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Thomas Jefferson's Ten Rules to Live By

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Thomas Jefferson was skilled in many fields. In December 1962, John F. Kennedy entertained a group of Nobel prize winners in the White House and welcomed them as the most distinguished gathering of intellects to dine in the Executive Mansion “with the possible exception of when Mr. Jefferson dined here alone.”

Jefferson cared for people and always offered advice when asked. A year before his death, he was asked by a father to give some counsel to his young son, Thomas Jefferson Smith. He responded with a letter that began:
Monticello Feb. 21. 1825.
Th: Jefferson to Th: Jefferson Smith.

This letter will, to you be as one from the dead, the writer will be in the grave before you can weigh it’s counsels. your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run, and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. few words will be necessary with good dispositions on your part. adore God. reverence and cherish your parents. love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. be just. be true. murmur not at the ways of Providence. so shall the life into which you have entered be the Portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. and if to the dead it is permitted to care for the things of this world, every action of your life will be under my regard. farewell.

The letter concluded with ten rules to live by Jefferson titled A Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life:
  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy a what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
  6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!
  9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

Jefferson Decalogue

The complete letter can be found on the National Archives website.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:40 PM
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Super Bowl Edition: Julius Peppers Retires from the NFL

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Dignity and class.

On and off the field, Julius Peppers was a leader.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, “Julius has had an incredible impact in the NFL from the day that he came in. What an amazing player over the course of a long period of time. Just incredible physical, mental toughness. What an incredible career.”

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recalls, “I remember my first time lining up versus him, and I looked up and I was like 'This dude's a freak! His arms are like five times bigger than mine! He's a great player, and it was just an honor to be able to compete versus him.”

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald remembers, “He's one of the best to ever do it. Made a lot of plays. I remember as a kid watching him play. Just a whole lot of respect for him. I remember being at a Pro Bowl, got an opportunity to talk to him and try to, like, feed off of him, ask him questions. One heck of a football player.”

His accomplishments on the field are impressive but off the field, he demonstrated leadership, community, and empathy.

In February 2009, Peppers donated $500,000 to a scholarship program that supports black students at his alma mater the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After Hurricane Florence, the North Carolina native started the Julius Peppers Hurricane Florence relief fund by donating $100,000 and encouraged his teammates and other NFL players to join in. Actively involved in the recovery efforts, he told the Charlotte Observer, “I think a big part of the solution to these problems, and a big part of the help is the volunteers. People actually getting out there on the ground, putting in the work, going around helping other people and showing compassion for your neighbors. That really left an impression on me. ...People need to know that we’re all a big community and we all need help from time to time.”

Julius Peppers announced his retirement Friday, February 1 after seventeen years in the NFL. He left us this video:

“Thank you.
For the victories and the good times.
For the lessons and the times we desired more.
For the sacrifices, the belief, the confidence, and the unwavering support, I’m thankful.
Because without you, this wasn’t possible.
Thank you for the spirit, the resolve, and the attitude to Keep Pounding. It’s not something we just say around here, it’s how we live.
I’m thankful for the things you showed me about life that were bigger than football.
And for a second chance, a new beginning.
See the players, we come, and we go, but the constant is you and as the saying goes ‘once a panther, always a panther.’
Thank you for the memories, friendships, the laughs and the culture we created.
For the understanding and for being family.
Thanks for all the years, and cheers.
And for being home now and forever.
I wouldn’t change a thing about this journey. It was the best teacher I’ve ever had and was everything I could’ve hoped for.
The tough times never lasted, and the tough people inspired me to be better and give more.
I hope I did the same.
Only time can reveal what’s next, but my time here is up. No regrets, no looking back and nothing left to give.
It’s not goodbye; it’s kinda like I’ll see ya later.
But until then I’m grateful, I’m satisfied and at peace with all that comes next.
Thank you.”

And thank you, Julius, for showing us the mind of a leader.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:02 AM
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When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

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100 years ago this week—January 10, 1915—Marshall Pinckney Wilder died. He was an American dwarf actor and humorist. Wilder was born with achondroplasia or dwarfism and also kyphosis or curvature of the spine. He became the first celebrity who attained fame in spite of his disability. He wrote a lot and always signed his letters, “Merrily Yours!”

In 1883 he made a trip to London and performed before the then Prince of Wales who later went on to become King Edward VII. He quickly became a favorite of the English royal family.

Wilder's career eventually branched into vaudeville and in 1904 embarked on a round the world tour. In a memorial to his life, The King of Jesters, Elbert Hubbard praised him for his optimism and achievements in the face of his disabilities. He wrote:
He was a walking refutation of that dogmatic statement, Mens sana in corpore sano. His was a sound mind in an unsound body. He proved the eternal paradox of things. He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.
Hubbard coined the concept "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." It was later popularized by the likes of Dale Carnegie who used it in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Carnegie's wrote:
If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:28 AM
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What it Takes to be Excellent

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The Bleacher Report created this well done video: Cristiano Ronaldo—Greatness Awaits. It’s an inspiring look at what it takes to be excellent—at anything. The video concludes with:
And legends aren’t born from mediocrity. They are born from excellence. They are born from being the best. From being the hardest working. Legends are born from failure. They are born from falling down time and time again and having the grit to get back up again. Legends are born from adversity. They are forged in the crucible of struggle. Heroes come and go. But legends, legends live forever.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:30 PM
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Try to See Things My Way

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This short film is from storyteller Jason Headley. It's titled It's Not About The Nail. "Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen." Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what.

Not About The Nail

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:13 AM
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A Father's Advice: F. Scott Fitzgerald on What to Worry About

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In the hundreds of letters authored by F. Scott Fitzgerald that have been collected, we have this one dated August 8, 1933. In it, he offered the following advice to his 11-year-old daughter Scottie, while she was away at camp. It is still good advice today.


I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy--but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed page, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare's in which the line occurs Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds....

Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:
    Worry about courage
    Worry about Cleanliness
    Worry about efficiency
    Worry about horsemanship
    Worry about…
Things not to worry about:
    Don’t worry about popular opinion
    Don’t worry about dolls
    Don’t worry about the past
    Don’t worry about the future
    Don’t worry about growing up
    Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
    Don’t worry about triumph
    Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
    Don’t worry about mosquitoes
    Don’t worry about flies
    Don’t worry about insects in general
    Don’t worry about parents
    Don’t worry about boys
    Don’t worry about disappointments
    Don’t worry about pleasures
    Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
    What am I really aiming at?
    How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
    (a) Scholarship
    (b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
    (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:22 PM
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Get Real. Get Outside.

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In a print campaign directed at people immersed in the modern digital world for garden power tool company STIHL Australia, we are encouraged to discover the simple joys to be found outside. “Get Real. Get Outside.” It was developed by Whybin\TBWA\Tequila (Australia).

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:01 PM
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Keep Calm and Carry On

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Stuart and Mary Manley are proprietors of one of the most beautiful secondhand bookstores anywhere—Barter Books—in the northeast corner of Northumberland, England.

After being forgotten for more than 70 years, they rediscovered, in a box of old books bought at auction, a rare original of the now famous WWII poster Keep Calm and Carry On.

Produced more than 70 years ago, this poster was one of three propaganda posters produced by the British government in the spring of 1939 in the build up to World War II. To be used in a time of crisis or invasion, this poster was never officially issued to the public. All of the posters were printed in two colors, using a “special and handsome” typeface, which would be difficult for Germany to counterfeit, along with the crown of King George VI as the only graphic device.

WWII Posters

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:46 PM
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I, Steve: Jobs in His Own Words

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George Beahm has compiled a collection of Steve Jobs quotes in I, Steve. Organized by topic, this is a great (and sourced) collection. Here are a few:

• I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.

• My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.

• People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

• People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that are there. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

•If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whatever you were and throw them away.

• Ultimately, it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. Picasso had a saying: good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas, and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.

• Things don’t have to change the world to be important.

Of Related Interest:
  Steve Jobs 1955-2011

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:32 AM
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Hay Group's 2010 Best Companies for Leadership

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Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, released its 2010 Best Companies for Leadership Study and Top 20 list. The study ranks the best companies for leadership around the globe and examines how those companies develop current and future leaders.

Hay 2010 Survey

According to Hay Group’s study, all of the Top 20 companies report that everyone at every level of the organization has the opportunity to develop and practice the capabilities needed to lead others, compared to less than 70 percent of all other companies in the study. In addition, 90 percent of the Top 20 companies report that people are expected to lead regardless of whether they have a formal position of authority, compared to only 59 percent of other companies.

“The Top 20 Best Companies for Leadership are at the forefront of a significant shift away from hierarchical organizational operating models,” said Rick Lash, Director in Hay Group's Leadership and Talent Practice and co-leader of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. “Leadership in the twenty-first century is about leading at all levels; not restricting it to title. As organizations become flatter, the best leaders are learning they must check their egos at the door and become increasingly sensitive to diversity, generational and geographical issues.”

Focus on Leadership

They found that the best companies are moving more quickly and completely than other companies to flatten their structures and prepare their managers to lead effectively within it. Specifically they drive collaboration and cross-functional leadership and innovation, actively seek greater cultural diversity in their leaders and workforces, and they show a strong focus on developing leaders within their organizations. In the process, they are gaining important competitive advantages.

Related Interest:
  2009 Report: What Organizations Value in Leaders

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:36 AM
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30 Surprising Facts About George Washington

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IN Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow calls Washington “the most famously elusive figure in American history.” In 928 pages—the longest single-volume biography of Washington ever published—Chernow wants to render George Washington real and credible. And he succeeds. Chernow offers these facts about George Washington.
  • Washington was the only major founder who lacked a college education. John Adams went to Harvard, James Madison to Princeton, and Alexander Hamilton to Columbia, making Washington self-conscious about what he called his "defective education."
  • Washington never had wooden teeth. He wore dentures that were made of either walrus or elephant ivory and were fitted with real human teeth. Over time, as the ivory got cracked and stained, it resembled the grain of wood. Washington may have purchased some of his teeth from his own slaves.
  • Washington had a strangely cool and distant relationship with his mother. During the Revolutionary War and her son's presidency, she never uttered a word of praise about him and she may even have been a Tory. No evidence exists that she ever visited George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Late in the Revolutionary War, Mary Washington petitioned the Virginia legislature for financial relief, pleading poverty—and, by implication, neglect by her son. Washington, who had been extremely generous to his mother, was justly indignant.
  • Even as a young man, Washington seemed to possess a magical immunity to bullets. In one early encounter in the French and Indian War, he absorbed four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from under him yet emerged unscathed. This led one Indian chief to predict that some higher power was guiding him to great events in the future.
  • By age 30 Washington had survived smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and other diseases. Although he came from a family of short-lived men, he had an iron constitution and weathered many illnesses that would have killed a less robust man. He lived to the age of 67.
  • While the Washingtons were childless—it has always been thought that George Washington was sterile—they presided over a household teeming with children. Martha had two children from her previous marriage and she and George later brought up two grandchildren as well, not to mention countless nieces and nephews.
  • That Washington was childless proved a great boon to his career. Because he had no heirs, Americans didn't worry that he might be tempted to establish a hereditary monarchy. And many religious Americans believed that God had deliberately deprived Washington of children so that he might serve as Father of His Country.
  • Though he tried hard to be fair and took excellent medical care of his slaves, Washington could be a severe master. His diaries reveal that during one of the worst cold snaps on record in Virginia—when Washington himself found it too cold to ride outside—he had his field slaves out draining swamps and performing other arduous tasks.
  • For all her anxiety about being constantly in a battle zone, Martha Washington spent a full half of the Revolutionary War with her husband—a major act of courage that has largely gone unnoticed.
  • Washington was obsessed with his personal appearance, which extended to his personal guard during the war. Despite wartime austerity and a constant shortage of soldiers, he demanded that all members of his personal guard be between 5'8" and 5'10"; a year later, he narrowed the range to 5'9" to 5'10."
  • While Washington lost more battles than he won, he still ranks as a great general. His greatness lay less in his battlefield brilliance—he committed some major strategic blunders—than in his ability to hold his ragged army intact for more than eight years, keeping the flame of revolution alive.
  • Washington ran his own spy network during the war and was often the only one privy to the full scope of secret operations against the British. He anticipated many techniques of modern espionage, including the use of misinformation and double agents.
  • Washington tended his place in history with extreme care. Even amid wartime stringency, he got Congress to appropriate special funds for a full-time team of secretaries who spent two years copying his wartime papers into beautiful ledgers.
  • For thirty years, Washington maintained an extraordinary relationship with his slave and personal manservant William Lee, who accompanied him throughout the Revolutionary War and later worked in the presidential mansion. Lee was freed upon Washington's death and given a special lifetime annuity.
  • The battle of Yorktown proved the climactic battle of the revolution and the capstone of Washington's military career, but he initially opposed this Franco-American operation against the British—a fact he later found hard to admit.
  • Self-conscious about his dental problems, Washington maintained an air of extreme secrecy when corresponding with his dentist and never used such incriminating words as 'teeth' or 'dentures.' By the time he became president, Washington had only a single tooth left—a lonely lower left bicuspid that held his dentures in place.
  • Washington always displayed extremely ambivalence about his fame. Very often, when he was traveling, he would rise early to sneak out of a town or enter it before he could be escorted by local dignitaries. He felt beleaguered by the social demands of his own renown.
  • At Mount Vernon, Washington functioned as his own architect—and an extremely original one at that. All of the major features that we associate with the house—the wide piazza and colonnade overlooking the Potomac, the steeple and the weathervane with the dove of peace—were personally designed by Washington himself.
  • A master showman with a brilliant sense of political stagecraft, Washington would disembark from his coach when he was about to enter a town then mount a white parade horse for maximum effect. It is not coincidental that there are so many fine equestrian statues of him.
  • Land-rich and cash-poor, Washington had to borrow money to attend his own inauguration in New York City in 1789. He then had to borrow money again when he moved back to Virginia after two terms as president. His public life took a terrible toll on his finances.
  • Martha Washington was never happy as First Lady—a term not yet in use—and wrote with regret after just six months of the experience: "I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else… And as I cannot do as I like, I am obstinate and stay home a great deal."
  • When the temporary capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, Washington brought six or seven slaves to the new presidential mansion. Under a Pennsylvania abolitionist law, slaves who stayed continuously in the state for six months were automatically free. To prevent this, Washington, secretly coached by his Attorney General, rotated his slaves in and out of the state without telling them the real reason for his actions.
  • Washington nearly died twice during his first term in office, the first time from a tumor on his thigh that may have been from anthrax or an infection, the second time from pneumonia. Many associates blamed his sedentary life as president for the sudden decline in his formerly robust health and he began to exercise daily.
  • Tired of the demands of public life, Washington never expected to serve even one term as president, much less two. He originally planned to serve for only a year or two, establish the legitimacy of the new government, then resign as president. Because of one crisis after another, however, he felt a hostage to the office and ended up serving two full terms. For all his success as president, Washington frequently felt trapped in the office.
  • Exempt from attacks at the start of his presidency, Washington was viciously attacked in the press by his second term. His opponents accused him of everything from being an inept general to wanting to establish a monarchy. At one point, he said that not a single day had gone by that he hadn't regretted staying on as president.
  • Washington has the distinction of being the only president ever to lead an army in battle as commander-in-chief. During the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, he personally journeyed to western Pennsylvania to take command of a large army raised to put down the protest against the excise tax on distilled spirits.
  • Two of the favorite slaves of George and Martha Washington—Martha's personal servant, Ona Judge and their chef Hercules—escaped to freedom at the end of Washington's presidency. Washington employed the resources of the federal government to try to entrap Ona Judge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and return her forcibly to Virginia. His efforts failed.
  • Washington stands out as the only founder who freed his slaves, at least the 124 who were under his personal control. (He couldn't free the so-called 'dower slaves' who came with his marriage to Martha.) In his will, he stipulated that the action was to take effect only after Martha died so that she could still enjoy the income from those slaves.
  • After her husband died, Martha grew terrified at the prospect that the 124 slaves scheduled to be freed after her death might try to speed up the timetable by killing her. Unnerved by the situation, she decided to free those slaves ahead of schedule only a year after her husband died.
  • Like her husband, Martha Washington ended up with a deep dislike of Thomas Jefferson, whom she called "one of the most detestable of mankind." When Jefferson visited her at Mount Vernon before he became president, Martha said that it was the second worst day of her life—the first being the day her husband died.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:50 PM
| Comments (0) | Leaders , Washington's Lessons , Weekend Supplement


Free E-books on Communication and Pricing

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This weekend you might want to read a couple of good e-books. And they're free!

First, there is The Leader Differential: Five Steps to Thrive (Not Just Survive) by David Grossman, founder of The Grossman Group, a Chicago-based internal communications agency. This 21 page e-book is essentially an internal communications primer that offers corporate leaders basic (but effective) tips for communicating with employees in a way that will result in measurable outward company growth. Here are a couple of thoughts from this e-book:
Reflect on what others are seeing and reading every time they interact with you, and develop the awareness not only to act the role of the leader you want to be, but to role model the actions and characteristics that you would like to see in others.
And one of the biggest complaints employees have in these uncertain times is that they are not getting enough information or they get what turns out to be simply misinformation cloaked in openness. How much information is enough information? Grossman states:
Naturally, it depends on the situation, but in the case, for example, that you’ve got a big elephant in the room—a reorganization, a high-level executive change, a merger or acquisition, a round of layoffs, or anything else that could be seen by employees as directly threatening their positions at your company—tell them what you know, what you don’t know, when you’re going to find out additional information, and stamp out myths or misperceptions. The key here is transparency, which means addressing the issue at hand before it spirals out of control.
Grossman provides guidance in how much to communicate and then how to control the message.

Next, check out Todd Sattersten’s Fixed to Flexible. This 37 page e-book is about cost, price, margin, and the options we have for how to sell. From the introduction:
Fixed has been replaced with flexible. Control of a product category, distribution channel or branding message no longer exists. While this is being heralded as a boon for customers, companies have been slower to adapt to the new terrain. Companies with multi-national presence and individuals with multitudes of projects both need to create a new set of strategies.
This ebook collects the commercial aspects of cost, price, and margin and presents a variety of alternatives about how to make your way in the world of infinite choice.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:01 AM
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What Organizations Value in Leaders

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Bloomberg BusinessWeek.com and Hay Group have released the results of their annual survey which ranks the best companies for leadership and examines how those companies develop leaders.

Last year the quality that the Top 20 companies valued most in their leaders was execution—the ability of leaders to achieve results through others. This year, the most valued quality is strategic thinking. "This year's emphasis on strategic thinking suggests that, like an individual recovering from a personal upheaval, businesses today are taking stock: reviewing their options, rethinking their strategies, considering new opportunities and innovations." It also suggests more long-term thinking.


"While the data suggest there is no one best way to grow leaders, the companies that do it best share certain key characteristics. The top 20 companies address leadership development on multiple fronts, from articulating how leadership behavior needs to change to meet the challenges of the future to managing their pools of successors for mission-critical roles. And, despite the chaotic, crisis-strewn atmosphere of the past year, they've continued to make leadership a top priority."

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:39 AM
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George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

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If you're considering some personal development goals you couldn't go wrong reviewing the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior once copied down by George Washington.

By age sixteen, Washington had copied out by hand the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in 1640, and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins the twelve-year-old son of a doctor.

Today many, if not all of these rules, sound a little fussy if not downright silly. It would be easy to dismiss them as outdated and appropriate to a time of powdered wigs and quills, but they reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today. Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together.

Check them out at Foundations Magazine.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:11 AM
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Confirmation Bias

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In the Wall Street Journal, Jason Zweig writes about the specific application of a general issue: confirmation bias. It is a never-ending battle that affects all of us and is worth reading for the reminder. He offers specific ideas to counteract its pull that can be applied to whatever you are doing. Here are a few edited excerpts from Ignoring the Yes-Man in Your Head to introduce the issue:
In short, your own mind acts like a compulsive yes-man who echoes whatever you want to believe. Psychologists call this mental gremlin the "confirmation bias." A recent analysis of psychological studies with nearly 8,000 participants concluded that people are twice as likely to seek information that confirms what they already believe as they are to consider evidence that would challenge those beliefs.

Why is a mind-made-up so hard to penetrate?

"We're all mentally lazy," says psychologist Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University in Atlanta. "It's simply easier to focus our attention on data that support our hypothesis, rather than to seek out evidence that might disprove it."

The more you learn, the more certain you become that you are right. While gathering more data makes people more confident, it doesn't make their predictions much more accurate. Each new fact makes you more inclined to find another fact that resembles it, reducing the diversity and value of your information.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:57 AM
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ReQuotes: "You're gonna like the way they sound. I guarantee it!"

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In an issue of Direct magazine, you will find legendary copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis in his usual good form. In his Curmudgeon at Large column he ponders “how successful certain events would have been if the principals had been shrewd and savvy enough to pick up some of our advertising and marketing talk.”

Here are several outtakes:
  • For example, visualize how much more dynamic Lincoln's Gettysburg Address would have been with a single simple insert: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war. But wait, there's more!
  • Or Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall. Results 100% guaranteed.
  • Now that we're in gear, let's include Paul Revere: “One if by land. Two if by sea. Three if you call before midnight, June 15.” Or maybe, “The British are coming. Act now.
  • Ah, a classic: “I disagree with what you say, but now, for a limited time only, I shall defend to the death your right to say it.”
  • We can bring poetry into the mix. After all, too many Elizabethan poems were flat and colorless. Let's give John Donne some punch: “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. For everything else, there's MasterCard.
  • We can't leave the immortal bard gasping for inclusion. Here's Juliet, staring worriedly from her balcony. “O Romeo, Romeo, frankly, I'm puzzled. Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:04 AM
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Protect Your Lunch with Anti-Theft Lunch Bags

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As more and more people brown bag it, this handy little item might be of interest.

Tired of having your food stolen by sticky-fingered coworkers or roommates? Bullies taking your kid's lunch? Well, worry no more . . . Anti-Theft Lunch Bags are sandwich bags that have green splotches printed on both sides, making your freshly prepared lunch look spoiled. Don't suffer the injustice of having your sandwich stolen again! Protect your lunch with Anti-Theft Lunch Bags.

These sandwich size (food-safe reusable and recyclable LDPE) bags may still be available from the designer the. (no that's it - "the.") the. is the official marketplace for amusing and eclectic wares designed by the. team. Mihoko Ouchi and Sherwood Forlee make up the. team. They have other interesting products they have designed on their web site. Have a look.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:28 AM
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Lunch with the FT: Tom Peters

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In the weekend edition of the Financial Times there is a great interview with Tom Peters by Stefan Stern. It’s candid and worth a read. Here’s a sample:
Few have criticized what he does for a living as ferociously as Peters himself. “I say to people, ‘You got a bad deal, paying money to see me,’” he tells me. “I have utterly nothing new to say. I am simply going to remind you of what you’ve known since the age of 22 and in the heat of battle, you forgot. You’d have to be one of those television preachers to believe that you’re going to work with a group of 500 people and change their lives. First of all, most of them agree with you. You’re not going to pay £1,000 [a head] to go and see someone if you think the guy’s a jerk.

“In a room of 500 managers, there are going to be four who are on the verge of doing something really interesting, whether inside or outside the company, and you simply give them the will. In American football terms, they are five yards short and you push them over the line. To claim anything more than that is grotesque egocentrism,” he says.
Later, Stern writes:
Fortified, I give him my best shot. Is management getting harder? “No,” he replies firmly – and in defiance of the conventional wisdom. But what about all that new technology, the end of deference, the increased pace of life, and the heightened expectations of employees? Doesn’t that all make management harder?

On the whole, Peters thinks not. We exaggerate the extent of change, he feels. It is the arrogance of modernity to believe that we face unique and unprecedented challenges. What people say now about the internet they used to say about the railways, the telegraph, the radio ...
You can find the quick, entertaining interview at the Financial Times: Lunch with the FT

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:20 AM
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Five Myths about the Oil and Gas Industry

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In the final chapters of The First Billion Is the Hardest, T. Boone Pickens dispels five myths about the oil and gas industry:

Myth No. 1: Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will make us energy dependent.
Myth No. 2: Ethanol will save the day.
Myth No. 3: Big Oil is manipulating the price of gas at the pumps.
Myth No. 4: The lack of new refineries in the United States is a main contributor to high gasoline prices.
Myth No. 5: New Technology will enable us to discover enormous untapped reservoirs of oil.

He writes, “We are going to be dependent on oil for at least another fifty years; that means foreign oil, ad that means trouble. Either we need to be prepared to face those consequences or we need to get working on some alternatives.” He adds, “Our biggest problem is leadership.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:58 PM
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Tom Peters on the Definition of Leadership

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Tom Peters’ offers his definition of leadership in the video below. He begins by expressing a truth that is more important than the definition itself. It is not often understood by those seeking to understand the shortcomings of leadership. “Leadership in the 21st century AD is exactly what it was in the 21st century BC. Leadership is about the development, the inducement of people to grow way beyond where they believed they could go. Nothing has changed.” Leadership hasn’t changed. Leadership is influence.

Peters’ definition is summed up in this quote from Robert Altman's lifetime achievement Oscar acceptance speech: "The director allows an actor to become more than they've ever dreamed of being." He says that great leaders are dealers in hope. He cites Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt as examples.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:56 PM
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There's Servant Leadership and Then There's...

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From The Philippine Star comes this old joke:

galleyOne day as 10 slaves were rowing a boat, the strain of every stroke showing on their faces, the first mate appeared on the deck. “I’ve got good news and bad news,” he said.

“The good news is we see an island so we’re going to stop, drink rum, hunt a couple wild boars and have a feast.”

The slaves whispered in happiness, all but one, who asked “what is the bad news?

“Well,” the first mate replied, “tomorrow the captain wants to go waterskiing!”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:59 PM
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MBA-by-BlogRob May before selling his website, BusinessPundit.com came up with the idea of creating an MBA-by-Blog.

The idea was to create a directory of some of the best and most educational business blog posts of all time. Primarily, it would have been useful as a learning tool for specific business topics of interest to you. Additionally, it would have been a great research tool.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:43 PM
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BookTour.com: Find Out Where Authors are Speaking in Your Area

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Booktour.com, a Web site used by authors and publishers to publicize book signings, readings and other live events since 2007, closed on September 1, 2011. There's nothing like seeing an author live to help you get an idea of what they're all about and to ask some clarifying quesions. Finding out when and where they will be in town is the problem. BookTour.com tried to solve this obstacle.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:21 AM
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Snooze You Lose?

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Like me, you probably worked right through National Sleep Awareness Week (March 5-11, 2007) this year. For many, lack of sleep is a source of pride. It seems to imply that what we are doing is too important for mere mortals. Getting the proper amount of sleep isn’t equated with a go-getter. Getting caught napping is downright embarrassing. Yet research shows that sleep is one of the most important activities of the productive person.

Professor Sara Mednick in Good Magazine asks, “Can afternoon naps save your life?” Apparently, they can. “Scientists are discovering more and more evidence to suggest that a midday rest can improve your alertness, cognition, mood, cardiac health, and weight.”

Sleep affects your ability to learn and memory. Research would suggest that the more important you are the more sleep you should get. You need the extra time for your mind to process all you learn and do in a day.

Mednick continues:
We are in the midst of a fatigue epidemic that affects health, safety, productivity, and the bottom line. Sleep loss has been shown to increase our inflammatory and stress responses, which naps can bring back to normal levels.

It has been scientifically demonstrated that naps as short as five minutes long can improve alertness and certain memory processes. But the timing of naps is as important as their length. Imagine sleeping for just five minutes in the middle of the night and think about how you would feel upon waking. Probably pretty lousy. This is because all sleep is not equal. We are biologically programmed to sleep not only for a long period in the middle of the night but also for a short period in the middle of the day.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Here are some tips for good sleep:
  • Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) and nicotine (cigarettes, tobacco products) close to bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol as it can lead to disrupted sleep.
  • Exercise regularly but complete your workout at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Establish a regular relaxing, not alerting, bedtime routine (e.g. taking a bath or relaxing in a hot tub).
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and preferably cool and comfortable.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that "a team of American and Greek researchers undertook an epidemiological study of 23,681 Greek adults with no history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer. They asked participants about the frequency and duration of their naps and about other variables that might affect heart health and found that those participants who napped regularly (three or more times a week, for 30 minutes or more) had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease. This finding was especially true for working men.

"Oftentimes getting adequate sleep at night is challenging. Napping offers a way to augment nighttime sleep, increase alertness, and possibly lower stress levels."

Take a nap!

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:06 PM
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Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer for Kids Ages 10 to 14

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The folks at Gallup have developed a Strengths Finder for kids ages 10-14 called the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer. It is an instrument designed to help young people discover and develop the unique talents within them.

They explain: "The Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer is designed to help make a lifelong impact on youth based on decades of research. As a parent, it can be a challenge to identify your child's innate talents. This tool can enhance your insights into your child's discovery and growth process. It can help you understand your child's unique perspective of the world. And, it can help shed insight on what are his or her greatest talents—natural patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior—and how to build on those tendencies for success."

Strengths FinderIn my own experience, this is a helpful tool to help you to understand and encourage your child. I recommend having them take it once a year at this point in their life. The cost is $9.99 (online version) or $49.99 (printed version) and you get the following:

First, youth get access to the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer assessment—a Web-based program made up of items the participant rates based on how much each specific statement relates to him or her.

Immediately, an individual can print a Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer report based on his or her responses. This customized report reveals a person's top three themes—descriptions of his or her areas of natural talent. Also included in the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer report are action items for youth and adults. Action items are just that—ways to put talents into action.

Finally, two Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer guides—full of even more activities and ideas to help youth focus on what's best about them—are available:
  • Youth Workbook
  • Parent Guide

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:50 AM
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President Clinton: The Final Days Video

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This video was recently sent to us ... 7 years later, but it's good enough to see again. It is from the 2000 White House Correspondents Dinner. This is President Clinton's critically acclaimed lame-duck video, in which a film crew documented how he spent his final days in office. Certainly, it can be said that Clinton has a sense of humor.

From that speech:
Now, I know lately I haven't done a very good job at creating controversy, and I'm sorry for that. You all have so much less to report. I guess that's why you're covering and commenting on my mood -- my quiet, contemplative moments; my feelings during these final months in office. (Laughter.) In that case, you might be interested to know that a film crew has been following me around the White House, documenting my remaining time there.

This is a strange time in the life of any administration, but I think this short film will show that I have come to terms with it. [5:56min]

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:58 PM
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They Came, They Conquered, They Collected: What Dictators Collect

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An article in Psychology Today by Caroline Tiger asks the question, "What drives the need for dictators to collect material possessions that are over the top?"
Tyrants collect money and power, but they also amass bric-a-brac like the rest of us. What, if anything, do their material leanings signify?

Possible motives for collecting abound: compulsion, competition, exhibitionism, desire for immortality and the need for experts' approval.

Stephen Anderson, professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, has come closest to finding a biological basis for the yen to collect. In 2004 he showed that damage to an area of the prefrontal cortex can lead to hoarding—the pathological cousin of collecting. Anderson doubts that's the case with the dictators. "Most people who have injuries to this part of the brain are not going to be successful," he says, "even in a bad-guy way." Still, he wouldn't be surprised if the bad guys' neural wiring were somehow amiss.

Saddam HusseinThe Man: Saddam Hussein

The Stash: Sci-fi fantasy paintings featuring menacing dragons and barely-clad blondes.
Adolf HitlerThe Man: Adolf Hitler

The Stash: Bavarian 18th century furniture. Munich antique dealers were ordered to keep an eye out for him.
Kim Jong IlThe Man: Kim Jong Il

The Stash: 20,000 videos (Daffy Duck cartoons, Star Wars, Liz Taylor and Sean Connery flicks)
Idi AminThe Man: Idi Amin

The Stash: Several racing cars and loads of old film reels of I Love Lucy reruns and Tom and Jerry cartoons
Joseph StalinThe Man: Joseph Stalin

The Stash: Westerns with Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and John Wayne. Stalin also inherited Joseph Goebbels's films.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:23 AM
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How Good A Boss Are You? Take This Test

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Fortune magazine has provided a short online quiz to help you determine if you are a good boss or a bad boss. It's part of an article by senior writer, Anne Fisher.

She spoke to David Sirota, head of Sirota Survey Intelligence, who said, "A large part of what a good boss does is expedite things for employees - that is, help them get their jobs done by removing obstacles. This is not at all the same as 'making sure' they get their jobs done by raising the anxiety level. Most people are anxious enough already." She asked him, What makes a good boss, in employees' eyes? Here is an excerpt:
"All of our research consistently shows that people in general have three goals at work. First is fairness. They want to feel that they're being recognized and rewarded fairly for what they contribute. Second is achievement. People want to be proud of the organization and of their place in it. And third, camaraderie, meaning good working relationships and a sense of belonging to a team. If these three goals are met, you have enthusiastic employees.

The trouble is that, in most companies, morale among new hires is high and then, by about the six-month point, it has dropped sharply. Management has destroyed it. One thing bad bosses do is to deliberately make people feel insecure about their jobs. Another is, treat employees like children or criminals instead of like responsible adults.

A sign of a really bad boss is micromanaging, which I define as devoting punitive amounts of attention to minutiae. We've seen workplaces where people have to raise their hands if they want to go to the restroom. Another sign of a bad boss is when you hear employees say that they get no positive feedback at all. A common complaint is, "If we make a mistake, we hear about it, but for doing our jobs well, there is never a 'thank you'.
How good a boss are you? A good manager understands how employees feel about their jobs. You may think you understand what your workers want, but do you really know what motivates them? Take the Fortune quiz!

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:15 PM
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Best Airline Recipes

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Four humorous fake not-books – including Chicken or Beef? The World’s Best Loved Airline Recipes and Whoops. I Was Wrong by GW Bush – are the focal point of Abebooks.com’s birthday celebrations.Chicken or Beef?

Abebooks.com—probably the best place to look for used, rare and out-of-print books—is 10 years old and running a high profile multi-faceted marketing campaign across three continents. The non-existent books—which have the tagline If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist—are being showcased in newspaper and magazine advertisements in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Making Marriage Work by Henry VIII and Everything You Wanted To Know About North Korea But Were Afraid To Ask by Kim Jong Il complete the line-up of not-books, which were designed by advertising consultancy Rethink and printed by Trafford Publishing, a leading on-demand publisher.

These titles are now out-of-print.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:55 AM
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What Is Your Personal DNA?

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We found out about this tool from Jodee Bock's blog. It is personality test which is as they claim, "free, fun, fast and accurate." personaldna It's called personalDNA. It is actually a very quick, innovative process and was quite accurate for those in our office.

A great feature on this site allows you to ask other people to assess you once you've taken the test yourself. It is enlightening to learn how those close to you see your personality by sharing results from your feedback page. You can also assess someone else's personality, and send that person the results.

Take the test at: personalDNA.com. personaldna At the end of the test, you'll get a thorough personality assessment, along with a personality map and a personalDNA strip.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:05 AM
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Best Brand Development Documentary

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We ran across what must be the most creative discussion of developing your brand. It's titled "Your Blossoming Brand."Your Blossoming Brand It's by the people at Big Fat Brain. Their web site has been nominated for a Webby and we think it deserves it. After viewing the introduction (45sec), click on the television in the lower right-hand corner promoting "Public Service Announcements." Then sit back and enjoy a thoroughly unique education in brand development. (1min 45sec)

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:38 AM
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