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The Hero Behind the Hero

eagle Today we continue our series on heroes. Last time we talked about what makes a hero a hero.



Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully as we’ve come to know him) inspired this series. He is, of course, the pilot who landed his plane in the Hudson River to ultimately save over 150 lives.

But we haven’t heard much about the co-pilot on that fateful flight – Jeffrey Skiles. He, much like Sully, was a veteran of the industry as well. And let’s not forget the flight crew and also the passengers who stepped up to the challenge. The news coverage has largely ignored them too.

Heroes aren’t alone

We love our heroes. They are usually a single person. But a person usually doesn’t become a hero by themselves.

Which got us thinking about the Wind Beneath My Wings. Doesn’t that song seem particularly appropriate when thinking about heroes and airplanes? Pun fully intended!


On the show, I had to try hard not to cry as we talked about the lyrics of this song.



georgeI tried not to admit that I’m a huge Bette Midler fan! But so was Johnny Carson … so I guess I’m in good company.


Unsung heroes

The song starts …

“It must have been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way. You always walked a step behind.”

This is the case with many heroes. There are the heroes we see. And for every hero that we see, there are many unsung heroes, working behind the scenes, that we never see.


marylynnWhen I was in radio, I did a segment called “Superstar Employee of the Month,” where people could nominate their co-workers. The nominations were always so heartfelt and touching. People often recognized those co-workers who seldom got any credit.


Plenty of work, very little credit

The song continues …

“So I was the one with all the glory, while you were the one with all the strain.”


georgeThis reminds me of something I heard my dad say a number of times about the employees of his business. “They do all the work and I get all the credit.” This is so true for many leaders. At least he recognized it!


We all have people behind us that help us succeed. And they often don’t get the credit they deserve. Just like the co-pilot and crew of US Airways Flight 1549.

Lifting us up

These unsung heroes, who do so much work for so little credit do much more than just support us.


marylynnMy favorite line of this song is in the chorus, “I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.” It shows how important some people are to us. They lift us up to heights we can’t achieve on our own, to levels we can hardly imagine.


A hero’s response


georgeWhen my dad passed away unexpectedly, I kept a journal for awhile. The chorus to this song was the feature of the very first entry. There wasn’t much left unsaid between the two of us. We had a great relationship, but I’m not sure that I ever told him that he was a hero to me. I think he knew, but I sure wish I had said it explicitly.


The song closes with the appropriate response of a hero …

“Thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings”.

Whether we feel like a hero or not, it’s important to understand that any success we achieve isn’t reached alone. There are people lifting us up every step of the way.

Don’t just think about how much you appreciate them. Tell them. To go back to the song one more time, it says it explicitly …

“It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.”

We should do the same!


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Do you have any idea how much we appreciate that you are part of our community? Well, let us just say, it means more to us than words can say. But we’ll try anyway:

You lift us up! Thank you, thank you … 

Join us next time as we wrap up this series by discussing the hero within the hero. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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(Image in today's post by plebelic)

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Want to be a Millionaire? Here’s How to Think Like One

saleCNN Money recently asked forty people for the best advice they ever got about money. One of the people featured is Bill Nygren, the great manager of the Oakmark Select Fund.

He refers to an episode of the Johnny Carson show, where Johnny asked financial guru Andrew Tobias how someone with only $1,000 should invest it. Andrew Tobias said they should buy non-perishable items.

The crowd got quite a kick out of that answer!

Here was this great financial mind suggesting that people, with only a small amount of money, buy common, every day items instead of investing it.



Saving money beats making money

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How to Attract and Retain the Next Generation of Talent

soft_skillsBeloit College recently published their eleventh annual Mindset List about this year’s crop of incoming freshmen. Check it out to understand the perspective of the Class of 2012.

For example, Jay Leno has always been the host of The Tonight Show for this group. Bring up Johnny Carson only if you’re prepared to explain who he was!



Putting it into con-text

We have a friend who thinks they lack social skills. He believes they’re so busy texting that they’ve never developed the ability to communication personally.

We disagree – we think they’re very social. A generation before, we e-mailed or called someone on their cell phone instead of texting. In our mind, the only difference is the medium used.

We wanted to dig a little deeper to fully understand the perceptions of young people in their late teens and early twenties. After all, they’re the ones who will be coming to us for employment in the near future.

The Media Center at the American Press Institute calls this group of people the “Content Generation” – they use text, videos, and photos (often generated from their cell phones) to connect and inform.

Understanding the paradigm

They have witnessed September 11, corporate scandals, mass layoffs, sweat shops, the burst of the bubble, and now the subprime mortgage crisis.

When they think of the future, they realize that they will have to fund their own retirement while they start and raise a family. Since their parents are older than previous generations, they will also likely have to care for them at some point in their lives.

The workplace for the next generation

All of these things impact the jobs they will choose. They don’t expect to stay at the same company for their entire career. They won’t necessarily take the job that pays the most either – they’re looking for more than money.

This generation grew up with Tom Peters and the idea of Me, Inc. They understand personal branding and seek lifelong employability. So two of the most important components of a good job are:

  • Personal and professional growth – They want a job that helps them develop skills that will be valuable in their career and at home.
  • Work – life balance – They want a job that allows them to enjoy their lives now. They’re not willing to wait until they retire to “live”.

They want to work for people in a company that truly values its employees. These people live the values they talk about. They follow through on what they say. They’re authentic.

For example, if you say you’re “green”, you better be green. You recycle. You use energy-efficient light bulbs. You work to reduce paper use. And that’s just the start!

We admire them because they’ve figured out some important things already that we didn’t have worked out at their age. They have a lot of potential. Time will tell if they live up to it.

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Next time, with the Democratic Convention wrapping up, we’ll talk about donkeys. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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