Brady Hoke Keeps Leadership Simple

Leadership is a complicated pursuit.   University of Michigan football coach Brady Hoke makes it simple.   Why?

Coaches coach for all sorts of reasons: ego, an obsession with winning, innate competitiveness, the desire to outsmart the guy on the other sideline. Hoke takes his greatest joy in getting through to his players. He says things like, “Character wins in life, and character wins out there,” pointing toward Michigan Stadium. He says he takes his greatest pride in 69 out of 69 seniors graduating in three years. He says his team is like having “115 sons.”

Michael Rosenberg, SI, The Right Man For Michigan?

Brady Hoke simplifies the complicated pursuit of leadership because he has the right motivation.  How do we know?  Read the Michael Rosenberg article and this becomes clear.  He is risking his job to build the right way and I happen to like his way, because he is building to last.

The only truly reliable source of stability is a strong inner core and the willingness to change and adapt everything except that core. People cannot reliably predict where they are going and how their lives will unfold, especially in today’s unpredictable world. Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going—for where you are going will almost certainly change.  It is a lesson as relevant to our individual lives as to aspiring visionary companies.

Collins, Jim; Porras, Jerry I. (2011-08-30).  Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Harper Collins, Inc.


6 Questions to Help You Say No

Focus is one of my constant pursuits.  Fortune Magazine published “Why saying no gets you ahead,” which is an excellent article on focus and the art of saying no.

Focus is incredibly difficult.  The ability to say no is an essential component of focus.  There are six questions I asked myself after reading this article, and taken together each one has helped me improve my ability to say no and focus.

  1. Why is saying no so difficult?
  2. Why are boundaries and good fences important?
  3. Why should we pause 24 hours before saying yes?
  4. How can I say no without making enemies?
  5. How can simplicity prevent the conflict over saying no?
  6. Why should we develop good boundaries and confidently stick to them?

6 Ways Winston Churchill Inspired

Alone Churchill

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe.”

—Winston Churchill

Winston Spencer Churchill is one of the most inspiring figures of the twentieth century.   My favorite volume about his life is called “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone.”    I am reading it for a second time.   This reading has increased my understanding of what made Churchill one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.   One might argue he was the greatest.  Here are six reasons I believe he could be considered the greatest, based on my reading of this book, which I simply call “Alone.”

  1. Passion – Churchill inspired with emotion, because he was swamped with it himself.
  2. Resilience – Churchill survived failure.  As a result, failure no longer held him under its control.
  3. Confidence – Churchill believed he was here for a reason.   As a result, neither difficulty nor defeat could stop his progress.
  4. Hard Work – Once defeated and in debt he had to write to survive financially.   His work ethic was extraordinary.
  5. Friendship – Consistent in everything he did was a desire for and capacity to build relationships.
  6. Courage – Through staggering opposition and criticism he kept going confident he alone was right about Hitler.

Focus and Simplicity

Focus was the first word to enter my mind when Douglas Hommert sent me this picture.   Doug is a phenomenal photographer and knowing my love of hawks he sends me incredible pictures.   I named the hawk pictured below Focus.   He helps me remember.

 Immature Red Tailed Hawk Chase Squirrel


I am in constant pursuit of focus.  Focus produces simplicity which increases productivity.  Basketball players might use the word efficiency instead of productivity.  What they mean is there is no wasted motion.   Productivity means there is no wasted life.   When my life is productive or efficient I am able to build my family and career.  My life will have balance.  This is why I consider focus and simplicity of utmost importance.

Another Hommert Original

A Hommert Original

What are two things we can do to develop the focus and simplicity necessary for a balanced life?

Focus is saying No

 “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Steve Jobs, (Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference, 1997)

The first step toward focus is developing the courage to say no.  Focus will be elusive and simplicity impossible until we learn to say no.

Red Shoulder Hawk

Another Hommert Original

Simplicity is Hard Work

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs, Businessweek, May 25, 1998

Once we learn to say no and become focused we must eliminate the idea that simple is easy.

Click Picture to order print

Click Picture to order print





5 Questions about Social Stories?

I was inspired when Tim Carmody wrote “What’s Wrong With Education Cannot Be Fixed with Technology” for Wired Magazine.  He outlined some of the ideas Steve Jobs had about textbooks.  This was before iBooks Author was in the mainstream.   I hoped parents of special needs children could use this tool to develop Social Stories.   This is my quote from the story.

Let’s take just one stakeholder example: students with disabilities, as well as their teachers and parents. Autism advocate and software developer Russ Ewell from the Hope Technology Group is excited. “Apple could unlock another door for autism with this breakthrough,” Ewell said. “Parents could create social story books.” So could special education teachers or therapists, tailored for each student.

Today I write as much to remind myself as anything.   The vision of parents with special needs children developing simple rich engaging stories must be kept alive.   In the days to come, I hope to find answers to these questions.

  1. What is the simplest and best application for creating social stories?
  2. Has anyone used iBooks Author to create social stories?
  3. Where are the best resources for understanding the how and why of social stories?
  4. Does anyone have  a website where someone could download social stories?
  5. Who are the biggest names in social story creation?

I will be seeking these answers and hopefully learn how to make my original vision become a reality.