Archive for February, 2011

Leading from the Soul (Part 4 of 4)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Part IV: Moral Purpose

 

The final element of leading from the soul is moral purpose.  There is a terrific book on this issue by consultant Simon Sinek, titled, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.[1] Sinek argues that while most of us and the organizations we work for can readily articulate what we do and how we do it, all too often there is confusion or even no understanding of why. Why provides the beliefs and convictions that direct the what and how.  If the why is missing, everything else is the product of randomness and, even more troubling, its absence provides a vacuum that will be filled by divergent interests and nefarious actors.  (more…)

Five People From Finland Love YouPlusDallas

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

I am not one for over-analyzing, but I do enjoy my daily report from Google Analytics as to who is viewing our new website. It’s like running a hotel in the old days when you could look at the Guest Registry and see who was staying in your rooms. Take yesterday for example. We had 1,678 ‘unique’ visitors (repeat visits by the same person don’t count) and 3,629 page views. This means that we’re tracking towards 40,000+ monthly users and 100,000 monthly page views. Not bad. Quantcast tells me that out of the 294 million websites in existence, youplusdallas.com ranks in the top 140,000 for monthly traffic. Put it on a t-shirt!

While Dallas is, duh, our top market, we are also wildly popular in Canada (55 users yesterday!), the U.K., Australia, and a dozen other countries. At the end of the list I found Finland, where a whopping 5 out of the 5.3 million population are currently enjoying our site. My guess is the You+Helsinki is not far away. Tell your friends!

Leading from the Soul (Part 3 of 4)

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Part III: Transcendent Courage

The next element of leading from the soul is transcendent courage.  Courage is the spine of character; it is the synaptic command and control system for all other virtues.  We are all familiar with courageous acts; the firefighter who rescues the child from the burning building, the soldier who throws himself in the path of danger to save his comrades, or the passengers who uttered “Let’s roll” and gave their own lives to protect other innocent Americans the terrorists intended to kill at their target in Washington DC on 9/11.  There is no question these acts are heroic and worthy of significant praise, even reverence.  Are they born from courage?  Panic?  Desperation?  Are they reflexive or triggered from a deeply-wired sense of personal responsibility?  Is courage inherited or learned?  Are courageous people attractive, intelligent, wealthy, or prophetic?  Do they attend church every Sunday?  Do courageous people necessarily perform heroic acts or is courage a state of being that may never be overtly expressed?

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Super Bowl XLV: Best & Worst

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

It’s like the morning after you’ve had way too much to drink; you think you had a fantastic time, but you’re still not sure exactly what happened. Welcome to Super Bowl XLV. The whole week was a strange Faulkneresque stream of consciousness, so I’ll abandon prose and offer a few semi-cogent observations:

1. After producing five different stories on the North Texas Host Committee and the planning process, I could not be more impressed with the people behind this event and their heartfelt dedication to make it awesome. Four solid years of work and 9,998 details planned perfectly. There were only two things beyond their control: the weather and the NFL.

2. I am a lifelong Dallasite and I cannot recall more bitter cold. Snow is fluffy and romantic; this was icy, ripping, razor freeze that served no purpose but to kill enthusiasm to venture out and participate in the 60+ Super Bowl events. Incredibly sad.

3. Overall, I thought the national media was very fair — a rarely made claim. The storm was nationwide, and aside from a few snarky comments about our Texas de-icing methods, everyone understood that it was Dallas’ prom night and we couldn’t help it if our date’s car broke down on the way to the dance. The 10,000 Super Bowl volunteers got high marks for friendliness; the restaurants, hotels, and parties enjoyed great reviews, and the game itself was outstanding. Unless you were a Steelers fan.

4. It was odd how large the figure of Jerry Jones loomed over the entire affair. This is troubling as he is hardly the poster boy one would choose to represent your city. His egomania tarnishes everything it touches. The fact that his greedy ambition to set the attendance record ruined the experience for hundreds of people and became a gigantic black eye for Dallas is a parable for the ages.

5. Whatever awe I once held for the NFL has entirely vanished. What a monolithic cabal of micro-managing control freaks they are. And it was their contractor who screwed up the temporary seating, and their ineptitude on security that led to monstrous pre-game check-in lines. They deserve all the blame being heaped in their direction, and the lawsuits filed this week.

6. My straw poll of 11 respondents reveals that everyone is VERY glad this week is over, and five years is just enough time to get ready for the next Super Bowl … er, “Big Game.”

Leading from the Soul (Part 2 of 4)

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Part II: The Power of Solitude

Leading from the soul can only occur if we practice solitude.  As former Yale professor of literature, William Deresiewicz warned us, today we seem to be intoxicated by “celebrity and connectivity,” where the “great contemporary terror is anonymity.”[1] However, we know that the act of being alone — of practicing solitude — has produced great work.  In literature solitude gave us Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Jane Austen; and more contemporary talents like Maya Angelou and David Foster Wallace.  In music it gave us a range of brilliance from Mozart, to Coltrane, to Hendrix.  In science solitude found in laboratories and garages gave us street lights, vaccines, and microprocessors.  Some of the greatest thinkers of all time, like Isaac Newton, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Freidrich Nitzsche never married and lived alone most of their lives.  In leadership, solitude gave us the aforementioned Lincoln, Gandhi, and King.

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Leading From the Soul (Part 1 of 4)

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

When I think of great leaders I think of people like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  They were people whom against all odds and, moreover, against popular opinion, led society to places it would have never gone without them – to places that established new norms and higher expectations.  Their ideas and convictions were asserted thoughtfully and courageously and they never wavered from their purpose: to improve the lot of humanity.  These leaders spent a great deal of their time alone, reading and deliberating.  These leaders took risks that elevated everyone.  These leaders had a humble sense of self and a clear sense of mission.  When the history books are written about the early 21st century, I believe it will be claimed that while we suffered from economic malaise, global warming, terrorist acts, etc., the cause was not a housing or capital markets crisis, or an addiction to fossil fuels, or declining test scores, rising federal deficits, or even a broken healthcare system, it was rather a debilitating scarcity of leadership.  Leaders today show little, if any, of the characteristics of Lincoln, Gandhi, and King. (more…)