Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the first president to die in office, but he was the first president to be assassinated. While credited as being the president who unified a divided country and cementing the notion of a single United States of America rather than a group of states united on the American continent, he came into office as one of the most controversial and divisive presidents. Yet, today, we revere him for his character, his wholesomeness, and his willingness to make personal sacrifices to get the job done.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky and, unlike William Henry Harrison, was a true frontiersman, having grown up in Kentucky and Indiana before moving to Illinois. During the era when we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday as a separate holiday, we’d hear stories of his life. Whether apocryphal or true, it didn’t matter, for they burned into our minds and hearts an ideal we were inspired to make as our own life’s work to continually strive for. The totality of Lincoln’s life offers many lessons. Here are just three:Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln”

Leadership Lessons of William Henry Harrison

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Our nation’s Founding Fathers were well studied men. When called upon to forge a new nation, they looked upon the lessons of the Classical Age for their source. But it wasn’t merely a litany of Greek and Roman heroes they sought. They dug deeper. They wanted to learn not only what succeeded, but what failed. They learned this about great nations, great government, and great men. Greek literature teaches us that every heroic character contains both good traits and bad traits. We learn the good traits to know what to mimic. We learn the bad traits to know what to avoid. So it is with the leadership lessons we learn from our presidents. Not all those lessons teach us what to do. Some teach us what not to do.

William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773 on his family’s plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. The ninth president of the United States, he was the last one born as a British subject (his father signed the Declaration of Independence), but the first one to have his picture taken while in office. He’s also the only president whose grandson would later become president (Benjamin Harrison served as the 23rd president from 1889 to 1893). He’s perhaps best known as the president who gave the longest inaugural address (taking almost 2 hours to read its 8,445 words) and served the shortest time in office (31 days). At 68 years of age, Harrison was the oldest president to be inaugurated until Ronald Reagan topped him by a year in 1980 (who was then surpassed by Donald Trump who was age 70 when he was sworn in).Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of William Henry Harrison”

Leadership Lessons of Ronald Reagan

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February once offered two holidays: Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, moving “Washington’s Birthday” from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Gone was “Lincoln’s Birthday” and the holiday soon became the generic “Presidents’ Day” we celebrate today (though the federal government still officially calls it “Washington’s Birthday”). It is in the spirit of “Presidents’ Day” that we mark February as “Presidents’ Month.” We will do so by devoting each weekly Commentary to the leadership lessons learned from the four presidents born in February.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. After a workmanlike acting career, Reagan served as governor of California before becoming our nation’s fortieth president. He remains one of the most popular and successful of our chief executives and is often referenced by Republicans and Democrats alike. (On a historical note, it wasn’t always that way, and those old enough to remain recall how the establishment’s reaction to Reagan’s inauguration was just as dour as what we see happening with President Trump today.)

Much has been written about Reagan’s leadership style and how it fueled consistent accomplishment. Some characterizations of Reagan unintentionally revealed the secret of Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of Ronald Reagan”

The Secret Power of Multitasking No One Ever Talks About

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“If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” I first heard this famous adage from Benjamin Franklin in my early twenties. I had just joined the Data Processing Management Association and the new president asked me to volunteer for a position. She was a smart, motivated, and very successful woman. So it goes without saying she was more than prepared for my inevitable (and lame) response. “I’m kinda busy,” I sheepishly replied. That’s when she said it.

“You know what they say, Chris, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person.’” She didn’t know it (or did she?), but, Continue Reading “The Secret Power of Multitasking No One Ever Talks About”

Are Better Educated People Easier to Fool with Persuasion Tricks?

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Dropped maskThe following is mere observation. You’ll understand why I’ve had to put the (rare) qualified at the beginning of the piece when you get to the end.

As I am wont to do given the demands of my primary profession – that would be picking (hopefully) winning stocks – I tend to read a lot. There are two types of articles I read. The first you might consider obvious. I read about anything that smacks of “the coming thing.” I want to know about the leading edge before the “L” in “Leading” appears. To do this, you’ve got to read a ton of articles detailing wild and crazy ideas and hope you’re alert enough to connect the dots before the rest of the (investing) world does. Then you find a publicly traded company (hopefully no one has paid attention to for a long time) and begin buying. This way, when the euphoria of that crazy idea reaches its climax and the rest of the (investing) world is doing everything it can to buy that stock, you can ride into that rising wave, confident you can sell (for a tidy profit) to those over-eager buyers.

OK, like I said, that was obvious.

The less obvious type of article I read doesn’t talk about wild and crazy ideas that become products. Instead, these articles provide potent examples of just how wild and crazy Continue Reading “Are Better Educated People Easier to Fool with Persuasion Tricks?”

You’re Never Too Old to Learn

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duck-with-ducklings-1543709For some reason, I never felt part of my high school peers. Actually, I know the reason. I never fully accepted moving from the comfort of the community where I was born to this strange new place. Mind you, the non-acceptance didn’t start with me. It was quite mutual. But that’s another story.

This story is about psychology. I can’t remember what interested me in the subject, but it had to be something very early in my life. By ninth grade, I had psycho-analyzed the entire high school population, separating them into nine distinct demographic groups based on their psychological profile as determined by their observed behavior. I never showed it to anyone, but I’m pretty sure I Continue Reading “You’re Never Too Old to Learn”