O Captain, It Is Time to Lead

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

- Walt Whitman

On September 20, 1519, Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Spain with five ships and 251 men to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe. Three years later, one of the five ships along with 18 survivors completed the journey, being the first people to accomplish such a daunting task.

Magellan died mid-voyage and never completed his own quest.

Having been on a few cruises, I will admit that more than two days at sea can becoming unnerving. Seeing only water in every direction for days on end can make one yearn for dry ground. After reading the account of Magellan's journey, I discovered that after their departure from Spain, two months were spent sailing across the Atlantic.

That's 60 days at sea.

I wonder at what point during those sixty days did some of the crew begin to doubt the vision of this journey. 20 Days? 40? It might explain why shortly after docking in South America there was a mutiny among the ships against Magellan!

As leaders, we attempt to minimize risk with every decision. "Don't rock the boat,." "If it ain't broke don't fix it." "We've always done it this way." Do these sound familiar?

While the strategy of consistency is beneficial in some areas, like consistently keeping the restrooms clean, we must always be looking ahead for a curve in the road. Do we see a shift in culture coming soon? How should we adapt to accommodate it? What current practices are no longer working and should be revised or eliminated?

With any new venture there is risk, Magellan can certainly attest to that, and there may be casualties along the way, but to stay stagnant means you are the next Polaroid or Blackberry. Sedentary business models beget early obsolescence. Look no further than the closing of 100s of Macy's and Sears department stores.

But it is not enough to try something new for the sake of new, there must be a strong vision behind the change. The "why" must be clearly articulated. I'm not sure what Magellan's vision was exactly, but it was strong enough to survive even after his death. Despite the mutinies, treacherous passages, and hostile natives, 18 men finished the journey on the last of five ships.

As we direct our teams, we should inspire and embed the why of what we do so deep, that the vision will be carried out with or without us.

Magellan's journey around the globe took three years to complete. Can we, as leaders push towards the vision with full investment for even a fraction of that time?

Divided We Fall: An Appeal to Empathy

Whomever the country chooses as President this November, I fear we have done irreparable damage to our souls this election season. In just a few months, there has been an abhorrent amount of hateful discourse, belittling comments, and a refusal to empathize with anyone of a differing opinion. In no small part to social media and our constantly connected world, we have successfully achieved peak polarization.

While the chasm has always been wide when arguing about heated topics, it is becoming impassable. No longer can we take even one step toward understanding a different opinion without being labeled a traitor by our peers. Unless you are 100% for or against something, you are the enemy.

I see people exclaiming how they "can't wait for this election to be over," hoping things will get back to normal, but I am less optimistic. The divisive and unsympathetic attitudes expressed these last few months do not appear temporary. And whichever candidate enters the White House come January, I foresee the same arguments and anger continuing for years.

Forget whose name is on the ballot; what will we do to maintain our own integrity? Our own humility? Have we given up on reasonable discourse and diplomatic solutions? Are we intent on shouting down the opposing party until they submit? As Dale Carnegie said,

“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

Where do we go from here? Perhaps our adrenaline is pumping too hard leading up to the election to do any good, but if we hope for a return to civility, we must practice empathy.

We can no longer approach others as an obstacle to defeat, but rather, as a person to understand.

If we can start from that place, realizing that every person has their reason for believing something, then we can begin an open dialogue that seeks to empathize first, and convince later.

Most importantly, we must concede that seeking to understand does not equal condoning or agreeing with another's actions. I am not Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist or Muslim, yet I have sat with Priests, Deacons, and Imams of those persuasions. Those conversations were both enlightening and beneficial to me personally, and I hope it was for them as well.

But those conversations have no chance of happening when you approach others with the intent to convince or prove wrong. It is possible to give an open floor to differing ideas and opinions, all the while standing firm on your own convictions.

We must be willing to hear another's story and not seek offense. Even when something is genuinely offensive, you can choose grace over retaliation.

Finally, if we hope to have civil and productive conversations, we must make the effort to have those encounters in person. Social media lacks nuance, inflection, and has an element of anonymity that encourages heated comments over lengthy explanations.

While we see our name written next to every post and tweet, we are a degree removed from what we say. We are increasingly argumentative and curt on the internet; all the while never presuming to act that way in person.

If we truly care about our ideas and communicating them effectively, let us commit to sharing them in person, and only with an open mind to receive as much as we contribute.

A Brief Review of the iPhone 7

A Brief Review of the iPhone 7

Every year Apple releases a new iPhone, and it seems that with each passing iteration of Apple's most profitable device, more people are aware and interested in what has changed. With the new iPhone 7, more than any previous model, I have received the most questions and inquiries via private messaging and social media.

It's no secret that Apple sells millions of iPhones, but it seems the *mindshare* is growing, where people even outside the tech bubble are increasingly interested in new releases as they happen (and are also aware when phones blow up).

Brief Thoughts on Apple's WWDC 2016 Event

Brief Thoughts on Apple's WWDC 2016 Event

The "D" in WWDC stands for "Developers," and that's exactly who Apple focused on in their two hour event Monday. No new hardware announcements, no updated MacBooks, it was all about their four software platforms:

  • tvOS
  • watchOS
  • macOS (Newly re-named)
  • iOS

While there were a few new feature announcements, the biggest changes came in what developers could do with Apple's platforms and devices.