Jonathan Begley

January 18, 2010

ONE OF THE RARE ONES

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

ONE STEP TOWARDS COOPERSTOWN

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

THE PRICE OF CHARACTER

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

BOOK REVIEW: ANDREW CARNEGIE by David Nasaw

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

FOCUS

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?

December 30, 2009

WINNING AT TEXAS TECH IS NOT EVERYTHING

Filed under: Attitude,Character — jonathanbegley @ 12:40 pm

Being a Texas Tech graduate I must respond to recent events in Lubbock regarding the termination of head football coach Mike Leach.  There is no doubt that Leach is a phenomenal football coach and his presence will be sorely missed at Tech.  The “Mad Scientist” was quirky and strange not only in his personal life but on the football field where he led an unorthodox and talented group of players. 

I don’t envy the position that the Texas Tech University administration was in this week.  They have a player alleging that he was locked in a confined space for several hours because he had a concussion and didn’t want to practice.  The player’s father is a nationally recognized sports analyst who was quick to use his position to act on the situation.  And they have a football coach that knows how to win, whom the city loves, and whom fills the seats. 

I like winning as much as anyone and I am afraid to say that the Tech football program has a long road back to their current position.  I also see myself as a man who tries to live with integrity and I hope the same from my alma mater.  

If Leach indeed intentionally punished this player in a manner that put his health and safety at risk then he deserves to lose his job.  I don’t feel sorry for him and I am sure he will receive countless coaching offers from schools across the country willing to pay him far more than Tech.  If the university knows information from their investigation of the incident that led them to their quick and drastic actions, they should let the public know.  If this is all true, then I applaud the university’s actions.  Winning is not everything. 

With that being said, the school should continue to act with integrity and fulfill their obligation to a bonus agreement of $800,000 due tomorrow.  This bonus was for achievements on the field, which Leach accomplished.  It had nothing to do with any disciplinary actions alleged by a player.  

I think that this last fact of the bonus due tomorrow is dangerous to Texas Tech.  The same university who brought in Bob Knight, the chair tossing, student choking, chin popping coach because he wins, is now saying that they do not stand for such behavior.  If the university, or anyone for that matter, wants to be seen as a stand up, man, woman, or organization of integrity, they should act in that manner at all times; in all situations.

December 29, 2009

DISCOVERING A COMPANY’S TRUE COLORS

Filed under: Attitude,Career — jonathanbegley @ 7:50 pm

Customer Service seems to be a lost art in business these days.  That is not to say it doesn’t exist but it has lost a great deal of importance among many businesses.  Maybe that is a price that we pay for having a country run by major corporations.  Customer Service at its roots is respect for the consumer; it is respect for the individuals who make it possible to do business. 

I am currently working with a company who provides my agency an internet service.  We have been contracted with them for only a couple of months and our experience thus far has been miserable, to say the least.  The product we were sold is exciting and could really change the way we serve our community.  We were excited.  They have not delivered. 

Their system has been down more than it has been up.  The consistency of the reports is highly questionable when it is up.  Some features work, others do not.   The customer service representative has been active.  She has given great effort to meet our requirements, but often has come up short.  When walking through the product with us in a conference today, she acknowledged that their product is not acceptable, to us or to them.

I understand that things happen in business that makes things difficult and sometimes impossible.  The technological age has created a dependency on this technology to get almost anything done, and when there is a problem its impact is far reaching.  These inconveniences are understood by most of us.  It is in these times when a company’s true colors are seen.  Are their representatives respectful of us?  Are they understanding of the difficulties that their company has created?  Are they being proactive or merely reacting to you only when they must.   Are they okay with a mediocre product?

We will continue to work with this company because of their customer service.  We have spoken with many other groups all across the country who have worked with this group for the past several years and we have yet to hear any negative remarks.  The reports we receive are that this company and their product have far exceeded expectations.  They have also experienced difficult setbacks due to the current situation, but they are confident the product of the future will be worth the hassle.  For a customer who has experienced nothing but disappointment, this is enough for me.

Do you have any outstanding customer service experiences that may help another consumer?  What do you expect from others when problems arise?  What do you expect of yourself or your employees?

December 25, 2009

REFLECTION

Filed under: Uncategorized — jonathanbegley @ 8:39 pm

The Christmas holiday is a great time for me to reflect upon the last year.  2009 has been full of change, and 2010 appears to be even more intense.  By no means is this a complaint.  I am learning to embrace change, to learn and to experience life.  It is apparent to me now just how impatient I have been in my life; always looking ahead to the next step and completely neglecting the present.

Where will my wife and I be this time next year? What changes will have come?  What new lessons will I have learned from my experiences?  All great questions.  So many possibilities.  I can fill this new year with countless goals and resolutions, and I can already feel my mind racing.  Goals will not be achieved in the future unless you take action today.  How will I live today?  How will I teach my son to live?

December 23, 2009

THE SECRET OF ALL VICTORY

Filed under: Career,Development — jonathanbegley @ 11:04 am

“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” – Marcus Aurelius

Doing the little things well can have a profound impact upon your career. It’s the little things that others neglect, making you stand out above the rest. Organization is a skill that comes naturally to some and to others it requires a fair amount of effort. This is a skill that is highly sought by employers even if they don’t know it.

Most people, without even realizing it, would have a certain degree of confidence in the organized worker. Organization creates confidence in others because we are all well aware that these workers are focused and productive. You would have little doubt that the organized person could handle an afternoon meeting. Not to say that this person is any less busy but it is common sense that organization allows people to get more done in less time.

Organized people are able to prioritize their tasks. Employers can depend upon the well organized to take on big tasks that often create big rewards. Those who can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much.

For those of you who are organized, what are your secrets? For those of you who aren’t, why not?

December 22, 2009

THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON

Filed under: Uncategorized — jonathanbegley @ 8:42 pm

How exactly is my saying “Merry Christmas” forcing my beliefs onto others?  Why is it inappropriate for me to say something because of the way it makes you feel?   I really don’t understand why someone would be offended when I say “Merry Christmas.” When others respond to me with “Happy Holidays” or Happy Hanukah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” I am not offended, and I definitely don’t feel as if that person is forcing their beliefs on me.

It would be inappropriate if I responded to your “Happy Holidays” with “you’re going to hell.”  But I have never heard this answer.  Furthermore, when someone says to me “Happy Hanukah” I would more than likely respond to them with “Happy Hanukah” not because I am Jewish but because it is respectful and kind. It is in the “spirit of the season.”

 It is obvious that we are all celebrating the season.  Lights, music, Christmas trees, all of which were not present when Jesus was born in the inn.  I won’t object to Christmas trees, reindeer, or Santa because it is fun and because people enjoy it.   I believe in Jesus Christ and I believe that we are celebrating His coming. You may not. It is not my responsibility to make sure that you are okay with the word Christmas.

The office can be a stressful place anyways.  Why not accept one another?  Imagine a December of acceptance and tolerance.  Imagine a season of giving, no matter who our neighbor happens to be.  Merry Christmas!

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