Arrogance And A Messy Head

While sometimes children behave like “know-it-alls”…


Often an attempt to showcase what they’ve learned or to build their self-confidence. Sometimes, it’s also to bully others.  


More unusual though is to find an adult that thinks and actually says they know it all. 


But sure enough, I ran into someone who told me (about technology):

“I know everything!”


And they said it with a straight face. 


Literally, they told me how they came up through the ranks and knew EVERYTHING with emphasis!


Moreover, they told me that if I didn’t know something, I should go ahead and ask them because they would most definitely know it.


So I respect all people and certainly admire those who are knowledgable and talented in their fields. 


But something felt very wrong about an adult who feels that they have to go around bragging about the depth of their knowledge–and that their knowledge is apparently infinite (at least that’s what they espoused). 


I wondered to myself–is the person arrogant and a big mouth or the opposite–lacking in self confidence and therefore needing to boast and show off to compensate for their inadequacies?


When they were talking, it seemed like their head was getting so big and full of themself that it would just explode!


Most adults with emotional intelligence realize how little they know, and the older they get the more they realize that they don’t know in life. 


Especially, people of faith recognize that G-d is all-knowing and all-powerful, and we are but mere “flesh and blood” and truly just a speck of dust in the universe.


So truly smart people are humble and they look to learn from others, rather than preach and teach in a monologue of hubris.


Like many people that get too big for the britches, G-d usually brings them back down to Earth and their head to size.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Not A Level Playing Field

Yesterday, dozens of wealthy parents were charged in a pay-to-play scheme.


To get their kids into choice colleges, prominent lawyers, business people, and Hollywood stars paid millions of dollars for bribes, bogus exam scores, and fake athletic achievements. 


Uh, let’s give Bobby just a little extra advantage and he’ll do just fine…


But while some people pretend to be so shocked that this is going on, the truth is that we all know that it’s definitely not a level playing field.


All I have to do is drive by the local Mansions in Potomac, Bethesda or Chevy Chase, Maryland or in Northern Virginia and see the extravagant homes, schools, shopping, and neighborhoods, and you know there are the forever haves and the have nots. 


As the old adage goes, “Money makes money!”


If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth in the U.S., the chances are you will stay that way


Having the assets, information, connections, and opportunities seems to bode quite well for those who leverage it.


The worst part is that those who have these things often really believe that they are better or more deserving than others.


Can you see the nose elevated and those snooty eyes staring down on you? 


Wealthy parents cheating the system and paying off others to get their kids into the best schools–a surprise?  


Not a chance.


What the real surprise here is…that this time, they got caught.  😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Greatest Failure of Leadership

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So perhaps the most damaging trait of failed leadership is hubris.

When a leaders exhibits arrogance–bullies and degrades others, especially underlings–then that absolutely destroys the moral fiber of and the employee engagement in the organization.

No, it’s not the salary and benefits, or recognition, or position title, or even the grandness of the mission of the organization itself–although they are all important–but rather, the key ingredient to employee satisfaction is the common sense fundamental of how we treat our people.

People rising or elevated in the organization frequently forget the humble beginnings from whence they and their families likely began.

They see their honor and fat pay check and power–and they start to perhaps think of themselves as (close to) G-d Almighty, Him/Herself.

But it is not their position that makes them in the image of G-d, but how they care for and treat others.

If they shepherd their flocks meekly and with empathy and kindness to all then they emulate G-d, the creator and sustainer.

But when it goes to their heads and they become fat and haughty with themselves and are above everyone and care not for the basic dignity and respect of each individual in their steward then G-d sees and G-d hears the cry of the oppressed, and the mighty will surely fall and hard.

As it says in Isaiah 13:11:

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

Those who are blessed by G-d with position, money, and power–their challenge is to be gracious and giving with it. 

When they “laud it” over others and when they think that they are truly “all that”–rest assured that G-d does not let any tree grow or tower (of Babel) build into the Heavens themselves. 


Empathy, kindness, graciousness, and generosity–that is true leadership–and that is when employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity will bear the mark of the meek and the truly great person and leader. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Our Assets Are Compromised

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So in the games that nations play, spy games is #1 on the hit parade.


Of course, it’s about using information to get a strategic advantage. 


It runs the gamut from pure espionage in terms of stealing state secrets and intellectual property to conducting stealthy subversive acts to undermine enemies and competitors. 


Whatever spies do, it’s all about compromising assets…whether they be human, information, or critical infrastructure. 


From turning patriots into traitors, words into info warfare, or critical infrastructure in trojan horses ready to im/explode…whatever leads to getting the upper-hand or advantage. 


What one nation comes to rely on for their sustainment and survival is instead exploited and turned against them like a trojan horse or modern-day malware.


And with people, using money, sex, ideology, compromising material (Kompromat), or threats against loved ones–it’s simply about appealing to either opportunism or extortion. 


So truly defense means protecting not only what before one’s eyes, but also what in the rear and at the flanks. 


When the over 21 million personnel records and background investigations where stolen from OPM on virtually all federal employees (civilian, military, and intelligence personnel) a door was left open and the demon is still hiding and waiting to cross the threshold, infiltrate, exfiltrate, and compromise. 


As an society that meaningfully values an open and transparent democracy, we can perhaps too easily become lured or lax to common sense safeguards and vigilance, but that does not excuse negligence, incompetence or stupidity.


Rich people and countries around the world can unknowingly falter by becoming overly comfortable and full of themselves…to the point where many don’t fully care about their jobs or their country, as they sit in their mansions, designer clothes, and with busting bellies.


From the need to vastly improve our competencies in cyberwarfare to defending ourselves from a tidel wave of global terrorism to upgrading the U.S. nuclear triad against resurgent superpowers and dangerous rogue dictators, we have let our guard down to compromise. 


Is expelling 35 Russian diplomats an effective strategy against their technical attempts to subvert our free and democratic elections or does it just underscore how vulnerable we continue to be?


When as a country and with our leadership, we decide to get serious rather than stay scared and war weary then we will not only stand firm again, but fight against weakness and compromise of ourselves. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Wiping The Smug

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How you ever seen someone with that unbelievable smug look on their face? 


They are almost glowing in hubris and elitism.


They have gotten away with something and they know it and think they are above earth and Heaven.


Feeling better, smarter, and mightier than everyone else around them. 


They have built a fortress of minions, money, and power. 


And nothing, they think, can bring them back to Earth. 


Through deals, cunning, intimidation, and even elimination of their rivals, they survive and thrive growing stronger with every kill. 


High and mighty, but G-d sees all. 


Arrogant and corrupt, but G-d forgets none. 


All humankind is connected and one.


As one sits in the dust of the feet of another. 


The wheel of life turns, and the roles reverse. 


The next person has the chance to act different and better.


To mend their soul and humbly influence others for the good. 


No one should be smug, because everyone serves. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Russia Outwits Us Again x 4

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You can’t build the world from the backseat. 


Either we’re in it or we’re not. 


Instead, Russia has jumped into the driver’s seat, and we’re not coming out looking too good on the world stage. 


– In 2013 they took in and continue to shelter Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who ran to Hong Kong after allegedly leaking oodles of NSA classified information.


– In 2014, Russia conducted a blitzkrieg and took Crimea from sovereign Ukraine (giving it a strategic port in the Black Sea), and are conducting a separatist war in the eastern part of the country. 


– In 2015, Russia enters the Syrian crisis and allies themselves with dictator, Bashar Al Assad (who has used chemical weapons on his own people), as well as with Iran and Iraq.


– Additionally, Russia is taking the lead role in the oil and mineral rich Arctic bolstering their presence and militarizing, including building new ice-breakers (while our Coast Guard has only one operational). 


Some people have said mockingly, “Well what should we do, start a war with Russia?”


And the answer is an unequivocal, no. 


But I assume they don’t want to start a war with the U.S. either. 


Rather, this is the Cold War Part II, where we are fighting by proxy in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Arctic.


If we want the world to be modeled on freedom, human rights, and democracy then we need to be able to stand up for those things that are important to us.


Yes, we have to care about what’s going on here at home too, but we don’t live in a bubble, although surrounded by oceans on the east and west coast, we can sometimes easily feel that way. 


It’s a big world–and it takes tremendous leadership to bring it along a good and noble path.


The leadership role will not stay vacant for long…it can be us if we want it, or else you might as well flip a coin on either Russia or China. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Can Always Go, Downtown!

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This was fascinating to me at work this week…



I learned how people perceive who sits where and what it means to them.



They even come up with naming conventions for it.



So where (some) of the managers sit, that’s called “The White House.”



If you turn around and go towards the other end of the building, that’s called, “downtown.”



And crossing the hallway, past the elevators, that is called, “across the bridge,”



Clearly, the culture of each of these areas within the very same building can be completely different–some may be upbeat, friendly, and productive, and others not so much so or even the opposite with the folks running and screaming, “Get me outta here!”



The message…where people sit and even who sits next to whom is a big deal. 



Where you sit can indicate power, alliances, what is getting done, and at the other extreme who is on “the outs.”



Like in the movie, Office Space,  when the guy with the red stapler is moved with his desk and all into the caverns of the building–basically to rot because management didn’t quite like him. 



Often people who are in disfavor aren’t fired, they are simply put in cherem–excommunicated–and to die a slow and painful career and emotional death. 



On the other hand, those who are the shining stars of the organization get moved to a higher floor, with a better view, possibly a corner office, and near the boss–aha, you’re needed!



At work, I suggested a little enterprise architecture challenge to look at the three office areas: White House, Downtown, and Across the Bridge and to define the culture of these–what they are and also what do we want them to be for the people and how can we change to get there. 



No one should feel alienated, “less than” (as human beings), or put out to pasture (if they can be and want to be salvaged). 



The messages that are sent to people by assigning fancy titles, fatter paychecks, providing bigger and more luxuriously adorned offices is a form of performance management (reward and punishment)–but remember that those downtown or across the bridge–who may feel underutilized and not valued in the organization, may become the aggrieved marauding mobs that want to take the proverbial “kings head.”



While there are differences in where people are at in their careers and where they sit, generally-speaking advancement and mobility should always be based clearly on fairness, equal opportunity, and respect and dignity for all people regardless of race, color, religion, sex, etc. No one should be sitting in the leaky basement!



Also, sometimes it really is just “the luck of the draw” where people end up–truly–where G-d provides the right opportunity, you have the right skill set, those involved have the right personalities “to click”, and it’s at the right time “to work out.”.



What was also interesting about this to me is that one’s persons White House is another person’s downtown or across the bridge–it’s all relative and we are all part of the carnivorous food chain. 



Just to share something personal for me at work is that one thing that I do when setting up a meeting is that I never put in the meeting notice that the location is my office, but rather, I put it down as “my space,” because some people don’t have offices, but rather cubes, and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. 



In the end, it’s all G-d’s space!  😉 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)