Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

26 November 2014

Why do I read Biographies?

To be remembered is a wonderful thing

 ~ Elder David B. Haight, 1989

A question was posed in my last discussion that basically asked why do I read biographies? -- Is it for pure enjoyment, or do I become a better person by reading them. 

This is a valid question, and I honestly haven't thought about it much, but it's worth looking into. 

I wish we still had stuff like this.
First of all, I have always liked forms of biographies. As a youth, I read books about Wild Bill Hickock (Bill Cody), Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley (She was awesome!), Sam Colt (Inventor of the Colt 45, the first pistol that could shoot more than one round), Louis Braille (Inventor of, you guessed it: Braille. He was born with sight, but had a carpentry accident involving an awl which made him blind). And I didn't read them from action-based perspectives;  they were biographical in nature. I was probably around 12 when I read them. Is that weird? Sure. 

I assume this is funnier after reading it

I do remember thinking a few years ago, when someone else asked why I read Biographies, I tried to think of differences of biographies compared to other story-telling methods. Isn't Harry Potter a Biography, in a sense? (You'll have to tell me, because I haven't read them. You can yell at me in the comments section for that one). But stories like that, the Hunger Games, Star Wars, Twilight, and other stories, are biographical in nature as well. Often they are told autobiographically or at least in the mind of the first person, but told through the third person at times (P.S. I haven't read Twilight, Hunger Games, or Lord of the Rings, if that makes you feel better/worse). I get that they are more exciting usually, and focus on highlights, but so do biographies. Biographies don't tell us what people eat every day, or monotonous tasks, but usually the highlights of what makes that person recognized as a life well-lived, or at least recognized. 

 Biographies help understand perspectives, lives, situations, and historical events better, not only in the life of the individual being studied, but in the reader's as well. 

For example, I read a Biography on N. Eldon Tanner (A leader of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints) but in learning about him, I learned about the history of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, as well as Canada in general, implementations of gas pipelines and why that was necessary crossing through Canada and the US, and so forth. But in addition, I learned about the history of the Church to which he was a part, his family life, and his style/methodology of teaching through the experiences that he had. Normally, this would involve sifting through a number of books, much drier than the biography for sure.


Why understanding the perspectives of others can be helpful. 

 In addition to western folklore, I would eventually find great humor and perspective in biographies of Comedians and other television stars. Saturday Night Live Alum are especially interesting, albeit crude at times. Darrell Hammond, Chris Farley, Chevy Chase, and others like Steve Martin (One of the best autobiographies in the genre) and Bob Newhart (By default, the best autobiography of the Genre... I even have an awesome Christmas present signed copy version from my awesome wife)! Autobiographies, or ones with ghost-written assistance, help see the challenges that people face.

Darrell Hammond, (inset left) is a modern day Mel Blanc in my opinion. A  true 'man of 1000 voices and impressions'. He had a good amount of issues and had to deal with various forms of abuse as a child, but through some fierce determination and psychological prowess eventually overcame and was able to understand himself better. It was a very cathartic book for him to write, and can be an interesting read as well. Some language is involved, but an insightful autobiographical look at someone who we never really get to see on stage. He is hilarious!

Jodie Sweetin also wrote an interesting account about her still young life (reading biographies/autobiographies of someone your own age is both humbling, relieving, and motivating, all at once).

She was Stephanie from Full House, in case you forgot. She had a fairly standard story as far as child stars go, with all of the unfortunate circumstances and lost identity that comes with that. It is articulated extremely well, and provides sharp perspective in what she goes through and motive as to why it happens so much. 

In Biographies, one can see things from another perspective, which is a crucial skill to develop. 

 To see things from the experience of another can increase empathy, sympathy, joy, sorrow, and awareness in others. They are funny, light-hearted at times, powerfully self-depricating at others, and just a way to get to know someone. If they have passed on, it is a way to relive their life with them. They feel alive in those moments, and friendships are made, however superficially. They can also help us be aware that there are people in our own lives who are just as impactful. History, and the lives of people are such an interesting thing, because people think it is a thing to study, read about, and learn from, but it is more than that. History is still going on today. People are still living, waiting to be learned from, waiting to have conversations with, and waiting to be cared for. I feel like it is more than a hobby for me. I read other things, but the sense of completion, emulation, and sadness when it is over, is felt deeper with biographies than with other books for me.

To give some credit to others, I once spoke with an individual while I was in California about church history, books, and so forth. She mentioned that she wanted to read a biography, and a book of the teachings, of each of the Prophets from this dispensation (There have been 16). I enjoyed that challenge, and am currently working on it as well; however, I plan on extending it, as much as possible, to each of the members of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Closer to 96 so far in the past 184 years). I obviously don't plan on doing this all at once, but it has been a good adventure so far. I also plan on mixing in some current comedians and others as they come about as well.

I also have started to enjoy a good footnote or endnote section of a biography because it leads me to the other resources that makes up that individuals life. Extra research! 

A bit of a pet peeve, or bit of trivia in my life, is that I absolutely cannot stand "the unauthorized biography" attached to a book. Even if it is not on the cover, it will often be in the preface, and it just shuts me down to where I will not read it, as excited as I am to read it. John Candy's is like this. I absolutely LOVE John Candy, so maybe I'll have to get approval to write the authorized one, because the current one is insufficient.

In summary, I have read, in addition to those early biographies of the old west, the following (although there are possibly a few missing):

The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling -- Richard L. Bushman (Amazing book, and one of the best "cultural" biographies I have seen, meaning that he looks at as many possible cultural perspectives to diminish bias, while still remaining true to the individual, his message, and his mission - a particular challenge with religious biographies). 

Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet -- By George Q. Cannon

Brigham Young: American Moses -- By Leonard Arrington (Fairly dry [no pun intended] with history of Utah, but also covers a lot of great elements of his life, teachings, problem areas, and historically significant events relating to Utah becoming a state).

The Life of John Taylor, by B.H. Roberts

The history and family record of Lorenzo Snow by Eliza R. Snow Smith

The Life of Joseph F. Smith, by Joseph Fielding Smith (Son)

George Albert Smith: Kind and Caring Christian, Prophet of God -- Francis Gibbons

Spencer W. Kimball -- Edward and Andrew Kimball (Although I am looking forward to some other ones that are out now). 

Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography -- By Sheri Dew (He served as secretary for the dept. of Agriculture for President Esienhower, and wrote some good stuff in the book Crossfire which I read parts of, but had to return to the library)

Howard W. Hunter -- Eleanor Knowles (He helped establish the BYU Jerusalem center, which led me to want to learn about Teddy Kolleck, Mayor of Jerusalem). 

Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley -- By Sheri Dew (Because he served in church responsibility since 1929 or so, it provides a wealth of information regarding the growth of the church through that time to the present). 

To the Rescue: The biography of Thomas S. Monson -- By Heidi Swinton (Very good way to study his teachings, as he uses a good amount of autobiographical material in his discourses. I have recently found this to be an effective way of studying discourses - Through the reference material!).

The Life of Heber C. Kimball (By Orson F. Whitney)

David B. Haight: The life story of a Disciple -- Lucille Tate

N. Eldon Tanner: His life and service -- G. Homer Durham
Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle -- Spencer J. Condie (He had nine daughters before they had one son!)

Rudger Clawson: Making of a Mormon Apostle -- Roy and David Hoopes (Great man, and I love his teachings... His bio is a little unfulfilled, but still very good. He was also President of the Quorum of the twelve Apostles for over 20 years! -- During the also lengthy tenure of Heber J. Grant as President of the Church).

Mark E. Petersen -- Peggy Barton (You learn why he and another General Authority earn the nicknames "the butchers", which sounds far less exciting than it may appear). 

Bruce R. McConkie: Reflections of a son -- Joseph Fielding McConkie

Henry B. Eyring: I will lead you along -- Robert Eaton and Henry J. Eyring (Great history of CES, as well as his personal growth in an MBA program, and as an educator, as well as family life and as a member of the presiding Bishopric).

Bob Newhart: I shouldn't even be doing this!Steve Martin: Born Standing Up

I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not (Not autobiographical surprisingly).
(I just found out that Martin Short also wrote one, which would give me the plethora trifecta from the Three Amigos).

Darrell Hammond: God, if you're not there, I'm ******

The Chris Farley Show: A biography in Three acts By Tom Farley Jr and Tanner Colby (He was going to be the voice of Shrek that was mostly all recorded, and in a much different vein from the series we know now). 

Howie Mandel: Here's the deal; Don't touch me (Autobiography, and various humorous and historical points).

Ray Romano: Everything and a kite (Autobiographical)

Tim Allen: Don't stand too close to a naked man (Autobiographical)

Miracle Man: Nolan Ryan (an Autobiography)

Donald Trump: The Art of the Deal

I believe that is all, but I may have to go back in and update every now and then. I don't think of this as terribly exhaustive, and looking at them all now, I really didn't start reading most of those until I was twenty or twenty-one (I had a sci-fi phase as a teenager [Planet of the Apes! by Pierre Boulle], so went from western figures to science fiction to more biographical and spiritual, although I still enjoy a good novel, fiction or otherwise). It may be considered a lot, but I know there is still a lot to learn from the lives of others, and plenty of people who still need to be remembered.

Are there any that I missed, that you would add?

P.S. Still haven't read Harry Potter.

Now that you know why reading the lives of others are important, look forward to the next subject of this process:

23 November 2014

Interesting aspects in the life of James E Faust (part one)

For those of you who don't know, I love reading biographies! Autobiographies, regular ones, all kinds. Of equal importance, I have learned from many painfully dry conversations with people that most of you do not, and that's OK. I can talk about other things too... Scriptural commentary, Bob Newhart, Financial topics, and a plethora of other also dry and painful subjects for people my age. Or whatever you want to to talk about. I'm flexible that way.

What I though I may do, is bring out a few highlights from biographies that I am currently reading so that you can glean the rewards while missing out on all of the harvest. Because that's fair... Think of it like a Cliff notes. Or Google. But instead of a guy named cliff, or random links that end in opedia, why not from this swell blog? 

So here goes: the main points that I found interesting from reading the first few chapters of "the life and teachings of James E Faust" by James P. Bell.
(Pre P.S. : in case you were wondering who he is in the first place, I suppose you can check back in a little bit, say part 2 or 3 and find out!)

1: James Esdras Faust: named after his two uncles at his birth. 

2: One of five sons, so surrounded by brothers, mischief, and hard work from farm life.

3: His first maternal ancestor to join the church was Edward Partridge, who was the first Presiding Bishop of the church. Bishop Partridge had a strong testimony of the restoration, was deeply persecuted for his devotion, including being tarred and feathered, eventually died due to the Missouri Persecutions at 46 in 1840 (around the time that Joseph Smith Sr. -Father of the prophet- and Don Carlos Smith - Brother of the prophet - died). 

4. James E Faust also had a paternal great grandfather and mother in the church who lived in Nauvoo, shortly before the exodus to Winter Quarters and Salt Lake. They were two of many to receive ordinances at the temple before the trek, and John Akerley (Great grandfather) passed away before they could make it out west. 

5: George Faust (James' father) served in WW I and then went to law school. His family was primarily all farmers, but he didn't have a knack for it. He and his family struggled through the Great Depression although he was able to have worked through a good amount of it. 

6: Very neat article entitled "A Christmas with no presents" in which he describes how joyous holidays can be when focused on the right things

7: Another article discussing "Gratitude as a saving principle" which shows him addressing when, due to the Great Depression as well as hard-working parents, he recognized the importance of gratitude for fresh-baked bread and other things. 

8: He was a bit of a prankster, accidentally got shot in the leg on a hunting trip, and a brother once reminisced that the Faust boys would likely all end up in prison by the age of 18 due to rambunctiousness.

9: Henry D Moyle (later of the quorum of the twelve and first presidency) lived in his ward and was his stake president as a youth. 

10: He and his Cousin once biked (with permission) from cottonwood Utah to Oak City, a distance of 150 miles in a 24 hour period, leaving at midnight. (At about 14 years old)

11: He had a baby lamb to take care of, from which he learned a great lesson. More on that later as this weeks Sunday School lesson is on being true shepherds, and I don't want to spoil that... Not that anyone's still reading at this point. :) 

Hope you learned a few new and interesting things! 

22 October 2014

Implementation versus Application, Part One

A discussion of Systems Thinking for my MBA Class, 22 Oct. 2014


In thinking about Systems Thinking, especially as it relates to sustainable profits and the often contrarian thinking of environmental awareness, the author Shireman (1999) gives a thorough accounting. It brought to my mind a number of systems concerns, specifically how solutions are not always in the same generation as the issues at hand (Senge, 2006). Most of my professional experience has been involved with customer service and the retail environment. Recently, I have obtained about 5 years of experience in the education field as a Financial Aid planner. For my study this week, rather than think of a specific company, I wanted more so to address a common theme among all of these areas, specifically the middle manager.

At odds with the executive body of an organization, the middle manager must often be involved in somehow translating what is going on “upstairs” in the innovative, creative, and long-term nerve center, and then applying the ideas into day-to-day, rank and file duties that address immediate concerns. This is one area that Shireman does not address fully. While he speaks glowingly and accurately that businesses are living systems (1999) once it leaves the executive body through training, e-mails, mandates, or otherwise, they tend to drift right back into a mechanistic model, and Standard Operating Procedures that must be followed to the letter (At least in my experience, which is non-global and non-executive – two factors that are addressed differently by Shireman).

Of particular interest, and for greater clarification, the words Implementation and Application should receive some attention. The author suggests “Industrial Ecology as the Application of ecological principles to business and industrial practices” (Emphasis added). I wish to address that the Implementation of an idea is brought by the executive body, but the application of the idea/practice will come through the middle managers.

Speaking in a religious context, Robert D. Hales was serving as a Presiding Bishop (for purposes of this conversation, we shall say that he is part of the ‘General’ Authorities, or the Executive level of decision-makers) while the local, congregational Bishops are the ‘middle manager’ level decision-makers – those who directly influence on a weekly basis those who belong to the ‘organization’. In his initiatory address as Presiding Bishop, he quotes another leader who held a similar position as he, previously. “Now, Brethren, I understand all that we discussed, but until the [local] bishops move, nothing will happen. Everything above the bishop is all talk” (Hales, 1985, May). In saying this, he is addressing the above mentioned concern with Implementation versus Application. This is a bottleneck that is not fully addressed by Shireman. The ideas presented were well thought out, and it was great to see the examples of the leaders who were able to meet the needs of the environment while also focusing on profits – that is, leading change through decision-making.

The final thought of the article is a summation of my thoughts. Shireman states that a business must be integrated as an agent into the community. This involves action – Application – of key principles, and leads to an organization that has meaning, purpose, and is “vital, enriching, enlivening” (Shireman, 1999, quoting Kiuchi, 1997). This can only fully be completed as all members of the system are drawn into the vision, which is most strongly done with the middle managers and executive body working in harmony. 


Let me know if you have any thoughts or personal applications to what I have written. More to come soon, as I look for how I can utilize this thought process more efficiently.


Hales, R. D. (1985, May). The Mantle of a Bishop, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/05/the-mantle-of-a-bishop?lang=eng

Kiuchi, T. (1997). What I learned in the rainforest. Technology Review, November, December.

Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Shireman, W. K. (1999). Business strategies for sustainable profits: Systems thinking in practice. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Syst. Res., 16(5), 453–462.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

10 September 2014

In the Strength of the Lord by David A. Bednar

Amazing Video about the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as well as the power of specific prayers.

25 June 2014

President Gordon B. Hinckley - Inspiring Innovation

 Written for an assignment for Walden University MBA Program, June 22, 2014
 In thinking of someone who has inspired innovation, I think constantly of the life of Gordon B. Hinckley. Living to the age of 97, his life was a constant merger of history and global expansion. Holding many offices within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until ultimately leading it as its president and prophet from 1995 – 2008, one can see a constant infusion of understanding a beloved history and incorporating new and expanding ideas to affect a global initiative.
As I look at some of the characteristics that make an innovative leader, and utilizing the self-assessment of what makes a creative and innovative leader, I have identified five that are needed, and Gordon B. Hinckley has exemplified and led by these same characteristics. They are as follows: Discipline, Hope and Optimism, Knowledge, Global Thinking, and Empowerment. These are important principles, and ones that I would also like to implement in my professional career.
The ways in which He exemplifies these characteristics are numerous yet a few examples will suffice to exemplify the ways in which he incorporates these principles in his ministry. In his initial address as the President of the church, he highlighted his overarching theme with these words: “The time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Hinckley, 2005, May). This message brings together all five of the characteristics before mentioned. In addition, he teaches and exemplifies all of them individually.


To various congregations, he has continually taught the principle of discipline. In speaking to the youth of the church, especially regarding moral obligations and temptations, he counseled “Discipline yourselves” (Hinckley, 1996 May). To Fathers, husbands, and heads of households, regarding the management of finances and fiscal responsibility, his counsel is again “Discipline yourselves” (Hinckley, 2002, November). In an address to women, he offers counsel to those around them and how they should be treated. In speaking against anger and violence, his counsel is once again specific and directed: “Discipline Yourselves” (Hinckley, 1996 November).
Throughout his ministry, he has persistently taught and lived a life of discipline. Discipline is necessary as a principle of growth. This he knew, and this he taught and constantly sought for those whom he addressed to utilize it as well as a source for growth. He mentions this again in an address to the young women of the church, but the counsel is instructive worldwide. He speaks of discipline again, and the importance of it in making decisions throughout our lives (2001, May).

Hope and Optimism:

This is a primary motivator for innovation and growth, for without it, people can become unmotivated, disinterested, or discouraged. To help individuals become a better individual, which will then strengthen the organization, President Hinckley offers the following counsel: “I have a strong, uplifting sense of optimism concerning this work. I have lived long enough now to have seen the miracle of its growth. Mine has been the favored lot of assisting in its establishment across much of the world. Everywhere it is growing stronger. Everywhere it is touching an increasing number of lives for good” (Hinckley, 1995a, November). This message is infused with hope and optimism. He is inspiring many of a worldwide organization to know that optimism is needed for growth.


The prior message also contains one of the most inspiring aspects of his ministry to me, and how I see growth and innovation of an organization. Throughout his live, he worked for the church, loved the history of church and visiting its members throughout the world. When I think about the struggles that an organization goes through, I think that one of the major ones is that they can focus too much on the past. They don’t see new ideas because the old ones work well enough, or they see new ideas as somehow upsetting the status quo of the organization. This is not so with Gordon B. Hinckley. He sees the history of the church as a keystone of the organization and an absolute necessity; however, he also sees the ability of true growth that can only come from building and knowing that we are also living in that same history. In a particular address, he discussed the history of the church, discussing the primary historical event of any Christian organization as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and continues discussing major events of Christian significance as well as through the specific history of the organization. Rather than resting on the laurels of a successful organization, he continues to inspire growth by mentioning that we must understand our unique place in the history of the organization. He then invites us to move forward “on an continuing path of growth and progress and enlargement, touching for good the lives of people everywhere…” (Hinckley, 1999, November). He closes with another invitation to action “May God bless us with a sense of our place in history and, having been given that sense, with our need to stand tall and walk with resolution in a manner becoming the Saints of the Most High” (Ibid).
From an organizational standpoint, I find this characteristic unique and essential. When an organization can infuse within its members a desire to be a part of the history instead of just constantly drawing from the history itself, it can provide a catalyst for growth and innovation.

Global Thinking

 Gordon B. Hinckley has been focusing on Global Thinking since at least 1954 when the current president of the church discussed with him the challenges of how to take a church that was primarily based in the continental U.S. for the past 100 years and expand it into the full intent of the message of Jesus Christ who had taught that the Gospel was to be taken to the entire world. There had been missionaries sent to many nations at that point, but establishing congregations, buildings, and temples to every nation is another story. Language barriers, logistics, cultural distinctions, and a number of hurdles would lay in the path of global growth. Early in his Ministry, in 1954, he was asked to find a way to build a temple in Switzerland. This helped establish a love for growth 
 throughout the world. When his ministry as president started in 1995, there were 47 temples. Ten years later, in an address to discuss the growth of the church in that ten year period, he mentioned that there were 119 with three more under construction (2005, November). There were many other indicators, but that one was significant when one recognizes the significant challenges that come with global growth.   


Gordon B. Hinckley has taught me a lot, but one of the most significant things I have learned while studying for my MBA and the need for spiritual principles in a professional environment, is how key the role of a prophet is. A prophet, whether as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, the ministry of Christ and his apostles, or in modern day Christian leadership, is an individual who exemplifies both a follower and a leader. He exemplifies how important it is to understand what is going on in the organization (as it were) of those above him, and then must also express, testify, and witness to those who belong to the organization, and look to him as a leader. There are many examples of women in roles of leadership as well, although time does not permit me to explain the great impact their role can be in this model. Suffice it to say, anyone who is a spiritual leader provides an amazing example of one who both listens to those above, and who can also take that authority and bring it to those below.

Empowerment is one of the biggest principles that I wish to exemplify, and I have been grateful to see spiritual leaders in the new light of empowerment. When it comes to innovation, it is also important to have an empowered executive. Having authority given from one higher, it gives one a sense of ownership, which is principle necessary for the ambidextrous CEO (Tushman, et al, 2011, June).

Personal Assessment

As mentioned before, these five principles are ones which I have seen emulated and in which I hope to incorporate in my own life. The ways in which I could adapt these into my life can be seen through the creativity skills mentioned in the Innovators DNA (Dyer, et al, 2009).

            Associating:  This skill, which involves putting together questions that are seemingly unrelated and honing them into a collaborative idea. I feel that I am working well to maintain and magnify this skill. I love to be a lifelong learner, and feel that having this skill is absolutely essential to innovation. This skill would help me in my desire to exemplify global thinking. As discussed by Bordas (2007), when we start to think about global leadership, it is important to see leadership as not solely in the realm of modern, European style leadership, but to use models based on the cultures of other organizations. Specifically, Spirit, Soul, and Salsa, which exemplify Native American, African, and Latin modes of leadership could then be seen as effective leader models. Recognizing new models of leadership can help better associate global thinking

            Questioning: If there can be anything closely associated with Knowledge, it is questioning. To better receive the principle of knowledge, there must be good questions. This doesn’t have to mean question everything always, but bringing up the what’s and the why’s and so forth— Questions with real intent. This is closely related to the above principle, but has a specific guide to the questions. Where associating is more related to connecting ideas, problems, and questions through correlating new concepts, Questioning helps move the process of problem-solving along.

Experimenting: In discussing Experimenting, this seems to also relate to adapting a Global Thinking atmosphere.     Living overseas can provide a good outlook for a global perspective (P. 6) and I have seen that to be true in the life of President Hinckley as well. He travelled frequently to the far areas of the world, including Asia, Vietnam, Europe, Africa, and many other areas. It is helpful to see a leader not just speaking from ‘the corporate office’ but to be out and about among the people and cultures where expansion hopes to occur. Experimenting also highlights the principle of Hope and Optimism. Through the process of experimenting, failure will inevitably come, yet hope is what encourages us to say “let’s try again”. 
Observing: Leaders are not born, they are made. This argument has been going on for quite some time, but I must side with this version. Leaders are made through discipline and observation. As I look at leaders like Gordon B. Hinckley, I see in him a passion for observance. He mentions in one address, discussing the leaders who help shape others, including himself: “To my mind there is something tremendously reassuring in knowing that for the foreseeable future we shall have a President who has been disciplined and schooled, tried and tested, whose fidelity to the work and whose integrity in the cause have been tempered in the forge of service, whose faith has matured, and whose nearness to God has been cultivated over a period of many years” (1983, May). Interestingly, he also mentions in that same address that we do not need the traditional version of innovation all of the time, but rather devotion. Can we not see this in the exercise of a disciplined executive? Observation of key dedicated people, processes, and principles can in its own way produce innovation, but not in the traditional way, but one that is tempered through Discipline. 

Networking and Collaboration:  Taking another point from the leadership of President Hinckley, he mentions his depth of gratitude in spending time with the General Authorities (Worldwide leadership of the church, or ‘Executive Level’ in organizational terms). He mentions the unity that can come from Collaboration and Networking: “The General Authorities are all individuals, each with his own personality. Each brings to his responsibilities a wide variety of experience and background. When matters come up for discussion in the leading councils of the Church, each is free to express his views. As one observes that interesting process at work, it is fascinating to witness the power of the Holy Spirit influence these men. Initial differences never sharp but nonetheless perceptible soften and meld into an expression of unity. ‘My house is a house of order,’ said the Lord. (See D&C 132:8.) In witnessing this process at work, I experience a constant renewal of faith” (1983, May). I would like to approach this skill more frequently, and as a lifelong learner, can certainly see it as a way to think more globally. 

Cultivating New Thinking: Utilizing this skill can broach a number of the desired principles mentioned above. Global thinking may be the primary one that comes to mind, but a disciplined mind must often come from cultivating a new way of thinking. An indecisive individual must certainly adopt this in order to become more empowered, and hope is not easily obtained to those who have lost trust, or been trained in a toxic environment. 
Comfort with Change: Discipline may seem to be an unforgiving, defensive mentality, but when seen through the eye of this skill, it recognizes one of the untapped recognitions of discipline. Being able to adapt to new experiences comes from those who can react to them and who have experienced and overcome them previously.  

Risk Tolerance: Of the five Creativity elements mentioned at the beginning of the article, the one that involves the most risk and tolerance, as well as both together is Hope and Optimism. There have been many who have been burdened with doubt, fear, distrust, or other negative aspects in their life in which Hope is closer to hopeless and Optimism is downgraded to Apathetic. I have always attempted to have optimism in my life, and have often been told that I am too much so, but I believe that I have experienced a great deal of new experiences through Optimism, in part because it turns a blind eye to risk. I have had jobs doing a number of things that are not in the normal realm of job skills because of this, including welding, being a professional mascot, and various construction jobs that have taught me a lot. Risk is a real principle, but fear can be overcome through power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). This, to me, is the definition of Optimism, and can help avert fear, which is the primary derivative of Risk.  

I am grateful for leaders in my life whom I can observe, learn discipline from, and gain optimism from as well. President Gordon B. Hinckley has provided me with not only reasons for being a stronger person, but solutions on how to do so as well.



Bordas, J. (2007). How salsa, soul, and spirit strengthen leadership. Leader To Leader, 2007(46), 35-41.

Dyer, J. H., Gregersen, H. B., & Christensen, C. M. (2009). The innovator's DNA. Harvard Business Review, 87(12), 60–67. Retrieved from https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/pl/product.seam?c=20331266&i=20331395&cs=246c1fd2ba1c8b324a7d7c2afdf6ffe4

Hinckley, G.B. (1983, May) He slumbers not, nor sleeps. Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1983/05/he-slumbers-not-nor-sleeps?lang=eng

Hinckley, G. B. (1995, May). This is the work of the Master, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/05/this-is-the-work-of-the-master?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (1995a, November). Stay the course – Keep the faith, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/11/stay-the-course-keep-the-faith?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (1995b, November). Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/11/of-missions-temples-and-stewardship?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (1996, May). Stand true and Faithful, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1996/05/stand-true-and-faithful?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (1996, November). To the Women of the Church, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1996/11/women-of-the-church?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (1999, November) At the Summit of the Ages, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/11/at-the-summit-of-the-ages?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (2001, May). How can I become the Women of whom I dream? Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/05/how-can-i-become-the-woman-of-whom-i-dream?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (2002, November). To Men of the Priesthood, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/11/to-men-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

Hinckley, G.B. (2005, November). Opening remarks, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2005/05/opening-remarks?lang=eng

Tushman, M. L., Smith, W. K., & Binns, A. (2011, June). The ambidextrous CEO. Harvard Business Review, 89(6), 74–80. Retrieved from https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/pl/product.seam?c=20331266&i=20331399&cs=8f26b92577ca537be743aaa07b8c41c5

04 May 2014

Seminary: Scripture Mastery (Book of Mormon)

One of my favorite parts of Seminary was memorizing scriptures and noticing how effective they became later in my life.
I also realized the great emphasis that some of the leaders of the church place on those verses in their General Conference Addresses. I decided recently to make a video of all 25 Scripture Master Verses from the Book of Mormon as told by the General Authorities, and have been greatly blessed as a result of that study (Many thanks to www.scriptures.byu.edu).
The video is about 18 minutes long, but has great power and comfort. I hope to see many others be able to utilize this video in their study of Scripture Mastery, and plan on using it more and more. I love to hear the words of Scriptures taught by Prophets, Apostles and Leaders of today. Hearing their words have strengthened my understanding of the passages themselves, and I am grateful for all that I have learned while compiling this, and I hope that you have as great a time in listening.

 I plan on posting a few notes and "Easter Eggs" that I came across while putting the video together. How the music lines up, why certain passages had extra emphasis, and most importantly, how focused the mission of Christ came through as the entire video progresses.


20 April 2014

Enoch and Cain: Two Eternal Leadership Styles

This was a paper that I worked on for a class recently. There are a few areas for improvement on it, but overall, the work has some good messages.

Let me know what you think!


Throughout history, a variety of leadership styles have been broached and implemented. As they continue to do so at a seemingly ever-expanding rate, it is important to focus on what has worked in the past. There have been leaders who have gained a reputable level of followers by implementing core components into their organization. The values and primary principles of the organization, including the original vision of its founder, should be omnipotent in the leader who seeks to perpetuate the goals of that organization. Two historical studies from ancient record will illustrate how this can take place. The leaders, Enoch and Cain, held values that were drastically different from one another. Their ideaologies were on different sides of the spectrum, and while some of their methodologies could be seen as similar, it will be shown that the values held by the leader will permeate the values of the organization. The varied styles of followers must also be addressed, along with the challenges that face a mutli-cultural organization. What values followers look for are generally the key factor in why they choose to be a part of the organization.    

Enoch and Cain: Two Eternal Leadership Styles

Leadership and management are a perpetually discussed subject, and rightfully so. In almost any organization, there are leaders and followers. In order to maximize success, the leader must work as effectively as possible to motivate, inspire, coerce, condone, reshape, or—put simply—lead. How it is to be done and what best suits the needs of the organization are obviously necessary steps to success. It is refreshing to see a stronger emphasis on what it takes to be a successful follower as well, since all leaders were and continue to be followers in their respective organizations. A recent article discusses what a follower looks for in belonging to an organization, as well as the motivation, attitudes and thought process that accompanies him or her.  (Bjuhstad, et al, 2006).

Equally important to the organization, in addition to the leaders and followers, are the values of the organization. Scott Lichtenstein discusses the power of values that a leader holds and how that can be implemented into the organization, as well as how those values can act as a filter in the executive decision-making process (2012). Recognizing the values that a leader holds is a way to notice what is important to that leader, and how well the original mission and purpose of the organization is exemplified through that leader.

Two examples will bring in to sharp relief the power of a leader, how the values of that leader influences the organization, and how and why followers choose to belong to such an organization. Though the two figures are ancient and historical, the patterns are still prevalent today, and are of concern to the modern leader. One (Enoch) will generally lead to a synergy of values, a stronger work ethic, and an outward focus; while the other (Cain) will often lead to an aggrandized, toxic, inward (or self-centered) focus. Enoch was a religious leader who’s major responsibility was to establish a Zion society. 

R. Quinn Gardner, then managing director of Church Welfare Services for the LDS church, further elaborates on what tools and values Enoch implemented to create Zion. Showing love, service, work, promoting self-reliance, understanding the power of consecration, and upholding the importance of stewardship, are six key values that he recognizes in how Enoch was able to lead this society (1979). According to leadership styles that are presented by Daniel Goleman (2000), the principles that Enoch sought to establish in Zion were closely related to Affiliative, Coaching, and Authoritative leadership approaches.

The affiliative leader will understand those who are led and strengthen unity in the organization. Empathy, healing, emotional understanding and an outward love towards those he served strengthened his followers and provided them with the trust and familial bond necessary to continue to be a part of Zion. To see a leader incorporate the six principles laid out above will further enhance the authentic relationship that Enoch had with his followers. This recognition of value incorporation is crucial to a successful followership (p. 307, Bjugstad, et al, 2006). Understanding the values of a variety of cultures and experiences, such as those mentioned by Bordas (2007) allows for mutual respect of any who desire to be a part of the organization. It is critical for a leader to be able to take one from any walk of life and transform a unique follower into an intergral part of the organization.

The society that Enoch sought to establish was also involved in the coaching style of leadership, in that those who were a part of Zion were always looking to develop and were focused on the future. That Enoch was a prophet, and one who, of necessity, must preach repentance, is part of the coaching mentality as well, which helps the follower improve, restructure and recommit. Both of these leadership models, according to Goleman, will produce positive results.

Inherent also in the leadership role that Enoch held, was an Authoritative model. As a prophet and one who received revelation which would incorporate vision, creativity, and  implementation of new procedures, his message was to be received willingly and with a recognition of where his authority lay. He would provide clear direction, and not just have a vision, but share it and accomplish it utilizing the whole unit. He would lead from the front as a true leader, and not from the back as a mere manager. In addition, and in utilization of the other three leadership traits that Goleman has recognized, lies the Democratic (P. 81-82, 2000). Active participation is inherent in the Zion society, and although high standards are set, there is always opportunity to grow, repent, and develop.

Treating others with respect, recognizing the values of personal responsibility, sacrifice, obedience, and forgiveness are all part of a Zion society as well, and at the core of what Enoch sought to bring about. Kim B. Clark, former dean of Harvard Business School and president of BYU-Idaho discusses the awareness that comes from those who sought the organization for which Enoch sought. In a devotional for BYU-Idaho, he continues that theme by encouraging leaders today to seek for those same principles for which Enoch was known, and involve them in a daily basis. He mentions prayer, reaching out to those who need help, sharing core values, and involving as many as possible into the reachable goals for which Enoch sought (2009).

As Enoch developed and perfected the leadership styles mentioned, a successful leader is presented. Mastery of four of Goleman’s management styles has led Enoch to fulfill the mission of the organization of which he was a part. He implemented a society that is still sought by many today.
In contrast to Enoch, another powerful figure from that time period, and relatively contemporaneous, was Cain (the son of Adam). While one of the ultimate acts of Cain are not recognized as a value-led leader (killing his brother, Abel), many of the leadership principles that he espoused are still prevalent today. Cain was one who sought to do things with as little effort as possible. He knew the value of hard work, but could not always see the end from the beginning. Lacking in long-term vision, he would typically be led to recognize the short-term value of things. Shortly after his brother’s death, he recognized the benefits that can come from a “hostile takeover” and would gain the value of his brothers property after his passing.

Opposite from the principles of Enoch, Cain would lead by coercion, force, and false authority. He did not recognize the ability to be transparent in his reports, and is most known for his utter lack in brotherly compassion. “Am I my brother’s keeper” is unfortunately still a technique used by some leaders and followers alike. A successful leader today can still lead with authority and office, just as Cain did for a time. He can still necessitate a high standard of performance, demand immediate results, and give necessary rewards when earned.

The inward thinking of the leader is what makes him most toxic. It is at odds with the principles of Zion, yet still garners a wealth of followers who are seeking the same values as the leader – Money. When a price tag is associated with anything and everything, worth, value and cost are taken in a different context. It is no longer a symmetry of recognizing strengths for the greater good, but what can be gained through exploitation of goods. Gaining the most profit from the least amount of effort and means can lead to shortcuts, shoddy workmanship, and distrust in the accounting department. Both leaders would lead through covenant-making and commitment, but the values of the leader are truly where the efforts would see ultimate results. Enoch would go on to lead a city to ultimate unity and success, while Cain and his mentality would create leaders who lead by fear, results without compromise, and a price on the worth of a soul.    

Bjugstad, K., Thach, E. C., Thompson, K. J., & Morris, A. (2006). A Fresh Look at           Followership: A Model for Matching Followership and Leadership Styles. Journal Of   Behavioral & Applied Management, 7(3), 304-319.
Bordas, J. (2007). How salsa, soul, and spirit strengthen leadership. Leader To Leader, 2007(46), 35-41.
Clark, Kim B. (2009, September 15). Building Zion Together. Brigham Young University Devotional. Retrieved from http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2009_09_15_Clark.htm
Gardner, R. Quinn. (1979). Becoming a Zion Society: Six Principles, Ensign, February, 31-35
Goleman, D. (2000). LEADERSHIP THAT GETS RESULTS. Harvard Business Review, 78(2),             78-90.
Lichtenstein, S. (2012). The Role of Values in Leadership: How Leaders' Values Shape Value      Creation. Integral Leadership Review, 12(1), 1-18.

18 April 2014

Conversion, Attrition, and Retention

Not sure if anyone will enjoy this one, but I recently submitted it as my homework for an assignment as to what is needed for a sustainable organization.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome, as always.

This one was fun because I chose to use some patterns of spiritual and religious organizations and put them into a corporate context.

It also fit fairly well into my blog context: Why do we do what we do, and how can we do better?

If this is you too, Leave me a comment of ideas for other posts, or thoughts that you have!



Sustainability: Conversion, Activation, and Retention

In thinking about what makes a sustainable organization, my mind was drawn towards a broadcast that I have viewed and studied multiple times and contains great insight into what makes an organization sustainable. I have seen the necessary process is the business world, as well as in a religious setting, in which this broadcast was made. I firmly believe that the principles of conversion, activation, and retention are crucial to a sustainable organization. In my current employment, I seek to ensure that this process is covered. Too often, managers are concerned only with making the numbers, reaching the goals, filling the seats, or other similar terms. The ultimate struggle for sustainability can be overcome by understanding the mantra “Any investigator worthy of baptism becomes a convert worthy of saving” (Hinckley, 1999). In a business setting this has similar connotations to saying any client worthy of having becomes a long-term relationship worthy of retaining. If businesses focused on retention and attrition as much as finding and meeting, real growth can occur. In the same vein, a manager must have sustainable employees to ensure a compatible and sustainable future.

In the broadcast, there are three points that the speaker makes to ensure an able retention of the individual, and though they are given in a religious context, I feel them to be most agreeable to a business setting with minor renditions. He mentions three aspects of making sure that one who enters the covenant or partnership, or organization needs three things. A friend, a responsibility, and nourishment from the good word of God (Hinckley, 1999).

Again, in a business setting, these can be seen very similar.

A Friend: To be a leader who seeks sustainable growth, one must have the strengths of friendship: Humility (Collins, 2005), seeking for the interests of others or reducing self-interest (Duska, 2004), valued relationships and high levels of trust (Saunders, 2007), and directing compassion towards difficult conversations (Engels, 2007). The value of a true friend knows of the necessity of having these.

A Responsibility: A leader who seeks to understand the responsibilities of the profession and act accordingly is the epitome of professionalism. If a leader can envision in his or her staff an acceptance that the work that they are doing holds real value, and that they are truly a part of the organization, this will bring about true results. Being professional is not only a way to avoid ethical breakdowns (Duska, 2005) but is a way to have your career as an extension of who you are and part of your moral code. If that leader can then ensure that the products or services offered can truly benefit those they service, they are holding true to the responsibility given to that organization. A majority of businesses have some sort of responsibility to give to the world, no matter how insignificant it may seem. As the manager brings that responsibility to the employees, and the organization brings it to the world, it creates a pattern for sustainability. As individuals of the organization realize the crucial part that they can play as they are given the opportunity, they become vibrant and not stagnant, which is a force of sustainability.

Nourishment from the good word of God: Hear me out on this one. This can mean various principles in the model of what I am discussing. But on even the most basic level of life, to create sustainability, there must be nourishment— a source of vital nutrients that provide the object what it needs. In the business context, it can mean at least two things.

Relating to the last one, one must have nourishment in the sense of understanding that he or she still has purpose in the organization. Having love, trust, and responsibility are good. In order to go further in the step of sustainability, one must have constant nourishment. This can come in the way of communication, feedback, feedforward, counseling, heeding instructions, or hearing and understanding the words of those above us. It can also be seen as the hard part in both religious and business settings - Calling someone to repentance or change. Nourishment can be uncomfortable and helpful at the same time.  

Another way of receiving nourishment is ensuring that the right nutrients are coming from the right sources and sustaining the right things. Eating to be full and eating to be nourished and sustained are two different processes that receive two different results.
There are different types of learning: Informal and formal, developed vs. Ad Hoc, and learner-driven vs. organization-driven (Pannoni & Ricketts, 2010). All of these may provide certain needed guidance at certain needed times, but a sustainable-seeking leader will ensure that the right nourishment is given at the proper times. The dosages of discipline, the measurements of mercy, the recipes of responsibilities, and the conditions of counseling all rest on the sustainable leader.

I believe that a leader who constantly seeks the attributes of a friend, understands the power of responsibility, and knows the sources of nourishment and how to deliver them will be able to create true, sustainable growth.

Collins, J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. (cover story). Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136-146.

Duska, R. F. (2004). SIX CURES FOR CURRENT ETHICAL BREAKDOWNS. Journal Of Financial Service Professionals, 58(3), 23-26.

Engels, J. J. (2007). Delivering Difficult Messages. Journal Of Accountancy, 204(1), 50-52.

Hinckley, Gordon B. (21 Feb, 1999). Satellite Broadcast “Find the lambs, feed the sheep”. Retrieved from: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/find-the-lambs-feed-the-sheep?lang=eng

PANNONI, R., & RICKETTS, G. (2010). A New Taxonomy for Learning. Chief Learning Officer, 9(8), 32-35.

Saunders, D. (2007). Create an Open Climate for Communication. American Salesman, 52(11), 25-29.

Trunk, O. (2014). Conversion, Attrition, and Retention Creating a sustainable organization

12 February 2014

Values, Principles, and a Goal (Not a #Weblog Wednesday post)

In my current MBA class, we are discussing ways to recognize our values, develop principles and establish goals. I found this to be a great exercise as it helps recognize strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
Enjoy! I was excited that I got to incorporate part of 2 Peter Chapter 1, since that chapter is AMAZING! and a great way to establish this same process. In the coming weeks, I will elaborate more on that chapter. It's a good one.

For those of you looking for a #Weblog Wednesday post, I will get one or two up soon. t's been a little bit busy. But let me know if you are reading them! It's hard to tell sometimes...


In taking the Personal Values Survey, I found that I scored the highest in the following three Values: Transcendence, Knowledge and Wisdom, and Temperance.

These three values connect in a very real way to me, and have been something that I have been studying about during the past year or so. I was not greatly surprised at receiving these three as the highest values, and while they are strengths for me, I also see them as areas that I seek to improve.

Transcendence: This value relates to me in a strong way. Transcendence is a value that helps me seek for greater purpose in what I do in my daily life. Instead of just working for a paycheck or promotion, I seek to work to take care of my family and stay actively involved in my church. This value also helps me to have real purpose and gives me the ability to change the lives of others.

The admonition to seek for that which is greater than I and to build the kingdom of God first, allows other things to fall into place when I do so. I have recently started reading Spiritual Roots of Human Relations by Stephen R. Covey, and in it I find it a strong way to understand what I want to accomplish when it comes to Transcendence. I have sought to recognize leaders who share similar values that I do, such as Stephen R. Covey, Kim B. Clark, and a few others, and see what makes them successful. In doing so, I hope to be a more involved and culturally aware leader.

I know that it is important to incorporate spiritual elements into the business world, but see it as a challenge as well because of how it can be perceived. Some consider it a weakness, or as misguided, or insensitive to others when topics of spirituality, religion and belief systems are brought up, but this very exercise that we are completing has to do with how our values shape us as leaders. It is crucial to know what makes a leader from all aspects of life, and while it is not always necessary to agree on beliefs and values, it is imperative to understand them.

Once I recognize this value, it actually leads directly into the next value—

Knowledge and Wisdom: I am always desirous to learn and adapt to new information. When I receive knowledge, I seek to either incorporate it into my life or discard it as unnecessary, depending on its usefulness. I believe that a principle that comes from knowledge is how important it is to process information as effectively as possible. Experiences from work, school, family life, church, and every aspect of my life provide knowledge and experience that can be assimilated into making me a stronger leader in all of those realms.

Wisdom means that knowledge is applied effectively. While working in a professional environment, a manager told me the power of mistakes. It can be good to make a mistake. A good mistake means that you won’t do something again, or change the way that something is done. A bad mistake is when it continues to occur. True wisdom comes from the former.

Seeking after knowledge can be a powerful tool in an adaptive or analytical leader, but can be presented as a challenge when it comes to an assertive or empowered leader. This is an area that I am continually working on. I can be incredibly assertive if I am extremely informed on the information of which I speak. I address Financial Aid questions constantly in my job, I teach an adult Sunday school every Sunday to contemporaries who are in a variety of learning capabilities, and speak confidently in both of those areas, but I am always willing to learn, and have found it to be a challenge when speaking in a management style of leadership. 

Again, this value and its three principles lead into the next value which is Temperance.

Temperance: This means that I am constantly seeking to find and incorporate balance into my life.

Temperance also involves constant reflection and analysis to help me transform who I am into who I want to be.
Temperance, to me, doesn’t just mean self-control, meekness, or moderation, but a way to judge and make decisions. I once taught a class on this particular subject and learned some masterful lessons from it. In seeking for balance, it involves not just trying to diffuse a situation that is heated-up, but also to be empowered to stand up for, and defend something that is one-sided or indefensible. This takes courage and assertiveness, and is a key element to temperance.

I find Temperance to be an element that must have knowledge and transcendence behind it, for one cannot judge or make key decisions if they are not based on prior knowledge and a purpose behind it. A business leader should not make decisions that will lead to anything besides a greater impact for the company (purpose) and backed by at least some knowledge.   

In 2 Peter Chapter One (in the Holy Bible), Peter mentions faith, virtue, and knowledge, followed by temperance. I feel that faith and virtue (understanding a higher power and being willing to act—virtue—) are steps that lead to greater knowledge; and, once that it obtained, more balanced (temperate) decisions can be made.


A goal that I seek to establish is based on really all three of these values and their associated principles, but, to focus on one, it would be from the Transcendence value. Throughout the past 6 weeks, I have recognized more than ever the strength of a spiritual leader. One of the weaknesses that I have is not speaking with authority and empowerment. I find great insight in studying the lives of spiritual leaders because of how empowered they are. They are steadily bound by a higher power, but dutifully speak with power and authority because of the knowledge they have. Therefore, I feel that with the bulwarks of knowledge and temperance, I need to put more faith and knowledge into my decision-making. I will study the lives of great spiritual leaders and journal what makes them the way they are and create an action plan for how to implement the actuating principles more into my life. With the strength of analyzing and gaining knowledge, I can become a more empowered leader by incorporating these three values more into my life.  


 I plan on incorporating this exercise more into the future. Once Values are established, focus on what principles gain be brought out of them. (My favorite way to do that, although not done for this post is with if/then statements -- If I do or don't do this, then this will or will not happen). Once principles are governed, a more solidified and hopefully measurable goal will emerge. Measurable!

Now I can incorporate my love of Biographies into my personal development!! Yay!
I recently finished a biography on Brigham Young and will attempt to get a book review up for that soon. 

Have a great week!