Author Archive: bjaybrooks

Hollow Leaders

‘Hollow – Having a hole or empty space inside.’   Google Dictionary

I was talking with a friend, the other day, and reflecting on the hollowness that is in some leaders and managers of people.

When I first encountered this type of narcissistic management…I was still a teenager and the concept that the person that was leading me cared nothing about my well being or self worth and that basically everything that I accomplished…was about them and I was merely a dim reflection of their manic paranoia.

When I began at SIU my crew supervisor, Don, would regularly assign me additional buildings to clean when others members of the staff were either sick or on vacation. At first, I did not concern myself with additional duties as I was ecstatic to be a part of the organization.  However, I could not help but notice that my boss sat in front of the television in the Law School Lounge…for the majority of the work shift and drank coffee and visited with his boss, Jim, while I worked harder and harder.

Again, I simply felt that Building Service Worker I’s and the student custodial staff must be the only members of the operation that performed manual labor.

One day I was told that my boss was supposed to be a working supervisor and that it was his job to pick up, at least a portion, of the work that he was assigning to me and my student colleagues.

Still, I thought that this is fine…I have the best job that I have ever had…until he began to criticize the work that I was performing on the shifts that I had neither time for a break or a lunch.

I determined that if I ever had the honor to lead others in the department that I would treat them with respect and dignity and recognize the worth and value that they brought to the organization.

Some leaders/supervisors have a group that are their favorites and they receive the good and easy jobs and the best perks that the manager can supply them.

But, there is another group…and that is those who must be punished…and these unfortunate members of the staff are given increasingly more work…that they can not possibly perform…and then chastised and punished and disciplined for not being  super human.

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Photo by Thibault Trillet on Pexels.com

I have worked for and witnessed leaders and managers and administrators that led by their conspiracy theories and paranoia.

I have sat in meetings where the Bible was quoted and the scriptures perverted to support the hollow and heartless agenda of the administrator.

I have witnessed the caviler locking up of children and those of a ‘tender age’…babies and toddlers…for a narcissistic and political agenda…using the children as pawns on a chessboard…to reflect the all consuming needs of the leader…admiring his reflection in the mirror.

Work assignments yield to logic.  That is why there are recognized time studies and manuals written regarding work loads as to what is doable in a work shift and what is punishment and that will have the result of breaking down the health of the loyal and hard working staff person that is trying to not fail in what they have been assigned.

I have witnessed staff, during my years at SIU,  that have been given more work than they can possibly perform…break emotionally and I have had people come to me, privately, and admit that they were thinking of suicide.

The power of a manager or administrator or leader…or president…is a fearful and delicate dance of getting a job done and not hurting or damaging the wonderful technicians that are performing that work.

The Escaping Jewel of Little Egypt

Carbondale, Illinois, the home of Southern Illinois University once had four movie theaters.  Now we have one.

Our University Mall has ever increasing vacant store fronts.

One of the two Dry Cleaners, in town, has closed and posted on their door that there simply was not enough customers in Carbondale to support two Dry Cleaners any longer.

Our only independent Book Store, Book Worm, which had been a staple of our economy for many years…has closed due to the lack of a buyer for their store.

The Marion Mall, which is about ten miles from Carbondale, is sectioning off their vacant spaces and retrofitting the structure due to about two thirds of the facility being vacant.

When I was hired at SIU on October 10th, 1978, I immediately began searching for a new automobile to purchase.  I looked in DuQuoin, Illinois and when the car salesman asked me where I worked, I responded that I was just hired as a janitor at SIU.  He responded that my credit would be good at their establishment as SIU had wonderful and extremely secure jobs.

The first custodial crew that I supervised as a Building Custodian contained student staff from; Africa, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Iran.  What an education in international diplomacy!

I was not on the college track in high school.  I was on the vocational track.  The first SIU course that I took was something that I did not perceive that I would ever do.  The course was an Introduction to Computers and the professor told me that I had a great aptitude for university course work and I received an A in the course.

I wanted to enter a discipline and I called the Chair of Electronic Data Processing.  The African American Chair treated me like I just transferred from Harvard.  He met with me in his office and spoke with me at length regarding the benefits of an EDP Associate Degree.

I wrote computer programs by punch card and received the printed out data on watermelon paper.

I studied Basic and Fortran and flowcharts and garbage in and garbage out…and I did well.

I studied composition in Carol Burns class in 1984.  We read the book ‘1984’ in 1984.  Carol spoke to me as an equal and she told me that I could succeed in any academic discipline that I chose.  She suggested law.

Carol was my favorite professor.

Before I retired I was privileged to be a member of the Civil Service Council for over fifteen years.  During that time I served on two chancellor search committees and became friends with several of them and one president of SIU.

What I observed regarding the administration of SIU and the management thereof is that it is not rocket science.  Both Don Beggs and Jo Ann Argersinger were doing a wonderful job and subsequently were not allowed to continue due to human egos and personal agendas.

I personally witnessed students and faculty and staff be attracted to the leadership of Chancellor Argersinger.

I saw the lightness of spirit and the renewal of a vision for the future of SIU under the benevolent two years of Chancellor Beggs.

I was a member of the coming together of the university community while positive chancellors influenced positive change for our beloved school.

I spent my entire 32 year and three month and two week career in Building Services as SIU.

The Building Services Staff love SIU!

We worked tirelessly to provide clean and immaculate buildings that reflected the academic excellence that was provided from our school.

Many custodial staff received their Bachelors and Masters degrees while they were working for SIU.

We were fortunate to hire many individuals who were challenged by either physical or intellectual disabilities.

These custodial technicians were some of our finest staff.  Before I left, one of our deaf staff, Jamie, was promoted to supervisor and subsequently managed a crew of several students and Building Service Workers…and did a tremendous job!

I think of my friend, Ryan, and the herculean work that he performs on a  nightly basis.  This man loves SIU and is totally invested in its success and it requires a good and dedicated and humanitarian and visionary leader…to be worthy of leading him.

Listen SIU Leaders…your staff are believers in SIU…strive to be worthy to lead them!

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is a school that has wide open doors to those who have disabilities.

SIU had a open door to minorities when it was not politically fashionable to do so…and they still do.

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SIU is the home of the first generation college student.

SIU has so many natural advantages and houses elite academic programs and is waiting for a leader to bring them together…to dream again!

Let us seek vision over monetary reward.

Who wants to lead us because it is in their soul…not on their resume?

Who will fire the furnace of desire and vision and dreams and hopes…that was SIU…and that is more needed now than ever

When I was asked, suddenly, to lead SIU’s Building Services…I prayed that I could be worthy of the dedicated men and women that made up the organization.  I knew that they deserved the best…and that without God’s help…I was not up to the task.

 

 

It is Not a Liberal or Conservative Problem…It is a Humanity Problem

‘The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific Coast.  Sixty two percent of the internees were United States citizens.  These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.’   Wikipedia

‘Japanese Americans were incarcerated based on local population concentrations and regional politics.  More than 110,000 Japanese Americans in the mainland U.S., who mostly lived on the West Coast, were forced into interior camps.  However, in Hawaii, where 150,000 plus Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the population, only 1,200 to 1,800 were also interned.  The internment is considered to have resulted more from racism that from any security risk posed by Japanese Americans.  Those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese and orphaned infants with ‘one drop of Japanese blood’ were placed in internment camps.’   Wikipedia

President Franklin Roosevelt was a democrat and a liberal and what he did was wrong.

The separation of children from their parents to make a point regarding how difficult that it is to immigrate to the United States…is wrong.

The majority of the South and Central Americans, along with many Mexicans, who are seeking refuge in our country are fleeing drug cartels and gangs and threats to their lives…they have no other options!

When you listen to the cries of little more than babies…for their fathers and mothers and you see them in cages…replace those images with the loving images of your own children and your precious grandchildren and then tell me that this Hitleresque policy is just and necessary.

Times are changing much more rapidly than any of us could have imagined…what if we engage in a nuclear war and our opponent is the victor?

What will you say when our victorious adversary begins to round up our children and separate them from our privileged and white and upper middle class life?

Will we plead for humanitarian…mercy?

Or will we quote the Apostle Paul and say that we had to obey the law…just like the Germans did…in Nazi Germany?

 

Travel By Book

A locally owned bookstore, Bookworm, is closing after many years in operation.

 

Jonathon and I visited Bookworm on Saturday and the crowd was so great that you could not adequately see the books on the shelves…while the line for check out was at least an hour long.

We returned this morning and found a healthy amount of patrons…but not unmanageable.

You, see, all books are on sale for $1 and this includes; rare books and books signed by the author and new books.

People were purchasing multiple bags and baskets full.  Many of the happy shoppers remarked to the owners…that they would be back….this week…of course.

Giant books for photos and medical journals and mystery and thrillers and suspense and local authors too.

Books that cried out. ‘read me’ and ‘I will show you adventures like you have never experienced’  and ‘I will tell you of mysteries that you have never thought of!’

The joyful and ecstatic and childlike look in the patrons eyes…especially those with multiple bags of books…was compelling.

I am currently listening to the Audible book, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.  It has transported me to the New York city of the 1980s’.

In Junior High School I read Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt and I saw and the Civil War through the eyes of the Creighton family.  I was so mesmerized by the narrative that I thought that if this is what reading can do for me…I do not want to ever stop.

Have you ever read a Shirley Jackson story?  Try, We Have Always Lived in the Castle a mystery that she wrote in 1962.  Once you read it…you will want to read it again.

Or the Bible?  I have read so much of the Bible…that often I think in scriptures.  Not religious dogma or doctrine or the warping and misuse of scripture to facilitate someone’s narrow political or religious agenda…but scriptures that illustrate God’s love and, what should be, our love for our fellow human family.

Books can cause their readers to change their lives for the better…to stand up and accomplish great things…and they can bring peace and contentment and a rest in your spirit.

History books can teach us about past mistakes and how to avoid them in the future…but our leaders have to read them for this wonderful benefit…to take place.

So, there is a reason that the patrons of the closing Bookworm bookstore, were ecstatic,  this morning…for the price of a few dollars they were purchasing years of adventure and intrigue and joy.

All Hats Off to My Father

A touching post from my son, Jonathon.

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The celebrating of Father’s Day is a pretty big deal. My father has always been good at his job. For this I am grateful. There isn’t enough gratitude in the world today. There’s not enough shout outs, friendship cards, thank-you notes, words of compliment or even people who say “You’re welcome.” instead of “No problem.” Here’s the problem concerning those we love, admire and appreciate. Many of us don’t tell them we appreciate, admire and love them. I believe appreciation and admiration should be shown through word and deed daily. What a more wonderful world this world would become if this became common practice.

A funny story from when I was a little boy about my dad and I was when he advised me to take a nap before my kindergarten graduation. The time was early afternoon and graduation was to be held that evening. I was up and around…

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My Favorite Title…Father

Although we had the Annual Father’s Day Dinner, last weekend, due to some travel commitments, I can not help but think of my wonderful sons and their precious mother today.

My mother and father divorced when I was six years old.  I loved my dad and I missed him desperately…I still do.  He used to carry me on his shoulders…and I thought that I was a giant.

He seemed so mysterious to me and such a powerful man.

He rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle and at times mom and I rode with him.  He wore a leather motorcycle jacket and a motorcycle hat and he carried a gun.  He was a Bad Ass.

 

 

His favorite televison show was Gunsmoke and he had a hearty laugh.

My brothers, Brock and Bill, both look like him.

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I had a heart condition as a child and I remember tears in my dad’s eyes when we were at the doctor’s office and three doctors were evaluating my condition.

My sons, Aaron and Jonathon, have been and are the light of my life!

I am contnually renewed and regenerated and strengthed by their maturity and courage and innovation.

I marvel at the men that they have become.

They not only have never dissapointed me…but on the contrary they daily give my life meaning and purpose and richness.

 

Mary Jane and I have been married over 40 years…and it seems like a moment.  The excitement in both of our lives and the mission and the blessing for both of us has been our wonderful sons.

Time has made me old…but I stay young through their eyes and their unique and mature personalities.

When, Aaron or Jonaton say, ‘dad’, to me…they have my undivided attention…as it is the greatest compliment that I have ever received!

 

 

 

When Did the Customer…Cease to be Always Right?

Jonathon and I were discussing customer service this afternoon and he mentioned the customer service dedication of the founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton, and his unfailing vision of the customer being always right.

Many years ago, when Sam was still alive, I recall someone that I was acquainted with, saying that he took an old wrench that he found by the side of the road into Wal-Mart and said that he had purchased it there and that they subsequently gave him a new wrench in its place.

Of course, that is a stellar example of the customer being wrong…but it illustrates the  ‘no questions asked’ policy of Sam Walton when it came to customer service.

Today, Wal-Mart is the largest, brick and mortar, retailer in the world.

Recently I have had a conundrum with my lawn mowing service.  When I began with the service, in 2016, I specified that I needed for my small fenced in area, that is specifically for the three dog night, to be pushed mowed.  When the owner of the company, who personally mowed my yard the first time that his company performed the service…I again mentioned to him that I could see that he did not have a push mower on his trailer.  He said that he had forgotten it and that he would cut the fenced in area with a week eater, just that time, and henceforth bring a push mower thereafter.

We are in the third year of the Lawn Mowing Service…and they have never pushed mowed the fenced in area…until last month…one time.  My wife sent them a note on our bill and remarked how much better the enclosed area looked being push mowed.  After all of that they came yesterday and proceeded to cut the small area with a weed eater.

When I protested the crew member that I spoke with assured me that he would return, yesterday, with his push mower and complete the job.

He did not return.

As the manager of a custodial service organization for over 25 years….I dealt with numerous customer complaints and, often, poor work that we had performed.  Rather than give an excuse or tell the customer that I would remind the custodial technicians to do a good job the next time…I had the job done over and to the customer’s specifications.  Often I did the job over myself in my suit and tie.

Prior to my assuming the Superintendent’s duties our department had the policy that if we accidentally broke a university item that we would replace it.  I extended that policy to if we accidentally broke either a university item or a personal item…we would replace it.

In the event that we had some difficulty determining exactly what the customer concern was regarding our custodial work…we would meet with them, personally, for them to show us our failure.

I and many of my friends, when we were all much younger, ate breakfast at a restaurant called Maid Rite in Duquoin, Illinois.  None of us had much money and the jovial owner, Frank, would often come round to our table and give us extra bacon or sausage or pancakes or biscuits and gravy…at no charge.

Now, the Maid Rite…was a dive…but it was full of love and good food and customer service…and it was always full of people.

Often businesses today wonder why that they can not seem to get ahead or to succeed?

Thinking outside the box and making the customer first…would be a good place to start.

I am old enough to recall the Hertz Rental Car commercial where a well dressed man is floating down from the sky and being placed behind the wheel of a Hertz Rental Car…while the announcer intoned that, ‘Hertz puts you in the driver’s seat.’

McDonalds Hamburgers had a tagline, for many years, that said….’We do it all of you at McDonalds.’

At our local Famous and Barr Department store the men and women working there all addressed me by name…and I felt like that I owned the place!

 

Brain Washing…Or the Danger of Cults

‘ The Family International (TFI) is a cult that started in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, USA.  It was originally called Teens for Christ and later gained notoriety as The Children of God (COG).  It was later renamed and reorganized as The Family of Love, which was eventually shortened to The Family.  It is currently called the Family International.’   Wikipedia

‘ TFI initially spread a message of salvation, apocalypticism, spiritual ‘revolution and happiness’ and distrust of the outside world, which the members called The System.  In 1976 it began a method of evangelism called Flirty Fishing, that used sex to ‘show God’s love and mercy’ and win converts, resulting in controversy.  TFI’s founder and prophetic leader, David Berg (who was first called ‘Moses David’ in the Texas press), gave himself the title of ‘King’, ‘The Last End-time Prophet’, ‘Moses”, and ‘David’.  He communicated with his followers via ‘Mo Letters’-letters of instruction and counsel on myriad spiritual and practical subjects – until his death in late 1994.   Wikipedia

On November 18,1978 918 people died in Guyana at the behest of the People’s Temple cult leader, Jim Jones.

On March 26, 1997 police discovered 39 corpses of the members of the cult called Heaven’s Gate.  ‘ They had participated in mass suicide in order to reach what they believed was an extraterrestrial spacecraft following Comet Hale-Bopp.’   Wikipedia

Now, these are extreme cases and it would seem that the poor people that were members of these cults would have been able to discern the extreme belief system as false and contrived by megalomaniac leaders?

But, they did not.

In fact, I can postulate that there is probably a cult in your town.