Issue 88

“Achievement is an act of the will.”
 Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Editor
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Charm Defined “I think charm is the ability to be truly interested in other people.”
–Richard Avedon  (American photographer; 1923-2004)


Empty Promises
“As a general rule, people who can’t help themselves won’t be able to help you either. A small promise from someone who’s successful is worth a lot more than big promises from somebody who’s not.”
–Gene Griessman


Putting Humor to Good Use
“One good way to destroy an opponent is to turn him into a joke.”
–Gene Griessman


Walk the Talk

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.  I just watch what they do.”
–Andrew Carnegie  (Scottish-born industrialist and philanthropist; 1835-1919)


Breaking the Rules

“Conventions are the bulwark of civilization, a guarantee of social protection. They can also be a prison cell. Of course, any art has its conventions, too, just like every other activity, and an artist is expected to fulfill them. Traditionally, however, for at least three millennia and possibly longer, the artist is also expected paradoxically to violate conventions–to entertain, to surprise, to outrage, to be original.”
–Charles Rosen, (American pianist and author; 1927)

Good Advice

“Get them to sing your song, and then they’ll want to know who you are.”– Backstage advice from Paul Robeson to then-unknown Harry Belafonte, Jr.   (Paul Robeson—American singer and actor;1898-1976. Harry Belafonte, Jr.–American singer and actor;1927–)


It Sometimes Takes Two…
Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said about Susan B. Anthony: “I am the better writer, she the better critic… and together we have made arguments that have stood unshaken by the storms of thirty long years; arguments that no man has answered.”

–Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) were pioneers of the women’s rights movement.


If At First You Don’t Succeed…
“He (Abraham Lincoln) was a very deliberate writer, anything but rapid…He seemed to think nothing of the labor of writing personally and was accustomed to make many scraps of notes and memoranda.  In writing, he first quoted himself, then corrected it, and then re-wrote the corrected version himself.” Recollection of his son Robert Lincoln.


Are You Planning A Fund-Raiser?
Book Gene Griessman. 
Dr. Griessman is known for his keynote presentations, seminars, and banquet presentations.  He also often does fundraisers. Just this past week, he performed in character as Abraham Lincoln for the Sandy Springs (Georgia) United Methodist Church.  Here’s an email from Maurice Richardson, who helped promote the event: “You were just magnificent, what a delight as so many said,’ Wonderful time spent with Abe Lincoln.’ We all thank you.”  And next month, Dr. Griessman returns to Lake Mary, Florida for a return engagement to help raise funds for

Leadership Seminole.  Interested?  Call us at 404-435-2225.


Exclusively For TAD

An Excerpt from the New Book LINCOLN AND OBAMA


It is February 11, 1861. Tomorrow will be his birthday. The day is cold and bleak. A somber throng of well-wishers follows the president-elect to the train station to see him off. There are old friends, and relatives, even people who didn’t vote for him, but who take civic pride in their most famous citizen.


The scene becomes emotional. Many in the audience are sobbing. Lincoln, who almost always is self-contained in public, is visibly moved. An eyewitness writes, “His own breast heaved with emotion, and he could scarcely command his feelings sufficiently to commence.”


Newspaper reporters who have trailed along aren’t expecting much. Lincoln already told them that he’s going to make just a few remarks, not give a speech.


Lincoln’s words are direct, heart-felt. And they touch the crowd.


When New York Tribune journalist Henry Villard sees the reaction, he tells Lincoln that he thinks his words should be shared with the nation.


Lincoln agrees. And as the train pulls out of the station, Lincoln starts writing.


He begins to smooth out his words, find a cadence. What he says at the station is moving, heartfelt but rough-edged. Now all his years of reading and memorizing Shakespeare and Robert Burns and the King James Version of the Bible, and writing poetry himself, all of that begins to work for him.


His thoughts take poetic form. There are little flourishes that the experts call antiphony: “Here my children have been born/and one is buried.” But Lincoln uses just a few of them. This is not a poetry-writing exercise.


Lincoln wants to convey a message to the nation, and the New York Tribune is going to help him do it. The flourishes are there to make sure he comes across as more than an uneducated rustic.


To a nation reeling from news that the Cotton States are seceding, and the Union is disintegrating, Lincoln expresses hope and confidence: “With the assistance of the Divine Being,” he writes, “I cannot fail.”


Lincoln virtually worships George Washington, and he would never think of himself as his equal. But Lincoln feels that the burden he is taking on is greater than the one Washington dealt with. Washington fought an external foe, the British. Lincoln knows there could be a war in which Americans will fight Americans.


Before his departure, Lincoln tries out the George Washington comparison on a friend. The words go down well, so he keeps them in the final version of his farewell remarks. Lincoln writes “…with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington.”


Lincoln’s speeches often have the cold logic of a mathematical argument. But on this day, he lets the audience briefly look into his heart, feel its beat, know his anguish.


He expresses gratitude. “To this place, and the kindness of these people”—poetry again—“I owe everything.” He speaks of his family and of his little boy Eddie who is buried not far from the train station. Then he says, “I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return…”

That sentence is raw, but he leaves it in. Lincoln has a premonition, and has spoken privately about it. He feels he will never return.


And Lincoln does not return to Springfield again, until another train returns some four and a half years later with two coffins—his own and his son Willie’s—to be buried there.


Lincoln finishes his editing. Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer calls what is happening, “a stunning example not of spontaneous eloquence, but of Lincoln’s meticulous ability to edit and rewrite, even under pressure.” The train is speeding along now through the Illinois countryside. People are waving handkerchiefs and American flags as it passes by. The next day, this is what newspapers will say Lincoln said at the train station:


“My friends—No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”


We hope you enjoy this sample.  The book is now available as an ebook for $9.95.  Here are the links:


eBook  Amazon KINDLE:


eBook Barnes &Noble NOOK:


eBook Apple:


You can order bound copies ($19.95) from or from


New Book Promotion

If you order from, we pay the shipping, and for a limited time, we’ll include a bonus item.  Plus the book will be autographed by Dr. Griessman.  Take advantage of this promotion.  Order several for holiday gifts. 

Going to the Dogs: What You Can Learn About High Achievement from Dog Trainers

There’s a revolution taking place in the way dogs are trained.  The change is based on what psychologist B.F. Skinner* learned about behavior modification.  Skinner said, “Give me a child, and I can shape him into anything.”  “Anything” is a bit much, but it is amazing how much behavior can be modified, if you know how to do it.


Dogs are well suited for behavior modification because of their intense desire to please, and their love of a game. So are humans.


Many dog trainers now use four basic concepts straight out of Skinner’s textbook: positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment.**


“You used to wait until the dog did something wrong, then corrected it,” says Michelle Pouliot, Director of Research and Development at Guide Dogs for the Blind in Oregon.  “Now you’re rewarding a behavior you like before it goes wrong…If a dog loves squirrels, you have to find something that excites him so much it overpowers the squirrel instinct…If you’re constantly on top of him–punishing, punishing, punishing–that behavior is not going away. You have to get that dog to try to figure out what you want….”


*I spent two days with B. F. Skinner when I was writing “The Achievement Factors.”  I still teach Skinner’s concepts in my seminars on leadership and communication.


**To learn more about how these concepts are used in canine training, read “Beware of the Dogs” by Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker, February 27, 2012.


“Loved the wonderful distinction between arguments and quarrels.  –James A. Carter, M.D.


“The latest issue of TAD was very well done I plan to share with my board.”  –E. Elliott Miller, CEO, Georgia Banking Company


“Excellent presentation.  Insightful, moving and entertaining”  –Octavio Diaz, business executive (after attending a Lincoln presentation at the Union League of Philadelphia)


“Gene really brought Lincoln to life.  Having had a great-grandfather who fought at Gettysburg, it brought tears to my eyes feeling I was there like him.”  –Woody Woodregh Lee, business owner


“You spoke to the Atlanta Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) in 1992 when I was chapter president.  You spoke on your book “the Achievement Factors.”  Your talk that day and your book (I bought a copy that you autographed, and I still have) impacted me greatly.


“You shared a definition of ‘good luck’ that really struck me and has become the focus of my life—‘When perspiration and preparation meet opportunity.’  Understanding that ‘good luck’ had always been around me, I just had to work hard and smart, be prepared to accept the success, and I would be able to take advantage of it when it presented itself.  I purposed to transform myself and my family business into one that would use the Achievement Factors as a baseline from which we would operate.  I can’t thank you enough for the impact you made and the inspiration you created in that 20 minute talk to a bunch of property managers.”
–Michael A. McCreary, CPM, MPM, President, McCreary Realty Company, Marietta, GA