Developing the Leader Within You

Ah, great it is to believe the dream,
As we stand in youth by the starry stream.
But a greater thing is to live life through,
And say at the end, the dream came true.

Anonymous Author

John Maxwell is a leadership expert, speaker, and author. His passion is to develop the leader within you. Another excellent book by him is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

I don’t usually consider myself a leader but reading through this and books like it gets me fired up to apply the principles to my own life. From the beginning Maxwell describes who a leader is. It’s not just the CEO or the passionate few in a start up company. Anyone can be a leader. Maxwell defines leadership as simply influence.

Although I may not have teams of people underneath me I can be a leader within my family, my church, my circle of friends, or in the workplace. Maxwell talks about Integrity, Attitude, and Self-disciple just to name a few leadership principles.

There were many great sections of the book but the one section that stood out to me was titled “Developing your most appreciable asset: people.” He describes that people “buy into” the leader before they “buy into” his or her leadership. Simply put, people need to trust and believe in you before they believe in your vision or project. It was a good reminder that each encounter that we have with our co-workers or friends can shape how they perceive us, either negative, sad, bitter or positive, cheerful, or interested.

The author goes on to say that as leaders we should be character driven instead of emotion driven. The difference can be seen immediately:

Character-Driven People

  • Do right, then feel good
  • Are commitment driven
  • Make principle based decisions
  • Action controls attitude
  • Believe it, then see it
  • Create momentum
  • Ask: “What are my Responsibilities?”
  • Continue when problems arise
  • Are steady
  • Are leaders

Emotion-Driven People

  • Feel good, then do right
  • Are convenience driven
  • Make popular based decisions
  • Attitude controls action
  • See it, then believe it
  • Wait for momentum
  • Ask: “What are my rights?”
  • Quit when problems arise
  • Are moody
  • Are followers

The great thing about leadership is that it’s never to late to start. Leaders are always learning, growing, and are humble to take input from others. Have you wanted to show your boss that you can take on more responsibility at work? or looking for leadership rolls within the community? This book will put you down a path that will help you discover the leader within!

He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.

Leadership Proverb

Taxes are coming. Do you known your QCOs?

Taxes! In the previous years I’ve filed my own taxes. As we have more assets and contribute to different organizes I’ve decided to find a tax guy. That’s right, “I know a guy”.

Arizona Tax Credit

We live in Arizona, which means we can contribute to different qualifying charitable organizations (QCOs) among other things and apply that dollar for dollar towards our state tax liability (what we owe). At first I didn’t get it. We’re not making money, why contribute? I was looking at it all wrong. Although we don’t “make money” we are able to tell our money where to go. Sound familiar?

Once the dust settles our family usually pays $2,500 in Arizona taxes per year. The state uses that money for all sorts of things including law enforcement, roads, and education. However, there are lots of great organizations within Arizona that help the community that can also receive my money. Instead of giving all $2,500 to the state I can give up to $800 to qualified charitable organizations and up to $400 to specific public schools (to name a few). This is a dollar for dollar match. So if I contribute $1,200 in Arizona tax credits I only need to pay the difference of $1,300 to the state. Non-profit organizations get my money and the state. Win-win.

If you live in Arizona you can learn more about tax credits by going to https://azdor.gov/tax-credits.

If you have an organization in mind, great! We’re contributing to Hope for Addiction. The purpose of Hope for Addiction is to walk alongside, equip and care for those who struggle with addiction. There is hope, and lasting change is possible.

Filing for 2018 has significant changes – new tax brackets, modified deductions and credits, corporate tax changes, and more. Even though taxes may not get you “fired up” it’s a part of life. Take the time to learn about the new changes. Consult with certified professional accountants (CPAs) and talk to people who know more than you. You may even become interested in how the process works. Well, OK, maybe.

Create a funny Twitter bot using Python

See, I told you that bots have a sense of humor.

Well OK. This bot may be tasked with ONLY tweeting random jokes, but it’s still funny, right?

To get started you’ll need:

I assume:

  • The Raspberry Pi has already been set up.
  • And that it is connected to the Internet.
  • You know nothing about Python and that you just want a funny bot without all of the details.

Great! Let’s get started.

While using the Raspberry Pi create a new folder called ‘funnyBot’ and a new file called ‘bot.py’.

Open up a terminal and install Tweepy and Requests.

The terminal is located in the top-left corner. Click the command prompt icon called ‘Terminal.’

Type the following commands one at a time:

pip3 install tweepy
pip3 install requests

Go to https://developer.twitter.com/ and create an account. Provide details on how the app will be used and submit for review. The application to get a dev account took less than 24 hours for me.

Once the app has been created click on the Permissions tab and click Read, write, and direct messages.

Click the Keys and tokens tab and generate an Access token & access token secret. We will use both consumer API keys and access tokens.

Back on the Raspberry Pi double click ‘bot.py.’ Paste your consumer keys and tokens in the appropriate variable:

Great! You have your program, now we need to schedule it. Install Cron GUI which allows us to schedule a task:

sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule

Next, click on the Raspberry Pi icon in the top-left corner and select System Tools > Scheduled tasks.

Create a new reoccurring task:

Provide a description and then provide the following command (your username may be different):

python3 /home/pi/Documents/funnyBot/bot.py

Confirm that the bot works: You can change the reoccurring job to be every minute to confirm that a joke tweets from your account. Don’t spam yourself!

Enjoy!

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

I recently read this book from the kind suggestion of my sister-in-law. The book is written by former Navy Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I admit I’ve read a few Navy Seal books such as No Easy Day and Lone Survivor. At the end of the day the stories told were surreal and something that none of us will *hopefully* ever face. However, the book Extreme Ownership was different. As like most Seal books it was easy to read and interesting. Unlike most Seal books, this book provided principles and applications that could be applied to business and personal life.

Big Idea

As a leader if you are not getting the results that you would like then it’s your fault. Own the failure and push through. Communicate the ‘why’ of the goal or mission. Provide additional training. Or replace the resistant.

While not spoiling the book I had a few immediate takeaways that I applied to my professional life (no, I didn’t fire anyone.)

  • Prioritize and Execute
  • Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command

Prioritize and Execute

As leaders and managers, we never have all of the information. It’s just not possible. Willink and Babin explain that the best way to focus on a project or task is, you guessed it, one at a time. This includes everyone from the CEO to line manager. If we don’t prioritize our tasks and projects we will never achieve the desired results.

Before reading this section I had taken a big sheet of paper from the office and started writing down all of the projects I was involved in. I was spread thin and didn’t feel effective. This section reminded me that it’s OK to put projects on hold while focusing all of my efforts on one project. Once applying this principle I immediately achieved the results I was looking for with a specific project and now have moved on to the next.

Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command

This was an ‘out of the box thinking’ principle. Not only do leaders lead the teams underneath them but they lead their boss as well. Let me explain. All to often we come to our boss with questions and thoughts. This is fine, however, the book describes having the tact to TELL your boss what you plan to do and to ask for input. Your boss will find you more capable and confident in your role and will provide the high-level oversight if you are missing anything. After reading this section I have found myself erasing parts of my emails saying “maybe we could do…” and instead say “I plan to do this because of this, please advise.”

If you are looking for a book that explains leadership principles this just might be the book for you!


Me again…

We all do it. We have projects that come and go, that slip away or stay with us forever.

This is a new project. I’ve had at least 100 different types of web hosting platforms or frameworks that I use to showcase my work from time to time. The flavor of this weeks project is WordPress on a Raspberry Pi. Easy to use, simple to maintain, and hackable! 🙂

This blog helps me record the projects that I’m working on and the cool things I find on the web. If you’re lucky you may even get some cat pictures!