Is Obedience To Authority A Virtue Or A Crime?

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World War II marks a turning point in almost every facet of mankind. From science to engineering, from business to politics, to the very core of our culture, the world changed as America rebuilt Europe and reframed Japan. You see a shift from a feudal/monarchical-centric philosophy towards a populace/organizational-centric viewpoint.

Within the academic arena, research on authority moved from the Sociology Department to the Psychology Department. In fact, one of the most famous and useful psychology experiments of the mid-twentieth century represents this shift. It answered the most compelling question regarding the nature of authority to come out of the Second World War.

The Psychological Origins of Authority

You might not recognize the name Stanley Milgram, but you’ll instantly recognize his Continue Reading “Is Obedience To Authority A Virtue Or A Crime?”

What Is A Good Leader?

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We all want to be one. We want our children to be one. And when we’re not one, we want the person in charge to be one.

What is it?

It’s not just a “leader,” it’s a “GOOD leader.”

This represents a significant qualifier. You’ll need to brace yourself for this one. The word doesn’t reflect a moral imperative (yet), it merely alludes to effectiveness.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “but if a leader isn’t moral, why would I ever follow him?”

Let me counter that with a different question: If you find yourself placed in a life or death Continue Reading “What Is A Good Leader?”

Do Self-Assessments Really Work?

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What’s the difference between the Lifetime Dream Process and any of the many other forms of self-assessment? While some of the more astute readers might have already deduced the answer by reading the preceding Commentaries, at some point it helps everyone to forgo subtlety and bluntly reveal why the Lifetime Dream Process is not like any other process you might have heard of or even tried. In the next two weeks, I’ll begin to conclude this series by comparing and contrasting the Lifetime Dream Process to several of these systems.

This week I’d like to focus on self-assessments. These often come in the form of a test but might also take on the nature of a conversation. In either case, compared to the Lifetime Dream Process, each fails to get deeply into the heart of the matter.

To understand why getting to the heart of the matter is important, you might want to read Continue Reading “Do Self-Assessments Really Work?”

‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’

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If you’re old enough to remember simpler times, you’ll recall this title as the punch-line to one of President Reagan’s favorite jokes. The gag revealed not only Reagan’s engaging sense of humor, but also a lot about his political philosophy and his outlook on life.

The essence of the story goes something like this. It’s Christmas morning and two young brothers hurriedly amble towards the Christmas tree to discover their gifts. On one side lay piles of wonderful toys for one of the boys. He looked at it and sorrowfully said, “They’ll all be broken in a day or two.” The other boy’s gift, on the other side of the tree, was nothing but a pile of manure. He quickly grabbed a shovel and began to dig, joyfully telling his dour sibling, “There’s must be a pony in here somewhere!”

It’s the age-old tale of the wonders of optimism contrasted with the annoyance of Continue Reading “‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’”

How Divide and Conquer Works (And How To Avoid Falling Prey To It)

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While getting his MBA from Duke, a college classmate of mine was asked by a visiting speaker why my classmate thought he (the speaker) preferred hiring ex-athletes?

Now, my classmate was the perfect person to ask this question to. He’s played hockey from his youth to well into his adult years. He is the ultimate athlete, the ultimate team player, and the ultimate performer. I don’t know if the speaker knew his background prior to asking the question, but he could sure guess it once my friend offered his answer. This is how the young MBA candidate responded:

“You prefer to hire ex-athletes because of the following traits: alignment toward a common goal, teamwork, communication, trying to perform your best, etc.”

The speaker said that was all good, but it wasn’t the biggest reason he hired former Continue Reading “How Divide and Conquer Works (And How To Avoid Falling Prey To It)”

Why 7-15-60 is the Winning Combination of Every Group that Wants Lasting Influence

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Civic associations represent the backbone of a vibrant democracy. They have fueled American Exceptionalism since the very beginning of our country. But don’t take my word. Read what one of history’s most quoted experts had to say on this very subject.

“Among democratic nations, on the contrary, all the citizens are independent and feeble; they can do hardly anything by themselves, and none of them can oblige his fellow men to lend him their assistance. They all, therefore, become powerless if they do not learn voluntarily to help one another. …if they never acquired the habit of forming associations in ordinary life, civilization itself would be endangered.”

“Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations… The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools… Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.”

Continue Reading “Why 7-15-60 is the Winning Combination of Every Group that Wants Lasting Influence”

5 Tactics of a Winning Little League Coach

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I never asked to be a baseball coach. As you might recall (see “A New Beginning,” Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, April 27, 2017), baseball and I have had a strange – and sometimes strained – relationship. You could understand my reluctance to agree to play the part of assistant coach for my son’s T-Ball team. Still, it was only T-Ball (how hard could that be) and it was my neighbor who was the head coach. He needed help, so, as any good neighbor would, I readily assented to assist. But, then, the unexpected happened.Continue Reading “5 Tactics of a Winning Little League Coach”

How to Protect Yourself From Being Hypnotized Without Knowing It

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Have you ever been mesmerized? It happens all the time. To everyone. It’s like when you look at one of those pictures with all these tantalizing shapes. They dazzle your eyes, preventing you from seeing the real picture hidden within. That’s what being mesmerized is like. And you don’t even know it’s happening.

Several years ago I found myself in San Antonio to make a presentation about how research in behavioral finance identifies useful techniques to help people save for their retirement. A fellow came up to me. He had read my book 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions and told me he felt every professional should read it. Then he asked the question no author ever wants to answer: “So, how is your book selling?”

I didn’t know the best way to respond, so all I said was the coy, “I’d like sales to be better.”

Then he told me something fascinating, something I had never heard before. He revealed Continue Reading “How to Protect Yourself From Being Hypnotized Without Knowing It”

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”

Trump, Truth, and Confirmation Bias

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rorschach-fantasy-1617886_660x395I’ve been retired from active politics for more than two decades. In that time, I’ve focused on my primary business – picking winning stocks and avoiding losing stocks. It’s almost impossible to bat a thousand doing this, but I believe (and hope I’ve demonstrated) there’s a way to increase your odds.

Shortly after I left the political realm, I began in earnest to take on the financial industry establishment. (Truth be told, as readers of my initial run as publisher of The Sentinel know, I actually started this years before.) As a new firm, I had to find a position that differentiated our services from our competitors. Taking on the establishment wasn’t a rebel yell, it was a marketing imperative. Quite simply, no new business can survive if it Continue Reading “Trump, Truth, and Confirmation Bias”

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