Archive for February, 2009

At last! A leader who can speak and inspire

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I confess that I am a fan of President Obama. I also confess that I never felt warm or supportive about our former president, whose competencies were questionable. That said, this blog entry is not about politics. It is about communication. It is about President Obama’s address to the nation last evening.

It was refreshing, to say the least, to listen to a president who has a command of the English language. Mr. Obama spoke with eloquence, passion, and humility. He conveyed his vision and his determination to lead us to recovery. It is inadequate to say he was an inspiration. Rather, he inspired.


In short, Mr. Obama looked like, acted like, and spoke like a servant-leader.


Earlier in the day, an NPR reporter told radio listeners that the Republican response to Mr. Obama’s speech would be given by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. The reporter also speculated that Jindal might have been selected as a sort of trial balloon – that Jindal might take a run at the presidency in the next election. With that information in mind, I was curious to see what he would say and how he would say it.


For the first five or 10 minutes of his speech, all Mr. Jindal seemed to talk about was himself. Finally, he started to attack the Democratic Congress and its decisions to pass the stimulus package.

What struck me, however, about Mr. Jindal’s address was his lack of sincerity. He tried to appear sincere, just as former President Bush tried to appear sincere. But, there is a big difference between acting sincere and being sincere, and even a two-year-old can tell the difference. Mr. Jindal came across as talking down to his audience. It was not so much what he said, but how he said it.


I don’t know about you, but I am turned off by people who talk in a condescending manner to me.

If Mr. Jindal were putting out a trial balloon, it lost its gas, very quickly.


As I said, this blog isn’t about politics. It’s about communication. Leaders need to be able to communicate if they want to inspire. Great leaders communicate their vision and inspire their supporters to follow.


Mr. Obama inspired. He is a leader.


How great it is to have a president who knows how to talk.


Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing & Editing Solutions


Some thoughts on employee loyalty

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I read an article recently stating that job seekers should never disclose to prospective employers anything that might suggest they were disloyal to their former employer. That started me thinking …


Employers expect loyalty from their employees. Not an unrealistic expectation, I think – except some employers have a skewed understanding of loyalty.


For example: Is an employee disloyal if he:

  • Writes a book on his own time, after work hours?

  • Takes a part-time job (which does not interfere with his regular work)
  • Continues to be friends with a former co-worker who left either voluntarily or was fired?
  • Talks about retirement plans, which are two years into the future?
  • Discusses with co-workers how things could be improved at work?
  • Decides not to participate in an after-hours drinking party arranged by the boss?

To my way of thinking, none of these things shows disloyalty. Yet, over the years I’ve known employers who expect their employees to “live” their jobs 24/7, never question decisions, never leave, and to cut off all communication with former co-workers because anyone who has left is disloyal.


So, what is loyalty?


Loyalty is more than merely staying with an employer. I believe loyalty is giving full commitment and energy to an employer throughout the entire working day, being faithful to the company by never doing it any harm and always working toward its success, and not bad-mouthing it to outsiders.


In other words, loyalty is working a full day for a day’s pay and respecting the person (entity) who signs the paycheck.


A person is not disloyal because he has a life outside of the office. And an employee is not disloyal just because he wants the workplace to be better.


Employers who question their employees’ loyalty should look at how loyal they themselves are to their staff, because loyalty does not travel down a one-way street. And they should consider these truisms:

  • Disagreement is not disloyalty. Disagreement encourages a diversity of opinions and better solutions to problems.

  • People who live a balanced life are more productive than those who are workaholics. People who live only their jobs eventually burn out, and burn out leads to disgruntlement and lower productivity.

  • Employees who remain with a company because they are afraid to leave are likely to be less productive than those who stay because they like working for the company. Fear in any form has no place in the workplace.

  • Loyalty is not a given. It must be earned.

Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

A word about Michael Phelps

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps really did a number on himself when he was captured on film inhaling marijuana … or did he? I think it depends on what his contract with Kellogg’s stipulated.

The grapevine says that a number of groups in favor of the legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana intend to organize a boycott of Kellogg products because the cereal company dropped Phelps following publication of the photos. The organizations claim that Phelps was hired to promote a product — not to be a role model. Before they begin their boycott, I would encourage these groups to find out what Phelps’ contract specified.


If his contract spelled out that Phelps would endorse products and serve as a role model, and in his endorsement capacity he would not engage in any behavior — especially illegal behavior — that might tarnish a role-model image, then Phelps deserves to lose the deal. But, if the contract did not mention anything about the purpose of his endorsements or a prohibition against illegal behavior, then shame on the lawyers who drew it up.


A contract is an example of a situation in which words definitely count. Just ask former beauty-pageant contestants who have lost their crowns because they broke the spelled-out rules.

So, I am curious about Michael Phelps’ contract: Did it contain a morality clause? Or did Kellogg merely assume he would be a good, law-abiding young man? Was he hired merely to sell corn flakes? Or was he hired to be a role model who would influence little children to eat their corn flakes and grow up to be like him?


Even if the contract did not spell out consequences for illegal or scandalous behavior, common sense should have kept Phelps from putting his future at risk. Some things are best done in complete privacy. Then the words (or the lack of them) wouldn’t have mattered.


Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions