About Me

My photo
As the saying goes, “experience is what you get just after you needed it.” I started this blog after writing my book, It Beats Eatin’ Lizards: Lessons Learned in Leadership and Life, in which I share short stories that reflect the lessons in everyday experiences, like the lady who won’t give the governor more than one piece of chicken. The title comes from a lesson learned about the power of perspective: it can always be worse. In 1984, when I complained about a boring lecture in a hot auditorium at Maxwell Air Force Base, my classmate (an Army Green Beret and survival instructor) matter-of-factly informed me that “it beats eatin’ lizards.” I retired from the United States Air Force in January 1994, where I was a commander; management consultant; budget officer; executive officer; curriculum manager; project manager; quality consultant; and quality advisor. Since then, I’ve held various positions in training and communication. I have a master’s degree in business administration and am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in organization & management. I hope to hear from you for any feedback or suggestions you might have!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Dealing with Your Happiness
I think
this theory called "the missing tile syndrome" is profound. Prager argues that one of the ways we ruin our happiness is to look at a beautiful scene and fixate on whatever is flawed or missing, no matter how small. Imagine looking at a tiled ceiling from which one tile is missing and you’ll most likely focus on that missing tile. The more beautiful the ceiling, the more you will concentrate on the missing tile and let it affect your enjoyment of it. Now when it comes to ceilings or anything else in the physical world, wanting things to exist in its complete form is desirable or even necessary. Ceilings, he says, can be perfect, but life cannot. In life, there will always be tiles missing. We can always imagine a more perfect life, or we can choose to focus on real or perceived flaws to diminish our happiness. He said in order to deal with the Missing Tile syndrome, we have to determine if what’s missing is central to our happiness or if it is just another insatiable longing. The solution, he says, is to "Get It, Forget It, or Replace It" with another tile. In many circumstances I challenge myself to take my focus off the missing tile and onto the "beautiful ceiling" that is my life. I would encourage everyone to consider this powerful analogy as you go about your days.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802 :
"...banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property ..."

Friday, February 11, 2011

book review

Got a nice review on the book from a friend:



Thursday, February 3, 2011

MINIMUM CHARGES on debit/credit cards

I've had numerous run-ins with businesses that try to impose a minimum amount when you use a debit card. This violates the merchant agreement with the credit card company!

Here's the guidance the businesses get from MasterCard/Visa:

Visa® & MasterCard® Rules and Regulations
As a merchant accepting MasterCard® and Visa®, there are basic card acceptance rules that you must follow. By adhering to these rules, you can increase customer satisfaction and ensure that you do not run into compliance issues, which may put your continued ability to accept credit cards at risk. The following are some of the rules outlined in the Visa and MasterCard manuals:
Card Logos & Acceptance: You must display the appropriate card logos for any card types that you accept and advise your customers of their payment options. You must honor all categories of cards (credit, debit, rewards etc.) within each card type that you accept.

Dollar Minimums and Maximums: You may not impose a minimum or maximum amount for any transactions. If you do not accept a customer charge, which is below a certain amount that you specify, the customer can notify Visa and/or MasterCard, who will take the appropriate steps to see that you understand and adhere to the card acceptance rules and regulations.

I've filed more complaints than you would believe, and every time I've given the merchant the chance to avoid it, they stick to their guns. I'm not sure they even know the rule; some do and just don't care because they know WE don't know. The next time you see that sign that says, "MINIMUM $10.00 charge on credit/debit cards," tell them it's AGAINST the rule. If they give you a hard time, complain to the credit card company.

On another note, saw this when visiting Pennsylvania, and thought it was great:

The Amish Challenge:

If you admire our faith, strengthen yours.
If you admire our sense of commitment, deepen yours.
If you admire our community spirit, build your own.
If you admire our simple life, cut back.
If you admire deep character and enduring values, live them yourself.

See ya next time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Take the money out of politics

Following the Constitutional Convention in 1787, legend has it that a woman asked Ben Franklin, “What kind of government are you giving us?” He replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." I’m very afraid that we’re close to not keeping it. As a military officer, the fundamental values were simple and direct: “I will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do.” We are constantly bombarded with cases of government officials who lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate such acts with no accountability whatsoever. Why should elected officials be held to anything less? The US Air Force taught me a great way to assess whether something should (or should not) be done—it was referred to as “the Jack Anderson test.” Jack Anderson (1922-2005) was a syndicated newspaper columnist, and was considered one of the fathers of modern investigative journalism. The “test” was simply this: If something you are about to do (or not do) were to appear tomorrow in Jack Anderson’s column in the Washington Post, could you live with it?
We were lied to about the “need” to invade Iraq. We were cheated by those chartered with oversight of the financial system. Our civil rights continue to be stolen under the guise of a “war on terror.” Why are these things tolerated? Why do we blame “the government?” Governments don’t commit crimes or violate ethical principles—people do. In leadership and management courses I’ve taught, one of the basic tenets is this: when everyone is responsible for something, then no one is. We need leaders who will exemplify integrity and hold accountable those who don’t follow suit. As citizens, we have to vote for candidates because they have character, not because they are Republican or Democrat. It’s been well-documented in management literature that structure drives behavior. Our bureaucratic governmental structure by definition lacks accountability, therefore promoting complacency or the belief that “one person can’t make a difference.”
We can eliminate a major force behind the failures of leadership in this country by taking the money out of politics. The US Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. Justice Stevens rightly stated the majority had committed a “grave error” in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. He wrote, “The difference between selling a vote and selling access is a matter of degree, not kind, and selling access is not qualitatively different from giving special preference to those who spent money on one’s behalf.” I agree—corporations don’t lie, cheat, or steal—people do.
The problem is that the only people who can fix the system are the ones who benefit from it. Representative government was not designed to be a career; many would argue that our government is not truly representative due to the high percentage of millionaires in office today. Seniority rules in congress; priority number one is to keep one’s seat. In order to do this, incumbents have self-awarded practical advantages over challengers along with the financial advantages of being able to “sell access” (see Justice Stevens above!). There are retirement benefits, premium health care, generous speaking fees, huge budgets for staff, and great job prospects upon leaving (often working for those who donated to the campaigns). As long as elected officials are allowed to be more concerned with themselves than their constituents or their country, this will not change. When every issue becomes win-lose, we all lose.
This is our fault. We get what we deserve by electing convicted felons, not paying attention to the issues, and getting all our information from extremist cable TV talking (or screaming) heads. Critical thinking does not mean being critical of something, especially just because you heard someone else being critical. An idea isn’t bad just because you didn’t think of it. Our political leaders should stop talking so much and start listening more. We should make them listen. We must remind them of James Madison’s words that “a republic is a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people.” Most importantly, we must know what’s happening and hold people accountable for their actions or inaction. As the saying goes, “Politics is like fishing--you don't have to be a genius, you just have to be smarter than the fish.”