Jonathan Begley

January 19, 2010


Filed under: Career,Development,Workforce — jonathanbegley @ 3:19 pm


What do actions like this say about a leader?  We have all made mistakes and we have all made decisions that have negatively affected others.  Some decisions must be made and others are made blindly, often with no intention of ill will.  This is just a fact of business.

My hat is off to these businessmen who care enough to take off their board meeting blinders to see and get to know the people who make their organizations run. 

Who are you following today?  Examining those you follow is a great indicator of the leader that you will become.  What qualities do you see in your leader that you wish to acquire?  How will you do things differently?


January 18, 2010


Filed under: Character — jonathanbegley @ 8:20 pm

“…but he was one of the rare ones who were genuinely glad to see another man advance.  In some of them there was a hunger for rank – in Jubal Early it was a disease – but Armistead had grown past the hunger, if he ever had it at all.  He was an honest man, open as the sunrise, cut from the same pattern as Lee: old family, Virginia gentleman, man of honor, man of duty.  He was one of the men who would hold ground if it could be held; he would die for a word.  He was a man to depend on, and there was this truth about war: it taught you the men you could depend on.” – (Shaara, The Killer Angels pp. 60-61).

We all know these men and women.  They are found in the most unlikely of places.  How many of us would describe ourselves as loyal or honest or trustworthy or dependable?  How many of us can be sure that others see us in this same light?  It are these qualities that make a man.

How do you recognize a truly honest or trustworthy individual?

January 12, 2010


Filed under: Character,Current Events — jonathanbegley @ 1:51 pm

Mark McGwire finally comes clean. Obviously many fans are completely surprised that the man took steroids, but the question remains, does he belong in Cooperstown? A few weeks ago many of you know that I would have answered that question with “absolutely not.” Now, I have to admit that my answer is “not yet.”

Although McGwire would like for us all to believe that he took Performance Enhancing Drugs for health reasons only, we all know that this is not exactly true. PEDs obviously make you stronger. If not stronger than how do they “enhance” your performance? Yes, McGwire has God given talent to hit a baseball. No one doubts that. What I doubt is that he could have hit 70 home runs in 1998 without them. Any records that he does still hold should be abolished. We will never know what his careers statistics would look like without PEDs.

Are his career statistics worth a place in the Hall of Fame? Not if he cheated. Roger Maris didn’t cheat and neither did many of the other Hall members. They played with their God given talent and played through injuries whenever possible. When they couldn’t play any longer, they hung up their cleats. What I believe does qualify him to be in the Hall is his contribution to the game. McGwire has made an unmistakable mark on the game, and not just the “I’m not here to talk about the past” remarks. McGwire was the face of America’s pastime during the 80’s and 90’s; teams won pennants and fans cheered.

With his recent admission of steroid use throughout his career, McGwire has shown that he is now ready to address his mistakes. Is he ready to earn the trust and respect of America? He has taken the most difficult step but now he must make a decision. Does he continue on with the Cardinal’s organization like nothing happened? Or does he use his God given position, his talents, and his energy to help repair the damage that was done to the game of baseball?

It is not what he did that will keep him out of the Hall; it is what he will do with his future that might get him in.

January 7, 2010


Filed under: Character — jonathanbegley @ 2:03 pm

Compare my last post about Andrew Carnegie to John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods.  The following is taken from the book The Trust Edge by David Horsager.  

“In the late 1980’s, Whole Foods Company Chairman and CEO, John Mackey, set the pay ceiling for his executives at no more than eight times the pay of an entry-level employee.  The ceiling has been raised a few times since then, but Whole Foods Company is one of the few international companies to have a pay ceiling at all.  Mackey successfully opposed the unionization of his stores, not because of a disrespect for his workers, but because his competitive wages and progressive benefits packages would make unionization counter-productive.” 

Not only did Mackey refuse pay raises for himself because it violated company rules, but Mackey also had a heart for his workers as well.  “Later, Mackey reduced his own salary to $1 per year, donated all his stocks to charity, and set up a $100,000 emergency fund to be used by employees who were facing financial problems.” 

Mackey is not the richest man in the world, like Carnegie was in his time, but to call his methods of doing business fruitless would be an obvious inaccuracy.  Mackey’s employees, colleagues, and “Fortune Magazine” saw not only a great businessman, but a man of great character. Carnegie sought to make money by whatever means necessary, then sought after acceptance and praise from his fellow man through philanthropy.  Character is not something that can be bought.

January 5, 2010


Filed under: Reading — jonathanbegley @ 5:36 pm

David Nasaw was successful in painting a true picture of the life of the steel titan Andrew Carnegie. I was thoroughly entertained with his description not only of the man, but of the time. Many know Andrew Carnegie as the Bill Gates of the early 20th century. Others know of his exploits in philanthropy. I now see him as a man who overcame great obstacles, who made the most of the opportunities before him, and whose ego affected the lives of millions of people around the world.

Carnegie was well aware that his success was in large part the result of being in the right place at the right time. Obviously, he had business and personal skills to help carry him, but Carnegie was introduced to the right industry (telegraph), where he met the right businessmen, who then introduced him to investing and the steel industry. And this just wasn’t the steel industry that we see today. It was the steel industry in the times of America’s expansion west. Hundreds of thousands of railroad miles, a majority made from Carnegie steel.

Compare this story with that of Bill Gates. Obvious intellect and talent, but if Gates was born ten years sooner or later, where would he be now? Where is the right place to be now, renewable energy? How about social media? The coming decade should be interesting to say the least.

Back to Carnegie. He early in his fortune planned to make money to then give it away. In his mind he was convinced that his purpose on earth was to make as much money as possible, in whatever means necessary, to then give this money back to society in whatever manner he felt most appropriate.

This sounds great on first glance. I am sure most of us would agree that this behavior from the executives of Enron, Bear Stearns, or AIG would be a breath of fresh air. When you look deeper, however, you see the ruthless businessman he was; content to let his beloved Pittsburgh starve and freeze in the dead of winter to save on labor costs. His rational behind this was that the more money he made, the more he would give back. And who knew better what this world needs than himself? The man had an insatiable ego. He constantly talked of himself, rarely worked, and took advantage of his business partners. He had intimate relationships with several presidents, world leaders, businessmen, and even Samuel Clemens (not because they really loved his company). Carnegie did give back in the end, almost all of it. He made education more available for thousands of people in the U.S. and Europe, but at what cost?

Was the end worth the means?

January 3, 2010


Filed under: Attitude,Development,Goals — jonathanbegley @ 9:09 pm

It’s time to focus.  2010 is here and we are all ready to go.  The last month has been filled with talk of resolutions, expectations, and hopes.  Now it is time to get down to business and make these dreams a reality.  But how do we put action to these goals?  Where do we begin?

Whether your goals are to stop bad habits or to develop good ones, it all has to start somewhere.  The first of January is always a hard time for me to start anything, simply because it’s the first of January.  I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way.  Think about the gym that magically fills to capacity as men and women of all ages and abilities come forward to embark on their journey.  For some reason I can’t stand being seen by others as “one of those people.”  Those people are the ones who start strong on Monday, they show up on Tuesday, and have the best of intentions on Wednesday.  By Friday they are ready to reward themselves for a great week, only to start again on Monday. 

The first of January puts a lot of pressure all of us resolutioners.  It is this reason that I think so many fail.  Yet we all continue to make resolutions, thinking that this year will be different.  To make matters worse I think many of us put too much on our own plates.  Not only do we wait until January to change our lives in major ways, but we rarely focus on just one.  I believe we would have a much greater success rate if we conciously chose one goal to focus on, not necessarily giving up on the others but consider them to be an added bonus if we succeed.  Goals are often very complex, but they need not be.  This is a choice that each of us has to make ourselves.

We often look at resolutions as goals for the entire year, yet January 1 we are all behaving like we must get there immediately.  Where do we want to be one year from now?  Then we should work backwards and set realistic goals.  If you want to be working out five times a week at the gym, what is a realistic starting point for you now?  How about walking the dog for thirty minutes a day?

The definition of focus is “attention on a central point.”  It doesn’t any more simple than that.  Yet if any of us were to look at our lives, or our goals, at any given moment, a central point is often extremly difficult to determine. 

If you were given just one word to describe your focus, what would it be?

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