Friday, May 6, 2011

Speaking of....

Well, it's good to be back. I don't see why I've been the only one catching hell for not visiting the NeverTown over the last couple of months... where have you been? And more importantly, am I the only one who cleans up around here?? There's dust all over everything! It's kind of cute... a fine layer of NeverDust covers all of the buildings and streets of the NeverTown. I guess I should start cleaning.

The last few months have been ludicrously busy (which has no connection with any rappers - instead, it's the level of 'busy' that comes after 'light busy' and 'ridiculous busy', and leads from there into the plaid zone), with kids, papers, classes, and anniversary preparations. And poop. Lots and lots of poop. But I guess that's tied in with the kids. Seriously, we could solve all of our American energy problems if someone would just invent a line of cars powered by my kids' poop. We could all ride for years oil-free and save the environment... but I hate to think of the smell emerging from the exhaust pipes.

Speaking of cars, I don't think I ever informed the NeverTown that mine has passed on to whatever Great Beyond awaits good little autos that have shuffled off this automotive coil. My beloved Silverbolt, a spunky little 2000 VW Beetle, is no more. What's ironic is that I remember as I moved to Atlanta last year, I said to myself, "Okay, Jim, you may be giving up your big comfy house, and you may be giving up your nicely-paying job, and you may be saying farewell to your pinball tables, and you may be leaving all of that good food behind... but at least you've still got Silverbolt." And now I don't have Silverbolt anymore. Which sucks.

And while we're speaking about that particular car, let me just say that yes, I drove a 2000 VW Beetle, and yes, I know most of you questioned my masculinity as a result. Now that Silverbolt is no longer with us, let me make one final response to all of those homoerotic jokes and immature implications: I don't give a damn what you thought about me or my car. I loved my car. She got better gas mileage than yours, she was safer than yours, she had lower insurance rates than yours, she had a better stereo and speaker system than yours, she had virtually no need for repair or maintenance even after ten years and 120,000 miles, females loved my car, and my grandmother loved that car (in fact, when she first rode in it, she subsequently remarked to all her friends how proud she was of me for buying a spaceship. No joke.). So poke fun all you want: I don't care. I loved my car. And if I have my way, my next car will be a Volkswagen Beetle, too (which at that point, will be the New New Beetle, if I'm correctly interpreting my automotive news).

Of course, if you continue to question my masculinity, I can just look at my twin boys and beautiful wife... and I still won't care what you think. Besides, I can probably do more push-ups than you.

Okay... I'm feeling the testosterone leaving the system. The rest of the blog will be less competitive, I promise.

Speaking of twin boys, there are cool things afoot. The boys are doing very well in their development, and their colic-y crying fits are pretty much a thing of the past (knock-on-wood, knock-on-wood). Benjamin is on the verge of crawling, and currently enjoys doing a slightly slow-motion version of breakdancing. He can wriggle and squiggle around on the floor, roll around, do a complete 360 or two, and then look up at you and say something that quite resembles, "Hey!" Kristopher, on the other hand, prefers to show off with his mastery of sitting up without support. He'll even rock back and forth to music if it's playing (say, Evanescence) without falling over. He's also very good at impersonating my wife... at least I think that's what he's doing when he keeps shouting, "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah!!!"

Speaking of the wife, Debby and I just celebrated our ten-year anniversary yesterday. What an occasion! I was really impressed by how a lot of America, especially the Hispanic community, helped us celebrate with all of that partying and drinking. I hope I did okay - got her a neat vintage opal-and-diamond pendant and matching ring, the complete Daria on DVD, and a tremendously filling dinner at Ruth's Chris steakhouse. Stayed home for the day (a rarity in itself), played with the kids, helped her out, ate well. Oh, and we went to McDonald's and got a cherry pie. She's my cherry pie. Life is good.

Speaking of life being good, all of my paper commitments for the semester (the main reason you haven't seen me here lately) are finally done. I just presented one that I kind of like on how transformational and transactional leadership work in organizations. Transactional leadership is management based on rewards and punishments: when your boss tries to motivate you by dangling some reward (say, getting a raise or the possibility of promotion) if you do a good job, or threatening some punishment (say, a lousy work schedule or playing Kenny Chesney on the office sound system) if you do a bad job, that's transactional leadership. Transformational leadership is management based on intellectual stimulation, motivation, mentorship, and role-modeling. Managers who inspire their people to think about better futures for the organization, who walk the walk and talk the talk themselves, and who develop their people, are transformational leaders. Optimus Prime was a transformational leader. Megatron, despite the fact that he transformed every bit as much as Optimus, was not: he was more transactional, in that you were either going to do what he said or you were going to get shot at. But that makes sense in a way, because Megatron transformed into a gun.

The knee-jerk reaction most people will have to these concepts is to say that transformational leadership is good and transactional leadership is bad, right? Not necessarily true. In some ways, transactional leadership works just as well if not better than the transformational stuff. The premise of my paper is that certain organizations are good places for transformational leadership, but some are better fits for transactional styles. In certain types of organizations, leaders and employees expect formal systems of rewards and punishments, and any deviation from that into more 'touchy-feely' areas of employee involvement and stimulation is viewed with suspicion. Similarly, there are some organizations that are big on inspirational motivation and role-modeling. Reward- or punishment-based approaches just don't work as well because they don't fit with the culture. So if organizations and leaders know what styles of leadership are a good match for each other, they'll work better together. What do you think?

Speaking of working well together, I'm honored to have been invited back to Louisiana FFA's state convention this year to do a keynote speech for them. A few people have asked, and this seems as good a forum to reply as any: no, I don't really do the speaking and training anymore. I'm not really all that involved with youth organizations, chambers, or business consulting these days - I'm trying to focus on my graduate school studies. But Louisiana FFA always has been, and always will be, an exception. The only problem is... I still haven't figured out exactly what I should speak about. Do I bring them the same message I gave when I keynoted there four years ago... or do I go with something new? And if so, what?

Guess that's enough speaking for me this time. With the anniversary behind me and the semester's commitments mostly complete, I should have more time for the blog going forward. Will try to bring pictures next time... the NeverTown seems so monochrome without them.

1 comment:

  1. I knew you would get back to blog, blog, blog as soon as the school work was finished for the semester. DP