Teachable Moments

Teachable Moments, by Will Saunders

There is always an opportunity to teach someone a different way of viewing things. If you do it in a respectful manner and if the other person has an open mind, it can be a beautiful learning milieu. I experienced that recently and it was a great feeling for me and for that other person.

So, the other day I was exiting a building in Bethesda, Maryland, behind two teenage boys and an older gentleman. One of the boys held the door for the old guy and he thanked the teen. The teen smiled and politely said, “Sure, no problem sir.” While the guy and I were waiting for taxis and after the teens ran off, the guy began to mumble about how you’re supposed to say “You’re welcome!” in response to someone thanking you. That’s when I put on my teacher hat. Initially I was going to keep silent, but decided to speak up for the teen.

I first asked the man the intent behind that “You’re welcome!” phrase. I know what it means but I wanted to get in the man’s head. He went on to talk about how it shows you acknowledging someone who thanks you and that you didn’t mind helping them and that you accept or appreciate the expression of gratitude. As he was talking, he evidently realized that the kid had done exactly that, but he expressed it in his own words instead of the words the old guy expected to hear. Don’t you hate it when you are all revved up to let someone ‘have it’ but then they steal your thunder? Well, that’s how it went that day. I was about to teach that man something new, but he ‘got it’ before I had a chance to, just from me asking him that one simple, little question. I was prepared to tell him that it’s a lot like two friends greeting one another. They could say hello, howdy, hi there, what’s up, hey, hiya, or maybe some other word or phrase. Whether or not you like all of these greetings, they all convey the same message, albeit differently. Neither of them is wrong. They’re just different.

The same is true with the You’re welcome! phrase, and I helped that gentleman to see that. He thanked me and I said, “You’re welcome.” We both had a brief laugh before we parted. Things could have ended up differently if I had chastised him or corrected him in a condescending manner or tone. I approached it rather gingerly and had great results, and that exchange took fewer than three minutes. Even though he figured it out for himself, I was still the catalyst that made it happen. It doesn’t take much to sway a situation one way or another. We all can learn. We all can teach.

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Sexual Harassment and Personal Body Cams

Google Glass

Sexual Harassment and Personal Body Cams, by Will Saunders

It’s always refreshing when people are held accountable and face sanctions when they do wrong. I’m speaking about all of the men in recent weeks who have been fired or suspended for sexual harassment. I hope victims are taking note and continue to feel comfortable coming forth.

I can see an increase in the use of personal body cameras, such as the Google Glass device. It was a device that many thought would die out. But now is the perfect time for it to appeal to consumers. There are many other suitable devices out there too. This would be good for men and women alike. Many of the perps don’t take full responsibility for their actions. I’ve listened to their apologies, or read their prepared written statements, and many of them (most of the ones I’m aware of) apologize but add how all of the facts aren’t true or the facts are being misrepresented. Case in point, this excerpt from Matt Lauer’s apology in which he stated, “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.” It’s too much to ask for him to just publically apologize and leave it at that rather than add in about the untruths. Other predators have included similar mitigating statements with their apologies. If they truly are sorry, why can’t they just show remorse and apologize for hurting or offending their victims without implying the victim isn’t being truthful?

Perhaps the use of personal cams could prove who is being untrue. When someone asserts they were victimized, the cam footage can back it up; likewise, when a sleaze says he didn’t do it or the facts are all wrong, the cam footage can back that up too. These 21st century cameras can even attach to your lapel or collar inconspicuously and might even look like you’re wearing jewelry (think James Bond or Maxwell Smart). It’s not just a thing of one’s imagination to have a camera in your ring or watch or an ink pen. Most are hands free, and even a technologically-dense person could use them. They can help eliminate all the he said, she said discrepancies. I don’t know how much truth-stretching goes on in these cases, but the video can go a long way to get to the bottom of it, much like the nanny cam has uncovered the abuse of babies.

Be careful who you abuse or sexual harass. They just might be wearing a camera.

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Work and Leadership: Soft Skills

Work and Leadership: Soft Skills, by Will Saunders

Soft skills are crucial. Don’t get me wrong. The technical competence and academic knowledge of your chosen profession play a pivotal role, no doubt about that. People  definitely need the right background. Just look at some of the agency heads throughout the current presidential administration. Some of them aren’t well suited for the positions they hold. You know who I mean. That is true in many public, private, for profit, and non-profit organizations. It happens.

But I think the soft skills are essential too. They are important because they’re skills that you seldom are able to teach others. People generally have them or they don’t. People can grow and self-improve on their own. But the manager can’t make it happen. If the employee isn’t already motivated to do so, it isn’t likely to happen.

The thinking is, getting in the employees’ head and understanding their thought process will be far more meaningful to the manager and to the organization than knowing whether the employee can create a pivot table in Microsoft Excel or if they are experienced using data analytics software applications, such as Sisense. You can always teach people the mechanics of how use Excel or Sisense. But you can’t teach them how to be creative or how to cope well with chaos in the office or how to be agreeable, cordial and engaging or stepping up to take initiative and being proactive or having empathy for others. These things are more innate, and they naturally become a part of a person’s soul.

Many employers focus heavily on these soft skills. That’s why hiring managers ask interview questions that many job seekers find weird or irrelevant to the work (i.e., What is a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how did you deal with it? What is a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work and how did you communicate to your management or peer group that your idea should be considered?). This is also why some employers make applicants take a set of assessments, like a personality inventory or a taleo assessment.

If people better understood this, they would develop themselves and work on honing up those soft skills so they would shine brighter and be a more stellar, valuable employee. Nobody can teach that to you but you. Of course, many people lack the soft skills as well as the technical knowledge to do the job. Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump immediately come to mind. There are many others too.  If you suck at both the technical knowledge and the soft skills too, heaven help you.

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Backup Your Phone

Backup Your Phone, by Will Saunders


How often do you back up the information on your phone? If you’re like most people, you have tons of information that would cause you distress if you couldn’t access it. From appointments, to names and numbers, essential banking data, purchased music or movies, photographs and videos, email, and lots of other valuable content.

I think of all the names and numbers in my phone that I don’t know by heart, some of which I did know when I had to manually dial them manually. It’s dumbed me down. I suspect thats how it is for most people. I either scroll down the list and push their name (or their picture) and the phone calls them — or I just give a verbal command, such as “Call John Doe” or “Call Jane X” and the phone obliges. In the not too distant past, when I had to dial the digits, it was easy to remember a person’s number. Not anymore. I can only recite the phone numbers of a small, paltry amount of my contacts.  So, I back up my phone frequently.

I just got the iPhone X on Saturday, and boy was (am) I excited, I love this thing. Not to digress too much from the point of this post, I got it early. I ordered it mid November and they gave a ship date of December 13th, and Verizon promised me a $366 rebate for sending in my old iPhone 7 once I got the new one. I completed an online questionnaire and my responses helped the automated system offer that $366 rebate amount. I was quite paranoid that I would scratch it up or crack the screen or break one of the buttons before I had a change to mail it in. Fortunately, I didn’t have any mishaps, and I was able to return an almost good as new phone.

Anyhow, back to my post. As I was manually backing up my old phone and restoring my data onto my new phone, I was reminded of how much information is in my phone. I’m bringing all this up after something I witnessed the other day. I got on an elevator and a woman was running to catch it before the door closed. As she entered the elevator, she dropped her phone and it fell through the little slit on the floor at the door’s opening. She peered down and watched it fall. First of all, who would you call to try and get the phone returned? Secondly, the phone probably ended up breaking up in to pieces and badly damaged beyond usability even if she got it back. I asked her if she had backed up the data in her phone, and she didn’t understand what I was asking…which meant she probably lost all of her data along with her phone. What a double whammy.

If your phone isn’t backed up, go ahead and handle it. You can either back it up to a cloud environment or save your data to a hard drive. You can even put it on a schedule so the backup happens automatically. That’s what I do. I do it manually when I have a reason to and don’t want to wait for the auto-backup to kick in. It’s a beautiful thing. As expensive as a phone can be, I sure don’t want to lose it. But if I do, at least I won’t also lose all my information along with it.

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Gift vs. Gift Card

Gift vs. Gift Card, by Will Saunders

With Christmas approaching, the gift card will end up being the go-to option for many. It used to be for me too, but after my birthday this year, not so much anymore. A friend gave me a remote controlled, wireless power strip. It came with five little mini strips, and I use them exclusively for lamps around my home: two in my bedroom, three in the front room. It was the perfect gift, and I am certain he has no idea just how much I genuinely appreciate it.

This gift is far better than a gift card would have been, because each time I reach for the remote to turn on or off the lamps, I think fondly of my friend Rashad who gave it to me. If I had been given a gift card, I might not associate anything I bought with him. But I do understand the ease and simplicity of the gift card, though. You don’t need to remember what size the person wears; you don’t need to guess what you think the person might need or want; you don’t need to consider if your taste might be viewed as gauche and wretched; and you don’t have to worry if the person might truly hate the gift altogether, which could strain the friendship.

Case in point: for you I Love Lucy fans, do you remember the episode titled, “Ethel’s Birthday” (Season 4, Episode 8) when Fred commissioned Lucy to go buy something on his behalf for Ethel’s birthday? Lucy bought a pair of party pants that Ethel hated, and was quite miffed at Lucy for having such bad taste. Lucy was mad at Ethel. Ethel was mad at Lucy and Fred. It was a big ole crazy, funny mess. Go look it up if you never saw it. . . of if you have seen it but want a good laugh again. A gift card (or gift certificate was the in-thing yesteryear) would have solved the problem for Fred. But the gift card removes the personal touch.

If you really want to make a special, lasting impression on the gift recipient, skip the gift card. Go for the gusto and give a well-thought out gift. Incidentally, you should get yourself a wireless, remote out less switch. It really is an amazing gadget.  You can get it either from the  ETEKCITY Zap 5LX Remote Outlet Switch or go to Amazon.com.  There’s a picture of it. It truly is fabulous. If you don’t get it for yourself, gift it to someone.

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They Can Be A Lot Of Trouble

They Can Be A Lot Of Trouble, By Will Saunders

A few days ago, I was driving along and saw this deer with ginormous antlers dart across the road. Well, it wasn’t exactly this particular deer in the picture, but it looked identical to it. People don’t realize how menacing deer can be until you see it up close, with or without antlers. They aren’t all as cute and cuddly as Bambi or Rudolph.

I’m glad I was in a vehicle and I’m also glad I was alert and paying attention, or there might have been an accident. People walking along the road or those waiting on a bus probably might feel a little scared. I know I would have been. There are woods in the area adjacent to houses, apartments, and condos as well as a park and a shopping district with stores like CVS, Big Lots, Denny’s, and several other big and small businesses. So there were plenty of people around.

This time of year is especially problematic because it’s mating season for deer (or like some of you might say, cuffing season), and these deer are out looking for some affection. They can charge toward you and attack if they feel cornered or intimated. If their young are nearby, that also could spawn an attack. Additionally, what some people may not realize is, it’s not uncommon for a deer to become rabid just like smaller animals such as squirrel or raccoon do, further increasing the likelihood of an attack. But generally, deer are pretty docile and aren’t looking for any trouble.

Around 2007, my mom was driving her 1998 (I think that’s the year it was) Cadillac DeVille, and a small deer ran in front of her and she couldn’t stop in time without hitting it. The collision caused some terrible damage. I want to stress it was a very small animal. Most of the damage was caused by its hooves. Mom’s car ended up on top of the deer as it continued to kick the undercarriage. I don’t even want to think about what an animal like that could do to a person, between its powerful kicks and the pokes from its antlers, particularly a large deer.

The increased encounters of deer with human is due to extensive land developments. Their natural habitats are being destroyed, so these animals have become homeless. I’ve heard of land developers trapping and relocating deer to undeveloped wooded areas, which is a viable solution. But, I don’t think that’s the norm. In my opinion, it should be a condition of granting a permit to these contractors. They get their permit to develop the land if they humanely relocate the deer. That probably isn’t likely to happen very often. It’s probably too hard to regulate. So meanwhile, we just have to share our space with them as we go to and fro. I suppose it’s a lot like it is with people: let us learn to give each other space.










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They Don’t Want Gun Control

They Don’t Want Gun Control,

by Will Saunders

There is often lots of attention given to this topic, especially immediately following a huge incident of gun violence. After each one, people scream about gun laws being too lenient – they scream for about 30 seconds – until the next incident.

It seems to happen all the time, such as the incident in Orlando at the Pulse Night Club where 49 were killed; or the incident in San Bernardino, California at a public health center where 22 were killed; or the shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida airport where 5 were killed; or the shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas killing 13; or the shooting at Virginia Tech leaving 32 dead; or the incident at the Washington, DC Navy Yard killing 12; or the incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana killing 3; or most recently a mass shooting at an office park in Edgewood, Maryland killing 3 or the incident in Las Vegas killing 58.

Obviously this list of tragedies is only a smidgen, a small sampling of the many incidents of gun violence resulting in mass casualties. After each one, there is a renewed push to improve gun control, and it often stops in the lap of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is a nonprofit lobbyist group that advocates for stronger gun rights of American citizens. According to its website, it was founded in 1871 and has actively lobbied for legislation to support gun rights since 1975. Most people who are politically connected will agree the NRA is one of the most influential lobbyist groups. They have a lot of power.

Those in favor of gun ownership use their 2nd Amendment right to gun ownership. Congress could easily pass a bill to tighten up the current legislation while still retaining a person’s ability to legally purchase and own guns; however, they don’t do a thing. That’s possibly because of the strong hold of the NRA. An argument they often use to support a wider array of gun ownership is, if more people were armed in more places, they could stop some of these folks in their tracks and minimize the number of casualties. That’s an approach that South Dakota embraces. The state legislature enacted a law to allow armed teachers in schools. I don’t know if that’s the answer either. Have more guns doesn’t necessarily mean fewer casualties. Frankly, I wouldn’t want my son or daughter sitting between a mass shooter on one end and a vigilante teacher on the other.

I don’t know what the answer is. But clearly what we have now isn’t working. There must be a better way, I just don’t know what that is.

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Self-Indulgence: The Best Thing For You

Self-Indulgence: The Best Thing For You, by Will Saunders

I was reading a leadership development white paper published by Management Concepts titled, “When You Manage Resilience, Your Best Self Shows Up,” that identified several tips for enhanced professional development and career growth. One of the tips hit me very hard. That tip is: ”Start every day with a focus on yourself. Dedicate (and defend) time that’s just about you.” This is something I try to do every day. The key word here is try.

Taking time for self is crucial, and starting the day focused on this helps to ensure you don’t become self-neglectful. There are very many things that require most people’s time and attention all during the day, from the time they get up till they get back in bed at night. These include some or all of the following: children, siblings, the dog, significant other, homeowner’s association, aging parents, friends, coworkers, boss, bill collector, annoying neighbor, panhandler on the corner, and the list can go on from there. Trying to battle all of these things can be encumbering and cause most people to take time away from nurturing themselves. If you’re one of those people who feel it’s your duty to always nurture others, I get it; however, a little self-care will better enable you to care for others. Think about the last time you took a flight someplace. The security and safety briefing advises passengers to don their own oxygen mask before trying to help others with theirs. Live your whole life that way.

I try to take time for me by developing my mind, body, and spirit (which includes a healthy diet, physical activity, prayer and meditation, and an abundance of solitude and this includes thanksgiving). But I sometimes get consumed by life and forget to nurture myself. It really does help me get through the day and better cope with any stressors if I start my day focused on me before my focus shifts to everything else the day has to offer. When the mind and body are in the right place, I think it helps make everything else fall into place more easily. If nothing else, doing this helps me to respond to things more effectively and proactively rather than reactively. It makes the day much better. Nurturing myself also helps keep me from saying the wrong thing to the unreasonable people who cross my path, and I feel as if I get the lion’s share of them.

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Cops Who Killed Black Folks?

Thought I’d share Darnell’s post today. 😔

I Am Going To Write

Last week I was looking for a list of Black folks killed by cops. It wasn’t hard to find. Then I looked for a list of cops and authority who killed Black folks, and I found nothing.

I went on a search through these 264 names. There are many left off. Feel free to fill in the list. And if any are incorrect, please correct it. These people are MURDERERS. Their names must be known.

1. Walter Scott 50- Michael Slager
2. Bernard Moore 62- Christopher Blaise
3. Lavall Hall 25- Eddo Trimino
4. Jonathan Ryan Paul 42- Pedro Medina, Steve Schmid
5. Jamie Croom 31- Josie Wells
6. Terry Garnett Jr. 37- Joseph Costa
7. Monique Jenee Deckard 43- Kevin Flanagan, Dale Miller, Jonathan Nooitgedagt
8. Tony Terrell Robinson Jr. 19- Matt Kenny
9. Tyrone Ryerson Lawrence 45- Milwaukee Police Department
10. Naeschylus Vinzant 37- Paul Jerothe
11. Andrew…

View original post 2,203 more words

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It’s Funny How Things Work Out

  • It’s funny how things work out, by Will Saunders

I was thinking about a pal of mine who had been sick for nearly 2 ½ weeks. He didn’t eat very much and lay in bed all day on most days during that time. That period of not eating much and convalescing with little to no movement, he lost 12 pounds.

Then on the flip side, I think of people I know who purposely eat fewer calories – and they get regular exercise; however, they still seem to struggle to shed the pounds. Sometime people might even gain a pound or two. What irony. This reminds me of a funny dialogue years ago between two friends of my mom at a social function.

Gwen: Wow, you look great Sherman. Wish I could lose these pounds like you did.

Sherman: It wasn’t by choice. I lost them when I was sick, following my surgery.

Gwen: Shoot, let me go have some surgery too, then.

We all had a long, hearty laugh about that. Weight maintenance is indeed no laughing matter, especially if you’re one of those people who find it an up-hill battle trying to shed those pounds and keeping them off. It’s a struggle for millions of people. In fact, because of the difficulties in losing and keeping the weight off, many people stop trying. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association in a March 2017 article titled Change in Percentages of Adults With Overweight or Obesity Trying to Lose Weight, 1988-2014, it’s not uncommon for people to simply give up or not even try in the first place. I’m here to tell you it definitely can be discouraging. I try to focus on reignite my weight management plan pretty quickly after I realize I’ve put on a few pounds. Somehow, I noticed around my birthday in April that I had gained about 15 pounds. I let myself go a bit, and as hard as it’s been to get back on the wagon, I’m glad I only had 15 pounds to get back to my target weight. I cannot even wrap my head around the difficulties people must face who have double that (or more) to lose. It has to be overwhelming.

I’ve talked to a few people, offering encouragement, advice, or just an empathic, non-judgmental ear. It’s hard. After all of your efforts, your clothes are still too tight or the number on the scale doesn’t go down any further – or you eat right and exercise and to your surprise (and dismay), you’ve gained a couple of pounds since your last weigh-in.

When I first began writing this, I was going to offer tips and recommendations. You can search my archives for that, as I have written about it before. But, I’ve come to realize that no matter how good the advice may be, some things won’t work for everybody. Nonetheless, there is one thing I have found that can help immeasurably, and that is having a good network of people around you. Whether it’s that person who offers you authentic compliments or someone to whom you can be accountable, that connection can be one of the best motivators. It can be friends, coworkers, or your online pals. There are even some apps that do this too. Having someone with whom you can check in regularly could mean the difference between your success or failure.


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