Monday, October 22, 2012

General Colin Powell at Learning 2012

Due to a lack of internet access during his speech and chat with Elliott Maise, I am typing up this synopsis with lots of quotes.  I *would* have tweeted most of these if I'd been able.  Please also make sure to check out #lrn2012 on Twitter to see all the tweets from this and other sessions at Learning 2012.

On conferences like Learning 2012:  "It's important for humans to get together."

The military was the first to use technology for learning.  It was more efficient and saved money.

"Teams are what gets the work done."

General Colin Powell said that in all his 35 years in the military, (I hope I got that right!) he spent 6 of them in school.  Many companies do not recognize the importance of investing in "broadening the perspective of their leaders."

He then told a great story about motivation which included a rubber duck and a rubber chicken and how he used the chicken as a motivation tool in a training class one time.  lol

"It's all about motivating and inspiring people to learn."

He described how he handled the transition from being the Secretary of State one moment to not being the Secretary of State literally overnight.  The solution, if you are over 70, is to buy a Corvette.

He stated that he "was born analog."  Today, his grandchildren help him keep up-to-date on technology.  He said that technology "knocked down all the boundaries."

On technology he says, "The fun part of my life is seeing what's coming next."

"The world is moving from calendar to transactional thinking."

When training you must "change the software and then change the brainware."

Regarding education today, he said that it begins "in a mother's arms."  In the onstage chat with Elliott Maise he said that the "sense of expectation is not being passed down" anymore.  "They need to know they are not expected to fail."  He continued by saying that he has also noticed there is no longer a "sense of shame on the family" when a child does not live up to expectations.  Things were very different when he was growing up.

"It isn't where you start in life.  It's where you end up."

"Your past is not your future.  Your present is not your future."

In the military he was taught to do the following to be an effective leader:

  • State a clear purpose that will make a better society.  This is different than a mission.
  • "Take care of the troops.  Train them.  If you don't teach them you're a lousy leader."
  • Recognize performance.  He writes (in pencil or pen) notes to people on small cards that cost 10 cents.  Simple things like this do not take a lot of time or money.  Yet they can mean so much to the recipient.
A sergeant at Ft. Benning once told him that "you know you're good if your troops will follow you out of curiosity."  Even if it's just to see how you take care of the situation.

On the 9/11 attacks he stated that "one thing no terrorist can do ... is change who we are."

"You've got to have a sense of optimism in our country and the world."  Optimism "is one of the most important traits of leadership."

On the topic of promoting leaders, he said that "performance alone is not a sufficient measurement.  It's a start, but "you have to look at potential."  What is that person learning and doing to improve him or herself?  Do they have "an agility of thinking?"  Do they have the "emotional and mental stability to proceed to the next level?"

On the topic of collaboration, he said that you must convince your team that collaboration is "in their best interest and yours."  It is important.  When speaking with others, he always had a round table in his office and did not wear his jacket "with all that stuff on it."  He just wore a simple black turtle neck sweater.  However, once he'd made a decision it became your decision, too.  "You have to decide what you are going to do and execute."

Also, it is important to have contingency "guys" and "always be in a do loop."  Never be a tyrannical leader.

Well, that's all I got.  I hope you enjoyed it and learned at least one new thing.

Thank you for reading!