It’s Never Too Late to Raise a Little Hell!

Books Contribution Respect


What will you do for your 90th birthday? Do you know who Doris Haddock is? Somehow she missed getting on my radar screen as she captured national attention in America a decade ago. I just heard about her story on a recent radio broadcast and want to share a little bit about her. I encourage you to read her memoir to more fully appreciate her character.

Doris died in her 100th year, in March 2010, but not before running for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire at age 94 (34% of the votes as a last minute entry) and having a significant impact on federal legislation aimed at curbing the impact of lobbyists on elected federal representatives. At the age of 89, she decided to walk from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness on her belief for the need for comprehensive federal campaign funding reform.  She started her walk with no support team, little fanfare, and only her social security.  But her passion, conviction, intelligence, and charm caught the attention of journalists, thousands of everyday folks and eventually all of Congress. Granny D, the nickname bestowed upon her, became an expert at keeping the focus on her cause. Bronchitis, emphysema, and arthritis plagued her journey, not to mention the other aches and pains one would expect on a 3,200-mile hike. Averaging 10 miles per day, she battled the challenging terrain and all vagaries of weather, including a twister in Texas that almost carried her right off the road.

Ironically, she worked in a New Hampshire shoe factory for 20 years, Granny D wore out four pairs of sneakers as a tribute to her tenacity in getting to the finish line. She even cross country skied part of the way when a snow storm threatened to delay her getting to Capital Hill. Ms. Haddock was widely acclaimed as having influence on the passage of the bipartisan 2002 McCain/Feingold Act aimed at addressing the very issue of her valiant trek. Even when the Supreme Court struck down sections of the bill just before her death, Doris was upbeat in her belief that the cause would be taken up again; even more effectively the next time around. But the neatest thing about her was that she was just a citizen… not super human, just an old woman who could be excused for taking the couch rather than the open road!

This blog is not about the complexities and merits of campaign funding. Other pundits are much more capable at facilitating that debate. This is about self accountably and abundance, and Doris would say it is about respect for the constitution. Doris underscored that it is never too late to take that first step. Before you know it 3000 miles are behind you, and in Doris’ words, you will have “raised a little hell.”

Character Move:

  1. Do it now. Take the first step, and then take one step at a time.
  2. You have enough to start. You have what you need. You lack nothing but the mindset and conviction.
  3. Just enjoy the journey and what you will learn about yourself and others along the way!

In honor of her tireless dedication and self accountability Granny D is the newest member in my Character Hall of Fame.

It’s never too late (to raise a little hell) in the Triangle,


Real Leadership: Authenticity from Solitude and Intimacy

Community Contribution


My thinking time is vital. Over the years, long runs and now bike rides have provided hours of solitude and a medium for sorting things out and creating. I’ve been weak on more formal types of meditation and it’s something I’m slowly adding to my “thinking while still being present” tool kit.

I know that I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been married for 40 years to a partner whom I can openly discuss anything. Her insight and feedback has been instrumental to my leadership and decision making. As a voracious reader, most of my important ideas have been uniquely built on the many thoughts of others, genuinely soaking into my own belief and habit system.

Former Yale professor William Deresiewicz, who was the source of my recent Jane Austen blog, pointed me to a lecture on leadership he gave to West Point Cadets in 2009. That speech had a huge impact, including a note of recognition from General David Petraeus. I strongly urge you to read it. Deresiewicz’s lecture essentially reinforced concentrated solitude and personal intimacy as crucial ingredients to drive authentic and powerful leadership. His premise is that we have too many “sheep leaders”, people exceptionally smart but short on having the ability to authentically think through complex issues while developing creative solutions.

Character Move:

  1. Make it an integral part of your personal development system to invest in solitude and concentration (without distraction of outside influences). Make it a point to increase self awareness by having crucial conversations with YOURSELF. This will support an evolution of an authentic self and personal leadership framework. Thinking for yourself means finding your real self.
  2. Recognize that having an intimate mate or mates, to engage in meaningful conversations that can help you develop and test your guideposts, is a vital part of one’s life. We need real friends not just Facebook friends. One of the best ways, as Deseriewicz points out, of talking to yourself is talking to an intimate other, someone with whom you can unfold your soul.

Creating Intimate Solitude in the Triangle,



You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover – Or Can You?

Communication Respect


You and I meet all kinds of people in all kinds of unique situations.  Whether you think it is reasonable or not, or even somewhat Darwinian, people make quick and early assessments about us. It doesn’t matter if the interaction is business or social, when a person meets us for the first time they ask themselves two questions.

The answers to these two questions will impact how they think about you and me and how they behave towards us. Professor Susan Fiske of Princeton University has shown that all social judgments can be boiled down to these two dimensions (Fiske et al., 2007):

1. How warm is this person? The idea of warmth includes things like trustworthiness, friendliness, helpfulness, sociability and so on. Initial warmth judgments are made within a few seconds of meeting you.

2. How competent is this person? Competency judgments take longer to form and include things like intelligence, creativity, perceived ability, and so on.

Susan Fiske’s research has looked at different cultures, times and types of social judgments, and these two concepts come up repeatedly. The primacy of warmth and competence seems to involve reactions to  the questions of friend versus foe, and a person’s capacity for helping or hurting us.

Character Move: Consciously accept that we judge and are being judged very quickly and very early during new interactions.  Being Respectful, one of the tenants of the Character Triangle (CT), will promote friendliness and warmth (being a friend and not a foe). Self-accountability, the second tenant, drives competence (I own my own behavior and contribution).  And third, Abundance adds to the trust (expanding the “pie” and not fight over who gets the biggest piece).

Practice the Character Triangle and you will position yourself for a strong first impression. Watch the behavior of others relative to the CT and you can effectively and quickly determine whether to “pull” or “push.” In this case “taking cover” means proactively designing first impressions… the cover of your “book.”

Taking “(book) cover” in the Triangle,