039: Jim Cowan building the Bricktown Brewery in OKC [Podcast]
The Brickgown Brewery was the first brew pub in Oklahoma since statehood. Jim Cowan was the young manager who opened it, ran it, and eventually owned it. On this episode of The Spirit of Leading, we hear first hand about those days and what it took to get a new restaurant concept to take hold in an emerging entertainment district that was still in its infancy.
Jim worked shoulder to shoulder with the legends of Bricktown and the city and business leaders who envisioned and championed a bold new venture that has made Oklahoma City one of the cities to watch. What Jim and early investors in Bricktown built has paved the way for the next wave of investment and creative energy.
038: Andrew Spector and Jake Lerner Tulsa Changemakers [Podcast]
Andrew Spector and Jake Lerner wanted to make differnce in education. Neither went to college to become teachers. Both are. They signed up with Teach for America, a program to recruit high-performing college graduates to teach in rural and urban communities in dire need of teachers.
They received their assignments to move from the northeast to Tulsa, Oklahoma. They soon realized they were in the presence of exceptional young students who just needed a little extra in order to excel. In this episode of The Spirit of Leading we hear their story of how they launched a wild idea to develop middle school and high school students into changemakers who could identify and help solve problems in their schools and communities.
The why is every bit as important as the what. Maybe more so. Leaders are able to make sense of facts in the larger context in which the facts exist. If they fail to do this, they fail to lead.
My little corner of the world is not the whole world. Although my life is 100-percent of my experience, my life is not the only life, no matter how much I feel like it is.
The way I see events is not the only way to view them. My perspective is not the whole picture. If I’m ever to see the bigger picture I must see it from other points of view. I cannot grasp the entirety of the world from my favorite easy-chair, or in the echo chamber of my closest friends.
To ask a leader to solve my problems without regard for the impact that solution will have on others is folly and myopic, not to mention egocentric. But that’s what we seem to want. Fix my problems for me, and screw the rest of you.
Politics has come down to fragmenting the system into ideological niches from which politicians accumulate enough shards to win an election. Screw the rest of you. That’s not leading. This madness must stop now.
There is a larger why in which my what lives.
I have learned that to find my life, I must lose my life for the sake of something larger than myself.
While I am a teeny-tiny part of a larger whole, what I do affects the whole. I act, and I affect those whom I touch directly, who in turn react to my actions and touch others, who do the same, and so forth.
Leaders see the larger whole and take action that considers both my individual situation and the health of the whole system. Without the system, we all suffer, or even perish.
When I understand this relationship of my corner of the world to the whole world, I can act more rationally and compassionately. I can look around in my immediate vicinity and ask, “What can I do to make things better for myself and others?”
After all, I ripple.
When I take the responsibility to do my part every day
to lose myself in the larger community
I find myself more
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Tom McDaniel, President, American Fidelity Foundation
Tom McDaniel chairs the citizens advisory board for the Oklahoma City MAPs-3 initiative (Metropolitan Area Projects). The MAPs project has revitalized an urban center from the verge of blight in the 1980s to a teeming destination location with sports venues, convention space, improvements to public schools, and other major infrastructure improvements.
A vibrant downtown area is emerging with retail, hospitality, entertainment, sports, and residential space. Oklahoma City is quickly becoming one of the nation’s most attractive cities for Millennials and young professionals.
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In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, Tom discusses the transformational impact the project’s three iterations. Tom also discusses his approach to leading the citizens advisory board and the value of citizen involvement and collaboration with the elected city officials and other interest groups in the community.
Tom McDaniel (3rd from left) joins OKC Mayor Mick Cornett (center) and other civic leaders in a MAPs 3 groundbreaking ceremony.
The Oklahoma City MAPS-3 project
Background of the OKC MAPs project
American Fidelity Foundation
OK Cleats4 Kids Foundation, founded by Tom’s son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Stacy McDaniel
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Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 36:26 — 33.6MB)
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Ken Parker, CEO of NextThought, will tell you the mission of his company is to, “Change the world. Have fun. Make money.”
On this episode of The Spirit of Leading I talk with Ken about his transformational journey in educational software design. Ken laments that each wave of technological advancement has promised to reinvent how we educate, yet we’ve only seen those promises, “dashed on the rocks of reality.”
Ken believes he has identified the missing ingredient, and it’s implicit within the premise of the world wide web and available to us through the technology of the internet.
Furthermore, Ken discusses what he learned about running a company from his experience in aerospace engineering and on Wall Street.
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Ken Parker works at his standup desk at NextThought
The University of Oklahoma uses NextThought software to make many of its classes available online through Janux. See here. Go to the OU Janux home page.
Learn more about NextThought.
Watch Ken’s TEDxOU presentation.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 28:57 — 26.8MB)
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Executive Director Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation
Nothing breeds success like success, and the transformational impact of multiple success stories can have a major impact on the psyche of an organization, a city, and a state.
That’s part of the impact that Mike Knopp’s crazy idea of making a dry North Canadian River riverbed into a successful rowing venue has had on Oklahoma City and the state.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I talk to Mike about the origin of his idea and what he experienced bringing it to life.
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Mike talks about the value of persistence, the time and patience it takes for an idea to take root and grow, and the importance of telling the vision story so others can see it and make it their own vision as well.
Mike started out on a law career. His passion for rowing resulted in him and his wife volunteering in rowing programs on Lake Overholser in Bethany, OK.
Mike Knopp as rowing coach for Oklahoma City University
Mike is now the Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, and is a guiding influence on the continued development of the Boathouse District on what is now known as the Oklahoma River.
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The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation
The history of rowing in Oklahoma
Her name is Rita. The voice in my head. She is the voice of my GPS that I can’t get rid of.
Rita’s job, when I’m traveling in unfamiliar territory, is to keep her eyes on the map and tell me when to turn so I can keep my eyes on the actual road and drive the car. We make a great team.
There is a fundamental difference in the statements, “I think we are going in the wrong direction,” and “I think we are going to the wrong destination.” The INPowered understand that difference and how to use both the questions effectively.
Have we lost our way?
I think we are going in the wrong direction, indicates we are certain about our destination but have wandered away from the path to it. These distractions lure us and the detours force us away from the things we need to do to get to our goal.
This perspective matters when we are asking the question, “what must we DO to get what we want?” If we are doing the wrong things, we probably won’t get where we intend. Or, we’ll waste a lot of time and resources getting there.
Are we clear about our destination?
I think we are going to the wrong destination, says that the goal is the wrong goal. We can be firmly on the path to a goal, but when we get there, it won’t be the right place.
This perspective is about the clarity of the goal itself. It’s the answer to the question, “What do we want?” Instead of driving around hoping the destination will reveal itself, we know exactly where we are going before leaving the house.
The voice in my head
When I’m working, it’s my job to program in the destination–the exact place I want to end up. I call on the Rita in my head to help me map out the path and stay on it.
Sometimes, I realize the destination I had programmed in is the wrong destination. When that happens, Rita is not helpful until I reprogram the destination.
It’s not good enough just to realize I’m headed to the wrong destination. The sooner I abandon the wrong destination and reprogram the right one, the more effective and efficient I can be.
We must be diligent to ask the one right question: where exactly do we want to go?
I believe in the serendipity of the journey. I believe the journey is part of our growth and adventure.
I also know the aimless wanderer risks a life of almost, but not quite, fulfillment and happiness. They are left trying to reconstruct meaningfulness in retrospect. Been there, done that. But it’s never too late to reprogram the destination.
I’ve learned from my travels to get and keep the destination clear.
And, if and when you realize the destination is not the right one,
reprogram and redirect without hesitation or regret.
Learn this difference, and you will be
Leaders are clear minded about their mission and purpose, which allows them to act decisively in the pursuit of it. This decisive clarity attracts like-minded followers eager to engage in support of that mission. They see a place for themselves in that vision.
Leaders take the first step so we all can move together.
Clarity is powerful. It focuses creative energy on a single outcome. Clarity attracts people who have a sense, a longing, that circumstances could be better. They just don’t know how to get to that place by themselves.
This is where my definition of leadership applies: leaders help us get places we cannot or will not go by ourselves.
This clarity prevents confusion, false starts, and wasted energy. On the other hand, those who lack clarity wander indecisively and often settle for tepid results coming from blurred vision.
Leaders answer these four questions to attract followers.
1. Where are we going and why?
Growing up, I often heard that it’s better to be a meaningful specific than a wandering generality. Have a goal–a purpose–and go for it.
We like to be around people who are going places. Moreover, we admire that they have a vision of where it is they are going, and they can describe it.
In a previous post I listed six steps in the formation and perpetuation of a movement. Expressing the vision comes on the heels of the inception of the idea. Leaders describe the future they envision. Others become inspired to follow.
Embedded in the story is the why. “We are going there so that . . . ” The where and the why are captivating, but they beg the next question.
2. How are we going to get there?
Most of us need a plan of action. How many times have we bought into a grand idea, only to be disappointed in the follow through?
Politicians razzle-dazzle us with their big ideas. They repeat their ideas loud and long with much fanfare, bluster, and arm waiving, let me tell ya. Listen for the plan. Otherwise, it’s an empty promise that isn’t really going anywhere.
Plans have action steps. Plans describe mileposts that measure progress. Plans anticipate obstacles and offer work arounds.
Lack of an action plan results in many false starts and stops that waste creative energy and frustrate everyone. Before you know it, followers have lost confidence and drifted away.
Even with a plan, followers turn to their vested interest revealed in the next question.
3. Will I be OK?
Is the plan doable, and can I do it? Will I make it to the destination? If not, if it’s too risky, why would I even consider going?
Surviving isn’t enough. We need to believe that the future state is better than the current state. The greater the perceived reward, the more eager we are to follow. The reward must be worth the cost of the trip.
4. How will you help me along the way?
Leaders are teachers and providers. In the planning they account for the needs of the followers to make the journey.
There is a difference between a trail blazer and a leader. The trail blazer is on his own quest. Others can tag along, but they are on their own. Keep up or fall by the wayside.
The leader moves systematically ever closer to the destination and helps everyone keep up. Sometime progress is slower. The leader encourages collaboration and teamwork. Everyone grows as everyone goes together.
Clearly answer these four basic questions
so you can be