack of resourcefulness.  To that end, whatever it is you want to be or be known for, write it down and read it aloud twice a day (those two guys recommend that also).  It is amazing what happens when you definitely identify what you want to do.  I had such an experience last week when I found myself speaking at the $400 billion, largest company in the world, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. headquartered in beautiful Bentonville, Arkansas.  Over the holidays I had committed to sharing the message of Patriotic Development™ more often and it seems the universe rallied around me to support that endeavor.

Do you have the will to be who you want to be, living a life worthy of admiration?  I think you do and I can’t wait to see your biography next time I head off to the bookstore.  In the mean time, enjoy the wedding :)

 
Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy now available on AMAZON.com. Also, be on the lookout for his new book on Patriotic Development™ coming out this Fall (2011).


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How much has changed since the recent “dribble drabble” releases of census information?  Nothing.  Nothing much  unless you count ‘awareness’ that is.  Most of the census information measures the change since Y2K but its delivery of the information merely confirms what most people know -the world has changed and continues to.

Since the emergence of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the term “global economy” has been a growing part of our business jargon.  What that led to is an industry around diversity training that some estimate well into the 8 figures.  But many court cases have proven that “diversity training” by consultants has not always been the most effective at supporting most corporation’s initial goal of reduced litigation; in fact in the early 1990s, the opposite occurred due to poorly trained trainers.  The smartest  companies got wise and developed their own training departments and created the executive position of Chief Diversity Officer along with volunteer Employee Resource Groups or “ERGs.”  Even these smart companies however, are running into challenges.  In fact, it’s the companies with the most intelligent, ambitious and highest potential employees that struggle with adding the new responsibilities of workplace diversity management to their job descriptions.  This struggle is in part because the goals of these groups have changed since their early inception, along with our understanding of their ability to impact workplace success.

Having participated as a volunteer both for internal and external affinity or resource groups, I have had the opportunity to witness and participate in both failure and success.  Like any collection of people united by a common cause, the key to victory is:

  1. Clarity of the mission
  2. Articulation of a strategy to achieve that mission
  3. Identifying the right people to implement the strategy

In last month’s article What Dictators Get Wrong but Good Leaders Get Right I spent some time on strategy and tactics but here I will focus on the “Clarity of the Mission.”   In my limited research I have understood diversity training to encompass many different themes including:  Cross Cultural Training, Multicultural Training and Race Relations.  Both Multicultural Training and Race Relations seemed to have had a focus on differences between cultures and races rather than what brings all people together.   They were developed at a time when the perception was people of a different race, culture or nationality were inherently “different.”  Cross Cultural Training stemmed from the idea that those who weren’t different may be going to a foreign country that by default was different and so needed training to literally “deal with” other people.  None of these training concepts had insidious goals but the success of their effects were at best blurred and at times created discontent among not only minorities but also the majorities.

In a global economy where the Fortune 500 fails to exist without business dispersed among many countries, blurred success cost money.   If the post-modern ideal of diversity awareness is working through ERGs then there must be a postmodernism in the way we approach the management of ERGs.

The conventional approach to ERGs is to identify high achieving, traditional minorities – based on race, age, gender, sexuality or “handi-capability” – within the organization and reward their high work ethic with, in fact, more work.  Added to their list of things to do are not only the tasks directly related to their job descriptions but also the added responsibility of continuing to identify people, who may or may not want to be identified, to join the group.  Once they join – or regardless of whether they do – they must then bear the responsibility of showing how this nebulous, internal, volunteer group improves their value to the company.  As the members of a more experienced generation would say: that’s a tall order.

A post-modern approach to ERGs would not only identify traditional minorities as potential members – perhaps improperly highlighting differences and forcing people to self identify – but would rather be an incubator for training and traditional professional development for any and all employees.  These groups could be monitored by both the Chief Diversity Officer and the Chief Development Officer or highest ranking human resource executive.   Employee retention is a cross-cultural challenge meaning keeping good people regardless of origin is always hard to do.  Part of employee retention, aside from monetary benefits, is training.  The thoughtful employee asks, “Am I improving my career positioning by remaining with this company?”  If the answer is in the affirmative, employers will rarely have to worry about losing talent to competitors. There are many benefits to this approach:

  • Adding buy-in from an executive in HR who’s job description reads “employee development”
  • Removing the possible stigma for an employee attending a ‘race-based’ internal group
  • Removing the apparent – though often mistaken – exclusion of majority groups
  • Recognizing that soon it will be difficult and irrelevant to identify all different cultures in the near future

As women, Latinos and other groups make up a larger part of the workforce, the need and mere possibility of identifying special groups and segregating them from others will become less effective.  Paths to success are not exclusive to one gender, race, age, nationality or level of physical capability.  Corporate culture must be created, identified and modeled from the top.  To listen before speaking, treat others as they would like to be treated, and continually improve your technical and leadership skills are lessons that all employees need reinforced and all organizations can benefit from.

The world is changing and will continue to evolve.  For those who are fortunate enough to be in decision making roles around diversity, shine a bright light on “Clarity of the mission.”

Jason Howell is the author of AMERICA: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” For more insights on success in business and in life, pick up your copy today. Also, be on the lookout for his new book on Patriotic Development™ coming this Spring/Summer (2011).