John Deere’s Pink Bat

February 2, 2010

Deere & Company was founded in 1837. Since its humble beginnings, it has grown into an international corporation that today employs approximately 56,000 people throughout the world.

A few years back, Deere hired me to design a coffee table book that would capture its rich history and more importantly, convey its core values. The title of the book was Genuine Values. I, along with the CEO and a few senior executives, built this idea around the following values: integrity, quality, commitment and innovation. We felt these words best reflected the core values exhibited by its founder and that have successfully guided Deere up to today.

In my new book, Pink Bat: Turning Problems Into Solutions, I share the John Deere story from a different perspective… from its very inception. It’s easy to talk about the after effects… the success story that followed. But when you realize this international corporation started when one young man saw a “problem” as a solution… the story is even more amazing. Read more

What Meaning Do Your Words Carry?

November 11, 2009

BA-2Within minutes of meeting Scott Beare, I liked him. The Blue Angels stories he shared with me over lunch, in his honest and straightforward demeanor, were exhilarating to say the least. Not only is Scott a straight shooter—he’s modest, too. It wasn’t until weeks later he happened to mention that he was the first enlisted Navy man to become a Blue Angels pilot. And it wasn’t until we were nearly finished writing The Power of Teamwork together, that I learned Hasbro had based its GI Joe Blue Angels Action Figure on Scott’s likeness. In light of Scott’s accomplishments, some people may find this point insignificant… but having had GI Joe’s as a kid, I think it’s awesome.

As we worked together, one thing became clear to me—what the Blue Angels consider “normal” teamwork is probably outside most people’s scope. To say it’s above average seems understated; better put, it’s abnormal… well outside the teamwork bell curve. The challenge: How do you convey this “abnormal” level of teamwork in a book?

050527-N-0295M-002My idea… Sigmund Freud believed by studying the abnormal, we could gain a better understanding of the normal. That’s how I approached The Power of Teamwork… perhaps by studying the Blue Angels’ model of teamwork, we could gain a better understanding of “normal” teamwork as it relates to our own lives.

One evening, about a week before the manuscript was to be sent to the publisher, I cleared my head and planned to re-read it from start to finish. In less than 25 pages, my brain started racing and I felt my heart sinking into my stomach… then I stopped reading. Read more