Richard Owens went home to heaven this week. He was 106 years old. The back of the program for Mr. Owens Going Home service contained these words, written by him in 1979:
“Our morning thought concerns one of the most significant aspects of human life: Our Representative Capacity. We all have in us the power to stand for something. The way we use it, determines as hardly anything else does, our personal quality. In the first Chapter of the Book of Acts, for example, Jesus is reported to have said to his disciples: ‘Ye shall be My witnesses’. He is making a direct and definite appeal to their representative capacity, as though to say, you can be more than yourselves. You have the power to stand for high principles and worthy enterprises in your generation. Hardly, any element in you is more influential than the this power—to…
Aisles are everywhere, and we usually don’t take notice of them unless they are crowded or blocked. Costco, Whole Foods, Macy’s, Trader Joes, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Sports Authority, the Pikes Place Fish Market, all have aisles. Parking lots have aisles. Theaters have aisles. Trains have aisles. Buses have aisles. Planes have aisles. But outside of those transportation related aisles, the one I most frequently traverse every Sunday is for praise and worship in church.
I am starting to look at the aisles in church a bit differently now. At least to me, church aisles seem to be getting bigger, growing in length, and narrowing in breadth between pew rows. Why? Because, to borrow a phrase from an Andre Crouch spiritual, “soon, very soon” my princess will become a queen, meeting King Sean at the altar of Holy matrimony, and as father of the bride, I will be walking her down…
Knowing that I am a Star Trek fan, as soon as I said “but” my daughter Kim responded with subzero metallic coldness: “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE”. My automatic defenses took over and I retorted before my mind could regain control of my mouth: “You are not the Borg, and this is not Star Trek!” She turned and seeming to move almost as slowly as molecules at absolute zero, Kim gave me a penetrating stare, that locked me into a mental force field of immobility, (Based on experience and memory, I am firmly convinced that only a daughter, a wife, a graduate school professor who calls on you when you are unprepared or perhaps a comic book superhero or supershero possesses this paralyzing stare power.) Kim icily intoned in the Borg-like voice of “7 0f 9” from Star Trek: “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! I am your daughter. This…
“We know that what gets measured, gets managed. But what gets measured also defines a company’s culture. Why? Because it describes what is valued.”[i]
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”[ii]
“If you don’t measure it, it won’t get done. If you don’t measure it right, it won’t get done right.”[iii]
“If a performance measure is hard to understand, it’s not a good one. Use ratios whenever possible in creating measures such as revenues per employee, staff resources compared to line resources and the like.”
“The greatest enthusiasm in the world won’t make up for a business plan that doesn’t work.”[iv]
Diagnostic tools are important in many professions. Accountants and lawyers may both use compliance audits as a diagnostic tool. Doctors routinely take a patient’s blood pressure and blood samples as a diagnostic tool…
V. Basic Economic Principles for Becoming a “Master Business Chief”
There are three key principles of business economics that apply with extra importance in order to meet the challenge of changing economic times. Here are those three principles and three questions related to each.
1. Selling Price Must Be Higher Than Your Cost
a) Do you know what your costs are?
b) How do you set your prices?
c) Do you monitor your “gross profit margin”?
2. Funds Coming In Must Exceed Funds Going Out
a) How do you know what your funds position is? When do you know?
b) Do you confuse “profit” with cash?
c) Do you manage cash? (To borrow a phrase from the popular movie Jerry Maguire, “Can you show me the Money!)
3. You Must Have Enough Funds To See Yourself Through.
VII. EIGHT RULES TO USE IN MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGING TIMES A. EIGHT RULES
1. Don’t try to solve everything by yourself; even superheroes have sidekicks.
As Michael Jordan observed, “There is no “I” in team but there is in win” So “we” should find the best practical solution to “our” challenge.
The Boston Consulting Group stated this proposition this way: “You re not alone as a leader. As much as possible, bring in your broader leadership group to understand the challenges, participate in the planning, and cascade changes throughout the organization. There is power in numbers. The members of a broader team will provide complementary skills and multiply the manpower and brainpower available to tackle critical issues.”
2. Remember, everyone has to obsessively work for the customer today, tomorrow is too late.
“The fact that every employee works for the customer is a simple notion, but surprisingly difficult…
A Functional Business Global Positioning Satellite System
To Meet The Challenge of Changing Times
IMPORTANT INTRODUCTORY NOTES:
This article consists of several sections, with a few pages in each section. The sections are independent of each other and do not have to be reviewed in order, so if, for example, you are only interested in the secton on Eight Rules To Use, feel free to go to that section first, or if you are only interested in the Fifteen Action Steps To Take, then feel free to go to that section first. Here are the sections:
II. Are the Times Challenging? How Do You Know?
III. Your Business Model and Value Proposition
V. Basic Business Economics Principles for Becoming a Master Business Chef
VI. Two Examples of Entrepreneurial Product Innovation
Strategic Alliance Joint Venturing: A Business Tool For The Small Business Enterprise (“SBE”)
Geraldine Reed Brown[i], Esq., M.B.A.; Ronald W. Brown[ii], Esq., M.B.A.; and Michael Brown[iii], B.A.A
A Yoruba proverb observes: “When the door closes, you must learn to slide across the crack of the sill.” The comedienne Jackie ‘Moms” Mabley observed: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” Demosthenes once observed that “small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”
Think about these three observations. Each one contains some wisdom that applies to life and business, and particularly to how we can approach change, challenge, and opportunity. Though the observations were not referring to SBE strategic alliance joint ventures, the quoted words are applicable to them today. Why should an SBE consider entering into a strategic alliance joint venture?…
THE PRINCESS PATH
I knew it was coming, but there was nothing I could do about it. Like being in the eye of the storm. And you would think I would know better by now. After all, I had been doing this for so many years. But some things do not get better with practice or with the passage of time. And though I fought conscious awareness as hard as I could, it was no use. I sleepily opened one eye to see the digital clock reading. Even though it was still dark, I knew that in a few hours I had to get up take my princess Kimberly to the airport to fly back west. And so, in resignation and surrender, I just continued laying in bed and started thinking about The Princess Path (and no more late night Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) Kung Fu reruns for me).
Regardless of the season or how “old” you are or feel, I have ten suggestions and two quotes to remember as part of the process of “becoming” you:
Review the suggestions of Whitney Johnson and from time to time “Disrupt Yourself” following the seven principles developed and explained in her book: Taking the right risks; Playing to your distinctive strengths; Embracing constraints; Battling Entitlements; Stepping back to grow; Giving failure its due; Being discovery driven.
Be engaged in the community where you live
Continual intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth
Create positive memories captured in photos
Experience the art, music, and culture of where you live.
Get away from time to time on mini-vacations
Healthy eating, exercise, get enough rest, regular medical and dental checkups.
Make time to develop and share your own special personal gifts.
Stay connected with old friends and make new ones
Travel to somewhere you always wanted to see or visit
And remember this quote by Phyllis McGinley “The wonderful thing about saints is that they were human. They lost their tempers, got hungry, scolded God, were egotistical or impatient in their turns, made mistakes and regretted them. Still they went doggedly blundering toward heaven.” And remember this one by Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’ “.
As you think about the seasons of life and questions such as what are the seasons, what age do you think or feel you have to be for someone to consider you old?
The quote below resonated with me.
“I will be years old next year, and life is still a constant surprise to me. We never know what will happen next, what we will see, and when an important person will come into our life, or what important person we will lose. Life is changei, constant change, and unless we are lucky enough to find comedy in it, change is nearly a drama if not a tragedy. But after everything, and even when the skies turn scarlet and threatening, I still believe that if we are lucky enough to be alive we must give thanks for the miracle of every moment of every day, no matter how flawed. And we must have faith in God, and in the Universe, and in a better tomorrow…” Giuseppe “Pino” Lella, quoted in the novel.
The composer gave a beautiful response to seasons of life.ii The Christian bible gives at least 31 biblical responses to what are the seasons of life.iii If you reference three score and ten as the allotted time for life, then each season would be 17.5 years. We all know that the allotted time is not assigned in equal quartiles. We also know that years of age are not a measure, since some people who are young or “seasoned” in chronological years but the exact opposite in terms of spirit, spank, and energy. So what is a season of life to you?
So what age to you have to be to be considered “old”? I think it depends, but one never fail answer is someone is old if they are older than me! A kid who is single digit probably thinks of an older sibling as old. Or if you are a teenager, you may think of someone in their 30’s as old. Interesting fact: “1951 was the last year you could die in the United States with the cause ‘old age’ being listed on the death certificate.”iv For me, one aspect of the four seasons of life are what happens the day after last season.v
One way to think of life is to see it in terms of a Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter and what takes place in those seasons.1 I think it is hard to do that in the first two seasons. When we are children, I think we refer to seasons based on events such as birthdays, religious and national holidays, etc, and where we are in school, e.g. elementary, middle, and high school. Time is almost seamless. And somewhere along the way there are plays and performances at school or in our places of worship, and unexpected events such as sickness or the first funeral you attend with all the questions those events raise. And before you know it you hear pomp and circumstances for the first time when you leave elementary school, middle school, and then high school. I think another singular event is the first time someone you know dies, and you have to confront that event in all its ramifications. I was singularly moved when a young man in my son’s Boy Scout troop, went off to college, when out for a run, and had a heart attack which killed him. Looking at his friends standing in line before the casket, I could not fathom what they were experiencing or feeling.
1 There are four lessons that go with the four seasons. Here is the lesson for Spring. (“Every year, after a long winter, comes the spring. This is a time where opportunities arise. Flowers blossom and creatures come out of their hibernation. The same thing applies within your life. After a challenging time, you will be faced with a great opportunity. It is your duty to take full advantage of the springs when they pop up. This is your moment to plant the seeds of greatness to come. You never see all the beauty that is life and nature on this planet decide not to awaken one year in the spring! It does because it is meant to do so. Hold your own existence to that same standard. Make your springs the springboard to getting where you want to go.”)
I remember being in college and a friend calling to tell me Manzy Glover Jr., someone we went to high school with had died, and how shocked I was. I asked him, how he died and where. I was told Manzy was killed in action in Vietnam. I asked what was Vietnam!? I also recall finding Manzy’s name on Panel 10e, line 118 at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., and running my finger along it. Manzy was only 21 years old when he died.
How do you think about the Seasons of Life?
For me, being a spiritual person, one of the first places I look when I think of the seasons of life is .These wordsvi are found there:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
i A similar sentiment is found in what Adam is alleged to have said to Eve as they were expelled from the Garden of Eden:, ‘Darling, we live in an age of transition.’ “Men At Work: The Craft of Baseball” by George F. Will
vi The following description of this book is from Wikipedia.”
Ecclesiastes (/ɪˌkliːziˈæstiːz/; Hebrew: ֶלת ֶה ֹק , qōheleṯ, Greek: Ἐκκλησιαστής, Ekklēsiastēs) is one of 24 books of the Tanakh(Hebrew Bible), where it is classified as one of the Ketuvim(Writings). Originally written c. 450–200 BCE, it is also among the canonical Wisdom literature of the Old Testament in most denominations of Christianity. The title Ecclesiastes is a Latin transliteration of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Kohelet (also written as Koheleth, Qoheleth or Qohelet), the pseudonym used by the author of the book. In traditional Jewish texts and throughout church history (up to the 18th and 19th centuries), King Solomon is named as the author, but modern scholars reject this. Textually, the book is the musings of a King of Jerusalem as he relates his experiences and draws lessons from them, often self-critical. The author, who is not named anywhere in the book, or in the whole of the Bible, introduces a “Kohelet” whom he identifies as the son of David (1:1). The author does not use his own “voice” throughout the book again until the final verses (12:9–14), where he gives his own thoughts and summarises what “the Kohelet” has spoken. It emphatically proclaims all the actions of man to be inherently “hevel” (a word meaning “vapor” or “breath”, but often interpreted as “insubstantial”, “vain”, or “futile”) […] as the lives of both wise and foolish men end in death. While Qoheleth clearly endorses wisdom as a means for a well-lived earthly life, he is unable to ascribe eternal meaning to it. In light of this perceived senselessness, he suggests that one should enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life such as eating, drinking, and taking enjoyment in one’s work, which are gifts from the hand of God. The book concludes with the injunction to “Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of
everyone,” though the lines are likely a later insertion meant to support the book’s orthodoxy despite its overarching existential concerns