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I attended the annual Shelton Leadership Forum today, which was an all day conference at NCSU's McKimmon Center. This year's theme was Leadership From the Top: Shaping The Organizational Culture.

Speakers at the opening session included:

General Hugh Shelton
General Henry Hugh Shelton, U.S. Army, Retired, served as the 14th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 until his retirement in 2001. The NC State alumnus and Tarboro native is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War and was the first member of the elite U.S. Army Special Forces - the Green Berets - to rise to the nation’s top military post. Before serving as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council, General Shelton was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, overseeing the Green Berets and the Navy Seals. General Shelton earned his commission through the Reserve Officers Training Corps at NC State, where he graduated in 1963 with a degree in textile engineering. He also earned a Master of Science degree from Auburn University before completing his training at the Air Command and Staff College and the National War College. The General now leads NC State’s General Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative and serves as a powerful example of leadership excellence. In September 2002, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress.

Suzanne M. Burns
Ms. Burns is the Vice President and General Manager for Eaton Corporation’s global power quality business serving healthcare, IT and telephony markets. She was nominated to Wall Street Journal’s 2005 Top 50 Women to Watch, named International Executive of the Year by Women in International Trade and Woman of Professional Excellence by the YWCA.

Stephen P. Zelnak, Jr.
Mr. Zelnak is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. In 1994 Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. became a publicly traded corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with Mr. Zelnak as President and CEO. Mr. Zelnak was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1997.

General Shelton talked about values-based leadership, saying we could follow some of the wisdom of the cowboys, back in their days, including:
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • Never squat with your spurs on.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
  • Timing is everything when doing a raindance.
He then articulated about these four leadership-related "renowned cowboy principles":
  • Live each day with courage. (The courage of conviction. Would you be the first person to drive an electric car through a carwash?)
  • Remember that some things are not for sale. (Character and ethics being two of them.)
  • Be tough, but be fair. (Leaders who follow the golden rule are respected.)
  • Ride for the brand. (Create a culture, a sense of belonging, in the organization in which you are leading.)
The next one-and-a-half hours offered the choice of one of seven concurrent sessions:
  • Creating Cultures Promoting Globalization
  • Creating Family-Friendly Work Environments
  • Contemporary Leadership Challenges for Senior Administrators
  • Service Learning: Creating Supportive Campus Cultures
  • Enhancing Professional Learning Communities
  • Community Leadership Research
  • When Crisis Happens: Team Leadership
I attended the service learning session, since the organizers of that one paid my registration to this conference, and it was led by Bob Bringle, who is the person we met with at both meetings yesterday.

Lunch was more of a to-do than I prefer, and consisted of a buffet, and included some remarks, recognition of distinguished guests, awards presentations, and finally entertainment by the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus.

82nd Airborne Chorus
"82nd Airborne Chorus" on Google Video

After lunch, was a plenary session given by the keynote speaker, who I understand is often seen on CNN:

The Honorable William S. Cohen
Secretary Cohen is the chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group, a strategic business consulting firm based in Washington, DC, which assists multinational clients from all sectors of the economy to develop and implement strategic plans, identify and pursue business opportunities, identify and manage risks, and overcome problems in quickly changing markets around the world. The Cohen Group has a strategic alliance with DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, the world's second largest law firm. William S. Cohen served as the 20th U.S. Secretary of Defense, from January 1997 to January 2001, where he oversaw the largest organization in the U.S. with a budget of $300 billion and three million military and civilian personnel. As Defense Secretary, he was responsible for: reversing a decade-and-a-half of continuous decline in the defense budget and the defense procurement budget, which he increased by nearly 50%; the largest military pay raise in a generation; and adoption of electronic commerce and other best business practices in the defense department. In addition, under his leadership, the United States Military conducted the largest air warfare campaign (Bosnia/Kosovo) since World War II and conducted other military operations on every continent.

Overall, I found this session not as focused on general leadership skills and qualities as I would have liked it to be, and it had too many military over- and undertones for my taste.

Not unlike leadership forums and conferences I have attended at IBM, I felt throughout the day at times, and left feeling quite ambivalent. Wondering had I had leadership opportunities much, much earlier in my life — and by that I mean as far back as in college, and my first five years at IBM over 26 years ago, what I might have become and accomplished in my life.

It's not a sad, or poor-pitiful-me type of wonder, because I'm happy about being close to the end of a career — thrilled to have had a career that I'm not only proud of, but has served me well in terms of having me where I need to be financially as things wind down.

I just wonder how different it would have, or could have, been. But then deep down, I like who I've become as a result of exactly what has transpired. Thus the ambivalence.

This is not unlike the ambivalence I have when I think about coming out so late in life. I wonder what would my life would have been if I hadn't spent the first 35 years of it in the closet, but then again, I learned such invaluable lessons about relationships and life while I was married, which without question, has contributed to the person I am today. As I said, ambivalence.

Okay, enough of all that.

Robert came over for dinner, and we had Chicken Chow Mein with a side of cucumbers.

We watched Memoirs of a Geisha tonight, and overall liked it, but thought it could have been a lot better, too — perhaps viewing it on the big screen would have helped.

Movie Synopsis: In 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named Chiyo from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto's Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's bitter rival, Mameha. Under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo becomes the geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms Japan and the geisha's world are forever changed by the onslaught of history.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2006 02:26 pm (UTC)
Good morning.

That last text box appears to have white text on a white field.

How does it look to you?

You're right. Memoirs of a Geisha would have had better visual effects if you watched it on a big screen, which is why I have asked Robert to persuade you to buy a 50" plasma flatscreen television.
Nov. 19th, 2006 02:27 pm (UTC)
That wasn't supposed to be anonymous.
Nov. 19th, 2006 03:10 pm (UTC)
re: Fifty inches and a bad background color choice...
HA! Thanks, Charles. As regards to the last box, for me it's a very pale (light?) blue. Hmmm. I'll change it. Thanks for the comment and feedback!
Nov. 19th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Fifty inches and a bad background color choice...
Grr! Mine wasn't supposed to be anonymous either. Re-reading, hmmm, though the background is pale blue, the text is black. I wonder why you're seeing white text. We're talking about the movie synopsis block, right?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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