A New School Year

Can you believe it? School has started. Welcome weekend is over and now it is time to buckle down and get to work. Yesterday the Business Department met with the new students and we will be seeing all of the returning students in our classes today. We had seven of the nine instructors for this semester involved yesterday, and I have to say our department rocked it. A great level of energy in the room, and the fresh new perspective of having the additional faculty involved was incredible.

I have a lot of hope for this new year. Our HCA professor will be teaching Economics also, which will give her a larger exposure to our students. I know the business and SE students will enjoy her style and her knowledge.

The Accounting professor is beginning to see how Accounting, framed within social justice, can change the world. I think all of us in the department are beginning to see that framing our business classes within the larger context of positive social change is important. This is the unique Warner Pacific perspective.

As I said over and over yesterday, I believe in the power of business to change the world. This change can be either good or bad based upon how we frame the activity. The activity of business is the same no matter what type of organization one is involved in. Therefore, technically business programs teach the same things. However, if business can create positive social change then we much frame the activities of business within the larger context of said social change. This is the why of teaching business at Warner Pacific College.

This is why we have created a new program, in its second year, around Social Entrepreneurship. We have fifteen students in the SE 101 course, and nine in the program from last year. Not bad for a new program, and based upon the questions yesterday, there is an incredible amount of interest in the program, students just don’t know what it is.
Our new SE professor has a very high level of energy. This was obvious yesterday and good. I think it actually pushed us old folks to be a little more animated. I look forward to seeing how this new instructor will impact the SE program. I think she is going to do an excellent job, and will have a great impact on our department as a whole.

We have a new law professor this year. He teaches for us in the adult program, and I think our students are going to love his style. I would love to move this class away from the 8am time slot, but at this point in time there is a need to accommodate the instructor’s schedule, thus the early time frame. We’ll see how students respond to the new person.

BUS 101 has always been a course that is interesting and challenging. We have a new instructor and we have a new text and strategy. We are now framing the course as foundational to the whole program. I think the person we have teaching this course will do this quite well. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with that course this year.

As I stated yesterday was an exciting start to the school year. I really needed to just think through what happened and reflect on it. I do plan on blogging a bit more. It is time to get back to work.

And that is my thought for the day!

An Integrative Education

Well, the summer is almost over. Before you start yelling at me saying it is only August, the school where I teach starts a week from Monday. I am developing new syllabi, preparing my Moodle course sites, and getting ready for welcome week. I can feel the tension already building. I do believe it will be an exciting year.

There were several events that motivated me to write this blog tonight. The first involved the August graduation on Saturday. I had the distinct privilege to provide the invocation and hood the Master students. The second involved an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. And third, was a Parker Palmer book entitled “The Heart if Higher Education: A Call to Renewal.” Let me walk you through my thought processes.

I was discussing the number of students currently enrolled at my college with the director of enrollment. We have the largest first year class coming in next week in the history of our college. I am pretty excited about that, but I want to make sure we are going to give them an excellent education. I really agree with Palmer when he states that education is holistic and nourishing. I really like how Parker Palmer describes this, “But we also seek forms of knowing, teaching, and learning that offer more nourishment than the thin soup served up when data and logic are the only ingredients.”

As a businessperson, I understand the importance of data. However, I also believe in the importance of being thoughtful, creative, and human. Often business is viewed as a science more so than an art. I am not too sure I agree with that. Again, Palmer does a great job of exposing the human side of science. “I have long been impressed by the fact that science itself – great science, depends on bodily knowledge, intuition, imagination, and aesthetic sensibility, as you can learn from any mathematician who has been led to a proof by its elegance.”

James Smith wrote in the WSJ on Saturday about the first year students who are arriving at college, only to be indoctrinated by the time they get to their second year. The students who arrive for their sophomore year have changed. They have lost the open eyed wonder of learning, and have replaced it with a sense of enlightenment. Smith states, “ It’s not just that you’re a year wiser, you carry the air of newly enlightened. Your curiosity has hardened into a misplaced confidence; your desire to learn has turned into a penchant to pronounce, as if wisdom were a race to being the quickest debunker.” Instead of having your minds opened and thirsty for knowledge, it has been closed through the process of indoctrination. I hope this is not the case with our students. I hope we are doing what Palmer describes as “uncovering and empowering the heart of higher education in those faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and trustees who have a vision for reclaiming the unrealized potentials in the human and historical DNA that gave rise to academic life.”

Integrative education is critical for the future wellbeing of our country. Teaching students how to fill out spreadsheets and not telling them why the spreadsheets are important leads to anemic education. Teaching students how to manage an organization, and not teaching them about he ethics of Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, or Alasdair Macintyre, will lead to a less than stellar leader. Teaching business students about how to make money and not telling them about the right and wrong of how it is done will lead to more companies failing ethically in our society. Education needs to be holistic.

For the reasons mentioned above I think a Christ-centered, Liberal Arts institution is the perfect place to teach students about business. The spiritual foundation is importance, as is the liberal sense of freedom, all of which works hand in hand with the technicalities of a discipline to produce a student that is a critical thinker, creative, innovative, and a problem solver. I think pretty highly of our students at Warner Pacific. I think our strategy of engagement, enactment, and creating strong business partnerships is a winner. One that will help us produce an incredible student that will make a difference in the world.

And that is my thought for the day!

A Discussion On Leadership

Yesterday we had a Business Department meeting to kick off our new semester. I facilitated the meeting, and I did some things well and some things I did not do well. I liked the collaborative environment, the ability of faculty to be autonomous, and collective decision-making. However, I don’t think I did well demonstrating Moodle. It is a great instructional tool for organizing your course. The events of the day did get me thinking about Leadership.

I think a good leader is constantly looking at themselves for areas of improvement. I think this is an important characteristic born out of the desire to lead an organization to higher levels of performance. However, I also think that a leader needs to keep passion in check. There is no need to get too upset, or even too excited, about events trusting the process to get the organization where it needs to go. In this case I see I am exercising more of a coaching leadership style instead of a directing style. I think this is in line with some things that Thomas a Kempis mentioned in his book, “The Imitation of Christ.” A Kempis stated, “The proud and the avaricious man are never at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the multitude of peace.? Ok, I don’t see my self as too prideful, but I do recognize the importance of lowliness of heart, being humble. Collins calls this a level five leader who leads through a combination of humility and professional will.

A Kempis makes another very good comment, “But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination, immediately he is weighed down by the condemnation of his conscious; for that he hath followed his own desire, and yet in no way attained the peace which he hoped for.” Yielding to passion, and A Kempis is talking about lust, will not set one free but only affirm one’s bondage. Thus a leader needs to keep a level head and push forward.

Why is it important that a leader not be too passionate, or too much of a director? This type of leadership allows for a sense of individual freedom and autonomy. You want people to be able to make decisions for themselves. If not we enter into a totalitarian environment that destroys initiative and innovation. A new movie, which is showing this weekend displays the hopelessness of totalitarianism. The Giver, which is another in the long line of movies dealing with similar subjects as Hunger Games, opens today and portrays a society that sacrifices “human individuality in the utopian pursuit of sameness.” As I read the review on this movie, it reminded me of the short story Harrison Bergeron. In that short story the government had ensured that everyone was equal. Those who wanted to enjoy an independent thought were fitted with shock equipment that would measure the thought patterns within the brain, and when there was a creative thought, the person would be shocked. That society did not want difference.

Raymond Floyd in this morning’s Wall Street Journal discussed the losses of a so-called utopian society. He wrote after seeing The Giver, “As the lights came up after the screening of the Giver, my thoughts were on Poland and communism, but soon they turned to the broader subject of totalitarian regimes robbing individuals of their God-given rights. So often, one of the first jobs of the totalitarian is to declare that God is dead and that government is the final authority on truth and justice.” Ultimately this is leadership that is directive eliminating creativity and individual thinking.

I don’t think that is real leadership. Leadership is not making sure everyone does things exactly the same, although there does need to be some consistency of process; leadership allows people to perform at high levels by encouraging individuality, creativity, and autonomy.

And that is my thought for the day!

How To Handle Pressure!

Today’s blog will be a little different. We are now in August, and school is right around the corner. Decisions must be made, students transferring in and transferring out, and old faculty leaving and new coming in. All of these thoughts woke me from a sound sleep at 3:30am. I did go back to sleep, but only after rising at 4am, reading for a bit and then going back to bed at 5:30am. Oh how I dislike that process. Like most of us it usually occurs on Sundays.

The question then is how does one handle pressure? In any occupation pressure is a reality. You have someone that does not like you, you have looming deadlines, or massive changes that need to be accomplished. How does one put their nose to the grindstone and methodically deal with each of those things that need to be done? Maybe I have answered my question by writing these words.

Dealing with pressure is like dealing with a plethora of items that need to be accomplished. You address them one item at a time. When I was in college taking multiple classes, I had to structure my time in a way that I could prioritize what needed to be accomplished by due dates. So maybe that is one way to handle pressure. Organize you time, deal with requirements prior to the deadline, and ignore the tyranny of the urgent.

I do remember telling myself to enjoy the process of college. However, I would often get caught up in the desire to just be done. I did the reading, wrote the papers, but often it was not for the learning but for the grade and getting er done. The lesson then, I think, is enjoyng the process more. Then I would get more enjoyment out of whatever it is I am trying to accomplish.

I think I feel the pressure more when there is a deadline and I am behind schedule. That seems to be the problem right now. Summer is winding down, I tried to stay away from the school as much as I could, but there is just too much going on. Therefore, I half-heartedly did summer stuff and work stuff. Not a good way of dealing with either, thus adding to the pressure.

Now it is August 5th and school starts the 25th, and there is so much to do. I am going in today and tomorrow, and then we go camping. We are heading to Ashland, which is our usual last trip of the summer. It I usually a wonderful time, but it is also a bit sad. Winter is right around the corner. I must keep a positive outlook.

Handling pressure means keeping a positive outlook. It means staying on top of things. And it means enjoying the process. I know I can handle pressure, I just need to reengage and enjoy the road I am on. A little short, sweet, and cathartic blog today!

And that is my thought for the day!

Where Have All The Good Leaders Gone?

Is it just me, or do others see the lack of leadership at all levels in our community. It appears that due to our inability to dialog and find shared meaning, our culture has declined to the point where we sue, call each other names, make jokes about the other, or make claims that are patently false. Each of these characteristics reflect a leadership we have seen periodically in the past, but has never helped our country move forward. Let me give you some examples.

Boehner and House Republicans have voted to sue the President. The House feels that the President has overstepped his legal authority “setting up a possible constitutional test.” Is this leadership? Is this an attempt to lead our country in a better direction? Although I am not an Obama fan I do agree with his point, “Everybody recognizes this is a political stunt. But worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you.” I am not a huge Obama fan, and I am disappointed in his inability to lead congress and this country into a better position. But I think this event demonstrates the lack of leadership on both sides of the aisle. This truly is the least productive administration in recent history. Obama and Boehner have not created shared meaning through dialog, they have created a wall that is so thick it will take an incredible effort to tear down. I may not live long enough to see that reality.

Leadership calling people names is as old as the hills. The latest example involves our illustrious IRS. Lois Lerner (when referring to conservative radio hosts and people who call into their shows) sent emails to folks while she was in England (which is really stupid, you never put something like that in writing) describing conservatives as crazies and assholes. I am sure those were the more tame names. This revelation is a part of the ongoing investigation of the IRS for targeting Tea Party and other grass-root conservative organizations in an effort to slow down their request for tax-exempt status. “On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R, Mich.) released this latest groupings of emails, saying it directly demonstrates Ms. Lerner’s deep animus toward conservatives and shows that her mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives.” Lerner was a leader associated with our country that had chosen to only represent one half of the country. Hmm, doesn’t sound like real leadership to me.

Then there is the latest CEO faux pas. This one came from Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing. Several days ago Mr. McNerney responded to the question of his retirement. He will soon be 65, which is the age that Boeing usually requires a CEO to step down. He stated he was not going to retire because, “The heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering, I’ll be working hard.” Not a very smart statement Mr. McNerney. Now his employees are calling him Mr. McNutty. The Seattle Times ran a story about his apology, and responses from the major unions of Boeing. Tom Buffenbarger, President of the IAM, called McNerney’s comment “unfunny and unnecessary.” And SPEEA published a cartoon depicting a Boeing employee working in a cubicle saying, “If I’m away from my desk, then I must be cowering somewhere. Please leave a note.” McNerney has stated that he was joking about his age and did not mean to slight anyone. Having put my foot in my mouth a few times I can understand, but I think he went over the edge. I am a big believer in what McNerney has done to help the company, but I don’t agree with all of his actions or his comments. His lapse of leadership associated with this comment will taint his remaining years at the helm, and demonstrates that lack of connection with reality.

The last example of poor leadership traits involves California. I love California, I grew up in California, and I have family in California. However, the comments that California has “Comeback,” may be overstated. The state has a 24% poverty rate, a horrible drought, and large numbers of jobless people. So maybe Governor Brown is overstating his accomplishments? Neel Kashkari, who is running for Governor, did an experiment. Over seven days Kashkari “took a Greyhound bus from Los Angelus to Fresno. With only $40 in his pocket (and no credit cards), a back pack, a change of cloths and a toothbrush, he planned to find a job and earn enough money to get by.” Barbara Ehrenreich did something similar and wrote a book about it. “Nickled and Dimed” was an excellent read.

What Mr. Kashkari found out was jobs were hard to come by, people who were out of work and living on the street wanted a job, and there were some good places to get a meal. I am impressed with this gentleman, although I have no idea what his politics are. He slept on park benches and in parking lots. “He walked for hours and hours in search of a job,” which gave him a lot of time to think. Hmm, I wonder how many politicians did something similar? Probably not many.

His conclusion, “Five days into my search, hungry, tired and hot, I asked myself: What would solve my problems? Food stamps? Welfare? An increased minimum wage? No I need a job. Period. I have often said the best social program in the world is a good job.” Hmm, sounds like a good idea.

Having political leaders that are trying to do the best for the people of this country would be good leadership. Having CEO’s that thought about all the stakeholders that they served and not just shareholders, would be good leadership. Instead, we have political leaders that only care about holding on to power., and we have CEO’s that only care about lining their pockets with great amounts of money. The CEO’s decide that Inversion is the way to go, and politicians decide that the people need welfare. Everything is working against people. They are being driven to a life of dependency on the state. Maybe 1984 will occur in 2024. You can’t see me right now, but if you look at Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” you have a sense of what I look like and how I feel.

And that is my thought for the day!

Corporate Inversions

Wow, I hope I can still write. Not that I am that good of a writer, but it has been a while since I have written and posted a message. It has been a good summer, but it is winding down. August 1st is Friday, our trip to Ashland is next week, and when that happens we know that summer is ending and school is beginning. I do think our school is going to see more change this year, some will be exciting and many with be challenging.

However, what I want to write about is change and the corporate tax rate in this country. A dear friend of mine wrote on Facebook yesterday about how horrible corporations are for leaving the United States and merging with companies in other countries. The term used to describe this process is Inversion. The reason these corporations are doing this has nothing to do with Partriotism, per se, but it is an economic one.

Our President, instead of dealing with an antiquated tax system, has chosen to attempt to create law that would inhibit company head quarters from moving to greener pastures. I used the phrase antiquated tax system. Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, “recently called the American tax code a rotting mess of a carcass.” So instead of condemning corporations for acting according to their nature, maybe we need to look at governmental drivers that are pushing these companies to leave our shores

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to defend all corporate actions. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know how I feel about some of the actions taken by corporate management, Jim McNurney has just made another mistake mentioning how employees are cowering. However, in this situation, I think our leaders need to look at what is happening from a systems thinking perspective. What are the system drivers that are producing the current results and are there needed changes that could improve performance of the system?

As the WSJ reported this morning, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Even France has a rate lower than our country. “While U.S. corporations face a combined federal statutory tax rate of 39.1%, our competitors in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) face an average rate of 25%.” The need to deal with our tax system is not just a Republican perspective. Remember Ron Wyden is a Democrat. Laura Tyson, former chairwoman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, has stated that “America’s relatively high rate encourages U.S. companies to locate their investment, production, and employment in foreign countries, and discourages foreign companies from locating in the U.S., which means slower, growth, fewer jobs, smaller productivity gains, and lower rewal wages.” Can you say high unemployment rate and lower workforce participation rate.

I do agree with Walter Glavin’s final point in his article, Why Corporate Inversions Are All the Rage, “It’s time for Congress to reform a tax system that mainly benefits other countries. Other countries have learned this lesson already – both Japan and the U.K. have adopted a modern hybrid international system and lowered their corporate tax rates in recent years. The U.S. needs to learn from their examples, and fix the broken tax system now.”

On top of that we have a personal tax system that is not providing the necessary resources to provide needed safety nets for our citizens. Those that are super rich find loop holes to not pay taxes, and those who are poor don’t make enough money to pay taxes, so those of us in the middle pay the lion’s share. Whether that is a completely accurate statement could be debated, but those in the Middle Class feel this reality.

Thus, we have a tax system that is horrible all around, and an inept Congress that will leave for its August break providing just enough governance to keep our country open, that’s it. The tax system needs work, immigration needs a workable solution, Veterans Affairs need some work done, and on and on it goes. We need some leadership here people. Come on this is getting ridiculous.

And that is my thought for the day!

And that is my thought for the day!And that is

The Old Friends Of Summer

I love the summer, especially when it gets hot. Today is a warm one, a good day for sitting on the back porch in the shade waiting for a nice cool breeze. I will not complain about the heat, because it is sunny. Having lived in the Northwest for many years now I have come to appreciate the sun.

The summer is when you usually get reacquainted with old friends. What I mean by this is I will usually buy the latest Jason Bourne or Tom Clancey book and read it. In other words I get involved with either Jason or Jack. It is like catching up with an old friend. The latest book written by Eric Van Lustbader is titled “The Bourne Retribution,” and is following the formula of all of the Bourne books ending with Jason saving the day.

Summer is also a good time for going to the moving theater, if there are any good movies out. There are not any movies we are interested in, but we did watch “Age of Valor” today. We had taped it earlier, and it was very good. A Jihadist was trying to smuggle suicide vests into the United States using underground drug smuggling tunnels. Our Navy Seals saved the day though. Good movie and very heart wrenching.

The film did a good job of highlighting the violence in Mexico and South America. And we have all been reading lately about the difficulty other Central American countries are having. It makes me wonder if I will be taking students to Honduras over Christmas break? There is a crisis South of the Border, one that must be dealt with. I have visited Honduras several times, and love the people there, but many children from the central part of the country are making the horrible trek to the United States. It is not only dangerous, but when they are arrested they get sent back to Honduras.

Peggy Noonan wrote about this travesty on Saturday. She used words like chaos, collapse, and crisis to describe the problems. She also described how our politicians see this as a political problem and not a real one. This adds to the chaos, because no one is seeking positive solutions, they are pointing at each other saying how the other doesn’t care. I’d like the words of Noonan to describe this horrible situation. “There seem only two groups that view the situation with appropriate alarm. One is the children themselves, dragged through the deserts to be deposited here. To them everything is a swirl of lights, color and clamor, and shouting and clanking.” Reporters have written about the lost look in these children’s eyes.

The other group, according to Noonan, is “normal Americans.” The normal, non-political, folks see this as lawlessness that has terrible implications for the country.” Noonan uses the metaphor of a house to describe the fiasco we are in. “Children looking lost, no one is taking care of them. Older ones settling in the garage, or working a window to the cellar. You call the cops. At first they don’t come. Then they come and shout through a bullhorn and take some of the kids and put them in a shelter a few blocks away. But more kids keep coming!”

Politicians are letting this event grow to demonstrate the other party’s inability to deal with the problem. So far we have had 50,000 children come to this country illegally, while some are predicting that number will rise to 90,000. “The little children in great danger, holding hands, staring blankly ahead, are pawns in a larger game. That game is run by adults. How cold do you have to be to use children this way?”

I agree, how cold do we have to be to use children in a political game to ensure one party over the other maintains the control. What a horrible way of doing political business. Whatever happened to our ability to be compassionate leaders of the free world? Whatever happened to our ability to make good and sound decisions? There was a political cartoon the other day in the paper that displayed President Obama in the middle of falling down, burning buildings, and the caption said, “At least I am not playing a fiddle.” I think all of congress should be in this picture with him.

The time is now for strong leadership, not political gerrymandering.

And that is my thought for the day!