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I’m not one of those people who really wants to track genealogy. I don’t want to learn too much about the history that led me to being here, mainly because I think there would be some things that would come up that would make me angry enough to want to confront someone who had nothing to do with the past… lol

Dad Me Uncle Morris 002

With that said, I have to own up to the fact that, obviously, I’m not “purebred black” in any sense of the word.

I’m not all that sure of my family history on my dad’s side of the family except that my grandfather was from Alabama and that somewhere along the line there was a mixing of Irish blood in the system. Based only on visuals there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that there was white blood in my history.

On my mom’s side… I do know that on her father’s side I’m a mix of black and members of the Blackfoot tribe from Canada and the Cherokee tribe of Oklahoma. I also know that on her mother’s side that my great grandmother was a mix of black and native American but I’m unsure which tribe that was, and is the only person I know for sure who was left on someone’s doorstep as a baby in a basket (seems that type of tale is true).

All of this truly makes me a person of color, but I identify more with being black than anything else based on my upbringing. Still, it makes me sensitive to the plight of all peoples of color, immigrants who aren’t necessarily people of color yet were treated as such (Italians were castigated in the early history of this country for having dark skin), people of different religions (even though I don’t personally have or believe in religion) and those who are different in other ways that I shouldn’t need to address.

With that said, it’s my hope that most of us will continue to speak out when we see something or hear something that’s negative against a group or person based not on who that person is but what they accept as their historical or current background. We can’t stay silent, but we should try not to be confrontational… although I’ll admit that part’s hard.

Why is it hard? Sometimes we’re pretty close to certain issues, and it’s hard to deny that, even looking at things from a leadership perspective, they seem to touch on the issue of race. Since I’m the guy who agreed with the statement that “it’s always about race“, and time and time again situations seem to prove it, I like to think that I can find either good or bad leaders and leadership processes that, even stimulated by seeming racial bias of some kind, lead us to a place where we can call out something and hopefully pull it back around to a lesson we can learn from.

I’m not sure, but let’s find out as I share this missive that I put on my Facebook page yesterday:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke needs to resign. He’s the worst kind of leader, and for a city the size and complexity of Milwaukee, he’s not what they need to move forward.

Why is he the worst kind of leader? Because instead of owning up to his responsibilities, and instead of trying to address the issue to bring people together, the only thing he has to say about the troubles with the police department is “Hey, black people kill more black people than we do.”

Not only is that leadership failure, it’s dodging the issue. The police are hired and trained to be a higher authority than the every day, average American. They’re supposed to have a set of rules and code, not unlike our military.

Even during war, our soldiers have to follow a code of conduct that their leaders set and follow, and you never hear a general say “well, with the pressure of our fighting “whomever”, it’s okay for us to kill them in any way possible and whenever we want to because they’re trying to kill us, and if who we kill happens to be innocent, oh well…”

That’s what this guy is doing. That’s what he did on the night Philando Castile was murdered by the police. He showed no remorse for this man being killed; he showed no concern that his police might have done something wrong. Instead he went on CNN & said President Obama’s lying. That’s not what true leaders do.

I hate when I see major leadership failures like this. Sure, there are other problems, real problems in black communities. There are real problems all over the world. However, when you step into a position of responsibility and authority you’re supposed to be above all that. You’re supposed to be a leader… period!

Also, because I know some people aren’t going to see this message for what it’s supposed to be (that’s how some people are these days) without my adding these disclaimers, let me say that retaliation against the police or military by shooting them also has to stop. You folks are just making it worse, and it’s not the right thing to do. We have to stop killing each other and focus on the real issues in this world in another way.

Let’s stop the killing ON BOTH SIDES… just stop… now… please…

I felt that had to be said, and I hope it delivered more of a leadership lesson than a diversity lesson. We all know that everyone’s not a racist or bigot, even if something they say is insensitive. I think we all know when someone really is and when they’re actually not.

I’ll try to remember this myself. Who’s with me?
 

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By now everyone knows that there were some very uncomfortable and tragic events from last week. Two people in different states killed by the police, and then the next night 5 police officers shot by a sniper at the end of a very peaceful rally.

By Friday there were multiple sides of the issue that were bursting out all over the place. None of the groups seemed to want to find a reason to get along, as the only thing everyone could do was blame each other.

Initially it led me to do this video, which I released on Sunday, appropriately called “We Need To Have A Conversation“:


https://youtu.be/HuJM0v5TQtY

Not like I thought I would change the world, but I had to have my say on the matter. As a leadership and diversity person who writes a blog and has written some books here and there and talks all the time about the importance of communication, I figured I had to say something to help diffuse things just a little bit in my own corner of the world.

Unfortunately, my corner got crowded because of social media, and I blame a lot of that on myself. I started seeing all sorts of posts blaming each other and, of all things, President Obama, and seeing all kinds of news stories that seemed to inflame more than just inform… and for a while there I was feeling first angry and then a bit depressed by it all.

When I was in angry mode, I decided it was time to cull some of my social media connections a bit. I needed to change a big part of the focus of what I was seeing there. Luckily I have the knowledge on how to get it done, especially on Facebook. If this is an issue for you then check out this link from my other blog; it could help your peace of mind.

After that, I decided it was time to try to stop reading many of the news stories, which was a bit difficult because I have news alerts set to come to me via my smartphone. I also see a lot of things on Twitter which, after I stopped sharing I decided to back away from as well.

When the depression part kicked in because of Facebook, because sculpting the feed just isn’t enough, I resorted to tweaking some of the settings via a plugin I use called FB Purity. I had a lot of stuff already blocked but I needed to fine tune it a bit more. I didn’t just eliminate stuff I disagreed with, but a lot of stuff I agreed with as well.

Once I was able to regain some of my equilibrium I was able to come back to what I had said in my video. Even though I had to correct a minor thing at the beginning (I said one of the people was killed in Dallas when it was actually Louisiana), I knew I was spot on in saying that the only way anyone can fix anything is by talking to each other.

The bad thing about social media is that, for the most part, people don’t have to talk to each other. You’re not in the same room, sometimes not even in the same state, and unless you know someone personally really well, things can get out of hand and feelings can get hurt. Actually, the final straw for me was when I tried to be the bearer of a bit of logic and got shot down, only to have another friend of that person say that she was part of the group that was being insulted by that person; ouch!

Peace
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You might think that this is a case for trying to solve issues of race relations but it’s not. This is actually what it takes to solve any issues people have with each other. Truthfully, it’s one of the biggest skills leaders need to learn how to perform, if not for themselves then to solve employee disagreements, which naturally crop up from time to time. Without knowing the skills of communication and conversation, not only will employee conflicts never be solved but the leader could end up becoming part of the conflict; that’ll never do.

Back in 1995, South Africa set up what they called the Trust Commission under President Nelson Mandela. Its intention was to get testimony not only from victims of apartheid but from the perpetrators of it. The idea behind it was that if they could get everything out in the open it would help the country heal faster. An addendum was made that if certain factions didn’t testify, then they were fair game for trial and punishment.

Even though it didn’t end up being a perfect system, it did solve a lot of issues and helped a lot of people at the time. A number of people who supported the regime of apartheid did indeed testify and they were given amnesty for their contribution to it. Mandela held firm on that one even though some thought everyone should be punished. It showed the quality of the man, even though some still saw him as a terrorist from the 60’s.

The point here is that if a country like South Africa figured out that having a conversation could help ease the pain and bring some peace after all they went through, then the United States can do the same. By extension, if an entire country can do something like this, then anyone in a position of leadership should be able to at least try to do the same thing.

As my buddy Jesan Sorrells once said, it’s not that sometimes we don’t all get caught up in something that makes us lose our mind. The difference between us and others is realizing we’re caught up in it, knowing how to get ourselves out of it eventually, and then helping others figure their way out of these types of problems.

Ask yourself this question: Do you want a have a conversation to try to resolve conflicts or keep yelling at each other?

I say let’s give peace a chance. Who’s with me?
 

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I write about leadership all the time. Yet, in the last year or so I’ve had some people say that I don’t write enough about how to be a good leader, instead concentrating on pointing out bad leadership traits.

Chris and I 001

It would be easy for me to counter that by showing them this post talking about 4 steps to being a better leader along with this post giving 3 more steps to becoming a better leader. I could also share this post about how to change to become a good leader and this post giving 9 easy ways to help leadership become easier for anyone who’s in the right position.

Of course that would mean that I’d not only want people to go back and read some older posts (though that last one was only written last June), and it would seem as though I were making excuses for not writing anything more specific in over a year (although I talked about 3 leadership concepts, gave 5 pointers, and pontificated about 3 bad management processes in December). We wouldn’t want that now would we?

Let’s address this dilemma now then.

Something almost everyone knows is that you can’t solve issues without knowing if there are any issues to be solved. In this case, what if you’re already a good leader and you don’t know it?

Here are 4 questions you can ask yourself or pontificate on to help you determine if you’re a good leader already, or whether you should start taking steps towards being a better leader. I can’t answer these for you based on the criteria, but if you need help you can always ask me and we can go through them… the first time for free. 😀

1. Do your employees come to you with business problems or issues with other employees?

Why is this pertinent? When employees are concentrating on their work they don’t have time to get into a lot of pettiness in the workplace. Employees concentrate on their work because you’ve shown them how much you care about what they’re doing and the department as a whole, and when they care as well then that becomes the focus of their time during the work day.

This means that their questions are about work processes, if they have to come to you with questions at all. This is how you want things to work because it’s part of what helps your department be the best it can be. If they’re coming to you complaining that someone is behaving badly, getting away with things or is being treated better than them, it means you’re not paying attention to the important things in the department, thus you’re not being a good leader.

Talk
Creative Commons License Matus Laslofi via Compfight

2. Do your employees talk to you about business issues at all?

This is different than the first question because we’ve taken other personalities out of the equation and placed you in their place. Unless you take a lot of time to train employees, make sure they have all the tools to succeed and have regular meetings, employees who never bring problems to your attention is a bad thing.

This either means they don’t care, they’re not qualified to determine when things are going wrong, or that they’re not comfortable coming to you with any issues they might discover because they’re worried about your reaction (or inattention). If you’re the only one who’s always finding problems within the department, you’re not being a good leader.

3. Do employees talk to you at all without your initiating discussion? Do they ever talk in front of you?

Being in a leadership position can feel pretty lonely sometimes. That’s because it really is lonely for leaders who need to become better at the process.

Comfortable leaders can talk easily with all employees, even employees who don’t report to them. Comfortable employees can ask each other questions or even have brief conversations about last night’s TV show without worrying that you’re going to punish them for it because you, as a competent leader, have set up processes for evaluating the work they’re doing and trained them so you don’t have to question their professionalism.

If you find that the only time people talk to you is if you say something, or if every time you walk into a room all conversation ceases… it’s probably you needing a bit of leadership training.

4. Were you oblivious to any of the above 3 points before now?

Be honest with yourself and with me on this one. I’ve met a lot of people in leadership positions over the years who’ve talked about how bad their employees were for one reason or another. When I ask them about their leadership style they mostly assure me how good they are in doing their work. Yet when I ask them how they get along with employees they’ll either answer “okay” or not really have a clue because they hadn’t thought about it, being too intent on the daily job routine.

If the only time you ever think about employees is when things are going bad, or you only talk to employees when it’s time for their job evaluations, or you’re ready to teach them something new or only things that have to do with how they make you look good… you need to become a better leader.

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Today is officially my 15th year in business. I went to the courthouse on this date back in 2001 with the intention of setting up a business called Mitchell & Associates. The lady asked me if I had any associates and I said no. She then said I couldn’t call it that, so I had to come up with a name on the spot and the best I had was T T Mitchell Consulting. In 2007 I incorporated the business and not only got to add the Inc at the end of the business name but by law I was now the president and CEO of the corporation, which comes with its own perks and other issues. Since I’m the only shareholder I think I’m pretty secure in not firing myself any time soon.

Picture 179

I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to do with today’s post. Normally I post on Wednesdays on this blog but I felt this one should go out on the anniversary, and because it’s a later day I won’t have another post here until after the July 4th holiday, so I can give it some time to germinate. In previous years I’ve tried to come up with the same number of things to talk about as the date of the anniversary, and 2 years ago I did the same with a video highlighting the 13th anniversary. I decided that I would shrink that down to 3 items this time, along with sharing what I’ve previously put up and the video that went out earlier this morning.

Let’s start with the video, which explains how I got here in the first place and why I keep going on my own:


https://youtu.be/jrUlYd3K86c

Next, let’s talk about what being self employed is really all about; it’s not all pretty:

1. It’s mentally hard

Let’s get this out of the way; being self employed isn’t for the mentally weak. No matter whether you start off with clients or not, what you’ll find out over the course of time is that this isn’t an easy thing to do.

It’s not the work that’s hard; it’s the “not having enough work” and the “getting new clients” part that’s hard. It’s not the “I don’t have enough time to get things done” as much as “I have way too much time on my hands and need more to do” part that’s hard.

I came from a hospital background where, for the most part, the hospitals didn’t have to advertise because they were the only game in town. Over all these years I’ve found that the hardest thing to do, and I still have difficulties with it. I don’t worry about being shot down; I worry because it’s hard getting people to talk to me in the first place.

This is a reason I’ve diversified over the years. My initial intention was to only do leadership and diversity but I found that those areas are even harder to get through to people than health care sometimes, especially diversity. I expanded into customer service, ethics, executive coaching, communications, and a host of other related professions. All of these are integral to leadership, which works well.

I branched out into other areas when things slowed down because of the economy. Luckily I can write, as I have between 4,000 and 5,000 articles online and in magazines, two books on leadership and a book on social media marketing. I ran a SEO company for 7 years under the corporation and did some nice work, but that was hard because people know what websites are, but social media is a tough sell because there’s no guaranteed ROI (return on investment) like there is in other vocations.

I’ve also done budgeting, which doesn’t quite fit with anything I do elsewhere except for my finance blog, which oddly enough has made the 2nd highest amount of money for me online, with the first being my medical billing site and blog. I still have one client who has me helping her establish her budget every 6 months; she’s a great success story and I couldn’t be more proud.

The mental part is tough because it can make you question yourself, doubt yourself, and want to go back to bed a lot of times. It’s also a pretty lonely profession and, truthfully, it’s why I’m really happy I belong to a consultant’s organization where I can get together with other consultants who have gone through the same sort of things I have.

Still, there are days when it’s hard to overcome, days when you have to fight to get work done, days when you have to fight to do more marketing and phone calls so you can work on projects, do speaking engagements and write for pay…

At least I haven’t started drinking. 🙂

Mitch_kickball
It was 98°; whew!

2. It’s physically hard

When I began my business I was 41 years old; now I’m 56. I had a lot more energy at that time, to the extent that I could actually work 16 to 18 hours a day on very little sleep and even less food. I only ate when my wife made dinner, which is a major shame. I was also only 4 years into my diabetes diagnosis, and I wasn’t really in any difficulties at that time.

As time has gone on I’ve found that I sleep even less than I used to, even when I spend more time in bed, and often need to take short naps to get through a day if I’m not on the road. I’m now on insulin where I have to inject myself twice a day, as well as take both a diabetic medication and one for cholesterol (even though my cholesterol levels are fine; that’s an interesting story). Once I started walking and watching what I ate the aneurysms that diabetes had caused in my eyes left but now my right eye on the bordeline of glaucoma.

My weight went way up to the point where at one time I was near 300 pounds; ouch! Once I started walking and, of course, watching what I ate, I lost a lot of that weight, but I also developed high potassium levels that lasted for 3 years because there’s no medication to bring them down, and it means you can’t eat a lot of the healthy stuff that’s recommended because a lot of that stuff is high in potassium.

You also tend to sit a lot when you work for yourself which means you start having back and leg problems, problems with your hands because you’re always typing, and a bit of anxiety. You can fight some of that with exercise, making sure you get up from time to time from your desk, meditation (which I’m bad at) and buying ergonomic equipment but that doesn’t help when you’re driving upwards of 6 hours to business locations or flying all day.

Yet, these problems are a step up from the mental side because for the most part they’re easier to address. Strangely enough, right now I’m probably physically healthier than I was 20 years ago based on how I’m working on taking care of myself and that’s nothing to sneeze at. It takes a lot of work and a lot of consistency but it can be done.

Me_Rasheed Red Koi Memphis 2014
Hanging with a friend in Memphis

3. It can be immensely rewarding

The best part of going through the rough patches are the good things that can come from it.

The top 5 earning years of self employment total more than all the years I worked previously.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel to places I never thought I’d ever go (or even wanted to go), seen a lot of interesting things and had some intriguing experiences both good and bad, met some intriguing people, spoke to some very nice people and found a lot more people who agree with my principles than I ever expected to.

Even though I haven’t taken a vacation since 1999 (if family reunions count as vacations) I’ve had a lot of fun in a lot of the places I’ve worked in or visited such as New York City, New Orleans, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Reno, Ogunquit (Maine), Tunica (Mississippi) and still haven’t had to get on a boat (can’t swim so I’m scared of being on the water lol).

I’ve had the opportunity to speak in 9 states, including the one I live in, and I’ve given almost 40 presentations over the years on a host of subjects. This year I’m actually going to my first non-health care convention, which would have never been possible if I was still an every day employee.

And I’ve helped a lot of hospitals generate a lot more revenue and bring in more money; helped some people become better leaders; helped some others focus on the important things in their lives; given business advice that have helped them be more self sufficient; and had the opportunity to write on this blog for 11 years, hopefully giving some pretty good advice while telling my tales with the intention of helping all of us be better at what we do and better people overall.

Self employment can be really rewarding if you’re able to work through the bad times to get to the good times. I wish I’d prepared better for it at the beginning but I’m glad to still be kicking around after all these years.

In closing I’d like to share the other posts and the one video from previous years of acknowledging my anniversaries; be lucky I didn’t do it for all 15 years. 🙂

My 10 Year Business Anniversary

12 Years Of T T Mitchell Consulting & Some Leadership Lessons As Well

13 Leadership Lessons From 13 Years In Business

My 14th Year In Business; 14 Thoughts…


https://youtu.be/roOzb1sdqYA

 

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Back in 1999, I was the director of patient accounting of a small 2-hospital system in central New York. We were on the verge of becoming a 4-hospital system, the paperwork already finished, and all hospitals moving to one new computer system, as the scare of what might happen at the millennium was pretty big across the country and, unfortunately, the software license for both of my hospitals was expiring at the end of the year.

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Before the original 2-hospitals had merged, the one I started with was going through some tough negotiations with the local Blue Cross we had to deal with. For most of the year the hospital was getting a weekly check of an indeterminate amount because both the insurance company and the hospital figured a contract would be signed at some point in the year, which was the good thing. The bad thing was wondering when it would happen.

There was an immediate reason that was an issue. Even though the insurance company was sending the hospital money, officially they weren’t processing any payments. Therefore, we couldn’t record any payments or adjustments for any patients who had Blue Cross coverage for that year.

By July we knew there was a second immediate problem that was coming. Although our hospital had been promised that all of our A/R information would be transferred to the new computer system, because they’d had problems integrating one of the other hospitals we were told that none of our information would be transferred because there wasn’t enough time for the programming to be written.

In September we brought the new system up for the other hospital and everything went pretty smoothly. Yet, for my original hospital, there was still no signed contract and suddenly it looked like it wasn’t going to happen at all.

I have to explain why all of this was a big deal. If you’ve ever been to either a doctor’s office or a hospital, you know that it’s rare that insurance companies pay a bill in its entirety. This means there’s either going to be billing to the secondary insurance or billing to the patient. Normally, if there’s a problem with an insurance company hospitals can self pay patients and deal with it on the back end, but since the insurance company was sending us a weekly check we had to treat them as if they were legitimate patients with coverage, whether we actually knew they had that coverage or not.

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November comes and it’s time to physically start merging two business offices into one location. We had to do that while running two different computer systems and trying to find time to send the billing people from my original hospital to a totally different location to try to learn how to use a computer system they weren’t really going to be privy to for the longest time. We moved both offices to an offsite location, which was a major intrusion in our trying to keep up with the work financially, but we did the best we could.

Finally, the contract was signed… Thanksgiving week! The following week we finally started receiving invoices showing us payments and denials… and they were monster files. The directive we had was that we had 3 weeks to process everything we could because they were going to shut down the system two weeks before the end of the year; ugh.

You can’t imagine how much work had to go into trying to post a year’s worth of payments, let alone allowances and denials. Frankly, even with me helping to post these things and training a couple other people how to do some of it, the best we could do was process only payments, leaving almost everything else alone until we’d done at least that part. We got all of those done within 2 days of them shutting down the computer system, which means we only got to post a few allowances and denials.

All of this was because of the final issue. I’d been told by the VP of Finance that I had to try to come up with an idea of what to do with not only the Blue Cross claims, but all other outstanding claims that were on our soon to be defunct system. The best thing I could come up with was to print everything on paper, a lousy idea because all billing was electronic, and this meant that we were going to have to work off green bar paper (who remembers that?) and type everything into either the new system or our electronic billing system manually do be able to do anything with all those claims.

That’s why we had to shut down two weeks early, because the amount of detail we were going to need, and the upcoming holidays, meant we had to be off the system so we wouldn’t change any information once we’d posted all those payments.

Suffice it to say that although we got all those claims, what we ended up having to go through for the next 18 months, before our department was shut down and sent out to another city, was almost impossible to overcome. Through no fault of our own, we were left in a situation without a real viable solution for success. I came up with the best idea I could, and the supervisors who reported to me and I came up with the best working solution we could to address the backlog, but it was always a horrifying experience up until the end.

...!!!?? Orlando
corinne glaziou via Compfight

You might be asking why I’m talking about this particular bad scenario in my history.

This past weekend there was a horrific shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The gunman, who announced his allegiance to ISIS before carrying out what most people are calling a cowardly act, killed 49 people and injured 56 more (some of them quite serious) before he lost his own life. That it was a gay club that, according to some, he frequented might make this entire story quite strange, but it is what it is.

Over the past few days there have been more arguments for gun control or less gun control, more legislation for the protection of the LBGT community or voices saying there’s enough, and a host of other things. The battle lines have been drawn and, as I said above, it is what it is.

The one thing that’s bothered me in all of this are people who are railing against the President by saying “he’s not doing enough to stop this.”

Frankly, I think this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard some stupid things in my life.

The scenario I wrote about above wasn’t close to anything like this, yet there wasn’t a real solution to the problem. I wasn’t getting any help, and nothing I’d asked for was going to be given to me, so I came up with what I came up with, which was as good as it was going to get, but it wasn’t all that great.

There are two things that keep running through my mind after something like this weekend happened which, as we all know, isn’t the first time this had happened even in this country, but has been happening all over the world for at least the last few decades or so.

The first is that everyone who’s saying “someone has to do something” doesn’t have a single idea what to do. If there was one neighborhood in one city in one country where all the terrorists lived it would make everything easy to take care of. But life doesn’t work like that; heck, it took 11 years to catch up with Bin Laden, and he had kidney issues.

11 settembre 2001 - 11 settembre 2011
Riccardo Francesconi via Compfight

We’re still trying to chase down members of Al Queda, the Taliban, ISIS and any other group most of the world is against but there’s no real success, and some of the brightest military minds in the world are on the case. If they can’t quite figure out what to do and those clamoring for something better can’t come up with something better, then it’s just a waste of breath and everyone should just shut up about it. I’ve always believed that if you’re going to complain about something you should try to have a solution, and it seems the one solution about banning Muslims from entering the country isn’t going to solve anything since the killer in Orlando was born in New York City.

The second is that we have to get used to a reality in this world that anyone who’s willing to give up their life for a cause, no matter the cause, is pretty hard to stop… almost literally impossible. Sure, sometimes there might be some odd signs that hopefully someone notices and reports, but for the most part we never see them coming until it’s too late. Even with professional, smart people in charge, no one could stop 9/11, the bombings in France, the IRA attacks in England back in the day, Pam Am Flight 103, the Munich Olympics in 1972, Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma bombing, President Kennedy… you name it, feel it, hate it and then try to name a workable solution that would have definitely prevented it.

There are a lot of things good leadership can overcome. That’s why I write this blog and have written my books, because I know that good leadership is ultimately better than bad leadership. However, I recognize that even good leadership can’t solve everything, especially when the deck is stacked against them.

My situation proved that to me. Terrorists should prove that to everyone else. Sometimes the best we can do is try to do the best we can do and hope it works out for the best, and not give up and let bad situations and bad people keep us down. Sometimes that’s the best solution available; it’s a lousy solution, not a real solution, but if the remnants of a supernova were coming our way, we wouldn’t be able to solve that one either.

Just something to think about. As many people have said over the centuries, let’s try to be good to each other; it may solve more issues than it causes.
 

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This isn’t the post I was going to write until I happened to just notice that my last post was the 1,300th of this blog, which started in February 2005. Sure, I might be near my 1,700th post on my other blog in a shorter time, but this is the one that got it all started, the blogging and extra writing beyond my first book and the two newsletters I used to write.

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I usually highlight the previous milestone post and say some things about it, but though I just linked to it I want to talk about the early posts on this blog.

The funny thing about this blog is that if you decided to view the first blog post here you’d see that it’s not actually the first post I wrote on this blog. I’d actually lost all the posts that were on this blog via the host I was sharing with my friend Kelvin at the time. Luckily I was able to find those posts via a major Google search that took some considerable time and even then I left some posts alone and let them die with the wind.

The actual first post for this blog was just a quick introduction of who I was and what I hoped this blog would be about. It was fairly short. The funny thing is that I wrote a second post on the first day that was even shorter, where I was introducing my newsletter and linked to the one I’d written the night before; I’ve made that one private. I didn’t quite have this blogging thing down at that point, that’s for sure.

The first post I wrote the next day was even shorter than the second post; I was going in the wrong direction. I should actually make that one private, but I’m not going to. I did make private the next two posts on that same day though, one because I was mentioning a seminar I was putting on, the other talking about a seminar I was going to that I wanted to let others know about. Those weren’t great posts by any means, but I was trying to be helpful.

After beginning the first day with another very short post talking about Wegmans and linking to Forbes, I finally wrote my first “real” blog post, titled Black History Month; Why Don’t People Care More?. I think that one’s still a pretty quality post and, scarily enough, the question is even more valid now that it’s 2016; that’s also pretty depressing. It figures though, that the first real post here was on a diversity topic, even though the overwhelming majority of posts on this blog are about leadership.

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One thing I did that I would recommend no one else ever do at this juncture is that I posted most of those recaptured blog posts on the same day, April 29th, 2006. In retrospect, that was bad SEO and messed up my chance to let this blog look really vibrant by not spacing the posts out at least one a day until I’d gotten through all of them. I think that probably hurt the readership of the blog because who was going to try to read upwards of 100 blog posts that all went live on the same day; pure silliness on my part, but the euphoria of finding all that I did overcame my good sense at the time.

Talk about timing. On the 24th I’ll be celebrating my 15th year in business, even though LinkedIn has already told everyone I’ve already hit that milestone; sigh… lol I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with that one, but it means that this one gets to be the compilation post of the last 100 where I get to name my favorite posts. I also get to talk about the milestones within the last 100 posts and what I’ve done during this time.

For instance, December was special because I had a post a day the entire month. A couple of those posts will definitely be in my top 15. The post after my 1,200th was my introducing my latest book at the time, Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, which I can honestly say has had lackluster sales, but at least I wrote it. 🙂 This series of posts also included the one highlighting my 14th year in business, and I talked about business while linking to the video I did celebrating the anniversary talking about leadership.

What did I write about? I touched upon 12 specific topics out of the last 100; here are the top 5:

Leadership – 49

Business – 14

Motivation – 8

Health Care – 7

Diversity – 6

I think that’s pretty well rounded, don’t you? Notice that almost half the posts were on leadership? It seems that wasn’t enough posts to get me on a list of top leadership bloggers though; oh well…

It took me 13 months to write 100 posts on this blog. Out of the top 25 posts viewed on the blog this year, only 3 in the last 100 made the list, and only one of those would be in my top 15. These are the posts:

9 Motivational Lessons From Beethoven – 118

When Employees Don’t Get Along, Blame Leadership – 114

You Must Believe In Yourself – 112

By the way, LinkedIn told me that more than 100 people viewed each of these posts within the first 3 days it was live… go figure. lol

Enough of that. Let’s close with what I consider as my favorite posts of the year. The one I’m leaving out is the third one above, with 112 views, as it would have made this list but I don’t want to be redundant:

Reverse Racism? Let’s Talk About Inclusion…

9 Ways To Make Leadership Easy

What Do You Do When There’s Nothing To Lose?

Do You Know What You’re Talking About?

You Can’t Be A Good Leader Without Integrity

We All Have A Little Bit Of Good And Evil In Us

Leadership In The Community

The Difference Between Negativity And Good Advice

22 Leadership Lessons From Star Trek TV

New Things Are Sometimes Old Things

White America, It’s Not Always About You

Will Your Customers Forgive Your Bad Behavior?

Dr King’s Dream Is Dying; Race Relations Is On Its Last Breath

It Takes A Lot To Change A Habit

That’s all I’ve got this time around. If I survive the rest of the year, as I turn 57 at some point, and make it to my 12th anniversary of blogging, by next August or so I hope to be close to or hitting post #1,400. I hope you enjoy some of what I’ve shared above, and I hope some of you keep coming back to see what else I have to pontificate about as time goes on.
 

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Last Wednesday a new refrigerator was delivered to the house. Before that happened, my mind kept wondering if the current refrigerator, which was failing fast, would produce something memorable before its final hours or go out like a lamb.

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It decided to strike out, so around 7:30 in the morning it started to leak from the hose that was attached to the ice maker. The ice maker stopped working almost 2 years ago, and we even had a repairman tell us that it couldn’t be fixed. Yet, no one ever thought about turning off the water that was supposed to be going to it; oh well…

It turned out that the copper hose that was attached to it had corroded on its own after almost 16 years. This time around my wife decided we should switch to plastic. I didn’t have an opinion on that, but after reading the instructions I did have an opinion that we could probably install the new hose ourselves. I’m nowhere close to Mr. Handyman but my wife has some skills and I have determination so I figured we could handle it.

Turns out we couldn’t. No matter what we tried we couldn’t get the hose to stop leaking from the point of attaching it in the basement. We knew we had the right tools and the correct parts, but we were out of our league.

I decided to turn to someone who last year came to clear the kitchen pipes when things had started backing up on me. I knew he’d be up for this and I had no qualms about calling him. He said he’d be at the house at 3:30 Friday afternoon, which was perfect since I could be home then and had plans for later in the evening.

Of course 3:30 came and went. Up came 4:30, then 5:30, and I told my wife that it looked like he was going to be a no-show. We decided to go out to dinner, as that had been our plans.

I finally heard from him via at 7:30. He said he’d had to work until 6PM and wanted to see if he could come on Sunday. Initially I didn’t want to do it; after all, he could have texted me much earlier so I wasn’t sitting around waiting for him. Also, if he got off work at 6PM then why did it take him another 90 minutes to finally text message me?

I almost never give second chances with things like this, but my wife said that we needed it attached and that she would be home until noon on Sunday, since I was going out of town to visit my mother. Since I really wanted the ice maker to work, I wrote him back and asked if he could be at the house between 10 and 11:30 because my wife needed to leave the house by 12:30. He said that was great.

Sunday comes, and my wife texts me at 11:50 to say she hadn’t heard from him. Now I’m irked because I didn’t listen to my inner Spidey senses, and once again he’s shown a total lack of respect, decorum and professionalism. He eventually sends her a message at 12:45 saying that he’d been called into work and asked if he could come Monday, Memorial Day. She texted me asking what to do and I said we’d find someone else, which she relayed to him.

The problem wasn’t that he had to take care of his regular job first. The problem is that once he’d made a time commitment, at the very least he could have contacted us to say that he wouldn’t be able to make it so that we weren’t sitting around waiting for him. Within both of these instances he had lots of time to reach out way before we were expecting him, yet it seemed like he either didn’t have the inclination to do so or the belief that he was in any way responsible for following through on his obligation, no matter how it manifested itself.

In my mind I tied this in to a leadership trait of bad leaders. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a person in an authority position tell someone they were going to do something and never followed through, whether they had the intention to do it or not. When I was a compliance officer, I had to deal with multiple times when department directors didn’t provide what we needed to conduct an audit, and sometimes they didn’t even show up for meetings they said they’d come to.

Luckily, because of that position and its direct link to administration I was able to force people to do the right thing, but does anyone believe it should have come to that if someone in a leadership position had affirmed their participation.

If you want to lose any loyalty from employees all you need to do is ignore their needs while lying to them. Even if the lie isn’t intentional, because something else came up, it’s still important to reach out to those employees to let them know what’s going on, and then to do whatever you can do address their needs or the needs of the department as quickly as possible. A laissez faire attitude or a pattern of broken promises makes you an ineffective leader, and you never get those employees to truly work for you again.

Never make promises you don’t expect to keep. If your intentions were good and something comes up, address it early and make sure you follow through on what you said you were going to do. If you don’t, you’re probably not going to last all that long as a leader, and someone else is going to get paid, which happened in my case. Yesterday someone else I called showed up in 20 minutes, fixed the issue in 5, and he got the money the other guy would have received, with a nice tip on top.

Somewhere along the way, I “lost” the first guy’s contact information; strange how that works isn’t it?
 

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