October 21st marked the anniversary of one of the greatest - if not the greatest - naval victories in history: The Battle of Trafalgar.  Off Spain’s Atlantic Coast in 1805, British Admiral Lord Nelson and his 27 ships decisively defeated a combined French-Spanish fleet of 33 ships.  The amazing victory ensured Napoleon would remain ashore in Continental Europe and give up on any plans to invade England.  Nelson’s brilliance as a maritime warfighter and leader were second to none.  The factors that led to this historic victory are still taught at military war colleges today.  The three most significant:  TEAMWORK: Nelson trusted his subordinate and knew how to delegate authority.  He called his ship Captains “Entrepreneurs of Battle.”  Each was encouraged to take initiative, think on their own in the absence of specific orders and were rewarded for doing so.  This decentralized style of teamwork resulted in initiative, innovation and speed of action in combat.  The French and Spanish Fleet, by comparison, operated with a top-down, controlled, management model.  When the “poo hit the fan” and chaos ensued once the fight began, opposing French Admiral Villeneuve admittedly lost control of the battle around him and his subordinates were indecisive awaiting for direction from above.   The TEAMWORK lesson here:  Once subordinates have proven their trustworthiness and reliability, relinquishing direct control over them can...

I was honored to deliver the Keynote Address last week at the Deer Park (Long Island) Class of 2019’s High School Commencement Ceremony, my alma mater.  It was great to be home and offer advice to this generation 40 years after my Class of 1979 received our diplomas.       To put ’79's High School years in perspective, I informed the soon-to-be graduates that during our time in school:   “The Yankees were 2x reigning World Series Champs,  There was only one “Star Wars” film,  There were no “Avengers” movies  (their comics sold for 25 cents), We saw “Queen” perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” live! I was delighted to have those memories and so many others wash over me back in this town and school where I learned so much in class on the athletic fields.  While there might be 40 years between our classes, I emphasized that when I wore the cloth of our country either afloat in the Pacific or in the deserts of the Middle East, it was alongside teenagers right out of High Schools like Deer Park, and that’s why I had relevant lessons to share as they began their young adult journey.   The following are speech excerpts:  “Up to this point of your lives as High Schoolers most of you measured success by being able to “Fit In.”  That’s important...

On Memorial Day Monday we remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Here's three important things worth remembering about this solemn holiday: 1) Every country has their version of Veterans Day, only the USA has a Memorial Day dedicated to those who lost their lives while on active duty. Local celebrations started popping up in several eastern states between 1865-1867 to remember the fallen from the Civil War. In 1868 it became a national event. 2) Originally named ‘Decoration Day,’ it was established on May 30. Why then? Two reasons: First, that date didn’t coincide with any one particular Civil War Battle so it represented them all. Second, it takes that long into the spring for northern states to get some of their best flowers in bloom ...

Have you ever been inspired by the leadership, heroism and motivational resolve of others?  I sure have, especially by explorers and pioneers who successfully led missions into the unknown.  One of my favorite such stories is that of Lewis and Clark.  President Thomas Jefferson said of Lewis, “His courage was undaunted.”  Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark documented their expedition across 7,000 miles in meticulous journals, chronicling their inspirational application of “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity” (T3) leadership skills which directly contributed to mission success.    In May 1804, Lewis and Clark’s 30+ member "Corps of Discovery" left from St. Louis on a 2.5 yr journey as the first American expedition to explore our new northwest (and beyond) acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Their objective was to map the territory, find a Northwest Passage to the Pacific and establish an American presence in unsettled territories before other powers tried to claim it. The secondary objectives were scientific and economic: study the flora, fauna, geography and establish trade with Native American tribes. Their remarkable journals document motivational TEAMWORK by a diverse group who encountered extraordinary challenges, upbeat TONE during prolonged periods of deprivation and inspirational TENACITY in the face of adversity.    TEAMWORK: Great teamwork starts with a clear understanding of what the team needs to accomplish.  Lewis and Clark were given a clear charter...

APOLLO 13:  OUT OF THIS WORLD “TEAMWORK, TONE, TENACITY” (T3)!   The Apollo 13 mission of April 1970 is an inspirational lesson of how “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity®” (T3) can overcome adversity and lead to success.  Commonly referred to as a “successful failure,”  Apollo 13’s goal to put two men on the moon was aborted after an oxygen tank explosion aboard their service module two days after takeoff.  Following four harrowing days in space, during which a return to earth of military astronauts James Lovell (Navy), Jack Swigert (Air Force) and Fred Haise (Marine Corps) was in doubt, their command capsule safely splashed down in the South Pacific and the three heroes were helicoptered to the nearby USS IWO JIMA.  What factors contributed to their return?  Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity (T3)!  I rarely share a motivational keynote speech without referencing some aspect of this amazing case study.  Here’s a quick look at examples of each of the three T’s:      * TEAMWORK:  Great teamwork begins with great teams.  Many stories about Apollo 13 focus on just two key individuals, Astronaut Jim Lovell and NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz.  However, there were many more.  Lovell’s two fellow astronauts and Kranz’s hundreds of fellow mission support specialists and engineers were deeply experienced and knowledgeable.  The astronaut-mission control team worked together for thousands of hours prior to this mission. Even...

It’s March Madness!  The 2019 NCAA Men’s College Basketball “Sweet 16” tips off this week.  The nation is excited about watching great games being played by great teams with great coaches.  The most prominent coach still in the tournament is Duke’s Mike Krzyzewiski with 5 national championships under his belt.  The inspirational “Coach K” is rightly considered the greatest leader of young athletes on the court today.  But which NCAA basketball coach led his teams to more championships - 10! - than any other?  UCLA’s John Wooden, “The Wizard of Westwood,” from 1948-1975.  Coach Wooden’s ability to motivate, build character and elicit extraordinary performance is legend.  His humble, inspirational leadership style contained three core elements: “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity.” John Wooden was raised on a dairy farm in Indiana.  He was a three time All American as a 5’10’’ Guard at Purdue who led the Boilermakers to the 1932 NCAA Championship as their Senior Captain.  He was a high school teacher and basketball coach in Indiana until World War II when he served as a Navy Lieutenant.  In 1948 he was hired at UCLA, where the Bruins had only three winning seasons over the previous two decades.  In his first season as UCLA coach, the Bruins had a 22-7 record and won their Division!  The wins continued and so did national attention on Coach...

The ultimate Man-Dog “T3” is underway in Alaska.  Approximately 50 human Mushers and their groups of  12-16 sled dogs left Anchorage last week and are midst of crossing 1000 miles of frozen tundra, rivers and mountain ranges en route Nome.  That’s about the distance from San Diego to Denver!  The Iditarod  highlights that “T3”doesn’t just apply to humans, but to humans working with their best friends: dogs. The Iditarod began in 1973 for two reasons: 1) A way to promote Alaska’s sled dog culture in the face of growing snowmobile use, and 2) preserve the historic Iditarod Trail between Seward and Nome (Iditarod is the name of an abandoned mining town in Central Alaska).  Since then, the epic event has motivated and inspired millions of international followers.  Why?  Because fans of the outdoors, fans of working animals, fans of high performing groups and fans of overcoming adversity all have something to cheer for in this tremendous trial of body and spirit for man and animal. Any Iditarod winner will attest that it takes 3 Leadership and Overcoming Adversity characteristics to become a champion: TEAMWORK: There is a special bond between a Sled Musher and their dogs pulling together - literally - day and night, for 1,000 miles.  The TEAM lives and trains together for months, if not years, prior to a race of this...

  It’s Super Bowl Week!  As we prepare to watch the Patriots battle the Rams this Sunday in Super Bowl LIII, it’s worth remembering a motivational football legend who personified T3.  Vince Lombardi was hired as Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers on this date 60 years ago.  He’s one of the greatest examples of inspirational T3 in the professional sports world, and one of the most quoted American leaders from any field on the value of Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity.  Prior to Lombardi’s hiring in 1959, the Packers were 1-10-1 and cellar dwellers in their division.   In Coach Lombardi’s first season they were 7-5 and he was named NFL Coach of the Year.  In their second: 8-4.  In their third: 11-3 and that year began a run of winning 5 of the next 7 NFL Championships which included the first two Super Bowls!   In fact, the Lombardi never had a losing season in his 10 years as Head Coach! Lombardi’s citations regarding the Three T’s are legendary: TEAMWORK:  “Individual commitment to the group effort … that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” TONE: “Winning isn’t everything … wanting to win is.” TENACITY: “The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fail.” What made Lombardi one of the most motivational leaders...

I had the good fortune to meet with Jonson & Johnson (JnJ) CEO, Alex Gorsky in Arlington, VA recently.  Alex is a 1982 West Point graduate and was an Army Ranger and Infantry Officer for six years before joining the business world.  Since becoming CEO in 2012, he has continuously improved JnJ’s value, global market share and employee satisfaction.  How?  A focus on the JnJ “Credo,” which challenges JnJ employees to place the needs and well being of the people they serve first.  The credo is literally etched in stone in the company’s main lobby.  Written in 1943 by former CEO Robert Wood Johnson, it’s a framework for “servant leadership” at the organizational and individual level.  The JnJ Credo and the CEO’s actions emphasize “T3” at every turn.  Specific examples: Teamwork:  Long, drawn-out Powerpoint presentations?  Not at the CEO’s level!  Key presentations at JnJ are a chance for cross-functional group discussion, collaboration and idea generation.  This method helps build relationship and trust amongst diverse groups which contributes to high-performance teams. Tone:  Alex has tremendous credibility.  He’s an active participant in JnJ’s goal of having the market’s fittest workforce because healthy employees are essential for a healthy business and healthy families.  He exercises every morning with other employees whenever possible.  Tone is a synonym for culture.  The JnJ culture of fitness is demonstrated...