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”

What a Difference 27 Years Make

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newspaper-history-1314775-231x173We’ve seen pressure on all traditional media – print and television – for some time now. However, we might want to look at the recent history of radio as a harbinger for what to expect in these other media markets. I began working in the radio industry as an AM disc jockey in the late 1970s, just as, given its superior audio quality, FM was becoming the “go to” frequency band for music fans. Radio personalities had to find a way to attract and keep listeners. While still playing music, we began relying more on talk – mostly of the (innocent) humorous kind. It wasn’t much of a leap from there to Howard Stern and then to Rush Limbaugh.

Print media has been suffering a slow and agonizing death since before we originally started The Sentinel in 1989. I remember, at the time, telling one of my college classmates – whose family owns a well-known west coast newspaper publishing company – that I was starting a newspaper. He told me I was crazy. He had seen, first-hand, the erosion of the traditional newspaper business model. I told him, while the decline in the newspaper Continue Reading “What a Difference 27 Years Make”

The Secret of How to Overcome a Sore Throat When Speaking on Solar Neutrinos (or Anything Else)

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Sometimes physics advances too fast. Haste often creates problems. For example, when physicists developed the idea of the neutrino – a theoretically massless waste product from the thermonuclear furnaces powering stars – they calmly set up several underground experiments to detect these little critters as the sun spit them out. Trouble was, scientists couldn’t see enough of them to satisfy their hypothesis. “The data didn’t fit the theory,” claimed the academic elite, “so there must be something wrong with the data.” For forty years, our leading brains winced at the dilemma of the under counted neutrinos – an apparently unsolvable problem.

Your throat's getting worse. You've got to speak in two hours. How can you do it?

Your throat's getting worse. You've got to speak to the Rotary in just two hours. How can you do it?

But, I’m sure not many of you have visited here to learn how to solve the unsolvable problem of missing solar neutrinos. Here’s a more practical quandary: You’re scheduled to speak in a few hours and you’ve just come down with a cold. Your manager says you can take some over-the-counter thingamajig to solve the runny nose and fever, but that sore throat has you on the edge of laryngitis. What’s a great speaker to do?

Continue Reading “The Secret of How to Overcome a Sore Throat When Speaking on Solar Neutrinos (or Anything Else)”