01 November 2022

The Gift of Gratitude

"Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts."

--Henri Frederic Amiel

Hurricane Ian was a Category 4 storm with 155 mph maximum sustained winds, a 12-18 foot storm surge above ground level, and 18 inches of rain (1-in-1000-year amounts in some places) that came ashore near Cayo Costa in Southwest Florida on the morning of 28 September 2022. NOAA reported that Ian tied the record for the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the United States.

Hurricane Ian (C) NASA
The reports from survivors have this in common--grief for loss and gratitude for life.

Ralph and Brenda Palmer's electricity was restored in their mobile home park in Fort Meyers, Florida. That made it possible to survey their property and discover a home likely beyond repair. "You can't save everything my children tell me, but it's my life, and it's gone," Mrs. Palmer says to an A.P. reporter nearby. Then she begins to cry.  

"I'm glad to be alive," said 81-year-old Punta Gorda resident Susan DiGregorio. She had planned to evacuate, but the person who was to help her leave had COVID-19, and DiGregorio weighed the risks and decided to stay.

During the height of the storm, she heard aluminum screaming as her roof was ripped off. After that, she said she made peace with death.

"I'm glad to see the sun," she said Friday. "I'm glad to hear the birds that made it through the storm." 

Florida Emergency Management reports at least 127 deaths, mostly from drowning. Power has been restored to all accounts on the mainland that can receive it (from peak outages of 2.6 million accounts across the state). Core Logic estimates $40 to 70 billion dollars in losses, insured and uninsured property. In addition, Governor Ron DeSantis says that the power grids in Lee and Charlotte Counties will likely have to be rebuilt.

What's harder to assess is the blow to victims' mental health. That toll could mount for years.

What is gratitude? 

Psychology Today defines gratitude as an emotion expressing an appreciation for what one has as opposed to what one wants. 

"The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person's life, said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. Professor Emmons, a leading expert on the science of gratitude, underscores the health benefits. "Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide." 

According to Pew Research, large majorities of the adult population regularly feel an ongoing sense of gratitude. In addition, Pew discovered that appreciation is found among those with and without a college degree; it is shared by individuals up and down the economic ladder, with higher levels of gratitude more common among highly religious people than those who are not.

Amy Rees Anderson says gratitude is a gift. 

"The gift of gratitude is something we already possess and can learn to discover better," she writes. Her conclusion? "This gift is available should you wish to see it, take it, and cultivate it." 

How can individuals lose everything and be grateful? 

After experiencing a natural disaster of this magnitude, having a sense of normality may take a long time--if ever. Relocating or rebuilding are questions facing thousands of residents. Interviewed by media outlets in hard-hit areas, Floridians in their 70s and 80s say that starting over may be impossible. Their retirement dreams are now washed away with their belongings. Separated from their communities and churches, these retirees are homeless with no place to go.

Fortitude is not evenly distributed. Therefore, some individuals will have to have an oversupply of courage and compassion to help families, friends, and neighbors get through this tough time.

Gratitude begets generosity

As of this posting, the Florida Disaster Fund has raised over $50 million, with more coming daily. From children collecting change to Charles Schwab's $5 million gift, the U.S. and the world are responding to the needs of people in Florida and Puerto Rico from Hurricane Fiona.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida (C) ABC7 

More than money, hundreds of trained volunteers are providing food, water, and shelter to those affected by the storm. Along with these necessities, workers offer hope to upended lives.

The U.S. is a generous country.

Post-pandemic charitable giving in America hit record levels last year. In 2021, $484.85 billion was given to charity based on reports from Giving USA. That's a 4% increase over 2020. However, adjusting for inflation, donations remained flat. 

Who gave?

  • Individuals: 67%
  • Foundations: 19%
  • Bequests: 9%
  • Corporations: 4%

The top five recipients were religion ($135.78 billion), education ($70.79 billion), human services ($65.33 billion), foundations ($64.26 billion), and public society benefit ($55.85 billion).

According to Lake Institute, pre-pandemic, a person's attendance at a house of worship was the single best indicator of overall charitable giving. Those who attend regularly, 3 to 4 times per month, at least, are 3 times more generous than those who attend less frequently or not at all. 

Investing in personal relationships and being worthy of other people's trust is the cornerstone of development.

For the future, philanthropy advisers, BWF, recommend courting high-net-worth individuals; being clear on the charity's distinctiveness when providing services; making sure there's a robust digital presence to communicate the need--and providing an easy way for individuals to respond. 

And don't forget to say thank you.

People want to make a difference, invest in organizations with strong leadership, and know those funds are being used for their intended purpose. 

Results are the best receipt you can give a donor.

Fully conscious of the moment

In a report from WLRN Public Radio, Sarah Meckley and her daughters survey what's left of possessions inside their Fort Myers home. They're saddened by the material losses but know scores of Gulf Coast residents don't even have a home to return to. 

Meckley and her adult children, Annabel and Abigail, don't complain.  

"All I can say is my two emotions are a sense of gratitude for our community and an overwhelming sense of being overwhelmed," Meckley said. 

That sentiment sums up the resilience of those who survive the worst Mother Nature has to give.  



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01 October 2022

Queen Elizabeth II--Executive Coach

"Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom."

--Queen Elizabeth II (1991 Christmas broadcast)

Historians tell us that Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II became lifelong friends--with great mutual respect. 

In 1928, after their first meeting when she was two years old, the future prime minister wrote of his first impression that she was "a character ...  having an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant." 

(C) Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill. News Express. CO. U.K.

"She was a highly conscientious young woman, with wisdom beyond her years," said John Colville, who served as private secretary to Princess Elizabeth from 1947 to 1949.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned sovereign on 2 June 1953 in Westminster Abbey, following the death of her father, King George VI, who had been the monarch since 1937.

Tutoring the Queen

Thus began a working relationship and friendship in which Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II met for weekly meetings, prescribed by British law, which stretched from 30 minutes to two hours, of which no records were kept. 

Henry Marten, the vice provost of Eton College, schooled Princess Elizabeth on constitutional history. 1  Churchill tutored a queen without formal education on the complexities of constitutional monarchy, politics, practices, and the law. Both had a profound effect on helping her to become the respected royal icon she was--up to the moment of her passing on 8 September 2022. 2

Queen Elizabeth II met with fourteen sitting prime ministers weekly over 67 years. Her initial preparation for that duty is primarily attributed to time spent with Winston Churchill. 

Liz Truss became the U.K.'s new prime minister after meeting with the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on 6 September 2022. Truss was formally asked by the Head of State to form a new government after the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Understanding the longevity of Queen Elizabeth II's success comes from knowing who she was and how she approached her role. The Queen's vast time on the world's stage begins with a crisis in the Suez Canal (1956) and ends with the Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022). 

In paying tribute, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said, "She was the still point in a turning world." (T. S. Eliot)

Giving and receiving advice

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history at 70 years and 214 days, combined a royal heritage, and inspirational character, with a profound faith. "She reveres the work she believes God gave her," according to one biographer. Those are appropriate values for someone who was also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Self-effacing, common sense, and the ability to know the pulse of her people. The Queen displayed those qualities and more, though infallible she was not. 

British law forbids a king or queen from giving orders or publicly taking sides on matters of state, though they are free to ask questions and offer a point of view. That means a well-read Queen Elizabeth II, with a wealth of historical perspective, including state secrets placed in her Red Box, was trained to be discreet with her thoughts. 

News reports from No. 10 Downing Street, London, imply that her credibility with prime ministers was reinforced by restraint. Former British Prime Minister John Major said Queen Elizabeth II was a "safe place to speak openly without fear of reprisal."

She knew legitimate areas for giving counsel and when the process ended. Unlike most executive coaches who focus on the client, the Queen was interested in both the client and the institution. That is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In 2019, The Wall Street Journal proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II as "the world's most experienced executive mentor."  

Suppose the Queen had published her principles for being a trusted advisor (a guaranteed bestseller). The Journal suggested a short table of contents--letting clients speak openly, guarding their secrets, redirecting their thinking--incrementally; and doing everything with humility. 

All of which takes practice.

Queen Elizabeth II knew what seasoned coaches know--the only way to let leaders learn and grow is by allowing them to make their own mistakes.

Breaking protocols and tradition

Can someone old school who lived to ninety-six be institutional and fresh in their thinking?

When Winston Churchill died in 1965, Queen Elizabeth II broke protocol by arriving at his funeral before the family at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. She wanted to be there to show respect and honor the man who was her most trusted advisor in the earliest days of her reign. 

Usually, the Queen is the last person to arrive at any function.

In the days following the 11 September attacks in 2001, Queen Elizabeth II, breaking 600-year- old tradition, ordered the band of the Coldstream Guards to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" to show solidarity with the U.S.

According to The Guardian, on 13 September 2001, over 3,000 people were gathered outside Buckingham Palace when the band played the U.S. national anthem during the changing of the guard ceremony.

A sovereign sense of humor

On a different note, the Queen is shown jumping out of a plane (a stunt double) with James Bond (Daniel Craig) to begin the 2012 Olympics. Earlier this year, she discloses to Paddington Bear, in a video sketch produced for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, that while her host keeps a marmalade sandwich under his hat, she keeps one in her purse "for later."  

On a visit to Scotland, she was told she looked just like the Queen. Instead of making a scene where she pointed out she was the Queen, Her Majesty replied, "How reassuring." 3

Queen Elizabeth II was a dignified figure with a lineage of thirty-seven generations. Yet behind that pedigree, she was a "character," as Winston Churchill first observed. 

How true his description proved to be.


1 Elizabeth and Margaret: Love and Loyalty

2 andmeetings.com

The Wicked Wit of Queen Elizabeth

 

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01 September 2022

Do Not Feed the Gators

"Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble."

--George Washington

It's our practice to offer out-of-town guests a menu of non-Disney things to do. Not just because of ever-increasing costs at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT but to give people an opportunity to experience the real Florida. 

Walt Disney World is not Florida. 

One of the options is an airboat tour of Lake Jesup.* This 16,000-acre lake (65 km), one of the largest lakes in Central Florida, with varying depths of four to nine feet, is the Sunshine State up close. It's a body of murky water that's home to a variety of species, including Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egrets. 

And it has a reputation as the most alligator-infested lake in the U.S., with 13,000 gators (1.3 million statewide), according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (FFWCC biologists conduct gator census at night using spotlights and counting eyes.)

Lake Jesup, Florida (C) Trip Advisor
How dangerous are alligators?

For the most part, alligators like to be left alone. They're carnivores, but humans aren't one of their preferred meals. As a result, Florida averages six bite victims annually, and the Florida Wildlife Commission says gators killed just 26 people between 1948 and 2020. 

One tragic loss of life was that of 2-year-old Lane Graves at Disney's Seven Seas Lagoon near the Grand Floridian Resort on 14 June 2016, where his family was vacationing. 

Leaving trouble alone

Sometimes trouble comes looking for us even if we did nothing to egg it on. We're innocent. Such was the case of the toddler at Disney.

Florida state law makes it a crime (up to a $500 fine/and or 60 days in jail) to harass or feed an alligator. One expert put it this way--"By providing food for these wild animals, which are naturally afraid of humans, we make them bolder and encourage them to seek out people."  

As if there isn't enough to do to stay on course with post-pandemic responsibilities, we tempt fate by going where we don't belong and hanging with people known for giving bad advice. And not taking time to learn from our experiences.     

We risk losing a veil of personal and corporate protection by unnecessarily feeding particular appetites.

Running a principled business.

In "Inside Money," the story of Brown Brothers Harriman, the merchant banking firm, author Zachary Karabell recounts the advice Alexander Brown gave his associates as the House of Brown got underway.
(C) BBH
What would distinguish one firm from another, Brown insisted, was reputation and trust. "Anyone could buy and sell stuff, but not just anyone could develop a trusted reputation," the founder instructed.

What were Brown Brothers Harriman's guidelines to keep from tempting fate?
  • Don't deal with people about whose character there is a question. It keeps your mind uneasy. It is far better to lose the business. 
  • Where the risks are too great, one loss may wipe out a hundred safe arrivals. 
  • "Shoemaker, stick to thy last." Better to cleave to what you know and be known as someone others can trust. 
The author notes that not all decisions went perfectly, and mistakes were made. "But the template established by Alexander Brown--stick to your last, stay focused, guard your reputation zealously as your most precious asset, be always prepared for hard times, and avoid unnecessary risk--formed the lasting core of the firm," Karabell concludes.

Getting out front

Alexander Brown's principles for the House of Brown began with his values and experience. 

Here are ways to inform your distinctiveness: 

1. Self-awareness is the ability to see ourselves and the enterprise clearly and objectively. We invite the perspective of others, practice self-control, and work creatively and productively in this frame of mind. (positivepsychology.com)

2. Make it a practice, to tell the truth. Being truthful means we can grow and mature. Truthfulness makes social bonds, and lying breaks them. To quote Oscar Wilde, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." (skillsyouneed.com)

3. Surround yourself with individuals of strong moral character from all walks of life. Find people who are more intelligent than you, who have experience, and who can be trusted. Sometimes ordinary people are the most profound. (forbes.com) 

4. Treat people with dignity and respect. That means accepting someone for who they are, even if different from you.

5. Don't jeopardize relationships before their time. While being clear on your point of view, there's no need to intentionally antagonize others. As Mafusa says in The Lion King: "Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble."



*Airboat tours launch from Black Hammack Wilderness Area, Oviedo, Florida.  



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01 August 2022

Closed Sunday

"Remember, the unmoored boat floats about."

--Murasaki Shikibu

Who typically lives longer?  

A business or individual?

The average lifespan of a U.S. S&P 500 company has fallen by 80% in the last 80 years (from 67 to 15 years), and 76% of UK FTSE 100 companies have disappeared in the last 30 years.   

Overall, two out of every three businesses with employees will last two years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About half will last five years.

Smaller businesses dominate the commerce landscape. According to the BLS, nearly 20% of those businesses fail within the first year of opening. After five years half of those size companies go out of business--and only about 30% make it to year 10, as reported in Forbes Magazine.

Larger corporations have a lot of inefficiencies. The English economist, E. F. Schumacher, pointed toward this factor in his book, "Small is Beautiful." That may contribute to their disappearance as they are then bought out, merged, or go bankrupt.

McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2027 75% of the companies currently quoted on the S&P will be gone.

100 years+

Yet there's hope.

Organizations, big and small, can be around for decades. Some reach the 100-year mark or more such as Coca-Cola, UPS, L.L. Bean, and Kellogg's. Or smaller enterprises such as Seaside Inn, Casewell-Massey, or Pensacola Hardware, which began in 1851.

In addition to having the right people, products or services, and favorable market conditions, researchers have identified two "incongruous" practices carried out simultaneously for a long life:

First, have and preserve a stable core, an unchanging organizational purpose.

The second step is to have a disruptive edge, which involves bringing in outside expertise and learning from other sectors (even the ones that have nothing to do with yours).

Along with other key factors, including luck, those who achieve longevity appear to balance the radical and traditional to stay on top of their respective fields. 2

What's in the core?

Much has been written about Chick-fil-A, the 55-year-old family-owned business with 2,700 restaurants located across 47 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Franchise Times reported system-wide sales totaled $16.7 billion in 2021. 

(C) Chik-fil-A

How does the company generate consistently impressive results? 

By joining its organizational core with corporate discernment in practical matters. Both are critical for the execution of strategy. In a highly competitive industry, the Atlanta-based company finds a way to make the ingredients of culture, customer service, tasty chicken, and common sense come together--most of the time. 

No ingredient by itself explains the company's success. 

Here's a closer look at Chick-fil-A: 3

--The chain's business model is unique among its competitors--explicitly guided by Christian values.

--Founder Truett Cathy's faith was embedded into business practices that have directly contributed to the company's success. Mr. Cathy's beliefs are the rulebook for running one of the restaurants. These values are now overseen by his son, current CEO, Dan Cathy.  The elder Cathy passed in 2014 at age 93.

--The secret weapon is its rigorous franchise operator-selection process that finds and trains "Truett Cathy clones." Chick-fil-A's acceptance rate for new owners is 37x more selective than Harvard University. And the start-up fee is $10,000 compared to McDonald's $1.8 million fee.  

--Industry insiders observe that while Chick-fil-A's culture gets most of the attention, the company is populated with top-notch management who are constantly investing in the future. 

--For the eighth year in a row, the restaurant chain was voted American's favorite place to eat, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Chick-fil-A is periodically called out for its support of conservative cultural causes. However, from 2012 to 2019 at the height of this backlash, systemwide sales went from $4.6 billion to $10.5 billion. 

In that same period, the average store location grew from $2.6 million to $4.6 million in sales.

(Jim Collins makes the point that it doesn't matter what core values you have. It matters that you have core values. And that you preserve and are passionately committed to them.)

--By being closed on Sunday, it's estimated that Chick-fil-A gives up $1 billion annually in revenue. Is it worth that price? Leadership says it is. A day off for employees, management, and an opportunity to attend a house of worship is an original corporate value. 4

Not playing it safe

With core and operating fundamentals established, does Chick-fil-A have a disruptive edge?

Management believes the path to a viable future is combining Christian values with Silicon Valley ideology. 

1.  The company brought in expertise from Ritz Carlton Hotels and other places to codify hospitality and politeness ("My pleasure.") The goal is to integrate those behaviors with a simple and reasonably priced menu.

(C) Hatch Innovation Center Chik-fil-A/Interior Design Magazine

2.  At the Hatch, a company incubator designed to explore next-generation service, Chick-fil-A is looking at drones and driverless delivery. Will robots be as polite as a carefully trained workforce?  

3.  Planning is straightforward. Values stay--everything else is on the table.  

Where is Chick-fil-A in its lifecycle?

David Farmer, vice-president, of Menu Strategy and Development, says progressing gradually is essential. "You have to evolve."    

In a meeting with top management, CEO Dan Cathy, said, "One day Chick-fil-A will no longer exist." He was referring to the diminishing lifespan of businesses.

What does Cathy's caution mean for his 170,000 team members? Without overpromising, and with everpresent Chick-fil-A values: provide great service; offer good food at fair prices; continually improve, and be hospitable to everyone.

For now, the only closing Chick-fil-A customers have to think about is Sunday.




  U.S. overall life expectancy is 77 years--CDC.gov.
2  Harvard Business Review, September 2018.
3  Business Insider, August 2019.
4. Hobby Lobby, a $6.4 billion business, is also closed on Sunday.





  
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01 July 2022

18 Minutes of Baseball

"Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical."  

--Yogi Berra (Baseball Hall of Famer)

Other than the offseason, strikes, and lockouts, how much inaction is there in Major League Baseball?

Before attempting to answer that question, let's look at the state of today's National Pastime.

The delayed Opening Day was on Thursday, 7 April 2022. The first game of the MLB season was a matchup between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, played at Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers won 6 - 5.

The last game of the 2022 MLB regular season will be played on Sunday 2 October. With the expansion of the playoffs, MLB eliminated the tie-breaking 163rd game that teams typically played on Monday. The postseason will begin on 4 October with the entire season concluding after the final out of the World Series.

The 2022 MLB All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, 19 July at Dodger Stadium.

There are 162 games of baseball this season barring any unforeseen developments. There are less than 100 games remaining. 1

Money ball

How does baseball make money?  The 30 MLB teams each have a 26-man roster (expanded during the playoffs) with an average payroll of $148 million. Everyone is paid, win or lose.

The owners have new contracts with TBS, ESPN, plus local outlets. Beginning this year, they will take in about $100 million each before selling a single ticket, according to Blake Williams, Managing Editor, Roundup News. 

Is it time for a 7th inning stretch?

(C) Post-Gazette

Starting young

My earliest recollection of professional baseball is a magical one. My dad's favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, was playing the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series. The seventh and deciding game of the series was at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. 

We were with friends on the playground at Calvin Britain Grammar School in Benton Harbor, Michigan listening to the game on a transistor radio.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, on 13 October at precisely 3:36 p.m., on a pitch thrown by Yankee reliever, Ralph Terry, Pirates shortstop, Bill Mazeroski hit the most dramatic home run in World Series history. 

Final score--World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates 10, New York Yankees 9.

There was bedlam that afternoon as 36,683 Pittsburgh fans drowned out play-by-play announcer, Mel Allen. I knew that dad, from the City of Bridges, would in his own quiet way, be a happy man.

Slow to change

The Associated Press reported the average time of a nine-inning game set a record once again despite Major League Baseball's efforts to improve the pace. The average was 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 7 seconds for the 2021 regular season, the commissioner's office said. That was up from 3:07:46 for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 3:05:35 in 2019.

Starting with the 2018 season, MLB imposed stricter limits on mound visits by managers, coaches, and players; however, there were some exceptions. Commercial breaks are shorter. And pitchers may throw as many warmup pitches as they want before the commercial break ends but are no longer guaranteed eight warmup pitches.

Even with rules designed to trim playing time, which is mostly opposed by the players' union, the games are taking longer. Those 25, 258 fans (on average) who turn out to root for the home team are patient to a fault. But for how much longer? 

Why are major league games getting longer?  

Grant Brisbee, who writes on baseball for SB Nation, decided to look into that question. Brisbee stopwatched two games, one from 1984 and one from 2014.  Some things were the same. The changes were in the inaction pitches--balls, strikes, or missed swinging strikes that didn't result in the end of an at-bat or the advancement of a runner. 

What wasn't identical was the time those inaction pitches took up. In the 1984 game, inaction pitches accounted for 32 minutes and 47 seconds.  In the 2014 game, they accounted for 57 minutes and 41 seconds.  A nearly 80 percent increase.

Frisbee said, "Pitchers don't get rid of the ball like they used to, and hitters aren't expecting them to get rid of the ball like they used to."  A couple of minutes to each inning adds close to a half-hour to the game.

Slowpitch

In any given year just under 70 million people will attend a major league baseball game. 

What do they see?  Not much.

This brings us back to our original question about inaction. 

According to a non-scientific stopwatch study conducted by baseball statistician, Steve Moyer, and published in The Wall Street Journal in 2013, there are 17 minutes 58 seconds of action and 2 hours 39 minutes, and 58 seconds of inaction. (A similar study found just 11 minutes of action in NFL football games.) 2

Action:

-Balls in play or runners advancing: five minutes, 47 seconds.

-Other actions (such as pitches, foul balls, and pickoffs): 12 minutes, 11 seconds.

Inaction:

-Time between batters: 33 minutes, 39 seconds.

-Time between pitches: one hour, 14 minutes, 49 seconds.

Only 7 Teams Have a Cost Index Under $200 

The MLB Fan Cost Index calculates the average price for four people to see a game at any given ballpark. It includes the cost of four tickets, parking, four hot dogs, four drinks, two programs, and two of the stadium’s least expensive hats. 

Across all 30 teams, a family of four can take in a game for less than $200 at only seven stadiums. Among 30 MLB teams, the average ticket now costs $65.

Let's call this baseball inflation--paying more and getting less.

More challenges ahead

There's a lot of talk in professional sports but money talks the loudest. 

Here's a short list of dollar-driven critical issues facing professional baseball:

1.  Aging fans who put up with high costs because they can. What about younger families who want to attend games but can't?  

2.  Starting play-off and World Series games at a later hour to placate networks (who pay the bills) but short-change younger fans who often have school the next morning. Little League participation rates continue to decline (as do all youth sports). Where is the inspiration to play ball?    

3.  MLB exclusive deals with pay-walled and soon-to-be pay-walled streaming partners. Keeping loyal fans from watching their favorite teams at certain times of the day seems counterintuitive. 

4.  Robo umpires to eliminate human error--as if using technology would be error-free.

What we've learned in our study is that the antidote to inaction is not action--it's the right action at any given moment.  

Extra innings

Perhaps Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, and billionaire team owners could benefit from the wisdom offered in a movie, The Sandlot--

"Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking, and just have fun.” 

No doubt Yogi Berra would agree.


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1 SportsNaut.com

2 The number of stopwatched games is low due to the difficulty of the task. Politfact judges this study to be mostly true. 

 

01 June 2022

Books of Summer (2022)

 "Classic:  A book which people praise and don't read."

--Mark Twain

Forbes Magazine reported that print book sales in the U.S. were up 9% in 2021. There's similar growth in the U.K.

U.S. publishers sold 825.7 million books last year although the share of Americans reading remained flat. The typical American adult read five books during 2021, a consistent number since Pew Research began tracking that information in 2011.

Who's reading

Pew found that women read more than men, younger people read more than older people, more educated people read more than less educated people, members of higher-income households read more than members of lower-income households, and urban residents read more than suburban or rural residents.

(C) Pinterest
Recommended reading

Consider adding one or more of these books to your leadership library:

Making Numbers Count. Chip Heath and Karla Starr (Avid Reader, 182 pages)

Whether you run a FORTUNE 500 company, consignment store, or charity, numbers are essential to the enterprise. It's not only important to keep track of the right numbers but to communicate what they mean. 

For example, when it comes to energy costs, think about inflation this way--a $1 increase in the price of a gallon of gas costs the average American driver $56 per month or $672 annually, according to Kelly Blue Book research.  

"Math is no one's native tongue," observe Chip Heath and Karla Starr. They write that "after we get past 1-2-3, our ability to grasp numbers quickly deteriorates."

The Bookshelf Review in The Wall Street Journal highlights the value of making numbers come alive through stories, which our brains process better than statistics. The best way to translate numerical information is to do so through images and messages that make numbers unnecessary. 

Unlike too many cluttered presentations, Steve Jobs used simple, creative images and prose to support his Apple narratives.

How to Think Like a CEO. D. A. Benton (Hachette Audio, listening length 3 hours 2 minutes; Warner Books, 470 pages)

This is a book that's helpful for anyone working in an organization of any size. Or who sits on a governing board responsible for finding the next CEO.  I recommend the audiobook format. Listening to Debra Benton narrate makes the stories come alive. 

An observer of executive behavior for over 40 years, she reminds us that many high achievers don't make it on the first try, but have to be tenacious. Ms. Benton also notes that CEOs make mistakes. But they generally don't make the same mistakes, twice.

Leading Change. James O'Toole (Jossey-Bass, 304 pages)  

The sub-title is, Overcoming the Ideology of Comfort and Tyranny of Custom.

That says it all. Why? Comfort is a thief and custom is a way to become frozen in time. O'Toole is saying that leadership is about "change."  But that it should be values-based, not just a trendy next move on the part of those in charge. Trust, integrity, listening, and respect for others come from his study of Rushmorean leaders--those who grace Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.  

Leading Change makes a good book study by management teams.  

A Failure of Nerve. Edwin H. Friedman (Church Publishing 10th Anniversary Edition, 228 pages) 

A review posted on Amazon offers this assessment of the book--

Friedman's thesis is that many approaches to leadership end in failure because they fail to recognize that leadership is more about a leader's own emotional processes than techniques to motivate others.

Leaders who have weak emotional processes are susceptible to avoiding all risks, blaming others for their mistakes, or being influenced by emotionally reactive people. Leaders must have the capacity to move themselves and their organization forward; propelled by their own internal guidance system rather than being tossed by the perceptions, complaints, or reactions of others.

Leadership takes confident character (courage) and strength (nerve).  



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01 May 2022

Standing Apart from the Crowd

Edited excerpts from a college commencement address we were honored to give on 8 May 2021.*

Receiving your diploma today makes you different as only 36% of adults 25 and older have a college degree.1 Yet—there's more. 

The goal is learning to live in community, which includes a sense of belonging while standing apart from the crowd.  As has been said, “The person who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.”2

Simply put, it pays to be different. That means possessing qualities such as integrity and perseverance--both sought-after employee traits.  

(C) Olivet The Magazine
Wisdom literature

From the writings of noted American Quaker and theologian, Dr. Elton Trueblood, here are three practices that contribute to being different:

First--“The cultivation of reverence.”  This comes from the continuous nurturing of our inner beings. It includes humility and self-discipline.

Second--“A life of service.”  Which is a healing ministry to individuals and social institutions.  

Third--“Possessing intellectual integrity.”  Leadership demands the price of rigorous thinking. To be uninformed (or ill-informed) is to live at the mercy of others. 

Let's summarize

Sameness, like the Dan Ryan, is a congested expressway.   

With an improving job market and similarity of talent, something must separate you from the masses. For example, being trustworthy; listening well, and cooperating with others to get things done.  Even if working from an apartment on Zoom.

An online survey of employers conducted by the American Association of Colleges and Universities found that candidates’ demonstrated capacity to (1) think critically, (2) communicate clearly, and (3) solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major. 

Those three proficiencies help define a liberal arts education.

What do positive behaviors mean for your career?  Combining personal qualities employers are looking for, with the right skills, helps a college graduate get off to an exceptionally good start. 

Final thoughts

Another benefit to standing apart--it helps keep bad company from corrupting good character.  As the late best-selling author and businessman, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, observed: 

“In five years, you will be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

The upside to developing strong moral qualities is to look in the mirror, know the person within, and like what you see.

It pays to be different.


*Olivet.edu


U.S. Census Bureau, March 30, 2020.

Attributed to both Francis Phillip Wernig and Albert Einstein.


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© Bredholt & Co.