Just Plain Interesting

//Just Plain Interesting

A Billion Dollar Russian Spy Who Colluded with America

Most of us like a good spy story – one filled with suspense and intrigue. Of course, we know there is no way a real spy could survive most of the antics the fictional spies encounter. Thanks to a book referral by my colleague, David, I just finished reading a non-fiction spy story that is intriguing, inspiring and sad. Adolf Tolkachev. The book is called The Billion Dollar Spy and was written by David Hoffman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, national intelligence expert, and Washington Post reporter. The spy was a Russian citizen named Adolf Tolkachev. Tolkachev was an electrical engineer [...]

By |2019-04-18T17:34:52-04:00April 18th, 2019|Books, Just Plain Interesting|

Yikes, Why Can’t Everyone at Work Just Get Along

One of the toughest challenges leaders face is how to deal with two team members who aren’t getting along. It is especially problematic when each person on their own is a positive contributor, but the conflict between them is disrupting the team. If you don’t care about your work culture, you could do what one manager did – rent inflatable Sumo wrestling suits and have the two parties fight it out in front of their teammates. If you prefer a more peaceful approach I recommend you do what I do – listen to Judy Ringer. Judy is an expert in [...]

By |2019-03-28T11:06:01-04:00March 28th, 2019|Books, Just Plain Interesting|

Three Ways You Might Contribute to Road Congestion

It seems like it was just a few years ago that we relied only on our faithful mail carriers to deliver our very few mail order packages. And most of this mail was delivered by two legs on the sidewalk. But two relatively new consumer habits have changed all that and are helping clog our streets – 1) Single product, online purchases from places like Amazon; and 2) The use of Uber and Lyft. And soon a third force is going to really impact traffic - driverless vehicles commonly called autonomous vehicles or AVs. Package Delivery. In the days leading [...]

By |2019-01-15T11:47:00-04:00January 15th, 2019|Just Plain Interesting, Uncategorized|

Leaders Beware – Google Done Taught Me Everything I Know

I have been a defendant in only one court case. Sadly, that case contributed to my loss of interest in teaching college and is directly related to today’s topic. I’ll tell you that story later. When our founding leaders formed the United States, they wrestled with this paradox – How to protect individual rights and protect individuals from themselves. Well-educated in the history of mankind, these founders knew that humans are naturally social beings and very susceptible to going along with the crowd. They worried how misguided crowds could destroy the great country they envisioned. One social trend that really [...]

By |2018-10-19T09:43:05-04:00October 18th, 2018|Just Plain Interesting, Learning Styles & Skills, Uncategorized|

A Short History of Manipulating You – Interested?

The recent story of Facebook and how it sells us out has been a surprise to many. What you might not know is that human “attention” has been manipulated and sold for years. And this is exactly what Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google are doing – they are watching what gets your attention and then they sell this knowledge. The buyers then work hard to manipulate your buying behavior. Tim Wu in his new book The Attention Merchants tells us the history of how businesses have studied what gets our attention and then how they sell that attention-grabbing knowledge to [...]

By |2018-06-25T21:53:24-04:00June 25th, 2018|Books, Just Plain Interesting, Uncategorized|

10 Instincts that Hold You Back

We have been helping youth at risk of success for over 20 years. We do this by connecting youth to employers, who become helpful role models. What I have learned over the years is that the generalizations we make about “at-risk” youth are almost always wrong. Take Gary, for example. Gary was a 16 year-old youth, who was court-ordered to our program after he was arrested for a felony theft. Here is Gary’s theft story. One hot summer day Gary and his friend decided it would be fun to go canoeing on the Connecticut River, but they didn’t have a [...]

By |2018-06-07T10:54:32-04:00June 7th, 2018|Books, Just Plain Interesting|

When Challenges Choose You

You can learn a great deal about leaders when you see how they react to challenges they did not choose – the challenge chooses them. A few weeks ago, I attended a large, five district Rotary Club conference at the Mt. Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH. While there were several good programs, I was especially moved by a keynote speaker, Travis Roy, who I’m proud to say our Portsmouth Club sponsored. Roy was a very talented, highly recruited hockey player from Maine, who, just 11 seconds into his first game at Boston University, broke his neck after a clean [...]

One Narcissist You Want Off Your Team

Over the last 16 months we have read many articles about narcissists and many of them have been inaccurate. If you are like me I’m sure you have wondered what is the difference between a “normal” narcissist (one who mostly ruins their own life) and a “dangerous” narcissist (one who ruins the lives of other people.) Finally, I found a book that helped me understand the difference. Here is the opening paragraph of the chapter on the most highly destructive personality you may encounter in life – the narcissistic, high conflict personality (HCP). “Do you know someone who thinks they’re [...]

By |2018-05-10T11:46:10-04:00May 10th, 2018|Books, Just Plain Interesting|

Do You Enjoy Your Status Anxiety?

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash Have you ever seen someone overcome with joy when they got their very first job? I have and it is almost indescribable. And it is special when it happens to someone with a disability because for the first time they have an answer to the question, “So, what do you do?” Have you ever noticed how often you are asked this question? In our society employment has become a big part of our identity, our self-concept, and our status. And this week I want to talk about just that, status. Everywhere I [...]

By |2018-04-25T16:16:30-04:00April 25th, 2018|Books, Just Plain Interesting, Uncategorized|

Add Originality to Your Leadership

I love baseball, so I am excited the season opens next week. Anytime I read a book that has a baseball reference, I am instantly intrigued. That happened recently when I read about how Jackie Robinson’s birth order contributed to him being the perfect person to break the color barrier in baseball - more about Robinson in a moment. The book is Originals by Adam Grant. In this book, which I found fascinating, Grant explores dozens of studies and concepts that contribute to where personal originality comes from. (Steve Tip - I first listened to the book, but then purchased [...]

By |2017-05-19T19:54:46-04:00March 30th, 2017|Just Plain Interesting|