Issue 78


Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Editor
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“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”
–Napoleon Hill  (American author and motivational speaker; 1883-1970  Hiill’s book Think and Grow Rich is one of the best-selling books of all time.)
“Achievement is never an accident.  It must be willed.”
–Gene Griessman

“Societies have the criminals they deserve.”
–Alexandre Lacassagne  (eminent French criminologist; 1843-1924. Editor’s observation:  Societies also have the politicians they deserve.)

“For imperfect humans—and in this we all resemble (King) Lear—truth does not shine by its own light.  It needs polishing, amplifying, refracting.”
–Jenny Uglow (award-winning British biographer, from The New York Review of Books, July 24, 2010.   The reference is to Lear’s demand that each of his daughters declare their love for him before he divides his kingdom.  Cordelia, who loves her father more than her sisters, gives an answer that displeases the King, and he disowns her.)

“Avoid situations and careers in which someone else’s failure can cause you to fail.”
—Gene Griessman


“The most painful anguish that mortals suffer is to understand a great deal, but to have no power at all.”
–Herodotus (Greek historian, 483-425 BC; The Histories, Book 9, 479.  Herodotus attributes this quote to an un-named Persian, but Herodotus often put his own ideas in someone else’s words.)

“Image casts a long shadow.”
–Keith Richards, (founding member of The Rolling Stones)
“Once tarnished, an image is not recoverable, but one that is well-protected lasts a lifetime, and beyond.”
–Alice O’Neill (contemporary syndicated columnist)

“It has bothered me all my life that I don’t paint like everyone else.”
–Henri Matisse (1869-1954, famed French printmaker, sculptor, and painter.)

“Wrapping It.”

Lincoln was a master at saying things crisply and clearly.  Here’s a quote on that subject from James Swanson’s excellent new book BLOODY CRIMES: THE CHASE FOR JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE DEATH PAGEANT FOR LINCOLN’S CORPSE.

As General Grant closed in on Richmond) General Phil Sheridan gave the president a military assessment that inflamed his taste of victory so much that it provoked him to send a telegraph to General Grant.  He ordered his commanding general of the armies of the United States to close in for the kill and win the war.
Head Quarters Armies of the United States
Lieut. Gen. Grant.
Gen. Sheridan says, “If the thing is pressed I think that Lee will surrender.” Let the thing be pressed.      A. Lincoln”


“For imperfect humans—and in this we all resemble Lear—truth does not shine by its own light.  It needs polishing, amplifying, refracting.”
–Jenny Uglow (award-winning British biographer, from The New York Review of Books, July 24, 2010)

What is there in Shakespeare’s tragedy of King Lear for today’s leaders?

The reference is to King Lear’s demand that each of his daughters declare how much they love him before he divides his kingdom among them.  Two of his daughters flatter the old king and exaggerate their feelings in order to obtain a large share of his kingdom.  The third daughter, Cordelia, cannot bring herself to amplify her feelings or flatter her father in order to gain his wealth. “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth,” she says.  “My love’s much richer than my tongue.”

Cordelia, who actually loves her father far more than her sisters, tells her father that she loves him “according to my bond”; that is, she accepts without question her duty to love him as a father and king. Lear admonishes her: “Mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes.” Cordelia’s sense of integrity does not permit this, the King is enraged, disowns Cordelia, divides his kingdom between her two sisters, and the tragedy is set in motion.

The point is, it is not what you say that counts but what people hear.  Lear did not hear the truth because he had already heard responses from the other two daughters that were “polished, amplified and refracted” such that they had more meaning to Lear than did Cordelia’s simple declaration of love.

To be specific, it is not enough for you to be competent at what you do.  You must find a way to communicate that you are competent.  It is not enough that you provide great service or a wonderful product.  You must find a way to let your prospects, clients, and customers know that you do.

Truth does not shine by its own light.


A number of our readers hold positions that require them to be interviewed by the media.  Here are some important tips from Marilynn T. Mobley, a noted authority on PR.

Mobley believes that you can guide reporters rather than just following along when they interview you.  Three techniques that Mobley recommends are repetition, flagging, and bridging.


Repetition:  “If it’s really a key message, don’t be shy about saying it several times,” Mobley advises.  “Repetition equals retention.”


Flagging: “Flag” your key messages to keep the reporter focused on what you want to emphasize.  Here are some phrases that you can use:

“The most important thing to remember is…”  “I’ve talked about a lot of things, but it boils down to three things….”  (We particularly like this phrase because it performs two tasks, it flags and it pre-numbers, which gives you a chance to make all three points.)


Bridging:  “Bridge” from the question you are asked to the point that you want to make.  Here are some useful bridge phrases: “Let me give some background information about…”  :Let me just add…”  “That’s not my area of expertise, but what I can tell you is…”  “Actually.”


Excerpt from The Scoop on Media Interviews by Marilynn T. Mobley.  Mobley is senior vice president and strategic counsel for Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm. She is also the author of, a research-based blog that explores the boomer mindset.  Write to her at

A.  Schedule regular meetings once per week, and more often if an assignment requires it.   Regular meetings should be time-assured; that is, you will not be interrupted except for something urgent and very important.   Few tasks are more important for a leader than delegating to competent, loyal, and dependable lieutenants.  It is through delegation that you leverage your ideas and influence.

You should limit your span of control, so that there are not more than a dozen direct reports.

You will probably want to have even more frequent meetings with your Number Two.  That’s what Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook does.  In a recent New York Times article entitled “Mark Zuckerberg’s Most Valuable Friend,” journalist Miguel Helft reports that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, has brought stability to the company, “which had suffered from a long period of turmoil and the departure of several executives and early employees.”

This excellent partnership between Number One and Number Two is believed to be a major cause of Facebook’s extraordinary growth during the past two years—to a global audience of nearly half a billion.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg have regular Friday meetings.  In those meetings they do something that I have long advocated in my coaching sessions and written about in TAD. “We agreed that we would give each other feedback every Friday,” Ms. Sandberg says. “We are constantly flagging things.  Nothing ever builds up.”

Organizations are at their best when a chief and his/her lieutenants allow nothing to build up. Make it your business to get bad news fast.

John F. Kennedy famously asked this question in his inaugural address January 20, 1961.  You will probably be surprised to know how Thomas Jefferson answered the same question.

Before giving you Jefferson’s answer, here’s some background on this famous man.  One of Jefferson’s great interests, indeed one of his passions, was horticulture.  He was an avid importer of plants and attempted to develop orchards of diverse fruits, especially wine grapes, at Monticello.  Even though some of his experiments failed, his gardens and outbuildings where he experimented are a marvel to this day.

Here is what Jefferson wrote in 1800:  “The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.”

Jefferson’s statement reminds me of the words of a definition of success, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and one that I use in my Lincoln performance:  “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden plot, a redeemed social condition.   To know that even one soul has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”

Does not this definition of success, as illustrated by Jefferson, open up all sorts of possibilities for all of us who want to be successful?

“TAD is always filled with platinum.”   –Art Bauer

“Wonderful!  Great performance.  Reminder to live life to the fullest and learn as you go.  Lessons of life very powerful.”
–Ted Borelli 

“You were outstanding and delivered on everything that you promised +++.  Thank you!!  I am receiving many notes this morning from people who were there, and they are exceedingly complimentary to the whole evening and your performance.  It just worked out in splendid fashion.”
–Ken Thrasher.   (Thrasher is co-founder of Bennett-Thrasher, a highly regarded accounting firm based in Atlanta.  Dr. Griessman performed “The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln” for the company’s 30th anniversary celebration and client appreciation event.)

“When I read your excellent quote in TAD on change and switching horses, the first person I thought of was Henry Ford who was practically forced to change from the Model T to the Model A.   He finally switched horses in 1927.  There’s probably at least a couple of horses I should have dismounted.

“Below I took the liberty of rewording your quote so it sounds more like it would be said by Will Rogers:  If a horse has taken you as far as it can take you, dismount and find another horse.  The only rider that never needs to change horses is one made of marble or bronze.”
–Randall Reeder (Reeder is a widely recognized expert on Will Rogers.  His website is Reeder also does a one-man performance of Will Rogers.  I love his slogan:  “Need a speaker?  Hurry up and hire me before I die…again.”