January 2015

Magnetic North—True North

In my experience, discussions concerning race, gender, ethnicity or culture tend to settle on the obvious. The discussion rarely takes into account other issues that impact behavior, issues that can give one a headache trying to work through them. Rather, the discussion moves like a compass needle seeking magnetic north. Every navigator worth their salt is going to adjust for error. When the error in a compass is found and adjusted for it gives the navigator "True North." Once true north is found, a navigator can chart a safe and accurate course to the intended destination. The conversation concerning race is void a navigator's adjustment for true north.

The obvious north in racial conversations sounds something like this: "black culture is________ fill in the blank"; "white culture is________ fill in the blank." And of course, it is these differences that are causing problems and generate the issues we have seen playing out in the media. Right? It's not that easy.

The reality is surprising. I would offer that it is economic status that is at the core of unacceptable behavior. It is too simplistic to believe that race, gender, or culture, dictates how a person behaves, black people act this way; white people act that way. It is the impact of subcultures that define behavior. There exist a vast number of subcultures e.g. religion, club or organizational affiliations. These are cultures we do not see and each impacts behavior. Particularly worthy of note, there is no greater impact on behavior than belonging to a subculture of poverty.

Subcultures cut across race, gender, and ethnicity. The subculture of poverty drives language. It drives interactions between peoples. It drives how money, food, and the police, are viewed. It is the one subculture that is universal in its behavior.

True navigators look for error. It is an error that all Black Americans behave the same or all White Americans behave the same. In short, middle-class Black and White Americans have more in common with each other, read behaviors, than with Black or White Americans at the poverty economic level. I could go on, but I need to keep this short.

I have had this conversation with a number of people; it is a conversation that will give one a headache. Headaches are needed. The short, simple "it's racial" response is too easy. It is not acceptable. We, all of us, regardless of race, who want to make a difference, not just headlines, will engage in this sort of conversation.

It is a difficult conversation. Navigating the ocean without GPS is difficult. It requires a navigator who understands there is magnetic north and true north. You have to take the error out.

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© 2015 by John Boggs all rights reserved.

Hidden Rules: Hiding in Plain View

I read an article in Forbes' Online Entrepreneurs section "Boulder, Colorado: The World Leader in Women's Entrepreneurship?" I recommend the read to all, men and women. The article speaks to a report published by Babson College highlighting the gender gap in venture capital funding and what two organizations in Colorado are doing in support of women entrepreneurs.

When you read the article, I hope you do, ask yourself, what was the hidden rule of success that the organizations are exposing to the women entrepreneurs?

It is Rule One for becoming successful in life. It is Rule One for being a successful business. It is Rule One for moving from one economic status to another—poverty to the middle class; middle class to wealthy.

It is hidden in plain view. It is Relationships.

The article speaks of coaching, mentors and influencers. My advice is this. In order to improve the condition of an individual or an entity, it takes being made familiar with the rules and the nuances of where you are trying to take yourself or your organization. That is best learned from coaches, mentors, and influencers. They are all around you. Hidden in plain view.

There is another way of learning the hidden rules of success—experience. That can be painful. Moreover, it can be devastating personally and financially.

Build your relationships. Learn the hidden rules of success from those who have been where you would like to go.


I hope all have had a great Holy Season and a grand New Year!

Now that the festivities are over, I remind you exceptional leaders to look at the year gone by with a critical eye. What went exceedingly well for you and your organization? Ask yourself why? Be critical. Equally important, what went incredibly bad? Ask yourself why? In answering both questions you are going to set yourself and your organization up for great success in the upcoming year.

I recommend highly to that you read the very short poem "Opportunity" by John James Ingalls. It is a good habit for leaders to read poetry from time to time. It allows you to never loose your humanity.

This will be a great year for all.

Semper Fi!

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