About Tom Ruby

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So far Tom Ruby has created 50 blog entries.

Busy Is The New Status Symbol

I was listening to NPR this morning when a story came up about the new status symbol in the US these days: Busyness, or at least the appearance of being too busy for leisure and other people. Boy have we flipped things upside down or what in the last 20 years? It used to be [...]

By | April 27th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

Can You Change Your Mind? It’s Important.

If you've read this column over the last few years, you would likely have noticed several themes, one of which is peoples' remarkable consistency in getting in their own way on the road to success. I've written many times that the three most important words a senior leader can say is "I don't know." Once [...]

By | March 13th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

A Cautionary Leadership Tale

Warning Aspiring Leaders: If you set about bringing down the king, you had better be prepared to BE the king. That means fixing all the issues you were complaining about. Leading, governing is always harder than complaining. Side note: if you're unable to separate your political feelings from the intellectual argument on leadership that follows, [...]

By | February 14th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

Look Around, Leaders. What Do You See?

Look around, leaders. Who do you see? Yes, it is meant to be a loaded question. We are told constantly through the popular culture and through many of our religious cultures that we are to see and value the dignity of the individual and not merely the skin colors or genders. And as far as [...]

By | January 31st, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

Truth and Its Interpretation

Well, if there is a subject many of us didn't think would be at the forefront of popular culture at the beginning of this year it certainly would have to be truth. There's no question that the political culture has that word at the center of discussion as does the media. But it isn't only [...]

By | January 23rd, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

Are You “That Guy?” Here’s Some Help…

Sorry to say, but if you are, you don't know it, and most likely nobody is going to tell you. But there's hope. You can turn it around. Really. The New York Times piece "How To Keep Your Office Holiday Party From Going Off The Rails" is a good place to start. “Getting on top [...]

By | December 21st, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Will You Survive The Unintended Consequences Of Your Good Actions?

One of the truths of all human endeavor, especially in business, is that your actions have consequences. That is, after all, why we make decisions and think about what we need to do to achieve our desired outcomes. And when we do it properly, we are rewarded with success. But what happens when we take [...]

By | December 21st, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Be Ready To Answer What You Are Reading

"What are the last 5 books you've read?" I was surprised how often I was asked that question as a young rising professional by my bosses and other senior leaders considering hiring me. Then as I grew older, I found myself asking the same question to my direct reports when I took over a new [...]

By | December 6th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Embrace Processes For Business and Governance

Here is a typical situation when a leadership and organizational consultant goes into a new business to help them out. The consultant has a discussion with the client trying to get to the bottom of several issues in the front office. There are multiple paths that needed exploring, but the consultant's process tells him where [...]

By | December 2nd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

It Is Time For Concern And Action

There is no longer any doubt about it. We are at a decision point in history. We are nearing the point at which we have the opportunity to throw the switch on the tracks of history to go down a new path. However, I fear we as a people are too busy with our necks [...]

By | November 19th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Some Sociology, Thinking, and Leadership Ponderings…Post-Election

We need to talk. We need to listen. We need to love. Everyone. Our neighbors. Those who aren't our neighbors. The promise of technology, the internet and social media was that people would be able to get together in virtual communities. The reality is that people have used the information revolution to increasingly associate with [...]

By | November 9th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Be A Better Leader By Connecting Ideas

Ideas. The best leaders live in the realm of ideas. Facts and details are great and necessary. But connecting ideas is what advances business and humanity. You've heard me say often that the senior leader's job is to stay above the daily fray and focus on the long-term vision and strategy (see here). I also [...]

By | October 27th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

But Are Facts Enough To Change Minds?

It's better to be right than first. We've talked often here about narratives in the past (see here and here) and why it is so critical for senior leaders to look for evidence when making decisions and developing strategies to achieve corporate objectives. Sunday's Washington Post featured an article titled "Amanda Knox is innocent. But [...]

By | October 3rd, 2016|Blog|3 Comments

We Should Reconsider Who We Call Allies

Perhaps it is time to have an internal dialogue within the Government and between our treaty partners about precision in language about what an ally is and isn't. And if necessary, we ought to take the bold steps of making formal changes to whom we call allies. It matters. I would contend allies and coalition [...]

By | September 22nd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Happiness, Well-being, Work and Pay

I sat in a client's office a couple of years ago when the client told me he didn't like my second Maxim (click on the link here to see the full list): Seek Balance in Life. He said that in his experience, people use the concept of balance to not work as hard as they [...]

By | September 14th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

How Willing Are You To Learn?

May I offer you a challenge? Carefully consider the following question: As a CEO or senior leader, how willing are you to learn? It may seem like a simple question. It may seem not worth your time. But indulge me for a minute. Go down the hallway to the rest room or close the door [...]

By | August 29th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Some Thoughts For Rising Professionals

Whether you are a young rising professional or are tagged to be a senior leader's executive assistant, there are some very sound steps to help you get through turbulent waters. Few people want to go through the pain of the steps required to rise through the ranks in the corporate world, but those who have [...]

By | August 25th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Fiddling While Rome Burns and The Right to Be Wrong

It has been a difficult week for liberalism in the world. The notion that people ought to respect the election results even if it puts in power those they oppose isn't working. The idea that cosmopolitanism - diversity and respect for other cultures - is better than everyone looking and thinking the same seems to [...]

By | July 19th, 2016|Blog|4 Comments

Some business and leadership lessons from Brexit and what they mean for the future

How odd that the Washington Post said that the biggest "threat" to the European Union is the will of the people. The Brussels technocrats who have steadfastly maintained a distance between themselves and the people of the member countries all for the ostensible betterment of those people through routine and predictable rules of commerce and [...]

By | June 27th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

The Social Contract, The Oregon Trail and New America (Yup, they go together…)

Last week I had a very serendipitous convergence. I had fresh in my memory the day two weeks ago that I spoke to the government classes at our local high school. It's not the kids' fault that they didn't know what the social contract is. The overwhelming sentiment among these seniors was that we should [...]

By | May 25th, 2016|Blog|2 Comments

Professional Lessons From a Great Mentor

Last week, I visited a mentor who arguably taught me the most about professionalism in my early career; lessons that have stayed with me until. John Casciano certainly didn't look like the type that would rise to the highest levels of National Security leadership. Short in stature, he certainly wasn't going to rise based on [...]

By | May 23rd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Once Again, Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When Air Force General Michael Fortney told his subordinate commanders to root our and do away with Queep (http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/05/03/2-star-general-puts-wasteful-queep-duties-crosshairs/83873648/), he continued a long tradition of senior leaders trying to Lean down their operations and do away with those meaningless duties that take away focus from the company's bottom line. Unfortunately, his directive is doomed to [...]

By | May 10th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

The Long Road of Professional Development – There’s Really No Easy Way

There is a popular notion these days that younger workers and professionals, especially millennials, aren't interested in working hard to put in their time before being promoted to leadership positions; that they somehow feel entitled to all they want without putting in the time like those who went before them. I'm not sure I buy [...]

By | May 2nd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Truth Isn’t Good Or Bad, It Just Is

A recent publication of the entire results of a 40 year old study on health and diet puts another nail in the coffin of what "everybody knows" regarding diet and heart disease. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/12/this-study-40-years-ago-could-have-reshaped-the-american-diet-but-it-was-never-fully-published/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_most-draw5) This post isn't about what we should or shouldn't be eating. It is about truth in research and completeness in our search [...]

By | April 13th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Implications Of The Coming Presidential Election; Vote for Who You Will, But Think It Through

Realizing that we are all in the same boat as far as reading about and thinking over implications of the coming election, I've stayed away from sending out any emails or personal thoughts on what's coming up. This is NOT a post about who I think will win or who I think we should vote [...]

By | April 13th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Newsmaker – Reflections On A Republic’s Threatened Defense

Well, it happened again...I have to find space on my reading list by taking off a book to make room for a book that needs to go on it. My own rule is that to keep the list on one piece of paper (front and back), if I want to add a title to the [...]

By | March 30th, 2016|featured reading|0 Comments

Critical Thinking For Leaders

In previous posts we discussed how leaders have a responsibility to create organizational clarity, ensure the organization's identity and direction, create an organizational structure to meet the long-term objectives, to stay above the day-to-day fray and let their subordinates do their jobs, and to learn to say "I don't know." That all still applies. But [...]

By | March 11th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Truth Doesn’t Change Based on the Rank of the Recipient

I was overseas in 1997, on assignment in a Middle East country in what could only be described as an "everybody-has-to-go-through-it" temporary assignment. My predecessor had told me that the bad guys had slowly, over time, moved a host of military equipment to locations in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. But those movements didn't [...]

By | March 1st, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Distilling Senior Leader Responsibilities

In previous posts we discussed the importance of senior leaders focusing on the long-range vision and strategy and leaving the day-to-day “doing” to your doers. But through lots of feedback and discussions in the field, it is time to put out another post on how to do that. Leaving the doing to the doers does [...]

By | February 17th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Some Thoughts On Critical Thinking

The benefit of applying critical thinking methodology to all aspects of life is that you are rarely surprised, and when you are, you can more easily adapt. But the hard part is that, at first, you will be nearly universally scorned by those who either can't or won't think critically. Those that listened heard me correctly on [...]

By | February 11th, 2016|Blog|4 Comments

Goodness Breeds Goodness…Really

This is my first Maxim for leaders. It seems strange to many that I speak of goodness before market share or process refinement or the importance of a corporate strategic plan. But I put it first deliberately and not for some pretend altruism. Before all else, goodness can make an organization. No matter your job, [...]

By | February 2nd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

More is more. You have to make it better.

More is better, right? More food for less money at the buffet; trackers on every shipping container to know what is inside and where it is in the world; more watts for less money per light bulb; more gigabytes of data per month on your mobile phone plan; more surveillance to help stop terrorist attacks. But [...]

By | January 11th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

This Week, Review and Renew Your Most Important Truth

Who are you and what do you want to be? Those are the two most important questions any business leader must answer when beginning a new business or job. And it is always important to review what you said when you started and renew your commitment to those answers at the beginning of each new [...]

By | January 3rd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

This Time of Year, Leaders Should (re)Read This Classic

There are few people who have not read the original or watched a TV version of Charles Dickens's, A Christmas Carol. As a story of a life redeemed, it is one that few people I've ever met can say anything negative about. Sure, we love to go see the play at Ford's Theater or our local [...]

By | December 21st, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

How Much Willpower Do You Have?

Roy Baumeister (professor of social psychology at Florida State) and John Tierney (long time science correspondent for the New York Times) call Willpower the greatest human strength in the book's very subtitle. A bold statement, and a challenge to hook both the professional who wants more willpower or the one who thinks he [...]

By | December 4th, 2015|featured reading|0 Comments

Today’s Great Business and Artistic Anniversary – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody

The Economist highlights today's anniversary 40 years ago of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody hitting #1 on the British pop charts with an article about the iconic song and the level of artistry that went into it. But this article was more than just a commemoration of a great song that nearly everyone, no matter your generation, [...]

By | November 30th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Why We Don’t See “It” Coming – Mind Candy

The small ethnic European restaurant in the small town in middle America was hurting. The owner/chef made great food, but tables were empty most nights. The reviews on social media were less than stellar with many pointing out that the restaurant sold out of some top menu items more regularly than they should. After meeting with [...]

By | October 19th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Long Lost Gem Refound

Everyone finds them on occasion -- those long lost or never known gems of books that offer profound common sense that we all know we should use, try to use, or actually do use every day.  While reading through Maria Popova's outstanding web site, I was so intrigued by her review of William [...]

By | October 7th, 2015|featured reading|0 Comments

Some Dos and Don’ts of Hiring a Consultant

How do you know when it is time to seek an outside view of your operations or to seek advice? And if you do, what should you consider in selecting a partner to give you honest, critical and unemotional feedback and advice? First, allow me to relate an allegorical story that is true in the sense [...]

By | September 28th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Accept Uncertainty and Thrive

One of the greatest challenges senior leaders face is dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity in all aspects of operations from strategic decision-making to daily tasks. When margins are narrow and your key variables are uncertain, it is naturally understandable to wait for more information before making decisions.  However, the longer a leader waits for information [...]

By | September 21st, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Was Huntington Right?

Yesterday's news presented two articles (one by the Washington Post and the other on the blog, Medium) that seemed widely disparate, one about retired general David Petraeus remaining in the limelight well after his ignominious retirement, and the other about xenophobia in Germany against Muslim foreigners. What could these articles possible have in common? Samuel Huntington. [...]

By | August 18th, 2015|Blog|5 Comments

The Dangers of Coddling Our Young Minds

The Atlantic just released a much needed and very important long think-piece titled "The Coddling Of The American Mind".  Just at the time I have been considering withdrawing from the academic game due to the issues raised in the article, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt sound the warning that by stifling all speech - beyond [...]

By | August 11th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

There Is No Magic Pixie Dust

The first role of the leader is to develop and maintain clarity of purpose in an organization. That clarity is required no matter the ease or difficulty of the environment or business climate. With clarity must come truth, no matter how difficult it is to accept. Strategic planning is only as sound as the leaders' willingness [...]

By | August 3rd, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Validating Assumptions – The Key to Good Strategy

This past winter, my daughter realized she was driving on a flat tire on a rural road with no place to pull over. She called me and I met her there to show her how to change the tire to the spare and then take it to the shop for repair.  It was a simple [...]

By | July 21st, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Strategy – What it is and isn’t

So many of our senior leaders in all segments of industry are so mired in the day-to-day minutiae of their companies that they convince themselves they have no time to look out into the future, let alone bring together their directors for long-term planning projects. We have said in past posts that getting out of the [...]

By | July 13th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Compassionate or Jerk…What Makes a Good Boss?

Thanks to Derek Brown of Mortensen for sending me the article from Harvard Business Review on "Why Compassion Is a Better Managerial Practice Than Toughness" (https://hbr.org/2015/05/why-compassion-is-a-better-managerial-tactic-than-toughness/?utm_source=newsletter_leadership&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=leadership010813&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-leadership-_-leadership010813&referral=00206). Interestingly, soon after Derek sent me the article, I saw in the current edition of the Atlantic an article titled "Why It Pays To Be A Jerk" (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/06/why-it-pays-to-be-a-jerk/392066/). So [...]

By | June 17th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Why Prepare Your Mind… (Part II)

Last week we talked about preparing your mind daily.  We discussed the importance of staying at your level of responsibility, avoiding the pitfalls of reverting to being a doer if your job is to lead. Discipline in time management, keeping your inbox clean and walking around were key points in keeping your head above the [...]

By | May 19th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Prepare Your Mind Daily

Leaders are best when they provide vision, clarity of direction and reinforcement of that vision to their people. To do so, they need to be shrewd time managers and constant learners, preparing their minds daily for the challenges they will meet the next day, week, or year. Leaders need to keep their organizations focused on [...]

By | May 11th, 2015|Blog|2 Comments

What You Do In One Equation

Your Activity = ∫Ax x Bx x Cx… For any activity you undertake in life, from selling a horse, to arriving at work on time, to planning a vacation, to cooking dinner, certain variables interact with each other to determine the outcome. For centuries, many business and government leaders have known this to be the case. Today [...]

By | April 30th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

The Power of Idea Connections

The more senior you rise in any field the more important it is for you to be open to changing your mind. Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics (http://freakonomics.com/) fame say that the single greatest mistake leaders make is ignoring evidence. Maria Popova, the brilliant thinker and connector at Brain Pickings (http://www.brainpickings.org/) says you should [...]

By | April 28th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments