I stay at work for you. You stay home for us.

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mamamia.com

The world owes the health care profession a (virtual) high-five. They are rushing into danger — and staying in — while the rest of us retreat to our sofas and televisions. As we should: stopping COVID-19 means holing-up in our homes and denying the virus a chance to spread. So crank up the coffeemaker, microwave some popcorn, and let’s see what’s on Netflix. Okay, I’m nourished, comfortable, and entertained. I can ride this out …

Plug it in, switch it on: social distancing is predicated on reliable electric service, from powering our televisions and internet to charging our devices to keeping our homes comfortable and well lit. Now imagine for a moment that the electricity wasn’t there: sitting in the dark, food going bad in the refrigerator, no heating or air-conditioning, phones dying, and a dark TV screen staring back at us. For weeks or months.


Neophilia drives the consumption — and resultant waste — that defines our species.

Shiny object! Whether it’s the new car smell, the latest iPhone, or a smart thermostat, that tidal wave of dopamine is hard to resist. In fact, studies show that we may choose the new over the tried and true “even in a situation where we don’t have any good reason to expect something to be better than before,” says University College London’s Bianca Wittmann, lead author of a 2008 study.[i]

That neophilia — the love of the new — drives the innovation that defines our species. Neophilia also drives the consumption — and resultant waste — that defines our species. …


No matter what kind of books you search for — business, management, leadership — on amazon.com, you get the same sobering answer: “over 100,000 results.” Which could be 100 million, and just might be. Each is hundreds of pages, and thus hours and hours, long. Ouch.

Let’s go the opposite way: One-Page Leadership. In this installment …

1-Page Leadership: Moving In The Positive

“How are you, Chairman?”

He would respond in his booming Zambian voice: “Lincoln, I am moving in the positive.” Moving in the positive.

We were both university students in Nanjing, China in 1988. I was there for about 6 months; The Chairman (no one seemed to know his actual name) was probably there for 6 years or more. He and his fellow students were studying civil engineering as part of China’s “Non-Aligned Nations” outreach effort to sub-Saharan African countries during that period. It was a punishingly difficult life for them, but The Chairman was always moving in the positive. …


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The author in 1974

I still remember learning it: “the solution to pollution is dilution.” That was the accepted wisdom in 1974, courtesy of my second grade science class. I think we covered the metric system next: it was soon to replace our antiquated imperial system, after all.

As it turns out, old assumptions — like miles, pounds, and gallons — die hard in the United States of America. But that seemingly infinite environment is now full: we’ve run out of planet for our pollution. In the meantime, I’ve grown from a Chicagoland 2nd grader into a California utility executive. Climate change, pollution, sustainability, and resilience are part of every conversation and decision. …


Tom Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation” and he was right.

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thebostoncalendar.com

They were born in the horrific shadow of World War I only to see their parents and families devastated by the Great Depression. They had already experienced plenty of hardship when war came to Europe and Asia again in the late 1930s; the world had done them few favors. Nor had they planted the seeds of that war; they had been children or not yet born as appeasement and rearmament became a vicious spiral. No matter: it fell to them to save the world.

And it was far from inevitable. The metastasizing conflict seemed far away and, to many Americans, irrelevant. Our mighty ocean borders seemed impenetrable, international communication was slow, and travel was expensive and taxing for all but the wealthy. Let the rest of the world solve its own problems, we thought, we have enough of our own here at home. The same apathy and argument slowly played out at the national level: FDR’s dithering globalism versus Charles Lindbergh’s “America First” isolationism. Hitler was already astride Western Europe and bombing a starving England. Still we dithered, our armed forces in tatters, our factories still making automobiles and washing machines. …


No matter what kind of books you search for — business, management, leadership — on amazon.com, you get the same sobering answer: “over 100,000 results.” Which could be 100 million, and just might be. Each is hundreds of pages (and thus hours and hours) long. Ouch.

Let’s go the opposite way: One-Page Leadership. In this installment …

Autonomic For The People

Are you breathing? Digesting? Heart beating, blood moving? Pupils adjusting to ambient light? Good!

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stanfordhealthcare.org

That’s your autonomic nervous system at work, 24/7/365. It controls your breathing, digestion, heart function, and pupillary response plus everything from your metabolism and body temperature to your blood pressure and sexual response, pretty much automatically (hence its name). …


No matter what kind of books you search for — business, management, leadership — on amazon.com, you get the same sobering answer: “over 100,000 results.” Which could be 100 million, and just might be. Each is hundreds of pages (and thus hours and hours) long. Ouch.

Let’s go the opposite way: One-Page Leadership. In this installment …

Waterskiing with Winston

Tips up. Lean back. Arms straight. Let the boat pull you up. You’re going to do great.

Between running local YMCA snow skiing trips in the winter and spending every possible moment on a boat in the summer, I taught hundreds of kids to ski in my teenage years. …


Energy is indispensable. Energy is compromise. And there is no playbook for the Age of Renewables. Let’s compromise wisely, eyes wide open.

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Photo: jusfletcher.wordpress.com

Wonderwerk.” Even the name of the cave seems fitting. There, about one million years ago, our homo erectus ancestors cooked their meal over a campfire. Not a wildfire, a campfire. It was planned, created, managed, and utilized for a specific purpose.

Fire control changed everything: warmth, safety, nutrition, access to harsher climates, and social and behavioral norms. The invention of the wheel was a mere game-changer by comparison; fire control changed the course of human evolution.

Fire control changed the course of human evolution. The invention of the wheel was a mere game-changer by comparison.

I’m sure there were naysayers, homo erectus ludditus (yes, I made that up) surely tisked those early adopters who accidently burned themselves or their campsites or their habitats. They were correct, of course. Fire can be both absurdly useful and absurdly dangerous. We know now that it produces greenhouse gases (GHG) and pollutes the air with particulate emissions, carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and other nasty chemicals. …


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Charles Darwin, c.1854

You can almost see the exasperation in his eyes.

In the late 1850's, a naturalist named Charles Darwin sent an advance copy of his Origin of Species to a respected British journal. Apparently the journal’s editor agreed the book had merit but feared that the subject matter was too narrow to attract a wide audience. He urged Darwin to write about pigeons instead. “Everyone is interested in pigeons,” he observed helpfully. Ouch.

More recently, I volunteered to talk to my daughter’s suburban Los Angeles 4th grade science class about the electric utility business. I expected the same reaction that Darwin received; I was wrong. Instead, I got two hours of detailed questions from the students about every imaginable renewable energy technology, batteries and pumped storage, and electric vehicles. …


No matter what kind of books you search for — business, management, leadership — on amazon.com, you get the same sobering answer: “over 100,000 results.” Which could be 100 million, and just might be. Each is hundreds of pages (and thus hours and hours) long. Ouch.

Let’s go the opposite way: One-Page Leadership. In this installment …

1-Page Leadership: Want of Frigates

You can almost see the frustration in his eyes.

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Despite the impressive naval regalia and the supremely power British navy at his disposal in 1798, legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson wrote, “Was I to die at this moment, ‘Want of Frigates’ would be found stamped on my heart.” For those who don’t geek-out over sailboats, the frigate was the backbone of a sailing navy: light, quick, powerful, and versatile. Massive battleships struck fear into the enemy and, under the right circumstances, could be supremely effective. …

About

Lincoln Bleveans

Lincoln Bleveans has been a leader in global power for 25 years. He is currently an executive at a municipal utility in California. Tweets @bleveans

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