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James Meadows
Works at Assemblies of God
Attended University of Phoenix
Lives in Kansas City, Missouri
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James Meadows

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UNKNOWN ACTS OF GRACIOUSNESS

Business is business is business and it can be tough. That’s why we all need those little and often unknown acts of graciousness from one another. Most of the time we very likely never know the ones that helped us the most. Occasionally, we might gain direct knowledge of them or even a humorous and delayed knowledge of them. Such was the case for IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, as she shares an experience from her first job interview with IBM 35 years earlier (Max Chafkin. Bloomberg Businessweek. Special Double Issue 8/8/16–8/21/16, pp. 58–60):

“When I went for my interview, I didn’t have a blue suit. In my mind, I needed one—so I went out and bought one. I had a great interview, and when I came home and took my jacket off, I realized the price and size were still on it. I thought, That was gracious. No one told me.” (p. 58)

No one among us has not experienced a situation such as Rometty’s, or even one much more embarrassing. Thankfully, our basic humanity enables us to extend kindness to each other. My advice is that we never lose that capability.

Oh, and remember to check the mirror before going out the door!

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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KEEPING YOUR MARBLES IN THE GAME—PART TWO

Smart companies want to keep their marbles in the game. They want to expand into the global economy rather than hide from it. Smart companies have realized that some genies are never going to be put back in the bottle but not all genies are bad. Business globalization is ultimately a good thing when it is managed wisely.

Of course, companies can only do so much. Equally important is what individuals choose to do. A person might choose not to participate. We can’t help that person. It is up to that individual and we have no control over that outcome. As Thomas L. Friedman writes, business globalization’s irreversibility has radically changed everything about employment and this means that individuals must recognize the individual requirements of this new world (http://nyti.ms/2aM08Cz):

“To be in the middle class, just working hard and playing by the rules doesn’t cut it any more. To have a lifelong job, you need to be a lifelong learner, constantly raising your game.”

Lifetime job security is dead. What will always remain alive however is lifetime employability. And those that want lifetime employability will do what is necessary to make themselves employable . . . every single day.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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TOUCHING THE RIGHT WORLD

I love what social media allows us to do today. I love its instantaneous connectivity, its convenience, its modernity, its ability to facilitate relationships, and its ability to get things done. This works both personally and professionally. Just look at how many ways businesses and other organizations use social media today. Social media has absolutely saturated our society on all levels.

When you touch that screen on your device, you are touching the world. Never before in humankind’s history has a physical touch instantly translated to a world touch via technology. Now we do it daily.

While all this is a good thing, we also must remember to maintain balance in our lives. As much as we might revel in touching the world via our technology, we must never neglect those essential opportunities to touch the world physically. Nothing compares to a face-to-face meeting, a cup of coffee with a friend, or a deep discussion with a trusted confidante.

Therefore, we have two basic ways that we can touch the world. Both are important and both have tremendous value. Let’s keep using both ways to touch the world. However, be careful to maintain balance. Just because you can touch the world by touching your screen, never let that replace the real act of touching the world. We don’t want to lose either ability, especially the one that was here first.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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ENERGY COMES IN WAVES

Aquantis is a company that is proving that energy comes in waves. The idea is that just as windmills pull energy out of the wind, turbines immersed in the ocean can pull energy out of the currents. Based on studies, the company claims no dangers to marine life, so the technology is ecologically safe. However, the bigger risk is whether the technology will be cost effective. Executive chairman James Dehlsen anticipates getting (Ellen Huet, “Just Turn It Upside Down” Bloomberg Businessweek. 6/6/12–6/12/16, pp. 24–25):

“less than 10 cents a kilowatt-hour in three to five years. (Wind energy hovers from 3 to 8 cents a kilowatt-hour, solar from 4 to 7 cents a kilowatt-hour, and conventional gas from 5 to 8 cents a kilowatt-hour.)”

Alternate forms of energy are always great avenues to pursue. Nevertheless, the ultimate question is will the waves-of-energy avenue be a toll road for which people are willing to pay?

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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NO WORRIES ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA

Before there was social media there was social. People were here first and people are social and social can happen anywhere. Media is just the assignment of the platform or the place. That is why we should have no worries about social media.

I do not for a nanosecond condone any of the bad and horrific behaviors that occur on social media. I do not appreciate any of the dysfunctionalism that is so often displayed. However, I recognize that social media just happens to be our latest technology-enabled water cooler or town square. Therefore, we will use it . . . because we are social and social was here first.

Social media is not to be condemned prima facie. As with so many objects in our world, it is not the object itself that is intrinsically good or evil. It is what we choose to do with the object that creates good or evil. I guarantee you that any good or evil we find on social media today was equally present at the water cooler or the town square in the past. We retain the same freedom today to use social media for good or for evil. I trust that we are using it for good and I believe that is the direction in which we must ever push. The good news is that social media is being used in countless ways for good.

Social media is relatively new to human society. But being human is not new. It is who we are. Let’s keep that in proper perspective. Along these lines, I appreciate Gary Vaynerchuk’s (Vaynermedia CEO) perspective (http://bit.ly/29S5u9a):

“we get scared of everything that we didn’t grow up with; it’s what human beings do. Every new medium brings along a healthy fear that the newest invention will ruin society. But, the truth is that people will always be looking for new ways to be entertained, consume media, and engage with each other. . . .

There is always going to be something in every generation that is going to ‘bring us down as a society.’ Either you are a pessimist or optimist on this issue. I am an optimist.”

Let’s be sure that we are looking beyond the medium to the real message. And because I am an optimist, I will continue to do that.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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TIME FOR REVERSE GEAR

When I learned about the first United States death linked to a self-driving car, my very first thought was, “Well, that changes everything!” And it should.

Technologically, self-driving cars are purported to take care of the passengers while the computers run the cars. In theory, this is marvelous. However, when something goes wrong, people can suffer and even die as was the case here. While a passenger in his Tesla Model S, 40-year-old Joshua D. Brown was killed when the car’s cameras did not distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from the surrounding sunlit sky.

Product development involves a tremendous amount of research, planning, analysis, and unfortunately, trial and error. It is sad that in this case the error was deadly. Because of that, many aspects of the self-driving car model will need to be reassessed.

I am not saying we throw the brakes on it all. I believe our technology must always be free to chart new territory. I am saying what the engineers already know and I’m sure are already doing, and that is that all aspects of how these vehicles recognize objects in their environment must be meticulously reevaluated. Failing to do so will continue to put people at risk.

Self-driving cars navigate within their environment via a constellation of digital cameras, lasers, and radar sensors. They normally do this extremely well. Obviously, in this recent tragic accident when the white side of a trailer “looks like” the sky, they did not perform as well as required. This is where the engineers will be going back to the drawing board on those digital cameras, lasers, and radar sensors.

And this is why I say, “Well, that changes everything!” Because we have this technical knowledge about this product failure, manufacturers cannot push the same products to consumers in quite the same way. Until those algorithms, programs, and hardware are refined sufficiently, consumers will remain at serious risk. This is not good for the consumer and the car companies. Further, it is not ethical.

Well, that changes everything—or it should.

[Today’s post— http://blog.reliableinsights.com/2016/07/14/time-for-reverse-gear/ ]
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KEEPING YOUR MARBLES IN THE GAME—CONCLUSION

Keeping your marbles in the game of a global economy is crucial for both companies and customers (see my “Part One” and “Part Two posts — http://bit.ly/2aSv7Yu and http://bit.ly/2bkf8HJ ). Business globalization is here to stay. Earth is a big world that has gotten much smaller much faster. The sooner organizations and people realize that truth, the better off everyone will be.

Companies that realize how best to capitalize on this reality will infuse every business decision with cultural realities. This means that we don’t just “do business.” Instead, it means that we do business with a good heart and a good attitude. Companies have to think about the “who” and the “where” of their business. As Jeff Immelt (GE CEO) explains, companies absolutely must analyze all aspects of exactly how business will happen in another country and give full consideration and respect to that culture (“After Brexit, Global Is Local” Fortune. August 1, 2016, pp. 71–72):

“We tend to think of globalization as a philosophy, but it is much more about what you do on the ground. Success requires hundreds of little things, and decisions made with a local context. Good global leaders have an appreciation for how people do their work in a local culture. They try to make a team’s work meaningful to their country.” (p. 72)

Just as surely as this is true for companies, it is true for individuals. Each of us as individual workers must reassess everything we do in our career planning, education, training, and professional growth in the light of this new reality. We must be willing to change when change is required. We must be flexible. We must carry a good heart and a good attitude into every moment of our workday.

The world of spitting widgets out of a machine the same way every day for a career is gone forever. The new world is much more exciting and demanding because it is always changing. The people that are willing to embrace that excitement and those demands will flourish. Immelt summarizes:

“The future will be created by leaders who see the world as it is and are willing to drive change. Change will also require simpler organizations and new business models that are leaner, faster, more decentralized.”

Let’s make the changes wherever they are needed—corporately and individually. That is how we will all keep our marbles in the game.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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KEEPING YOUR MARBLES IN THE GAME—PART ONE

Business globalization’s irreversibility is part of our new reality. Some people love it and some people hate it. Nevertheless, it is here to stay. While individual win stories and individual lose stories are never in short supply, what is more important is that we comprehend the growing complexities and dynamics of our global economy so that we can maximize the individual win stories and reduce the individual lose stories.

Adopting a positive approach, not relying on government to solve all our problems, and choosing to make smart choices for our global economy, we will maximize the opportunities for everyone. I like the way that Thomas Friedman summarizes our ethical, economic imperative in his classic work, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006):

“The great challenge for our time will be to absorb these changes in ways that do not overwhelm people but also do not leave them behind. None of this will be easy. But this is our task. It is inevitable and unavoidable.” (pp. 46-47).

Interestingly, in the wake of this increasingly complex business globalization, countries and governments are choosing a wide range of stances on how to adapt. Some are taking on a protectionist strategy and imposing trade tariffs and other barriers to the global economy. Others are fully embracing the opportunities and opening up every possible avenue to the global economy. And of course we find an often odd mix in the middle that is sort of trying to surf on two surfboards at once, not quite sure which one will give the superior ride.

I believe that over the long run, the countries and governments that embrace the global economy will ultimately create many more individual winners than losers. Higher participation intrinsically breeds more opportunities and where there are more opportunities there will be more winners. In a Bloomberg Businessweek editorial, the editors affirm (“A Vacuum of Leadership on Trade” 8/1/16–8/7/16, p. 8):

“One of the few things economists know for sure, maybe the only thing, is that competition spurs innovation and efficiency, making products better and cheaper and raising living standards in the aggregate. . . . Yet the claim that trade with low-wage countries is unfair in and of itself is both economically specious and morally bankrupt. When goods are made at lowest cost, it’s a win-win for trading partners. And make no mistake: Free trade is anti-poverty.”

To win in this global economy, companies must be willing to step up to the plate, executing strategy that capitalizes on the global economy. Even when protectionist governmental policies are present, creative companies can find ways legally, practically, and ethically to innovate solutions that work. Jeff Immelt (GE CEO) shares this mindset (“After Brexit, Global Is Local” Fortune. August 1, 2016, pp. 71–72):

“In the face of a protectionist global environment, we can no longer rely on governments to drive expansion; We must plan to navigate the world on our own.

We will localize. . . . A localization strategy can’t be shut down by protectionist politics.

Sometimes businesses can drive change faster than governments. It is tough to hate a company that is creating jobs.” (p. 72)

Government has not typically won any awards for moving fast. Smart companies, on the other hand, have a heartfelt motivation. They want to keep their marbles in the game.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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THE CRITICAL LOSS OF CRITICAL THINKING

If our institutions of higher education are truly going to do a great service to our students and society, then they will facilitate critical-thinking skills. Every educated person understands that memorizing facts is only one initial building block in the total intellectual persona. Knowing the facts is great, but it will only take that person so far. That person will travel much further if critical thinking is applied.

Serious institutions of higher education have always recognized this idea as intrinsic to the academic experience. It is not only intrinsic to the academic experience, but it also is required for success in the real world. The person who thinks critically will always progress further than the one who does not.

Therefore, anytime we find evidence that our schools and universities are somehow failing in the fostering of critical-thinking skills, it demands our attention. A new study out of Stanford University reveals some interesting observations about critical-thinking skills with students in China as The New York Times reports (http://nyti.ms/2aAmofn):

“Chinese freshmen in computer science and engineering programs began college with critical thinking skills about two to three years ahead of their peers in the United States and Russia. Those skills included the ability to identify assumptions, test hypotheses and draw relationships between variables.

Yet Chinese students showed virtually no improvement in critical thinking after two years of college, even as their American and Russian counterparts made significant strides, according to the study.”

The study indicates that the students in China achieved critical thinking skills during primary and secondary education that were superior to most other countries. It is specifically the college years in which that edge seems to disappear. Were the American and Russian students playing catchup, were the Chinese students slowing down, or was it a bit of both? Perhaps more research will clarify those details. What do the Chinese students believe? Here’s their answer:

“Students say the energetic and demanding teaching they are accustomed to in primary and secondary schools all but disappears when they reach college.”

Well, that explains a lot, now doesn’t it? Critical thinking does not magically appear. It is an ongoing cognitive, intellectual, passionate pursuit. If we fail to exercise it, then it disappears.

China has done an excellent job with its development of critical-thinking skills in its precollege schools. However, it appears they have some work to do to refine what is happening at the college level. Let’s face it: critical thinking should never stop.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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WHEN BUGS ARE REALLY INTO LIGHT

No one enjoys being dinner for bugs. Worse yet, no one wants to become infected by disease-carrying mosquitoes. Fortunately, light-emitting diode (LED) technology is making some great strides in protecting us from these threats. Lighting Science Group is a Florida company that applies LED technology to better approaches with lighting and our environment. The company’s Web site affirms http://bit.ly/2abtU20 :

“we believe lighting should work with our bodies and the environment, not against them.”

Lighting Science Group has some exciting products and approaches in the works. Corinne Iozzio reports that the company’s technical strategy (“Into the Light” Fortune. June 1, 2016, p. 44):

“has led to highly tuned LEDs that disinfect water, keep astronauts on alert, and steer infant sea turtles away from highways. The effort is all about finding the perfect light to attract–and distract–insects.”

Different insects are attracted to or repelled by different wavelengths of light. Therefore, controlling the wavelength controls the bugs. And the more that the bugs are into the light, the less they will be into you and me. I like that idea!

The research is ongoing and promising. The company has plans to tune LEDs to specific insect species and do field testing to confirm efficacy. As the processes become better defined, anti-bug products will show up on the shelves. That is when we will enjoy doing a better job avoiding contact with the hungry throngs.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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LIVING UP TO ITS NAME: A THEORY

Yahoo is assessing bids for its Internet business. Bidders include AT&T, Verizon Communications, private equity firms, and many other suitors. This, after a four-year effort by CEO Marissa Mayer to rejuvenate the company. Writing for The New York Times, Vindu Goel and Michael J. de la Merced summarize the company’s predicament (http://nyti.ms/29F99vH):

“The sale of Yahoo’s business would close out a largely unsuccessful four-year effort by Marissa Mayer, the company’s chief executive, to turn around the internet company. Although Yahoo was once the place where many web users began their wanderings, it fell on hard times over the last decade through a series of strategic and managerial missteps. Although Yahoo’s properties still draw more than one billion visitors a month, the company accounts for a tiny slice of the time people spend online.”

Many factors contribute to a company’s long-term success or failure. These factors include advertising, marketing, public relations, quality control, leadership, talent management, employee engagement, attrition, cultural trends, customer sentiment, policies, competition, branding, crisis management, fiscal management, execution, and strategy just to name a few. While not in any way claiming to know the simple or complex answer to what has led to Yahoo’s challenging standing today, I do propose a theory based on just one simple reflection: my experience with the brand name.

For me personally, I could never truly get past the name. Yes, I realize that yahoo refers to an exclamation of excitement and fun. I get that. That has its attraction. We all understand the obvious intention in the brand name.

Simultaneously, we have a subtle problem. We know that yahoo means boring, lout, stupid, or crass. If someone calls you a yahoo, the implication is that you are not serious and you don’t know what you are doing. It means you are a barbarian, an oaf, a Neanderthal, a thug, or a clod. Therefore, every time that I was exposed to the name, in the back of my mind I had these negative associations that my brain logic tried to dismiss. I don’t know for sure whether my brain logic won out over my emotions.

Now I am not saying that a name alone is the sole driver of long-term success or failure. I am saying that a name can be a contributor to success or failure. Therefore, in this case, I am proposing that due to Yahoo’s name, many other folks had a similar experience to mine and therefore the name slowly yet relentlessly became a driver of failure.

Yes, I did genuinely try out Yahoo’s email and some of its other online services off and on over the years. My impression continuously was that competitor options and other avenues of service were consistently superior in the quality and reliability delivered. Therefore, I gravitated to them and found a much better customer experience.

I don’t know how accurate my theory is, but I am certainly interested in hearing from others on what they think.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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REFLECTIONS ON THE LEGACY OF A FUTURIST

When I heard the news last month that futurist Alvin Toffler had died at 87, I was instantly sad that we did not have even more time with this brilliant, insightful, and prescient person. I like to think of him as the first of the futurists.

I can remember decades ago reading his classic 1970 work, Future Shock, in which he addresses how we as people productively engage the challenges of change even when the rate of that change is ever increasing. He was one of the first powerful voices to champion the cause of stopping to analyze deeply how the future comes at us and what all its implications are. In many ways, he was ahead of his time (isn’t that what every futurist truly is?), and yet he was exquisitely perfect for his time. He was talking about such concepts as techno-social change and globalization before most of us were even aware of them. As a genuine futurist should do, he enlarged our conception of what the future might be.

A generation before PCs came on the scene and we all moved onto the Internet, Toffler was issuing the clarion call that science and technology were on an unavoidable collision course with humanity. For good or for bad, it would be humanity’s brilliance and humanity’s flaws that would create our future world.

Toffler asked us to stop, sit down, and meditate on who we are, where we had been, and where we were going. Toffler demanded that we give the future time before its time. He demanded that we wisely prepare for the future before it became the present when it was too late to prepare.

Much to my happiness, as I look around the world today, I see many Alvin Tofflers. In making that observation, I honor Toffler by tracking his ideas that constantly pulsate on the cutting edge of our culture. Although there can never truly be another Alvin Toffler, each one of us can perpetuate his futurist endeavor to make our world better while it continues to change with its ever quickening pace. Thankfully, I see that more today than I ever have in my life. Our science and technology, our passion for excellence, our dedication to humanity, and our ethical imperatives demand that we do no less.

With many thanks to Alvin Toffler, here’s to a bright—albeit ever changing—future for us all.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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People
Work
Occupation
Training Team Manager, Business Consultant, Freelance Corporate Writer, Ordained Minister, and Associate Faculty Member
Employment
  • Assemblies of God
    Ordained Minister, 1985 - present
  • Jimfreelance.com
    Freelance Corporate Writer, 1988 - present
  • Reliableinsights.com
    Business Consultant, 1999 - present
  • University of Phoenix
    Associate Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Tyco Integrated Security
    Training Team Manager, 2005 - present
  • Central Bible College
    Adjunct Faculty, 1997 - 2002
  • AT&T
    Quality Manager, 1996 - 2005
  • New Paradigm Business Enterprises
    Owner, 1995 - 1996
  • Assemblies of God
    Data Control Clerk, 1986 - 1988
  • Eastman Kodak
    Chemical Technician, 1978 - 1985
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Kansas City, Missouri
Story
Introduction
  • Assemblies of God Ordained Minister.
  • Tyco Integrated Security Training Team Manager.
  • Freelance Corporate Writer.
  • Business Consultant.
  • University of Phoenix Associate Faculty.
  • Passionate about all I do, and always carry an indelible sense of humor.
  • Although I am involved in many different disciplines, I continuously find they synergistically cross-pollinate to make me even more effective in each one.
  • Business blog www.blog.reliableinsights.com.
  • Business humor blog www.recallredeemerman.blogspot.com.

 

Bragging rights
Survived Y2K and three teenagers. Married 32 years to the same wonderful woman. Two-time winner of the AT&T Winning Spirit Award.
Education
  • University of Phoenix
    M.B.A., 2007 - 2009
  • Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
    D.Min. (all but project), 1993 - 1996
  • Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
    M.Div. Pastoral Counseling, 1986 - 1988
  • Central Bible College
    Theology and Philosophy, 1985 - 1985
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
    B.S. Chemistry, 1978 - 1983
  • Broome Community College
    A.A.S. Chemical Technology, 1975 - 1978
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Relationship
Married
Other names
James T. Meadows; Jim Meadows