Seeing Beyond The Obvious

John Glenn: Let’s get the girl to check the numbers.

Al Harrison: The girl?

Yes, sir.

Al Harrison: You mean Katherine?

John Glenn: Yes, Sir, the smart one. And if she says they’re good, I’m ready to go.”

(Exchange from the movie Hidden Figures)


Hard not to be impressed by John Glen, an original astronaut, and the first American to orbit the earth.  But his role in the movie, Hidden Figures, took it to a new level with me. He didn’t see an African American female; he saw “the smart one.”  Think about it; we were second in the space race.  The Soviet Union had launched a satellite before us and put a man into space before us.  We needed every edge we could find just to keep up, but still bright people were overlooked because of how we saw them.

We’ve progressed since then, but in watching the movie, I thought about how much we in leadership ignore what we consider “lesser,” whether it’s age, another department, thinking of people from the perspective of their position, and so on.  I mean, all the smart, creative people come from programming, right?  Interesting, when we too need every edge we can get right now.  Wherever you are, there are probably smart people playing a role who can help you become more than you are.  Who knows, maybe they will be the people that lead you into a new era.  By the way, this isn’t about the people who feel entitled, but about the people who feel they have a contribution.

There’s no magic about it, just look around you, and see what could be instead of what is.  Listen to how involved individuals are instead of what title they have.  People who are driven to success instead of those who think they deserve success.

It’s your job to make the hidden obvious.

Want To Be An Ace?

“Explicit disagreement is better than implicit understanding.”  Douglas Stone, – Thanks  For The Feedback


I have so many books on my reading list that it’s almost overwhelming.  So I love it when we can bring someone into EMF to talk to us.  A recent person was Elaine Lin, an amazingly brilliant woman to talk about the book, “Thanks for the Feedback.”  Too long to encapsulate here, it’s a book about giving, and as important, receiving feedback.

A part of the presentation was about being an ACE.  Which means three kinds of the feedback you can give: appreciation, coaching, and evaluating.

Appreciation is showing that your teammate knows you notice them and that they matter.  Coaching is helping them improve, and Evaluation lets them know where they stand.

Two things struck me about this idea.

First, that we’re not exactly rock stars when it comes to appreciation.  Letting people know you notice and value them on an ongoing basis.  Mostly we’re so busy we forget, but also because we’re not intentional about giving appreciation.

Second is that the authors separate coaching and evaluation.  Typically I’ve seen them as linked.  “Here’s how you’re doing and here’s how to fix it.”  But it makes more sense to unlink them so they’re two different parts of the employee discussion.  I think it’s better to help them get better at one point, and then evaluate them at another.  Focus is always a good thing.  I know that I’d be more open if they were separated for me, in my performance conversations.

Elaine’s presentation moved the book up my priority list, and I expect it to help me both give and receive performance feedback.

It’s All About The Story

“No, no!  The adventure first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”  –  Lewis Carroll, author


On the CBS TV show, “Sunday Morning,” recently there was a “short,” on one of those films shown before a movie, usually a kids movie.

This one is called Piper, and you may have seen it just before the movie, “Finding Dory.”

So what’s the big deal?  Besides the academy award, it won?

First, this short, entertaining movie from Pixar, is a great example of the paramount value of a story.  The technology was great, but without the story, the technology would be useless.  Sometimes we’re so excited about the technology we use in radio that we put the story second.  The fact we can use or create the technology takes over our imagination.  Not the story.

The second thing that got my attention was the credits.  I couldn’t believe the team, and I suspect teamwork, that went into those 6.5 minutes.

Technology is a sexy distribution, but only a distribution channel.  Don’t be seduced by the “cool” that you forget the story.

Click the link below if you want to see Piper yourself.

https://youtu.be/lkQTe0Wdo2k

The True Meaning Of Leadership 

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.” ~ Herb Brooks, Coach for the U.S.A. Men’s Ice Hockey, 1980.


It was a sunny day at the Blue Lagoon in Nassau, Bahamas.  A bunch of us were laying out on the beach in front of the lagoon when it came time for a water challenge to see who could get across and through the obstacles first.  It began with a young man on the cruise none of us knew, and Bill Corbin, leader of K-LOVE’s pastor team.

They both jumped, ran and climbed, but it became clear Bill would win, and he did.

But then he jumped back in the water and swam to where his “competitor” was still struggling and began to encourage him through the rest of the obstacles until he too had completed the course.

It was an incredible demonstration of the value of leadership.  Bill didn’t do an arm pump and take a victory lap, he turned back to encourage.

We think of leadership in directive terms, telling people what to do, and often how to do it.  We’re very good at being “corrective” too, but we don’t think as much about encouraging our own team members, cheering them on to their own victory.

Leadership isn’t just about finding difficulties and correcting them, that’s management.  We can always find something wrong, and it’s easier than being the encourager, which is leadership.

Sometimes it seems that way back in the darkest parts of our minds the “corrector” lives, ready to pounce.  But, like all good leadership, it’s a choice.  One seems easier than the other.  One gives you temporary short term improvements, and the other allows you to help the other person grow and accomplish long-term, valuable growth.  One creates a better employee, and the other creates a better, more motivated person.

Which one do you think is most apt to help you achieve your goals?

And then I heard someone say radio…

It’s a habit of mine now, noticing labels, logos, shoes. Michael Jordan


It was my birthday and we were sitting in a restaurant with family.  We were talking about who was doing what, the menu, the view, kids, and grandkids…

And then I heard the word “radio” at a table on the other side of the room.

It’s funny how our minds are attuned to filter out almost everything except what’s relevant to us.  We can be in a crowded ballroom buzzing with people and still hear our own name.  It gets our attention and pulls us in.

It’s a good lesson for radio talent. If you’re talking about what’s relevant to the listener, you’ll draw them in.  If you’re talking about what’s irrelevant to the listener they’ll never hear you at all.  That’s why there are so few true personalities, they’re too busy talking about what’s trending instead of what they have in common with the listener.

Like Michael Jordan, you’re attuned to your own interests.