12/31/2007

Christmas across the Commons

On Flickr, you can check out public domain photos tagged with "christmas" from the collections of George Eastman House, State Library of New South Wales, Nationaal Archief, and The Library of Congress.

12/30/2007

Press On with Persistence

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

---Calvin Coolidge

From Motivational Quotes of the Day for December 30, 2007

12/28/2007

Wanted: Courageous Followers

“Followership is a discipline of supporting leaders and helping them to lead well. It is not submission, but the wise and good care of leaders, done out of a sense of gratitude for their willingness to take on the responsibilities of leadership, and a sense of hope and faith in their abilities and potential.”

--Reverend Paul Beedle

"The movement away from command and control leadership has brought new leadership styles that are more democratic and coach-like. The terms “shared leadership,” and “servant leader” are used to describe some of these new ways of interacting. There are also new ways of interacting in the follower role...

"In his book (The Courageous Follower, 2003) Ira Chaleff points out... that curageous followers help leaders stay on track and manage their decision-making processes in the right direction...When both the leader and follower are focused on the common purpose a new relationship between them arises. This new relationship is candid, respectful, supportive and challenging. It is a relationship that honors open communication, honesty and trust from both parties...

"According to Chaleff, there are three things we need to understand in order to fully assume responsibility as followers.

Understand our power and how to use it...
Appreciate the value of the leader and the contributions he or she makes to forward the organization’s mission...
Work toward minimizing the pitfalls of power by helping the leader to remain on track ...

"Chaleff identifies and defines what is required of followers to become an equal partner with the leader in fulfilling the purpose of the organization.

The Courage to Assume Responsibility....
The Courage to Serve...
The Courage to Challenge...
The Courage to Participate in Transformation...
The Courage to Take Moral Action.
Courageous followers know when it is time to take a stand that is different from the leader's. The stand may involve refusing to obey a direct order, appealing the order to the next level of authority, or tendering one's resignation. This may involve personal risk but service to the common purpose justifies and sometimes demands such action..."

Read more in Notes for Followership from which the foregoing is quoted.

Got Venture?

"Mark Davis - a member of the DFJ Gotham - has written a very extensive series of posts on his blog titled Get Venture. Mark describes his goal as to "create the entrepreneur's manual for raising venture capital." He's covered a lot of ground that is a good read for any entrepreneur looking to raise venture capital."

See this Ask The VC post, from which the foregoing is quoted, for active links to the material.

12/26/2007

Passion, Commitment, Persistence

Ingrid Vanderveldt is an expert in entrepreneurship. Through her Entrepreneurial Blueprint, she's helped many businesspeople network and find their strategy. She's also been the host of CNBC's "American Made," an interview series with business icons. Here Vanderfelt talks [to BNET.com] about the common traits she see in all success stories: passion, commitment, and persistence.

12/20/2007

Never Answer the Valuation Question with a Specific Number

"Never answer the classic VC question "so, what valuation are you looking for?" with a specific number.

"Got that? Never!..."

Find out why not at this post from Soaring on Ridgelift found via this Ask The VC post.

12/19/2007

Startup Marketing

"Donna Novitsky talks about developing a marketing strategy for a start-up. She addresses key issues about segmenting customer priorities and their pain-points; and building a competitive strategy. Novitsky notes that customers are the biggest marketers for an organization. She also illustrates from her personal experience about partnering with other players to generate mutual benefits."


From Stanford's Educators Corner

12/18/2007

Classic Christmas Blend

I was thinking the other day that a wonderful epitaph might be, "He loved Christmas music." So here is a link to my Imeem collection of holiday music, a Classic Christmas Blend.

12/16/2007

Six Stages of a Project

ENTHUSIASM
DISILLUSIONMENT
PANIC
SEARCH FOR THE GUILTY
PUNISHMENT OF THE INNOCENT
PRAISE & HONORS FOR THE NON-PARTICIPANTS

12/14/2007

Project Management Handbook

This ePMbook by Simon Wallace "is an ebook about eProject Management as well as conventional Program and Project Management. Its aim is to examine issues, needs and approaches in a variety of situations and environments. It should give you the ability to understand what is needed and why, plus how you can best address those needs...

There are two main types of content in the ePMbook:
the Project Manager's Day Job - structured examination of the various concerns and activities of a Project Manager
the Project Manager's Night School - thoughts, issues, concepts, drivers and considerations which a good Project Manager should understand and should help the Project Manager choose the appropriate approach to take to the "day job"

Intro to Business Plans

"A good business plan follows generally accepted guidelines for both form and content. There are three primary parts to a business plan:

The first is the business concept, where you discuss the industry, your business structure, your particular product or service, and how you plan to make your business a success.

The second is the marketplace section, in which you describe and analyze potential customers: who and where they are, what makes them buy and so on. Here, you also describe the competition and how you'll position yourself to beat it.

Finally, the financial section contains your income and cash flow statement, balance sheet and other financial ratios, such as break-even analyses. This part may require help from your accountant and a good spreadsheet software program.

Breaking these three major sections down even further, a business plan consists of seven key components:

1. Executive summary
2. Business description
3. Market strategies
4. Competitive analysis
5. Design and development plan
6. Operations and management plan
7. Financial factors

In addition to these sections, a business plan should also have a cover, title page and table of contents."

Read more in An Introduction to Business Plans from Entrepreneur.com.

12/13/2007

Bing and Bowie Sing Little Drummer Boy

"Christmas variety shows were an inescapable part of Christmas for about 30 years, hosted by Perry Como (who did no less than 39 Christmas specials), John Denver, Bob Hope, The Carpenters and many others. One of the more serious, without the usual comedy sketches and “surprise” appearances by Santa, was Johnny Cash’s 1977 Christmas special, including an all-star tribute to Cash’s friend Elvis Presley, who had died a few months earlier. That same year, however, provided an even more unusual, and even more moving, Christmas show.

'For his sixteenth Christmas special in a row, legendary singer Bing Crosby wanted to sing with a young star. As he was on a concert tour of London, someone suggested 30-year-old David Bowie, who was then one of Britain’s more offbeat glam-rock artists. Bowie happened to be a huge Crosby fan, so he jumped at the chance. In a segment filmed on September 11, they sang “Little Drummer Boy,” which was perfect for Crosby’s crooning, but as Bowie’s voice was higher, he also sang Peace on Earth as part of the same number. Bing was impressed by the “clean-cut kid” and gave him his phone number. Sadly, the crooner died a month later, giving extra poignancy to the special when it was shown in November."



from mental_floss Blog » 8 Great TV Christmas Specials.

12/12/2007

Christmas Day in the Morning

by Pearl Buck


Pearl-Buck
Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
He woke suddenly and completely. It was four o'clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still! Fifty years ago, and his father had been dead for thirty years, and yet he waked at four o'clock in the morning. He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning it was Christmas, he did not try to sleep.

Why did he feel so awake tonight? He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays. He was fifteen years old and still on his father's farm. He loved his father. He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.

"Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings. He's growing so fast and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up! I wish I could manage alone."

"Well, you can't Adam." His mother's voice as brisk, "Besides, he isn't a child anymore. It's time he took his turn."

"Yes," his father said slowly. "But I sure do hate to wake him."

When he heard these words, something in him spoke: his father loved him! He had never thought of that before, taking for granted the tie of their blood. Neither his father nor his mother talked about loving their children--they had no time for such things. There was always so much to do on the farm.

Now that he knew his father loved him, there would be no loitering in the mornings and having to be called again. He got up after that, stumbling blindly in his sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes shut, but he got up.

And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was fifteen, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day. They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and mince pies his mother made. His sisters sewed presents and his mother and father always bought something he needed, not only a warm jacket, maybe, but something more, such as a book. And he saved and bought them each something, too.

He wished, that Christmas when he was fifteen, he had a better present for his father. As usual he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie. It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking the night before Christmas. He looked out of his attic window, the stars were bright.

"Dad," he had once asked when he was a little boy, "What is a stable?"

"It's just a barn," his father had replied, "like ours."

Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds had come...

The thought struck him like a silver dagger. Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn? He could get up early, earlier than four o'clock, and he could creep into the barn and get all the milking done. He'd do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his fatherwent in to start the milking he'd see it all done. And he would know who had done it. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars. It was what he would do, and he musn't sleep too sound.

He must have waked twenty times, scratching a match each time to look at his old watch-midnight, and half past one, and then two o'clock.

At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out. The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised. It was early for them too.

He had never milked all alone before, but it seemed almost easy. He kept thinking about his father's surprise. His father would come in and get him, saying that he would get things started while Rob was getting dressed. He'd go to the barn, open the door, and then he'd go get the two big empty milk cans. But they wouldn't be waiting or empty, they'd be standing in the milk-house, filled.

"What the--," he could hear his father exclaiming.

He smiled and milked steadily, two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant.

The task went more easily than he had ever known it to go before. Milking for once was not a chore. It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him. He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milk-house door carefully, making sure of the latch.

Back in his room he had only a minute to pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up. He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing. The door opened.

"Rob!" His father called. "We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas."

"Aw-right," he said sleepily.

The door closed and he lay still, laughing to himself. In just a few minutes his father would know. His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body.

The minutes were endless--ten, fifteen, he did not know how many--and he heard his father's footsteps again. The door opened and he lay still.

"Rob!"

"Yes, Dad--"

His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of laugh.

"Thought you'd fool me, did you?" His father was standing by his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover.

"It's for Christmas, Dad!"

He found his father and clutched him in a great hug. He felt his father's arms go around him. It was dark and they could not see each other's faces.

"Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing--"

"Oh, Dad, I want you to know--I do want to be good!" The words broke from him of their own will. He did not know what to say. His heart was bursting with love.

He got up and pulled on his clothes again and they went down to the Christmas tree. Oh what a Christmas, and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself.

"The best Christmas gift I ever had, and I'll remember it, son every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live."

They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead, he remembered it alone: that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.

This Christmas he wanted to write a card to his wife and tell her how much he loved her, it had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a very special way, much more than he ever had when they were young. He had been fortunate that she had loved him. Ah, that was the true joy of life, the ability to love. Love was still alive in him, it still was.

It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he knew his father loved him. That was it: Love alone could awaken love. And he could give the gift again and again. This morning, this blessed Christmas morning, he would give it to his beloved wife. He I could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever. He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife: My dearest love...

Such a happy, happy, Christmas!

The Man and the Birds

as told by Paul Harvey
The man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound...Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud...At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window.

But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow.

He tried catching them...He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms...Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn. And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature.

If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me...That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm...to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Scared of Santa





Nothing says Happy Holidays like a photo of sweet little toddlers screaming at Santa. A couple of years ago, the Chicago Tribune asked readers to send in their "Scared of Santa" photos. Those photos are included here, as well as additional photos sent in by SouthFlorida.com, Sun-Sentinel.com and Chicago Tribune readers in subsequent years. Enjoy!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in The Sun it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O'HANLON
New York, N.Y.

Note: Virginia O'Hanlon wrote this to the editor of the New York Sun in September 1897.

Mr. Church's response was printed as a column in the New York Sun Sept. 21, 1897.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe unless they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith, then, and no poetry, no romance, to make tolerable this existence. We would have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

FRANCIS P. CHURCH
Editorialist
New York Sun
New York, N.Y.

White Christmas by the Drifters


You may have heard it before, but its a treat every holiday season - the Drifters’ classic version of White Christmas, with the on-its-way-to-being-a-classic flash animation featuring Santa and his reindeer.

For an active link to the peformance, see this post from Neatorama.

Or perhaps you would prefer the Bing Crosby Original White Christmas Performance.

Wonderfulest Christmas in the USA

"The gifted storyteller and former radio broadcaster John Henry Faulk recorded his Christmas story in 1974 for the program Voices in the Wind...

"Before the John Henry Faulk Show debut in 1951 on WCBS Radio, Faulk hosted numerous radio programs in New York and New Jersey. He was blacklisted in 1957, but with support from Edward R. Murrow, won a libel suit against the corporation that branded him a Communist. Faulk's book, Fear on Trial, published in 1963, chronicles this experience. Later in his career, Faulk appeared on Hee-Haw, wrote and produced the one-man plays Deep in the Heart and Pear Orchard, Texas, and made an unsuccessful bid for a congressional seat in 1983.

"In 1990, John Henry Faulk died of cancer in his hometown of Austin. The downtown branch of the public library there now bears his name."

You may read and listen to this wonderful story about the joy of simplicity, sharing and fellowship by visiting NPR : 'Christmas Story'. Found via this Tammy Lenski post.

12/11/2007

Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

"The New York Times published a nice introductory article on how to get started with a small business. Author Barbara Whitaker notes that about ten percent of small businesses fail each year:

Success comes with education, careful planning and adequate cash flow, specialists say. And it has never been easier to lay the groundwork for starting a small business. Many tools are available on the Internet and at libraries to aid aspiring entrepreneurs. Whole magazines are devoted to the subject.
"Whitaker’s article lists a number of web-based resources for would-be small business owners, including:

The U.S. Small Business Administration web site
SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) offers business advice to entrepreneurs.

The Small Business Development Centers provide “management assistance to current and prospective small business owners”. For an example of the assistance available, visit the San Joaquin Delta College SBDC web site.

Work.com offers a variety of how-to guides for running a small busines.

e-Venturing bills itself as “the entrepreneur’s trusted guide to high growth.

For advice about entrepreneurship from others who have been there before, visit StartupNation.

Bplans.com features business plan software and free sample business plans, along with other expert advice.

CCH has an amazing variety of ready-to-use templates and documents, as well as links to official government forms.

The U.S. Library of Congress offers The Entrepreneur’s Reference Guide to Small Business Information."
For live links to these resources, see this Get Rich Slowly post from which the foregoing was quoted.

happy christmakwaanzakkuh


jpeg
Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
"U.S. Patent No. 5,379,202

'Partially overlapping display elements have light string sets mounted thereon and sequentially illuminated to simulate animation of a decorative part of an outdoor light display.'"

From I/P Updates.

The Science of Santa's Long Strange Trip

"It's a question that has puzzled kids and grown-ups for centuries: How does Santa Claus get all those gifts to millions of homes worldwide in just one night?...

Santa expert Larry Silverberg, a noted U.S. engineer and...professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh...believes that Santa...and the elves have made scientific breakthroughs that the rest of humanity can only dream of...

To most children, Christmas Eve seems like a few very long hours. Not so for Santa, though...

"What we know about physics is that, in one reference frame, distance and time look different than in another," Silverberg explained. "Time can dilate -- get much longer -- and space can contract. That's exactly what you'd need to deliver millions of gifts around the globe on one night."

...Santa uses his advanced knowledge to wrap his sleigh and eight reindeer in a "relativity cloud."

"So, inside the cloud a month might go by, but it would only feel like a split-second outside the cloud -- for example, in a child's bedroom," the expert said. "Santa probably also shrinks and expands the cloud, so he can enter houses through tiny openings. A chimney is one such entryway, but he might also enter through keyholes, doggy-doors..."

Silverberg's team at NCSU performed detailed calculations using this relativity model. "We found that in six months, a fleet of 750 sleighs could get to all of the homes on Earth, traveling an average of 84 mph in the relativity cloud," he said. "Of course, outside the cloud, all that happens on Christmas Eve."...

He also wanted to clear up one misconception. "I believe that Santa does not bring toys from the Pole to each home -- that's just far too bulky and inefficient," the scientist said.

Instead, the jolly gent uses sophisticated nanotechnology to build toys and other presents in a flash, right there on the family living-room floor..."

Read more in this LiveScience.com article

Hannukah Christmas Merger Announced

Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Hannukah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years.

While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hannukah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, we're told, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the fifteen days of Christmukah, as the new holiday is being called.

Massive layoffs are expected, with lords-a-leaping and maids-a-milking being the hardest hit.

As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreidel currently in hebrew, will be replaced by latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience.

Also, instead of translating to "a great miracle happened there," the message on the dreidel will be the more generic "miraculous stuff happens."

In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts.

In fact, one of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be kosher.

All sides appeared happy about this. A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Hanukkah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the U.S. holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance.

He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of "Oy, Come All Ye Faithful."

(An oldie but a goodie...redux)

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

"..Once upon a time -- of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve -- old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house...The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank was copying letters...

'A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!' cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

'Bah!' said Scrooge, 'Humbug!'

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

'Christmas a humbug, uncle!' said Scrooge's nephew. 'You don't mean that, I am sure?'

'I do,' said Scrooge. 'Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough.'

'Come, then,' returned the nephew gaily. 'What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough.'

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, 'Bah!' again; and followed it up with 'Humbug!'

'Don't be cross, uncle.' said the nephew. 'What else can I be,' returned the uncle, 'when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas. What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in them through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly,'every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!'

'Uncle!' pleaded the nephew.

'Nephew!' returned the uncle, sternly, 'keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.'

'Keep it!' repeated Scrooge's nephew. 'But you don't keep it.'

'Let me leave it alone, then,' said Scrooge. 'Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!'

'There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,' returned the nephew. 'Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!'

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

'Let me hear another sound from you,' said Scrooge, 'and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You're quite a powerful speaker, sir,' he added, turning to his nephew. 'I wonder you don't go into Parliament.'"

Read the rest at A Christmas Carol or check out this public domain movie: Scrooge in which Seymour Hicks plays the title role in the first sound version of the Dickens classic. This British import is notable for being the only adaptation of this story with an invisible Marley's Ghost and its Expressionistic cinematography. This is the uncut 78 minute version.

12/10/2007

Harrassment Complaint Process Must be Clear

"One important way your company can avoid liability in harassment lawsuits is to show that you maintain “a reasonable mechanism by which the victim of the harassment can complain to the company and get relief” and then prove that the victim failed to use that procedure. But if your complaint-filing procedure is complex and confusing, a court may green-light the lawsuit anyway, even if the victim ignored the reporting procedure."

Read how to avoid this result in this hrspecialist.com post.

12/07/2007

How to Really Use the 80/20 Rule

"Pick an area of your life where you feel there is an imbalance of effects. This won’t be true of all areas, but many situations are out of balance (money, time, health and possibly even relationships).

"Try to identify the key 10, 20 or 40 percent of inputs that are creating most your results. This could be the 10% of time that creates the most returns. It could be the 40% of relationships that create the most happiness for you.

"Find ways to emphasize the key percentage. Spend more time in those activities. Place them first in your schedule. Meet up with your key friends more often. Invest more of your money in the best expenses.

"Find ways to downplay or eliminate the rest. Get rid of activities that don’t have a high payoff. Stop spending time in relationships that don’t create enough value. Stop wasting money on investments that aren’t giving you a greater quality of life."

From this post from lifehack.org

the Option Pool Shuffle

"If you don’t keep your eyes on the option pool while you’re negotiating valuation, your investors will have you playing (and losing) a game that we like to call:

Option Pool Shuffle

You have successfully negotiated a $2M investment on a $8M pre-money valuation by pitting the famous Blue Shirt Capital against Herd Mentality Management. Triumphant, you return to your company’s tastefully decorated loft or bombed-out garage to tell the team that their hard work has created $8M of value.

Your teammates ask what their shares are worth. You explain that the company currently has 6M shares outstanding so the investors must be valuing the company’s stock at $1.33/share:

$8M pre-money ÷ 6M existing shares = $1.33/share.

Later that evening you review the term sheet from Blue Shirt. It states that the share price is $1.00… this must be a mistake! Reading on, the term sheet states, “The $8 million pre-money valuation includes an option pool equal to 20% of the post-financing fully diluted capitalization.”

You call your lawyer: “What the f...!”

As your lawyer explains that the so-called pre-money valuation always includes a large unallocated option pool for new employees, your stomach sinks. You feel duped and are left wondering, “How am I going to explain this to the team?”
If you don’t keep your eyes on the option pool, your investors will slip it in the pre-money and cost you millions of dollars of effective valuation. Don’t lose this game...

"Don’t let your investors determine the size of the option pool for you. Use a hiring plan to justify a small option pool, increase your share price, and increase your effective valuation."

For instructions on how to do this, read this Venture Hacks post from which the foregoing was quoted.

12/05/2007

China's Science and Technology Plan

"As China implements its plan to improve scientific innovation, it will need to solve such political and economic problems as finding the proper balance between indigenous efforts and engagement with the global community.

"In January 2006, China initiated a 15-year 'Medium- to Long-Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology.' The MLP calls for China to become an 'innovation-oriented society' by the year 2020, and a world leader in science and technology (S&T) by 2050. It commits China to developing capabilities for "indigenous innovation" (zizhu chuangxin) and to leapfrog into leading positions in new science-based industries by the end of the plan period...In all likelihood, the MLP will have an important impact on the trajectory of Chinese development; it thus warrants careful attention from the international community...

The MLP is remarkable in a variety of ways...The MLP addresses four critical problems in China's scientific and technological development. First, despite the country's remarkable economic accomplishments, its record of innovation in commercial technologies has been weak, even considering recent improvements in its patenting performance. Instead, its dependence on foreign technology has grown consistently over the past 20 years...Hence the emphasis on indigenous innovation and the need to create an innovation-oriented society.

Second, Chinese technological capabilities have been failing to meet the nation's needs in such areas as energy, water and resource utilization, environment protection, and public health. The negative environmental consequences of 25 years of rapid economic growth cannot be overestimated...China's quest for energy will only increase in the coming years and will require new conservation technologies, novel energy sources, and the procurement of more conventional energy supplies. In short, broad areas of social needs cannot possibly be managed without increasingly sophisticated technology.

Third, the technological challenges of providing for the national defense furnish another powerful impetus for the initiation of the MLP...

The fourth critical problem addressed by the MLP is the state of Chinese science...Despite the swelling ranks of research personnel and increasingly generous funding, the research system's performance has not lived up to expectations. Many of China's best and brightest have sought career opportunities abroad, and despite an array of incentives offered by various national and local entities, China has had difficulty attracting them back...

As with so many other aspects of Chinese life, such as the deteriorating environment, China is in a race to acquire the knowledge and wealth necessary to solve or ameliorate its problems before they become overwhelming. The MLP represents a strategy for winning that race and ensuring the country's long-term competitiveness in the face of the rapid and dramatic changes happening in the world of S&T.

Read more in this article from physicstoday.org

12/01/2007

MindMap Toolbox

"Sometimes the difference between a successful project and one that spirals out of control is getting all your thoughts and ideas laid out before you even get started. One of the best ways to do this is with mind maps, which act as a visual representation of all that stuff you’ve got floating around in your head. This kind of radiant thinking can be a great way to start out working on anything, from redecorating your house to landing a huge project, and there are loads of resources out there to make mind mapping even easier. Here's a list [from Bootstrapper] of 100 tools, resources, blogs, articles and everything else you might need to get started making a road map of your mind."

11/26/2007

Changes to Change Management Toolbook

The Change Management Toolbook website has been updated and is well worth a look for useful information and resources on change management. As the site explains:

"Change Management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change processes, to achieve the required outcomes, and to realize the change effectively within the individual change agent, the inner team, and the wider system...

"How (and whether at all) change can be "managed" or facilitated? In essence, change takes place on three levels: The self, the team or the (small) organization and the wider system that surrounds the team or the small organization or the organizational unit - depending how you define the system borders. In a process, learning needs to be facilitated on all three levels to become sustainable...

"Only if organizations and individuals within organizations learn, they will able to master a positive change. In other words, change is the result from an organizational learning process that centres around the questions: 'In order to sustain and grow as an organization and as individuals within; what are the procedures, what is the know-how we need to maintain and where do we need to change?', and, 'How can we manage a change, that is in harmony with the values we hold as individuals and as organizations?'"

11/22/2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Gracious God, grant that I may be the best that I can be.

Forgive me for hiding who I really am, what I truly believe, and what I dream you want me to do. Forgive me for too often trying to shine as I imagine others think I should, rather than as I prayerfully discern you would have me. Forgive me for not using the gifts that you have given me, for not running with the interests and abilities that by your design light me up.

By your grace, may I experience the joy of living a life that is faithful to you and your purpose. When Jesus walked the life-demanding, life-giving path to Calvary, many voices with many motivations, ranging from love to mockery, cried out for him to go another way. Yet, thankfully, and to our eternal blessing, Jesus listened to your voice and was obedient to you. Grant that like him, I may hear you in the midst of the mayhem. Grant that like Jesus, I may live the life you have graciously given me to live.

Give me ears to hear you as you speak through the scriptures, your church, and those around me. Give me the faith, and help me to take the time to listen as you speak in the quiet recesses of my heart, as well.

You are the one who lit the fire of my life with your love. Place me where you want me to be. Position and reposition me according to your will. Trim me as you would a wick, though it may be painful, that I may shine as you want me to.

Even as I wait for you to complete your good work in me, infuse me now with the faith and courage to shine with your light today. By your grace and to your glory, right now, right here, right where you have placed me, may I shine as the person you have created me to be.

Amen.

from Evangelical Covenant Church.

11/20/2007

Sustaining Greatness

Sam Decker opines that ten elements of a business culture can sustain greatness.

"1. Continuuous improvement...
2. Focus...
3. Quality...
4. Open and Direct...
5. Accountability...
6. Measurement...
7. Fun...
8. Recognition...
9. Disciplined Hiring...
10. Humility...Everyone in the company should embrace that they can learn something from anyone. Otherwise you are about two years away from learning that lesson."

11/08/2007

100 Financial Calculators

"Many entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of having a separate accounting department, instead doing their own number crunching. It’s not always easy, but you can make it less difficult by making use of the huge number of free financial tools for businesses that are available on the Internet. Here are 100 calculators [from Bootstrapper] that can help you get and keep your finances in order."

Avoid Rookie Mistakes

The Venture Alliance offers the following list of Entrepreneurial Rookie Mistakes
#1
Who absolutely MUST invest in your company?
#2
Why is DEBT often considered a BAD thing by investors?
#3
Raising capital without using the proper documents
#4
Common Mistakes in Failing to Protect Intellectual Property
#5
Compensating Your Team: Common Do’s & Don’ts
#6
When NOT to Take the Money
#7
What is a Capitalization Table and what does it say about my Company?
#8
Choosing Between a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisors
#9
Strategies behind the “Uses of Funds” Statement
#10
Common Mistakes in Setting & Justifying Valuations
#11
Ten Classic Rookie Mistakes

11/07/2007

Above and Beyond

"Managing people isn't just about getting the job done. To truly be a great leader, sometimes you need to go above and beyond what the job calls for.

"93. Lead by example. You can talk until you're blue in the face, but the best way to get a point across is to be the model to emulate. Let employees follow your lead.

"94. Get your hands dirty. Sometimes you need to show your employees that no one's above doing unattractive tasks.

"95. Make a difference to your employees. Don't just be a generic manager — stand out as a leader and role model for your employees.

"96. Gain your employees' trust and respect. You'll have a much easier time managing employees when they respect your rules and boundaries and trust your leadership.

"97. Be empathetic to personal problems. Whether it should or not, what happens outside of work can have a big affect on the quality of work produced. Be sensitive if employees have personal issues that keep them from concentrating on work.

"98. Be unique as a manager. Every position demands something different and you should be proud to be adept at your particular role rather than trying to emulate other managers.

"99. Remember that ethics matter above all. Be honest and reliable in all of your business and personal relationships.

"100. Be on the lookout for new ideas. You never know where your next great inspiration will come from.

"101. Get to know your employees. Learn more than just their names. Get to know your employees' family backgrounds, likes and dislikes. Doing so will make you more personable."

From a great list of managment tips at 101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders

11/06/2007

Prospective Investors Package

"Venture Hacks has two great posts up about what kind of stuff you should send to investors if you are looking for financing.

"What should I send investors? Part 1: Elevator Pitch.
"What should I send investors? Part 2: Deck.

"Plus, as a special bonus, you get to see Ali G pitching investors. This nicely compliments my post from June 2004 titled The Torturous World of Powerpoint."

For active links, see this Ask The VC post from which the foregoing is quoted.

11/05/2007

Outline of an Employee Handbook

"If you take the time to consolidate your personnel policies in a thoughtfully crafted handbook, you will do a better job of making sure your employees know the rules and what is expected of them, and your supervisors will do a better job of keeping you out of trouble..."

So states this article by Sidney F. Lewis V (pdf)that suggests considering the inclusion of the appropriate provisions in the following areas:

"A. EEO Statement
B. Pre-Hire Information
C. Orientation/Probation Period
D. Access To Personnel Files
E. Exempt/Non-Exempt Status
F. Incentive Bonuses
G. Vacation Policy
H. Holidays
I. Health Insurance Information
J. Sick Leave
K. Family and Medical Leave of Absence
L. Other Leaves of Absence
M. Maternity Leave
N. Military Leave
O. Jury Duty Leave
P. Funeral Leave
Q. Sexual and Other Types of Harassment Policy
R. No Solicitation Policy
S. Union Free Statement
T. Performance Evaluations
U. Discipline Policy
V. Attendance Policy
W. Internet Access/E-mail/Voice Mail Policy
X. Workplace Violence Policy
Y. Dress Code Policy
Z. Drug Testing Policy
AA. Open Door Policy
BB. Reimbursement for Uniforms, Equipment, etc.
CC. Handbook Disclaimer
This is an important provision. In the disclaimer you should indicate that the individual’s employment is at will and that the handbook does not constitute a contract of employment. Employers should also indicate that no one has the authority to create a contract of employment other than a specified individual. While it is not a good practice to deviate from the provisions in an employee handbook, you want to make it clear that management has that right, in its discretion, to deviate from the handbook at any time and take any action deemed appropriate.
DD. Signature Page
The signature page on the employee handbook is extremely important. It should be removed from the handbook and placed in the personnel file. Handbook disclaimer language discussed above should be contained in the signature page. It may be preferable to have such strong language removed from the handbook and placed in the personnel file."

11/03/2007

Gene Gene the Dancing Machine

I always loved this part of the Gong Show - Yes I watched it - the part when Gene Gene the Dancing Machine would step on stage.

10/29/2007

Avoid Business Plan Mistakes

"I spend a lot of my time studying business plans from entrepreneurs looking for investment. Many are impressive but some are ghastly. Among the worst offences are:

"Aggressive confidentiality clauses and an obsession with non-disclosure agreements...

"Overly technical documents...

"Lack of focus...

"Preposterous valuations...

"Biographies. These should be honest and full. They are perhaps the single most important part of the entire proposal. I really want to know the owners and individuals who will make the thing happen. Vague or overly concise CVs make me suspicious...

"The numbers. This is the critical stuff. The funding requirement, the estimated returns, the cash flow projections: these must be attractive and sufficiently ambitious to be worthwhile...

"The competition. All capable entrepreneurs know their competition well. If they say they have none, they are fooling themselves...

"Huge appendices and too many spreadsheets...

"Getting someone else to write it...

"Make sure it can be e-mailed...

"Unbelievable margins, profits and returns..."

Read more in this article by investor Luke Johnson.

Beyond Machine Age Thinking

"In her book Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives, Mary Jo Hatch provides an introduction to general systems theory that is useful in thinking about organizations. She makes a point worthy of repeating: The use of lower level models is problematic when applied to higher level systems. Thus, the language of simple machines creates blind spots when used as a metaphor for human or social systems; human systems are infinitely more complex and dynamic. In other words, it can be counterproductive to treat a complex dynamic social system like a simple machine.

"Noted management scholar Russell Ackoff puts it another way. He asserts that we are in the process of leaving the machine age that had roots in the Renaissance and came into favor through the industrialization of society. In that era the machine metaphor became the predominant wayof looking at organizations. The universe was envisioned by thinkers such as Isaac Newton, as having the characteristics of a big clock. The workings of the clock could be understood through the process of analysis and the analytical method.

"Analysis involves taking apart something of interest, trying to understand the behavior of its parts, and then assembling the understanding of the parts into an understanding of the whole. According to Ackoff, “One simple relationship—cause and effect—was sufficient to explain all relationships.” Much machine-age thinking remains with us today; however, there are alternatives.

"Systems Thinking
"Systems, like the human body, have parts, and the parts affect the performance of the whole. All of the parts are interdependent. The liver interacts with and affects other internal organs—the brain, heart, kidneys, etc. You can study the parts singly, but because of the interactions, it doesn’t make much practical sense to stop there. Understanding of the system cannot depend on analysis alone. The key to understanding is, therefore, synthesis.

"The systems approach is to:
• Identify a system. After all, not all things are systems. Some systems are simple and predictable, while others are complex and dynamic. Most human social systems are the latter.
• Explain the behavior or properties of the whole system. This focus on the whole is the process of synthesis. Ackoff says that analysis looks into things while synthesis looks out of things.
• Explain the behavior or properties of the thing to be explained in terms of the role(s) or function(s) of the whole.

"The systems thinker retains focus on the system as a whole, and the analysis in step three (the third bullet) is always in terms of the overall purpose of the system."

Read more in this article by Col. George E. Reed from which the foregoing was quoted.

10/18/2007

A Street Named Tree

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.
- Bill Vaughan

From Quotes of the Day - The Quotations Page as it appears on my Google home page today.

10/15/2007

Electronic Signatures in a Nutshell

"ESIGN, the federal law, does not preempt a state’s laws dealing with electronic signatures... Most companies may design a national electronic signature process, without having to contend with significant state variations in the electronic signature process...

"ESIGN states that a signature may not be denied legal effect solely because it is in electronic form. ESIGN does not give preferential treatment to electronic signatures. Consequently, an electronic signature can be challenged for all the other reasons that a wet signature can be challenged, such as the incapacity of the person signing, mistake, fraud, duress, and forgery. ESIGN does not require anyone to use or accept an electronic signature or record...

Under ESIGN (or the applicable state law) an electronic signature can be as simple or complex as:

• Clicking “I Agree;”
• Saying into a recording device, “I Agree;”
• Digital signature using PKI technology;
• Using a peripheral device that records an image of one’s signature; or
• Other ways using an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with the document or record, which is executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign.

"Verifications and acknowledgments required by law to be in writing, such as certain notices in financial transactions, may be provided and obtained in electronic form under ESIGN in certain circumstances. ESIGN essentially provides that if a law requires a disclosure to be provided by a certain method that includes acknowledgment of receipt, that disclosure may be given electronically if, and only if, the electronic method for providing that disclosure also includes a process or method for capturing electronically an acknowledgment...

"Failure to comply with the ESIGN disclosure requirements does not render void or voidable the underlying transaction (for example, the application for insurance or the insurance policy ultimately issued), but could subject the company to regulatory sanctions for failing to provide the required disclosures (such as the replacement notice) in accordance with applicable law. There may also be civil remedies available to consumers if the disclosures are deemed to have not been given effectively...

"[With certain exceptions,] ESIGN allows an archived electronic record to satisfy applicable statutory requirements that a contract or other document be retained “in writing,” if the electronic record is maintained in a form capable of being retrieved by all parties for later reference. In addition, ESIGN recognizes that records of a transaction (whether completed electronically or not) may be archived exclusively through electronic means, but failure to archive the records in a way that allows the record to be accurately reproduced could result in the unenforceability of the agreement represented by the electronic record and regulatory sanctions for failing to maintain the proper records...

"The 5-point approach examines a proposed electronic signature and electronic delivery process from the following perspectives:

1. Authentication Risk
This is the risk that the electronic signature obtained is from a forger, not from the actual person whose name is associated with the electronic signature...

2. Repudiation Risk
This is the risk that a document bearing a person’s signature is altered after the document is signed electronically and the person repudiates the contents of the document bearing his or her signature...

3. Compliance Risk
This is the risk that the rules and regulations governing such a transaction, such as regulation requiring certain consumer disclosures to be provided by a certain stage in the transaction, are not satisfied...

4. Adoption Risk
This is the risk that the e-process takes longer than the traditional process or is not as convenient as the traditional process and consequently, adoption of the process is slow...

5. Relative Risk
...For most electronic signature and e-delivery processes, the goal will be to have the transaction, on the whole, be no riskier than the current processes..."

Read more in this article by Patrick J. Hatfield (Lord, Bissell & Brook LLP), from which the foregoing is quoted.

10/08/2007

Columbus was First

So contended the Honorable Michael Musmanno, the colorful, outspoken, controversial judge, Congressman and author, who died, fittingly, on Columbus Day in 1968. Mussmanno is buried in Arlington Cemetery almost directly across the road from the eternal flame of the grave of John F. Kennedy.

The Michael A. Musmanno collection at Duquesne University contains the personal papers and library of the man.

"Among the many highlights of his career were the campaign to abolish the Coal & Iron Police,(a private police force maintained by the coal companies for the purpose of strike breaking), legislation to end the Sunday Blue Laws, a defense lawyer in the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, a presiding judge at the Nuremburg war crime trials, and appearing as a witness for the prosecution in the case against Adolf Eichman...

"One of the highlights of the collection is the transcripts of Musmanno's personal interviews of the Hitler intimates. Other noteable features are the transcripts of the Einsatzgruppen Nuremberg trial and the Adolf Eichmann war crimes trial. Musmanno was also the author of a number of books including, Ten Days to Die, which recounted Hitler's last days and was later made into a motion picture, and Black Fury a novel about a coal miner struggling with the hardships of the mines and the brutality of the Coal and Iron Police. He was also a zealous defender of Columbus discovering America and supported his claims in the book Columbus Was First."

Musmanno penned blistering and sometimes hysterical dissenting opinions as a jurist. His dissent in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court obscenity case regarding the book, The Tropic of Cancer, is a classic. The majority opinion failed to find the book obscene within the meaning of the First Amendment. Justice Musmanno disagreed:

The decision of the Majority of the Court in this case has dealt a staggering blow to the forces of morality, decency and human dignity in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If, by this decision, a thousand rattlesnakes had been let loose, they could not do as much damage to the well-being of the people of this state as the unleashing of all the scorpions and vermin of immorality swarming out of that volume of degeneracy called the "Tropic of Cancer." Policemen, hunters, constables and foresters could easily and quickly kill a thousand rattlesnakes but the lice, lizards, maggots and gangrenous roaches scurrying out from beneath the covers of the "Tropic of Cancer" will enter into the playground, the study desks, the cloistered confines of children and immature minds to eat away moral resistance and wreak damage and harm which may blight countless lives for years and decades to come.
As this post from Moleskin Notebook observes "That's just the introductory paragraph, it only gets better." The opinion continues and concludes:
[Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer] is not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity. And in the center of all this waste and stench, besmearing himself with its foulest defilement, splashes, leaps, cavorts and wallows a bifurcated specimen that responds to the name of Henry Miller. One wonders how the human species could have produced so lecherous, blasphemous, disgusting and amoral a human being as Henry Miller. One wonders why he is received in polite society. ... From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, from Dan to Beersheba, and from the ramparts of the Bible to Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People, I dissent.
The opinion can be found at Commonweatlh v. Robin, 421 Pa. 70 (Pa. 1966).

Musmanno loved Columbus, but he didn't care for jazz music, as noted in this The Volokh Conspiracy post, quoting another of his dissenting opinions:
In the eyes and ears of many people, including the writer of this opinion, a juke box confined to ‘jazz’ records may be a nuisance. It robs the air of sweet silence, it substitutes for the gentle concord of stillness the wailings of the so-called ‘blues singer,’ the whinings of foggy saxophones, the screeching of untuned fiddles, the blasts of head-splitting horns, and the battering of earshattering drums. It makes a mockery of music, it replaces harmony with cacophony, tonality with discord, and peace with annoyance.
Quite a character. Happy Columbus Day.

Five Characteristics of Effective Leaders

"In the opening address to the [2002] Möbius conference Kim Clark, Dean of Harvard Business School, spoke about leadership with a small "l"—the sort of leadership that is needed in every organization to both serve and inspire our communities, businesses, and lives. 'We live in really remarkable times,' he said, stressing there remains 'a lot of optimism amidst all this turbulence.' Below, his advice on first-rate leadership.

"1. Integrity. We need leaders with strong values grounded in a commitment to a life that is whole and consistent with the things they believe. They should take personal responsibility for their actions and be honest with others, and with themselves.

"2. Energy. Leaders who energize and inspire other people make everyone around them better—not by administering, but by ministering.

"3. Inspiration. Trust and confidence are vital, but it is a leader's responsibility to help create a vision of what is possible. They should inspire others to see the greatness that is within them.

"4. Wisdom. Leaders need to be teachers. They must see beyond the horizon and understand the principles that underlie success. It is necessary to be a great communicator and teach in deed.

"5. Courage. Leaders have to do hard things. They have to have standards and make tough decisions that might make them unpopular, and do the right thing though the wrong thing is easier. Courage is hard, but it can be developed."

Read more in this HBS Working Knowledge article.

Can Spirituality Drive Success?

"Executives from a wide range of industries trooped to Harvard Business School to discuss how their spirituality helps them be powerful leaders... The conference explored issues of leadership, values, and spirituality in business...

"According to Ricardo Levy, chairman of Catalytica Energy Systems, executives are trained for action—contemplation is not part of their rulebook. In his own career, however, he discovered the need for spiritual guidance in crucial decisions, especially those that affect other people such as employees, he said. Levy's guidelines are:

-Quiet the mind.
-Reach deep inside. Go beyond the ego to hear the inner voice.
-Don't fear ambiguity; rest in the unknown. "This is the most difficult piece," Levy admitted. "We're not Comfortable unless we see the path."
-Stay humble in the face of temptation and power. "Being humble is a key issue. It's good for a leader to be reminded of the intoxication of power."

Asked by a member of the audience for his definition of success, Levy said, 'I'd rather use the word fulfillment. Success is a metric; you never have enough. But only you can define fulfillment. We as individuals are the only judges.'

"...Gregory Slayton (HBS MBA '90), chairman of ClickAction Inc., said... the value he most often uses at work is the Golden Rule, the principle that people should do unto others as they would have others do unto them. For example, when layoffs were necessary, he was upfront and honest with employees about what was happening and why..."

Read more in this HBS Working Knowledge

Bikes of Burden


You haven't seen real traffic until you've witnessed Vietnam's seemingly haphazard road rules and chaos. With few cars and more than 5 million motorbikes in the main cities, the bikes transport everything and everyone. "One of the main reasons for this enormous variety lies in the obsession with fresh ingredients for every meal," says photographer and Vietnam resident Hans Kemp. Kemp includes some of his best clicks in his new book, "Bikes of Burden," photos from which are available at this ABC News site.

Still Running

My namesake, septuagenarian, fellow Lackawanna County Pennsylvania native, and as far as I know not my relative, Tony Cerminaro is still running marathons, even in yesterday's heat. The Scranton Times-Tribune reports:

For Tony Cerminaro, this year's running of the Steamtown Marathon meant a lot to him for several reasons.

For the 71-year old, it was a marathon that he almost missed.

Recently, Cerminaro underwent a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The test measures the amount of PSAs in a person's blood. A high level of PSAs is considered a possible symptom for prostate cancer.

"The doctor found that my levels were high, so I stopped training for three weeks," Cerminaro said. When I went back for an exam, my levels were back to normal."

Once his PSA levels decreased, Cerminaro slowly began to work out and get back into running condition.

"I don't like to take time off from training," Cerminaro said. "But I have to listen to the doctor."

Cerminaro won his age group, the Men's 70 and up race with a time of 3:26:35, finishing 218th overall. It was the 12th consecutive time that Cerminaro won his age group title.

According to Cerminaro, the warm and humid conditions became a hinderance during the race.

"At times, I was having a difficult time catching my breath," Cerminaro said. "I also never pour water on my head to cool down, but I was doing that today."

Despite the elements, Cerminaro was pleased with the result.

"Considering the weather, I really did better than I thought that I would do," Cerminaro said. "I'm really happy with the way I ran today."

Another reason that Cerminaro wanted to race on Sunday was it marked the 60th marathon the Jermyn resident has participated in.

"With knowing that this would be my 60th marathon, I had to run in this race."
Cerminaro is a former age-group Boston Marathon champion, awarded the title in 1997 after the initially declared champion was found not to have actually completed the race. See Two Disqualified From Boston Marathon - New York Times

10/02/2007

My Journey to Kathmandu

To view a Google earth version of the entire trip of which this journey is a part, visit acerminaro - ChinaTibetNepalThailandTrip2007

After crossing the Peace Bridge of the Friendship Highway linking Nepal and Tibet, we arrive at the rugged border town of Kodari Nepal. Making arrangements for a jeep trip to Kathmandu proves an interesting adventure in itself, as local boys bargain with each other and drivers for commissions, promising to us a ride as soon as the "driver" returns from Tibet. We finally secure a jeep and set out for Kathmandu.

The descent from the Tibetan plateau to Kodari is like falling off a brown, barren cliff and landing in a lush green forest, complete with waterfalls and more treacherous winding roads.

The rewards for continuing the descent on the road to Kathmandu include many small farming outposts set like gems in the greenery.

We are transported from the sublime to the ridiculous, through the crazy Kathmandu traffic choked with small cars, bicycles, motorbikes and the acrid fumes that go with them. We arrive in the Thamel tourist area, with its narrow, crowed, colorful alleys - a virtual "Disneyland for backpackers".

Booking a room in the laid-back Kathmandu Guest House, we relax in the tranquil garden before continuing our sightseeing journey.

With our Lonely Planet tour book in hand we take the scenic walking tour arriving at the Kathmandu Durbar Square, one of seven groups of monuments and buildings designated as Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage sites. Others include the Buddhist stupas of Swayambunath and Boudhanath, and the Hindu temple of Pashupati, which we will visit.

Next day we walk from Thamel across the Bagmati river to Swayambunath, also know as the "monkey" temple in honor of its cavorting simian residents. We climb the "365" steps up a forested hill for a breathtaking view of the Kathmandu Valley from this important Buddhist shrine. For more, see this sacredsites page

Next, we're off to Boudhanath, transfixed by the ever vigilant "Buddha Eves" reminding us to stay on the true path in life. Boudhanath is another holy Buddhist site. Its platform is a massive mandala and it contains the largest spherical stupa in Nepal.

A short walk from Boudhanath takes us to the mysterious Pashupatinath Hindu temple, regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva (Pashupati) in the world. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the globe, particularly from Nepal and India pay homage in this temple everyday. "Shivaratri" or night of lord Shiva is an especially important day in this temple when tens of thousands of people throng here for the annual celebration.



Before leaving Kathmandu, we stop at the oasis of calm and beauty that is the "Garden of Dreams," also known at the "Keshar Mahal Palace and Gardens" and the "Garden of the Six Seasons." The garden is a prominent architectural example of Nepal's Rana period, with its mixture of western and oriental elements, and the adjacent neo-classical Palace.

The complex was built in the 1920s by Keshar Shumshere Rana, the third son of the Rana ruler in power at that time. His gardens abounded with all kinds of plants - not only from Nepal but also from Australia and Europe. The name 'Garden of the Six Seasons' reflects the six seasons prevailing in southern Asia : spring, early summer, summer monsoon, early autumn, late autumn and winter. Each of these seasons was represented with its own pavilion. Only three of the pavilions remain. The site has been and is being restored by Ecohimal.

More photos from my trip are available at Journey to Nepal, my photoset on Flickr

Top Ten Management Concepts

The 12manage Global Top-10 is a measurement of the popularity of management concepts over time. The organizational approaches are listed in order, number 1 being the method currently most in vogue.

1. Five Competitive Forces Porter
2. 14 Principles of Management Fayol
3. Marketing Mix McCarthy
4. Mind Mapping
5. BCG Matrix
6. Competitive Advantage Porter
7. SWOT Analysis
8. Diamond Model Porter
9. 7S Framework McKinsey
10. Balanced Scorecard Kaplan Norton

From www.12manage.com.