Let’s Pass the Hat Around for the Guys

By: Randy Ataide

ObamaMore than a week into the government shutdown (well, at least partially shut down), it is increasingly difficult to sort through the distortion and editorializing that is framing this national dysfunction. What does seem clear is that neither the President nor the Speaker knows much about negotiating to a successful result. Their self-righteousness is tedious and shortsighted.

Much has been made of the President’s indignation towards being “blackmailed” about the demand of continued funding of the government related to the implementation of the Affordable-Care Act (AKA “Obama-Care”). On the other hand, the outrage by the Speaker towards “out of control spending” rings hollow, for when Republicans have held more political power, they too have acted like drunken cowboys on a spending spree after too long out on the range. Finger-pointing gets us nowhere, and the true suffering is by all of us, who still dutifully pay all of our taxes into the black hole of government but now with even less to show for it through this shutdown.

The capacity to set aside the inevitable posturing, posing and assertion of positions, no matter how hard or intransigent it may seem, is a sign of leadership and is clearly in short supply. Union and business negotiations, complex international disarmament or peace negotiations, and even prominent divorce proceedings have been far more shrill, antagonistic and pointed than the present dispute within our branches of government and personalities. These are common tactics in negotiations, and not without significant risks, but they are to be expected, noted and then dealt with across a table. Anyone who has taken even a short course in negotiation strategy will know this, and it should not preclude the entry into seeking an agreement. Wow! Here is a newsflash–representatives of sides to negotiations have to pander to their constituents, stakeholders and benefactors. Of course they do! But such posturing does not preclude sitting down to talk things through behind closed doors.

So I have an idea. There are great executive courses on negotiations available at a wide number of excellent universities. I have taken them at both Harvard Business School and at U.S.C. Both helped me immensely in my own negotiations. Anyone want to throw in a few bucks with me to purchase a gift certificate for Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner to go? And soon?!?! The quicker these guys get behind closed doors instead of in front of Fox News and CNN reporters the better we will all be.


Looking Back

Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

By: Randy M. Ataide

Looking BackA few weeks ago I wrote about “Leaving a Legacy” where I reminisced about how life with all of our toil, effort and grand plans ultimately pass away. I think that the more that we appreciate and accept this reality, the more satisfied we are in the process of executing these plans. In my lectures, I try to remind my students that they are always more important than their ventures, whether they succeed grandly or they fail, because in the hearts and eyes of their families, friends and God, who they are is much more important than what we do.

This past week, this was a lesson once again for my own life.

Last Monday morning, I was focused upon my car repairs after an auto accident I had with a large deer, causing major damage to my car, but fortunately no injuries to us. Over a cup of coffee, I received a phone call from my brother, who told me that our mother was hospitalized and was unconscious. My wife and I drove to Fresno as fast as we could, arriving late in the afternoon to the gathered family and close friends. In the same building in which nearly three decades before we had welcomed our son and then our daughter into this world, we bade her farewell. She had lived a healthy, vigorous and vibrant life—a good life where I think many of her dreams came true—but a brain aneurysm ended it quickly.

It is strange to think that the family I grew up in is now depleted by half. My father, brother and now my mother are no longer on their earthly journey, and I hope and pray the day comes when we are reunited, in God’s gracious provision. But as I look back, I am grateful for the time we did have, and I am thankful and indeed hopeful.

It is OK to look back, for it provides us context for moving forward. Gratitude emanates from putting the work of today into the framework of past experiences, events and relationships. It helps us in placing our important business, economic, entrepreneurial, ministerial and any and all other earthly endeavor into a more accurate perspective–that no matter how important they may seem that they are really temporary, and will pass away despite our striving. This helps us develop the true and authentic legacy of our lives.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4


On Leaving a Legacy

By: Randy M. Ataide

I just returned from an extensive visit to Europe, and enjoyed time in Portugal, France and Spain. The castles, fortresses, cathedrals and other mammoth structures bear witness to the attempt by monarchs, nations, religions and even epochs to create a legacy. Handing something down through the generations seems to be a very human attribute that cuts a wide swath through history.

What legacies are we trying to create?  Once, while traveling with my esteemed colleague Dr. Lynn Reaser, she remarked how a bank CEO she once knew was insistent on building the largest structure in the city, and so embarked on a vast (and expensive) venture for the company. While I have not the funds, power nor inclination for such grand schemes, a recent experience caused me to think on this topic a bit.

Ranch 2Fifty years ago, my parents moved us from the “big city” of Fresno out to Clovis, a very rural town best known for its annual rodeo. They purchased some acreage, built a home, and soon after my Aunt and Uncle from Carmel purchased a nearby ranch as well, about two miles away. They restored an old farmhouse into a vacation home, fenced the property and purchased some prized Angus cattle and a few horses. My brother and I were hired to do basic farm work, and it was not long before my other uncle, a noted artist but also a good carpenter as well, moved onto the property to live and work. Unbeknownst to me, it would be a remarkable span of years of time with extended family, fun with cousins, and seemingly endless summer days.

In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, my father and uncle expanded the ranch into a thoroughbred boarding and breeding operation. Steel fencing, a new concrete barn with stalls, offices, a small laboratory, and other buildings appeared. My brother and I were eventually hired to live and work on the ranch, now known as Orangewood Farms, and at its peak held about 80 thoroughbreds and we “foaled” (birthed) 20-30 mares per year, and raised young horses until the time they left for training and racing. The entire family took great pride in Orangewood, and I lived and worked horses throughout my junior high and high school years until a family tragedy ended it all in 1975.

This past weekend I was in Central California to attend a wedding and to see my mother who still lives in Fresno but has long since moved to another home. With my wife and daughter, I asked if we could drive out to the old family home and ranch. While our home remains, somewhat tattered and torn and not nearly as large as it was in my memory, when I arrived at the site of our treasured Orangewood Farms, it was gone. I can only describe it as almost lunar like setting, with nothing remaining of the bustling enterprise of forty years ago. I Ranch 1stood at the end of the long driveway, and thought of the toil, investment, energy and dreams that this piece of land held for my family. I strained to hear the voices of the past, the laughter of us cousins, or to see some sign of our effort, but there was none. Silence. Only the shattered remains of the brick columns that once proudly stood at the entrance gave a hint of what had occurred here long ago. Graciously, my wife picked up a brick and put it in our car for me to take.

Someone far smarter wrote “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” This is a good reminder. Our striving to build monuments, even great ones that withstand the ravages of time are often lost to history. Few can recall the specifics of castles and cathedrals, and the why, how and when of their creation. Ultimately, what remains are memories of people, relationships and conversations, even through the fuzziness of the passing of decades. The folly of trying to build structures to demonstrate our legacy has been proven to me once again, for the best legacies are the relationships we make, cherish and maintain regardless of time and space.

When History Proves Kings Can Be Fools

By: Professor Randy Ataidemafra-national-palace

I have been traveling in Europe for the past weeks, and have had a great time in Portugal, Spain and France. There is so much to take in here, and one of the most interesting recurring discussions I have with Europeans, is the view we “Yank’s” hold of the royalty, both past and present. And it was not all that long ago that we mere commoners had no real opinion on such matters, for the “divine right of kings” had a long and fairly painful history before finally abandoned. A very severe example of this can be found in Portugal at the incredible Palacio Nacional de Mafra, located about 20 miles northwest of Lisbon.

Mafra is indeed a spectacle to behold, and I have visited the Mafra Palace many times, including coming with a group of PLNU MBA’s here in November 2011 on a study tour. Built in the 1700’s to fulfill a vow made by the Portuguese king if his wife gave birth (she happened to be an Austrian, but the interrelationships of the royals is entirely another tale), it stands about 700 feet along the front, has 1,200 rooms and nearly 5,000 windows and doors! Under construction for about fifteen years, at one point nearly 45,000 workers toiled on the project, not including the soldiers needed to police the project and keep order, the cooks, butchers and thousands of others. It was an unparalleled project for Portugal, as King John V ordered that the finest craftsman and laborers from throughout Europe come to Mafra to create his palace.

However, what is most fascinating to me about Mafra is that it does indeed appear to be a project that nearly destroyed a nation, and the true price of it is still being felt 300 years later. While in 2013 we think of Portugal as a “peripheral” member of the European Union, one of the weakest and least economically productive, during the reign of John V, this tiny country reaped vast sums from its colonies, most notably from Brazil. Literal shiploads of gold came from new mines in Brazil, but instead of managing this wealth prudently, a great wealth shift from Portugal to other countries began as the bills for Mafra became due. Germany, France, Italy and many other nations benefitted from the vast cost of Mafra Palace. In the coming decades, Portugal would endure a horrific earthquake in 1755, the invasions of Napoleon, and the independence movement of Brazil all helped topple Portugal from its perch among the giants of Europe. There is much irony in the fact that in 1910, the Portuguese monarchy collapsed, and the royal family abdicated and exited the country from halls the Mafra Palace.

History can prove kings, and politicians, to be utter fools. While I greatly admire the Mafra Palace, and believe it is a treasure of Portugal and indeed the world, I wonder what could have occurred in the fate of Portugal if instead of a royal class being feted and catered to, entrepreneurship, mercantilism, free enterprise, manufacturing and political and religious freedom would have been nurtured. Did Mafra prevent Portugal from being a “small giant,” a country big enough to have leadership in business but small enough to be discreet, nimble and astute? We will never know, but many historians believe that these forays into the fulfillment of the ruling class’s desires, be they wars, initiatives, programs, legacies, or palaces, can commit later generations to obligations they simply cannot fulfill, and the entire course of history is changed. This is not just a lesson from the history of Portugal, but one all of us in the 21st century, regardless of where we call home, need to keep in mind.

FBEI Commencement Farewell: Part 1 – “It was a very good day!”

By Randy Ataide

8717106729_08184b3ed5This past Saturday May 4 was a day that dawned cool and gray but as events unfolded rich clouds were punctuated by blasts of warm sun. But the weather was really the least important thing of this date, as it was the 2013 commencement ceremonies for PLNU!

I have reflected several times in past blogs of my mixed feelings of commencement day—the fulfillment of so much work, effort and commitment by young people towards a personal goal of a college degree brings to family and friends great pride and joy in the celebration of a goal now achieved. It is fun to participate in some small way in this journey for both our undergraduates and our MBA’s. But the closing of this chapter of life, a season at PLNU now completed as the graduates now focus on other people, places and things, often to the far corners of the earth, inevitably brings a touch of sadness and pain even in the midst of celebration.

But it was a very good day at PLNU! With my teaching now focused only upon MBA’s, greeting my last group of undergraduate entrepreneur students I have taught this past year was very rewarding, as I thought back to the hundreds of students who have taken BUS 382 and 486 from me since in the years 2006-2012. And this year, the enormous group of over 60 PLNU MBA’s successfully finishing our rigorous program undoubtedly gives any of us associated with the MBA fulfillment (if not some exhaustion as well!) Joined by other programs and majors from PLNU’s several campuses provided a jolt of energy to the day at each of the three ceremonies.

There is even more to celebrate. For our own Institute office, the great accomplishment of our Director Cathy Gallagher achieving her B.A. in Business Administration only serves to burnish her outstanding business credentials, and our Economic Researcher Dieter Mauerman joined the ranks of PLNU MBA’s, class of 2013. With Lynn Reaser and I each serving as teacher and advisor to them, and Emily Gallentine as chief encourager, our team celebrates together in their milestones. Institute student employee James Garcia also earned his B.A. in Business Administration, and we wished him “bon voyage” as he embarks on his new quests in life.

Long ago, Winston Churchill uttered a short phrase which seems to fit the day as well anything else:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

So congratulations to all. Yes indeed, it was a very good day!

Image Credit: 2013 PLNU Commencement by Marcus Emerson

What I am hoping for in 2013!

By: Professor Randy Ataideduck dynasty

In my previous blog post, I wrote that don’t make resolutions at the New Year. In fact, I have found that as the years have passed. New Years is kind of a “semi-holiday” not really to the level of Thanksgiving or Christmas, not quite as low as President’s Day, but somewhat in between. Maybe this explains why when the “ball drops” in New York I consider that is close enough for us Californians to hoist my Martinelli cider and call it a night.

However, if you do want to read resolutions by some famous people, here is a real treat: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/01/01/four-famous-new-years-resolution-lists-jonathan-swift-susan-sontag-marilyn-monroe-woody-guthrie/ There is some great reading here, and I especially liked the austere yet touching ones by famed singer Woody Guthrie.

For the moment, here are some things I hope to see and hear MORE of in 2013:

 Duck Dynasty
If you have seen it, you know what I am talking about. If you have missed it, find it on A & E and sit back and enjoy. Mountain Man, Uncle Si, Phil and even the grandkids will entertain and touch you.

 Admiring the “Best of Class”
I frequently tell my students to “hang out with smart people.” Reading, listening or watching someone at the top of their game is inspiring. (Examples: Daniel Day Lewis in the film Lincoln, Winston Churchill in The Last Lion, Dr. Ivan Filby in PLNU Chapel, etc.)

 Using Flipboard
If you have a tablet you need to download this app. Flipboard provides a great value creation moment: dropping print newspapers and magazines, capacity to aggregate news feeds and sites of interest, and  incredibly important to someone like me who thinks Tetris is still an amazing video game,  simple to use, modify and update. Did I say it was free as well?

 People and positions I disagree with
With the political polarization of our country and lost opportunities to fix difficult problems at all levels, I think we need to stop listening so much to those who hold the same views we hold and listen to others more. Perhaps in doing so we can find some solutions. We might as well pursue “Plan B” because “Plan A” hasn’t done too much for us lately.

 Be more hopeful
I was speaking on Skype the other day with friends from Portugal, listening to the conditions facing them, and it reminded me that things like high taxes, regulations and bureaucracies are relative and not eternal. Keeping my eyes on things beyond my current reality is important.

I sincerely wish each of you a great new year and I hope there are many good things you are looking forward to in 2013. Ready or not here we come!

“duck-dynasty”.2012.widgetware.January 30, 2013

What I’m ready to leave in 2012 and hoping for in 2013.

By: Professor Randy Ataide

table_dogNow that the New Year has dawned, the holiday break is over, and Congress and the White House have only partially succeeded in wrecking the country, it seems an appropriate time to look ahead to 2013. As I don’t normally make resolutions, as an alternative I would like to share some of the things I’d like to leave in 2012 and hoping for in 2013.

First, here is what I hope we see and hear LESS of in 2013:
The “royal pregnancy”
While I love babies, is the world really “holding its breath” during the Kate Middleton pregnancy? Uggh!

The “fiscal cliff”
Let’s all take a vow to give it a rest. Besides, we already went over the cliff and smashed into the rocks. But we were able to play our iPod really loud on the way down.

“Honey Boo-Boo”
You know the awful feeling when someone tells you about something you really didn’t want to know about? Yeah, that was me during the holidays when my kid’s turned this on the TV. (Thanks so much, son.)

“The 1%”
Do we really want to become a country of class warfare? OK, so I worked hard, took financial and professional risks, built some companies, employed a bunch of people, paid my taxes and then sold the company. And then paid some more taxes. And then some more. (It’s called California.) Does anyone remember the child’s tale of “The Golden Goose”?

The Navy Seals
At the risk of being misunderstood, I would offer that I think it better for all of us, and far worse for our enemies, if we talk less about the Seals. We don’t need to risk them, their lives, their families, and the unique training and mission of the Seals through stylized “based on a true story” films. Let’s give it a rest.

OK, before I get hate mail, I love dogs but I don’t like dogs at my dinner table. Worried about texting and driving? What about loose dogs on people’s laps in a moving car or at a nice restaurant? Am I the only person this bothers? Dogs are cool, they are loyal, and probably have some amazing bonding relationship with humans…but they are not people!

OK, for some things to hear MORE of in 2013:
Stay tuned, because there are some good things, people, trends and issues being discussed and I will share some of my favorites in a follow up post in a few days. What good things are you looking forward to in 2013?

But for now, Happy New Year! Now get that dog off your lap and put the People magazine down!

Table_dog.2008.kingpupdogwalkers.January 30, 2013