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Practical Wisdom Blog

From a “Perp on the Podium” (hopefully) to a Survivor of the Hanoi Hilton | 10/12/2015

Criminal Speaker
OK, my patience has run out. My last existing nerve I had on this particular topic just got numbed-out, not working, deadened…I’m (so) done with this.

The local chapter of a senior financial organization (the management roles targeted for membership in this organization include: CFO, VP-Finance, Controller, Treasurer, and equivalent). The group’s choice for this season’s kickoff speaker and the 2015-2016 program year was:

…wait for it…

Andy Fastow.

You think I’m kidding, right?

Unfortunately, I’m not.

Most of us remember Hurricane Katrina (for a number of reasons, much less the idiocy and bias in the press). The two parts of that national disaster which still come to mind for me are:

  • The tremendous outpouring of service, charity, donations of time and money and generosity (once again) by the American citizenry—simply another outstanding example of the caring and concern of the people of this great country – still makes me proud;
  • 2nd was General Russel L. Honore’, best known for serving as commander of Joint Task Force-Katrina, responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for the Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast, who gave that famous quote when he told a reporter not to get “stuck on stupid” in reference to a question about the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Correspondingly, I feel that same way when I see such downright silly decisions made…like putting a criminal fraud felon on the podium and paying him to give a speech to a bunch of senior finance and accounting types. When I heard about this “choice,” I sent a two-line note to the local chapter’s admin email address which basically said (paraphrasing), I cannot think of a worse choice of a speaker; it’s just pitiful and naïve for you to do this.

I (obviously) did not attend.

But, after receiving and responding to defensive (and further) email correspondence from the local chapter—“spare me” on one, and a host of facts for the other…well…

I went one step further. I gave two of the group’s sponsors an idea on how to offset such a dumb choice of speaker. I recommended a former resident of the Hanoi Hilton who was with John McCain. This person is quoted often on many of the news networks, and he gives both inspirational, leadership, ethical, and…

…wait for it…

Speeches on making good choices.

Hell, if the group actually has him as a future speaker…I’ll both attend, and pay to do so.

“Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it.”  (M.H. McKee)

Why Tolerate Abusive Tactics and Contrarian Behaviors in the Workplace? | 8/10/2015

Boss Yelling
According to referenced sources, Lewis Carroll was: an English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon, and photographer. You likely remember either the book or the movie about Alice in Wonderland, and others from his stable of works. For one, I recall a character who used to mumble something like, “hmmm, curiouser and curiouser.”

There are times when many of us view human behavior in business relationships, organizations, government, how they operate, and wonder “what were they thinking” (to quote a lyric from a C&W song). Multiple examples of bully behavior and the “blame game” can be pointed out these days: politics of personal destruction, scorched-earth strategy, the end justifies the means, do whatever it takes, do as I say–not as I do, we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it, shove it down their throats, accountability doesn’t matter, if you like your plan…, why is reciprocity important (?), who’s going to find out anyway (?), and on and on and on.

With such grossly-ineffective tactics also operative in some businesses, it becomes even more painful when such behavior appears to get rewarded.

Now that can be maddening, whether it’s:

  • A “consulting” firm that never seems to be able to compensate people for relationships they initiate which result in business, or,
  • Bosses who continually reward favorites instead of contributors (or “save” the wrong people during a reduction in force),
  • Public servants who must know what they say is misleading, incorrect, false, not-the-whole-story, yet they dutifully recite whatever they must to push their agenda…and/or the media which rarely if ever calls such statements to task,
  • Institutions whose people put convicted fraud felons on the podium, provide media attention and exposure for them with no regard to what is truthful…or worse yet, university professors who showcase such criminals and their rationalizations in front of students,
  • People who exhibit such toxic behavior that they disrupt business practices, significantly impact productivity, and never seem to be held accountable.

And yet, we know these incidents should be fixed and then never tolerated again. And the people who exhibit such behavior…well…they need to be dealt with also. The larger question becomes, will we make the decisions to then act, rightly?

By the time we have reached management levels, gained experiences, and are capable of applying sound judgment guiding principled action, we truly can “trust our gut.” We must be examples of right behavior. The thousands of rules, laws, regulations, statutes, have not served us—just drove us to this place.

Right principles that initiate leadership actions, driven by principled people…that’s where we need to be.

Said another way, “Integrity has no need of rules.”  Albert Camus 

“Dear Prudence” | 4/16/2015

Expert Advice

I will date myself here, but some of us remember that Beatles song, “Dear Prudence.” The lyrics are unmemorable, simplistic, cute but trite—and were originally composed as a message to Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence, who was so consumed by meditating that Beatle John Lennon encouraged her to just “come out and play.”

Trust me, you won’t find any deep insights from the song’s lines.

Contrast the banality of such lyrics to the absolute need for prudence in business…and in life. All the way back to Plato and Aristotle…and even in and out of philosophically-based theology from Aquinas…prudence is among the highest virtues because it represents the “art” of applying habits learned over time into encountered life experiences. And don’t forget Stephen Covey’s books and observations, as many of those fall right in line with the intelligent application of practical principles in business and professional life, if not our personal life as well.

“The literature” (as it is called by academics)…on prudence…directs that the effective use of this habit (virtue) requires dependence upon the following mental activities:

  • Reasoning
  • Foresight
  • Circumspection
  • Precaution

Definition-ally, prudence also includes: patience; restraint/moderation; perseverance; and modesty. (Hmmm, sounds like Harvard Professor Joseph L. Badaracco and the key messages from his book, Managing Quietly, which laid out these exact characteristics…of a leader). Contrast these qualities with the overdone propaganda describing leadership today which glorifies: fast action, taking charge, an “in-your-face” style, and a “scorched-earth” persona – all supposedly required for reputation and success.

Know anyone like that? I do.

However, think about the people who have been individual leader-mentor-examples to you—what things epitomized them and accelerated their success, and were most likely responsible for their ability to then…develop additional leaders? What made them both different…and uncannily effective?

And who best to imitate? Not a tough call.

As we move up in our careers and add hundreds if not thousands of experiences, we also deal with a host of good (and bad) bosses, associates, staff. We end up learning who and what to avoid. As a result, we then have the good fortune to take the best of what we have seen, what we have learned, who we learned from, as well as plainly seen for ourselves what worked, and what did not! We then can use our own intellect and judgment from direct experiences to: evaluate, test, and apply those lessons-learned in the circumstances we encountered–to influence and then effect positive, favorable, profitable, effective, and reputation-enhancing outcomes.

Sounds like a very practical application of…prudent action.

If I hear from one more “expert”… | 3/16/2015

Expert Advice
We are bombarded by experts, from the weatherman to the executive coach, the boardroom-name-consultant to the office busy-body, the public-relations overseer to the crisis manager. Don’t know about you, but many times the value is merely perceived, not realized. Unfortunately, we all have historical experiences with: the ERP system that was going to transform the business; the ROI never achieved; the project that never ended; the consultants who never left. Their objective was…to perpetuate their own cash flow.

I remember a “big four” accounting firm that came out with full-page advertisements in the WSJ extolling the virtues of that 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley legislation that was (purportedly) going to preserve the economics and integrity of the capital markets. Again, don’t know about you, but I always glanced to the bottom of the ad looking for the small print that said…“and we’re making a “$#}&-pot” full of money promoting it”! The leading-edge companies quickly took their SOX efforts in-house, for they knew the business process experts were their own internal resources, not the self-proclaimed expert outsiders.

These leading-edge companies, and some of the rest of us, finally got fed up.

The time and place for “experts” does exist, but I know I’m not alone in lamenting the dependency curse, the intellectual laziness that can befall key players in the best of organizations, the subsequent excuses, the “blame-game.” For the outside experts (finally) go away, and while you have their study, project documentation, the alleged “knowledge transfer” — YOU subsequently owned the responsibility to answer for the shortcomings, the promises unfulfilled. The accountability for those shortcomings — became yours.

We all know there is a time and place for external assistance: to do things the organization has the identified need for, but neither the time nor the appropriate resources to cover each one-time-problem/expertise gap. So you carefully do the business case, selection, funding, project management, and so on, to optimally get the need solved… “on time and on budget.” And you own it…cuz when the “experts” go away, they own nothing…

The disease is–that while we continue to be bombarded by “the experts,” we do get influenced to feel: the doubt-creep, the what-if-there’s-something-to-it, and we forget the last time we gave in to the promises, the bamboozle, the over-promised results…that never showed up. We hear about government dependency, the nanny-state, the numerous and overlapping programs doled out by the “guvment,” funded by us, the tax-payers. And we simply cannot let that dependency seep into our own lives, our businesses and institutions, to negatively diminish our own ambition, resolve, and production—by eerily-similar, lazy dependence upon “experts.”

Let’s reclaim our strengths, remember how we got here, what it took, the lessons-learned from experience, and “belly-up to the bar” with personal resolve and accountability.

We have our experiences, our knowledge, our networks, our people…and we need all cylinders firing in sequence, all working to achieve—to produce results…better, faster, cheaper, smarter.

We are the experts.

One last thought, from someone else far more insightful (and inspiring) than my own brain’s quote-ability—on the relationship of an idea from an expert vs. that of a leader:

It is, after all, the responsibility of the expert to operate the familiar, and that of the leader to transcend it.” (Henry A. Kissinger)




The High Road | 2/18/2015

The High Road
Thus far, I’ve had the privilege to know and work with/for some remarkable people in my business dealings. Likely, so have you.

Many of them were astute and impactful in their professional and business dealings:

  • The former West Pointer who was one of the most analytical people I have ever worked for…and I was the finance guy! I remember clearly, “In my presentation decks Jim, I want “the lead-in sentence” introducing the issue; at the end, I want the conclusion/the “so-what” message; and in the middle – I WANT THE DATA.”
  • The eminently skilled presenter who could mesmerize audiences, pulling them in with his stories, adventures, experiences, information…OR…the introverted accounting person who could step up to any microphone, anywhere, and instantly transform into a “fireside-chat” persona.
  • The big company treasurer who could see financing options and quote cash flow nuances almost instantaneously.
  • The well-read, Ivy League-educated corporate boss who could mingle flawlessly with the hourly factory workers…knowing he would likely have to lay them off in demand slowdowns.
  • The turnaround firm partner who could digest and decipher data and offer infallible strategies and tactics without ANY need to reference The Body of Knowledge.

…Simply astounding, talented business people across many industries and companies and circumstances.

And then, there’s this other group who have left me at times virtually speechless, if not even envious. People who took leadership head-on, dealing with career-threatening decisions, showing strength of character at heights far beyond my expectations and even comprehension, who just found a way to “keep-on-keeping-on” in the foulest of situations…who taught me far greater things than they will ever know.

The public accounting firm partner who listened to business issues I was dealing with on a Friday frustration call, and amazingly, white papers would show up at my office door the following Monday along with alternatives and the likely political “traps” to run as well.

The white collar crime guy who called my home late one Friday evening to tell me he had arranged for a Saturday meeting for me to meet with a litigation legend who would serve as secondary counsel for me in a fraud I had uncovered—because he (the white collar lawyer hired by my management team) was concerned that MY OWN MANAGEMENT would “do right by me”!!!

The subsidiary company controller who summoned me to his office (when his boss was out of town) to confidentially tell me he was being told to report revenue into an earlier period so the president could meet his numbers and get the top assignment in an upcoming merger…and asking if I could construct a cut-off audit to “find the transactions” that proved his CFO boss had directly approved and forced to occur beyond his own demands not to do so.

The CFO of a Beatrice Foods subsidiary who gave his top management three opportunities to deal with a fraud his president had executed, and when his management did not deal with it, resigned and moved his family from Charleston, SC to Neenah, WI. Oh, and when Beatrice subsequently sold the company, due diligence proved his objections founded, and after a large disposition loss, Beatrice Foods then hired him back to continue his career with the conglomerate, in an even larger role, admitting to their indefensible decisions and even bridging his service to cover the time gap for his pension calculation.

These are the heroes you meet along the way, those people who find their way to keep their integrity, to “do the right thing,” to embed character in their decisions.

And I remain envious, and awed, of their noble behavior.

Reminds me of that Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” For it is that “road less traveled” that always becomes…

The High Road.

Right Action | 1/7/2015


According to the Press, various pundits, and politicians…“words matter.”

Depending upon who is saying them, however, words can either clearly resonate…or conversely…simply ring hollow. The two things which add weight to someone’s words are: that thing called “experience,” and the other one called, “credibility” (created many times BECAUSE of the experience—or the LACK of it which negatively impacts believability and relevance). These two things must support, or in many ways, validate the words.

One guy who’s made quite a prosperous living from: speech-i-fying, book-writing, blogging, and the correspondingly-proverbial executive coaching that typically accompanies such things, probably nailed the proof-positive-position on words vs. accomplishments. At least it rang true (for me) via the following quote from John C. Maxwell and his countless books, including The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, which gave rise to:

“Actions are the real indicator of character.” The clincher is character, because words really don’t matter; (right) actions do.

From another author, words are empty, but, according to Matthew Kelly, “thoughts create actions, actions create habits, habits create character, and your character is your destiny, in the workplace and in your relationships.” (Perfectly Yourself, copyright 2006 by Beacon Publishing, Ballantine Books, Random House, Inc., New York.)

Time after time after time, when taking over large or even smaller organizations, I became convinced that the people on the floor, the staff people—the process experts–already KNEW: the problems, what the obstacles were, who were the identified poor performers, what system and process issues existed, and they had both solution-ideas, but also carried with that knowledge, expectations of their management. Even more importantly, they ALL desperately wanted progress. They were prideful, and clearly fed up with mediocrity. They wanted to win…and they were highly capable because, after all, they were the process experts.

The effective employees knew progress required action. They were waiting patiently for just a few things:

  • Would management finally figure it out? Would they (we) ask for ideas?
  • Would we do the right next thing—would management finally take the action?

The strategic studies had already happened, then followed by the expected one-way communications filled with all the words…these had come far earlier, far too often, and they had since rang hollow. Because proof-of-the-pudding, so to speak, was: “did actions follow the words?” My job was to make things happen, just the same as within your own management job. If not us, who? If not now, when?

I still recall that front-page quote from Jim Dutt, then CEO of Beatrice Foods (conglomerate in the 70’s and 80’s):

“I’d rather be wrong doing something.”

Do as you say…now there’s a concept.

Anthropological Research re: “change management” | 12/8/2014

I have always contended the insertion of “real life” experiences into the classroom makes university offerings far more potent. As a result of my speaking engagements, and research to develop my key messages…I have ended up spending time with a number of professors. One of those professors possesses private industry, military, corporate psychology, research experience, and higher educational credentials. To those, he can also add entrepreneurship and ethical insights. My association with that particular professor has forced an expansion of my perspectives, extended my knowledge and curiosity, if not changed my own thought processes as well.

Here’s but one example.

As part of our business experiences, we have all likely had to make major changes within our organizations…business, process, cultural, economic, information systems, and so on. Change has been encountered, many times required (for survival), and sometimes accomplished only through brute force. The causes of change range from: an external economic event, a transaction, overt action, a management swap-out, regulatory/legislative decisions, a lack of competitiveness, a new entrant to the marketplace, whatever.

Despite its inevitability, people naturally resist doing things differently. I used to regard resistance as human frailty, laziness, or fear of “uncertainty.” Then that professor told me resistance was due to anthropology…I didn’t believe him. He told me to read Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, as it would clarify my thinking around business ethics.

I didn’t believe that either.

Among other things, Jonathan Haidt is a self-described, liberal researcher (“WEIRD” as he opines in his book). I remained skeptical. However, here’s one researched, justified conclusion.

Every human (anthropologically, that is) is a product of who came before. As a part of the human condition, we all possess rational thought, and what Haidt calls “intuition.” Haidt envisions the interplay this way: rational thought is represented by the driver sitting on top of the elephant, and intuition IS the elephant. We all logically understand rational thought…it’s the facts and relevant information we encounter in our lives, which we then “process.” On the other hand, intuition is the sum-and-substance of each person’s earthly experiences from: feelings, influences, traditions, knowledge, education, inter-relations, faith lessons, emotions, etc. Those influences are derived from all sources: individual, familial, group, tribal, even evolutionary.

Rational thought is supposed to be the guide, the driver of the elephant…but the elephant really goes where the elephant wants to go.

FACT (from Haidt’s research): when we encounter new facts for rational thought-processing, especially if those facts do not jive with our existing intuition, we do not consider them and certainly do not allow them to change our behavior. The first human reaction is to reject those facts, and seek other facts which fit our intuition and its positions. And we do that over and over and over again. (“It’s in my nature”…if you remember the story of the scorpion and the turtle…where the scorpion wanted the turtle to give it a ride across the river because it could not swim.)

Eventually, some of us finally face hard facts, or we don’t and simply refuse to consider any other position. But, we will likely absorb and more readily embrace such facts IF we receive them from: people we know and trust, in informal, understandable, insightful, and non-judgmental, un-public ways.

In other words, from 3rd grade, “you can’t make me.”

Oh, and this goes for “political” facts too. And we wonder why people are not open to change?

It’s all anthropological.

“Broken Windows” Theory | 9/29/2014

Broken Windows

If you have followed politics over the last decade or so, and know the history of 9-11, you therefore know who Rudy Giuliani is. Though I am not particularly fond of politicians in business (maybe the other way around is more acceptable), the former mayor of NYC operated off of a sensible concept no matter where you implement it.

From the official source: “If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken,” Professors George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson wrote in the Atlantic Magazine, in March of 1982.

Former mayor Giuliani applied the concept directly. When asked, here’s what he said: “…Well, I very much subscribe to the “Broken Windows” theory…The idea of it is that you had to pay attention to small things, otherwise they would get out of control and become much worse…So we started paying attention to the things that were being ignored…”

As business people, we gain multiple and early advantages by applying the theory within our business responsibilities. And if we do not, well, that can lead to big trouble. Let me offer up some examples which likely mirror some of your own experiences:

  • I ran a very large commercial, credit and collections operations sometime ago. In dealing with small businesses to multi-national customers, the idea was to first establish relationships within the paying organization. Then, if they didn’t pay, we would contact them “early and often.” You just could not let clients get sloppy, tardy, and behind…you “paid attention to those small things,” up front. I remember taking over one new business unit; the hard-and-fast rule I installed immediately was, “no one’s receivables exposure gets worse.”
  • Doing due diligence for M&A efforts: we had our required document list, that roster of stuff you must have to kick-off such a project. EVERY time I allowed some document to be provided later…they “bit me back”—because that was where the problems were!
  • Turnaround projects: every time the 90-day cash flow was incomplete, or poorly-done, the issues multiplied…it was automatic.
  • Controls and analytics: from my audit days, if the full roster of controls did not exist, were not complete, or didn’t map to the business process…or I didn’t understand the business process…TROUBLE!
  • When running companies from the C-Suite: it NEVER took long to find the weak links in the management team. And if I didn’t take the right action on a timely basis…MORE TROUBLE.

Whether it is life and death situations in the case of Giuliani’s challenges in NYC in dealing with that tragedy, or things far less threatening, you MUST deal with the small stuff, the “broken windows.” If you do not, bad things follow. If you do not deal with the small issues in business, they collectively accumulate to pollute your effectiveness, your department, the company, and the likelihood of success.

So, find the things that others have ignored, and deal with them quickly…and effectively. Your operation will be better off because you dealt with them…when they were small!

Better, Faster, Cheaper, Smarter | 8/5/2014

6601681Granted, it was a reasonably informal environment, but I recently asked a group of finance and accounting people, “How do you decide what you’re going to drive in the next 6-12 months (and I certainly didn’t mean their next automobile choice)?  “What things do you have on YOUR near-term agenda, beyond the week-to-week forecast due-dates, banking reports, monthly financials, your audit planning and scheduling, etc.?  What’s on your list and who put them there?”

To be honest, the lack of a “crisp answer” was most surprising to me, more than disconcerting.  As a member of executive management, would the private equity firm, or a key stakeholder, or investor—likely find such commentary, or the lack, of great concern?  What I have found in practice is that just about anyone with clout will have a “list of stuff.”  In one role, mine included such things as, get that root-cause analysis of working capital improvements finished and then if the business case proves it–find a way to get the funding.  Another one was: what do we have to do to ensure the experienced run-rate of customer credits gets reduced?  And still another, how can I find a way to get along differently with that $#*}-@&& head of operations who’s headquartered in the Midwest and not working on the right stuff?

I am certain, people in my organization used to poke fun at me… “Oh, here he goes again…better, faster, cheaper, smarter;” “what’d you fix today;” or, “how’s that new advertising spokesperson selection going?”  I’m sure my “hovering” drove them crazy, but we also celebrated completion of each of those steps to improvement, and I made sure to publicize them internally.  In one organization, I STILL look back to the singular accomplishments of one key group of people, doing their day job as well as one of the more strategic projects (in terms of size) that I had ever taken on—after inheriting a systems conversion disaster.  And they just killed it!  That chosen group of business process experts, and information technology people, added $200 million back to profitability, and the cash-flow improvement was probably 3 times that.  And to this day, I can only hope they know how impactful that project was—and how grateful I was for what they had done.

We have a responsibility to identify and then keep driving improvements, we likely have the business process experts working for us, and we’d better be doing something about our operations.  I remember one slightly overused phrase repeated incessantly by our CEO:

“If not us, WHO?  If not now, WHEN? 

He drove me crazy, but we got things done.  Cuz if important things weren’t on my list, he’d more than likely put some there.  Believe me, I quickly learned to just do it myself—that way I got to choose, and who knew it better anyway?

So what are you going to do TOMORROW to make things: Better, Faster, Cheaper, Smarter?

If you don’t, someone else will likely be doing it in your place—very soon.

Houston, We Have a Problem! | 6/2/2014

2274692As I have historically indicated in this space, numerous examples can be cited displaying the wrestling match of sorts that academic, professional, and even executive institutions have in their efforts to successfully present or teach business ethics.  These range from WSJ articles lamenting that even Harvard struggles with this, to the point where an Ivy or two have admitted they have certainly produced really smart people, but some had become “experts in exploiting loopholes,” resulting in bad things.

To delve just a bit deeper…as an additional business challenge (if not academic as well), IF we were to find a better approach, what more favorable results would we SEE from an effective shift?  Said another way, how might these institutions change, how might we define success and then what real and better results would occur?  The following metrics don’t really “hack” it, but:

  • Would Business/Academics jointly bringing experiential lessons-learned to the classroom hasten the “improvement”?
  • Would fewer fraud schemes result, be uncovered quicker at lower-dollar-instances? (“Not So Far” says the ACFE’s latest Report to the Nations…)
  • More profit margin? More capital?  A more robust and growing economy?
  • Fewer white-collar criminals?  Less government corruption or over-reach?
  • Honesty and transparency?
  • Readily-available and public testimonials about or from good guys?
  • Fewer perps on the podium?
  • Principles-based management obviating the need for more rules and regulations?

Unfortunately, it might be easier to editorialize upon what business ethics approach apparently isn’t likely to work in the classroom, or perhaps more meaningful…what has been proven to NOT work—either in the classroom or subsequently in reality, based upon marketplace examples the wrong way.  I would prefer to stay positive, but as you can see, some “really smart” institutional people have struggled with it, and now admit to such.  But maybe admitting what doesn’t work would at least start eliminating future attempts at “doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

I just experienced another one, from the podium.

Recently I had an opportunity to add some business experiences and value to the academic side of things, although in retrospect, the environment and approach were not conducive to ensure success, in my opinion.  A major university MBA program asked me to bid on doing a “guest” Business Ethics lecture to their 1st-year batch of graduate students, and I ended up getting the gig.  One action taken in moving to their new environment for the graduate Biz school was to take what used to be two full-semester graduate courses…and consolidate them into…a one-week intensive.  One of the foregone classes was…you guessed it…Business Ethics.

To counteract this new approach, and to optimize my time at the podium, I focused on one thing, how many ethical decision-points are encountered within business experiences, in the real world.  Furthermore, my primary goal was to connect ethical principles into the behavior of BOTH the good guys and the bad (and there are clearly more good than bad).  Finally, after going through EXAMPLES, I pointed to the originator of the ethical principles, the learning, and the well-known practitioners from “both sides.”  You know, people like Plato, Aristotle, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela…and from the other perspective, some of the fraudsters and their choices.

I am certain of one thing…I did not compensate for a full semester of business ethics: readings, discussions, cases, assignments.  But paraphrasing from the words of General Honore of Katrina fame, I also realized that neither is “fixing stupid” (choices) on my resume, nor is mind-reading.

Ultimately, the real answer here is that ethics is a part of leadership, and that is where (in my opinion) academics “miss the mark.”  Quit treating “ethics” as an add-on.  It is an intrinsic and CORE element of character and leadership.

But, can you really learn leadership in school, or do you “learn” by…example?