I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and during that time Montreal got a baseball franchise called the Montreal Expos. The Manager of the team was a man named Gene Mauch. He had a storied career and was instrumental in selling baseball to the Montreal community. Montreal has a bit of baseball history as Jackie Robinson started his professional baseball career playing for the Montreal Royals. In the early years the Expo’s made a trade with the New York Mets and obtained a shortstop named Tim Foley. He was a real talent but he was also very aggressive. He fought with his teammates at practice. A reporter asked Mauch about this “why do you keep him; he is such a disruptive force?” In his response he said “I would rather tone down his attitude than try to create the right attitude in someone who doesn’t have it.”

I couldn’t agree with that comment more. I have always said “I can’t motivate anyone. If you don’t come to the job self-motivated, I can’t give it to you. But…I can easily demotivate everyone.” So, my approach to most everything is to ask, “what stands in the way from you being able to do a better job?” or, “what is the part of the job you like the least?” And then we get to work to get rid of the obstacles.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams.

So how do we get every employee driven to dream more, learn more, do more and become more? I believe it is helping each individual person to become more than they thought they could be. Creating expectations. I have been involved in this aspect of life since I was a teenager. My sport was swimming growing up. I swam a lot, some five hours a day for many years. But swimming is an interesting athletic pursuit. You are not competing with the other swimmers in the race with you. You are competing against yourself. The clock is your competitor. The only way you win that race, against the clock, is by changing your strokes, by adapting how your body sits in the water. In other words, you make changes. I grew up understanding that to progress you had to embrace change.

Within Learning Without Scars using our job function assessments and integrating them within an annual performance review as a standard within your company you start too can this process of embracing change.  You can talk with each individual employee about their assessment scores. That allows you to discuss where the employees think they can do better. What do they need to do or have happen in the systems or procedures to get better results? You can arrive at a specific learning plan to fill in the skills and competency gaps. What we call a “Learning Path.” When you look at the classes in our Learning Without Scars business you will see four skill levels for each job function; Basic (0-25), Intermediate (26-50), Advanced (51-75) and Expert (76–100). Please Note: we have recently adjusted these skill levels to more accurately reflect the latest results of the employees taking our assessments.

Through this process each employee has the opportunity to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. Shouldn’t that be the goal for all of us?

The time is now.

What Would Winston Say Today?

What Would Winston Say Today?

Winston Churchill was a special individual. A unique individual. He always stood on principle even at a significant cost to himself personally. He saved the United Kingdom by the force of his will during World War II. Then he got rejected after the war in the first election. It wasn’t the first time he was rejected. But he never strayed from him principles. He was born in 1874 and passed in 1965.

Let’s review some of his quotations.

  • When I was younger, I made it a rule never to take a strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast. (Single Malt is perfect.)

For today consider the following.

  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
  • Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the others.
  • Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.
    • (Read about how the Scots viewed societal responsibilities)

Then getting closer to home.

  • You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities.
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
  • If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
  • To build may have to be the slow laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
  • When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
  • All of the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.
  • Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.
  • If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future.
  • Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent value of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • The malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.
  • We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

The Time is Now.

Why Socrates…

Why Socrates

Our Logo – Socrates

By now most of you know that our logo is an OWL named after the Greek philosopher Socrates. He was the teacher of Plato and Aristotle. We chose Socrates as that is the method of teaching that I use the most. The Socratic Method. This method is most commonly described as “a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas underlying presuppositions.”

In other words, I teach by asking questions and helping my students develop the answers by critical thinking and debate. I help my students understand how to teach themselves.

Socrates aimed to establish an ethical system based on human reason by pointing out that our choices were motivated by the desire for happiness, and that wisdom comes from introspection.

I always ask at the beginning of every teaching experience that I have three questions: –

  • What is the definition of ignorance?
  • What is the definition of stupidity?
  • What is the definition of insanity?

Socrates is famous, among others things, for a wide range of quotations and I would like to share with you some of my favorites:

  1. True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
  2. I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.
  3. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
  4. Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue – to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.
  5. In childhood be modest, in youth temperate, in adulthood just, and in old age prudent.
  6. Nothing is to be preferred before justice.
  7. Happiness is unrepentant pleasure.
  8. Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think.
  9. Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.
  10. The unexamined life is not worth living.


He once said “Whom do I call educated? First those who manage well the circumstances they encounter day to day. Next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all men, bearing easily and good naturedly what is offensive in others and being as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as is humanly possible to be…those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not ultimately overcome by their misfortunes….those who are not spoiled by their successes, who do not desert their true selves but hold their ground steadfastly as wise and sober-minded men.” This is a description of an individual that all of us should strive to be seen as ourselves.

Today we look upon Socrates as a positive influence on the development of the human race. His life ended when the political climate in Greece turned against him. He was sentenced to death and was executed by Hemlock poison in 399 B.C. He was 71 years old.

The answers to my three questions at the outset of this blog are as follows: –

  • Ignorance is not knowing what to do.
  • Stupidity is knowing what to do and not doing it.
  • Insanity is repeating the same things expecting different results.

The issue of the CED magazine, of the Associated Equipment Distributors, that contained my last monthly column after twenty-five years, had a nice article written by my editor of more than twenty years, Kim Phelan. The headline, of the article,  included a statement of mine “Teaching Turns My Crank.”

May you learn something important for each of you every day.

The Time is Now.

P.S.: We are pleased to report that our Logo, Socrates, and our Company Name, Learning Without Scars, have both received U.S. Trademark protection effective May 2020.

Dollar Time

Dollar Time

We are all on “lock down” today. Some of us are working from home, using communications and virtual software tools, while some of us are going into the office or workplace. Let’s use this time as effectively as possible. So, if you have time think about your job. What can you do, should you do, to make it better? What do we do to eliminate duplications, minimize mistakes, decrease expenses, increase sales? Make a list, talk with your coworkers about it. Let’s do something different this time. Send me your ideas. Send it to After a week or so I will consolidate all these ideas and put them in a table and send them back to you. Then you can look into making the necessary changes that you identified or someone else suggested. Let’s make time as effective as we can.

The Time is Now.

The Other Side

The Other Side

We have learned and we need to act. We need strong positive leadership now more than ever: clarity of message, cascading and direct communication, basic management methods, understanding, acceptance and commitment.

There is very little we can control at this point. That is creating problems for everyone. Fear is everywhere. People don’t respond well to fear. We have to provide confident leadership. This too will pass.

The Time is Now.

What Will We Learn from this Crisis?

What Will We Learn from this Crisis?

There is a Persian Proverb I am reminded of this week.

The man who knows not, but knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.

The man who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a student. Teach him.

The man who knows, but knows not that he knows, is asleep. Awaken him.

The man who knows, and knows that he knows, is a teacher. Learn from him.

I wonder: am I a fool or a student? Am I asleep or am I a teacher? What are you?

When we return to a normal life again, as we will, I wonder what we will do differently from what we did before this crisis? Will we continue swimming with the current and go along to get along? Or will we pay attention to the world around us in a more profound manner?

Bill Gates was on TED in 2014 talking about exactly about this type of viral invasion and what it would do to the world. Did anyone listen and do anything? That is what I mean. But on a smaller scale in our world of capital equipment.

  • Will our dealer management systems continue to copy manual systems or will they finally reach their potential to radically transform how business is conducted? Or will a screen continue to be an electronic form?
  • Will our processes and procedures be what we have always done in the past? Or will we challenge ourselves to think about things differently?
  • Will we finally learn how to find every part every customer wants the same day that they want it? Or will we pay lip service to that concept saying “oh well, why try it when it can’t be done?”
  • Will we develop an accurate population of working machines so that we can help our customers with their owning and operating costs? Or will we say that it is too much work?
  • Will we monitor the operations of every working machine with the goal of identifying erratic activity before it becomes costly? Or will we think that is interfering with our customers too much?

Those are five very simple illustrations of questions I ask myself. What will we have learned in our forced time at home with our families? Of course, it will be a relief to get back to normal, whatever that means. But please don’t waste that time. Think about the anxiety you were feeling. Think about the unknown that existed. How long will those feelings linger? What will we do? Will our children’s loss of these three or four months of schooling hurt them for the rest of their lives? You know it will.

So how will we conduct ourselves at work when we return? Will it be the same as before or will we try to make it better? The choice is yours.

The Time is Now.

Leadership in the New Reality

Leadership in the New Reality



Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Lt. General Russel L. Honore U.S. Army Retired. He talked specifically about “Leadership in the New Normal” and “Don’t Get Stuck on Stupid.” Both of those subjects triggered thoughts and memories. (You can get both subjects as books)

After the disaster of 911 in the United States I gave talks at associations and dealer meetings around North America and Europe on what I called “The New Reality.” These talks were met with mixed reviews, some positive and others not so much. Let me take a deeper dive into why we had different views with a quote from George Friedman. “The mortal enemies of intelligence are time and wishful thinking.”

The New Normal the General is asking us to consider consists of some of the amazing changes we have seen in our world over the past twenty years; the nearly instantaneous transmission of information, the extreme population densities we are experiencing in cities, the extraordinary interconnectedness and mutual dependence of business; the rise of terrorism, and the growing ranks of the poor.

I ask often, with the trillions of dollars spent on technology over the past two decades, how much has been spent on sociology to understand what people will be going through with Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Autonomous Vehicles.

The New Reality from my perspective involves our ability to attract and retain talented employees from an ever-declining working population and the generational differences between the “Baby Boomers” and “Millennials.”

This is where I ask people to consider what we call “Sacred Cows.”

At the start of every classroom training session I have conducted over the past fifty years I have asked for three definitions.

  • What is the definition if Ignorance?
  • What is the definition of Stupidity?
  • What is the definition of Insanity?
  • Ignorance is not knowing what to do.
  • Stupidity is knowing what to do but not doing it.
  • Insanity is continuing to do what you have always done and expecting different results.

This takes me to the core of my work today. Everyone needs to be constantly investing their time in improving themselves professionally and personally. If you don’t continue to adapt to this new reality you will become irrelevant. Is that something that you aspire to?

The Time is Now.

Attracting and Retaining Employees

Attracting and Retaining Employees


On January 25th 2016 we published the first blog called Memorable Moments. It dealt with my early years and life. It stopped with the line “That was the beginning of the end.” And it was also the end of the beginning of my life.

Hewitt Equipment provided me with a tremendous opportunity. I was hired on a twelve-month contract. My mission was to find and fix what they felt was a problem with the computer system application in use to manage parts inventories. When I found the fix and got it implemented my job was completed unless we both agreed that I should stay.

This was the point at which I was given a gift of learning. A senior partner from Urwick Currie, his name was David Steele, was tasked with teaching me everything I needed to know about inventory management and business systems to manage parts inventories. He spent one day a week, all day, with me and only me. How many people are given that type of opportunity? I received this opportunity because of my university programs majoring in Mathematics and Physics, with minors in Statistics and Computer Science. In the early days of computer applications mathematics was heavily involved. For instance, there was no square root operator in the computer systems at that time. In using Machine Language, COBOL or FORTRAN programming languages, you had to develop a mathematical model to calculate a square root. Without totally boring you there was an error in the formulas used. The number “10” was put into the program instead of “1.” This meant that the Order Quantity for each part put on a stock order was too high by a factor of about 3.17.

I also was given an opportunity to go to Caterpillar in Peoria and meet with the Parts Management (Bob Kirk) and some of the founders of Dealer Data Processing (Larry Noe). We were going to build an interactive model to simulate our parts business under variable order point and order quantity conditions. Both of these men were extremely talented in their fields and took the time to deal with me even though I was only 22. I am told by coworkers at the time that I was a very impatient pushy person. That clearly is a description with which I will disagree. I mention this because of the view that the leadership and team members have about millennials and the younger workers in the Industry. I don’t think they are any different than I was at the same age.

That first six months left me with a hunger for more. I was a new hire. I was given a specific mission, a project if you will. It had clarity, a very clear objective and time line. I was given specialized training, by the consulting firm and Caterpillar experts. I was given a free hand. I had to make a presentation to the executive and make my case and get the changes I wanted to get made approved. I felt that I had a purpose and an important task.

How do we go about attracting and retaining these new employees? These younger workers? They are our future. I think we better figure out what we are going to do and how to get this plan implemented. Don’t you?

The Time is NOW.



We have written over the past three or four weeks about coaching and leadership. Perhaps it is time to reflect a bit on this.

It all starts with each of us wanting to do a good job. That comes from active and passive participation in the work that we do and the life that we live. Perhaps the work portion of our lives is the easier one. The life we live can be either very challenging or you become a victim of circumstances and you let those circumstances dominate your life. In other words, you give up on yourself. That goes to the Nike tag line “Just Do It.” Jimmy Valvano, when he was in the latter stages of his fight with cancer, gives us a better approach. “Never Give Up.” No matter what you face you can overcome it if you give it a good and honest fight. Learn more, train more, practice more, listen more, dream more, care more.

Eleanor Roosevelt is famous for her quote of “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It always intrigues me as to why some people let that happen to them. Why is that?

Curiosity is another attribute that I believe is critical to our beings. We can learn through asking “why,” and children spend more than a year of their early lives doing nothing but ask that question. Quoting Ted Kennedy at the funeral of his brother Robert, “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” This is something I believe we should take more to heart. Why do we do what we do? Why do we do things this way? How long have we done things this way? I came to an epiphany when I started studying change in a serious way. We are taught to resist change in every manner possible. From how we are parented with specific rules – don’t do that – to our schooling – this is how you do that – to our jobs – how we are taught to do our jobs. All of those lead us to be somewhat resistant to or suspicious of change. Japanese culture introduced me to Kaizen. Change everything you do, make it better or easier or more efficient, every day, if even just a tiny bit. That to me is a more reasonable approach to life.

Another aspect of leadership and coaching is that we must create followers before anything else will happen. That seems to be quite obvious but many of us fail at this when we start issuing mandates and “orders.” How many people will follow you because they want to if you are all about giving orders? Simon Sinek in his book “Leaders Eat Last” uses in the foreword a Lt General from the Marine Corps who describes meal time in the Marines. The enlisted men and served first and they eat first. Keep them happy and healthy and things will be alright.

I have a reading list on my consulting web site,, I call it the reading list for interested people. There are many wonderful books with incredibly meaningful suggestions and ideas to think about. Patrick Lenioni comes to mind with his books – The Three Signs of a Miserable Job and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Easy to read parables with incredibly helpful advice. There are many more books there to enjoy and learn from for interested people. There are also over twenty years of monthly columns, from Industry publications, on the parts and service and product support sales and marketing subjects.

However, in each of my classroom sessions I always ask how many have read a business book that will help them with their jobs. In the last month or quarter. Sadly, not many hands go up.
Another thing that I like to do at each class is to ask some questions. That is the Socratic method to teaching.

 What is the definition of Ignorance?
 What is the definition of Stupidity?
 What is the definition of Insanity?

This causes some difficulty for the room. Ignorance is not knowing what to do. Stupidity is knowing what to do and not doing it. Insanity is continuing to do with you have always done expecting different results. I then tell them that at the end of the class they will no long be ignorant because they will know what to do. I leave them with the last two choices – Stupidity or Insanity. No one in the room is insane so in truth I am challenging them to take advantage of what they have learned and do something with it. If they don’t, well, that is plain stupid, isn’t it?

The Time is NOW.

Branding #MondayBlogs

In our Industry, we can identify a brand with a logo, a color, a certain type of visible air filter on a piece of equipment.

But how often do we stop to realize that we are our own brand?  Who we are and what we do, the ways in which we do our work, reflect our individual brand.

Your brand matters.  It matters to your customers, to your team, and to your store.

For this week’s Socrates Says, we are sharing some words of wisdom on your own brand in the video below.

The time is now.