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Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber Community Leadership Luncheon Was Inspiring

I was very moved by Molly MacDonald's story (Every time I talk to her,  I am reminded of how amazing a person she is.) and her commitment to helping other women through the situation she faced when fighting breast cancer.   I am also very impressed by Huntington Bank's commitment to Michigan.  I was aware of the 2 Billion commitment to small business lending through my relationship as a coach to GLEQ, but that's quite a bit different than listening to Mike Fezzey, the regional president of Huntingdon Bank, talk about his passion for helping the community.    Check out the story in today's Birmingham Patch.

Book Review: Tribes by Seth Godin

One thing you can always say about Seth Godin's books:  They're always very readable.  Tribes is no exception.  It was an enjoyable read, but disappointing.  The book did have some good points, but I think it focused too much on saying you can be and you need to be a leader.   People that take initiative don't need convincing to do so.  For those that do need convincing, this book won't do it.  Godin's treatment of how to handle the fear of risk (or losing your job) is simplistic at best.  What he describes as "factories" still drive most of the jobs, even though many of them are smaller companies.  The idea that you are guaranteed a better job if you take risks is unrealistic in this day and age.  

The sad part of it is that there's really good concepts in Tribes that get buried by his focus on leading.   I really appreciated his definition of a tribe as anything 1) possessing a shared interest and 2) a way to communication.  The next point is that the internet allows people to create and join tribes in an amazing way - there are no limits on what tribes can be and how big or small they are.  

The idea of being able to join or create a tribe around something that you are passionate about and get involved and active is the gem of this book.  Small numbers of people can have an amazing impact, where 20 years ago, it might have taken a huge organization to make a difference because of the logistics involved.  Modern technology (i.e. the internet) has eliminated many of the barriers to communication and resources.  

I enjoyed the examples Seth Godin gives, but I have a better one from just this week - my husband created a group to support a little girl with a terminal disease who was being harassed by a neighbor.   Within a day of creating the page, it had over a thousand members and growing.   If you look around, you could probably find hundreds of examples of that.

It's now much easier to find groups around your passions, no matter how unusual, and become active.  GET INVOLVED with your passions.   It doesn't have to be in a big way or really risky.

So what did you think of Tribes?

21st Century Leaders Program "Apprentice" Presentations

This past Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of serving on the  Panel for the "Apprentice" portion of the 21st Century Leaders program sponsored by the Birmingham Community House.  The program runs from September through April and is modeled on the Leadership Oakland program.   3 seventh grade students are nominated by about 10-13 schools in the Birmingham & Bloomfield area to participate in the program.  It was quite an amazing experience.  For this portion of the program, the students were broken into 7 teams to get a crash course in entrepreneurship, culminating in a presentation to request resources.   The Panel was responsible for determining what resources each team would receive based on their presentation and what they requested.  All seven teams were amazing.  We had a wonderful time seeing what products they came up with and how they put together the business cases. I was very impressed.  It was really quite an accomplishment - this four-session process was the first introduction that the majority of the students had had to everything that goes into a business plan -- marketing, operations, product development and finance.  These are not things that are taught in school, for the most part.  Each team was impressive and did very well.  The products were unique and innovative and the presentations were very good.  I had a wonderful time.

George Marsh, Elisabeth Garbeil and Phillip Seaver

The Responsibility of Freedom

Happy 4th of July, everyone.

Today, I just want get on my soapbox for a few minutes - please humor me.  One of the things that I have been been very unhappy to see in the last few decades is the decline of personal responsibility.  When I say personal responsibility, I am talking about taking ownership of your life and what happens in it.   This was the norm up until the second world war and even through the fifties.   It used to be you were held accountable for everything you did, regardless of the circumstances.   People used to have a sense of shame.  Somehow that changed radically, to the point where my husband and I have been thanked because we took our son out of a restaurant when he threw a temper tantrum.  Apparently it is very uncommon not to subject your fellow diners to your child's misbehavior.  I was stunned the first time it happened (when someone thanked us - not at my son throwing a temper tantrum).  I call it the Jerry Springer generation - I'm sure I didn't make that one up. 

I believe this directly relates to what happening in this country - we take our freedom and resources for granted.  We live in one of the richest countries in the world and we don't take care of it, as if it's going to last forever and requires no maintenance or work. We're spoiled rotten.  If you don't take care of your lawn by mowing, watering and weeding it; all you end up with is weeds.  I believe that's where we're headed with the country if we don't start taking care.  

The first step is to become educated about your government and how it works.   That includes the constitution and basic civics. I have absolutely cringed at the things some of my associates have said at times - and there's no way I can politely correct such absymal ignorance of what our constitution says.  The associates I'm talking about are well-off too - they had this stuff in school.  If you don't make an effort to become somewhat educated and remain that way - and it's as simple as what most of us should have learned in grade school and high school - you are an easy target of those on all sides who will take advantage of your ignorance to persuade you to things that are not only not in your best interest, but actually harmful to you in the long run. 

If you don't participate at all, you leave it up to special interests to influence the decisions that affect us.  That becomes government for the minority at the expense of the majority and other minorities.  It becomes the government of those that have the resources to make the most noise.  I think we've been headed down that road for quite a while now.   I believe democracies only work well if citizens participate.

Then you need to take the responsibility to vote, and vote regularly.  Make sure that you become educated on the issues.  There are many resources both liberal and conservative to gain a good understanding of what the positions of candidates and issues are.  Some are the League of Women Voters website (just google it), the Christian Science Monitor for international issues, NPR, CNN, many papers; local, state, and federal websites; and many very good independent websites such as factcheck.org.  This is hardly the tip of the iceberg.  Choose several resources and check them against each other.  It really doesn't take too long.

I believe we have a responsibility to take an active part in our government - it is a freedom that is rare through out the world and we should not take it for granted.

Okay, I'm done.  Have a great weekend.


Do you feel unappreciated or unrecognized for the job you do?  Do you have more responsibility without the title and compensation to go with it?  Do you feel like there's no communication at your company?    Feel like you're at a dead-end?  And things are not going to get any better at the company you're at, but you're afraid of ending up in exactly the same situation if you change jobs?  Are you really frustrated, stressed out and angry?  And no one can help you?

If you feel this way, you're probably right.  No one can help you.  You built the box you're in, and only you can get yourself o

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