Brief Thoughts

Posted by: Col Jones
Date: 23 Jul 2017

Ilana Lowery, Editor of the Phoenix Business Journal, wrote an editorial recently about philanthropy. She emphasized that service and giving back are key to community. I agree. An except of Ilana's piece is below. The full article is available online.

  I was asked to speak to a group of employee volunteers at the Central Arizona Project about the importance of giving back to the community and why businesses should play a role in philanthropic endeavors.


  Arizona has a big heart and the community service and philanthropic deeds of individuals and companies across the state go well beyond the occasional donation or volunteer project.


  There is no substitute in the nonprofit space for passion for the mission. There are many reasons to get involved, so I asked a few prominent and business and nonprofit sector leaders why they think companies chose to be philanthropic.


  "Obviously, the charity receives much needed resources and the donor has fulfilled the basic human need of finding meaning in life. We give of ourselves and of our resources because as human beings we have the innate desire to make a positive difference in the world." - Pam Gaber, founder and president of Gabriel's Angels.

Posted by: Col Jones
Date: 08 Feb 2017
Col Bobby Woods, Director of HQ AFJROTC at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, penned the letter below about the "Power of Service." It's worth reading, for cadets, prospective cadets, and parents.

​Posted by: Col Jones
Date: 18 July 2016

Ilana Lowery, Editor of the Phoenix Business Journal, wrote an editorial recently on the dying practice of email etiquette. An except of Ilana's piece is below. The full article can be read here.

     While we try to work faster and more efficiently, we need to remember there are some social rules that accompany any form of communication. I searched to find a few handy tips. Author and business etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore offers a pretty good list, so I thought I’d share:
     Have a clear subject line.
     Make sure to “sign” your email.
     Use a professional salutation.
     Proofread your note.
     Don’t make someone scour the email chain to figure out what it is you are responding to.
     We’ve all heard this one before: Don’t reply when you’re angry or give a flippant response.
     Keep sensitive and private material confidential.
     Don’t overuse exclamation points! Also, emoticons, all CAPITALS and abbreviations should be left out of business communication as well.

     Keeping your emails professional and to the point takes a little thought, but hopefully these reminders will help.


Posted by: Col Jones
Date: 18 July 2016
Ilana Lowery, Editor of the Phoenix Business Journal, wrote an editorial recently on the lost art of handwritten thank-you notes. My wife and I are huge advocates of this simple, but important, gesture. We urge you to join us in remembering to send thank-you notes for any occasion where someone did something nice for you. An except of Ilana's piece is below. The full article can be read here.

   If anything, in today’s flood of digital communication, handwritten thank-you notes “hold even more importance now,” says Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute, which describes itself as a “civility barometer for American society.”
   “An e-mail is so easy, quick and impersonal that (nowadays) a note works even better,” Post says.
   There’s one thing I knew all the experts agree on: Handwritten thank-you notes still are elegant, warm and absolutely necessary. When someone spends both time and money to select and send something special, there’s really no excuse for not spending 10 minutes and a 49-cent stamp to acknowledge it.

​Posted by: Col Jones
Date: 18 July 2016
Ilana Lowery, Editor of the Phoenix Business Journal, wrote an editorial recently regarding the lack of influential leaders in societal debates. Some of the highlights are below. The full article can be read here.

   Building relationships and influencing others play key roles in that effort. These are the characteristics we are sorely lacking in society today:

   Inspire vision: People look for leaders who provide a strong sense of hope in their vision.

   Trust: Employees crave impactful mentors who are compassionate, trustworthy and care about improving the life of the recipient.

   Stability: This the foundation that hope is built on. Staying level-headed and avoiding being too proactive or reactive will provide a sense of calm.

   Knowing self: Displaying a strong set of values and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses will allow you to make better, more consistent decisions and show employees that you trust their judgment.

   Context: Connecting each person’s role to the bigger picture.

During times of tragedy, who were the individuals who stepped forward into the spotlight to lead? My guess is that they shared all of these leadership traits and more.


Posted by: Col Jones
Date: 03 October 2015

Ilana Lowery, Editor of the Phoenix Business Journal, recently began asking the question: How do we move women into leadership roles? Some key observation she made are set forth below. Her full article can be read here.

     The prospect of our country’s first female president — be it Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina — got me thinking about the importance of promoting diversity in business as well as politics. Some of the most successful companies we write about often are those that encourage diverse perspectives. Along with being the right thing to do, diversity and inclusion offer a strategic advantage — especially at the leadership level.
     A recent KPMG Women’s Leadership Study that landed in my inbox found that while a majority of women aspire to hold top leadership roles, they often find it difficult to see themselves as leaders.

     The survey, which polled more than 3,000 professional and college women ages 18 to 64 across the U.S., identified confidence building and leadership training as key elements to expanding women’s leadership opportunities.
     Six in 10 women said they aspire to be a senior leader of a company or organization. But the same number also said they find it hard to envision themselves as leaders.
     Those numbers need to improve, and one way to do that is by teaching leadership lessons to women at an early age. Three-quarters of women surveyed expressed the desire to have learned more about leadership while growing up, as well as having more opportunities to practice leadership skills.
     When asked what training and development skills were needed to help move more women into leadership roles, women cited leadership training, confidence building, decision-making, networking, and critical thinking most often.
     So how do company executives build that confidence — an attribute identified as most essential to leadership success?
     Fewer than half of all respondents identified themselves as confident in the study. Sixty-seven percent said they need more support in building confidence to feel like they can be leaders.

     A big discrepancy was found, though, between knowing the importance of engaging other women and actually doing it. While seven in 10 working women said they feel a personal obligation to help more women advance, only a third have figured out how to leverage and support other female employees. This is a sad fact that must change.

Posted by: Col Jones

Date: 12 June 2015

I read a good article about leadership by my friend, and syndicated columnist, Harvey Mackay, recently. The full text can be viewed here.

I agree with Harvey: True leadership spells everything out.

     U.S. President and five-star General Dwight Eisenhower used a simple device to illustrate the art of leadership.  Laying an ordinary piece of string on a table, he’d illustrate how you could easily pull it in any direction. “However, try and push it,” he cautioned, “and it won’t go anywhere.  It’s just that way when it comes to leading people.” Leadership at any successful organization needs to be plainly defined.  Here’s how I see it:

     L is for loyalty.  A leader must be loyal to the organization, and leave no question that he or she is committed to its success.  Loyalty is the distinguishing quality of winners.  That goes for everyone – entrepreneurs, owners, managers and employees.  No exceptions.  A leader models loyalty so that it works top down, bottom up and side-to-side, and at all times.
     E is for enthusiasm.  Leaders know that enthusiasm is contagious, and they help spread it around.  If you are excited about hitting the pavement every day, it will show.  And that generates enthusiasm among your employees and customers.
     A is for adversity.  Truly effective leaders accept adversity as a condition of doing business.  I have never met a successful person who hasn’t had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity.  Don’t be afraid of adversity – handled properly, it makes you stronger.  It helps you grow.  Problems and people can’t stop you.  The only thing that can stop you is YOU.
     D is for determination.  Determined people, particularly determined leaders, possess the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule or unfavorable circumstances.  In fact, discouragement usually spurs them on to greater things.  When they get discouraged, they recognize that in order to change their results, some change is in order.  Determined people also exhibit another “D” trait:  discipline.
     E is for example.  We lead by example, whether in business, family or friendships.  It doesn’t matter if you’re raising children or managing people, setting a good example is one of the most important leadership skills.  You have to practice what you preach.  How you conduct yourself says more than any instructions you may give.  Set high personal standards and expect the same from your staff.
     R is for resilience.  Failure is all too common in business and in life.  Anyone who has ever run a business wakes up regularly with nightmares about the what-ifs.  Successful people are resilient.  They don’t let hard times turn into end times.  Let them lead to your best times.

     S is for sincerity.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  “Go team go” only works if you are sincerely committed to what you are doing.
     H is for heart.  A good decision must factor in the human element.  When your head and your heart say the same thing, you can bet it’s the right answer.  There’s no denying the heart of a leader.  Use your head, to be sure, but don’t ignore what your heart is telling you.
     I is for integrity.  Integrity begins at the top.  Leaders must set the example – inspiring employees to do what is right, rather than what is easy.  We must clearly define what is expected throughout the organization, ensuring integrity is first and foremost in our decision-making.  Enduring leaders know that integrity is not optional.
     P is for purpose.  Leaders think in terms of goals.  There isn’t a college football coach with a greater sense of purpose than Lou Holtz.  He proved it at Notre Dame, Arkansas, the University of Minnesota and a host of other universities.  Did you know that Lou once coached the New York Jets?  He left the job after only eight months.  Why?  Because, as Lou told me, he came to the job “without a clear sense of purpose.  Absent a focus of my own, I couldn’t give one to the team.  I was embarrassed by my inability to provide them with proper leadership.  So I left.”  Few leaders are as honest.