Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Alert: Dealing with Divisiveness ...

     To too great an extent, our community, our state and our nation is ridden with divisiveness … people with opinions who don’t listen to those of others, missing the chance to practice the “civil” part of civilization enables us to keep moving forward.
     At the Brown County 2020 gathering in 2012, Divisiveness was targeted as one of the top five areas we must work on as a county.
     Right now, an initiative called Connecting Our Community is well on its way in development to subtly deal with divisiveness.
     It’s all about Telling Our Story … people are interviewing other people, and putting those stories on public media so we can learn about each other … what we’ve gone through of significance, and what our dreams are for Green Bay and Brown County.  (It’s a technique that’s worked very successfully in other communities, like Cincinnati.)
     It’s being coordinated through its own steering committee, with support from the Bay Area Community Council, a 24-person group of which I’m a member.  
     At some point, YOU should have your story told.
     To see examples, go to Connecting Our Community’s Facebook page:                Sign up to get future posts of stories.
     For more, go to their website at
     Instigators of the effort, which has a 24-person steering committee, are David Littig, a BACC member retired from the UWGB political science faculty, and very active community volunteer Randy Johnson.
     They will be having a “summit” to formally kick off the initiative on Saturday morning, November 14 at the Stadium View.

     Won’t it be cool when all of the municipality boards and the County Supervisors know each other’s “stories” in depth, and see each other as people rather than wrong-headed opinions.

On Irrationality

This summer, we had a chance again to spend several days at an incredible place in New York State called the Chautauqua Institution.  The theme of the week was Irrationality, with several speakers dedicated to it.  We initially poo-pooed it, but instead found the discussions very intriguing. 
Here’s some of what we were exposed to … trying to understand the rationality within our irrationality:

Preface:  The day before we got there, Dan Ariely, a Duke professor and coordinator of the theme, kicked off the week with these observations:
•  The battle generally comes down to a question of preference between instant and delayed gratification.
•  Temptations are what run our economy, and we’ve accepted behaviors that kill individuals faster, from texting-while-driving to smoking to obesity.  100 years ago, only 10% of deaths are due to poor decisions.  Today, it exceeds 40%.  “Who actually cares about your long-term well-being?”
•  One key:  Reward Substitution as a motivator.  To aid your positive decision-making to behave appropriately toward a long-term result, create very desirable short-term opportunities.
•  Regret motivator:  Contrast between where we are and where we think we could have been.  What’s more aggravating … missing your plane by two minutes, or two hours?  “If only …"
•  The Ulysses Contract:  “I will be tempted, so I will act to prevent it.”  Pay up front for a personal trainer … It’ll get you to the sessions.  Otherwise, you won’t.
•  The idea that providing more information/education will help isn’t true, he said.  We know the information, but we don’t act on it … lack of self-control (immediate vs. delayed gratification).
•  Temptation is everywhere.  You have to create your own rules for deciding and acting!!
•  Somebody asked me a question about what do I think about schoolteachers having weapons.  My answer was I don’t think I would have lived through middle school if my teachers had guns."

Dan Ariely, professor at Duke
Money and Irrationality
•  Money is the Common Good, and as such it often becomes the measure of our irrationality.  Often, he said, we use it as we analyze Opportunity Costs … what else it could be spent on.  What exactly are we giving up?  Usually, we analyze this in terms of alternative like products/services … and/or time.  
•  Relativity … Example:  You can buy this great $15 pen in this store right now … or walk five blocks for the exact one at $7 dollars.  Which would you do?  Probably walk the five blocks.  But:  You’re buying something right now for $1008 … or you can walk five blocks and get it for $1000.  Which would you do?
•  Pain of Paying … Example:  Pay for that $400 golf driver with cash, or with a check?  Which feels easier?  More interesting:  The steak costs $25 at the restaurant, but you don’t want it all.  Okay, what about paying by the bite?  Pay up front $10 for 12 bites … or be charged $.50/bite.  How will those scenarios affect how much you eat?  When you pay every time, the expense is miserable … so you do very little of it.
— Another example, Energy:  You pay your monthly gas bill without blinking … but when you buy gas for your car at the pump, you’re very attentive.
— Also, you’ll pay more when you SEE effort being made … even though the end result is less effective and less efficient than the software-driven one where you see no effort, or the result appears instantaneously.  That may be why you see the little circle circling on your computer while it looks up pricing for you.  You’ll feel more at ease paying more.
•  Okay, this one applies in lots of ways:  A worker is required to make 1000 of something, but if he/she exceeds 1200, he/she will receive $25 in cash.  Or, in an identical experiment, pizza delivered to your home.  Or, in a third, a phone call from the “big boss” complimenting him/her on the success.  Which yielded the most people attaining 1200?

Michael Norton, Harvard Business School
Money and Happiness
•  “Okay, how many of you think Money can buy Happiness?  Now, how many of you think it can’t?”  “Huh!  Those of you who don’t probably do a  lot of Yoga, or are wealthy.”  (Lots of laughter!)
•  Money DOES buy happiness … especially at the lower income scales as additional money pays for items that are needed and relieve anxiety.  The upper threshold is about $75,000 … and it doesn’t improve thereafter at ANY annual income or net worth level.
•  Lottery:  Will that buy happiness?  What it does, studies show, is create marital conflicts, stimulate thinking of upgrading your spouse, and deterioration of support system relationships.
SO, here are several things you can spend money on that WILL buy you more happiness …
1.  Experiences (vs. stuff):  Take a vacation, go on a cruise, etc.!  When you’re done, it is so unique to you that it is incomparable … you’re wonderful experience can’t be topped by anyone else’s.  Of interest:  With your next $2,000, should you buy a fantastic TV or go on a cruise?  Once you decide, your dominant emotion with the TV will be irritation (when will it get here!), but with the cruise, it’s anticipation!  The happiest day of your cruise experience is the day before you leave … because thereafter you’re consumed not just with the wonderful parts of the cruise, but the logistics of it as well.  And, the day after you get the TV, happiness drops because a newer, upgraded version just came out … and your neighbor bought it!
2.  Take A Break:  If married, spend a few days away from your spouse.  Not only will you be able to do things you want to do alone (that he/she doesn’t want to do anyway), but the anticipation of getting back together will heighten.  Hey, isn’t that the same effect as TV commercials?  They heighten your desire to get back to the program.
3.  Improve your use of TIME:  Usually, we do the reverse … as incomes rise, we get bigger houses, farther away from work, increasing the dreaded commuting time.  Commuting ranks right there with going to the dentist … so think about going to the dentist every day.  Key:  Increase your Human Connections!!!  You might want the “no worries” goldfish or cat, but the dog will have you meet other dog owners.
4.  Pay Now … Use Later:  It just makes you feel good when you finally use it.  Take the All-Inclusive Resorts.  Isn’t it great to do everything there FOR FREE!!
5.  Finally, the obvious one:  Spend Money On Others … whether to show appreciation for a birthday or anniversary, or because the other person truly needs something and can’t provide it himself/herself (Charity!).  Alert:
Insights from Questions:
•  Remembering a Lost Loved One:  Create a Ritual that remembers the person … like, continuing to do something you did with that person, which brings back the memory and honors him/her.
•  Accomplishment brings Happiness/Satisfaction:  Work.  Golf.  Ceramics/Art/Music/Crafts.
•  Losing something hurts much more than the equivalent amount of gaining something!
•  Measure:  “Happiness-Bang-For-The-Buck!"

David Parazzo, Prof. of Psychology, Cornell
The Emotion of Disgust ... and Irrationality
•  Emotions often take us to considering what we should have done, rather than what we did do … the “loss.”
•  Emotions interfere with the objective of rationality … which is consistency and self-interest.
•  One emotion, Fear, very often over-rides rationality … reacting to statistics that show virtually no risk, while continuing to do something that has higher risk.  (Think much of science … whether PCBs, genetically altered foods, bovine growth hormone.)
So, Disgust:
•  Most of what we find “disgusting” from a visual standpoint derives from bodily fluids … pus from an open wound, blood, sweat, mucus, snot.  They create a negative attitude regarding whatever they are related to.
•  Also:  We have a “disgust” reaction to what is different that we are used to … such as other people (racial color).  We assume the worst characteristics, and react accordingly.  And “cooties” or “bacteria” … a sip from another’s soda.
•  There is also a strong relationship of “disgust” to moral views … people who disgust “easily/frequently” often have strong moral views about certain social issues (think abortion, gay marriage, even barefoot hippies).
•  How these get analyzed:  Using a “Feeling Scale,” where Cold is “0” and Warm is “100.”  Inducing disgust, through the above techniques, will move people more towards the Cold end of the scale.

•  Disgust is what is called an “Avoidance Motivator.”

On Uncertainty

My TEC III member, Fred Johnson, who heads InitiativeOne, a leadership development consultancy now headquartered in Green Bay, monthly provides a workshop for 15-20 attendees for 45 minutes.  A recent one was on Uncertainty … and how an effective Leader deals with it.

Being effective isn’t natural.  
What is natural is to be overwhelmed by the unplanned situation, uncertain over what path to deal with it, thus creating panic and indecision.

So, how to react in an effective manner?  He points to four efforts:
1.  Ramp up communication.  Too often, leaders hold back, waiting until they have perfect information and can properly inform the workforce as to the path that must be taken.  In the meantime, the workforce knows something bad is going on, and undergoes various levels of anxiety because of the lack of information.  If they had it, they could be more in control of their own reactions.  Much better:  ESPECIALLY in bad situations, keep people informed of what you do know, and what additional information you’re looking for.
2.  Rely on your Values and Vision.  “It’s all you have, and all you need.”  Much of the activity in a bad situation, and much of the alternative paths … don’t take you towards your original Purpose, which is your vision.  Look for the path that best reduces the negatives, and moves you forward towards that Purpose.
3.  Keep asking questions, seeking wise counsel.  Great leaders know they need help and constantly seek it.  From the insights and counsel of others, they will be able to discern the correct path.  You never know from whom the “critical insight” or “wise-est” counsel will come.
4.  Maintain Calm.  Acknowledge the challenge, and approach it with deliberateness.  Everyone is watching you and how you go about your decision-making.  You may be in turmoil inside, but maintain calm on the outside, while constantly doing Points 1-3, above.

Other insights from attendees:
•   “I’ve noticed that when I worry, I shut down my creativity.”
•  “My father was a pilot, and frequently cautioned, ‘don’t worry about the altitude above you, or the runway behind you.’  We use that a lot when looking at problems.”
•  “Look at how your plans changed from what they were on 9/10 … to what they needed to be on 9/12.”

•  “Do your employees know what your Vision for the organization is?  Where you’re taking everyone?"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Teaching Capitalism to Catholics

       Excellent column recently in the WSJ, trying to reconcile the practice of “free" markets with Catholic “social justice” principles … the accusation being that the two are incompatible.  Actually, quite the opposite.
The Catholic position posits that the following are  critical components of a “just” economic system:
    •  Protection of private property and human freedom;
    •  Concern for the common good (meaning, all people);
    •  Respect for human dignity;
    •  “Preferential option” for the poor.
Capitalism, properly formulated, does exactly this.  These are the Morals that must underly the practice of capitalism (which in a standalone form is amoral).  Indeed, even mediocre practices of capitalism have resulted in lifting more people from poverty than any other system ever tried.
The problem is that virtually every government corrupts capitalism.  Politicians listen to business advocates and pass rules and taxes that favor somebody over somebody else.  It’s plenty bad in the U.S. (witness the need to pass major tax reform that removes huge numbers of tax advantages for certain businesses), but much worse in other countries, especially Italy.  Lobbyists aren’t all bad, but their job is to advocate for regulations and tax changes that benefit their sponsors … to the detriment of someone else (whether other businesses or the general populace).
Yes, there need to be regulations and codes … but only the ones that provide the moral foundation desired by “the people” generally, and not specific interests.
The corruption of capitalism by politicians serving special interests (companies and business associations providing campaign dollars clearly want influence) is what is giving capitalism a bad name.  
So, decide what regulations and taxes we want to change … and the more tax breaks/deductions/credits we eliminate, the “purer” a capitalistic free market system we’ll have.  The trouble is that someone is benefiting from every one of those tax breaks/deductions/credits … and will be arguing and funding against the changes.
PS:  As far as the “preferential option” for the poor, we have that … in the form of Earned Income Tax Credits, housing allowances, what used to be called food stamps, training grants, unemployment comp and the like.  All are good, to the degree they benefit those while they are unable to fend for themselves.

Stimulus Spending and “Value Creation”

There is lots of justified criticism of the various stimulus spending efforts designed to pump spendable dollars into the economy.  There are too, too many examples where the dollars spent haven’t resulted in the gains predicted.
Recently, I read of using the metric of Projected Value Creation to analyze what would be the additional value in dollars that would result from spending on the project.  So, think “Value Creation.”
And projects should be separated into at least two categories:
1.  Infrastructure … like capital expenditures in private industry terms … investments.  What will be the dollar returns each year into the future, discounted to the present.  To what degree are these “gifts that keep on giving”?
2.  Direct payments to people (to buy “clunkers,” or just to give away $300/person, to cite prior examples) … which are effectively welfare.  They may be justified as a short term stimulus to let disadvantaged people buy some more, but should be characterized as such.  They are effectively one-time spends that don’t really create jobs.  If not, what is the dollar value of the “Value Created.”
Good metric.

James Kotecki, Madison Humorist/Observer

      Recently, at an NWTC-sponsored Business Success Conference, I heard one of the keynote speakers make some funny and insightful points on the topic of “Escaping Adulthood":
•  Adultitis is a terrible disease, with a major side effect of stress.  You’re in a “rut” rather than a “groove.”  One sign:  When your cellphone is a body part.
•  “I’m very excited to be a Dad.  It takes only 5 minutes a day, and qualifies me to be a We-man.”
•  Nothing beats being “original.”  In the Music Hall of Fame are NOT people who sing Beatles songs, but the Beatles themselves.  Figure out and BE your original!
•  See with New Eyes.  Keep asking Why so you get past the “we’ve always done it that way syndrome.”  Find out the real reason rules are created, and whether they still apply … because bypassing them may open new vistas and ways of thinking and seeing.

Book: Controller as Business Manager

        A Milwaukee friend of mine, Jim Lindell, with a great CPA background who works with CEOs and senior teams, has written this book to inform financial executives on their emerging and needed broader role in the organization … the necessity to see broader business issues, to be proactive in helping other senior managers know what’s working and what’s not, and what to do about it.
If you think your financial head could use this, forward this item to him/her.

For more information:
Controller as Business Manager, AICPA, $43.75

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Green Bay Packers Mentor/Protege Program

I have the privilege of being on the board of this program, driven by Anna Steinfest of U.S. Bank and Aaron Popkey of the Packers (with John Hartman of Visonex as our Board Chair).  
               (You can learn more at:
Each Fall, we provide mentors and mentor companies to small business owners who desire such a relationship.  It lasts formally for a year, with the Protege required to develop a business plan with goals and to report on progress quarterly.  We create feedback sessions where the Mentors and Proteges report to their peers and the board on what they’re accomplishing (and their barriers) and get supportive feedback.
We usually create 5-8 such relationships … and it should be more.  We can find Mentors, but it’s hard to find Proteges … people with at last two years in business and desiring to grow faster.
I’ve been privileged to have several of my TEC members involved as Mentors (with the active support of their organizations).  Currently, Mark Radtke of Integrys is a mentor, and in the past, Patrick Gauthier of Amerilux, Ernie Remondini of Lindquist Machines, and Amy Kiefer of KI have been mentors.
If you run into small business owners who might have the interest, have them contact Anna Steinfest at

NWTC is an Important and Dynamic Example

My TEC III member, Jeff Rafn, who has headed Northeast Wisconsin Technical College since 1997, is a leading advocate explaining why technical education is a public investment “must,” which he did to a St. Norbert CEO Breakfast & Strategy audience earlier today.
He has several mission-based principles that he uses to motivate and guide his institution’s efforts, like …
•  “Every time a student leaves the college before finishing the Associates Degree is probably condemning him or her to a life in poverty.”  Corollary:  “It’s our objective to increase the likelihood that the person will complete the Degree.  We do that through delivering learning where they want it, when they want it, and how they want it."
•  “A high school diploma is no longer sufficient to assure a job that will support a family.”
•  “We watch very carefully to see how fast our graduates get jobs, in what fields, and what they pay.”  That’s so we make sure we are providing training where businesses need skills.

Persuasive Statistics
He has some persuasive 2013 statistics that support the technical/community college need:
•  Unemployment, which was in the 7% range nationally, was only 4% for people with community college Associate degrees, and 3.4% for people with college Bachelor’s degrees.
•  Starting salaries were actually significantly higher for Associate Degree graduates with specific skills that for students graduating from 4-year colleges … by a lot.  (Obviously, college graduates catch up over time.)

Get Them Interested In High School
“We are starting a program with the Green Bay high schools with the objective of having every high school graduate already having 15 technical college credits.  We work with high school instructors to help them meet our requirements.  As a student develops the credits, they are introduced to the value of getting the Associates Degree and specific skill training.  It’s an important way to capture students where there interests are, especially when traditional learning isn’t their thing.”
Why is this important?  Because with 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day and beginning the process of leaving the workforce, there is a significant reduction in employable people occurring, especially in Wisconsin.  The current 65% of the population of working age will shrink to 55% in 20 years.  That’s fewer people to do the work that will support an aged population, so preparing people for the best paying jobs is critical.  Fortunately, Wisconsin ranks high in developing manufacturing jobs, largely supported by export purchases from other countries.

A Few Specifics
Among the novel approaches to creating successful learning that yields successful students:
•  Each student must take College 101, a course that preps them for learning success.
•  A coaching program for students who must improve their reading and writing, yielding significantly better results.
•  A “Bridge” program that puts at-risk students together in small groups to learn a specific skill, while also improving vocabulary.  One example I’ve heard of is an electrical skills class of 13 very diverse, poor background teens who under other situations would be competitive.  The instructor helps them with new words and collaborative “working together” as they focus on learning the electrical skills.  Result:  Over time, they’ve become a “tribe” supporting each other.
•  Reverse the traditional approach of teaching subject matter in class, and doing hands-on/workshop/review outside of class.  Instead, expose them to the content through assignments, and use class time to work together to imbed the learning.

The school’s mantra:  Dream!  Learn it!  Live it!”

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bill Malooly

        On January 11, I attended the funeral of Bill Malooly, 72, who was a great banker in the 1980s and 1990s here in Green Bay … the ideal kind, who invested in people whom he knew to have character, and bugged them until they were successful and returned the loan.  He impacted positively lots of business and employment growth in N.E.W. … and knew how to stay away from those that weren’t going to succeed (mostly!).
His brother, in his reflections, talked about three principles that drove Bill … which are strong ones for us all:

1.  Be READY … i.e., PREPARE, so you are ready when the opportunity you seek arrives.  Don’t wait for it to be there, and then hope.
2.  LEAP!  When that opportunity shows itself, grab it.
3.  Do it RIGHT!  Much of his guidance was in pressing people to stop doing things wrong or incompletely, and to begin doing them RIGHT.  Take care of your people and your customers and your suppliers.  (Taking care of yourself comes later.)

About "Becoming Generation Flux"

        I love it when local friends develop a book (a massive undertaking), and Miles Anthony Smith has just completed ANOTHER one (he did Why Leadership Sucks a few years back).
Generation Flux, he explains, is named by Fast Company writer Robert Safian as he explains that those who will thrive during the next two decades will be those who can adapt quickly to “fluidity” from one paradigm to the next.  Those without this capability will survive, but constantly struggle and it won’t be a pretty sight.  Most organizations are ill-suited for this “fluidity,” especially larger ones … so be prepared to watch and live within lots of organizational withering and splitting, and lots of re-birth.
He is very forceful on the point that government policies aren’t helping people at lower income levels to make this change.  Policies in many states actually dis-incent people to pursue a job or get training at all; welfare payments not infrequently total more than starting wages in many occupations.  
Political efforts to solve the “problem” are often, simply stupid.  One egregious example:  In 2011, politicians placed a high tariff on foreign tires to save tire-manufacturing jobs.  They saved 1200 jobs at most, at a cost of $900,000 per job saved. 
He makes the point that education is key to advancement (actually, continuing education), and goes over the “cost of education” tradeoff with “lifelong earnings gain”.  One quote:  When looking at a potential employer, the main thing to ask is “Is there a culture of learning?  If the answer is yes, then you are probably in a good place.   If no, then find a way to learn and grow, so you can find another army to march with.”  Concentrate on the people skills that machines can’t copy.
A proper role of government, Miles says, is to try to foster "equal economic opportunity … and stop trying to engineer equal economic results."
In other words, don’t look outside yourself for help in dealing with the fast-changing marketplace.  Have skills that are useful from job-to-job, and even industry-to-industry.
Other of his points:
•  Only 40 million Gen Xers are replacing 80 million Baby Boomers, so there is great opportunity for leadership positions!  Indeed, the following Gen Y cohort is also quite small, so there will be great opportunity for them … and even the huge Millenials right behind.
•  For first-job seekers, make sure you have the needed digital technology skills to perform it.
Much of the book is self-help, providing a context for the job-seeking and job-holding efforts, and pointers for being successful at them.