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Message to NSA St. Louis

Just in case you’re here to check up on me and my promise to post, let me explain.

1. I almost couldn’t remember how to get into the blog itself in order to create this post.

2. I can’t find the article on the portable hard drive I’m travelling with.

Okay, okay these are excuses of the lowest order! In my defense, I did post this AND I did link my blog to the Beyond the Platform site in the Resources section. So are you willing to give me a little credit?

Why Won’t They Just Change?

Here comes a change. Your people react, many not positively. What’s a leader to do? How about a few moments of reflection? Okay, you say, but what am I supposed to reflect on. Try this model.


Your reflection needs to consist of identification and action planning. Since people’s reaction to change puts them in one of three categories, your actions need to be targeted for each group.


First, identify the Evangelists. These are the people who get the change, support the change, and will sell the change to others. These people need information, support, and encouragement. They are often employees without position power but with tremendous personal power within your organization. As such they often work layers away from you and you many not actually know them or interact with them directly, but you need to figure our how you can, in a meaningful way, become more connected to them! If your organization is of a size that you can’t be as visible as you’d like, get creative.


Next, find the Saboteurs. These are the people who will openly or subtly work against the change. They will not respond to information: yet another recitation or explanation of the process that led up to the ultimate decision. Those who are open about their resistance are easier. They need to be firmly confronted with facts and reality. “I realize you’re having difficulty with this change and I have listened to your objections, however, I need you to understand that it is the route we’re taking going forward and I need you to get on board.” is the message that needs to be consistently delivered from by you and all the members of your Leadership team. And by consistently, I mean over and over again.

(Note: this message only works if you have, in fact, listened to their objections and factored them into your decision making process. If you haven’t – back to the decision making drawing board and shame on you for not doing your due diligence before launching this change.)


The underground saboteurs are tougher. First you have to find the pockets of resistance. Not for round up and punishment, but so you can smoke them out and deal with them. This group needs to hear a variation of the same message. “It has come to my attention that you’re having difficulty with this change. Let’s talk. What is it about this change that you’re unhappy with?” Then be quiet and make them articulate their objections and concerns. Often, like a bully, when asked to articulate their position, they’ll retreat. At least you’ve let them know that you know what their behavior is.


Finally, you’ll have the Aclueistics. These are the people who don’t have a clue and don’t even know there are clues to be had. These people need to educated, big time. In today’s business climate, can your business afford to pay people who have isolated themselves from the environment around you? Can you afford people who are surprised when change happens? Be certain that you haven’t created an organizational climate that says it wants Smart Employees, but treats people in a way that creates employees that are house broken. (Thanks to Dr. Karl Albrecht for sharing that brilliant, to-the-point metaphor.) To lesson the numbers in this group, give yourself and your Leadership team marching orders. “Part of our job is to make certain all our people have the opportunity, the resources, and the encouragement to learn about who we are and what we do, what our customers want and need today as well as tomorrow, and how our organization fits into our industry. Show me your action plan for making our people smarter.”


Remember, reflection is the start. Action is where things happen. When resistance to change appears, and it always will, one-size-fits-all actions won’t work. Your job as the leader is to know your team so well that your actions-to-implement list will meet your employees where they actually are and be effective. As you implement your well thought out, creatively designed, and consistently measured Action Plan, you’ll be building an amazing bonus – trust. That trust is like having a big-balance bank account, available for use when the next change comes along.

Can You Recycle Blog Entries?

When I first started blogging several years ago, my blog was on another platform. The other day I got to thinking about those entries. They were good and no one would see them in their current location. So I decided I would transfer them to this blog.

If I can figure the system out, they should be set to post over the next few weeks. I'll add some notes to update the events and situations they cover. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have as I've taken this trip down memory lane.

Open Your Notebook Newsletter – Volume 1, Issue 5

In The Pocket Muse Endless Inspiration: New Ideas for Writing (Writers Digest Books, 2006), author Monica Wood cautions writers in the folly of re-visiting earlier works.

“Reviewing an old subject, one
that still haunts you, will work only if you begin afresh without
looking back. Otherwise you will waste your energy troubleshooting some
other writer’s work – because you are no longer that writer
Wish your earlier work well. Do
not scorn it. Be generous to the younger you who wrote it. This was the
best you could do; be glad that you can now do better. Then say goodbye
to that work, and begin something that the younger you would not have

Think back – what subject was outside your reach a few decades, years, or weeks ago. Open Your Notebook and commit to ten minutes of writing what you are now experienced enough to write about.

Open Your Notebook Newsletter – Volume 1, Issue 4

 What I fear in writing is the safe direction.”

-Anne Rice
Sooner or later all writers have
to deal with emotion. The more skilled you become translating feelings
into words on a page, the more effective you will be in communicating
emotionally charged issues to the reader.

Honesty counts.
Open Your Notebook and
for 10 minutes write a note to a person you are in conflict with,
expressing your point of view. For this exercise don’t focus on if you
will or will not ever share your writing, the point is to write the
emotion. Does it start raw and uncontrolled for you? Or do you start
stilted and awkward? When you look back on what you’ve written pay
attention to how your control of the written emotion changes the longer
you are into the exercise.

Open Your Notebook Newsletter – Volume 1, Issue 3

I’ve never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.”

-Anne Tyler

– good writing, that is – allows the writer to reinvent themselves or
the situation. Not only is anything possible, anything can be probable.


Find a newspaper and locate the
horoscopes in the newspaper, and read them all. Pick the one you hope
applies to you today. Then, Open Your Notebook and copy it in. Now spend 10 minutes writing about the reason for your choice.

To subscribe to the
bi-weekly Open Your Notebook Newsletter, send an email to with your name in the body of the message
and “Subscribe to Open Your Notebook” in the subject line.

Open Your Notebook Newsletter – Volume 1, Issue 2

I can tell, when (students) bring their final manuscripts (typed up) to
workshop who is writing by hand and who isn’t. It’s like looking at
scarves made by machine, and scarves knit by hand by a dear dear
friend. Two different beasts
.”  – Heather Sellers, author of Page After Page

There was a time when penmanship
was a subject in school. Then, typing became a class and penmanship was
reduced to a comment on report cards. Finally, the curriculum shifted
again and typing transitioned into keyboarding. But the experience of
creation is different when you handwrite than it is when you type on a
typewriter or keyboard at your computer. Writing is as much a physical
act as it is a mental one.
Every issue we implore you to
“open your notebook” and we mean just that. Hold paper in your hand –
touch a pen or pencil to paper – and write these exercises like that.
Write your professional papers, articles, letters, etc. on a computer
if you must, but when working on your writing skills, trust us when we
say that you tap something different in your brain holding a pen than
you do with fingers resting lightly on a keyboard.
It’s the difference between
using a knife, fork, and spoon at the table and using your fingers to
eat a meal. No matter how gorgeous your silver pattern – or how
eco-friendly your plastic utensils – touching the food changes the
eating experience.
Open Your Notebook and
spend 10 minutes focusing on the feel of your pen or pencil on the
paper. Start by writing, “My (pen/pencil) is (color) and glides across
the paper like…” From there, it’s up to you. Do you continue to
describe the sensory experience, the difference in your thought
patterns, the application of a tactile experience in the work you do?
Or, do you let a stream of conscious writing emerge? It doesn’t really
matter, so long as you write it!


To subscribe to the
bi-weekly Open Your Notebook Newsletter, send an email to with your name in the body of the message
and “Subscribe to Open Your Notebook” in the subject line.

Open Your Notebook Newsletter – Volume 1, Issue 1

“What I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I write when I’m feeling inspired.”  -Tom Wolfe
It might seem counterintuitive for a writing newsletter to say – but say it we will (and often). Reading about writing isn’t writing. Writing is writing.
That’s why Open Your Notebook,
the bi-weekly e-newsletter about writing from authors Chris
Clarke-Epstein and Miriam Phillips, will be short on keeping you
reading and long on provoking ideas for writing. Every other week you
can expect something to think about and a writing exercise. So, buy a
notebook, sharpen your pencil, and prepare to write. Remembering, of
course, that intending to write isn’t writing, writing is writing!

Most writing exercises are geared
towards creative writers, writers of fiction vs. non-fiction. But no
matter your medium, you must learn and practice your craft. Non-fiction
is no exception.
The first thing to do is to identify
your voice; that is, the style, manner, and written sound you want to
convey. Try this exercise from Fred White’s The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life (Writer’s Digest Books, 2008).
How can you help yourself uncover your
natural voice? Write a page in which you describe, in a relaxed,
informal manner, without groping for impressive words, how you feel
about one of the front page stories appearing in this morning’s
newspaper. After you finish the page, read it aloud. If it doesn’t
sound like you, circle the phrases or sentences that seem artificial or
forced. Then keep revising the paragraph until it seems to capture your
natural voice.

Now apply the voice test to your
current work in progress. Turn to any page, read it aloud, and if it
sounds artificial, get busy revising it.

To subscribe to the bi-weekly Open Your Notebook Newsletter, send an email to with your name in the body of the message and “Subscribe to Open Your Notebook” in the subject line.