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  • Bullies Belong in Bull Pens—Not Cubicles

    It's not my imagination: we've become far too accepting of bullies at work. Bullying behavior is on the rise and it's not just on the playground but in workplaces. Look around. Have you noticed some certifiable bullies? These are folks who constantly demean, ridicule, put down, or purposely ignore those with less "power" than they have. And it's tolerated. One health care organization told me of a physician who regularly, verbally assaults nurses and interns. A vice president in a development company uses the silent treatment as a way of telling an employee that she's a non-entity, even going so far as to threaten staff if they speak to this employee! A law firm keeps a rain maker despite the fact he eats colleagues and administrative assistants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Avoid Making Bullies Heroes We've made heroes of other bullies, even tolerating bullying-like behavior, in some folks who represent the United States. Sadly, behavior ignored is behavior endorsed. Complacency equals complicity. The organization and its leaders develop a reputation for arrogance and insensitivity. It makes little sense. Getting and keeping good talent is one of the top two worries of CEOs. Who wants to work with bullies? Research also indicates that performance and productivity actually increase when bullies are eliminated. Here’s where to start: Create a NO BULLY rule and mean it. Confront bully behavior as soon as it happens. Train everyone how to identify bully behavior and how to react, respond, and report. Look yourself in the eye and ask for honest feedback. We all carry some of the bullying gene inside of us. PS: And if stuck, read Sam Horn’s newest book: Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations.

  • Tap into the Magic of Merlin

    Not the Merlin of King Arthur legends, but rather the free Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell School of Ornithology. Yes: BIRDS! In our crazy-paced, far-too-angry world, there’s a great calm to becoming quiet and watching and listening for birds. I discovered this magic a few weeks ago when I spoke in Ohio and stayed with a dear friend in Cincinnati. Living in Southern California I had forgotten the summer magic of immense oaks, maples, elms, and chestnuts. I had forgotten the incredible array of bird songs that often came sight unseen from the thick green branches. Opening the Merlin app and selecting sound recording, I discovered the music of the tufted titmouse, chimney swift, cedar waxwing, and the Carolina wren. I already could identify the mourning dove, the house sparrow, the robin, the downy woodpecker, and the song sparrow. But I had forgotten the brilliant flash of the cardinal and how perky were robins with their red breasts. Thankfully, I did not need Merlin to identify the tiny hummingbird nest in our staghorn fern. The construction of these tiny nests defies an architect. What a joy to tiptoe out each day and watch an egg, no bigger than a pea, expand, break and then slowly over time, Anna’s hummingbird literally outgrew the nest and zoomed off to a new life. Bird songs. Bird colors. Summer nests. I think this avian life offers small respites that can refresh and renew the soul.

  • Broken Can Be Fixed

    Walking past a neighbor’s house the other day, I noticed a rose bud that had almost been snapped off. I grabbed it and brought it home. I trimmed off the damaged stem and put it in water. Look at the results! Its fragrance filled the room. I realized the lesson from the broken rose. Broken people can be fixed, much like a little rose bud, almost disconnected from the rest. Imagine if we would rescue that person, help bind or discard what was wounded and then put in a place of nurturing? Powerful metaphor. Much to think about.

  • June Is Graduation Month

    June is graduation month—but what if you can't afford to go to school??? How do you get scholarships? What if the school was based on a philosophy of bringing students from around the world to live in community for their last two years of high school? What if the course of study also involved sustainability, social justice, the arts, as well as rigorous courses to get an international baccalaureate degree? That’s something few high schools rarely offer. This is what United World College is all about. United World College Costa Rica is one of 18 campuses around the world. But it is unique in having an amazing board and a record of attracting like the van Otterloos. Start off June inspired as to what is possible.

  • From Sick To Well. Sea Lions Return Home.

    Last Saturday, about 50 of us gathered at 7:00 am on Dana Strand. I only knew my daughter—a volunteer at the Pacific Marine Wildlife Center—in Laguna Beach. She had told me about the wonderful staff and volunteers. I had read about the work of this non-profit center to rescue and rehabilitate ocean mammals, offer educational programs, and advocate for a healthy ocean. Now I wanted to see it for myself. Today four of these amazing creatures were going to be released after being treated for illness and malnourishment. Sadly, almost all sick ocean mammals are the result of human actions from a depletion of food through climate change to entanglement in nets, to gunshot wounds! An early morning hush settled over us as the cages were lifted from the back of a truck and placed on the sand. Staff formed a barricade with plastic fences to shepherd this group back into the ocean. The four pinnipeds huddled together for a moment and then, collectively, made a beeline for the waves. Once the four heads could be seen swimming into the waves, the crowd broke into shouts of joy. I cried. My thoughts as we start into the 2nd quarter of 2023: First, how wonderful to see the care and concern for saving the lives of these mammals. To cheer their return to a functioning life was heartwarming. My second thought: what would it take for us to care for the those among us who are wounded, malnourished, and scared? Somehow, it’s easier with a creature that can’t talk and that does not look like us. This certainly has my brain pondering and looking for opportunities… we are all part of the animal kingdom. I would like to serve both the two-legged and the four-flippered.

  • Four Top Tips For Resilient Relationships (With Teams And With Customers)

    In the blur of limited Twitter feeds and IMs, relationships can become short-changed through shorthand communication. Want to improve relationships so that they are sustained? Use these tips. Forget ad copy. Use real language. A headline and catchy phrases only go so far. Write and speak what you really mean in plain words. No jargon allowed. Use symbolic gestures instead of words. Example: The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has a huge goal of eradicating childhood cancer. One of their primary fundraising efforts is head shaving. They raise money by asking people to donate and you will have your head shaved! When a team leader wanted to get the point across that internal dissension was killing team results, he wrapped a yellow “crime scene” tape around all the desks and then asked the question—“what do we need to do to stop this from happening.” Powerful. Try storytelling instead of telling. Data and facts are dry and without life. Tell the story about what happens when someone uses your product. Tell the story about how you felt when someone gave you positive feedback. Remember, facts tell but emotion sells. Paint a picture. And if you have a challenge with storytelling, I can help. Practice dialogue instead of discussion. Discussion gets its root word from the same place as percussion: “To beat upon”. Dialogue means to engage in an informal exchange of ideas. Seek to understand what your team member says, what the client wants, what your spouse asks. “Please tell me more,” is a great way to open up dialogue and look for common points. Remember, talk is NOT cheap. It IS priceless.

  • When confronted by Hate and Violence…

    My dear friend and soul sister Marilyn Semonick writes a weekly column called Wednesday Wisdom. Always Short. Pithy. Pertinent. Profound. Here is one of her more recent pieces of wisdom. I have put her thoughts in italics. Howard Zinn wrote, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train”. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. My challenge for myself—for all my readers –is this: what action of kindness and compassion will I do today? Better still, how many actions can I do today? The spontaneity of kindness can indeed be nurtured. Care to join me?

  • Life Lessons From My Resilient Little Brother

    I was asked to read the obituary of my little brother Chuck Browder and say a few things about him. As I pondered on what to say about him, I thought back on how resilient he was and how he lived life to the fullest. Looking over the photos that friends and family were sharing, I was reminded of his many accomplishments, his love for his family and his love of fishing. Chuck Browder was only 36 years old at the time of his passing. Chuck was born with Osteopetrosis, an extremely rare genetic disorder that makes bones too dense and brittle. His condition caused deformity from birth, difficulty hearing and constant breaking of his bones. I met Chuck when my dad and his mom, (Debbie), began dating when I was 14 years old and Chuck was 4 years old. We took to each other quickly and had loads of fun; Chuck was bright even at an early age. I remember him attempting to teach me to sign the alphabet and how he got frustrated that I needed a refresher each time he tried to teach me. That isn’t the only thing Chuck taught me, Chuck taught me how to be resilient. I will share a few highlights below… Don’t Be Resentful Chuck’s appearance caused many people to stare and be curious about his condition. Chuck’s father abandoned him saying “I didn’t have a child like that”. Chuck had countless fractures, hospitalizations, and near-death experiences during his life. He was confined to a wheelchair most of his life. With all these challenges facing him, he remained positive. He got frustrated and disappointed at times but never stayed in that state of mind very long. Chuck’s Mom shared with me that she felt like society and charitable organizations could have provided more support to Chuck, but I know Chuck did not want any handouts. In fact, he asked me to build a ramp for his house a few years ago and insisted he pay for it, I told him he could buy the materials, but I wanted to build the ramp for him. Never Give Up I never expected Chuck to have a wife and children, those were my limiting beliefs. Chuck had different plans. He married Bonnie and then had Joel age 4 ½ and Abigail age 3 both of them beautiful children that he adored. He was determined he wasn’t going to let his disability keep him from having a family and living a full life. Be Ambitious Chuck graduated from Bartow High School in 2004. He went on to Southeastern University and then obtained his master’s from Ashford University. He was determined and disciplined. He was a history and math teacher and taught at Bartow Middle School and a few other Academies in Central Florida. Chuck bought his own home and was excited about a place for his wife and children to live in Ruskin, FL. I left Chuck’s funeral inspired to be more and do more. The photos of him enjoying family, friends and fishing were a testament that although his life was shorter than most, he made the most of it. I was glad to have him as my “little buddy” even after he grew up to be an accomplished husband and father. Brian Brogen is a coach, trainer, and speaker with an emphasis on communication and team building. As a certified human behavior expert, Brian has a knack for developing teams and individuals both personally and professionally. Brian works with organizations and individuals, coaching and training using his experience, knowledge, tenacity, and sense of humor. Brian is the founding author of Voices For LeadershipTM, a collaboration of 40 diverse authors sounding their unique voice on leadership principles, and the best- selling author of The 100-Hour Pilot. You can learn more about Brian at http://

  • What’s Love Got to Do With It?

    We have had heavy rains into Southern California recently and it looks like we will get more. We’re a desert state and goodness knows we need it. We also need to hold on to more of it instead of watching it vanish into the hardscape. My morning run has blossomed with bush sunflowers. Now we need to figure out how to keep the rain… it’s much like love… can we hold on to love and watch life grow?

  • Beware Of What You “Think You Know”

    I attended a virtual Sunday church service with my twin brother, Dr. John McDargh. There was one part of the sermon that, frankly, hit me square between the eyes—particularly as we all attempt to move forward in these challenging times. It’s a theory in education called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Basically, it says that the less you know about something, the more you think you know about it. How many folks do you know who read a paragraph and then suddenly, become geniuses in that topic? Conversely, the more you know about something, the less you realize you know. Author Mark Manson has named this the “paradox of our own ignorance.” As the years have passed, I have heard myself say “the older I get, the more I know that I don’t know”. Perhaps coming from a place of curiosity to learn more might just move our families and communities closer. Whatcha think?

  • From the Land of the Frozen Chosen

    Wish I could say I created that phrase “frozen chosen”. I didn’t. Years ago, Lou Holtz and I shared center stage at a conference in Minneapolis. Yes, it was in the winter and Lou’s comment about this state of many lakes was more than spot on. The audience loved it. And I never forgot it. This past month, my home state of California resembled parts of the frozen Great Lakes. A drive into San Juan Capistrano revealed a snow level I have never witnessed in 42 years on the Saddleback Mountains. My sister Susan sent a picture of the San Bernardino Mountains from her vantage point in the Hollywood Hills. De-light and de-frozen. For Susan, almost 3 days without power, meant wearing multiple layers, cold meals by candlelight, and charging the phone by driving around in her car. But as she wisely noted, “I am not in the Ukraine, Syria, or Turkey.” It surely makes one sit up, take a deep breath, whisper a prayer of gratitude, and then research how to contribute to the devastated parts of our world. Go to Charity Navigator which rates non-profits in a number of areas. Amazing how some traditional non-profits are not the best recipients of aid. And now—I’m ready for Spring.

  • Tips From Wellness Pros To Prevent Burnout

    CNBC conducted a poll asking thirty individuals in fields ranging from infectious disease to mindfulness about what they do to prevent burnout. Here are the top approaches that emerged from their responses: Build a strong community and support system. Rest when needed. Spend time on things that bring enjoyment outside of work. Be passionate about the work being done and remember your individual purposes It’s the last approach that too many people can’t identify—PURPOSE. Through my work with the WHY Institute, I can take you through a discovery process that is fast, fun, AND accurate. It’s the ground floor for discovering your purpose. E-mail me at and we’ll talk.

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