Leading Blog






05.13.21

Leading Thoughts for May 13, 2021

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Joann Lublin on how parenting can make parents better leaders and bosses:

“A high proportion of younger mothers and fathers believe that parenthood makes them better leaders, another study revealed. About 55% of parents under 35 “strongly agree” that’s true—compared with 28% of ones over 45, a 2019 survey of 1,003 individuals with and without children stated.

Motherhood transforms many women into better leaders. Power Moms from all generations reported to me that they had become better bosses by raising families. Tapping skills honed as time-starved parents, they set priorities well, multitasked, and delegated effectively. They also managed with empathy. It’s a quality greatly valued by companies because they must operate in an increasingly complex and diverse global economy.”

Source: Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life

II.

Malcolm Gladwell on the birth of revolutions:

“Revolutions are invariably group activities. Rarely does someone start a revolution alone. Revolutions are birthed in conversation, argument, validation, proximity, and the look in your listener’s eye that tells you you’re on to something.”

Source: The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:38 AM
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05.12.21

Scenario Planning vs. Forecasting: 6 Questions to Ask to Prepare for a Post-Pandemic Future

Scenario Planning vs Forecasting

AS WE finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, many business leaders are looking for ways to better anticipate future disruptions and prepare for uncertainty ahead.

There is often confusion between scenario planning and forecasting, with the terms used interchangeably and inconsistently. But these are different methods that involve specific activities, outcomes and value add.

Scenario planning is focused on the future and involves defining different stories behind different paths that will lead to that future. You could also say it is based on a dynamic sequence of interacting events, causal processes, and critical decision points. It offers enhanced flexibility and preparedness to deal with risk and uncertainty instead of purely quantitative forecasting. It is about understanding multiple plausible futures without blinkers on, identifying what could happen, and describing that outcome in a compelling, engaging narrative. Scenarios are also collaborative—typically involving teams of people, often from various levels within an organization—and there is often a creative dimension, as opposed to being purely based on quantitative number-crunching. Scenarios provide longer-term, multiple futures based on unknown risks and uncertainties (e.g., the results of a U.S. election).

Forecasts, on the other hand, are constructed on the assumption that the world in the future looks much like it does today. Forecasting is a less creative process and does not anticipate significant shifts in the business environment, which can cause considerable challenges for organizational strategy and a firm’s performance. Also, forecasts do not factor in risks and uncertainty as part of a broader stakeholder dialogue or research exercise. Instead, forecasting uses quantitative inputs and methodology to help predict what will, or should, happen in the future, mainly by interpreting historical data. Forecasting is a shorter-term tool that provides certainty based on known variables in the system (e.g., passenger traffic for airlines).

To put it more bluntly:

Forecasts offer one possible future, whereas scenarios offer multiple possible futures. Neither tool is better than the other; they simply offer different approaches to solving problems and should be used in a complementary way.

The table below provides a more detailed contrast between scenario planning and forecasting, comparing various features and explaining the differences:

Scenario Planning Chart

When deciding which tool to apply to a problem or opportunity, there are six typical questions that you can ask to help identify whether scenario planning or forecasting will be more effective:

  1. Is the future uncertain and unpredictable, or certain and predictable?
  2. Are one or multiple futures more likely?
  3. Is the focus on qualitative or quantitative analysis?
  4. Is the organization looking for an objective, fact-based discussion with stakeholders or a subjective, wider-ranging discussion?
  5. Is the organization looking for a shorter-term (within one year) or longer-term (multi-year) perspective on the future?
  6. Can the analysis results be replicated on an ongoing basis, or are they a one-time representation of unique information?

As Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster based in Silicon Valley, said, “the goal of forecasting is not to predict the future, but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present.” In a world of so many different management tools at the fingertips of leaders, it’s vital to ensure you select the right one to drive the outcomes you need to be successful.

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Leading Forum
Lance Mortlock is a strategy partner with Ernst & Young, a visiting professor at the Haskayne School of Business, and a board member for the Canadian Energy & Climate Nexus. Mortlock distills cutting-edge research, high-level management theory, and real-world examples to show how scenario planning can help any business be more resilient, build shock absorbers, and take control of its destiny in Disaster Proof: Scenario Planning for a Post-Pandemic Future. Connect with Lance on LinkedIn and his website

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Predictive Analytics Good Strategy Bad Strategy

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:11 AM
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05.06.21

Leading Thoughts for May 6, 2021

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Susan McPherson on making a genuine connection with others:

“We’re living in a loneliness epidemic that is causing declines in physical and mental health, as well as decreased work satisfaction and performance. It’s clear that the art of connecting is lost. We’re talking, Zooming, Tweeting, and texting, but we’re not feeling a sense of connection. People have lost their sense of belonging and purpose in their careers and their lives. Why? Because we’ve come to lean too hard on our digital lives. Virtual connections are not the end; they are the means to an end—an authentic relationship with depth, be it professional or personal.”

Source: The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships

II.

To uncover your what drives you, Victoria Labalme offers the Desert Island Question:

“If you were on a deserted island dying and you knew you weren’t going to make it … that this was the end… but there was a young person with you—someone you cared about deeply … and if—before you died—you could give that young person only one piece of advice about life and how they might best live theirs … what would that one piece of advice be?”

Source: Risk Forward: Embrace the Unknow and Unlock Your Hidden Genius

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:14 AM
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05.03.21

Never Say Never: The Importance of Word Choice in Leadership Communication

Never Say Never

LANGUAGE matters.

As I conduct observation coaching with leaders, I watch for how their words resonate with their audience. Does what they say induce fear? Excitement? Do attendees in the meeting cringe at certain words, or do their metaphors generate inspiration?

Effective leaders use communication as a critical competency to build trusting relationships, align team members around a vision, lead necessary change, and drive action. Communication involves verbal, non-verbal, and intuitive delivery and receiving of messages. It also requires listening and speaking with intention. In support of that, the communication process typically involves five critical steps.

  1. Source: the sender of the message who is communicating
  2. Encoding: the way a sender frames a message into an easily understood format that can be sent and received. This step requires the sender to know their audience and convey their message clearly and concisely to support understanding.
  3. Channel: how you deliver your message (i.e., verbally through a meeting, phone calls, video conferencing, written, emails, memo,s text, and social media).
  4. Decoding: occurs when the receiver actively listens to a message to ensure accurate transmission and interpretation.
  5. Receiver: Receives the message and brings their own perspectives, experience, feelings, and histories that impact how a message is received.

Any missteps, gaps, or errors in these stages can lead to a serious breakdown in the communication cycle. It can destroy relationships, damage trust, and contribute to adverse impacts on business outcomes. In medicine, law enforcement, education, and almost every profession, communication failures lead to lasting negative impacts.

The best leaders maneuver these five steps in a way that leaves their teams feeling heard, understood, and valued. To accomplish this, leaders have a responsibility to ensure they are appropriately using every step of the communication cycle to deliver an accurate message.

Effective communication is difficult for a variety of reasons. Our lack of knowledge around cultural differences, as well as human factors such as stress, fatigue, and communication skills, all play a role in the potential breakdown of communication. Today, there is an emphasis on rapid decision making, and fast-paced problem solving that often involve many parties and differing perspectives.

Given these variables, there are several things to keep in mind to avoid communication breakdown.

1. Avoid Certain Words

There are words that create a negative emotional reaction regardless of the intent behind the word. We certainly do not need to eliminate all these words, but carefully considering your purpose, tone, and the desired reaction can ensure these words do not leave others frustrated or disengaged.

  • Why
    “Why did you do that?” “Why didn’t you just do this?” “Why wouldn’t you just . . .?”

    When we start a sentence with why, we are often seeking clarity. However, “why” can cause people to become immediately defensive, guarded and feel they need to justify their actions. In an effort to protect themselves, fight or flight kicks in and you do not get the best response or discussion. While there are times when this is the most appropriate word to bring forth, be cautious about when and how you use it and pay attention to the reaction in others.

  • Just
    This word becomes problematic when we use it in the context of people. For example, “Pat is just our assistant,” “You need to just figure it out,” or “Just wondering if you’ve looked at the proposal.”

    When we use the term in these contexts, it can be demeaning and diminishes the role, effort, and value of others. Leaders who inadvertently use this language risk diminishing confidence and value amongst their team members, even when the statement is not sent directly to one of them. Using just risks making others feel insignificant.

  • But
    The dreaded but. “You did a great job, but” “Sorry I'm late, but” or “I wanted to help, but.” When we use this term, often, it negates the phrase before it. When we issue a compliment, followed by but, the listener only hears the criticism that follows, and the previous statement is lost. It can feel critical and take on a tone that lacks accountability.

    Often, we can replace the word in our language with “and” instead. This simple switch will elevate how people feel about your comments and feedback. Try it.

2. Be Cautious When Using Idioms

I have made this mistake too many times to count. Recently, I met with a partner from France. I used the idiom, “let me put a bug in your ear,” to share an idea I wanted her to consider. That phrase was unfamiliar to her, and my intention was lost on her.

While idioms seem helpful to make a point, there is also a significant risk that they originated and have a history that is different than your intention in today's world. Ethic, cultural, racial, or religious idioms that were accepted and used in the past may no longer be appropriate today.

3. Avoid Absolutes

“Nobody does it better,” or “I have the best employee/team.” Again, while this is often used to elevate those close to us, it generally has the effect of alienating others and diminishing their skills and abilities. Additionally, terms like all, none, must, never, only, always can be hooks. They have no exceptions and do not leave room for error or discussion. They can be taken as condensing and make others feel inferior.

The words we use matter, especially in a leadership role where our teams regularly react and listen closely to what we share. Start paying attention to the reactions you receive when speaking and cut out the words and phrases that are spurring a negative response.

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Leading Forum
Laurie Cure is the President and CEO of Innovative Connections. Her focus is consulting in strategic planning, organizational development, talent management, and leadership, including change management and culture evolution. With more than 25 years of leadership experience, she has dedicated her career to delivering strategic visions, working with executives/senior leaders to drive organizational outcomes, and researching and publishing on important industry issues and topics. She is the author of Leading without Fear, about overcoming fear in the workplace. You can connect with her on her website and on LinkedIn

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5 Gears Meeting People Where They Are

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05.01.21

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2021

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May 2021. Don't miss out on other great new and future releases not listed here.

9780063046153Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Have you ever dreaded Sunday night, got a pit in your stomach on the way to work, or had your heartbeat speed up at the sound of your boss’s voice? If so, you may have had anxiety at work. In this empathetic and wise guide, executive coaches and gurus of gratitude Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton explore the causes of workplace stress and anxiety and the management practices that have proven successful in reducing tension and cultivating calm. In today’s volatile, fast-paced, and ever-changing global climate, organizations and their employees are under more pressure than ever to perform. Anxiety at Work shows how everyone at all levels can work together to build an environment that fosters camaraderie, productivity, and calm.

9781595622419Wellbeing at Work by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter

What if the next global crisis is a mental health pandemic? It is here now. One-third of Americans have shown signs of clinical anxiety or depression, and the current state of suffering globally has risen significantly. The mental health pandemic manifests everywhere, not least in your workplace. As organizations around the world face health and social crises, as well as economic uncertainty, acknowledging and improving wellbeing in your workplace is more critical than ever. Increasingly, leaders and managers must support mental health and cultivate resilience in employees — not just increase engagement and performance. Based on more than 100 million Gallup global interviews, Wellbeing at Work shows you how to do just that.

9781982132613Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone

Almost ten years ago, Bloomberg journalist Brad Stone captured the rise of Amazon in his bestseller The Everything Store. Since then, Amazon has expanded exponentially, inventing novel products like Alexa and disrupting countless industries, while its workforce has quintupled in size and its valuation has soared to well over a trillion dollars. Jeff Bezos’s empire, once housed in a garage, now spans the globe. Between services like Whole Foods, Prime Video, and Amazon’s cloud computing unit, AWS, plus Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post, it’s impossible to go a day without encountering its impact. We live in a world run, supplied, and controlled by Amazon and its iconoclast founder. Definitive, timely, and revelatory, Stone has provided an unvarnished portrait of a man and company that we couldn’t imagine modern life without.

9781250246523Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan

The definitive guide to communicating and connecting in a hybrid world. Humans rely on body language to connect and build trust, but with most of our communication happening from behind a screen, traditional body language signals are no longer visible -- or are they? In Digital Body Language, Erica Dhawan, a go-to thought leader on collaboration and a passionate communication junkie, combines cutting edge research with engaging storytelling to decode the new signals and cues that have replaced traditional body language across genders, generations, and culture. In real life, we lean in, uncross our arms, smile, nod and make eye contact to show we listen and care. Online, reading carefully is the new listening. Writing clearly is the new empathy. And a phone or video call is worth a thousand emails. Digital Body Language will turn your daily misunderstandings into a set of collectively understood laws that foster connection, no matter the distance. Dhawan investigates a wide array of exchanges―from large conferences and video meetings to daily emails, texts, IMs, and conference calls―and offers insights and solutions to build trust and clarity to anyone in our ever changing world.

9781633698390Workparent: The Complete Guide to Succeeding on the Job, Staying True to Yourself, and Raising Happy Kids by Daisy Dowling

An all-in-one resource for every working mother and father. Sure, there are plenty of parenting books out there. But as working moms and dads, we've never had a trusted, go-to guide all our own—one that coaches us on how to do well at work, be the loving and engaged parents we want to be, and remain true to ourselves in the process. Enter Workparent. Whether you're planning a family, pushing for promotion during your kids' teenage years, or at any phase in between, Workparent provides all the advice and assurance you'll need to combine children and career in your own, authentic way. Written by Daisy Dowling, a top executive coach, talent expert, and working mom, Workparent answers all of your questions and feels like a good talk with your favorite mentor.

9781632651846 9781774580523 9781541768420

For bulk orders call 1-626-441-2024

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 28 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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“The great thing is to be always reading but never get bored—treat it not like work, more as a vice.”
— C. S. Lewis

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Whats New in Leadership Books Best Books of 2020

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:12 AM
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04.30.21

LeadershipNow 140: April 2021 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from April 2021 that you don't want to miss:

See more on twitter Twitter.

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6 New Rules Lead from theFuture



Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:00 AM
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04.29.21

Leading Thoughts for April 29, 2021

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Phil Knight on competition:

“Emotion would be fatal. I needed to remain cool. I thought back on my running career at Oregon. I’d competed with, and against, men far better, faster, more physically gifted. Many were future Olympians. And yet, I’d trained myself to forget this unhappy fact. People reflexively assume that competition is always a good thing, that it always brings out the best in people, but that’s only true of people who can forget the competition. The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, ‘Not one more step!’ And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it. I thought over all the races in which my mind wanted one thing, and my body wanted another, those laps in which I’d had to tell my body, ‘Yes, you raise some excellent points, but let’s keep going anyway…’”

Source: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

II.

Randy Komisar on personal success:

“Considering personal risk forces us to define personal success. We may well discover that the business failure we avoid and the business success we strive for do not lead us to personal success at all. Most of us have inherited notions of "success" from someone else or have arrived at these notions by facing a seemingly endless line of hurdles extending from grade school through college and into our careers. We constantly judge ourselves against criteria that others have set and rank ourselves against others in their game. Personal goals, on the other hand, leave us on our own, without this habit of useless measurement and comparison.

Work hard, work passionately, but apply your most precious asset—time—to what is most meaningful to you. What are you willing to do for the rest of your life? does not mean, literally, what will you do for the rest of your life? That question would be absurd, given the inevitability of change. No, what the question really asks is, if your life were to end suddenly and unexpectedly tomorrow, would you be able to say you’ve been doing what you truly care about today? What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life? What would it take to do it right now?”

Source: The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:42 AM
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04.27.21

The FBI Way: The Seven C’s of Excellence

The FBI Way

THE Federal Bureau of Investigation is a respected American institution that had its beginnings in 1908. Its 100-plus years of exceptional performance, the former head of counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi says, is attributed to the organizational code that demanded internal excellence at all times, from everyone. He calls it the FBI Way.

In The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence, Figliuzzi organizes and explains that code and how it is maintained as The Seven C’s. These seven values are worth considering in any context.

1. Code

The code reflects the core values that are shared by everyone in the organization.

If you haven’t established basic behavioral benchmarks in your business, organization, team, or family, you should. They don’t have to be numerous; in fact, they shouldn’t be. Too many rules can very quickly turn into no rules at all. Determine what type of conduct so undermines whatever you or your group stands for that it poses an existential threat. Communicate those “danger zones” clearly and frequently.

The FBI, as an institution, enforces code and investigates deviations from that code—the U.S. Constitution and the criminal code. Living out their own code becomes critical to that process, especially in a political environment with really no code.

You can’t live by two codes at once. You also can’t spot and avoid the kinds of codes and conduct that threaten your values if you never even develop a strong sense of what it is that you value. You’ll never see the threat coming. We might not die from an absence of code, but regardless of who we are, our lives and livelihoods are enhanced when we know what we stand for.

2. Conservancy

The FBI is a conservancy. I like his terminology here. Like stewardship, conservancy is “a collective effort to preserve and protect the true worth of a place or thing. People in conservancy agree to become stewards accountable for sustaining an entity greater than themselves.”

Accountability is key here. And everyone in the FBI is accountable to someone, and the higher up you go, the more accountable you are.

He briefly mentions the missteps of Jim Comey in 2017. Comey cast doubt on the FBI when he allowed himself to be drug into the political drama of the time. It’s human, but Figliuzzi says it basically came down to the fact that he forgot who he was accountable to. It is hard not to become political, even when writing a book such as this, but it is critical to the FBI’s credibility that it is not seen as political. As Figliuzzi advises later in the book, “Sometimes taking a broader view of your mission can help you preserve your values.

Figliuzzi notes that families need conservators too. And his wife filled that role.

3. Clarity

Clarity applies in a number of ways. Clarity includes “bright lines;” Those lines, that when crossed, get you fired. Clarity of code.

The need for clarity of information for decision making and the clarity to know when you have enough or all you are going to get. “You need to know when to demand clarity and when to just walk away.”

And there is the clarity of purpose and principle that help you to know when to say yes and when to walk away.

Too often, when organizations have their most important standards challenged, they engage in a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to defend their core values. Those organizations don’t recognize that standards worth defining are standards worth defending.

4. Consequences

There should be no surprises when it comes to consequences. A code must have repercussions when it is violated, or it is just “window dressing.”

A code that’s not enforced quickly becomes a lie that undermines your entire operation. You can’t just wish a code into compliance; people need to understand that there’s a price to pay if they endanger the collective health of the larger team. Consequences put teeth in a code.

A family, a company, or a country that’s shy about triggering established consequences can expect boundaries to be repeatedly pushed to the point of breaking.

5. Compassion

A code without compassion doesn’t work for long. Compassion and consequences go hand-in-hand. Sometimes compassion means looking in the mirror to see how you or a dysfunctional system lead to the poor judgment or wrong behavior.

Compassion provides the necessary balance to what could be an otherwise harsh and cold process. As sure as people need to know that their leaders have set bright lines on conduct, they also need to trust that those leaders will treat them as valued human beings. That’s why good leaders take a holistic approach to weighing consequences by assessing an employee’s total record, the context that led to their lapse, and that team member’s capacity to overcome their wrongdoing.

6. Credibility

Credibility is the bedrock of a values-based organization or group. And that applies both within the organization and about the organization. “People must believe in us and the values we represent. It is credibility that determines whether values survive beyond the personalities of individual leaders.”

Credible preservation of principles happens when the process is codified, objective, and comprehensive. Codification means the process must not only be in writing but also easily accessible, understandable, and taken seriously.

Credibility isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being trusted. Trusted to do the right thing even when it’s painful.

7. Consistency

Consistency is about intentionality. It helps to preserve what really matters.

There was a beauty and simplicity to establishing a rhythm that went beyond mere routine. I’m talking about developing a system in your life, your work, or your studies, and sticking with it if it works, or tweaking it if it doesn’t. A consistent system. Not just winging it.

But as Figliuzzi points out, that shouldn’t be confused with rigidity. Consistency may mean, at times, redefining “your entire approach in order to remain consistent with your values,” as they did after 9/11.

Change shouldn’t be something that happens “to” people, it should be something that happens “with” people. It’s crucial that everyone involved understand that adapting doesn’t mean an abandonment of values or mission. To the contrary, the proposed changes must reflect how those changes are not only consistent with your values but vital to preserving them.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, consistency and change are joined at the hip. To preserve our core values, we all inevitably must change, adapt, and transition to new ways of preserving and promoting what we hold dear.

He observes that the “FBI’s highest-profile mistakes happen primarily when its leaders act contrary to their own rules.” So build in systems that make it harder to fail.

Woven into the explanation of each of these qualities are stories of 9/11, interstate chases, Quantico, anthrax, espionage, counterterrorism, homicides, and much more to illustrate his point. The FBI Way is a very profitable and interesting read. And well worth your time for the principles that are applicable anywhere.

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4 Reasons We Struggle with Ethics 10 Virtues

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:22 PM
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