Sunday, May 11, 2014

Redirect Seminar in Lake Mary

We are well into our Spring 2014 Redirect seminar, delivered  at St Peter's Episcopal Church in Lake Mary, FL.

This seminar, which we developed in 2012, is focused on goal-setting. It's not meant to be a complete introduction to career development, the field where we have more than 40 years of experience working with clients from around the world.

Czechoslovak executives at The University of the South, Sewanee, 1992
It is, instead, a quick 4-session seminar that helps participants determine just one goal, work-related or not, that can guide them for the year to come.

So far we've been guiding our participants through the foundational sessions of the seminar, helping them in these areas:

1. Establishing that they have a sincere interest in setting a new goal for the next year, and beyond.

2. Examining their past accomplishments and evaluating, from them, their preferred skills, motivational patterns and definition of success, as well as looking for roadblocks that may prevent them from reaching their goal.

3. Exploring possible goals and choosing just one.

 We've been talking about the seminar and our participants this week and have come up with two more short exercises that we think will be helpful to them. This is their homework!

Where have I been happiest?

 Looking back at your life, where have you been most happy with your circumstances? Think of a particular place, maybe a house, cottage or apartment, where you really enjoyed your life.

  • describe this place in some detail--how it looks, where it is, how you happened to be there

  • note what you did on a daily basis in this place

  • list the people, animals, and so on that lived with you or were frequent guests

  • try to say, in 20 words or less, what it was about this place that made you happy.

The point of this exercise is to pinpoint the factors that make you happy, and incorporate as many as possible into your goal.

What do I want to do with the next 20 years?
 Start counting the years to come by adding 20 to the current year: 2034. Now think about these question::

  • where will I be living? with whom?

  • what will I be doing every day?

  • what kind of person will I be? what will I have accomplished in my personal life, my professional life, and the life of my community?

  • how can I get there from here?

This is a big assignment and will, no doubt, change shape as time goes by. But if you have no clear idea where you're heading, you might find the years slipping through your fingers. The best place to start planning the next 20 years is where you are right now. Giving a long-term perspective to your life can help you use your time more carefully and with more gratitude for having the gift of a future.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Successful 21st century leader is not just a "play-it-safe" spectator in the stands,
but the "let's take a chance" player who is fully involved in the game. As a contestant
and participant, he or she does not postpone tough decisions but makes a commitment
to succeed. He or she is not afraid of criticism knowing that just as criticism and
opposition will come from unknown and unexpected sources, so support will come,and
often "just in time" for the leader to accomplish his or her task successfully.

Friday, January 3, 2014

ILI: 25 Years of Focus on the Czech Republic (1989-2014)
When the Berlin Wall was dismantled in 1989 with much fanfare and no violence, the world rejoiced that the Soviet bloc had finally collapsed. Since WWII ended, the nation states caught between politically free Western Europe and communist Eastern Europe had suffered a kind of colonial captivity*. Seen as the price of cooperation to end WWII, the giving of formerly-independent nations to Soviet control became the new normal. All US post-war diplomacy and military development was juxtaposed against Soviet power, leading to a theory that the Soviet bloc nations were a sad but necessary buffer between the two world superpowers. Very few gave serious thought to what would happen if the Soviet bloc nations were again free to participate in European economic, political and financial life.

Then the unexpected became reality. In the space of months, borders opened and people could move wherever they chose. The closed Soviet-modeled economies were thrown open, Russian soldiers went home, and anyone could get a passport. This sudden shift left the US in a state of shock and left these countries vulnerable to anyone with the will and means to imposed a new system.
Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel, 1989
ILI (the International Leadership Institute) had a stake in all this. President and CEO Jaroslav Tusek was a former citizen of Czechoslovakia, born there in 1941 under German Nazi rule, educated and employed there for 27 years until he left in 1967 to study in Norway and did not return. He came to the US in 1968 and gained citizenship in 1975, building a life in academia and business. But he never believed that the Soviets would hold power forever, especially when his studies and research at Columbia University (NYC), the World Council of Churches (Geneva, Switzerland), the International Peace Research Institute (Oslo, Norway), and the World Without War Council (San Francisco, CA) convinced him that economic stagnation under Soviet policies was eroding the ability of the Russian government to hold on to its empire.
When the Wall fell, Jarda went to Prague right away. He saw his parents for the first time since 1983 (their passports has been confiscated, and he could not return without paying a huge fine and being imprisoned immediately). He visited with his friends and family to get a picture of the country as it stood at the moment. He witnessed the impact of 40 years of neglect on the buildings, streets and parks of Prague. He made up his mind to do something significant for his native country, and to use ILI as his vehicle.
At the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Prague, signing the protocol for the EEP-CBL programs, 1993
By 1990, ILI was in negotiation with the Czechoslovak government to work as partners on the Executive Education Programs for Czechoslovak Business Leaders (EEP-CBL), a project partly funded by the Czechoslovak government and American business firms who took on the visiting executives as business interns. This program received significant support from US and European Chambers of Commerce (in Jacksonville, FL and Bratislava, Slovakia after the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia into two countries). It also received help in program content, logistics, social events and marketing from the World Trade Center, Chattanooga; the Chattanooga Business Journal; Covenant College; the University of North Florida; Jacksonville University; a group of volunteer host families in North Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, and New York ; a group of volunteer Business Seminar presenters in North Florida; and a group of Business Intern sponsors that stretched across the US.

For ILI, the years 1989-2006 were devoted to helping Czechoslovak business and professional leaders make a successful transition to a market economy operating in a political democracy. In those years, ILI also worked with US AID, an international development project from the US Department of State, in which ILI assisted business and professional leaders from Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania and Macedonia in their transitions from the Soviet closed model to the free world’s open model. ILI programs helped more than 450 post-Soviet bloc executives in this way, with over a billion dollars in US-European business resulting from the business and personal relationships built by the executives.
USAID executives from Bulgaria in St Augustine for their ILI program
In those 17 years, ILI also assisted young aspiring leaders from the former Soviet bloc through American English Language Immersion Programs (AELIP). These young people had the chance to improve their English language skills, learn some leadership essentials and be challenged by life in a new environment. From these programs came inspiration to build international careers in Asia, Europe and the US, as well as enduring friendships and marriages.
AELIP participants ride Florida-style 
From 2006 on, we shifted our focus to finding ways to assist in the establishment of what former President Vaclav Havel termed “civil society” in the Czech Republic. He urged the society to pay attention to morals, values and ethics while it was developing in more materialistic ways. Havel specifically noted the weakness of spiritual life among people living in the Czech Republic, and we decided to investigate his claims. We moved the ILI headquarters to Prague from August 2010-November 2013, living in that glorious city and doing all we could to understand the state of spiritual affairs there. Our conclusions are outlined in the report we are preparing (ILI: 25 Years of Focus on the CR), and will be expanded in our next book, 21st Century Christianity.
All in all, we at ILI have built many meaningful and lasting relationships with people we’ve known and worked with in the Czech Republic. This country has been the focus of nearly everything we have done for 25 years, and we appreciate the opportunity to make a contribution to the lives of people who live there. The report will detail some of our accomplishments, analyze their impact, make observations about the current situation in the Czech Republic and offer some ideas about the near future. It will be available on our website,, on January 15.

*Soviet bloc states were Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, East Germany, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary and Lithuania.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Recently I had an opportunity to discuss the current political situation in Czech Republic with two young Czech executives. They both characterized the current leadership vacuum here is an absence of sustainable leadership. One of them suggested that countries such as Czech Republic are full of people who have reasonable material comforts, and yet lead lives of quiet, and at times noisy desperation. Like in neighboring Germany, they increasingly are becoming "nichtwahlers" or non-voters. In terms of how happy they feel to live in their own country, according to a world wide poll, Czechs now rank on 39th place, Poles on 51st place and Hungarians on 110th place.

So I asked them what do they think may be wrong with their country in terms of the leadership situation. First they hesitated for a while. Then one of them suggested that old, worn out totalitarian thinkers are no longer able to inspire the new generation of young, educated voters. They only appeal to those still thinking in totalitarian terms, and prefer to think only about themselves, not about the needs of the rest of citizens living in the country.

So I told them about the International Leadership Institute's programs we have been organizing for years (ever since the collapse of totalitarian communism in East and Central Europe) for leaders from post-communist countries, and about what we learned from those leaders over the years. Together with participants in the ILI programs we came up with a profile of a successful 21st century leader.

St Vaclav, Duke of Bohemia in the 10th century
Here are some typical observations:
We agreed that successful 21st century leaders typically encourage and lift others from where they are to where I
t is their potential to be. They do not aim for mediocrity but for excellence. They serve in their leadership roles with energy, intelligence, imagination, diligence, wisdom and good will toward others. Such leaders do no evil and do not condemn their neighbors but keep their oath even when it hurts.

They protect the weak and the needy from those who malign them . They are able to correctly discern their priorities and focus diligently on key tasks for the good of their country.

Then one of the two future leaders asked me, how can the country find such leaders.  I suggested that a healthy country, with a healthy society should be able to produce them.