Tag Archive: leadership

Memorial Day Meaning

What does Memorial Day mean to you? A day off? Cookouts? Fireworks? Will you attend a community parade to celebrate? Is your flag flying proudly today? Does Memorial Day have a special meaning for you as it does my friend Rachel Parker? Read her blog post today: A Humble “Thank You

Did you know that May is actually National Military Appreciation Month? Both chambers of the U.S. Congress have adopted a resolution calling for Americans to recognize and honor U.S. service members during May’s National Military Appreciation Month.

Memorial Day has a personal meaning to me. Today I will think of my friends and family who currently serve in the Armed Forces for our nation.

They work and train hard for our freedom. It’s their service that allows us to enjoy our day off, cookouts and freedom!

I miss them and words can not describe how proud I am of their dedication and leadership!   

Lead with Fun

When it comes to teaching children, the best way to get the job done is to make it fun. This is how Computer Explorers creates an environment where children are excited to learn new things. Hans Wagner, owner of Computer Explorers of the Lehigh Valley, helped organize an after school program for the children of Allentown School District elementary among several others. Watch this short video of Hans talking to a reporter describing the programs and his students sharing their work!

Not everyone can work with children and LEGOs. But … it is possible to have fun while working! Here are a few things I enjoy to do:

  • Lead with Fun – be willing to wear silly hats or gloves. Walk the halls and show off the silliness. Post pictures on social networks. It’s ok to laugh at yourself! Work can be boring but there is no reason why I have to be boring!
  • Engage with peers – I love dragging the folks from accounting, legal, and/or the print shop into the fun. In the picture below, Lorri Wyndham and I sported our gifts from Cyndee Perkins and walked the halls. We threatened to sing Christmas carols.
  • Be passionate and determine – this is one of Zappos core values and I try to live by it. My friend Joe Mathews, Franchise Performance Group says our work “should be a calling.”

We are coming to the end of 2011. If it wasn’t “fun” for you, think about 2012 and what changes you can make to enjoy it. Life is too short not to enjoy it and we spend too many hours a day working not too have fun while doing it!

holiday gloves and hat

Most Inspiring at ISTE

There were many inspiring individuals at ISTE this year. Keynote presenters, author Dr. John Medina of Brain Rules for Education and Stephen R. Convey author 7 Habits of Highly Effective People delivered thought provoking presentations.

Muriel Summers

What was most inspiring to me was listening to Muriel Summers, Principal of A. B. Combs Elementary Leadership Magnet School in North Carolina. Principal Summers shared how she used Covey’s principals on leadership to unlock the potential of her students.

Principal Summers introduced the audience to two of her graduating students. The young men (11 year olds)  stood on  stage presenting to thousands and captured our hearts. They  were so excited to share their involvement with a mentoring program  using technology to video Skype with students of the University Florida. During a question and answer session with the audience they shared how the student body plays a role in teacher hiring!

Covey says,  “leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it themselves. Leadership is a choice not a position. He stressed that teachers are leaders and  should help students see their full potential. ” The two young students were very articulate and passionate about the Covey principals. They were very confident in their beliefs and clearly are strong leaders in their school. The entire audience was inspired by their stories and the remarkable accomplishments of Principal Summers.

Here is an inspiring video of Principal Summers when she presented in February at the Global Education Summit: link here

The theme of the conference was “Unlocking Potential” As a leader in the franchise industry, I left the largest technology education conference inspired to unlock my own potential and the potential of those around me!

Who Will Be Franchisee of the Year?


The annual COMPUTER EXPLORERS conference is always something I look forward to. It’s an opportunity to spend time with the franchisees as a group. Time to brainstorm, learn from their successes and time to work through the challenges!

Each year we recognize one franchisee for their outstanding individual performance and their contributions that have enhanced the COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchise system. The Distinguished Achievement Award, “The Franny”, is an IFA (International Franchise Association) award and the highest honor a franchisee receives.

Last year the “Franny” was awarded to Jen Morack.  Randy Hall, CEO 4th Gear was in the audience. Randy was our keynote speaker which followed our award ceremony. Your can find a clip of Randy on the COMPUTER EXPLORERS YouTube channel here. I highly recommend him!

Jen Morack, Franchisee of the Year

Here is what Randy posted about Jen on his blog It’s Time to Lead:

“I had an opportunity to speak to business owners from across the country recently at their annual convention.  Prior to my keynote address they gave out several awards to members of their group.  There was one individual who, it seemed, hardly had time to sit down before she was called back to the stage to receive another award.

Her name was Jenifer, and she not only received an award for how well her business performed financially, despite the challenging market conditions, she also received an award for mentoring and helping others along the way, as well as the top award for all around best performance.

Would you stand out as a leader?

The interesting thing was, even after only meeting Jen on the bus ride from the airport and watching her interact with others at dinner the night before, I wasn’t a bit surprised at how many awards she received.  Her leadership skills were clearly evident.

Everything about Jen, the way she carried herself, her energy level, her interaction with others, her desire to help, even if it was just holding the door for someone dragging a suitcase, demonstrated that she was a leader.  At the dinner table she listened intently to the conversation, made everyone around her feel important and participated, but didn’t dominate.  You could tell that Jen understood that leadership is not about the leader; it’s about everyone else.

Jenifer’s role within the group isn’t even a position of leadership, at least not in the hierarchical sense.  She is, from an org chart perspective, a peer with the other business owners attending the convention.  And yet, you could see people consistently seeking her out and asking questions to learn more about how she was running her very successful business.  She always shared, and she always did it with a smile and a sense that it was conversation she could learn from too.

Jen was a reminder to me that leadership isn’t about position; it’s about mindset.  It’s not about being in charge; it’s about making a difference.  It’s not about telling; it’s about sharing.  And it’s not about having authority; it’s about adding value,”

The next Franchisee of the Year has big shoes to fill following Jen!


US Air Force Security Forces Officers

When I think of leadership I can’t help but think of the military forces and the leaders within each organization.

Last week I attended my son’s graduation from the Air Force Security Forces. The keynote was delivered by Retired General John P. Jumper, who served as the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force from 2001 – 2005. General Jumper delivered a moving speech to the graduating class on leadership. In his keynote the General said,  “You have been trained as leaders.  You will leave today with analog skills but you will live in a digital world. Don’t forget the importance of a good leader is to make direct contact with your team. Step away from the desk, email and digital communication and remember to look your team in the eye and shake their hands. Get to know them as individuals.  Let them know who you are. ”

It was obvious to the audience that General Jumper leads with passion and was an outstanding leader. He could have easily sent a written statement to be read to the class but he made the decision to deliver it himself. I watched him look his audience in the eye as he spoke making direct contact as though  he were talking to an audience of one.

I subscribe to many blogs on leadership. As I sat and listened to General Jumper I recalled a blog post by Randy Hall, CEO 4th Gear on “Management vs Leadership … or is it? In his post Randy commented that too often leaders believe in the idea they should “sit atop the organization and gaze upon it from a lofty perch where you make disconnected decisions and advance your own ideas.  That’s not leadership or management, that’s simply abuse of power.”

Randy’s definition of leadership is, ” causing individuals, organizations, or communities to achieve more of their potential in a positive, sustainable way.  When working from that perspective, someone who makes uninformed decisions from a detached position isn’t a leader, no matter what position he or she happens to hold.  Those decisions can’t cause the organization and the individuals who make it up to achieve more, and often result in actually hampering the success of the business.”

I don’t know if Randy ever met General Jumper but they share the same beliefs. After spending a weekend with my son (on the far left in the photograph) and his friends from training I am confident they have developed the personal leadership skills  that Randy and General Jumper believe are necessary to become successful leaders.

If you lead, they will follow

When I attended IFA (International Franchise Association) I learned that there were several franchisors that did not make it due to the poor economy. There are several more that may not make it this year.

I will admit that COMPUTER EXPLORERS  was rattled. We  asked ourselves if the poor economy would force us to quit. When I say “we” I mean both corporate and franchisees.  In a strategic planning session late last year we answered that question. It was decided that we DO NOT want to quit nor continue as status quo. What is needed for COMPUTER EXPLORERS is to seriously look at the model, opportunities and possible changes. We are doing that.

What  I am also finding is that the effects of the economy shook some of my franchisees to their inner core.  I have conducted serious discussions about their future. Do they have what it takes to continue? Can they move from fear to fight? Are they planning to close or to lead?  If they choose to lead what is needed from them to lead their team? What changes if any do they as a franchisee need to make to survive? The conversations are hard. Honesty is a must in order to move forward.

Sometimes I need to call in reinforcements to help me with these discussions. Strong business coaches that will make my franchisees dig deep and discuss  their plans and strategies about the future of their  business. Coaches that will not accept the standard “I plan to grow my business” but make them articulate the how and why in detail. Coaches that will push for clarity and discuss their why and detail the how.

Some of the reinforcements I have worked with are the best in the franchise industry: David Handler, Joe Mathews and Flo Schell to mention a few. My latest recruit is Randy Hall, CEO 4th Gear Consulting. In the short time I have worked with Randy I have grown to respect and trust his coaching skills. Randy is not only a coach but a presenter and I look forward to his presentation at our annual conference in March.

Last week a group of franchisees exerted emotional labor on a call with Randy. They love their business, pour their heart and soul into the daily activities and without realizing it they are the “Linchpins” that Seth Godin writes about. They are the essential building blocks of our franchise system. They speak frankly about their needs and challenges as a franchisee. They are not afraid to address what  they are not receiving from the corporate office. But they do it constructively and with a purpose to improve the system.

As President & CEO of COMPUTER EXPLORERS I know that there will always be franchisees that will leave the system. It will be a decision that is right for them as individuals and for the system. I am confident that the franchisees that plan to continue will lead their business by working hard. They will attend conference in March with a goal to succeed and an open mind to new strategies. Leading franchisees will continue to work with business coaches and not be afraid to put themselves out there. They will make a committment to build a stronger business which naturally build a stronger system.

I don’t want to quit. I plan to be a strong leader and dig much deeper into the how I plan to lead.

Pants On The Ground

There are days after a particularly bad day at work I need a relaxing evening with an entertaining tv show. Last week American Idol Larry Platt with his song “Pants On The Ground” did that for me. If you missed it live you have probably seen it replayed  on commercials and/or on YouTube. It’s priceless and so is Larry.

So why did I have a particularly bad day? A lie. A small lie told to me by a peer. No one will lose their job over the lie. Revenues will not be lost.

What was lost due to the lie was my respect and trust for someone with authority.

Wikipedia: To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one does not honestly believe to be true with the intention that a person will take it for the truth. A liar is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly – even when not necessary.

Whether you are a girl scout leader, leader of a small team of people or a leader of a large corporation. In my opinion it’s vital that every leader have at the very least the following five qualities.

  1. Integrity
  2. Consistency
  3. Dedication
  4. loyalty
  5. Respect

Larry’s song refers to people “lookin like a fool with yo’ pants on the ground”. It’s funny and entertaining.

If you are a leader that crosses the line and does not have the values above then Larry is singing about you!