Category Archives: Authors R-Z

ADR authors listed by last name R-Z

The Great Flood: an Inclusion Story – by Lydia Taylor

During the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home.  I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about and besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep.  At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway.  She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating.  Initially I thought, is it that serious?  Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag.

I was visiting, so my bags were readily available.  It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.   As I got into the back seat of the truck I noticed that there was a ladder propped against the roof of the carport.   The situation appeared to be worse than I thought.  After a few minutes the door next to me opened, and I was handed the next-door neighbor’s dog and told we must evacuate her also.  No problem, I love dogs. Within the next few moments we were driving up the hill to higher ground with the next-door neighbors, from both sides, following in their vehicles.

Before we go any further, allow me to raise this question:  If someone were to ask you, ‘what is the most important social issue in this country’, what would you answer?    Well, that is the indirect topic of this article.

The parent’s house is in the Sandy Harbor subdivision in Horseshoe Bay, Texas which is in Llano county. It is located between two low water crossings and along Lake Lyndon B. Johnson.  Here is the dilemma they faced. Should we wait too long we would be stuck; and faced with the high probability of flooding from the lake overflowing its banks.  On the other hand, if we evacuate there was no way to determine how long it would be before we could safely return to their home.  At the time of our escape, the low water crossing at the entrance of the subdivision was well above the level for safely driving through it.  The low water crossing in the opposite direction was quickly becoming unsafe as well.

Therefore, we made haste, passed through that low water crossing and drove to the home of a couple whose house is on much higher ground.  Not only are they neighbors, they are longtime friends of my parents.  Upon arrival the couple was standing on their deck like porch to greet us and the other neighbors arriving at their home.  As I approached, our hostess greeted me very warmly.  Mind you, I did not know her and had never seen her before.  Yet there she was with a hug and genuine concern for my safety.  As we entered their home, with wet shoes, clothes and raincoats, there was no concern voiced about getting the floor wet or the neighbor’s dog coming into their home.  On the contrary, we were invited to make ourselves comfortable.

Breakfast was offered and then prepared.  It was served buffet style and the atmosphere was extremely welcoming.   Afterwards, we took a walk in the rain to check on the well being of other neighbors and on the status of the low water crossing we came through earlier.  We found it to be filled with water and it was clearly unwise to go through it again, either way.  My tennis shoes were now soaked and upon returning to the home of our host and hostess I removed them.  She kindly offered me house shoes to keep my feet warm.  Next several of us played a domino game, of which I was unfamiliar, called chicken feet.  We laughed and had a great time socializing while the flooding was happening outside.

The individuals in this small representation of that neighborhood kept an eye on the rising lake and voiced concern for their property as well as that of their neighbors; but their demonstration of altruism for one another far outweighed those concerns.  There were many phone calls and text messages being sent and received to inquire about other neighbors.  Two of the group went out into the pouring rain to answer an emergency call.  Everyone was relieved to know there was no medical emergency involved.

By the way, did I mention that I am a middle aged African American woman and my parents are an interracial couple?  They are well known, respected and loved among their neighbors and in their community; but it was my first-time meeting those with whom I spent time on that cold and wet day.  Also, I learned that the gentleman who was staying next door to the parents was also a visitor in the neighborhood.

This article is indeed about inclusion and how I was made welcome among a group of people who look nothing like me and more than likely think differently about many things.  Greater still, it is a tribute to the spirit of humanity I beheld within each person I met.  They genuinely care about one another and the welfare of others.   This was not something simply verbalized, it was demonstrated in their actions.

Later that day, after the rain became a soft drizzle and the lake began to recede, we were able to return to the parent’s home.  I determined that I would tell others about the sharing and caring I witnessed in that small place within a very large universe.  It was a privileged to see it and know that since it exists there, it still exists.

That night, we slept peacefully with the ladder still propped against the roof over the carport.

The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor

In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home.  I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep.  At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway.  She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating.  Initially I thought, is it that serious?  Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag.  I was visiting, so my bags were readily available.  It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.

Continue reading The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor

Prison Conditions: Lessons from Nigeria – by Isowo Smart

It is heartbreaking to see voiceless, innocent children imprisoned with their mothers in a heavily congested adult prison cell with little or no care to prepare them for the future. If we agree there is a 60% chance for a child of a convict to be convicted, then what will become of a child neglected to the nurture hood of a prison environment that is electrified with disgust?

The huge number of out-of-school-children is already becoming alarming and a very large percentage of them are used by terrorists in the northern part of Nigeria as suicide bombers. It should be a call for urgent concern globally to see children who should have been in school, but remain on the street, getting arrested and thrown into adult prisons for trying to survive from street selling. Don’t forget the handicapped and sick inmates who need help to stay alive in a prison structure designed to drain hope from healthy minds.

Continue reading Prison Conditions: Lessons from Nigeria – by Isowo Smart

Cheer Not Sneer: Black Gen Z Success – by Elwood Watson

Anyone familiar with the rituals of college life knows that we are in the midst of college acceptance and rejection season. Recently, Lamar High School student Micheal Brown of Houston, Texas made national headlines when he gained acceptance to all 20 colleges and universities he applied to, including four Ivy League institutions: Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. Stanford, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and 13 other top-notch colleges and universities said “welcome,” as well.

The story doesn’t stop there. Each institution awarded him a full scholarship – a remarkable accomplishment, indeed! Videos of the young Brown yelling ecstatically as he was surrounded by equally ecstatic friends upon learning the wonderful news made headlines across the globe.

Continue reading Cheer Not Sneer: Black Gen Z Success – by Elwood Watson

Interview #2: How to Grow as an Entrepreneur with Deborah Levine – by Fatima Williams

My interview with Deborah Levine is the second in the series  inspired by the response to my article, 2018 Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them.  Around the world, women entrepreneurs face major challenges, but many inspire us to establish the Golden Era of Women Entrepreneurship. My interviews with these women leaders are truly amazing moments as they “Pass the Baton” on to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Continue reading Interview #2: How to Grow as an Entrepreneur with Deborah Levine – by Fatima Williams

Sister’s Keeper – Poem by Wes Sims

She paced the floor, hands wringing,
babbled to herself, sometimes tossed words
toward us that might or might not make sense.
Not unlovely, she hid her attractive figure
in simple cotton dresses, and coiled
her long, brown hair in an old-woman bun.
Floated in her own world, like a butterfly
in a conservatory, from one hallucinatory
bloom to another.

Continue reading Sister’s Keeper – Poem by Wes Sims

Life Cycle Flexibility – Disrupting the Trajectory of Work – by Paul Rupert

Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
–Larry Fink, CEO, $6 Trillion BlackRock investment manager in his 2018 advisory letter

Mr. Fink’s extraordinary, yet seemingly common sense conclusion is that we need to consider caring not only for shareholders but also for stakeholders, especially employees. But is that a likely shift?

Employers spent a century seeking smooth growth, as employees found serial turbulence

The last century of primary business focus – and thus the organization of work – has been shareholder gain. But capital accumulation may be faltering as the transforming engine of social progress. An innovative, determined, narrowly accountable private sector turned a nation of farmers and shopkeepers into a productive colossus that dominates the global economy. We play an outsized role in feeding, clothing and wiring the world. Our government has played the role of midwife and back-up caregiver in this process.

Typical American lives were dramatically reshaped in this evolution. Whole populations migrated from rural to urban and then suburban homes. Farmers became factory workers, their children became office dwellers. Since World War II, that agrarian model has been largely replaced by a new regimen: an education cycle, a period of wage-based work and then death or idle years – aka, school/work/retirement. That remains today’s core model. Or does it?

Enter LONGEVITY as the Great Disrupter

As a society, we tend to be short-term doers rather than long-term planners. Several decades ago, no powerful and farsighted group of business, government, medical and labor leaders sat down and said, “Let’s dramatically lengthen our life spans! Public health campaigns can wipe out epidemics! Pharmaceuticals can treat life-threatening diseases! A massive healthcare system can achieve miracles! We can add two or three decades to our lives!” Had such a meeting occurred, would a subsequent gathering have followed to consider the impact of this blessing on the way we would work and live?

No, such Longevity Summits did not occur and no plan to redesign the trajectory of work exists. And we are living with the consequences. Many forces and trends have converged in 2018 to insist that we need a fundamental rethinking of today’s rigid life and work cycles.

The essential shift from rigid “flexibility” to fluid work trajectories and practices

We are well past the need for “flexible work” in the form of coming in a half-hour later or working at home while waiting for the plumber. We need flexible careers, flexible management and flexible organizations to integrate the fluid patterns of life into working lives that continue for as long as 60 or 70 years. Tough as it might be mentally and practically to throw off the restraints of tightly held assumptions and outmoded practices, brutal realities offer little choice. Among the drivers of long overdue transformation are:

  • A rigid on/off view of work that undermines families, long-term health and economic security
  • The unprecedented shift of the costs of college education to debt-laden students
  • Assaults on the social safety net of robust pensions, social security, Medicare and Medicaid
  • A massive transfer of wealth through tax cuts that lower rates and bring offshore billions home
  • Intensifying fears of automation and a benefit-free future of “Gig Economy” and part-time work
  • Perceived employment tensions between debt-ridden millennials and stressed pre-retirees

An objective and creative observer would likely say that it’s stunning that we moved from the Model T in the 1930s to a Tesla on a rocket this year, but the way we organize our work and lives remains static. There are numerous reinventions to consider, and we will outline a blueprint for change in the next several essays. A few provocative, yet feasible changes follow.

Encourage “gap decades”: The school to work transition is the first area to reconsider. I have the joy and challenge of being the Boomer Dad of a millennial son, a chef in training. I bring to discussions of his future career 50 years of work in the traditional pattern. I could just encourage more of the same for him. As he prepares to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, visions of The Ultimate Restaurant dance in his head. But since he leaves school single, debt-free and adventurous, for the past year I’ve been strongly supporting his dream while seriously challenging his timeline.

It all starts with longevity. I explain that I may reach a healthy 80+, barring catastrophic events. However, healthy at 21, he and his cohort will likely be going strong into their 90s or 100s. If he starts a restaurant next year, he could well run it or numerous successors for as many as 70 years until retiring at age 90. This is a brutal industry that wears people out early. Maybe, I suggest, he should consider a gap decade before he commits to a start-up. Take a breath, take a break, travel the world and cook in the great global kitchens. Start your restaurant at age 30, invent a new cuisine, save well and take “early retirement” at 80. And in the process make it more feasible for older chefs to ply their trade without being “aged out.” Is such an approach feasible?

Erase student debt: A post-graduation gap of any length – what could also be called a pre-career break — is a non-starter for the millions graduating today’s mandatory college facing heavy debts. The imposing monthly payments start immediately. These young graduates start working with a drag equivalent to a mortgage that is unrelieved by the joy of a spouse and a house. They might gain significantly from deeply instructive periods of travel, teaching, volunteer work at home and abroad. Their loan obligations make the idea unthinkable.

A small number of companies have begun modest programs to assist their employee in repaying student loans. Perhaps as companies consider ways to respond to the needs of their stakeholders, not just shareholders, this unplanned but severe phenomenon shaping and limiting our collective future could be addressed with a portion of record profits and repatriated billions.

Multiply on/off ramps: As women – still the primary caregivers in modern America – entered the workforce in huge numbers in the last couple decades, companies had to adjust to the “disruption” of babies, children, illnesses, etc. Modest adjustments were made: some flex, some leaves, some child care supports. As the workforce evolves and ages, new challenges emerge. Chronic illnesses and injuries present managers with a difficult choice between loss of talent and provision of more complex periods of flexibility and leaves.

Longer work, flexible retirement: Just as the Boomers have changed many work practices to date, they are beginning to challenge “early retirement” and the 65 sell-by date as they speed toward abrupt and rigid exits. Not only are they facing great loss, but they are removing their talent from tight labor markets and taking valuable knowledge and experience with them. Like a glacier slowly engulfing outlying villages, some industries and companies are already sounding the alarm. We cannot afford to waste such a huge productive resource and not just allow, but force a powerful generation into dependency on unsustainable safety net programs. It’s time to end the notion of a senior “sell-by date.” Milk curdles, people don’t.

“Flexibility” needs reinvention

None of these changes, or even more desirable and valuable ones, will come quickly and easily. Few things of lasting value ever do. This is rare and timely opportunity to seize on this inflection point to shape a better future for our grandparents, parents, partners, children and grandchildren. It is well past time to do the planning for longevity that never happened and to do redesign and rebuild the infrastructure that matters most: the way we integrate work and life over 100-year lifespans. What seem like distant concerns of automation and potential job loss, the benefits and challenges of the Gig economy and inter-generational dialogue inside companies should all be addressed as we move forward intentionally and creatively

© 2018 Rupert Organizational Design. All Rights Reserved

Interview #1: How to Grow as an Entrepreneur – by Fatima Williams

You have an idea, you have something that you want to do, a business that you want to start up. How do you go about doing it?’
Self-Confidence, Motivation, and Inspiration help you develop and grow as an Entrepreneur. It’s about recognizing opportunity, looking around you, and thinking of something that could be done differently. It might be a new product or a new service but it’s about spotting an opportunity in the marketplace. Something out of the box. Out of the ordinary. Often, it’s the most simplest of ideas that really take off.

Inspired by the response to my article, 2018 Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them, I initiated this series called How to grow as an entrepreneur. I am talking to leading and inspiring women entrepreneurs all over the world and welcome men who support Women Entrepreneurship as well. This is about raising awareness. Women need to take the entrepreneur baton in their hands.

Continue reading Interview #1: How to Grow as an Entrepreneur – by Fatima Williams

2018 Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them – by Fatima Williams

Women Entrepreneurs around the world face major challenges but many are inspiring us to shape the future of global business. They show the value of extending a helping hand to others. They support fellow women to rise together rather than looking at them as rivals. They are instrumental in building positivity and in establishing the Golden Era of Women Entrepreneurship.

Continue reading 2018 Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them – by Fatima Williams

Wish for the New Year – Poem by Yvor Stoakley

Another year has come and gone and a new one just begun.
We completed another circuit around our brilliant Sun.
As we reflect on how we fared in 2017,
Let’s also pause to consider what each of our relationships to us mean.

There are people that we value for their wisdom and insight,
And others who will stand by us in any righteous fight.
There are those we know through love, through friendship, and through tears,
And those with whom we work or worship or were classmates through the years.

Continue reading Wish for the New Year – Poem by Yvor Stoakley