The Battle For Power And Control

Life is nothing but a battle for power and control. Who has the power in a marriage? The husband? He may think he does but the truth is usually different then what he thinks. A manager? Only as much as her followers allow. A manager will only be as good as her employees. If her employees perform well the manager will be viewed by executives as good.  Or a government? A government’s power is derived from the will of the people.
Much of what I read is about power and action. I am convinced that servant leadership leads to the most efficient operation of a government or organization. Does this mean that a despot cannot be successful? There is enough evidence from history to the contrary, at least in the short run. The fact is though despotic success is short lived, usually ending in failure.

Mein Kampf, My Struggle, by Adolph Hitler was a series of rants describing the philosophy that captured a nation of people. It is important to keep this book in front of us, not because it is a correct way of thinking, but how its philosophy led to a creation of a Nazi government, and how its message and popularity grew deceiving nation. Churchill wrote that Mein Kamph was “the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with message.”

Does Hitler’s message still exist? Absolutely! In the northern reaches of Idaho, Norway, and Russia we are confronted with Hitler’s message of hate. A man named Butler created a haven for white supremacists in Idaho, an embarrassment to Hayden Island City leadership. Or the Nazi’s I talked to in Kaluga, Russia, such as the young man so filled with hatred against the Armenians who were invading his city. And what can we say about the nut in Norway who saw immigrants destroying his culture.

In Chile there is another battle for power, this one between free market economics and Communism. For those of you who thought that Communism had been defeated with the fall of the wall you better rethink that premise. In Chile there is a battle brewing over its free economy and central planning based in entitlement philosophy. Camila Vallejo is a 23 year old college student who is an avowed communist, but has “put the center-right government of Sebastian Pinera in a defensive crouch.”

This battle is over a philosophy of government. Vallejo visited Cuba and is attempting to bring Castro’s failed vision to Chile. She is attempting to brand it as “light and hope for Chile.” Vallejo has “tapped into the middle-class sense of entitlement,” and the college student’s desire for free education in an attempt to undermine Pinera and his free market focus.

Chile’s GDP, a measure of economic growth, has grown 6% over the last two years. This equates to an improving standard of living for the people. Pinera has the goal of making Chile a developed country by 2018. To accomplish this Pinera wants to improve the business climate in Chile by reducing the time it takes to “complete an environmental impact study, eliminating regulatory redundancies, cutting import tariffs and opening sea and air ports to foreign competition.” These actions will take place on top of current improvements that has reduced the amount of time that it takes to start a new business from 27 days to seven.

However, this will all change if the philosophy of government changes in Chile. Remember the battle for power is idealogical. If the people of Chile decide that economic improvement is not the right thing to do, then Vallejo will win. This win will result in a short term improvement, free education, but this improvement will change into long term serfdom (see Frederich Hayak), economic servitude.

And that is my thought for the day!

The New Capitalism

I hate to admit this but I bought another book. I think I am addicted to reading. I will be honest and say I have an addictive personality. Anyone that knew me in the 60’s would have seen evidence of this, mainly through negative addictions. Currently, my addictions are more positive. Reading, golf, and hopefully writing. One thing my reading habit is giving me is exposure to new and creative ways of doing business.

The book I purchased is entitled “Let My People Go Surfing.” First of all I was intrigued by the title having grown up in Southern California. And, after learning about Yvon Chouinard, I am interested in his managerial style and his motive for doing business. Let me give you a window into his personality.

“I’ve been a businessman for almost fifty years. It is difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being a alcoholic or a lawyer. I’ve never respected the profession.” Is he talking about business of being a lawyer? After this comment he gives us a window into his feelings about business in general.

“It’s business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the earth with the effluent from its factories.” This complaint is standard for most who do not understand that business involves people. If we were to stop here we would get a skewed picture of his foundational beliefs. Yvon is using hyperbola to make his point, or demonstrate his high calling, involving why he does business the way he does.

“Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul. That is what this book is about.” Now we know what Yvon Chouinard believes. Now we know why he does business the way he does.

One more quote then I will make my point. “No young kid growing up ever dreams of someday becoming a businessman. He wants to be a fireman, a sponsored athlete, or a forest ranger. The Lee Iacoccas, Donald Trumps, and Jack Welches of the business world are heroes to no one except other businessmen with similar values.” In this highly sexist language Yvon makes a very good point. As children we grow up wanting to make a difference in this world, and somewhere along the line we lose that dream and turn to making money. Usually because we have a family and need to put food on the table.

Why does making money need to be causeless and uncreative? It doesn’t! We often associate greed with business, usually for good cause, but it is not the process of business that is greedy but the people that do business. The process of exchange is a natural event that is required in all societies. It is not the event that is the problem but how the event occurs. Therefore, Yvon is an example of how the process of business can be done, making a profit and giving back to the community. Sounds good to me.

And that is my thought for the day!

The New Corporate Guru

Whether we like it or not, change is constant. This paradox takes two terms that seem mutually exclusive, bringing them to together to create reality. As much as the Boeing Machinists would like life to remain static, it does not. The first airplane built by Boeing employees outside of the state of Washington has rolled off the line and is being readied for delivery to Air India. The headline for this event was “South Carolina Boeing Plant’s Turn To Shine.” The 787 is a beautiful airplane which the South Carolina facility built from “refrigerator to assembly.” Quite an accomplishment and deserves kudos.
Peggy Noonan writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about “A Bush League President.” She then proceeds on discussing President Obama’s chances of being reelected. If she is to be believed, change is in the air.We may not all like this type of change, but change happens.

But the change I want to focus on this morning is the changing business models that define commercial success. The new model is challenging traditional economic philosophy which I think is a good thing. If you have been reading my blogs you will note that I have been discussing Social Business, Social Entrepreneurship, and Corporate Social Responsibility. My premise is that good business means good relationships, thus it is not the fact that we make profit, it is how we make the profit that is more important. I believe very strongly in business as mission which culminates from a triple bottom-line mentality. This means commerce focuses not just on profit, but additionally people and the planet too.

I love to use Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet as examples of this business model, but often their philanthrocapitalism does not mention the planet piece of the discussion. However, each of these individuals are excellent exemplars of the social element of the new business model. In the past I have mentioned Ray Anderson and his work at Interface Carpet as another one of those models we can learn from. Now I have another company to add to this list, Patagonia.

Patagonia is a clothing company headquartered in Ventura, California. There mission is to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Yvon Chouinard is the founder of this company loves to surf, and has taken his company, founded in the 1970’s, from designing mountain climbing gear to designing and manufacturing clothing. He is now considered an apparel mogul.

Chouinard stated that he wanted to distance himself from pasty-faced corpses in suits, and if he was supposed to be a businessman he was going to do it his way. I like this guy already. I want to quote from the article where I learned about Patagonia to give you a sense of Chouinard’s understanding of CSR. “Yes Patagonia takes part in some traditional corporate social responsibility – since 1985 it has given 1 percent of revenue (sales not profits), totaling $41.5 million, to grassroots environmental organizations.”

Whether we like it or not, business is changing. Even large corporations are beginning to recognize the changing business model. Jelf Immelt of GE stated in a 2004 Fortune Magazine interview, “To be a great company today. . . you also have to be a good company. The reason people come to work for GE. . . is that they want to be about something bigger than themselves. They. . . want to work for a company that makes a difference, a company that’s doing great things in the world.”

Thinking about my forty years in business I would agree with Immelt. I was happiest when I was working at something I felt made a difference in other people’s lives. Business is personal.

And that is my thought for the day!

Second Chances

Wal-Mart is in another mess. If it isn’t its employees, it is another country. This time its not Germany it is Mexico. And as the news has stated it is a $10 Billion problem. With a 5% fall in its share price Wal-Mart has lost $10 Billion in market capitalization. And people don’t believe that being ethical impacts the bottom-line! Wal-Mart may need another chance like what was given to Chuck Colson. Colson passed away this week.

I have read the majority of Colson’s books, and have found his story fascinating. A graduate of Brown University, a U.S. Marine, and ultimately a hatchet man for President Nixon, Colson had a pretty exciting life. Eventually the house of cards fell down and he was convicted for obstruction of justice. Although he was “ruthless,” he became an “incarcerated felon” in 1974. The reason I write about him today is his recent passing. I wanted to pay tribute to leadership resulting from a second chance.

Colson accomplished some pretty incredible things as a born again Christian. After leaving prison he promised to never forget, and he never did. He created Prison Fellowship and “mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers to work in 1,329 prisons from coast to coast.” He also was an advocate for children of prisoners. He was able to organize “15,000 volunteers to purchase Christmas gifts for more than 350,000 children of prisoners.” Colson was a Christian and wanted to change prisoners from within, but he worked at getting legislation changed too.

“Promoting the concept of restorative justice, Colson godfathered into several conservative coalitions that are making real headway in reducing prison populations and changing penal codes in many states.” Even Texas, known for its aggressive use of capital punishment, has reduced the number of juveniles behind bars by 50%. They did this by responding to Colson’s community-based corrections and his appeal for the elimination of “draconian sentencing laws.”

Here is one man who was a self-advancing, ruthless leader, who through conversion became a servant leader. A servant leader who has impacted thousands in a positive manner. I hope we see more Chuck Colson’s in the future. We need them.

And that is my thought for the day!

America’s Crisis In Character

I was going to write this blog yesterday, but it was such a nice day I decided to sit on my deck and take in the sun. Nice weather for three days in a row is rare in the Pacific Northwest.

Over the last few days I have read several articles discussing character issues in Britain and the US. In Britain there seems to be a rejection of classical mores, which are being replaced with public intoxication and urination. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal discussed a similar topic, but one that focuses on the United States.

“America’s Crisis of Character” is an article written by Peggy Noonan and reflects on the direction our country is moving. She starts by mentioning that 24% of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction as a nation. This is a historical low. As much as we’d like to associate this with one political party we can’t, and we can’t blame the economy either. We need to take personal responsibility for this fiasco. Noonan states, and I agree, “that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.”

Noonan lays out several examples of the problem. A tourist is beaten in Baltimore, and young people stand around him and laugh. This is Seinfeld on steriods. Remember the final episode whether Seinfeld as his cronies make fun of a fat person, and the subsequent trial that exposes the crew’s extreme selfishness? Entertainment is becoming reality.

Think about the new phenomenon that is happening in Portland and other cities across the US. Flash mobs entering a convenience store and stealing anything they can get their hands on. As much as we’d like to blame our youth, we can’t. We have TSA agents excessively patting down women while going through security at an airport. There is the GSA scandal. Secret Service agents using prostitutes. Military leadership making off color videos and displaying them for their service people. How about rape in the military, displaying body parts, and urinating on dead bodies? Leadership needs to set a standard, not show how cool they can be.

Noonan describes several examples of courageous character. Tim McCarthy, a secret service agent for Reagan, standing as a wall taking a bullet for President Reagan. Another agent, Jerry Parr, through his cool efforts got Reagan to a hospital and saved his life. Then there was the agent, Rufus Youngblood, who in 1963 threw Lyndon Johnson on the floor of a car using his body to shield him from bullets.

Noonan ends her article with these words.”The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective. Something seems to be going terribly wrong.” I agree, and it is the lack of solid leadership.

And that is my thought for the day!

Equal Offenders!

I am about ready to stop reading the paper. Not because of all the murders, etc., but because of the inefficiencies of our leadership being portrayed in the pages of the periodicals I read. I could spend a lot of time talking about the military and the abuses of dead bodies, but I have not experienced what each soldier goes through on a daily basis in these other countries. I don’t know what I would do if I were in that situation. With death all around me would I devalue human dignity as some of our soldiers have done? Panetta is right, that is not us, but it is easy for us to stand and judge our fighting men and women even though we have not walked in their shoes. Although I feel what was done is wrong, I will not denigrate these soldiers, but will call for them to be tried by the appropriate people.

I could also spend a lot of time discussing our secret service and their proclivities for Columbian prostitutes. I am not naive enough to think that this is the first time this has happened. I do not believe that for a moment. However, the strategic question is around the safety of our President, was that compromised?

As much as I want to discuss those events I am continually pushed to our political leadership, and the many issues that I feel are detrimental to our advancement as a world leader. The Republicans are against everything, including women’s rights, and the Democrats want to spend everything in our wallets. What a mess! It is so bad that the leaders who want to make a difference recognize they can’t and leave behind these positions of service. It is a travesty.

The modern politician is not about getting things done, it is about getting elected. Ted Nugent makes some comments that could be considered inflammatory and our press spins it as terrorism. Romney does not say a word because he is more concerned about the people who follow Nugent and their voting power.

President Obama is attempting to channel FDR, at least according to Daniel Henniger. Henniger explores Obama’s reelection strategy in this morning’s WSJ by comparing campaign speeches of 1936 for FDR and April 3rd for Obama. Henniger’s spin is pretty good, but his point is very interesting. “FDR’s 1936 speech, however tough and accusatory, had Roosevelt’s natural personal buoyancy. Barack Obama has no such gift for popular uplift. Reagan and Bill Clinton had it, and it was an underestimated piece of George W. Bush’s two successful presidential runs.”

According to Henniger Obama is a grim guy who believes that the forces of evil are at work in the United States to destroy the middle class. Henniger finishes his opinion piece by saying that three of the four Republican primary candidates were as grim as Obama, while one ran with “personal optimism.” Hmm, I wonder who he meant. The fact is, Romney’s personal optimism is overshadowed by a grim political platform.

The Republicans need to get a better game. All I hear is what the Republicans are against, however, their platform has been given a particular spin by the media. Anti-women, anti-immigration, anti-middle class, etc. The Democrats are being portrayed as having a tax and spend platform. As is with most things there is truth among the lies. The question then is how do we emerge from this mess?

It is time to recognize the great opportunity that has been given to us and take responsibility for our actions. It is time to start working together for the civic good, not polarize around political ideologies. “To whom much is given much is required.”

And that is my thought for the day!

Growing Old!

I have had many opportunities in my life. God has guided me on a strange path indeed. I have no idea where it will end, but all I want to do is be responsive and enjoy the ride. I try not to look at the past too much, it gets me a bit sad, but today is a little different. The reason involves how the past has made me who I am today. I like what God has done in my life, and I like where I am currently.

When I was working on my doctorate Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages emerged as a theory that I have grasped onto and not let go. I feel he has accurately portrayed the process of life. From birth to 18 months we learn to either trust or mistrust, which obviously has a huge impact on our psychological development. From 2 to 3 years old we learn either autonomy or shame and guilt. We discover how to take control of our bodies.

I could regurgitate all of Erikson’s stages but you can read them on Google. What I want to do is focus on the stage I am currently in, middle adulthood that according to Erikson lasts from 40 to 65. The basic conflict is between generativity and stagnation. People in this stage of their lives are concerned with “creating or nurturing things that outlast them.”

This is expressed in many different ways. Reconnecting with estranged children, Jennifer I hope you read this; creating positive social change, I hope our Social Entrepreneurship degree works; and looking back at accomplishments in one’s life, hoping to see some positive effect. This morning was one of those mornings that I had the opportunity to look back, and regardless of my shortcomings, could see a positive journey that has had an impact on me and the world around me.

Please note that both of these events are being accomplished by other people now, but I was involved and I did help. Many years ago I felt called to Vancouver, WA. Friends of mine had moved here from California and lived in LaCenter. Marilyn, who was my wife at the time, did not want to move to Washington, but after time she gave in and I flew up here to find a job. I arrived on a Saturday in February and went to Boeing Monday morning and was hired by 10am. I was an amazing event. I knew God wanted me to move north. I always had the idea in the back of my mind that I would start a church in Washington.

Marilyn and I did not want to live in LaCenter, so we purchased a home in Mt. Vista and settled in. We decided to attend church at Manor Evangelical Church, and went there for about a year. About this time Pastor Bill Ritchie from Crossroads went to California and met Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel. This was around 1978 and Crossroads became a Calvary. I heard about this and we decided to try Crossroads that at that time was meeting in a high school. We decided to attend there and spent the next 25 years there off and on. It was a great ride, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and has helped me become the person I am today. I taught many Bible Studies there, new believer classes, and various cult classes, which helped me to develop theologically and spiritually.

The reason I thought about this was the article in the paper discussing how Pastor Bill is now passing on the pulpit to Pastor Daniel Fusco. After almost 40 years the circle of life moves on.

Somewhere around 1981 the dream of starting a church became a reality. In a little log cabin in LaCenter, where Ted and Norah Grooms lived, we started a fellowship that eventually became Northwest Christian Fellowship. We started it as a Calvary Chapel. I was the Pastor, and was ordained by Kenny Ortiz from Calvary Chapel Spokane. If I remember correctly this ran from 1981 through 1985. We eventually moved to a church building in Ridgefield. There were good years and a bad year. Ed Sessions was there as my music minister, and we had a great one year birthday party.

The reason I think about this today is Norah Grooms sent me a video where Pastor Daniel, of Calvary Chapel Vancouver, discusses the future of Calvary Vancouver. It is moving from Discovery School to a building on Main Street. It was quite exciting to see how the church was started and where it has gone.

I mentioned the one bad year. After a while my marriage started deteriorating and I felt it was best to leave the ministry. I was embarrassed by the fact I was having problems and decided it was best for the church and myself that I leave. Looking back now I left them in a lurch and feel badly about it, but the rest is history you might say. There was a strong leadership core in place and they kept the church going. Eventually Denny Martinez became the pastor and they moved to Hazel Dell, and now the church is in Vancouver looking forward to expanding their ministry to downtown Vancouver.

My marriage eventually ended, and I went a different path. I went back to school and after 16 years earned a doctorate and now teach business a Warner Pacific College. I eventually remarried, trying and often failing at being a good husband, and continue to be productive. I intend to generate positive change the rest of my life.

I feel good where I am now, and I am happy for the path I have been on. I have been blessed to have been involved with two Church events that have had an impact, regardless of my small contribution, on Vancouver and its surrounding area. It is nice to remember the good times.

This is a good time in my life, and will continue to be so no matter how crazy or uncomfortable I end up. I am thankful for what God has done in my life, my family (as nutty as we all are), and my work. Sorry for the self-reflection, I guess I needed a little catharsis this morning.

And that is my thought for the day!