Renewed call

It’s now a norm. Something bad happens in the cultural zeitgeist, causing widespread reaction. If it’s on a large global scale, such as the recent Las Vegas tragedy, there’s a pause to reflect for about 24 hours. Then the opinions, argument and divisiveness come. Like a boulder rolling down a steep hill. Or train travelling down the track. Pick your own analogy.

The only agreement struck anymore is that some things are truly heinous for no readily apparent reason. Or at least not one that can be offered up immediately to inquiring minds. The Why question rarely gets answered during tragedies yet that doesn’t stop us from asking it over and over. What remains odd is how that’s really the only time anyone cares about the Why.

And then there are the moments that are so personal and individualized that no one else can possibly understand what’s happened despite all the means to share at our fingertips. Someone who used to be pretty close died recently after a tragic accident. Details were sketchy via Facebook. It didn’t exactly hit like a ton of lead as if someone nearer had passed, but it did provide pause. On the same day, the car I was driving hit something, causing a bad flat on the side of a busy interstate here in Atlanta. Thankfully, Jake from State Farm came to the rescue. Sometimes things just happen; sometimes they happen for a reason. There is no single either/or that stands up to time.

When things happen on the public stage now, it’s  nearly impossible to watch the range of reactions, most of which are overblown, lacking perspective and loaded with opinion vs. fact. Anything and everything is fanned like a fire straight from the T.V. set or smart phone screen to wherever we’re taking it all in. Everyone suddenly becomes an expert if they weren’t already. Hours are spent arguing over issues that don’t really direct impact us.

Thankfully, this is not the case when you travel to Italy or to Israel, or at least that wasn’t my experience during a two-week trip in early September. The first obvious difference is TVs set to 24-7 news channels don’t permeate every public space. Nor do people sit around on their phones texting and talking as if the world is going to end. No, they’re actually out, living and going about their lives in wonderful places with great sunsets (see below.)

Torri del Benaco, Lake Garda, Italy

Tel Aviv beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

It’s refreshing to be among people who choose to live first, work second. This isn’t an endorsement; just an observation. Any American worth his or her salt misses efficiency after a while. That may be our greatest asset. Another admirable trait is our creative spirit. We are an ingenious, industrial and innovative people. Or at least most are — short of a few who haven’t experienced disruption yet. 

It’s my sincere hope that with a little more grit, shared values and sensory leadership that we can emerge stronger and better for the next season. If we can’t, well, I know who remains in control, always.
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Short Bursts

Here are some short bursts, or in this case, the seven tips that will change your capacity to lead forever. Echo chamber drum roll, please.

1.) Community trumps content, or so say the technology sages. Trumps has a little ‘t’ in this reference, btw. Here’s what we do know: There’s way more content now than community, and most of it is off target, non-specific and creepy, which is defined as content that creeps into our feeds. Here’s hoping this piece doesn’t find a similar fate. If you’re not building real community, no amount of content is going to make desired impact. Thanks to a budding technology sales superstar for presenting a conclusive case on this one.

2.) “A man walks into a bar…” Leave the comedy at home. Only the most advanced speakers and writers can pull off humor, and even then, it’s not worth the risk. I’ve watched too many leaders who thought they were funny bomb miserably at jokes. It’s gotten painful to witness.
3.) “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” — Jack Nicholson, “Few Good Men.” Truth is so subjective now that telling the truth to someone who hasn’t asked for it is a pointless exercise in futility. Sad but true (damn, there’s that word again.) The next board that says it wants truth tellers who represent diverse voices and then proceeds to hire the same old thing has now been put on notice. Truth can’t continue to be stranger than fiction. 

Courtesy: Jack Nicholson
 4.) Can the economy get any better? An early stage company leader told his team recently that it “can’t get any better,” economically speaking. There were commission only sales people staring into space at the time. Be careful with messaging, leaders. Whether things are getting better is highly subjective and generally can be traced directly to take home pay, not all the other nonsense that’s now espoused under the guise of culture building or shaping.
5.) Big P and Little P can co-exist despite evidence to the contrary. Big P stands for purpose that makes a difference, while little P is purpose that makes a contribution. According to New York Times best selling author Daniel Pink, the research for his seminal work, “Drive,” turned out to be all wrong, or at least that’s what he recently told local leadership conference attendees. Rather than striving to always make a difference, most employees want to make a contribution to the bottom line vs. trying to save the world. Keep that in mind the next time you think it’s a good idea to rev up the troops by inviting them out to the soup kitchen.
6.) After dealing with change subjects over the past 15+ years, the following conclusion has been etched in stone: If you’re unable to change, chances are the pain isn’t deep enough, or you’re lacking a new dream that can replace the bad one that you’ve been having. Dr. TGR doesn’t prescribe medication so please consider a new vision for a different day. Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. — Lao Tzu.
7.) Finally an oldie but goodie. First gleaned from a transition client that has since gone on to bigger things. This person liked to quote an old line from the late Paul Brown who achieved Hall of Fame status as the first coach of the Cleveland Browns and then co-founder of the Cincinnati Bengals: “When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.” That wise rule is pretty much gone, but it served the person who liked it very well, leading him recently into a CEO job of a major Fortune 50 company.
May we always call on the wisdom of those who came before and applied it before our very eyes.

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Zero perspectivers meet the Four Freedoms

Zero perspectivers (Noun) — Those who choose to complain, whine and criticize incessantly about how these are “trying times,” or other references to the current state of public affairs. Generally found on social media and/or protests wearing dark sunglasses during media interviews in major cities.

The annual Fourth of July holiday represents an opportunity to relax, take stock and look forward to celebrating the nation’s independence via community BBQs, events and best of all, firework shows. It’s as much a national past-time as baseball or perhaps even more when factoring in demographics behind who view the game.

Anxiety and disdain, however, are at higher levels than normal about where the country stands. It’s become cliché, but clearly the divide remains. Throw in a few presidential tweets that cut to the core of division and a complicit media, and the discourse, if that’s even what it can be called anymore, can get ugly fast. What should probably be primary sources of worry, such as terrorism and rogue nations claiming successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests, become secondary to what some talking head is yelling at another talking head on cable news.

It’s times like these that require more perspective than normal. Despite gridlock in D.C., the country is not facing trying times. Or at least not as trying as it was seven years ago during the Great Recession. Most people have jobs who want them (granted some aren’t as high paying as others,) and economically speaking, employment, GDP and savings rates are either near highs or pretty close. Not everyone shares in the prosperity, but hey, that’s a subject for another day.

Freedom is not by accident. It’s the result of sacrifice, bravery, service and courageous leadership — first by members of the armed forces but also by those who lead them: Generals, field commanders, and dare to say, presidents.

Courtesy: FDR Library & Museum

One president, in particular, stood out recently. No, not the one seen body slamming CNN outside a wrestling ring. FDR’s Four Freedoms speech came across the screen from a friend who forwards great nuggets from time to time. It’s one of the true digital joys to be directed to something that literally changes perspective in a meaningful way. Granted the process doesn’t happen too often and generally only occurs through trusted sources, which are fewer by the day.

FDR, or Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt for younger viewers, encapsulated freedom in 1941 during what has to be the most fearful time in the country’s history. Bar none, really, if you take a step back. Here is an actual draft of an excerpt from the speech (courtesy: FDR Presidential Library and Museum):

Courtesy: FDR Library and Museum

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Note: Like everything historical, you could read these freedoms and conclude that the means didn’t turn out to be the ends, or not even close. That may be true, but at the time, with a world war raging on an allies’ continent, it was a genuine appeal of the first order. 

Seven ways to achieve five-star social media rating (if ratings existed)

I have to confess a net neutral attitude with social media. Here’s what that means: While the whole world is using social media, return on investment has been neither through the roof nor floor. That equals net neutral.

Here are some ways to generate five stars if social media had a rating system similar to the ride sharing services, Uber and Lyft. These suggestions are applicable mainly to LinkedIn but also relevant for Twitter and Facebook. Snapchat, not so much.

1.) Can you post something professional that may appeal specifically to your target audience? And if you can’t, or if a majority are not in that audience, can you resist the urge? Example: A good friend posts news releases about debt restructurings in Class B office space. Assure you that’s not my field. Suspect that many of us were early adopters, meaning the race was on to get to a certain number without filtering connections. It may be time for a tune-up, or purge using the on-line lexicon. The good news is we’re just getting started digitally speaking, according to the experts.

 2.) Could the content be something that isn’t necessarily widespread, or dare we say, original? Liking the same old memes may be cute, but it only adds to attention deficit. There is way too much bad content these days to begin summarizing here so we won’t. Leave the likes to Facebook, not LinkedIn. 

 3.) Why are big brands the biggest noise contributors or offenders? Don’t try to appeal to everyone at once; it’s impossible. It would be fun to sit through planning sessions and hear analytics scientists presenting what should be common sense yet no longer applies. Evidently what works exponentially doesn’t always translate onto the street, so to speak. 

 4.) Why should I care that you joined a group? Crickets. Adjust those settings, please.

 5.) Is there a social media site that only allows political content for political junkies? That would be great for numerous connections and “friends” who need to go park on that site and stay there. Unless your view is professionally based on actual experience, it just doesn’t matter. Repeat, doesn’t matter. You could make a bigger difference in life by walking your or a friend’s dog.

 6.) With all due respect to Facebook, connections aren’t always friends, but some friends are connections. Please teach your children well like the old Crosby, Stills and Nash song used to go.

 7.) Last but not least: Only nerds read this far in an on-line posting, and if they do, chances are they can’t recall anything that you’ve said. Keep it brief and visual; otherwise, the exercise isn’t worth the time. Here’s the cartoon of the year so far thanks to a good friend who took the time to email personally:


A in-person meeting last year with an on-line expert confirmed way too much not to share here. Choosing not to respond digitally to something posted under your profile is the equivalent of a blank two-minute stare between two living human beings. Try that out the next time you choose not to respond. It’s a long time — at least by digital standards.

That same expert claimed ignorance later, “do I know you?” when asked to connect on LinkedIn. It was funny in a pathetic way, assuming you don’t take yourself seriously on the Information Superhighway (circa 1993.) By the way, did you know Al Gore invented the Internet? 

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Lose the Trump obsession

While the contents of this post are political, the intent is apolitical. What does that mean? No axes to grind, no sides left to choose. Only observations that hopefully will lead to better perspective. So others in leadership positions can consider for their own usage.

Lose the Trump obsession refers to the pile-on now going on in the political/media industrial complex. On the Left, the new president is the Devil Incarnate, a shameful, Tweeting fool who doesn’t care about anything beyond himself. On the Right, the new leader of the free world marches to his own drummer and won more counties and votes than any Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan.

Fake news, alternative facts and reality now fight for equal air time. Both extremes have translated into very little so far other than protests, about 100+ citizens being temporarily blocked from entering the United States and countless contested news cycles opining but not really knowing what’s to come. 

More people than ever over-identify with national political figures and perceived causes at the expense of actually doing something purposeful to make impact in their own community, according to TGR’s own empirical data. Eight years ago, it was a savior named Barack Hussein Obama. Now it’s the new populist leader of the silent majority, President Donald John Trump. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Consider the following truth, first seen in the Denison Forum, and expounded upon here. Popular leaders reflect their times; transformational leaders change them.

No one knows entirely what President Trump and a Republican Congress will or will not be able to accomplish. It’s a great experiment to have a never previously elected politician serve as President. Then again our country remains an experiment failing forward, which was the original design set into place by the Founding Fathers. Based on what government has become, old Benny Frank and Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t be as shocked as rest of us seem to be.

To peer consultants who have written expert commentaries on how to respond to a Trump Tweet targeting their client’s company, please take more than 30 seconds to respond. Trump Tweets are highly successful — or at least have been so far. To fight with head on response represents a lot of risk to any corporation that was formed ironically to manage risks. Not to mention tweets have the shelf life or attention span of a baby. Just ask the Ford Motor Co., which now has a remarkably different public tone than before the holidays.

Maybe the best way to respond is simply to listen and not say anything publicly until a clearer resolution emerges? Better yet, wait for the next crisis to wipe the previous one aside (anyone know what’s going on with the new Air Force One planes?) That may be too common sensical to borrow a Bush 43 saying. The contrarian contained within says it’s time to be slow to speak and quick to listen, taking a line from James.

The current climate recalls a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that a global practice director used to throw around as if he was Ralph himself: “You’re acting so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” The exchange was  ironic considering the setting was a PR firm’s office talking about communication aimed at manipulation on behalf of fee paying clients. Tweeter, I mean Twitter, thankfully was not in existence then. We actually had to attempt to influence each other by speaking directly and defending a position with facts and informed views. Now there’s an idea.

May we listen more this year, instant message/text less and be more adaptive at the risk of always having to be liked, happy or popular. Remember, hitting one out of three remains a Hall of Fame-worthy batting percentage in baseball.

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Now what? Considerations for everyday leaders.

Courtesy: Unknown

No upside in PC war. Political correctness is dead, long live PC. Cultural war chests are being reloaded at unprecedented levels. Avoid at all costs; there is zero upside in the public square. Just don’t forget the value of sharing views with those who you care about, especially in this highly divisive climate. Here’s a great quote from Martin Luther King, Jr, pulled from a friend’s Facebook post: “In the end, we will not remember the lies of our enemies but silence from our friends.” (Courtesy: J. Gray) 

Courtesy: Big Lebowski

Trump Effect. Time Magazine‘s Person of the Year, an old dying influence measure if there ever was one, will be announced this morning. It has to be President-Elect Trump, right? Who else could it be? Your call, but for house money, it could easily be a hybrid figure of all races, genders and titles named Sir/Madame Disruption. If you haven’t met this person, you will sometime.


Listen, Linda! Consider a simple act: Listening, or more specifically, listen to someone who is different than you. We could use more active listening for sure. Going another step, diversity for diversity’s sake needs an update. The fact is fewer women are filling CEO jobs. Despite the platitudes, conferences, studies and reporting — which admittedly has helped move the needle up from zero over the past 25 years — women currently hold less than five percent of CEO jobs among companies in the S&P 500, according to Catalyst The c-suite and board picture is improving but not quickly enough to change this glaring fact-based imbalance. Doubt the veracity here? Try engaging the complex that has made diversity an industry with honest dialogue. Or better yet, try doing so as a white, middle-aged man. A casual observer/TGR reader recently commented: “We got tired talking about it (diversity.”)  Can we agree to disagree on Diversity Fatigue as a new heading?

Truth remains stranger than fiction. With due respect to great journalists, such as David Ignatius,, what is post-truth, or what so many are writing and talking about since the election? 

At a more down here on Earth level, who can we believe anymore? Government? No. Monolithic Media? No. You? Maybe. Me? Sure, why not? Google? Facebook? Uh, if you answered the latter, then please sit down and gather your own thoughts — should any still exist.

Dead broke. Media and pollsters proved on Election Night that the election industrial complex is dead broke, but similar to previous cycles, what’s emerged remains a hodge podge mess of stuff that’s discovered on-line now more than ever. Despite this confusing emerging model, leaders are supposed to initiate truth so please spend some time forming a better process in your sphere of influence. Initiating truth may be the new George Patton mandate: Lead, follow or get out of the way. First step: Know the truth, or at least be committed to searching.

Mitt Romney and Trump, eating frog legs
Courtesy: New Yorker

Trump Effect (continued.) Vision speak will now take a back seat to bottom-lines, first-hand story/visuals and competing sets of facts (and half truths, distortions, lies, etc.), which probably never will get in the way of a good argument ever again. If you’re still communicating in grandiose terms with long quotes from names such as Washington and Lincoln, then please consider breaking things down. The days of soaring oratory are over. At least until the next perceived savior floats onto the scene.

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Funniest all-time comment on career change

So the current key to effective branding, according to 2.0 content masters, is unique story telling that communicates key differentiators, or what sets you apart. Not all of us have clear differentiators, but that’s beside the point.

It’s always entertaining to read this type of language because it’s been around since, well, Henry Ford and the Model T Ford. That may or may not be an exaggeration, but you get the point.

One of my favorite stories from the front lines occurred all the way back in 2006. Talking via phone for the first time to a COO of a homegrown company that was being acquired, the subject asked the normal range of questions and then proceeded to go a little deeper with a funny story. He said, “You know, Jeremy, my biggest fear is being stuck at home, watching Jerry Springer episodes all day.”

Jerry Springer

My response was almost chortle-like laughter, although admittedly since all great humor contains truth, the comment did provide pause. Recovering from the awkwardness, the next comment was the reassuring kind — something along the lines of “I’m pretty certain you won’t have that problem.” This moment remains the all-time best when it comes to unintended revelation. This person would later hire me, but that’s beside the point.

Anxiety or fear about change is real. Going to extremes in the early going is normal. Being a little off base and questioning purpose after working forever not only is healthy but can lead to a better place.

But please don’t feel like you have to do so alone. That’s generally where trouble starts. Turn to friends, trusted colleagues, formal/informal advisors or even a professional, if necessary. Read some stuff (highly recommend “Working Identity” by Herminia Ibarra); watch a podcast or two. Then commit to a plan of action around trying a few new experiments. The single biggest deterrent to change is thinking too much about will come next vs. doing something. Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. — famous Chinese philosopher (Lao Tzu.)

Oh, in case you were left wondering what eventually happened to the previously mentioned subject, he transitioned effectively out of his long-time corporate role and now works in private equity. A traditional segue if there ever was one. For the record, it’s not certain that any Jerry Springer episodes were viewed before, during or after the change.

Dilbert by Scott Adams
Courtesy: Georgia CEO
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P.S. We’re not leaving anything to chance these dog days of summer. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about our differentiated approach to executive transition, please feel to reach out via email, phone or social media. A new season approaches. Here are our coordinates:
Jeremy C. Garlington
Point of View LLC
4060 Peachtree Rd./Suite D-#117
Atlanta, GA, 30319
Phone: 404-606-0637
Web site:
TGR web log: 
Twitter: @jgarlington

Complimentary late summer reading

August now marks the late peak of summer vacation season, which means everyone has already picked out their favorite popular title from the Amazon Kindle rack. Or whatever they’re calling the container these days.


Let us be clear: This is not a best reads book list. It’s a short burst listing of relevant blog postings compiled over time, which now counts 12 years of active practice-driven work, results and reflections. There’s obviously an entire book in here, but that’s not worth getting into right now.

This listing is designed to educate the uninitiated on career change, executive transition and everything else that falls between the two, which thankfully isn’t that much. There’s on exception on the list, which falls under the category of eternal personal branding, an art that none of us have mastered.

We’ve heard our fair share of whines, wishes and pleas when it comes to the presidential election so leadership also makes an appearance on this summer list.

1.) Pain points are really what drive business in professional services. No one valuable generally gets hired when everything is going peachy keen. It generally requires great pain for another party to step forward and ask for help. The ones who do advance rightfully, the ones who don’t, well, they just keep doing the same, taking drugs and hoping for a different outcome. Having said all that, no one likes to discuss much less admit pain points unfortunately until it’s abundantly obvious.

2.) This posting was done all the way back in April. The first point, or call to action, was to quit obsessing over Donald Trump. It’s always good to see others taking our advice (yes, there is sarcasm in that last statement.) The posting directly following this one, which wasn’t included on the list, also emphasized the importance of publicly stating support for one of the two candidates. There hasn’t been much of that either so consider this race the really loud yet quietly helpless election. May the least worst person win!

3.) This posting is personal and about a figure who remains a standout despite age, retirement and what comes with both milestones. One of his most famous placements, Bob Nardelli, was the butt of some jokes during a market-based conversation just this morning. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. Gerry Roche put high-end, highly visible brand name executive search on the map. Period. We won’t see another like him ever.  Who can say the same?

4.) Anyone experiencing a reactive or proactive job change situation would be wise to take some time and understand the differences between pivots and forks in the road. Learn how to recognize both and you’re already two steps ahead. Key is to at least take the first step, which as some famous Chinese philosopher once said, begins the journey of a thousand miles. Can someone send the golf cart, please?

5.) Framing a new story, or narrative, strikes at the essence of rebranding. It’s a core service of the consultancy, but more importantly, the exercise helps move you forward in the eyes of others. Everyone has a story, btw. Some are just better at telling it or have the wisdom to know when they need help doing so.

6.) The image of Homer Simpson eating donuts probably made this one of the top read blogs of the year. But the listing stands on its own and represents synthesis of the many rules and tips that now fill the usual channels with noise.

Hope this helps round out your summer reading and contributes to some well earned rest. Feel free to comment back here or send along to someone whom who think could benefit from the message. Thanks for reading,


‘No such thing as bad PR’

Sometimes you see things first-hand, or reported live, that provide pause. Especially when life is a little less crazy than normal. Mayor Kasim Reed’s recent outburst on WSB-TV, Channel 2 in Atlanta represented one of those moments. So naturally, we sought perspective about the event from the point of view of what’s happening in the public square called political leadership. Here’s the product:

As a good friend commented: “When the pol (politician) blows up, the pol always loses.” So true but so lost in the current season.

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What’s your pain point?

Pain point (noun, definition): When the pain exceeds the point when you can do anything about it, or when you perceive you can’t do anything about what’s causing the pain. Example: Patient A has a pain point, and after exhausting over the counter remedies, calls the doctor for a prescription.

In business, pain can take several forms, both real and perceived. The points generally manifest themselves according to the following categories:

1. We don’t know how to cure the pain so we turn to someone or expert firm for help.
2. We’ve really screwed this up and need help finding our way back. Sooner rather than later.
3. That’s it. I can’t take it anymore. Give me the drugs! Or the prescription that’s only unique to me (generally speaking it’s not unique despite how you want to believe that it is.)

Not me but could be

A recent meeting with a prospective client brought this point fully home after a friend brought up same truth a few weeks ago. You have to be a really bad listener not to pick up on the cues.

After commenting that there hadn’t been much communication since the last meeting, prospect says, “Oh, that’s an easy explanation. You weren’t fully aligned with my pain point at the time, which right now, is funding the business.” Gulp. Time to keep moving.

Great companies, firms and their principals always factor pain points into their sales and marketing strategies.

It’s been abundantly clear here for years but harder than ever to accept the truth behind this reality. Part of the refusal seems to be frustration with how fewer are willing to be fully transparent about their situations and always determined to be present a positive, “I’ve got this taken care of” front when they clearly don’t. Few of us do and the really wise know they need help before the pain points overtake them.

With pain comes the need for transparency. With transparency comes the need for truth from a trusted source. Somewhere in the middle lies valuable service, or vice versa, the opposite reaction,  denying truth and help. That generally produces a scattered sea of cock roaches. You know the image: Truth sends the other person running. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on what you’re selling, the latter seems to be growing as a response in the marketplace.

Back to the top: What’s your pain point (s)? Are you doing anything about finding a cure or simply treating the symptoms?

If you’re a leader trying to impact change in your career and/or business and it’s not happening, then please let us know. We feel your pain everyday!

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P.S.  This entry is dedicated to William Jefferson Clinton, or the 42nd president of the United States, who is in Atlanta today meeting with former President Carter. Clinton’s knack for understanding pain and how to turn brokenness into blessing was on full display last week at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service. If you missed his remarks, which capped off an afternoon of remembrances, please see  for a rewind.