Archive for September, 2010

Find the Funding

September 27, 2010

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”   Flora Edwards

 The best boss I ever had was while I was in college.  I worked my way through school on a work-study program.  My boss had many likable traits, but two reasons stand above the rest.  First off, he held a very flexible schedule for me.  This allowed me to easily work around my class schedule.  The second reason was that he understood my incredible desire to finish my college degree.  He did not just see me as an employee, but as a person working to be better.

During my senior year, the work-study program ran out of funding.  I immediately began to have fears about how I was going to pay for college.  My boss called me into his office and informed me that the funding may soon run out, but that he would see what we could do.  With this one initiative, he started applying for grants to allow me to fund my college education. He was successful in attaining the necessary funds and I was able to complete my education.

I will always be grateful for my boss, who took an interest in me.  The initiative he took enabled me to finish my education and go on to become successful.  My sense of gratefulness will never be extinguished.  Because of his influence, my life was improved forever.

Be Supportive by David J. Mervin

September 20, 2010

To get rich never risk your health.  Health is the wealth of wealth.”   Richard Baker

The best boss I ever had, Bill Jaeger, had human empathy; he created a team spirit and he was animated and kind, but incredibly focused. He was driven by success, but he wanted us to be successful too.

I had just received the position of Vice President in my company four months back. The expectations and responsibilities were massive, to say the least. I came home one night to learn that my wife had been diagnosed with cancer. I knew that the industry was too fast paced to take off weeks, much less months at a time, so I went in to talk to the owner of the company about my resignation.

As I walked in, he could obviously see the turmoil on my face. I told him that my wife was diagnosed with cancer and would undergo treatment soon. He clearly felt my grief. He asked how my wife and I were doing and I simply said, “Scared to death.” He listened to me tell him what was going on, the prognosis and the plan of action. Finally, I offered him my resignation, to not prevent the company from suffering.  He looked me in the eye and said, “You go take care of your family and when your wife gets healthy, you come back. Your job will be here.”

I would have worked for the company for nothing after that.

I went home and told my wife the news and she started to cry, knowing that we belong to a corporate family that was willing to be there and be a support system for us. The knowledge that we had that kind of support from my company made everything easier.

 My wife went through the treatments and the surgery in flying colors.  True to their word, the company welcomed me warmly after it was all said and done.

Like a Son by Rick Olson

September 13, 2010

You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be  heroes,  even if it’s just in your own eyes.”   Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

 In 1975, I was just out of college looking for a ministry job. I applied at First Assembly Church in Rockford, Illinois.  The Reverend Ernie Moen was pastor.  My first day on the job was a Saturday evening.  There were people camped out all over the church property and there were kids in activities everywhere. I soon realized it was the annual church campout weekend. The Reverend Ernie Moen was a master of bringing people together, which was evident through the mixture of fellowship, worship and fun. With all the activity going on, Ernie invited me into his office for a brief interview.

 In his office, he cast for me a vision of what it would be like if I worked there—at the time the church was 2000 members strong.  Ernie was a big thinker and he was offering me the opportunity to be the youth minister with approximately five students involved in the youth program—but he obviously wanted to see it grow.  He set out two simple rules, number one, ‘keep it biblical,’ and number two, ‘cover his back.’  Very simple instructions; follow the Bible and no surprises.  Other than those two rules, Ernie said that if I wanted to take the kids around the world, I should go for it.  That was Ernie’s way: simple rules with a big vision.

 With Ernie’s help and support, we started with the foundation of those five kids and after five years, we exploded to 250. The great thing about Ernie was he never hogged the praise and he was always more than willing to share the glory. His public praise was one of his best strengths and he used that praise as a great motivator.

 His other strength was his ability to tap into your creativity. He was always working at expanding your thinking.  I had never dreamed I would be given the responsibility or freedom that he gave me.  However, he was a master at casting a vision of how he wanted the organization to grow.  He truly wanted to bring the message of Jesus to everyone in the community.  He was no micromanager, he did not stand over your shoulder, he was true to his word, keep it biblical and keep him informed.

 With his help, support and trust we took a group of kids around the world, a journey I will never forget. However, the most important journey he led me on, was the ability to find the leader in myself.  He encouraged me to expand my thinking in so many areas.

 After five years, I resigned to move on to another position at another church; I received the biggest surprise of all. He read a poem from the pulpit to the entire congregation. He had three marvelous daughters, but no son, so his poem was titled “If I had a son.” He went on to say that if he had a son he would want him to be just like me! Here I was leaving a job and he made me feel like I was leaving home.

 That day I was on cloud nine to have him share that poem with the entire congregation. It was a “wow” moment in my life. Ernie’s real power was his ability to always make me feel like a million bucks; and to help me believe I could do more than I thought was possible. Because of him, my belief in myself was greatly expanded. After working with Ernie I was no longer a kid right out of college, I was a young man, with huge possibilities.

 For that new vision of myself, I will always be grateful.

See the Potential by Larry Kemball

September 8, 2010

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it…”  Jack London

 Ewing Kauffman was an excellent speaker and motivator.  He was having a sales meeting for the company, and was getting everyone fired up. We were ready to take on the world. We could have run through walls, he was simply excellent at getting everyone focused and fired up. During his speech he asked everyone to take out their business cards and write down the percentage they would be over quota for the year. He did not ask us to write down a goal. He asked us ‘what percentage you would be over quota?’ I took out my card because I was so fired up, and wrote down a ridiculous number. Everyone else did the same thing, we all wrote down numbers that were nothing short of crazy.

At the end of the meeting, he stood at the door and he shook our hands and collected the cards. Collectively, everyone said, ‘oops.’ Everyone knew they were had. Then every month we would get a memo personally from ‘Mr. K’ as we affectionately called him. The memo reminded us how we were doing. If we were ahead of quota, he would tell us what a great job we were doing, and if we were behind, he would encourage us to do more. Everyone in the company realized what he had done, and we all talked about it after the meeting and during the entire year.  We all agreed it was a great leadership moment.

What did it do for the company and me? 

It was the best year I ever had up to that point, and it was the best year for the company up to that point.  It taught me the power of written goals, and the power of peer pressure.  He made all of us better. He made all of us push beyond our perceived limits. That is the secret of a best boss. Best bosses make all of us better. Ewing Kauffman made me reach for the best of myself.  In addition, he had a way of getting it, and more.

Note: Ewing Kauffman was the prototypical entrepreneur, who started with few resources, grew his firm into a multibillion-dollar company over four decades, and did so in an ethical and compassionate manner. His company, Marion Laboratories, was later purchased by Merrill Dow, and he was the original owner of the Kansas City Royals.