Thursday, January 12, 2012

Betsy Myers - Take The Lead

Ms. Myers was the COO of the Barack Obama presidential campaign and chaired the Women for Obama campaign organization in the last election cycle. She has served as the executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She, like her sister Dee Dee, was a senior official in the Clinton administration, working as the President’s advisor on women’s issues; women’s issues… not the President’s issues with women…I’ll leave it to you to fill in your own punch line.
Suffice it to say that Myers has tackled some high profile, high powered leadership roles. Yet I find her book, Take the Lead, as not so much a leadership book, but rather a set of what she describes as 7 core principles, that she wraps with political antidotes as an example of those principles in practice.
Myers 7 principles include:

• Connection – Making people feel seen and heard

• Collaboration – Being willing to embrace different points of view

• Authenticity – Knowing who you are

• Respect – Treating each person as important

• Clarity – laser focus and uncompromising consistency

• Learning - always listening and staying open to new ideas

• Courage – The courage to take risks; to apologize; to tell the truth; to grow
This could be the most contradictory list I have ever seen. Taking Ms. Myers at her own words, how can you be willing to embrace different points of view and be open to new ideas, yet remain uncompromisingly consistent? Does this say more about my Myers background in the political realm then about leadership?

Politicians by their very nature are some of the least authentic people I have ever encountered. Realistically speaking, if Barack Obama had been genuinely authentic during his Presidential campaign, does anyone really believe that he would have been elected President?

Boiling it down, Ms. Myers “core principles” aren’t a road map to leadership, but a road map to becoming a Democrat politician. It reads like a playbook for talking a good game, but doesn’t really show how to deliver the goods, which is really what Democrat elective politics have become – make it sound like you care about and issue/person, act like you’re going to do something, but never really deliver on a promise.

It’s interesting that the two powerful leaders that Ms. Myers worked for were so uniquely skilled at connection, yet such utter failures at having the courage to tell the truth. Interesting political insights…maybe. Leadership book…not so much.

My Life Deleted, by Scott and Joan Bolzan and Caitlin Rother.

By Katie Johns – Guest Reviewer

How would you like to go to work one morning, slip and fall, and wake up hours later lying in your own blood, not knowing who you are, how you got there, and where you are?

This very thing happened to Scott Bolzan who owned an airplane business with his wife, Joan. He was the kind of man who woke up in the middle of the night and started working on his very successful business. Scott went into work at about 5 in the morning, worked for several hours, and simply walked into the men’s bathroom where his life was changed forever.

He slipped and fell on something oily, tried in vain after several hours to get back up, but kept slipping only to hit his head against the hard tile floor over and over.

Finally after getting up he hailed a woman walking through the building starting her business day. This was only the beginning of a strange new world of a major traumatic brain injury that irrevocably changed Scott’s life.

You see, after falling, repeatedly hitting his head numerous times, Scott lost all of his memory. He woke up in the hospital not knowing who he was, if he was married, or even what a hospital was. Scott essentially was taken back to being an infant, and could not remember anything.

When his wife of about 24 years walked into his hospital room, he didn’t know who she was, or what a wife was. He did not recognize any of his family members.

Scott had major head trauma, so horrible, he had to teach himself what everything was again. His wife daughter and son had to tell him about his life all over again.

Scott Bolzan’s story is fraught with heart wrenching misery, but you will see a man who was once a determined NHL football player, become a determined, strong man who digs deep to learn about his life, and how he teaches himself what everything is again. You will feel horrible for him in this story that could have turned out to be a feel sorry for yourself kind of book. But it’s not, My Life Deleted will teach everyone, even people who have had brain injuries, how to push past the pain, and get back into the game.

My Life Deleted is a story of a how a man relearns about his life, and how he relearns about all the things we learn as we grow up. It’s a story of character building, everyday problems, struggles, the agony of defeat and the hard won victories Scott and his family build on. It shows how a successful man realizes he was a not so nice a guy, and changes his personality becoming yet again a monetary success. He even becomes more of a nicer, more sensitive kind of guy, the kind of guy he never was before.

My Life Deleted is an interesting read, but it is written very simply. You will not get a complicated, big word kind of book where someone is trying to impress scholars. You will discover a simply written book, because you will realize that Scott is still learning about the world. This is a real life story that just might teach you how to push past all the misery in your life, and that hard work, a great attitude and determination will get you through even the worst of all situations.