It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years today since my father’s home going just before Father’s Day 2012. Here is one of his most memorable quotes:
“Everyone says, ‘Good ethics are good business.’ But if you do something ethical that helps your business it means only that you’re savvy at reading your customers. The only way to know for sure if a decision is motivated purely by good ethics is when it is bad for business. If you still do it, then you’re ethics really are more important than than your bottom-line. Otherwise, you’re just misleading your customers …and yourself.”
-Warren K. Stratton, University of Washington School of Engineering
Here’s the tribute I wrote from our family’s recollections three long years ago.
Don’t forget to call your father today,
-Gary David Stratton, Senior Editor
Warren Kenneth Stratton, 78, of Bedford, NH, pioneering aerospace leader who retired to become a pastor to New England’s pastors, died June 15, 2012 after a brief illness. Warren was born in Boise, Idaho on December 5, 1933, and married the love of his life, Joan Baker in Richland, WA in 1953. They raised four children in Media, PA and have twelve grandchildren.
Warren served in the U.S. Army and graduated from the University of Washington School of Engineering, where he later taught as an adjunct faculty member.
After working on Boeing’s original pre-Sputnik space shuttle program (code-named “Dinosaur”) in Seattle, WA, Warren moved to Boeing’s Vertol division in Philadelphia, PA. He became one of the world’s leading experts on field safe fiberglass helicopter rotor blade design, and project manager for the iconic twin-rotor Sea Knight Navy and Coast Guard rescue helicopters, responsible for the saving of countless lives.
In 1982, Joan and Warren moved to Westlake Village / Thousand Oaks, California, where Warren helped spear-head the creation of the Army’s famous Apache attack helicopters for Hughes Aircraft, and later became vice president of Northrop-Grumman’s Newbury Park division responsible for much of the Air Force’s cutting-edge stealth technology.
Warren and Joan retired to Bedford, NH in 1995, where they became beloved pillars of the Bethany Covenant Church, serving the congregation in numerous capacities. In “retirement” Warren volunteered as a trustee and consultant to numerous non-profit ministries and churches. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia, past president of Vision New England and founder of Leadership Transformations at Gordon-Conwell seminary described Warren as “a minister to New England’s ministers.”
Warren will be remembered as a warm and loving husband, father, grandfather, leader, and friend who could always be relied upon for his compassionate listening, straight-shooting advice, and off-beat sense of humor. He loved golf, tennis, bridge, chess, photography, poetry, suspense novels, and hard-hitting non-fiction.
Other than his God, his wife, and his family and friends, Warren’s greatest love was spending time at his cabin on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, where he could be found with a fishing pole in hand, a broad grin on his face, and a gentle admonition to always “be safe.”
He was dearly loved and will be greatly missed by all who knew him, especially his wife of 59 years, Joan (Baker) Stratton, four children and twelve grandchildren.
Recently, I met with a manager I’ve been working with who is working in a very dysfunctional system. Two executives are in a political battle for the area in which she works and she is caught in the middle of the conflict. Several of her colleagues are rude, disrespectful, and explosive. Her direct reports are becoming disillusioned by projects stalling out due to the political turf wars. Work feels like a land mine; she never knows when something will blow up and so, naturally, she is constantly on guard. This is decreasing her effectiveness and leaving her feeling bitter and burned out.
Chances are you have experienced working in some capacity in a dysfunctional system. After all, every system is dysfunctional to some extent. I have worked in systems like this and have worked with many leaders trying to survive chaotic systems. Leading in a system like this can start to eat away at your soul.
While there are many things outside of our control, there are six practical strategies (among others) you can focus on to make a positive impact and prevent burnout. In this blog, I’ll discuss the first practical strategy. In the next five entries in this series, I’ll discuss the other five strategies.
Practical Strategy #1:Understand your own connection strategies. There are three common strategies most of us use to manage our sense of connection with others. These strategies stem from how we connected with important authority figures in our lives. These experiences become “connection filters” that influence our gut level perceptions of relational experiences, particularly with authority figures such as leaders, and groups. The challenging thing is that this filtering process happens outside our conscious awareness in real time. There is a substantial body of research suggesting that our connection filters operate with groups and leaders with whom we work. Understanding your typical connection strategies can help you navigate a dysfunctional system. The three most common connection strategies are:
– a secure strategy promotes: 1) a balance between connection and autonomy–or the ability to inhabit your true self, 2) perspective, and 3) flexibility in responding.
– an anxious strategy promotes fear and anxiety that groups and leaders will not be consistently available for connection. When this is operating, you expect and look for leaders and groups you work with to do a bait and switch. So you are always on guard, and this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy to some extent.
– a distant strategy promotes a lack of awareness of your own and others’ emotions. When this is operating, leaders feel like they’re the only reliable people on the planet, and so they dismiss others in numerous ways. When people on your team feel dismissed, they will shut down to what you have to offer, and true dialogue comes to a screeching halt.
Which strategy kicks in for you when the system gets particularly crazy? (Keep in mind that you may use different strategies with different people). If it’s one of the insecure ones (anxious or distant), here are two practices you can do to help:
1. Reflect on what experiences contribute to your strategy, and spend some time trying to separate your filters (based on your past experiences) from the system’s dysfunction.
2. Then look for ways you can change the cycle of your perceptions by taking some risks. If you’re anxious, try to give others and yourself more space and seek out support outside of work to help you manage your anxiety. If you’re distant, try to tune into your own and others’ emotions, and focus on hearing others’ perspectives before responding.
Reflect: What is your primary connection strategy and how do you see it operating in dysfunctional systems?
“The LORD has chosen Bezalel and filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of arts, as well as the ability to teach others.” –Exodus 35:30-33
We’re still field testing the new Two Handed Warriors web format for our January 2012 relaunch. This article from Q Ideas seems like a great test case. The Mustard Seed Foundation’s Harvey Fellows Program is in many ways a template for what Two Handed Warriors is attempting in the Bezalel Hollywood Training Initiative–Identifying, Training, Mentoring, and Funding the world’s best young filmmakers of faith. However, The Harvey Fellows program is much more focused on formal education, as is appropriate for training educational leaders.
The success of the Harvey Fellows gives us great hope for more long-term approaches to nurturing culture makers of faith–what we call Two Handed Warriors–instead of continually relying upon more stop-gap and quick-fix strategies.
Let us know what you think of the article, the long-term strategy, and the new website (still under construction).
Gabe Lyons: The Academy is unique in a lot of ways, both as a place of opportunity and also complexity and challenge for people of faith. I’m here with Duane Grobman, Executive Director of the Mustard Seed Foundation and Director of the Harvey Fellows Program. When you talk to Duane, you realize just how strategically he and some others have been thinking about the role of believers in the academy and the importance of developing great scholars, the importance of thinking long-term, not just short-term, and thinking about, “What does the next 20 to 30 years of philosophy look like in major campuses around the U.S. and the world?”
Duane, tell us about the Harvey Fellows Program.
Duane Grobman: Sure. The Harvey Fellows Program began in 1992 and it was started, and it’s continued to be funded by, the Mustard Seed Foundation. They founded the Fellows Program because they wanted to encourage Christians to innovate their faith with their vocation and also to encourage them to pursue leadership positions in what we call strategic fields where Christians appear to be underrepresented.
And so, their hope was that through the program they would encourage students to pursue culturally influential vocations, that they would actually help equip students with tools necessary to lead integrated lives and that they actually help validate exceptional abilities and academic leadership and gifts as gifts from God worthy of cultivation development. Because, often times the church hasn’t been terrific at validating individual’s abilities in the areas of leadership and academics.
Gabe: I loved the long-term thinking that obviously has gone into this entire program. Really, this is a pretty strategic attempt to connect with some of the most astute leaders in society for the long-term. Right?
Duane: That is correct. To our knowledge, we’re the only program of this kind. (THW Editor’s note: Lord willing not for long.) You hit the nail on the head there, in that, I think one of the reasons is because it is so long-term. We’ve often said that it’s sort of a 20-year experiment, that we won’t fully know the effects of the program culturally and its impact for 20 years.
There’s not a lot of foundations that are willing to invest in that long-term vision. But given, now, that we’re in our 16th year, from the fruit that we see and the impact, we find this incredibly encouraging. So we’re feeling really confident that it’s a worthwhile investment.
Slender, elegant and graceful, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge stretched like a steel ribbon across Puget Sound in 1940. The third longest suspension span in the world opened on July 1st. Only four months later, the great span’s short life ended in disaster. “Galloping Gertie,” collapsed in a windstorm on November 7,1940.
Failure such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse”reveals weaknesses, helps make things stronger and offers lessons in humility.” Even failures that happened 2,000 years ago can still be instructive today, if we’re willing to learn from them…
May 21st may be the end of the world as we know it …but at least investors are feeling fine.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Matthew 24:36.
Despite Jesus’ insistence that no one knows the date or hour of the coming of the kingdom of God, it seems as if everyone is taking a shot at predicting the end of the world these days.
And why not? The end of the world is big business!
R.E.M.’s 1987 single “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” never made it past #69 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list. It turns out that the only flaw in R.E.M.’s business plan was being 25 years ahead of their time.
Consider the following headlines:
Harold Camping’s ‘Family Radio’ blankets the U.S. with billboards announcing the end of the world on May 21st (TOMORROW), while stockpiling millions of dollars in donations. (See story below),
An Atheist group responds to 5/21 Doomsday with offer to watch after the pets of the true believers after they are raptured from the earth… for a NON-REFUNDABLE $200 Fee. (See story below),
A construction company begins selling spaces in its $24 million “luxury apocalypse bunkers.” (See video below),
Hollywood’s decidedly “B Movie” version of the Mayan Apocalypse, “2012” starring John Cusack, still nets $769M worldwide (see video clip above).
Hollywood’s current batch of end of world thrillers–Skyline, ‘Battle L.A., The Event (NBC), and Stephen Spielberg’s highly anticipated, ‘Falling Skies‘ (TNT)–are more Alien oriented. Of course, Hollywood wants to time project release dates just right! Opening one week after the apocalypse would be, well, disastrous!
Once upon a time, every village in America boasted a loose nut wearing a placard warning, “Turn or Burn!” In today’s high profit world of prophets, a better slogan might be, “Buy or Fry!”
The press and the comedy industry are all over Camping’s doomsday predications now. It will be fodder for late night talk show hosts and internet spoofs for weeks to come.
It makes rational people of faith want to beat their heads against a wall. Here are three stories, two videoa and a rather crass flowchart highlighting the end of the the world profit in end of the world prophets.
Read ’em and cringe. Or better yet, try to laugh. Come May 22, you’ll still feel fine!
Have a great weekend!
Doomsday church: Still open for business
By Annalyn Censky
NEW YORK — By now, you’ve probably heard of the religious group that’s predicting the end of the world starts this weekend.
Harold Camping and his devoted followers claim a massive earthquake will mark the second coming of Jesus, or so-called Judgment Day on Saturday, May 21, ushering in a five month period of catastrophes before the world comes to a complete end in October.
At the center of it all, Camping’s organization, Family Radio, is perfectly happy to take your money — and in fact, received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009. Camping founded Family Radio, a nonprofit Christian radio network based in Oakland, Calif. with about 65 stations across the country, in 1958.
But not even all of his own employees are convinced that the world is ending on Saturday.
In fact, many still plan on showing up at work on Monday.
So, we’re about T-minus four days, one hour, and 15 minutes from the prophesied Rapture (as of this writing).
You’re good. Your faith tells you you’ll be spirited up to Heaven leaving the non-believers on Earth to suffer the trials of Tribulation.
But what about the dog and cat? Those food cans aren’t going to open themselves and that lack of an opposable thumb means the canines and felines need someone to look after them until they regain their hunting skills.
Handy Flowchart Helps Determine If You’ll Die This Weekend in The Rapture
If the Bible is correct, Judgment Day is happening this Saturday. How are you supposed to know if you’ll be chosen or left behind? Luckily, the knowledgable folks at Peas and Cougars have created this handy chart:
Click image to enlarge.
How about an end to end-of-the-world predictions?
By Cathleen Falsani
(RNS) In the event that Christian radio evangelist Harold Camping is correct and the Rapture does indeed occur on Saturday (May 21), please ignore the following.
Except for the section marked “Tribulation Check List.”
On your drive to Costco this weekend to restock your cache of toilet paper, hummus and Diet Snapple, if you see a car with a bumper sticker that reads, “In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned,” give it a wide berth. Just in case.
Back in 2009, Camping (who will turn 90 in July if he doesn’t meet Jesus …
25% of prospective college students decide NOT TO APPLY to a given school simply because of a bad experience on the college’s Website. Is your school, non-profit, business, church, or blog facing the same issues?
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently noted Bethel University (where I teach) for our exemplary work in bringing our website into the 21st Century. Bethel’s Director of Web services, Michael Vedders, was instrumental in transforming our site from something, well, “horrible,” to “state-of-the-art,” and is quoted extensively in the article.
Having overseen the overhaul of Act One’s Website, I know this process is critical for the success of any organization. Great content is not enough. Without eye-catching visuals, and crystal clear organization users can’t find what they want quickly enough to stick around. Yet, I also knew how difficult and time-consuming it is to overhaul your site. Unless you’re convinced that it is worth the work-hours, technology costs, and consulting fees, you will never pay the price.
Josh Keller’s article in the Chronicle does a great job of spelling out what a life-or-death issue a Website overhaul can be. Noel-Levitz enrollment consulting firm discovered that “A quarter of prospective students decide not to apply to a college because of a bad experience on the college’s Website.” As Bethel’s Michael Vedders discovered in overhauling our website, “We spend a huge amount of time in higher ed maintaining content that has little return on investment.”
This is exactly what we discovered at Act One. We had AMAZING content—after all, we were founded as a screen writing organization—but no one was taking the time to read it. Web surfers hit our bewildering and, well, visually boring, front page and moved on.
I clearly remember the day we sat down as a staff and filled our white board with our “admissions funnel.” It was the beginning of a year-long redesign of our process of moving prospective students from curiosity to application.
It led to profound changes in our website. Thanks to the work of CNN En Espanol Anchor AnaMaria Montero, consultant Dorsey Dunn, Act One staffers Melissa Smith, and especially Genevieve Parker, we were able to greatly increase our Web presence and site effectiveness. We even had Madison Avenue execs calling to congratulate us! (Okay, they were also Act One alumni, but it still felt good.)
Whether you are leading a college, a nonprofit, a business, or a blog seeking greater web presence, odds are that you NEED to go through this painful Website overhaul process! The Chronicle of Higher Education article, and Video Interview with Bethel’s Michael Vedders below, do an excellent job of describing the “funneling” philosophy behind a website overhaul process. I highly recommend them!
Colleges Rehab Their Web Sites for Major Payoffs
Analytics tools, some colleges find, can transform ineffective pages into winners
By Josh Keller in The Chronicle of Higher Education
Colleges spend dearly to maintain vast, ever-expanding Web sites. They tweet. They blog. They podcast.
But most colleges have no idea just how much bad Web design can cost. Kafkaesque online forms and pages that nobody visits, for instance, can have disastrous effects: A quarter of prospective students decide not to apply to a college because of a bad experience on the college’s Web site.
That loss (documented in a survey of 1,000 high-school seniors conducted last year by Noel-Levitz, an enrollment consulting firm) can add up to a lot of money. “Generally, higher education hasn’t ever had to think about that before,” says Shelby Thayer, a Web strategist at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus. “How much does bad design cost us, and how much does good design save us?” As colleges do more crucial business online, “that’s kind of my burning question.”
For answers, a number of institutions, including Penn State, are now turning to Web analytics. Going far beyond superficial measures like counting visitors or hits on their Web sites, they track who their visitors are, what they are looking for, why they fail to find it, and—a crucial measure to gauge advertising spending—how much a successful Web visit is worth.
Many of the techniques, such as closely monitoring prospects, are standard practice on e-commerce Web sites and among for-profit colleges, but they are just gaining a foothold in most of higher education.
The Chronicle talked to officials at several colleges that have set up sophisticated analytics operations in admissions, audience tracking, and public relations. They warned that data can be misused, and collecting them can be hard because responsibility for college Web sites is often spread among departments. Plus, many goals in higher education—such as improving reputation—are not easily measured.
But the officials also said analyzing their Web data to drive online decisions brings enormous rewards. “We spend a huge amount of time in higher ed maintaining content that has little return on investment,” says Michael Vedders, director of Web services at Bethel University in Minnesota. Analytics has helped Bethel spend money in the right places, he says.
Mr. Vedders is blunt about Bethel’s old Web site: It looked horrible. But more important, the site for the liberal-arts college, in St. Paul, made it difficult for prospective students to find information that would encourage them to apply.
Many private universities spend upward of $2,000 to recruit each student who enrolls, and their Web sites often form prospective students’ first impressions. The critical path leading from prospect to applicant to paying student is known as the “admissions funnel,” and Mr. Vedders’s goal is to optimize it.
An analysis of Bethel’s Web data, drawn from Google Analytics, showed Mr. Vedders that the college’s funnel had some problem areas.
Ongoing series: Two Handed Authors and Bloggers You Should Know
Erik is one of those people whose name just keeps coming up in Hollywood conversations. His journey from Capital Hill staffer to Hollywood heavyweight is the stuff of legends. His gift for tapping into the trends of “younger, globally-minded, spiritually-curious” audiences make him one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood.
Erik Lokkesmoe is the founder and principal of Different Drummer, a LA/NYC-based audience and fan mobilization agency for top entertainment brands. Before launching the company in 2008, Erik was a Vice President at AFG/Walden Media/Bristol Bay Productions, the creators of The Chronicles of Narnia, and other successful family entertainment properties. In 2006, Erik was tapped to oversee the outreach and marketing for the political thriller Amazing Grace, which is described as one of the most innovative social marketing campaigns ever executed for a Hollywood film.
Erik is a graduate of Westmont College and the Act One Hollywod training program, with an MA from American University, with an emphasis in Social Marketing. Before coming to Hollywood, Erik also has served as a political and celebrity speechwriter, Capitol Hill press secretary, the director of communications for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the founder of the arts non-profit Brewing Culture, a co-author and speaker, and a media strategist for the National Association of Broadcasters.
My Introduction: Impatience is one of the greatest obstacles to culture making today. Christians in Hollywood are nearly overwhelmed by the steady stream of wanna-be filmmakers and financiers seeking an overnight success. It is all a mirage. In this article, Erik articulates a more long-term approach better than anyone I have ever heard. (Originally published in Q. Used by authors permission. Follow at@qideas)
Waiting for Good: Change Takes Time, but Do We Have the Patience?
In 1933, the year Prohibition ended, two brothers, Ernest and Julio Gallo, launched a wine business from a small warehouse in California’s lush Central Valley. Acquiring grapes and equipment on credit, they joined a handful of other struggling winemakers in sinking every penny they earned back into the family business.
The first harvest yielded truckloads of frustration and little fruit. As the vines grew, however, so did their optimism. Neighboring vintners said the brothers told everyone who would listen, “… someday the Gallo name and family crest would appear on bottles throughout the U.S.” Lack of money and name recognition were the least of their concerns. Foreign wine-making giants, particularly in France, dominated domestic sales; and wine was viewed as an elitist drink for the wealthy or the secret indulgence of the “wino.”
Ernest and Julio Gallo made a critical decision. Instead of looking to next year’s harvest or next quarter’s profits, they fixed their eyes on the next quarter-century. Their patience paid off. By 1975, the E. & J. Gallo Winery was the largest wine company in the world; the closest competitor was half their size.
Decades of persistence did more than turn a profit. Along the way, the Gallo brothers transformed the perception and practices of wine-drinking in America. “Gone are the days when wine was only imbibed at formal occasions; when the wine bottle only made an appearance in somber dusky rooms or at candlelight dinners,” an industry newsletter reported in 1983. “Today, wine … entertains at picnics, social occasions, business luncheons, everyday meals and sporting events … [and] is becoming a part of everyday life.”
The Gallo brothers understood that changing their fortunes meant changing the cultural climate as well. The beliefs and behaviors of consumers had as much to do with sales as the product itself – as good as it might be.
Such eternal endurance is uncommon today. In our clamorous and rootless society, bravado is potent and expectations are high; great things are expected to happen quickly. Yet noble and daring deeds — ending extreme poverty, reinventing a new model for the music industry, or revitalizing devastated urban centers — require a patient and persistent vision.
The same is true in contemporary culture. Elections matter. The Supreme Court is important. Nevertheless, it is movies and music, poetry and plays, fashion and video games that shape beliefs and behaviors. Art and entertainment often normalize, even idealize, as one author said, “the weird and the stupid and the coarse.”
The answer, however, is not regulation or legislation. To change the culture we must change our approach. We must encourage young people to innovate in every channel of culture. Challenge them to pursue everything from cinematography, dance, and the creation of original music to redesigning entire educational systems, architecting urban development and founding common good organizations.
To renew all things we must create movies and music, poetry and plays, fashion and video games, employing excellence and artistry in a way that subtly offers audiences startling glimpses of goodness, truth and beauty. We must be originators, not imitators, with an uncommon ability to tell new stories in new ways through new mediums. We must transform the arts from the inside-out and the bottom-up, to “criticize by creating,” as Michelangelo said. And we must celebrate the good wherever it is found, even in the most unlikely and unexpected places.
Our standard should be this: great art, entertainment, and media that leaves the audience a little better off than when they first entered the theater, turned on the iPod, or opened the book. Art doesn’t have to be happy or easy; it should, however, be a vehicle for recreation and re-creation, an echo of grace that reminds us what it means to be human and more than human.
Do we have the patience for such long-term transformation?
Do we have the patience to train one thousand talented young artists over the next ten years to weave redemptive themes into their art, knowing that only a handful of them will ever make a living at it?
Do we have the patience to take a job in the mailroom of Universal Music Group or Paramount Studios or NBC News, to work hard and not complain, to fetch expressos for executives, to learn how things work, and then ten years from now be in a position to take that job as Vice President of Programming?
A patient, persistent cultural vision will not earn many pats on the backs or make many headlines; it is much easier to criticize and complain. Like Ernest and Julio, we must till and plant, season after season. The fruit of our labor may take years, even decades to make a difference. But the investment is worthwhile. An enduring vision takes endurance.