Saturday, September 16, 2017

Men/Women: Equal and Different.




I'm the douchebag...again.

Her name is Shannon and she is one of the first women to fly Apache helicopters. She served on three continents, led two flight platoons and a line company.

She is a great story-teller; visual and engaging she spun tails and related her history to an audience of risk-taking, aggressive, selling professionals.

The fit was perfect.

Shannon told how she encountered sexism in the military, facing the wind and climbing to the pinnacle - against the odds. She expressed the tension felt while flying night missions in South Korea and leading soldiers. How in order to lead others well, one needs to own their personal story.

Know thyself.

Writer, pilot, leader, mother, wife - Shannon took us on a journey around the world.

Once finished, she opened the floor to questions.

At first, nobody spoke - we've all experienced that awkward segment of silence - hands finally took flight, banal questions flew: "...how did it feel...", "...what is it like...", and my favorite, "...what is your favorite missile?", "Well, the HellFire, of course." she answered.

Gotta love the Hellfire.

I was moving from boredom to angst.

Here we had a bonafide American Hero, a female who led men in military missions speaking to a group of technology professionals - an industry heavily populated by men - and the best we could come up with is "What's your favorite missile?"

So, in the silence just before the speaker asks, "are there any final questions?" my hand shot up and I asked,

"Can you give me three differences between female leaders and male leaders?" 

I heard a few nervous giggles, as a broad smile spread across Shannon's face - I knew she got it.

Her response, "First, I feel its the individual not the gender." - I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. Her answer was the necessary one, eliciting requisite applauds.

Still, I felt the cool gaze of many - it felt good.

Her second and final answer is more powerful and like a Hellfire, flew over most heads - which I find disappointing.

Shannon put on her game face, looked me in the eye and said,

"One thing I've noticed is that men tend to volunteer for missions before and even though, they are not necessarily prepared. Where women tend to train and prepare to a point they feel 100% ready for a mission."

I didn't ask the question to get the room in an uproar, or receive, "You're a douchebag for asking that question." statements.

No.

Today, there are more women decision makers and insight into how women leaders may operate differently than their male counterparts, I felt, would be relevant.

Her answer was perfect.

So yeah, after she left the stage and during the bio-break, sales professionals, commrades-in-arms, expressed a bit of shock. Some saying, folks were remarking,

"Who asked that dick-head question about male and female leaders?"

Wow.


In this age of the eternally offended, I guess assuming men are from Mars and women from Venus, is considered a microaggression.  So, at the very least my question made some uncomfortable and might have actually offended others.  HUH?

I didn't ask, "Who are better leaders men or women?"  The underlying sensitivity, in my opinion, is the current generation's misunderstanding of equal and identical.

I guess it does need saying, "Men and Women are different."  I said it, I meant it, I'm here to represent it.

Strategic Selling -

If we assume Shannon's observation can be translated into the business realm, would you approach a female decision maker/leader differently?

Or would you feel the need to find a safe-place, squeeze Play-doh, and tear down 100 year old statues?

Monday, September 11, 2017

911


For as long as I can remember, I've played this video on 9/11.  Super Bowl 2002, months after the attack, our country was numb and jumpy.


Well before self-loathing americans started calling our movements in the middle-east "invasion" and "occupation", patriotism was on every street corner.

I remember that night; I remember seeing it live.  I can't tell you the football teams playing, but I can say it was one of the deepest, moving TV moments, ever.

U2 - that Irish rock band, stood up on the world stage, honoring the greatest country on earth and her fallen citizens.  Names float to the sky, as the rousing "Where the Streets Have No Name" beats on.  The song, second of the half-time set,  was written about a place without class stigma, where the distinction between religions and income are no more; a World Without Sin?

Bono ends the tune exposing the Stars and Stripes - Triumph.

Here we are, 15 years laters - The Twin Towers, replaced by that defiant Freedom Tower, slip deeper into fog with each passing 911.  The threat remains the same, if not more pronounced.

Do you honestly feel safer now than you did that faithful day of empty skies, September 12, 2001?

Day of cogitation: What have we learned?

On this day of reflection, consider not only the ones who've helped you see who you are, but remember the hearts you've "imprinted"; son's, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends, lovers and ex-lovers, customers and co-workers.

Be gratified knowing you've changed somebody's life for the better - we all have.

Take time to remember those on the 98th floor, at 8:47 AM, sipping a Starbucks, considering a sales forecast or the regret of not saying "I love you, I always will..." on that morning, 14 years ago.

"I want to run
I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name..."