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3 posts from February 2010

February 28, 2010

Here's to one of the good guys

We've all heard or read about the seamier side of college athletics. Schools getting busted by the NCAA. Graduation rates hovering near the Mendoza line. Money changing hands illegally. Abusive fans. Law-breaking athletes.

Then along comes someone like Drake's Josh Young to refresh your spirits and remind you there's also a lot of good in college sports.

Young is so skilled that he's Drake's career leader in scoring and 3-point baskets. If he makes four more free throws at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament this week, he'll become the leader in that category, too.

But there's far more to Josh Young than what he does on the basketball floor. He's a good student. He can light up  a room with his ever-present smile. Little kids flock to him. Mothers love him. He's the type reporters enjoy interviewing -- thoughtful, well-spoken, patient and modest. When he greets you, he looks you in the eye, shakes your hand firmly and says, "Hi. Josh Young." You know who he is, but he introduces himself anyway.

My longtime friend, Randy Minkoff, and his wife, Sue, work with athletes on dealing with the media and how to conduct themselves in interviews. Josh Young could be their poster guy. They don't come more polished. Last year, when the Drake Relays honored its Athletes of the Century, Josh was among those picked to escort them the ceremony.

Young played his last game at the Knapp Center, Drake's home arena, on Saturday. It didn't go quite the way Young or the Bulldog faithful had hoped. Josh again led the team in scoring. With the Bulldogs trailing and time running out, he  banked in a floater to tie the score with 8.1 seconds remaining. Sadly, for the Bulldogs, he scored too quickly. Evansville's Denver Holmes hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to give his team a 56-53 victory.

Afterward, Josh stood at halfcourt with his family and listened as tributes to his character and accomplishments rang through the arena. Some of the strongest praise came from Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb, who said Josh "exemplifies everything that's great about Drake.'" She talked about his smile and said if her son grows up to be anything like Josh, "it will be a great day."

It couldn't have been easy to go through the ceremony after such a disappointing loss. But rarely has anyone been more deserving of such a salute.

And every once in a while, even as the sting from the loss lingered, that smile broke through and everything was OK again.

February 23, 2010

Peace Through Business

"We believe that when you educate a woman, you educate a nation," says Dr. Terry Neese in her video message to the 2010 Peace Through Business In-Country Class. Neese, a former president of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), is now founder and president of The Institute of Economic Empowerment for Women (IEEW), a non-profit dedicated to empowering women around the globe—economically, politically and socially. Neese believes that if you teach women about entrepreneurship, democracy and freedom, we will indeed have a more peaceful world.

Its 2010 classes just started and IEEW has again focused on two war-torn countries, Afghanistan and Rwanda. In 2009 IEEW held eight-week in-country Peace Through Business classes, where the women students developed extensive business plans. Fifteen women from each class were selected for three weeks of activities, speakers and mentoring with women business owners in the Dallas, TX, area last August. The women participated in the International Women's Economic Summit and leadership development designed to not only enhance the business of the individual participants, but to teach them to be leaders in their community and their country.

"While we're reaching a few people here, they'll reach masses by paying forward the knowledge they've gained here" says Neese. She's not kidding. Rwanda graduate Sarah Mukandutiye began mentoring numerous women on farming projects and the development of business plans within a week after her return. And powerful connections created at the International Women's Economic Summit in August provided 100,000-pounds of clothing, medicine, toys and books for the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO), the non-profit orphanage run by 2009 Afghan graduate Andeisha Farid, a 26-year-old guiding force who grew up a refugee. Farid has vowed to make life different in her country and it's visible in the happy faces she sees in the girls and boys under her care. Her efforts have been featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, resulting in donations of $100,000 within days. 

"I know that what I have learned has prepared me for great destiny," said one 2009 Peace Through Business graduate. I can't think of anything better for a woman business owner to be doing but empowering others through a purposeful undertaking that fills one's heart and can change the world. Terry, in today's email you asked what I was doing on March 8, International Women's Day. That's one of many days that I'll be applauding you for your efforts for peace and understanding in this world!Scaled_e1253637324


February 04, 2010

Leaders, embrace the mutineers

You read correctly. Some 70 percent of U.S. workers say they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. The #1 reason? The quality of leadership (Gallup Poll). "Listen 'til it hurts," says Steven B. Wiley of the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg. Wiley shared lessons from Gettysburg this week in Des Moines at an appearance sponsored by Vistage. Thanks to the kind invitation of Norene Mostkoff, CEO of Hospice of Central Iowa, I had a great dose of both history and leadership.

To refresh your memory, the Battle of Gettysburg was the decisive, three-day turning-point of the Civil War between Union and Confederate forces in July of 1863. Gettysburg was the northernmost point reached by General Lee's armies, and at the site four months later, Lincoln presented his 267-word address ending with the words "...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." 

Wiley focused on the leadership style of General Joshua Chamberlain, a Maine college professor who volunteered for service and became highly respected as a military leader for his defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg. Chamberlain, who received the Medal of Honor, later served as governor of Maine and president of his alma mater, Bowdoin College. 

MV5BMTQ1OTkzMjgwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDYxODUyMQ@@._V1._SX98_SY140_ Video clips from the 1993 movie Gettysburg showed Chamberlain (actor Jeff Daniels) using both transacational and tranformational leadership styles; he exercised his authority while still using relationship-building skills to inspire newly arrived prisoners (a disgruntled band of Maine mutineers) to rejoin the Union's cause and fight with the small band he commanded. He started by feeding their starving bodies and listening to their grievances. As they sat on a hill, he stood just below them so their eyes were level and first told them that while he had a right to kill them, he would not. He said, "We all have value here" and "we are fighting for each other." He shared a vision they could embrace, one with freedom for all. He asked them to join with his men and mentioned that if this battle was lost the war would likely be lost too. He created shared values, modeled courage and confidence, and best of all, he communicated clearly. He gave the men their weapons, and they joined him. Throughout the battle Chamberlain changed strategies as needs arose and enabled his troops to be successful. In the movie, one of the former mutineers saves Chamberlain's own brother from certain death at Gettysburg. 

"Leadership is about the mutineers in your life," said Wiley. "When you engage them you can change the course of history." Chamberlain's leadership skills proved that ordinary people can step up to find their high ground and protect their left flank. It was leadership without prejudicial or political baggage. That battle ended what Wiley called "the greatest amount of human suffering this country had ever seen." And it was a grand example of how one can be an effective leader in a rapidly changing, stressful and frightening environment with limited resources and information.