01 January 2021

The Core Idea

"Human history is, in essence, a history of ideas."

--H. G. Wells

Geologists estimate that 3,200 miles beneath our feet lies a “Solid Inner Core” of the Earth made up of iron whose diameter is 70% the size of the moon. (Red)     

There are three other layers of the Earth:  

-A "Liquid Outer Core" the size of Mars. (Gold)

-A "Mantle" 1,800 miles thick composed of different kinds of rock making up 84% of the Earth's total volume. (Olive)

-The layer closest to the surface is called the "Crust" also composed of rock and representing 1% of the Earth's volume. (Gray)
(C) NASA

If you cut the Earth in half, like an apple, that's what you would see: Solid Inner Core; Liquid Outer Core; Mantle; and Crust.  

With a surface as hot as the sun, the Solid Inner Core is a source of creativity, energy, and selective destruction.  Spinning faster than the Earth itself, the Solid Inner Core is leading, not following, even though hidden from view.    

What's a core idea?

Organizations, big and small, that consistently accomplish their aims do so with a simple idea that shapes and drives the enterprise.     

Take UPS, for example.  

Founded in 1907 as American Messenger Company by two teenage boys, James Casey and Claude Ryan, with a $100 loan, the business prospered by providing the best service at the lowest rates.  Cars were scarce so reliable and courteous teenagers were hired to deliver telegraph messages, pharmacy orders, and groceries to homes around the Seattle, Washington area on foot and bicycles.

That was the core idea.
More than a century later, Atlanta-based UPS partnered with FEDEX in the U.S. to ship 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to mitigate against Covid-19.  That may have been the most important pharmacy delivery of all time.      

As it lives and breathes

Clarity on the concept of a business or nonprofit comes from a critical mass of employees making the idea come alive. Those same individuals are also stewards of the organization's spirit and aspirations.  Having "culture carriers" throughout the system is an informal way of socializing new associates and advancing institutional knowledge.  

Trusted individuals who lead by example often produce better HR outcomes than formal mentoring and development programs.  Healthy working relationships, clear expectations, and comprehensible goals underpin a successful execution of strategy.  

Also noted in the research is that the core and identity have an interdependent relationship. Combined, they're central, enduring, and distinguish the enterprise from its peers. (Albert and Whetten, 1985)  For identity to be clear the core must be clear--especially as it's reinterpreted and reimagined for an emerging workplace and world.  

It's the serious qualities of a firm, such as wisdom and good judgment, which resist bad change and accept good change.  Absent honesty and moral courage in an organization's leadership, anything goes.   

Rethinking the core
"... no humanly constructed core idea or business endures forever in its original form."
The data in consulting libraries show that organizations often fail to take advantage of the full potential of their main business.  Not getting enough from what it already does the next move is to abandon the core and start chasing after someone else's ideas.     

Eventually, someone holds up a mirror and discovers those borrowed ideas don't fit. Only in retrospect does management then see the error of its ways. For some, it's too late while others are fortunate to get another chance.

Writing in Scientific American, Claude J. Allgre and Stephen H. Schneider remind us that the Earth and its atmosphere are continuously altered.  "Plate tectonics shift the continents, raise mountains, and move the ocean floor.  Such constant change has characterized Earth since its beginning some 4.5 billion years ago." 

In a similar pattern, no humanly constructed core idea or business endures forever in its original form.  

Why?  

Over time the assumptions on which the organization has been built (environment, mission, capabilities) and is being run no longer fit reality. ("Theory of the Business" by Peter F. Drucker)

As a management practice UPS periodically updated its assumptions, building on a stable core with a disruptive edge.  From bicycles to drones and back to bicycles.  Delivering messages to managing sophisticated supply chains. Over 5,000 independently owned The UPS Stores franchised by the corporate parent in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.

The company spans 114 years but keeps the aging process at bay by holding to its original values of reliability and high ethical standards while staying close to customers.

Is this a good time to revisit your assumptions and where the core business should go next?

Management writer, Dr. Chris Zook, who studies core structures offers strategic questions--

1.  How do you know when your core needs to change in some fundamental way?

2.  How do you determine what the new core should be?

3.  How do you go about measuring the vitality which remains--is the energy exhausted or does it still have legs?

4.  How profitable are your customers, and how loyal?  

Remaking commerce

One reason makeovers have a high rate of failure, some say as much as 70% (McKinsey & Company), is that businesses tend to travel great distances seeking success in unfamiliar territory (Microsoft and Nokia). Those in the 30% who succeed stay close to home (Disney and Pixar).  

What do they discover?

Hidden assets.

"The real question," says Dr. Zook, "is how to open management's eyes to the hidden assets in its market. How to mine the treasure that's within their reach."    

Planning ahead

Coronavirus is doing something to your employees and customers.  The full impact remains to be seen.  In the meantime, here are additional questions to consider as you think about the future--

o  What's your core idea and business?
o  What's worth keeping in the core?
o  What needs changing or remaking?
o  Are current customers aging out?
o  Where will you find new customers? 



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·       

01 December 2020

2020 Vision

"I try to find the good in every day with what we have been handed although it's sometimes hard to do."

--Rebecca J. Kurzon, M.D. 

As the last page of the current calendar is on display, how should we go about assessing the unimaginable year 2020?  A period in which a deadly global virus continues attacking vulnerable populations and those who are undisciplined in their social behavior.   

Yes, Covid-19 fatigue is setting in with social distancing, wearing a mask in public (often below the nose), and hand-washing practiced less than nine months ago.  The weather becomes a factor in some locations forcing individuals inside with less exposure to sunshine and fresh air.  

How to assess?

Perhaps with the distance of time, we'll see the past twelve months as an epochal moment when businesses, governments, and educational institutions discovered they aren't in control after all.  That a collective arrogance, what Jim Collins calls "a hubris born of success," came up against an uncontrollable force destabilizing our social systems and economic structures.

Essayist Eric Weiner observed, "The pandemic has made a mockery of our grand plans.  Graduations, weddings, job prospects--poof, gone, rolling back down the hill like Sisyphus's boulder."    

Thankfully there was help when we needed it.  Our attention moved away from captains of industry and celebrities to the doctors, nurses, EMT personnel, grocery clerks, truck drivers, and delivery workers that kept society functioning during the early days of the pandemic--and still do. 

An undesirable appointment

There are two types of appointments.  The first you initiate by calling your doctor or dentist.  Or scheduling your car or truck to be serviced.  This is a routine of life.  

The other is like meeting up with someone or something not previously planned. Think loss of employment or a death in the family.


On 13 March 2020 U.S. President Donald J. Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic to be a national emergency.  Other leaders issued similar declarations for their respective countries.  

Was that type of action something new?  No. Former President, Barack Obama, used that same presidential authority for the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009.  

Covid-19 is an appointment not of our choosing.

A paradoxical season

Consider the following:

o  An economic turnaround is underway.  The total U.S. nonfarm payroll rose by 245,000 in November and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent from a record high 14.7 percent in April of this year. However, the pace of improvement in the labor markets has moderated in recent months.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, notable job gains occurred 
in transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and health care. 

Employment declined in government and retail trade.  

o  Industry experts say that restaurants, hotels, and airlines are years away from a full recovery.  The National Restaurant Association estimates 100,000 restaurants closing this year.  Dining and travel depend heavily on capacity and consumers being confident of their safety.

o  The Wall Street Journal reported that with new cases rising again more livelihoods will likely be damaged.  The losses are most acute among service-sector businesses--especially smaller ones.  Many have failed and in the next several months more will follow.  Jobs won't be there for millions when the upsurge ends. 

o  The U.S. housing market is literally on fire as home sales rose to a 14-year high in October.  This trend is driven by low mortgage rates and an abrupt shift in living preferences.

o  Targeted not blanketed lockdowns may be the directive of choice for government officials over the next several months to avoid further disruption and damage to the economy.  

Medical updates
It's one thing to die from a disease, an accident, or old age.  However, it's another thing to be scared to death.  Follow the recommended precautions and pay attention to reliable sources of information about Covid-19. 
o  A vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna could be available within weeks or months instead of years.  Yet its success depends on how many are willing to be vaccinated.  For example, in the 2018-2019 flu season, 62 percent of children six months to 17 years got the flu shot.  Among adults 45 percent got vaccines. (USA Facts)  Will those percentages improve for the coronavirus vaccine?  

Vaccinations, not vaccines, save lives. 

o  The likelihood that a coronavirus infection will prove fatal has dropped by nearly a third since April due to improved treatment, researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reported. In the United States, COVID-19 now kills about 0.6% of people infected with the virus, compared with around 0.9% early in the pandemic, stated IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray.

While strained at times for help and equipment, doctors and medical staff are more knowledgeable about coronavirus and treatments including the use of blood thinners and oxygen support.  Hospital stays are shorter which is more good news.  (Reuters)

o  It's one thing to die from a disease, an accident, or old age.  However, it's another thing to be scared to death.  Follow the recommended precautions and pay attention to reliable sources of information about Covid-19. 

Education

o  Remote learning for children, teens, and college students is uneven when it comes to quality and results.  
The average student could begin the next school year having lost as much as a third of the expected progress from the previous year in reading and half of the expected progress in math, according to a working paper from NWEA, a nonprofit organization, and scholars at Brown University and the University of Virginia.

It's a burden for middle and lower-income households to supervise their kids' online education.    

The rich are different

o  Are we all in this together? In the spring of this year, New York City's population decreased around five percent with residents leaving the wealthier zip codes of Manhattan. (New York Times)  Higher-income households have greater resources to manage residential options, online schooling, and home offices. 

Increasing resolve

So how do we endure the unendurable?  How do we find certainty in an uncertain universe?  If we crave a return to normal, how do we then define normal?  What does courage look like today? 

It's important to ask the right questions as there are no easy answers.

How we see something, including our self-awareness, determines how we're likely to respond to the coronavirus.

During our annual eye exam in November, I asked Dr. Kurzon (quoted above) how she was doing.  A consummate professional my ophthalmologist responded not with some tired refrain but with optimism and realism--"I try to find the good ... it's sometimes hard to do."   
 
Dr. Kurzon's words are encouraging.  They remind us that while infection can be contagious so can compassion and decency.

As the instructor explained to a young leadership class, "Every conquest prepares us for the next conflict, endowing us with all the needful equipment."

May that counsel prove true in the unwanted appointment with Covid-19.  



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© Bredholt & Co.












01 November 2020

The State of Charitable Giving

 "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one."

--Mother Teresa

In 2019, American individuals, bequests, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $450 billion to a variety of religious and charitable causes.  That level of giving ranks among the highest years ever for charitable contributions according to Giving USA.  

The 4.2% increase in donations (2.4% adjusted for inflation) over 2018's $431 billion, measured in current dollars, makes the 2019 report the highest dollar total to date.

"In 2019, the growth in total giving was driven by an increase in giving by individuals, which remains by far the biggest source of giving," said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., and the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.  

Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean, summed it up this way, "We saw solid, broad-based growth in almost all aspects of charitable giving, and especially in giving by individuals due to strong growth in the S&P 500 and personal income.

"While giving trends vary by donors' income and wealth, since the Great Recession, we have seen giving become more concentrated toward the top end of the income and wealth spectrum," Dr. Osili added.

Where did the money come from?

  • Individuals--69% or $309 billion.
  • Foundations--17% or $75 billion.
  • Bequests--10% or $43 billion.
  • Corporations--5% or $21 billion.

Where did the money go?

The top five recipients of charitable gifts in 2019--

1.  Religion:  $128 billion.

2.  Education:  $64 billion.

3.  Human Services:  $55 billion.

4.  Foundations:  $53 billion.

5.  Health:  $41 billion.

The power of generosity

The 2019 report reflects the practices of generous givers--those who believe in a worthy cause and back it up with their time and contributions.  

Research from the University of California, Davis, confirms that generosity begets generosity.  That it spreads and transfers even with several degrees of separation.  Individuals affected by your generosity will act generously toward others for a significant period of time.

Additionally, there's a body of scientific evidence to show that those who are generous often feel grateful as a permanent state of being.  People who remain mindfully thankful, rather than choose it as a temporary state of mind, have been proven to engage in healthier behaviors, have a stronger immune system, are more able to relax, and have decreased rates of disease. (Harvard School of Health; Midland Health)

Emerging patterns

Pre-Covid ...

o Giving is increasing because of large gifts from wealthy donors through private foundations and donor-advised funds. Smaller and mid-level donors are slowly disappearing across the broad range of all organizations. That's unfortunate as the loss of middle-class philanthropy would be devastating to smaller charities.  

o In recent years the number of donors declined 4.5% and donations under $250 by 4.4% while donations between $250 and $1,000 also dropped.  Charitable revenues for donations of at least $1,000 increased by 2.6%.  Currently, total charitable giving is around 2% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), about where it was in 1984.  

o A person's attendance at a house of worship is the single best indicator of overall charitable generosity.  Those who attend worship regularly (two or three times a month, at least) are three to four times more generous than those who attend less frequently, or not at all. (Lake Institute)

o People who stop itemizing won't necessarily stop giving. But at the margins economists expect tax code changes to reduce donations from where they otherwise would be or to change where and how they contribute.

Post-Covid ...

o More than half of charitable organizations in the U.S. are expecting to raise less money in 2020 than they did in 2019, and an equal percentage believe the same for 2021.  However, 3 out of 10 human services charities said they expected to raise more funds in 2020 than in 2019.  (Association of Fundraising Professionals)

o The challenge confronting all fundraisers during Covid-19 is not being able to meet face-to-face with donors and prospects.  

"It's much easier for our frontline people to have a Zoom call with someone they know really well than it is to qualify a new prospect for fundraising purposes," noted Steven Bayer, associate vice president for university development at Duke.  Bayer said that keeping in touch with loyal donors and bringing new ones into the fold are the basics that cannot be neglected.

What principles transcend time?

It's important to keep coming back to motivations for giving.  Why do people give?

Here are three reasons offered by Clif Christopher, founder, and president of Horizons Stewardship Co.--

1.  A belief in the mission.  People want to be part of something that changes lives.  Nonprofits and churches only have one thing to sell--changed lives.  The best way to raise money is to simply do your job--and communicate results.  

2. Regard for staff leadership.  Ranking high on most donor surveys is the regard the donor has for those who lead the organization. When they have confidence in those individuals to perform, the gifts follow.  When they don't, the gifts go elsewhere.

3. Financial stability of the institution.  People don't give to sinking ships. They give to ships that are sailing strong and give every indication of reaching their destination.  More than ever they are holding nonprofits accountable for wise use of funds and looking for solid performance with the funds already given. 

First things

"There is one general rule that is the most important for charitable organizations, nonprofits, and colleges to follow--don't stop fundraising," says Mike Geiger, CEO of AFP.  "Those that continue to raise funds--even increase their fundraising--will do the best," Geiger emphasized.

Studies show that stewardship is the best step forward toward receiving the next gift. Don't abandon ethics; and express appreciation for every gift, regardless of the size. 

Donors want to hear from the organizations they trust.  

Are donors hearing from you?


Sources: Charitable giving and distribution totals for 2019 are from Giving USA.  Additional information comes from Candid, Donor Trends, and NonProfits Source.


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© Bredholt & Co. 








01 October 2020

Flying in Remote Formation

"Geese in the rear of the formation honk to encourage those up front to up their speed. It is important that honking from behind be seen as encouraging.  Otherwise, it is just - well - honking."

--Dr. Robert McNeish

Looking for signs of change?  

The American Expedition Forum reminds us that the flight of Canada geese at certain times of the year is a sure sign the seasons have changed.

Much has been written about the Canada goose, the largest in the world, with specimens averaging between five and 14 pounds.  Some geese weigh over 20 pounds.  Full-grown Canada geese measure between 30 to 40 inches in length and have a wingspan between 50 and 75 inches, or about four to six feet.  

They congregate into large groups for their migrations, maybe 30 to 100 in a group.  Their loud honking, a form of airborne communications, gets our attention even if we're indoors.   

Geese flying in V formation. 
(C) Susan Huppi

Always a sight to behold, a perfect V formation of geese, or skein, can provide 71% more flying range than if they were flying on their own, according to studies published on Quora.com.    

Imagine each bird in line flying a little higher than the goose in front of it.  Some speculate that this formation allows the lead goose to break the headwind, making it possible for the birds behind to "draft."  Shifting positions during their flight allow geese to take turns breaking the wind and reducing fatigue, according to those who study this species of the Anatidae family.

Canada geese fly at an average speed of about 40 miles per hour when migrating but can go up to 70 miles per hour if they catch a strong tailwind.  Migrations have been recorded as long as 2,000 to 3,000 miles with distances of up to 1,500 miles in a single day with good weather.

And yes, you may see some Canada geese flying in different directions.  The Cornell Lab says there are increasing numbers of resident Canada geese across North America.  These birds do not migrate at all but are simply gaggles of geese seen as nuisances in some communities and lake areas.  

Just ask anyone with a dock.  
 
A remote season

Books and workshops have been produced over the years showing management how much can be learned from Canada geese and applied to business.  However, most literature on that topic was written prior to this current global pandemic.  

Do any of those original lessons still apply to the increased use of video technology and social distancing?

And how are virtual organizations supposed to fly in formation?

Here is our Covid-19 version of the "Lessons of Geese" originally published in 1972 by Dr. McNeish ...

1.   The importance of knowing the organization's purpose and goals.  It's hard to accomplish anything, in-person or remotely if you're not sure of the purpose (why?) and goals (outcomes) of the enterprise.  Those two pillars are worth continually communicating. 

2.   The importance of individuals and teamwork.   Work is a balancing act with the task determining the form.  Sometimes a single individual is all that's needed to perform an assignment.

Teams struggle when there's little or no recognition of the people who comprise them.  Geese strengthen, not weaken, their individual identity when flying in formation.  

There are benefits to staying together.  Like the goose, you may feel the drag when flying out of formation.  Therefore, learn to take advantage of the lifting power of your teammates in person or online, whether nearby or half-way around the world.  

3.   The importance of sharing and remaining still.   When a goose tires of flying it drops back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.  This sharing of responsibility is impressive.  Relieving someone of a difficult task is an issue of health and well-being, personally and corporately.  

At other times singularly and quietly toughing out a difficult duty is a character-building exercise. 

4.   The importance of empathy and understanding.  A recent study by the University of Chicago shows the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health especially among young adults.  Staying alert to colleagues who face discouragement and fatigue is everyone's responsibility.  

Being alone or having children to school while working can only go on so long before causing a severe strain on an associate's well-being.  How many Zoom calls can anyone take?  

If a goose gets sick two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to the ground to help and protect it.  Standing by each other in uncertain times may save someone's job--or life.  

And in taking care of others don't forget to take care of yourself.

5.    The importance of coaching and encouragement.  Employees sometimes need specific help with their jobs.  Ask directly, what, if any assistance, is needed?  How can we help each other with current commitments and deadlines?    

Encouragement should also focus on growth and development, not just addressing one's feelings during stressful situations. 

In one accord

The late Albert Schweitzer told this story about geese--

A flock of wild geese had settled to rest on a pond.  One of the flock had been captured by a gardener, who had clipped its wings before releasing it.  When the geese started to resume their flight, this one tried frantically, but vainly, to lift itself into the air.  

The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encourage him; but it was no use.

Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them.  For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly.

Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, having been converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched as they finally rose together, and all resumed their long flight. 



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01 September 2020

Never Golf Alone

"You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about."

--Bobby Jones (First person to achieve golf's Grand Slam in a single year--1930.)

You can take the game of golf a long way in life.  At least that's the message I repeat often to our grandsons, Lucas and Brody when they visit during the summer in Michigan.  Last year I signed them up for lessons to work on the fundamentals of the game.         

Golf is also filled with lessons for life and business if we know where to look.  Here are five that come to mind:

1.   Guided experience.  Sometimes we cut a unique path on our own but for most, it helps to have someone show the way.  In golf, that person was Bob Smith.  He combines a low handicap with a gift for teaching.  (Bob eventually became a college professor.)  

He knows how the game is played, etiquette, too.    

In the spring of 1961, my parents bought me a set of essential clubs for beginners and a Scottish-plaid golf bag at Montgomery Ward in Owosso, Michigan.  As soon as the snow melted, Bob and I were teeing up at Corunna Hills Golf Course for my first game.  

After nine holes and 99 strokes, I thought the worst was behind me.  That was wishful thinking.  I would need a lot of practice and an improved mindset to continue playing this game. 

Nevertheless, Bob Smith opened a door that remains ajar. 

2.   Framing the day.   As I am walking out the door each Monday morning for a golf outing with our neighbors, my wife Chris says--"Make a hole-in-one today."  

Beginning any day with a clear goal increases the likelihood of getting something done.  

Successful people manage themselves by having purpose and clarity in their lives. They know that if everything is important, nothing is important.  Their day is fashioned so it's productive in the right areas.  Being focused is a good way for leadership to minimize distractions and stay on task. 

3.   Timely coaching.  Just as Bob Smith was a morale-booster in the early days so are golfing partners John Shoup and Duane Pierce presently.

In fine-drawn ways they remind me that managing one's attitude is critical for doing well. Ultimately we play against ourself--and less against others.   


Russ Bredholt hole-in-one. Number nine, Red Course, par 3, 124 yards.
Hickory Ridge Golf Course, Galesburg, Michigan.
24 August 2020 (C)

Both witnessed our hole-in-one and knew what to do. See if the ball is in the cup. Take a picture for the record.  And confirm that the golf ball, a Pinnacle, was mine. 

It was.  

On the way home we celebrated by having lunch at Scooters Malt Shoppe.  Guess who paid?

4.   A game of character.  Golf is popular, someone said, because you can name your own score.  Between the tee box and final putt, each golfer in the amateur ranks is really on their own.  Keeping track of your score becomes a matter of personal responsibility.  

Using fuzzy math is unnecessary.  If tempted--don't yield.  It's not worth it in life or sports. Unless you're on the PGA tour or playing tournament golf at your club, no one except you cares about your final score.
     
5.    Don't give up.   About 3 million golfers quit each year and a similar number begin, according to the National Golf Foundation.  When I picked up my golf ball from the cup on the ninth hole of the Red Course at Hickory Ridge, I was relieved I hadn't stopped playing the game.

Just a few good drives, chips, or putts, strategically placed, were enough to keep me coming back one more time.  

The same is true in organizational life.  A few good days, properly placed, can help us make progress, even in the midst of a pandemic.  

Don't give up on yourself, your recreation, or the business.  There's more to be gained by persevering than quitting, regardless of your lot in life.  


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© Bredholt & Co. 






       



   

   

01 August 2020

50 Years


Chris Bredholt 




The Wife of Noble Character

An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels. 
The heart of her husband trusts in her, 
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hands to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

--Proverbs 31 (ESV)



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01 July 2020

1968--A Chronology

"History never looks like history when you are living through it."

--John W. Gardner


Certain events of the past several months are being compared to 1968, a period that Newsweek described as "The Year That Changed Everything." 

For some perspective, here's a selected chronology of a tumultuous twelve months played out on network TV screens (ABC, CBS, and NBC) 52 years ago.  We were witnesses and participants in a  divisive epoch that one person described as leaving the Baby Boom generation "stuck in the 60s decade."  
January 

o January 5--Prague Spring begins.  Alexander Dubcek is chosen as the leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.

o January 14--The Green Bay Packers defeat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II, 33-14, at the Miami Orange Bowl.

o January 21--Vietnam War. Battle of Khe Sanh, one of the most publicized and controversial battles of the war begins, ending on April 8.

o January 22--Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In debuts on NBC.

o January 23--North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo, claiming the ship violated the territorial waters while spying.

o January 30--Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive begins, as Viet Cong forces launch a series of surprise attacks across South Vietnam.

o January 31--Vietnam War. Viet Cong soldiers attack the U.S. Embassy, Saigon.


February

o February 1--Vietnam War. A Viet Cong officer name Nguyen Van Lem is executed by Nguyen Ngoc Loan, a South Vietnamese National Police Chief.  The event is photographed by Eddie Adams. The stunning picture makes headlines around the world and wins the Pulitzer Prize.  


Eddie Adams' iconic Vietnam War photo: What happened next - BBC News
Execution of Nguyen Van Lem. (C) Eddie Adams

o February 6-18--The 1968 Winter Olympics are held in Grenoble, France.


o February 19--NET televises the very first episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

o February 24--Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive is halted.  


March

o March 7--Vietnam War.  The First Battle of Saigon ends.

o March 12--U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson, barely edges out antiwar candidate Eugene J. McCarthy in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.  The close vote highlights deep divisions in the country and party over Vietnam.

o March 16--Vietnam War.  My Lai Massacre where American troops kill scores of civilians.  The story becomes public in November 1969.

o March 18--The U.S. Congress repeals the requirement for a gold reserve to back the U.S. dollar.

o March 23--Coach John Wooden's UCLA Bruins defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels coached by Dean Smith, 78-55.  It was UCLA's fourth title in five years.  They were led by All-American Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabar).

o March 31--U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson, announces he will not seek re-election.


April

o April 2--The film, A Space Odyssey, premieres in Washington, D.C.

o April 3--Martin Luther King, Jr., 39, delivers his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in Memphis, Tennessee.

o April 4--Martin Luther King, Jr. is shot dead at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  Riots, lasting several days, erupt in major American cities including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, and Kansas City.

o April 11--U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson, signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

o April 23--Several hundred students gather on the campus of Columbia University in New York City. Student protestors occupy several buildings for nearly a week over institutional expansion.

o April 23--The United Methodist Church is created by the union of the former Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches.


May

o May 11--The Montreal Canadians defeat the St. Louis Blues in a four-game sweep to win the Stanley Cup.

o May 14--The Beatles announce the creation of Apple Records in a New York press conference.

o May 18--Mattel's Hot Wheels toy cars are announced.

o May 30--Bobby Unser wins the Indianapolis 500.


June

o June 4--The Standard & Poor's 500 Index closes above 100 for the first time, at 100.38.

o June 5--U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  Sirhan Sirhan is arrested.

o June 6--Robert F. Kennedy dies from these injuries.  He was 42.

o June 8--James Earl Ray is arrested for the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.


July

o July 13--The 1968 global flu pandemic. Influenza A virus subtype H3N2 first recorded in Hong Kong and in the U.S. in September 1968.  The estimated number of deaths worldwide was one million and about 100,000 in the U.S.  Most deaths were in people 65 years and older.  The H3N2 virus continues to circulate globally and is associated with severe illness in older people. 

o July 18--The semiconductor company Intel is founded.


August

o August 5-8--The Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida nominates Richard M. Nixon for U.S. president and Spiro T. Agnew for Vice President.

o August 20-21--Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.  The "Prague Spring" ends as 750,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 6,500 tanks with 800 aircraft invade Czechoslovakia.  That invasion was the largest military operation in Europe since the end of World War II.

o August 22-30--Police clash with anti-war demonstrators in Chicago outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which nominates Hubert H. Humphrey for U.S. president and Edmund S. Muskie for Vice-President.  The riots and subsequent trials are part of the activism of the Youth International Party.


September

o September 8--Arthur Ashe wins the first U.S. Open of the Open Era, also becoming the first black to capture the title.

o September 14--Detroit Tigers' pitcher, Denny McClain, becomes the first baseball player to win 30 games in a season since 1934.  He remains the last player to accomplish the feat.   


October 

o October 8--Vietnam War.  Operation Sealords gets underway as the United States and South Vietnamese forces launch a new operation in the Mekong Delta.

o October 10--1968 World Series.  The Detroit Tigers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the best of 7 series, 4 games to 3, after being down 3 games to 1.  The final score of game seven played in St. Louis--Tigers 4 and Cardinals 1.  Mickey Lolich (3-0) is the winning pitcher and Bob Gibson (2-1) took the loss for the Cardinals.

o October 11--NASA launches Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission (Wally Schirra; Donn Eisele; and Walter Cunningham).  

o October 12-27--The Games of the XIX Olympiad are held in Mexico City, Mexico.  After being awarded gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meter sprint, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos bow their heads and raise their hands during the playing of the National Anthem.    

o October 31--Vietnam War.  Citing progress in the Paris peace talks, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces to the nation that he has ordered a complete cessation "of all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam effective November 1."


November

o November 5--U.S. presidential election.  Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon defeats the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, and American Independent Party candidate, George C. Wallace.

o The Heidi Game--NBC cuts off the final 1:05 of an Oakland Raiders v. New York Jets football game to broadcast the pre-scheduled Heidi.  Fans are unable to see Oakland (which had been trailing 32-29) score two late touchdowns to win 43-32.  

o November 24--Four men hijack Pan Am flight 281 from JFK International Airport, New York to Havana, Cuba.


December

o December 9--Douglas Engelbart publicly demonstrates his pioneering hypertext system, NLS, in San Francisco, together with the computer mouse.

o December 11--The film, Oliver!, based on the London and Broadway musical, opens in the U.S. and goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

o December 24--Apollo program.  The manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 8 enters orbit around the Moon.  Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William A. Anders become the first humans to see the far side of the Moon and planet Earth as a whole, as well as having traveled further away from Earth than any people in history.  

APOD: 2018 December 24 - Earthrise 1: Historic Image Remastered
Earthrise, Christmas Eve, 1968, Apollo 8 Mission. (C) NASA

Anders photographs "Earthrise."  The crew reads the story of creation from the Book of Genesis.  



Sources:   

Timeline USA:  Digital Public Library; History.com; U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)



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