15 October 2011

A Look at the Occupy Wall Street Consensus Model

26 September 2011

Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader - Book Review

Let me preface my comments by pointing out that I have never read a book focused in this arena before.  Honestly, I have seen a number of books promoted in a manner similar to Creating Personal Presence and have been turned off simply because they appeared to focus on rudimentary or superficial issues when it came to the idea of becoming a more successful entity in a corporate sense.  That being said, I was extremely impressed with both the depth and positive nuance of Creating Personal Presence.  I was surprised at how captivated I became with the content of the text and how easy it was to draw correlations between the examples in the book and the realities of my own performance.

I envision the book as a primer in teaching leaders the ability to develop the personal skills required of a leader.  I’ve managed core groups of leadership (in the Army) who are responsible for ensuring the well-being of different aspects of company operations.  While I am always blown away by the technical competency of those I’ve worked with, I find myself constantly having to work with some of my most proficient section leaders in learning how to present themselves properly as a leader as well as how to project authority through their presence.  I would love to be able to assign Creating Personal Presence as a resource to assist my management in developing the interpersonal skills that allow them to translate their competence into holistic leadership abilities. 

I felt that the material was presented in a manner that was balanced in terms of maintaining a positive and encouraging atmosphere while at the same time demanding improved performance.  Booher avoids blame and instead focused on how to develop leadership despite individual circumstances.  I enjoyed that the book assumes an amount of personal success on behalf of the reader dodging the ever looming “bootstraps” mentality.  I found that by starting from a level at which technical competence was assumed allowed the book to be more inviting.  Overall the material had more of a coaching/mentoring feel to it.

I like that the book incorporates the author’s research into the field citing the exact nature of specific studies and even including the questions posed to those interviewed. I think these add weight to the ideas presented and clarify the author’s authority in the field.  The narratives do an excellent job of creating opportunities for personal introspection and add entertainment value to the text.  I found myself drawing similarities between my own performance and the characters discussed.

I found that the book addressed a topic that I struggle with both in my actual job and in my Army career… that is learning to convey what I know in a manner that other people flock to.  It’s one thing to know a field, but it’s another to be able to convey that knowledge.  The book does a terrific job of explaining presence and why it’s important to advance in the work place. 

21 May 2011

Home Free Bagels and Social Entrepreneurship

Ashoka an organization working to “allow social entrepreneurs to thrive and enables the world’s citizens to think and act as changemakers” points out that Social Entrepreneurship provides an opportunity for people to take charge of their communities in a way that enables positive growth while at the same time working for social reforms. Ashoka feels that, “Rather than leaving societal needs for the government or business sectors to address, social entrepreneurs are creating innovative solutions, delivering extraordinary results, and improving the lives of millions of people”.

Taking a step back, it’s important to understand the essence of Social Entrepreneurship… “Unlike traditional business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs primarily seek to generate “social value” rather than profits. And unlike the majority of non-profit organizations, their work is targeted not only towards immediate, small-scale effects, but sweeping, long-term change” (PBS 2005). Social Entrepreneurship steps outside of a number of pressing societal conventions. They create business that don’t rely on traditional metrics of profit and sales volume but instead add additional measures of success hinging on their ability to effect social change within their community. The terms Social Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise are often used interchangeably, the main emphasis being on extending the traditional focus of capitalist business ventures to have a primary focus on their ability to create social change. A social enterprise has an obligation to operate in ethically, socially, and environmentally responsible ways. It differs from traditional enterprise in that the priority is social justice rather than personal wealth.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Chris Sullivan and getting an opportunity to talk to him about his personal venture in Social Entrepreneurship, Home Free Bagels. His plan strives to provide homeless members of the community with tangible stepping stones while at the same time satisfying a dearth of locally produced bagels. As he puts it, “Home Free Bagels is a social venture that seeks to provide employment opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness, while also generating profits that benefit the Asheville Homeless Network. We make a bagel that exceeds the quality of any other in town, and we sell our delicious product wholesale to local coffeehouses and restaurants. In doing so, we present motivated and hardworking individuals from the homeless community with an opportunity to bypass the frustration and humiliation they often face in the employment market. I have personally watched enthusiasm turn to disappointment when an individual is turned away from a job that seemed to be a sure thing. One gentleman told me of a time when he reported for his first day of work, brought his sleeping bag, and the employer immediately turned him away. Stories such as that, plus a lack of quality bagels in Asheville, were the catalyst for Home Free Bagels. We value dignity, integrity, and loyalty, and seek to provide an environment that allows employees to foster these qualities, simultaneously building self-respect. Working for Home Free Bagels is more than a job and a paycheck; it’s a vessel for reintegration into mainstream society”.

Chris is passionate about the necessity of community investing in social entrepreneurship. He points out the success of President Obama’s campaign in asking people to donate in small amounts in order to build a grassroots effort that everyone felt part of. At the heart of his business model is his unwillingness to make compromises in quality or in his dedication to Home Free Bagels’ workers. He is absolutely committed to paying a living wage and making sure that Home Free Bagels honors its own ideals from the start.

While Home Free Bagels are currently only available in Asheville, North Carolina, the model that Chris has developed offers a perfect example of Social Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise. Home Free Bagels is witnessing local success finding its way onto the counters of several local stores and caf├ęs, but there is still a need to build capital in order to ensure the longevity of the project. Chris continues to engage in a grassroots style fundraising campaign to continue to build a foundation for Home Free Bagels’ success. It may seem odd for a business to solicit contributions, but as Chris points out those contributions are an investment in the community and a demonstration that Social Entrepreneurship is important to the people of Asheville.

You can get more information on Home Free Bagels (and contribute to the cause) on Facebook. Also follow them on Twitter for the latest developments and information.

Are the internets filtering our search results?

27 March 2011

13 March 2011

Beet Chips and Genesee

I've wanted to subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture vegetable box for a while now, but I am afraid of what kind of weird vegetables I might end up with.  So I've decided that before I commit, I should try seeing what kind of recipes there are out there for some of the stranger vegetable varieties I might run across (and those that are typically not well-liked by anyone).

I started out with beets and decided to go with fried beet chips.  It took me a couple of batches to get it right, but I finally came out with a workable product on the last batch.  They actually went rather well with the white bean chili we were having.

If you care to try them yourself (I'd recommend at least trying them), you can follow these steps.  I tried using seasoning salt instead of the sea salt I recommend below and I wasn't happy with it.

You need:

  • A bunch of beets (or at least one to two large ones)
  • A deep fryer (I used a Progressive Multi-cooker because it doesn't destroy the kitchen with grease and it's easier to control)
  • Frying Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • A mandolin (for better slicing if you have it)


  • Heat up the frying oil to 400F
  • Slice the beets into thin wafers (as thin as you can possibly get them)
  • Place small batches of beets into the hot oil fry.  I fried them about 5 mins each batch,  but you can probably get away with less if you can slice them thin enough.  Fry them until the beets have curled in on themselves and the bubbling in the oil has almost completed subsided.
  • Remove from the oil and place on paper towels.  Use another paper towel to remove the excess grease.
  • Salt immediately to taste
  • Enjoy!

Also for beer fans (in Asheville)... I found Genesee Cream Ale at the Ingles by the tunnel.  You can pick it up for $12-something a 30 pack.  I enjoy it... it's on the same level as PBR, but it's cheap, it's smooth, and it's cheap.  It's worth trying when you don't want to dive into something heavy.

21 January 2011

Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song

Jamey Johnson returns to country's roots with songs of desperation and heartache delivered with powerful and notoriously sad guitar riffs. Johnson avoids much of the peppiness and materialism that has come pervasive among today's pop-country chart-toppers instead looking to revive the melancholy romanticism on which the genre was built.

Johnson's laments demonstrate his loyalty to his native Alabama as he explores his travels, his debt, and his love lost. Normally, I am no fan of country music, but I found the bluesy, folky feel of Johnson's "The Guitar Song" to be centered around the core that most country music has strayed away from. His music is explosively emotional and his lyrics are vivid allowing the listener to understand his state of mind as he languishes through each tune searching for some meaning or some identity that eludes him.

"The Guitar Song" is worth checking out, its 25 tracks has a little bit of something for everyone in his throw back to 1970s southern rock/country. Honestly, Johnson would present some serious competition in a remake of the "Smoky and the Bandit" soundtrack.