Puppies and Leadership? Seriously?

Who would have thought that raising newborn puppies would be a leadership exercise? Lucky and Ducky (Ducky shown here), were abandoned at birth and left in the cold for 48 hours before being discovered by the folks at the SEMO Humane Society. The volunteer base went into high gear and the litter of eight were distributed overnight until permanent foster homes could be found. By day 4 of their young lives, these 8 pups endured unspeakable conditions. No food, no warmth, no mother…just a wet box with an old towel in it.

When Lucky and Ducky came into my care at day 4 of their lives, I was warned that they may not live. Vulnerable and compromised, these little angels were tucked into my life and are my mission for the next 8 weeks. It is a humbling responsibility

Four hour feedings, working to keep their elimination systems functioning, keeping them warm, clean and comfortable has been my sole focus for the last week. I have never experienced anything more rewarding. I remember shedding a tear the first time the puppies took a bottle and whimpered as the formula hit their empty tummies and growled in response.

I was angry, sad, hopeful, fearful, challenged and determined. These are the feelings that drive any good leader when each emotion is embraced for their positive aspects. Out of the grieving for the compromised conditions of these puppies, came the joy to see them achieve their potential and thrive. Isn’t that the job of every leader to make sure that the team s/he serves thrives?

Shouldn’t we look at a team as a group of persons that we can build into a collective consciousness which can overcome not only obstacles placed before them, but achieve mutual goals? As leaders, we worry about our team members because we want them to succeed. We should cherish the accomplishments and suffer the setbacks together, so that when we meet our mutual goals, we do so in the spirit of camaraderie and respect.

Too often personal agendas can muddy the waters of accomplishment and good team members are lost to other positions or careers. As leaders of a team, it is our responsibility to put our personal agendas aside for the good of our team members, colleagues and mission. Maybe that’s unrealistic, as I’ve recently accepted that all Disney stories are fairy tales, but leadership doesn’t have to be. If you want to be treated well, then treat others well. If you want respect, then respect others. Not everyone will be nice to you or have your best interestes at heart, but as long as you keep centered and do what you can to help others, you will help yourself.

Lucky and Ducky have taught me that there is something much more important than mundane life. They have taught me that helping someone else is a thousand times more important than any petty worries I may have.

New Year 2020…wtf

Well, here we are again. I know it’s been a while, but life gets in the way. Why should it? What does it achieve besides sleepless nights, weight gain, health issues…pick a problem. The last year has really been one of discovery and reality for me. It’s like I have woken from a dream, wondering where the hell I am.

I recently got serious about my weight. For years I resented being admired for my slim curves and resented it, bitterly. I wanted someone to love me, not my body. Now I have been overweight, oh hell, obese for 20 years, I resent that I can’t get anyone to look at me. What did I expect?

I’ll tell you what…I expected Disney to be right. I expected that someone would fall in love with me because I am an awesome person. We are hard wired to believe that Prince Charming, fame, wealth and security are available by  being in the right place at the right time. That’s simply bullshit. Any chance of happiness for a woman depends solely upon the ability to maintain long hair and as ass as narrow as your mind.

So I have started my adventure with a new sense of purpose. I needed to find a focus that meant something to me. Here’s what I have come up with.

  1. I am apologetically Democrat.
  2. Families need help learning to eat healthy on $50 a week
  3. Cooking/baking is my life’s passion and I am ready to do the work to make it my vocation.
  4. Disney was wrong. Women should be appreciated for who they are and not what they look like.
  5. Bullying in any and all forms is not acceptable, that means political bullying as well as all other forms.

So, if you have a mind, you are welcome to come along on this journey with me. I’m not sure where we will wind up, but I’m sure we’ll have fun getting there.

Leadership WTF: 10 Signs of a Bad Boss

First, leadership is a myth. Like Cinderella, we desperately hope for a knight or princess to sweep us off our feet and take us away to live in a magical castle and live happily ever after  BWAHHAHAHHA!

Leadership is like love. We wish for a perfect match, but realize too late that the warts are still on the damn frog. If there is one thing I have learned about leadership in my journey toward a PhD in the discipline (can you really refer to a fairy tale as a discipline? $175,000 in crippling student debt can’t be wrong) is that leadership is a wispy, shadowy thing that is fleeting at best and maddening at its worst.

So where does that leave us? Reality, baby. There are bad bosses and (wait for it), bad employees. I’m picking on the bad bosses first because it’s my blog and I can. Have no fear boss lady/man, I’ll get to crummy employees next.

10 signs that your boss sucks:

  1. You cry at work.
  2. You cry at home, about work.
  3. You go to bed at night and wake up in the morning, wondering if you will have a job the next day.
  4. The sound of his/her voice calling your name sends a chill down your spine.
  5. You watch, “The Devil Wears Prada” and wish you had a boss that understanding.
  6. You walk wear 4 insoles to prevent crushing the eggs that you tread daily.
  7. You keep relevant clipping of Dilbert comic strips at your desk and your boss doesn’t think they are funny.
  8. Your boss ignores you or torments you; both are equally frustrating.
  9. You have to buy groceries with a credit card and your boss just went to Jamaica after receiving his/her company bonus.
  10. You dodge staff meetings based on the tempest generated by your boss’s temper, mood or general attitude.

So what do you do about it?  There is no easy answer (sorry), but I can give you some very practical tips on how to avoid choking the dizzy bastard until one of two things happens; a. you learn to manage it  or b. you find a different job. Either way works for me, but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s a friggin’ job and no amount of sugar will enhance the taste of a piece of crap. So strap in kiddies, this isn’t a fairy tale, not even sure if I can provide any advice that is useful, but it may make you smile instead of tripping your boss on the way to her/his 3 hour power lunch.




The Economics of Book Deals

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

moneyWhen I wrote about my own experience going freelance in my Ultimate Guide to Starting a Freelance Writing Business, I mentioned the specific development that allowed me to quit my day job: a six-figure book advance. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the mechanics of book advances/the state of the publishing industry in that post, which was long and involved enough. That said, a freelancer friend wisely pointed out that I might want to explain that further, in case anyone’s reading that and thinking, “Oh, okay! I’ll just get a six-figure book advance then.” There are a number of reasons that I could think this was a reasonable expectation for me at that time (and these reasons, not coincidentally, double as a list of ways I was lucky):

1. We are talking about the lowest end of “six figures.” (I feel like I’m supposed to be coy about…

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365 Days of Leadership: Cherish an Antique Day

April 9th is Cherish an Antique Day. With age and quality workmanship comes value. The assumptive statement is that what is new and flimsy is of lesser value. I direct your attention to the lava lamp. Would we call a lava lamp an antique, retro or simply trashy? The answer is in the eye of the beholder, and thus our leadership lesson.

No two persons have exactly the same basis for an opinion. They can agree on a basic premise, but people come to an opinion through different circumstances. Until one can appreciate those circumstances, one should avoid making value judgments based on external appearances. Every living thing on the Earth has value. When we base our behavior upon value judgments made without perfect knowledge, we may act in a prejudiced fashion. If we are to be a global community we should be hospitable toward all.

Whether you are cherished as an antique, retro or trashy is a perception and perceptions can be changed.



Connie Hanner is a PhD student in non-profit organizational leadership and a veteran of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Visit her leadership website at http://www.conniehanner.com. Find her on Face Book, Linked In and follow her on Twitter.

365 Days of Leadership: Paella Day

March 27th is Spanish Paella recognition day. A Spanish dish that is cooked in a special type of pan and includes different types of protein and rice with a dash of saffron, Paella teaches us about diversity.

When making Paella, the rice goes in first with a dash of saffron to give it that rich color. Your Paella can be as spicy as you like it. The rice cooks slowly similar to a risotto cooking method. The pan is flat and broad, which provides lots of surface area so everything has room to expand. The proteins include chicken and seafood, but Paella can include any combination of proteins. The point is that a good Paella can feed lots of folks and satisfy different tastes, all from the same pan. There is no right or wrong way. A Paella is as unique as the chef preparing it. Your workplace environment is like a Paella pan and leading your unique mix of team members creates the operational efficiency needed to be successful

Leadership is like making Paella. Combining the right mix of folks in the right environment to create the team dynamic needed to help our customers. The best part about Paella is that it is adaptable. Change out the ingredients and you still have a tasty dish!



Connie Hanner is a PhD student in non-profit organizational leadership and a veteran of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Visit her leadership website at http://www.conniehanner.com. Find her on FaceBook, Linked In and follow her on Twitter @HannerConnie.

365 Days of Leadership: Poultry Day

So, we like this day. What’s not to like about chickens?  They are one of the few animals that produces food (eggs) and is a protein itself (we can eat the chicken). So flexibility and producing that which benefits a great many people are the daily leadership lessons we learn from chickens. 

When we need to be all things to all people, look to the ever flexible chicken.  Don’t worry about crossing the road, don’t worry about being afraid.  The sky isn’t going to fall, you aren’t going to win a million bucks and it really isn’t important which came first.  

Adapt to the needs of your situation. It’s simple Darwinism, either produce the food and feed a lot of folks, or be the chicken and feed only one. The valuable person learns to put their utility to use as a means to promote the good of humanity. Produce a plentiful bounty for others and avoid the consequences that result from being self-centered. 



Connie Hanner is a PhD student and a professional sales person.  Visit her leadership website at http://www.conniehanner.com.  Find her on FB and Linked In. Follow her on Twitter @HannerConnie