Written by: Emily Fritcke
Edited by: Javaria Tareen
On February 26, 2014, Dr. James Stavridis, Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, retired U.S. Navy Admiral, and former Supreme Allied Commander of the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013, shared his perspective on resolving global issues with an audience at Tempe Center for the Arts. In his lecture entitled, “Learning, Literature, and Leadership,” he stated, “Walls don’t work. We must create bridges.” He went on to profess that he believes that it is through literature, reading, and studying that we create the ultimate bridge. I was inspired and encouraged by Dr. Stavridis’ comments, because I too believe that exposure to great works of fiction, expressive poetry, and thoughtful biographies provides us insight to world issues, international perspectives, and human strengths and challenges.
As a notable advocate for the study of the humanities, Dr. Stavidris, referenced an article, “Don’t Say Goodbye to Intellectual Diversity,” written Lt. Alexander P. Smith to outline why the humanities are critical to the development of a successful military commander:
“Engineering, math, and science tend to draw certain types of people. Humanities draw different types. The first are inward-focused, rule-bound, risk-averse, and bureaucratic. The outward-focused, improvisational risk-takers who hate bureaucracy and embrace Verantwortungsfreudigkeit—joy in making decisions and taking responsibility—are usually drawn to the humanities.”
Dr. Stavridis acknowledges that there are certain qualities that are essential for a dynamic military leader and claims: “An education in the humanities, especially history and literature, is the best preparation for thinking militarily.”
Violence, regional instability, ruthless dictators, and religious radicalism are unfortunately a part of the fabric of the 21st century. These factors are the greatest deterrents to solving the most persistent global issues. We can possess effective solutions for disease prevention, sustainable agricultural development, safe-water treatment, and economic challenges, but, without the ability to connect, the implementation of these resolutions is unachievable. To effectively build bridges to create an atmosphere for successful resolution of critical worldwide issues, it is essential to have an advanced sense of global awareness and understand the foundations of certain beliefs and actions of specific cultures. According to Dr. Stavridis, this is best accomplished through reading great literature, fluency in languages, genuine interaction with the people of foreign nations, and drawing on the contributions of all disciplines. As Admiral Stavridis stated in his closing comments, “No one of us is smarter than all of us connected.”
By: Emily Fritcke
Sales guru and best-selling author, Zig Ziglar, pronounced himself as the “Undisputed King of Motivation.” His career soared in the 1970s and encompassed multi-million dollar book sales, speaking tours, and a legacy of enthusiastic inspiration for individuals desiring ‘the next level’ of achievement. An engaging speaker, Ziglar was renowned for his many quotes about success, which relate to both professional and personal goals, such as this one that is applicable to our weekly theme of persuasion:
“The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”
The beauty of this quote is its simplicity. Unlike other sources that offer step-by-step outlines of how to persuade others, Ziglar’s message is clear and concise, accentuating the significance of the elements of honesty and reliability in an individual’s endeavors.
A compelling example of creative integrity is the conviction a writer has in his or her literary vision. Celebrated author, Jane Austin, illustrates exemplary integrity in persevering in her commitment to her personal writing style and avoiding compromising her artistic principles by succumbing to the lure of commercial success. The Secretary of Prince Leopold of the House of Saxe-Coburg attempted to commission Austin to write “a historical romance illustrative of the august House of Coburg.” He suggested this venture would be mutually beneficial to both parties because it would be politically advantageous to the Prince and would bring Austin financial success. The timing of the proposal coincided with the failure of Austin’s most recent book, Mansfield Park. Austin responded to the secretary’s proposition with astounding grace in a letter, published in A Memoir of Jane Austin, in which she wrote:
“No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.”
This tactfully worded response is a notable illustration of how personal integrity prevailed over the enticement of shallow success. Jane Austin is revered for her distinctive style, which examined the complex intimacies of domestic life in country villages. Had Austin consented to write an idealized historical tale of a Prince, her literary legacy could be very different than the one she is recognized for today. At the time Austin drafted her response to the Secretary of Prince Leopold, she began work on her final novel, which was published following her death. This final novel, titled Persuasion, exemplified Austen’s signature narrative style and was widely admired as a poignant love story.
Jane Austin’s loyalty to her own personal writing style reveals to us that in order to be successful you must not only learn to persuade, but also recognize when not to be persuaded. Austin’s integrity and commitment to her artistic vision is what earned her distinction as a beloved author. She could not be persuaded to abandon her writing style by the deceptive inducement of financial gain; thus, it was her integrity and commitment to her personal principles that contributed to her enduring success as a literary luminary.
Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor and outspoken opponent of Adolf Hitler, was one of the earliest Germans to speak openly about the broader complicity in the Holocaust. He is most well-known for the quotation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
Following Germany’s humiliating defeat in World War I, Niemöller believed his country required a strong leader to promote national unity and honor. Sharing Hitler’s belief in the importance of Christianity’s role in a renewal of national morality and ethics, Niemöller enthusiastically welcomed the promising leadership of the Third Reich. As a well-known Christian leader, he was a supporter of the new regime until he and his church came under attack. As he began to critique the Nazis in his sermons, he became a target and was ultimately incarcerated in a concentration camp. Following the war, he gained controversial prominence for his acknowledgement of collective German guilt, which he expressed in his famous quotation cited above. In acknowledging his own prejudice and inaction during the Nazi’s regime, he offered future generations a lesson to be learned.
The sentiment expressed in his famous statement recognizes the compliance of those who did not speak up for their neighbors and fellow citizens who suffered. By acknowledging that it was too late for action when it was his people under attack, he informs us that we must recognize the plight of others before we lose the opportunity to act. We must know what we stand for and respond to oppression by voicing our protest. Those who have responded to this call to action and have voiced their opposition are the individuals who live in history as heroes, individuals who spoke up for those who had no voice, individuals like – Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and teenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai. I realize that not everyone can be a national hero, but each of us has the ability and moral responsibility to respond to injustice. It is important to recognize the significance of speaking up for the ideals you believe in and speaking against prejudices and ideas that promote intolerance. It is equally important to acknowledge the consequences of remaining silent. Martin Niemöller’s experience compels us to acknowledge our beliefs and values, find our voice, and speak up, otherwise, we are all responsible for the negative consequences!
The State of the Union address that takes place each year, giving the President the opportunity to address Congress and the American people, is one of the nation’s best arenas for displaying democracy. Article II, Section III, Clause I of the United States constitution outlines the responsibilities of the President to offer periodic reports to Congress on the state of the union. This practice was intended to increase transparency and allow for the President to share with Congress his unique knowledge gained from the President’s station on the national and international stage.
During President Obama’s most recent address, Congressman Steve Stockman (R-Texas) made a show of walking out of the chamber during President Obama’s speech. Following the broadcast, he shared with reporters that he was distraught by President Obama’s abuse of his constitutional powers. Although this was perceived as a disrespectful gesture on the part of Representative Stockman, it was an act that put on full display the democratic nature of the nation. The fact that the United States’ government allows for such dissent is a testament to the country’s democratic ideals.
Famed Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, known for his literary critiques of Soviet totalitarianism described in his book, The Gulag Archipelago, how there were dire consequences for anyone who was the first to break off their applause during any speech given by Stalin. The KGB would identify those in the crowd who did not show an ‘appropriate’ amount of appreciation for their leader and would classify those individuals as dissenters. Without trial or appeal, those individuals would be immediately sent to the Gulag. As everyone feared the consequences of ending the applause first, standing ovations would go on for minutes on end. The Soviet’s solution to this problem was to ring a bell in order to alert the audience that they could be seated.
Although the State of the Union Address often resembles propaganda, rather than guidance for the nation from its leader, the rhetoric is geared towards emphasizing the shared principles of United States. A tangible illustration of our democratic ideals is a member of Congress demonstrating his First Amendment right to openly and publically criticize the President of the United States and suffer no act of retribution. There are many factors that distinguish the United States from totalitarian governments but, by far, the most important is the ability to dissent without fear of punishment by the State. The nation may be divided along political party lines, but its people are committed to the basic doctrines set forth in the Constitution of the United States and will hold its Representatives accountable to protect it.
Edited by: Javaria Tareen
One piece of advice that I got from Ryan Avery, the 2012 world champion of public speaking, is that great speeches are made up of stories not merely facts. He explained during a toastmaster gathering in Phoenix that people remember stories more often than facts. Was Obama’s 2014 state of the union address a great speech? According to CNN poll, 76% of the people who watched the address rated it a great speech, that is, either positive or somewhat positive. So, what stories did Obama share with the citizens of America and the world? Here are six stories I have extracted verbatim from the speech:
1. Why is creating jobs important and very possible?
Two years ago, as the auto industry came roaring back, Andra Rush opened up a manufacturing firm in Detroit. She knew that Ford needed parts for the best-selling truck in America, and she knew how to make those parts. She just needed the workforce. So she dialed up an American Jobs Center, places where folks can walk in to get the help or training they need to find a new job or a better job. She was flooded with new workers. And today, Detroit Manufacturing Systems has more than 700 employees. And what Andra and her employees experienced was how it should be for every employer and every job seeker.
2. Why should Congress restore the expired unemployment insurance?
Let me tell you why. Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager and put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits, but she’d been paying taxes. In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved. Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter, the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I’m not dependent on the government. Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society, care about our neighbors. I’m confident that in time I will find a job, I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”
3. Why college education should be accessible by all including middle-class students?
Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall.
4. Why is raising minimum wage possible in private organizations?
Nick Chute is here today with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. Only now he makes more of it. John just gave his employees a raise, to 10 bucks an hour — and that’s a decision that has eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.
5. Why is healthcare a right not a privilege?
A preexisting condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician’s assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn’t get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would have meant bankruptcy.
6. Why should Americans continue to pursue progress?
I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day…. He was a strong, impressive young man, had an easy manner, he was sharp as a tack. And we joked around and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain. For months, he lay in a coma. And the next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak, could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye, still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad, Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. And, day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again. And he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again. “My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.
Which story did you enjoy or remember most? Share yours in a comment below.
Edited by Domenico Nicosia
A South African man marries four wives at the same time – internet photo.
South African President Jacob Zuma has four current wives. He has 21 children. Mswati III, King of Swaziland, has 15th wives and 27 children. My father had three wives and seventeen children. Polygamy …..the practice of marrying more than one wife …is Illegal in US. However, in Malawi and many African countries, it is not only legal but culturally promoted. What leadership lessons can we get from a polygamous family?
1. Your title is not enough.
In my polygamous family, the title dad or father did not yield enough influence. There were many people around us we could follow – uncles, aunts, village headmen, neighbors. My father had to conscientiously use his position as a dad in creative ways to help the family and yield influence. Getting together and sharing stories was one such ways. In modern institutions, leadership is now based less and less on position and title. People might follow you because of your title or position. But truly effective leadership is about influencing those in positions above, peers, and below, regardless of title.
2. Be proud to show your emotions.
My father was a Moslem and I never saw him without his kofia (Moslem hat). He openly displayed his beliefs and emotions. He shared his joys, excitement, values, and aspirations. This created a sense of group identity. In doing so, the three families relate to and mingled well together in sorrow and in happiness. While rules, procedures and protocols are important, rigidity must be avoided. Leaders need to recognize that emotion can be a strength. Displaying joy, passion, excitement, and hope is not only infectious, it can create a deeper sense of connectedness with the people you lead.
3. Don’t befriend concrete thinkers.
Concrete thinkers as opposed to creative thinkers are people who perceive things as they are. Concrete thinkers see five fingers covered with jerry. Creative thinkers see planes being flown made from the same five fingers. In a polygamous family, you have both sets of players in the field and you watch them fail or succeed. Effective leaders dream of things that never were and ask the question why not. They see what others can not see.
4. Be fearless about what you change.
Despite being a dedicated Moslem, my father allowed us to worship whatever God we wanted. The family wanted the children to focus on education rather than religion or jando rite of passage. This was considered a taboo but the family did not back off. The ultimate test of leadership is change. Instead of trying to change others, effective leaders change themselves first and after help others to change.
5. Avoid failure forecasters.
Some people have a tendency to always look at things in a negative way. They see problems. This can’t. That will not. You will never do A, B, C. They spread pessimism everywhere. In a polygamous family you quickly learn to avoid failure forecasters. You have to wade through mudslinging, gossip and false prophesies to get the recognition you desire from your own father and fellow siblings. As a leader avoid associating with failure forecasters. Have an end in mind and don’t let people dissuade you from reaching the goal.
The family is an important institution to begin learning and practicing leadership. A polygamous family presents even greater opportunity. Did someone say Obama’s father married more than one wife? What is your perception about polygamy and leadership? Share your comments below.
‘Journalism is not a dying industry, Journalism is changing and the need for journalism is greater than ever,’ said seven times Emmy Award winner newscaster Bob Schieffer during the luncheon organized in his honor as he accepts the 2013 Cronkite Award. For me it was an honour to be able to listen to him live. I was watching before me a leader who has the vision and power to motivate and encourage people who believes in him.
I found Schieffer as a visionary leader with strong integrity. He hasn’t reject the power of social media/new media. But accepting the influence of the social media he just identified the facts that a journalist should take care about. “Social media is fine. Tweets and such are nice,” Schieffer said. “But journalism is not about scratching the surface. It is about going beneath the surface and finding the truth.”
‘Journalists don’t work with government we watch the government,’ this statement by Schieffer depicts how serious and responsible he finds journalism.
The question is does journalists of this time carry the same values and integrity as the early leaders in journalism as Walther Cronkite or Bob Schieffer?
The Malawian proverb “mutu umodzi susenza denga” (literary meaning one head alone can not carry a roof) means that you can’t solve problems alone. This proverb is often told to instill a sense of group superiority over the individual. This does not mean that Malawians do not celebrate the success of an individual. We do. I do. But the work of an individual is much more appreciated in relation to the group.
In my rural village when you have constructed a roof of a traditional granary, you need relatives or friends to help you lift the roof up and fix it atop the granary. You can not lift it up alone. It is close to be impossible as much as it is a taboo to do it alone.
The process of lifting up the roof atop the granary is equally important as the process of building the roof. Here is how important it is! My personal reasons why I like working in teams.
Teams help the individual showcases his or her talent
By inviting others to help you carry the roof atop the granary, you, the builder of the roof, are acknowledging that your work is complete. You are happy with it. And by accepting your invitation, your friends or relatives acknowledge your work, skill and achievement. It’s like inviting them to celebrate your success. It is a mini exhibition.
Teams help to sharpen individual talents
Before helping you carry the roof, your friends and relatives will examine the roof and either approve it as effective or not. They may make a small adjustment to tighten the ropes for it to be stronger or increase the layers of grass so that water should not leak through. The team help us to sharpen our skills and create a better product.
Teams compliment our effort.
There are situations that require more than one head. Some situations demand more than two hands. There are challenges that cannot be solved by an individual alone. You need friends and relatives to help you carry the roof atop the granary. You cannot do it alone. We need teams to compliment our effort and achieve more.
Teams propel individual skills to new levels
By carrying the roof and fixing it on the traditional granary, more people will be to see the beautifully crafted roof. More and more people passing by will be able to appreciate your work. This is possible because the roof has been put on a higher level. It is no longer on the ground. In basketball, football or soccer, the talent and skills of players is magnified by the work and skills of other team members. Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been the greatest player in basketball without being in a team.
So whatever roof you are carrying – talent, skills, or performance – you need a team.
Twelve hours ago BBC regarded French President Francois Hollande as “too hawkish” in an article on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. Publications such as the Washington Times agree, and the outlets also put President Obama in the same realm.
While mild joy has been shared across the globe at the diplomacy in the US-Russia deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, Hollande and Obama urge that pressures should remain the same.
Contrastingly, the citizenry of both France and the U.S. concur with the media’s interpretation of the leaders’ stances: they are too disposed to a militant solution.
What’s interesting about the two leaders political leanings is they’re both considered to be socialist in some regard (Hollande obviously more so). And although socialism is by definition an economic system, it adheres to the notion that “policy should arise from the people, that [their] Labour Movement is a movement of free working men, linked together for the common cause, and that the politicians must carry out the will of the people they represent,” R.H.S. Crossman and Honorary Kenneth Younger said in Socialist Foreign Policy. (Essentially, policy is a derivative of the economic schema. Therefore policy should be a direct reflection of the peoples’ desires.)
It’s plausible to assume presidents Hollande and Obama have strayed from their political mores. More importantly, they disregard the obvious distaste their countries have for a military solution in Syria. Why?
In short, the answer – partly so – is Iran. While a media blitz followed the deliberations in the U.S. Congress after Obama initially suggested involvement, and European presses juxtaposed British Prime Minister David Cameron’s reactions to Hollande’s, Iran’s limelight was dimmed. Iran is an embarrassing menace for the U.S. and European Union and the situation in Syria is the two leader’s opportunity to have an ironclad hold on a fraction of the discord in the region. For a short while, the ever-present threat and debate on nuclear warfare has been sidestepped, making way for chemical weaponry instead.
Ironically, Hollande proposes that sanctions and other means be considered to impede Syria from using the chemical weapons – a method remotely effective when used on Iran.
The two leaders agree the deal is a stepping-stone, but no less than President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power is acceptable, the BBC said.
Clearly the Syrian conflict is far from resolved – and whether Hollande and Obama lend their ear to the people versus their current stance will largely determine the direction the civil war (and possibly, the climate on nuclear warfare in the future).
“Leadership is influence” wrote John Maxwell author of the book “Developing the leader within you”. Maxwell observed that a leader is one who is able to influence others to follow his or her ideas or opinions. A leader is the one people watch most when discussing issues. So who is watching who between Obama and Putin regarding the Syrian civil war.
Well, we can answer this question better by looking at the position each President has taken and the level of support garnered so far.
Lets look at Obama’s stance first. Obama says: Syrian President Assad is a killer; he is killing his own people using chemical weapons. He argues Assad must be stopped, must step down, must be disarmed through military action. Whom has Obama influenced to follow his position? Did he influence Congress or the Senate? Did he win public support?
If you ask Obama and his White House’s supporters the above questions; they will hasten to tell you that the President has plenty of backing for his planned military action against Syria, both at home and abroad. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, appearing on CNN on Wednesday, claimed “there are dozens of countries that are ready to stand behind the United States politically, diplomatically, and militarily.” She did not name any country for ‘security reasons’.
In reality, only one country has pledged military support to Washington – France. Even long time ally Britain is not on board. The House of Commons in Britain rejected the proposal to strike Syria. Even US Middle East ally, Saudi Arabia, has been undecided as much as ambivalent on the use of military force, “whatever they (Syrian people) accept, we accept, and whatever they refuse, we refuse.” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal is quoted on Aljazeera online news.
President George W. Bush brought to his side around 40 allies for the war in Iraq. Obama has embarrassingly failed to win even two, not for a fully fledge war, but targeted strikes.
What about President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia! President Putin message is no war on Syrian soil. He argues for a diplomatic solution. US strike is against international law. US strike against Assad would result in more innocent victims. US strike will potentially spread the conflict “far beyond Syria’s borders”. Putin does not support Obama. Instead of military action, Moscow proposes that Syria’s chemical weapons be placed under international control.
Whom has Putin influenced? Many! Iran, Syria, China, Germany, UN Secretary General, EU Commission etc. Putin has also managed to influence France, USA publicly declared ally, to support Moscow proposal albeit with conditions. And the big catch in the net is Obama himself. Obama has changed his stand from military action against Assad to “… now we may not strike if Assad gives up his weapons to Russia.”
Has Putin influenced African countries? Yes. No country in Africa is supporting the war. With exception of Kenya, African countries are not even supporting a UN resolution condemning Assad. Zimbabwe voted ‘no, along side Russia and China while Tanzania, Uganda, Angola, Cameroon, Comoros and Namibia abstained.
So as the plot of Syria continues to unfold it is quite interesting to observe whose opinion seems most valuable. Who is the one others watch the most when the issue is being discussed? As of now people are watching Moscow. Putin might have eclipsed Obama. But for how long?
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club……..Jack London
Where do successful leaders draw their inspiration from? Is it from God? Is it love for money or passion to help others?
My thoughts about Martin Luther King Jr. is that he had many sources of inspiration. Wife and children, personal experiences and great world leaders before him. However, there are two sources of inspiration that I think influenced King most: game changers and change itself. I will talk about these two in a moment, but first here are my favorite quotes from King and world leaders about their sources of inspiration.
Darling, I miss you so much. In fact, much too much for my own good. I never realized that you were such an intimate part of my life. My life without you is like a year without a spring time which comes to give illumination and heat to the atmosphere saturated by the dark cold breeze of winter…….King wrote to Coretta his wife.
I have a dream, that my four little children’s will grow up in a nation where they will not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. – King – I have a dream speech<
…. I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man – President Barak Obama
My personal inspirations are my parents. Yes, I admit it’s a bit cliché, but their voices have been in my head for my entire life – David H. Stevens, President and CEO at Mortgage Bankers Association
That night will never leave my memory as long as I live. It was the angriest I had ever been in my life. Never before, or afterward, can I remember myself being so angry? …….King wrote reflecting on a day he was asked to give up a seat in a bus to a white passenger
What about the influence Abraham Lincoln and Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi had on King. Thats a new subject or book on its own. Remember King visited the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi in India in 1959 and was ‘baptized’ in non-violent protest. Three words that quickly come to my mind when thinking of Lincoln and King are braveness, perseverance and assassination.
Well, here are two sources of inspiration that had greater impact on King as a leader.
Game changing people
Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group shares the power of game changing people in his ‘Who inspires me’ post on LinkedIn . He says game changers are people who will stop at nothing to make a positive difference to other people’s lives.
King had plenty such characters in his team. He worked with Whitney Young, John Lewis, Roy Wilkins, James L. Farmer, Jr., and A. Philip Randolph, the renowned labor leader who is credited for originally conceiving the idea of bringing protesters to Washington.
This was a team of game changers. The unrelenting ‘Big Six’ as the six organizers were referred to refused to call off the Washington March when President John F. Kennedy held a meeting with them at the White House and informed them that the march would jeopardize the Civil Rights Bill to be presented to Congress. The ‘Big Six’ stopped at nothing but reaching their goals.
Perhaps King would have agreed with Richard Branson, the Virgin empire magnate, when he says “I am fortunate to come across quite a few of these game-changing people, and the desire to help (and keep up with them!) is what drives me.”
Change: Please Tell Me I Can’t
One of the greatest inspiration for King was the idea of change. This is what I consider to be his main motivation: changing the status quo. He was motivated by being told you can’t. You can’t sit in a bus when a white passenger is standing. You can’t vote. You can’t do this or that because you are black. This motivated King to fight on and on. And the more he achieved the impossible the more he was motivated to fight even greater impossibilities.
When he successfully destroyed the racial discrimination policy in the Montgomery city’s public transit system, he aimed for a higher goal: right to vote, economic rights, labor rights, etc. This was achieved too. The successor to the assassinated John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One year later, he signed the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. These achievement were even greater motivation for King to aspire for more.
Naomi Simson, Founder of RedBalloon, puts more weight on impossibilities as a motivation. She writes on the topic of ‘what inspires you’ on LinkedIn:
Tell me I “cannot” do, be or have something – and that is the surest way to inspire me into action. What inspires me is simply when the ‘impossible becomes possible’ – to tackle a problem and never give up, no matter how challenging.
What do you think really inspired Martin Luther King Jr.? I would love to hear your views.
Finding the next big thing isn’t easy. If it were, more Americans would be cashing in on the trends. But predicting those trends may be as simple as talking to up-and-coming generations. They can tell you what’s in or out. And, as Business Insider reports, teens are officially over Facebook.
What does that mean for us as journalists interested in engaging a new audience where they feel most at home? It means constantly seeking new outlets for our material — everything is becoming more visual. Teens may be over Facebook, but Instagram and Snapchat are quickly rising in popularity, with YouTube becoming the latest fodder for afternoon and late-night talk shows (like RightThisMinute and Upload with Shaquille O’Neal).
I found most interesting in the Business Insider article that the author examined several different samples of teens to see what the general consensus was, not just interviewing a select few. That way, it shows the greater trend among the group and doesn’t assume what’s popular opinion or not.
Journalists and future leaders shouldn’t just depend on technology to drive their industries. The latest inventions aren’t going to just present themselves to us at opportune times for us to gain traffic and garner success with whatever messages we’re trying to send. Maybe we should be less reliant on the Internet for predicting the future.
Maybe we should be paying attention.
Leadership styles are funny. At least, that’s how some, tired of the clichés in management books, prefer to view them. I wanted to look into how humor plays into the role leaders play in an organization, but instead I stumbled on this humorous adaptation of a common style of a leadership quiz.
Now, there’s an entire industry made out of those “what type of leader are you?” quizzes. Many companies and college courses invest hundreds of dollars (if not higher) on administering these quizzes to their employees or students in order to define their personalities and pair them up with a team that will capitalize on those qualities. The accuracy of those quizzes has yet to be quantitatively confirmed, despite the many qualitative examples assuring their success (“I tried Leadership Test XYZ and my employees worked together better than ever before and increased productivity by 200%!!”).
But one thing those quizzes don’t test is whether or not you, the quiz-taker, have a sense of humor. And while having a sense of humor isn’t the make-or-break quality of a successful leader, it certainly helps in what can be a very stressful position. As a leader, one has numerous responsibilities, including being in charge of making sure other people do their individual jobs. Of course, not all things go according to plan when it comes to supervising. The ability to deal with problems as they come and look at ways to solve them creatively will make a leader far more insightful than one that only plays by the rules. And while those leadership quizzes are always eager to put you into a category, sometimes, being a personable human being who can empathize and share a good laugh with his or her coworkers doesn’t fit in option 1, 2, 3, or 4 — it’s something you can’t put a number on.
Being a leader can be all it’s cracked up to be, and much more — but if you’re not “managing to have fun,” as this article states, you can quickly lose perspective. And to conclude with a poignant quote from that article: “Business author Paul Hawken said it best, ‘We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, by being professional or by being institutional.’”
By Sara Steffan
When I went looking for mobile journalism blogs or posts on the topic, many of my first hits while searching were outdated or broken links — surprising because you’d think that the mobile is on the rise and more journalists would be talking about how they’re using it. I stumbled upon a column on ReadWrite that isn’t exactly about journalism (it has more of an adjacent tie to it); it’s a journalist’s experiment with online dating using ONLY mobile apps. Dan Rowinski writes that his experience will show the relevance of our lifestyle behaviors on our cell phones to what he does for ReadWrite:
There’s actually a deeper issue here. I cover mobile technology for ReadWrite, and so I make a point of living as much of my life via smartphones or tablets as I can. Mobile gadgets aren’t just a bunch of specs and apps, cameras and wireless connections. They’re portals for information and connection – powerful computers that have the potential to transform ordinary human behavior. My goal is to see whether and how this works in person, and to report back on the experience.
What I drew from this is that the way we share information has been completely turned upside-down with the evolution of mobile. Technology as a whole in the past two decades has transformed many of our country’s industries and no doubt has had a significant impact on the economy, but it also has affected our social interactions and parts of our lives that used to be intimate/deeply personal. Such as dating — who could’ve predicted that we’d be creating virtual representations of ourselves that could be picked or passed over by potential lovers, all through the comfort of our home computers, or now on-the-go with our mobile devices?
This reminded me of the video we watched in class that showed Walter Cronkite in the “home office of the future.” Just as he thought then that we knew what 21st-century life would be like, we think we may know now the impact of our Internet habits on our changing social lives. But really, it’s just the beginning. Our behavior now may seem completely foreign to future generations using technology that, right now, is just a barely-formed thought in some engineer’s head. It’s an exciting time that surely will be part of history – and as long as we keep an open mind and willingness to experiment, like Rowinski leaving his dating life in the hands of what he calls “sometimes sketchy-looking” mobile apps, we might be at the front of the next wave of new technology, and maybe even enjoy the ride.
Would you turn to mobile apps for such personal behaviors like dating? Or do we do so already with apps that document our day-to-day activities like Facebook and Twitter? Is there even a difference?
Expectations of the federal government are extremely high. Most of the time, Americans are critical of decisions the government makes and the time it takes to make them. Through the democratic process, our government leaders are elected to their positions, and they make promises to the people while campaigning. Those promises are often very high-reaching goals that, once elected, officials have trouble reaching. I read a column in the Washington Post written by an expert in leadership and innovation, Tom Fox, and in his column he said in order to ensure the successes of federal government leaders, they should spend time defining their approach. Fox then went on to list some of the characteristics of a federal leader: intellectually curious, mentally tough, critical thinkers, flexible, results oriented and imaginative.
Thinking about that list, I came to the conclusion that yes, while expectations are very high for government leaders, most of those qualities are those any leader should have. Are all government officials good leaders? Probably not. But they still get elected because Americans don’t vote for officials solely based on their leadership qualities. It’s true that good leaders encompass nearly all of these qualities, but those good leaders aren’t under the country’s biggest microscope like federal officials are. The media and, through the media, the public rigorously examine those leaders to see how effectively they are doing their jobs. Because so much rides on whether they succeed or fail, including whether or not they are elected for another term, the pressure may affect their ability to focus on leadership. Even in our everyday lives, we think about the pressure on us to perform and achieve, but often our ability to lead gets pushed down on our list of priorities. And then there’s the debate as to whether leaders are “born” or “made” — should we administer some sort of a test to our government officials before their first day on the job to see if they have what it takes to be a leader?
While this blog has led to a lot more questions than answers, I think it’s important to reflect on those qualities Fox talked about in his column and see how our current leaders stand up to them. And more importantly, how we stand up to them and see if our expectations are reasonable for our elected leaders. If we can’t live up to those expectations ourselves, we may want to reconsider how we measure our leaders and even more, think differently next time we are voting in an election.
Reading Bill Gates’ article this week actually inspired me while writing an essay for an internship application. Needless to say I agree with much of what he says as it applies to nearly everything that we want to be successful — measurement is key to finishing what we’ve started. My essay, which I’m writing on the evidence-based approach in communication campaigns, shows how Gates’ theories can mean a better investment for a large corporation or small, nonprofit business whenever they’re seeking to improve their reputations or send a message in way that will attract the attention of their audiences. Research needs to be conducted at both the beginning, so there is something to be measured against, and the end, to see how over time if there was positive, negative or no change.
What I was concerned about when I first starting reading his article was that it was going to mostly focus on the negative aspect of measurement — how measurement can show us what went wrong and what needs to be fixed. I especially liked the example of the Eagle County teacher evaluations because that not only focused on areas to improve, but it gave the teachers opportunity to see what they were doing right and how they could build on their strengths. I think that in order for measurement to be effective, we have to focus in some way on how successful something was so we have the incentive then to replicate it. While always wanting to do better can be a motivation, measurement can be harmful if it only points out our failures. I liked the way Gates found ways to tie in the need for critical change with the need for high-quality, trustworthy systems that utilize positive reinforcement more than negative.
Not everything is measurable, Gates acknowledges. It would take a lot more money (or, a lot more philanthropists like Gates) to quantify data like disease exposure’s effect on children’s potential. But clear goals, along with a healthy dose of optimism, can help us get there. And if we can find in some way to do our due diligence and provide measurement tools at all steps of any programming with appropriate feedback systems, we can replicate the progress that things like the polio vaccination have seen — but that will take time. I’m certain that creating awareness about the need for measurement and the role of any sort of evidence-based strategic planning will help us get there.
Our team stirred up quite the debate when we discussed Billy’s choice to go up to the hotel room and hang the banner demanding Sukarno feed his people, in the emotional decision that led to him either being shot and falling out the window, or just falling out the window to his death (still to be determined). We questioned his leadership qualities in that we thought he should be able to separate his personal political beliefs from his professional duties. This brought up the term “advocacy journalism” in class, and to a certain degree, that is what Billy was doing — advocating for a change in a country he had become so connected to in a very public way.
Also we hypothesized about the metaphorical meaning behind Guy being “blinded” after Billy dies. Since Billy served as his eyes throughout the beginning of the film, helping him navigate while he ruthlessly pursued a story, it seemed natural that once Billy was no longer able to do that, Guy needed to have a moral awakening of sorts. He had so many conflicts between his personal and professional codes of ethics throughout the film. From breaking his love interest’s trust to go after the story to then arriving at the conclusion that he could give it all up to get on the plane with her, being physically impaled in the eye was a fairly dramatic way, fitting for Guy’s character, to have this self-actualization occur.
Of course, Sukarno failed to show leadership for his people throughout the film. But what raised the best questions in our ethical discussions were considering characters that were fairly likable on the surface, such as Billy Kwan, and looking at their behaviors through different lenses. We were surprised, and also intrigued, at the amount of debate it caused.
by Sara Steffan
My leadership lesson came recently (or my memory doesn’t go very far back!) when I was deciding where to go to college in Fall 2008/early Spring 2009.
My parents gave me the opportunity to attend any college I wanted, and they would help with my tuition up to $25,000 per year. I remember thinking at the time that this was one of the first chances I had ever had at making a substantive decision about my future, and the fact that it was coming with financial support what more than I even could have imagined.
So it quickly became one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me, but at the same time it completely overwhelmed me. I wanted a pre-professional program with a focus on writing and communication. Journalism seemed like a natural fit.
But where did I want to go? Location was an important factor that I did not anticipate having such influence on my decision. And, more importantly, cost – when did schooling become so expensive? My top choice at the time, Syracuse University, was $44,000 per year. My scholarship only knocked $4,000 off the price tag; even with my parents’ help, I would still be paying $15,000 a year with student loans.
When I got an offer letter from ASU that ended up covering almost all of my tuition, I had to think long and hard about how much location was important to me. Did I want to be close to my family in upstate New York? Or did I want to venture further and eventually, have almost complete financial freedom?
Leadership isn’t just about leading others. Great leaders also have to show personal responsibility and skillful decision-making about their own lives. When I decided to come to ASU, even though it was something I’d never considered until that letter arrived in the mail, I felt confident that my future was now in my hands and that I was able to successfully manage the responsibility my parents had given me. And being able to shoulder that weight was one of the most important lessons I’ve learned about myself thus far.
“A saint is a sinner that keeps on trying.”
Aung San Suu Kyi is the iconic leader of the democratic resistance movement in Myanmar and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. She took up the cause in 1988 after witnessing a massacre of students while in the country to take care of her mother. Suu Kyi sacrificed relationships with her family for the good of her country by choosing to spend 15 years under house arrest to draw attention to the human rights abuses in her country.
Suu Kyi’s persistence and innate qualities allowed her to servant leadership at a time of transition. Her belief in non-violent activism and willingness to personally sacrifice for the cause has made her an influential leader in her country and all over the world. Through meditation and introspection during times of trial she persevered until finally being released in 2010.
Suu Kyi’s commitment to Buddhism allowed her to reason through the captivity. She was able to overcome fear and not develop a sense of vengeance.
“The only real prison is fear. And the only real freedom is freedom from fear,” she said.
Her spirit of inclusion, patience and forgiveness allow her to be a unifying force for a divided country.
She was elected to Parliament in 2012 and met with President Obama this fall. The country has been cut off from Western investment and trade due to it’s long history of human rights abuses. As a member of Parliament, she can now travel freely internationally to share her story and spread awareness of her cause. Obama’s visit signals a new beginning where her role will continue to grow.
Many consider her to be a similar figure to Nelson Mandela for the modern age. Both figures fought for justice using non-violence and suffered isolation from family and friends to achieve peace. She is truly an ideal and an example for global leaders everywhere.
When most people think of a leader, they think of a politician, a social reformer or a war hero. But sports figures display many of the same leadership qualities found in more serious types of leader. While it’s true these superstars are simply playing a game, for many sports fans, the game of basketball is more than just a game, which helps explain why Michael Jordan was seen as a global icon during the 90′s.
Jordan was a leader in three main ways. As a player, Jordan was an unprecedented basketball player and talented athlete who racked up numerous individual accomplishments. As a champion, Jordan elevated the play of his teammates and made his team so incredible successful, winning six championships in such a short span (eight years, with Jordan playing baseball for one and a half of those eight). And as a global icon, Jordan captivated the world with incredible talent, competitiveness, hard work and charisma.
On an individual level, the player Michael Jordan was easily the best player on the Chicago Bulls of the 90′s. His numerous awards and accolades easily attest to that. In his time in the league, MJ won 5 MVP Awards, 2 Olympic gold medals, 10 scoring titles, a Defensive Player of the Year Award, 14 All-Star appearances, 2 Slam Dunk Contests and the Rookie of the Year Award. His points per game during the regular season (30.1) and during the playoffs (33.5) are still all-time highs for the NBA. On an individual level, it’s easy to see why such a dynamic scorer and incredible athlete made him a leader. His dunks and gamewinning shots made him a living highlight reel and the representation of the NBA.
On a team level, Jordan’s immense success also made him a living legend and a remarkable example of what a leader brings to his team. Jordan elevated his game when his team needed him most and became known for clutch performances at the end of close games. One example is “The Flu Game,” which is regarded as one of the greatest performances of all time in sports history. Waking up fit for a hospital bed, Jordan not only played in Game 5 of the 1998 NBA Finals, but he led his team to victory with 38 points and 11 assists. And in Game 6, he dropped 45 points, including the gamewinning shot that would be his last in a Bulls jersey. The picture, shown below, is immortalized as one of the best clutch shots in basketball history, an iconic last act of basketball’s greatest player. Jordan made his teammates better with time and brought six NBA titles to a Chicago Bulls franchise that had never won a single championship before. And in all six championships, Michael Jordan was voted the Finals MVP, which is a true testament to his status as the leader of the team.
On a global level, Jordan took the world by storm in the 90′s. As David Halberstam writes, “His only rival globally was Princess Diana.” Jordan was everywhere: advertisements, commercials, cereal boxes. As a representative of Nike, McDonalds, Wheaties and more, Jordan was an extremely profitable marketing tool. Jordan became worth millions, not only because of his (comparatively) cheap contract, but through all his endorsements. But it wasn’t only about money with Michael Jordan. His charm, charisma and easy-going, down-to-earth personality made him an easy sell and he was one of the most popular Americans on the planet. The more Jordan achieved, the more people expected of him. The more people expected of him, the more he excelled. And the more he excelled, the more people began to believe that “man could truly fly.” Jordan wasn’t just an inspiration for basketball fans; anyone who watched him in the 90′s saw the incredible product that talent, hard work and desire could achieve. Michael Jordan transcended sports like only Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali had done before him, which is just one more way he was a leader and pioneer in the world of sports and hard work in general.
Most people will see this as a sports fan’s gushing and roll their eyes at the thought of an overpaid athlete being anything more than a superficial leader, but this is not the case with Michael Jordan. Any basketball fan who watched Michael Jordan play in the 90′s will tell you that this man transcended sports and made basketball more popular worldwide. It’s sad that most people see Michael Jordan as a failed owner of an NBA team and an ass with little tolerance of the media now, because he wasn’t always this way. If anything, everyone demanding so much of him constantly made him a grumpier person than anything else. Plus, Jordan’s contributions to charities and those in need shouldn’t be disregarded. In fact, when Jordan made his second comeback that damaged his career statistics, he donated all of the money made from that basketball contract to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Regardless of his difficulties as an owner, Jordan should be remembered for singlehandedly globalizing basketball and for making children and adults alike believe in the impossible, which MJ delivered on a nightly basis. It’s hard to describe his relevance the the phenomenon that he was during the 90′s if you were too young to remember or care, but Jordan’s charisma as a basketball leader made him an undeniable leader that the NBA may never see the likes of again.
And for anyone who thinks LeBron may someday replace Jordan, go ahead and watch this for some perspective. The music’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.