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Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin – My Eight Lessons and Takeaways – (A “Guest” Post by Ed Savage)

(Note from Randy Mayeux:  At the February, 2019 First Friday Book Synopsis, Ed Savage was our guest presenter for the book Leadership: In Turbulent Times.  Here is his guest blog post, with his lessons and takeaways.  Thanks, Ed).


It was a perfect storm in terms of timing. The United States of America had just undergone its longest government shutdown in history. If that isn’t a turbulent time, not much else is. How do leaders handle turbulence?

Leadership, GoodwinDoris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times, is part history, part leadership, and lots of reflective learning. It seemed to go on forever when reading from a Kindle app, but it was worth every moment. It gave me a whole new view of our current “turbulent time”.

For you, some Lessons & Takeaways from the synopsis:

  1. We need to know/learn about the past, with analysis help from a deep thinker, to get the big picture (Randy Mayeux Synopsis of – Lessons from the 21stCentury)
  2. There is not one approach to leadership
  3. There is not one way to prepare for leadership
  4. That said, what did Kearns Goodwin find common in each leader?
  • They were really smart and often underestimated
  • Each had a driving ambition to serve
  • Each had a major personal failure to overcome be it health or, losing a major election, or family tragedy; in other words a personal crisis from which to learn
  • They went into a funk before emerging reenergized to success
  • They disliked being number two
  • They understood people
  • They were story tellers
  • They learned about organizations
  • They were innovators
  1. Political leadership differs from business leadership – dealing with changing societal attitudes versus changing production lines
  2. Time brings differing perspectives & legacies
  3. Not all leaders succeed at all challenges
  4. History is your friend or liberal arts education still has a very important place in society today

Perhaps the best quote from Doris’ book is unrelated to any of her four subjects:

“It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed,” Abigail Adamswrote to her son John Quincy Adamsin the midst of the American Revolution, suggesting that “the habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.” 

Thank you Randy for letting me guest synopsize.
Ed Savage Ed.D.

Christina Rossini in The Millennial Corner: Seasons of Change – (Her Final Post; Thanks, Christina)


Note from Randy: early in the year, I asked Christina Rossini about doing a few guest posts on our blog. I asked her because I knew she had worthwhile insight to share. And, she did! She wrote quite a few, for a number of months. We posted these under the title: “The Millennial Corner” — some terrific posts. You can see them all by clicking here.

She is now saying goodbye to us on this blog. Thanks, Christina. And all the best — go forward in this next chapter on your journey.


Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini in “The Millennial Corner”
(note from Randy:  Christina is a participant in our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis, and a high-energy thinker and leader.  Read about her at her LinkedIn page by clicking here).



“Seasons of Change”

In January of this year, I began writing the Maximized Life blog. It was a welcome & exciting change to form the new habit of writing regularly. As with all change, it was uncomfortable at first to get into the new routine (in this case, near-weekly content creation). I welcomed the challenge; after all, challenge is another word for opportunity, and it’s only in challenge that we grow–that we get better.

When we feel an inner resistance, it’s a sign that a change must be made in our lives.  We either must change our mindset or change our environment. The resistance will persist until we yield to it and change something.

Seasons and change go hand-in-hand, since seasons begin and end, and sometimes repeat.

Relationships, jobs, feelings, habits, interests, environment.

Blogging has been a great season of expression, stretching, introspection, and connecting dots.

As this season wanes, other seasons wax: rising to a leadership & mentor role at work, planning THREE international group trips in 2018, chairing a school board, and my husband & I buying our first home this month.

One of my close friends dubs every year at her birthday the “year of X“, and X is always something new that she’s adopting in her life that year. So, cheers to change. When we put on something different, we welcome the opportunity to become the best-version-of-ourselves. And isn’t this what life is all about?


Christina Rossini in The Millennial Corner – Maximized Life, Episode 23: A Retreat to Silence

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini in “The Millennial Corner”
(note from Randy:  Christina is a participant in our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis, and a high-energy thinker and leader.  Read about her at her LinkedIn page by clicking here).



A retreat house sits on 33 acres on the shores of Lake Lewisville in Lake Dallas. An expansive, manicured green lawn lies between the long boat dock and the retreat campus: a library and priest residence; two two-story dormitories with conference rooms; a dining hall; a chapel, and a central courtyard. Montserrat Retreat House, started in 1959, is run by the Jesuit order of priests. Its gates are open year-round for retreats held nearly every weekend, all of which are silent.

The cadence for the silent retreat at Montserrat is basically this: morning prayer; breakfast; 45 minute presentation from the retreat director on a spiritual topic, an hour-ish of meditation/journaling/reading/general quiet time; another presentation; meditation/journaling/thinking; lunch;  more personal quiet time; prayer service; presentation; dinner; more meditation/reading/looking at the lake; bedtime. Wake up & repeat.

I participated recently in a young adult silent retreat here, the theme of which was “Contemplatives in Action.” There were 30 of us from across Texas, all looking to share some common denominators for 48 hours: peace, connection with nature, and an open mind to what we would hear over the weekend.  We were encouraged to socialize at Friday dinner and Sunday lunch, the meals bookending the silence. We each had our own reasons for making the retreat; one thirty-something graduate student came intending to discern her master’s thesis topic.

Clarity. Composition. Contemplation. A welcome distraction from the distractions of our lives.

Intentionally creating quiet space forces us to be with our own thoughts. With this, we have the bandwidth to think through solutions for problems, form new perspectives, and focus on single-tasking. The by-product of all of which is peace.

At the final service Sunday morning, some members of our group shared some key takeaways experienced from the weekend. One young woman stated,

“I came here this weekend looking for answers. Instead, I learned what questions to ask.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Our Decisive Workshop Will Help Your Decision-Making

We are now actively marketing our program, “Dare to be Decisive,” for employees in organizations who want to make more effective and efficient decisions.  This is a 3-hour program that we conduct on-site, filled with practical activities and implementable action steps.

Decisive CoverThe principles of the workshop are based upon Chip and Dan Heath’s best-seller, Decisive:  How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (Crown, 2013).   We have had great responses from the companies and organizations that have already engaged us for this program.  As the book states,

“Our decisions will never be perfect, but they can be better. Bolder. Wiser. And the right choice, at the right moment, can make all the difference.”



To whet your appetite, here the four Villains of Decision-Making from the book:



You encounter a choice. Narrow framing makes you miss options.
You analyze your options. Confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.
You make a choice. Short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.
Then you live with it. You’ll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.

In the workshop, we teach participants how to apply the WRAP model to the decisions that they make in the workplace, and elsewhere.  Specifically, we show you how to use this model to execute the steps and minimize the villains in the table above.

Widen Your Options

Reality-Test Your Assumptions

Attain Distance Before Deciding

Prepare to be Wrong

We are happy to talk with you about additional details, dates, pricing, logistics, and other factors.  Simply send us your questions at .



Christina Rossini in The Millennial Corner – Maximized Life, Episode 22: Culture is Everything, so Make it Count

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini in “The Millennial Corner”
(note from Randy:  Christina is a participant in our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis, and a high-energy thinker and leader.  Read about her at her LinkedIn page by clicking here).




Don’t you just love a great book that speaks to you so poignantly, that you recommend it to several people and love telling others about what you learned?  Gratefully, I’ve been reading a lot of books like this recently, within the realm of personal development, employee engagement, mentorship, and company culture.

One such good read is Your Company Culture Ecosystem by Kristin Robertson. Robertson’s piece is a playbook on building a vibrant organization, the plays of which can be imitated from the company boardroom to the Girl Scout troop.

Below is a brief synopsis of the key points, using her own words.

According to Robertson, culture is a result of everything you do in an organization. It’s the set of values, expected behaviors, underlying beliefs & norms. No two cultures are the same, since it’s the personality of a company: built and sustained over time, and must be tended daily. It’s no surprise that vibrant cultures result in higher employee retention & engagement, improved productivity & increased profits. 

Her Company Culture Ecosystem model includes six aligned elements that all support the culture & vision of the organization. They are:

• Values & Purpose
• Leadership
• People Practices
• Rituals, Stories & Symbols
• Operational Processes & Tools
• Accountability Systems

The book deep-dives into each of these six elements, which altogether provide context to see the company culture in a new light.

Her key take-aways include:

• Creating values and a purpose statement is a worthless endeavor unless you work to embed them into everything you do.
• Invest in your leaders and their development. The quickest way to change a culture for the better is to change the way leaders lead. Have a zero tolerance for leadership behaviors that are noncompliant with core values.
• Food is a powerful symbol of a company culture. Devise food rituals that reflect the values of the company and use them wisely to embody the positive aspects of your culture. Capitalize on the fact that serving food represents nurturing & warmth.
• Culture is not just throwing good parties. It’s the result of everything you do in your organization.

Creating and sustaining culture happens one of two ways: intentionally or unintentionally.  Mindfully weave your core values into everything you do, and remember that everything you do–and don’t do–matters.

As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch!”

Roberson, Kristin E. 2016. Your Company Culture Ecosystem. Colleyville, TX: Brio Leadership Press.


Christina Rossini in The Millennial Corner – Maximized Life, Episode 21: A Note On Worrying

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini

Christina Rossini in “The Millennial Corner”
(note from Randy:  Christina is a participant in our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis, and a high-energy thinker and leader.  Read about her at her LinkedIn page by clicking here).




Have you worried yet today? It sounds ridiculous, but it’s something most of us do every day, with such frequency, that it starts from the time we wake up and we often end our days doing it.

In fact, I can’t think of anything else that we do so much of that accomplishes absolutely nothing. What else do we do that yields a net zero result–or worse, a negative result, due to stress and negative mental energy?

The human psyche is wired for progress. We work toward something, taking the necessary steps to advance achievement. We don’t include as a step in the plan “Worry about this”, yet it always seems to creep itself into our flowchart. Why?

We must manage our worry, otherwise it manages us.

What would happen if the next time we have a challenge, we do our part, and then we say out loud, “I’ve done all I can and I can’t control this right now”?  We start to manage our worry out of our consciousness. By saying it out loud, we hear the words “I can’t control this” and it cements that reality.

Try imagining your stress as dirt on the kitchen counter, and you wipe it clean until all the worry is gone & the counter is spotless. Putting a tactical image to physically clearing the worry helps remove it from your mind.

So, tomorrow morning when you wake-up and start thinking about things that are outside of your control, rather than get propelled into the worry cycle, consider things you can control to manage your worry. Otherwise, your worry will continue to manage you.