American Success Story

“In America, you can have anything you want if you are intelligent and have courage.” ~ Reza

I want to be a millionaire and so do many of you. Three sage questions arise when we admit that we want to be millionaires. First, how do we get the money? Second, what will we have to give up getting the money? Third, will money truly make us successful and happy?
I met Reza many years ago while visiting Miami with my wife. We met through a chance encounter and have been friends ever since. He is the model of the self-made American success story. As a group, driving through Miami, Reza’s phone wrong, it was a business deal in the final stages of negotiations. Reza told the guy on the other end of the line that 20 was the final offer. He continued by telling the other party if he kept trying to push the number lower then Reza was going to start climbing again. I thought they were talking about thousands of dollars. I was wrong, very wrong. I was shocked when Reza told the caller that he was going to ask my opinion. Not knowing the game I aloud, “make it 25 or nothing.” I could hear the guy on the other end choke a little and then agree to the 20. When I learned it was millions and not thousands of dollars I instantly knew I was not in Kansas anymore.
The story of the deal was interesting, but the man behind the deal is far more interesting than can be posted in a blog. We have all met those people, larger than life and with the personality to bring any room to life. Reza came to America in 1979, a week before the Iranian hostage situation began. Reza was born in Iran and left to come to American and make a better life. He brought just enough money to get to New York and buy a bus ticket to somewhere else. He could only say “Florida” in English, so he bought a ticket to Florida. Before he left the station the American Embassy fell. People were outraged and someone had to pay for the American humiliation. It was Reza. He was constantly being assaulted by people on his trip to Miami. Only one person helped him out, the bus driver. The driver tried to protect him and ensure he got to his destination alive. Even the police turned a blind eye to the assaults. People seem to find this behavior acceptable when their country has been humiliated, the President is ineffective, and the citizens are scared. We are shocked when we see such behavior in other countries and ignore it in our own.
Reza has a charming personality, but he has something else: A drive to succeed. He worked odd jobs and ended up working at a gas station. Unknowingly, fortune was about to show its face. One day a friend who owned a limousine business mentioned to Reza that he had too many jobs that night and not enough chauffer’s. Reza took the chance and asked if he could take one of the shifts. History is made during these types of serendipitous encounters and this was the case. Thus the rise of Reza began. He continued to work the gas station during the day and drove at night. He eventually bought his own limousine company and made customer loyalty and service the hallmarks of the company’s success. He could have sat back running a lucrative business and been regarded as successful. But no, he continued to branch out into different areas and continued to make the South Florida financial empire he has today.
One night, while eating dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water with the Miami skyline in the background, Reza put his fork down and pointed out into the bay. He looked back and said, “Look at the billions of dollars out there. Why don’t you have any of it?” I replied that I didn’t have anyone rich enough to knock off. He then spoke the sage words that I use in seminars today, “In America anyone can be as successful as they want if they are intelligent and have courage.” He is completely right. Many people don’t have the intellectual acumen to develop a product idea which people will want to spend money on. More likely, in America has lost the will or courage that brought our forefathers here in boats that would be illegal by today’s Coast Guard standards. We have lost the desire to do what it takes to make a better life. Most Americans are not willing to risk what they have to fulfill the possibilities that America presents.
Does this mean you have to be a millionaire to be successful? If you want to be on the Discovery, TLC or Bravo Channels then yes, yes you do. But in the world of reality, success is something that is enjoyable, fulfilling and builds self-worth. For Reza the money is a by-product of enjoying the running of successful companies. He enjoys providing services and money is just a score card to gauge his own success. The companies he owns are centered on making both his clients and employees equally happy. He knows when you are happy at what you do then it is not a job or a profession, it is something deeper with more meaning.
If you are miserable at your job and have a desire to do something else then ask yourself three questions:
• Am I an intelligent person who can research my own idea?
• Do I have the courage to take the actions necessary to fulfill my life’s calling?
• How happy will I be when I am in charge of my own destiny?
Only you can answer these questions. The answers are scary for most people. But when in doubt remember Reza. He came to a strange land with nothing, not even knowing the language. He became a proud American citizen and through intelligence and courage he became an American success. Put down the fork and look out the window. What is stopping you from living the American dream? Reza lives it and so can you.
Read how a recent immigrant who came to America not knowing how to speak English became a millionaire doing the job of his dream. As he says, “In American if you have courage and intelligence you can become anything you like.”

Why All Hazard Teams should consider recruiting outside traditional areas.


Lieutenant W. Michael Phibbs – Central VA Type 3 All Hazards Incident Management Team

When disaster strikes a community the impact may be felt for days, weeks, or months. The initial damage that causes prolonged physical, and psychological harm to the citizens, can create significant damage to the community’s infrastructure with impacts lasting far beyond Al Hazards Incident Teams typical 14 day deployment. Public safety personnel comprise the majority of members and by definition; an “All Hazards” teams must demonstrate their versatility to in response to varied emergencies. Many Type 3 All Hazards Incident Management Teams are actively recruiting police and emergency medical service personnel to increase their overall capabilities; however, teams trying should consider widening their range by recruiting members from the Health, Works, and Utility departments. By recruiting outside of the norms of public safety, a team’s wide-ranging capabilities enhances its ability to rapidly integrate with existing resources, build trust with the community, and carry the capability of mitigating the impacts of the disaster.

In a disaster the initial response is primarily managed by public safety personnel; these with backgrounds in life safety issues, while Health, Works, and Utility personnel remain in primary support. As response activities continue into multiple operational periods, a community’s focus shifts from initial response to long term recovery.  The primary managerial role of public safety issues fade in the in the transition to support role, where with non-public safety departments to take primary responsibility.  Having members of non-public safety departments on the All Hazards Incident Management Teams increases overall effectiveness of the team’s long term response capabilities. Consider a situation with a non-public safety person placed in the position of Deputy Operations Chief, position to be up to speed on the situation, able to better anticipate the challenges, familiar with of existing resources and their capabilities; and ready who to help prepare tactics for the next Ops period. One speaks the language of non-public safety departments when be assigned as a Liaison Officer can assist in to building relationships with side departments and anticipate and avoid potential problems.  Non-public safety personnel placed in an Advanced Tactic Planning position can start the long term planning, anticipate logistics requests in advance of the transition from support of public safety to primarily management of the incident.

In many cases, IMT’s respond days after the initial life safety impact of a disaster. As teams arrives on scene, the immediate life safety activities may be winding down and the long term mitigation, recovery operations may well be ramping up. Communities may not have the assets, or be prepared to effectively recover after a disaster; however, they may see the IMT’s, with an emphasis on public safety capabilities, as irrelevant as it begins to focus on community health, housing, or infrastructure stabilization. IMT’s with diverse response expertise capabilities can quickly build trust with communities which may still be in shock and unable to create effective response plans. By recruiting outside of traditional areas, “All Hazards” teams build upon their capabilities to make a significant impact on a communities long term recovery operations.

You can find leadership lessons in the most unexpected places.


W. Michael Phibbs

When most of us were still in grade school, the International Fire Service Training Association would send out picture, cartoons if you will, showing different skills and fire ground concerns that a Firefighter one and two must master. The pictures are reminders for how to do things right. While looking at a series of pictures, presenting differing concepts which cause the loss of water velocity in hoses, it was easy to see how the concepts of Velocity, Friction loss, and Critical Velocity could easily apply to the topic of leadership.

The IFST defines Velocity as the motion of a particle in a given direction and speed. These particles are moving at their own rates, speeds, and directions. Water particles moving at all directions and speeds cannot be effectively used to fight fire, or most other applications.  To correlate that with leadership:  When employees are free to speed around at different rates and directions they are not being efficient or effective.  Everyone is in motion, expending energy, however, with little results.  No one can tell you what is going on, why it is going on, or how their efforts are impacting the bottom line. In this case, the impact on an organization can be enormous. Without direction an organization can expect low morale, employee apathy, and a limited organizational lifespan.

Friction Loss is pressure loss while forcing water through pipe fittings, fire houses and other adaptors. As the water begins to be confined, redirected, and focused through a hose it loses specified amounts energy. Faster moving particles are slowed as slower particles are now pulled into a faster slip stream. Picture a fast moving sports car suddenly being caught in slower moving traffic congestion. The water particles now forced to move in the same direction and pace. Speed picks up while the path is straight, however, the turns slow the flow of the water particle. In some instances turns or adapters are intentionally inserted as check points to slow speeds and keep flow consistent. Unexpected turns may slow flow and begin to create bulges in the piping. The pipe may burst if there is a weak spot.

Initially, friction loss will also occur when leader starts to harness and direct a new team.  This point is especially accurate when the previous leader was perceived, by the group, as weak or ineffective Previously, employees felt free to do as they wished and may have exhibit the same characteristics of the free flowing water particle.  Some employees may have worked hard to complete the vision of the organization, while others performed at a level which allows them to keep their jobs. Through the creation of commander’s intent, goals and objectives, setting boundaries, and holding members accountable, employees become constrained and forced to move in the same direction. Through the newly developed command climate, members can condense and work as a team, or continue to resist and act like individual. Leaders must take action to develop the team and to reduce the impact of individuals who resist change.  Effective leaders know when it is time to slow or speed up the team.  Anticipating the shifting environment of the organizations, leaders begin to make specific changes and turns, the equivalent of inserting a pipefitting or adapter, to alter the velocity of the team. When weak spots are found, the leader must take immediate corrective action to prevent a rupture.  As a leader, our job is to constantly monitor the piping to ensure we do not have weak spots, or take actions to mitigate the problems.

Critical Velocity is turbulence caused when a stream is subjected to excessive pressure inside of a pipe. Little ripples begin to form inside of the pipe as the individual particles are stacked up and begin to swirl to keep velocity moving. Smooth efficient and effective flow of the water is reduced as the particles churn in the pipe. A larger hose, different nozzle, or reduced pressure can reduce the effects of critical velocity and increase effectiveness.  As leaders, we may put what may seem to be excessive pressure onto our teams.  There is nothing wrong with placing pressure on people to perform.  However, placing too much pressure, too quickly, can cause turbulence; this is especially true of an employee who does not possess adequate skills required for the job. As pressure to perform builds, the actions of an employee will become more frantic, eventually impacting the flow of the rest of the team.

Too much pressure behind a water stream can be as dangerous as no water flow. Too much pressure, and a restricted flow at the nozzle head, may cause the water to miss the intended target.  Without performance checks, trigger points, and known objectives and indicators, how does a leader know performance is effective? Does the team need to go at full velocity, low velocity, or go to neutral as preceding actions are completed? In most organizations, the organizational managers control the pressure leading into the hose, while the first line supervisor is the nozzle opening and closing to reduce or increase the flow of the team’s efforts. If not enough pressure is placed into the hose and the nozzle is opened, the water simply drains out; similarly, without effective leadership and management, employee energy can be as easily wasted. The key is to monitor the performance gauges, using observed performance standards, to ensure the organization and employees are being effective.

When applying this lesson the midlevel managers must ensure they have chosen the correct targets, possess the ability to focus their team members, gauge effectiveness of effort, and apply to correct amount of pressure to meet the objectives. They must understand the causes of resistance and friction loss in teams, and know when it is time to slow or speed up the team.  Effective leaders know moving their team at full velocity all of the time is ineffective and rarely hits the target with intended impact.  Eventually, like draining a water tanker, the employees will be spent and unable to perform. The key to adapting and utilizing the IFTS velocity chart to improve organizational effectiveness can be described:

  • Velocity – provide direction but understand initially the velocity of the employees will change.
  • Slower employees may become uncomfortable being pulled into a faster slip stream. Faster employees will be slowed as they are constrained and directed.
  • Employees and supervisors, at all levels, must know what the end objective is. What is the target, and why is it important? What does success look like?
  • Too much initial pressure may cause turbulence in the hose.
  • Not enough pressure, or an open nozzle, and pressure is reduced. The team will not have the desired impact.
  • Accurate gauges are necessary to determine the correct pressure. Sometimes pressure needs to be increased, and other times released. How do leaders gauge performance?
  • Doing nothing is not an option unless you are willing to accept a specified level of destruction.


Leadership lessons can appear in the most unexpected places. The ability to keep an open mind and scan the environment for opportunities to learn is critical to people who want to be effective in increasing leadership positions. The ability to apply different experiences to leadership is only limited by one’s imagination. The broader our imaginations, the greater our capacity will be to break down our silos and create effective change in our organizations.

“The Role of HR in Employee Branding in the Public Sector”

By Mike Phibbs
Private Sector organizations have known for years that both company and employee branding are essential to keep a competitive work force and to reduce turnover. The public safety sector has been slow to catch onto this idea, even while police, fire, and other E.M.S. units have relied on the aura surrounding their occupations to recruit. This lack of foresight in investing in a well thought out strategy of organizational branding in recruitment and in operations often has a negative effect on the new employee, and thereafter, an organization’s effectiveness. This was especially true after September 11, 2001, when people rushed to become police officers and firefighters or other EMS providers. There is a cost paid for hiring and training a person who is not a good fit in an organization, realized in the form of lower retention rates, increased recruitment, training, and overtime costs, not to mention potential civil liability for actions taken by a less committed employee. HR can be a strategic partner with an organization’s command staffs, and with leaders at all levels, to develop a culture that accurately depicts the vision and values of the organization.
Employee branding begins at the top level of the organization. The aura that surrounds being associated with public safety organizations is not enough to sustain an individual’s commitment throughout a career. The command structure has a responsibility to ensure that employees clearly understand the mission and vision of their organization. To ensure this, frequent, open forums should be held, where questions can be asked, rumors laid to rest, and the vision continued to be reinforced in the minds of the employees. At mid-level, leaders also have the responsibility to be clear on the mission and vision of the organization. Through continued emphasis on the mission and reinforcement of the organization’s vision, coupled with the implementation of HR strategies to successfully meet goals, the employees become branded into the culture and are focused on exceeding the vision.

Examples of organizational differences in the realm of public safety begin with the structures and deployment of personnel in field of law enforcement. Each law enforcement organization has to meet the differing needs of its community, and requirements of its own vision, mission statements and expectations for its officers for interaction within that community. Organization are differentiated in their structure and operations based on the needs of the people they serve, be it at urban level, rural levels, or other settings. Organizations must utilize different strategies to effectively deploy its personnel, while recognizing that these actions directly impact an organization’s ability to focus the commitment of the employees to the organization. Other points of differentiation include deployment of personnel into different divisions, development of shift policies, promotional opportunities, potential transfers to more challenging jobs, and the degree of autonomy to make decisions at the first line.

The closer organizational opportunities match the desires of the employee, the more likely the individual will show total engagement for the success of the vision, improve overall performance, and increase retention for the organization. An employee who realizes that the organization does not fulfill his or her expectations will likely leave. If the individual is committed to working in public safety, he or she will seek out other organizations that meet their expectations and needs. Simply stated, an agency that has spent time and money training an employee only to see them leave loses its investment because the organization did not effectively convey the culture of the organization before hiring. An organization that is able to attract and retain employees, who are engaged and committed to the organization’s mission, creates a financial advantage for the community by saving the taxpayer money. In the case of volunteer organizations such as volunteer rescue and fire departments the savings is in donated money; funding that is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

With the large numbers of people attracted to careers in public safety, Effective employee and organizational branding can help recruit the people you want and dissuade those who you do not want. It is in the best interest of both individual and organization to ensure potential candidates clearly understand the culture and expectations of the organization before they apply. In the public sector organizations use various forms of media to announce job vacancies. The announcements include basic job descriptions and qualifications but often fail in representing the organization in the clearest possible light. HR should ensure applicants understand not only the job requirements but also the culture of the organization they intend to join. Through organizational and employee branding, organizations will recruit and retain people who more closely fit the culture of their organizations. Organizations spend thousands of dollars in recruiting campaigns, just to get people to take the tests, then incur the cost of the testing process, pay evaluators to participate in interview on selection panels, background checks, medical and psychological screenings, and finally bear the expense of formal academy and field training. Developing branding strategies that differentiate one organization from another ultimately saves the customer-taxpayer-money.

The branding process begins with the culture of the organization and influences the recruiting strategies. The new recruit should already have a basic understanding of the culture arriving at the training center with a set of expectations of the organization. Even in the training phase the new hire begins the process of deciding if the organization meets his or her needs. Once deployed to the field, the new employee continues to develop a cultural awareness of the organization. At this point, he or she will determine if the organizational branding lives up to expectations. If not, other organizations in the same field will be investigated to see if there is one that more closely meets professional expectations. Many public safety employees, to their advantage are enrolled in the Virginia State Retirement System, and are not penalized if they go to another organization that participates in that system. However, the organization that is left behind pays the price for hiring an individual that was not a good fit with the culture of the organization.

Employees who are enthusiastically branded into the vision of their organization are a great source for recruiting people who will fit the organizational culture, lowering the chances of an employee misfit. Recruiters should not be only concerned with filling today’s vacancies but be proactive in cultivating the branding image for future recruiting cycles. Recruiters can begin by visiting high schools, junior colleges, and universities, and explain to people who are still too young to apply what the organizational culture is about. With continual contact individuals who believe that the particular organization meets their interests can further explore the future opportunities within the organization. Recruiters can arrange ride-a-longs, site visits, and possible volunteer opportunities which continue to build upon the branding of the organization and employees.

Organizations, that have media relations departments, can also be utilized to strategically market the organization to the public at large. HR can work with the media relations departments to develop strategies that accurately represent the organization to the public. By the nature of their work public safety organizations have a multiplicity of opportunities to get their branding message out. Through the news at critical incidents, monthly public service broadcasts on public television channels, and general media announcements, the media departments can inform the public on the attributes that separate their organization from the others in the region. The more opportunities the public has to receive what separates one organization from another, the more the prospective employee will naturally gravitate to the organization that best fits his or her needs.

The implementation of a department’s vision and deployment strategies has a direct impact on the organization’s culture. Organizations want an individual who fits in well and can make positive contributions within the organization. The proper branding of an organization and its employees increases the likelihood of a proper hire. A person who is hired and does not fit the culture can actually hamper recruiting efforts by spreading negative information about an organization. HR can recommend strategies to the command staffs that develop and publicize the organization’s culture, which in-turn helps to attract people who will best fit into the organization.

HR should be employed to play an integral part in developing the culture and expounding it onto current and potential future employees. HR has the specific expertise to and should be involved in training programs to improve leadership at all levels. Ineffective leaders can drive people out of an organization. HR should survey employees and develop strategies to retain the best workers through fulfilling the satisfiers that keep the employees committed to the organization. Employees who choose to quit should be exit interviewed by HR for the same purposes. HR should stay abreast of the changing external and internal environment and prepare for challenges to the organization’s culture and ability to recruit and retain its employees. Utilizing HR, with its knowledge of organizational and strategic employee development, by the command structure will have a significant impact on the organization’s abilities to meet its goals for the future and better be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.

Branding in public service organizations requires the total commitment of the employees and the organization to develop the aura that will attract the right candidate and dissuade others. Branding of the organization helps to drive the culture and focus the employees on a vision of themselves and the organization for which they work. Having people who fit the organization culture reduces the number of bad hires, saving cost in recruiting, training, and efforts to retain the best employees who may otherwise leave for other organizations. Branding will successfully further the organization in a fulfilling its mission.

Leadershiprva copyright 2008

Life Lessons from Bob

I arrived at my precinct the day after my graduation from the police academy. I walked into the roll call room with my bright shiny new badge pinned to my shift. I nervously introduced myself to the sergeant who just looked at me and pointed to a chair and said sit there. I looked around as the older officer began to come in and take their seats. They were joking about an officer who split his pants while jumping a fence on a call the day before. None of the officers spoke to me; they would just occasionally stare at the new guy. Eventually, the sergeant, still not knowing my name, came in and asked who would field train me.

An officer with glasses, salt-and-pepper hair, looked up and said, “I’ll do it”. The sergeant said, “Bob” you sure? You are about to retire”. He replied, “I got it”. After roll call, Bob introduced himself and said for me to get my stuff. Before we headed out on my first shift he sat me down and said, “This is a calling for some and a job to pay bills for others. In time they will all become your family. If you make it you will see things that will break your heart, and things that will make you fall over laughing. When you think about giving up, something will happen and you will see the impact you can have on people’s lives. Above all else, remember you are a professional and the people you come into contact all had the same hopes and dreams as you at one time. Some people made it and some didn’t. One day your career will come to and end and I hope you look back and think it was worth it”.

For the next six weeks I rode with Bob. At first, he showed me the area and where the problems were. He showed me the places that I must have back up and the places people like to hide. Bob would constantly explain, “It is important that the same number of officers go home alive as attended roll call. But if you aren’t willing to risk your safety to protect your fellow officers and citizens then I should get out before I risk someone’s life”. During the time I reinforced my basic tactics and learned how to start investigations. More importantly, I learned how to really talk to people. The officer walking the beat comes into contact with people determined to commit crime, wealthy people who do not recognize the officer as he walks by, the person who lost everything and is now homeless, and the happy-go-luck person who is simply enjoying life. I learned to blend into each societal group and make the connection.

I learned that Bob had only a few months left before retirement. He had two grandkids and he and his wife were going to visit all of the places they dreamed of over the years. A couple of times his wife would come down and meet us for lunch. He had volunteered to train me because the day he started out an older officer about to leave volunteered to train him. To that day Bob never forgot what his training officer had told him all those years ago. After a while the older officers began to warm to me and I learned their stories. Eventually, the six weeks ended and it was time for me to go to my permanent midnight shift. I would see Bob in only in passing most of the time. If I had a question I would hurry in to see him and he would walk me through the problem.

Soon Bob retired and began to travel with his wife. After a while I lost track of him. I met my wife and had two kids of my own. The officers I worked with did become part of my family and we all helped raise each other along the way. Bob was right, I did have heart breaking experiences, ones that were so hilarious that the best comedy writers could never create, and when things looked bleak somehow something would happen that touched you and made the sacrifices worth it.

As the years went on new officers would come in and older ones would move on. I trained my share of officers who went on to very successful careers. One night my wife and I discussed when I was going to retire. We picked a date and the next day I told my sergeant that I would be leaving in a few months. We joked for a few minutes about the good-ole-days when a new kid fresh from the academy walked in. He too had a new shiny badge; mine had tarnished years ago. The sergeant looked up and said, “I guess I’ll have to find someone to field train him.” I looked at the nervous young man and said, “I’ll do it”. The young man walked up to me and said his name was Joe. After roll call I took Joe outside and sat him down. I then told “It is important that the same number of officers go home alive as attended roll call……” When I look back over my career it was worth it, and my foundation started with Bob.

Bob was not simply a leader, a mentor, but a friend. At the end of ones career in any profession, you will be extremly luck to have had your own Bob.

Female Firefighters: Demonstrate True Pioneer Spirit

I recently met with a fire chief in the area. During the meeting the topic of females in the fire profession came up. For many organizations, there are only a handful of female firefighters at most. Imagine being the female who goes to work every day knowing she is entering a male dominated profession.

Law enforcement faced the challenge of integrating females into the profession many years ago, and in some cases still struggle with the issue. These female firefighters are the new pioneers of today. They have the same job responsibilities of their male counterparts, but have to work harder to trail blazed the path for those females to follow. In many older stations, the buildings were not constructed with separate bathrooms or bunk spaces for men and woman. Besides the issues of building construction, they must still live and work within the male dominated fire culture. At what point is a joke or comment cross the line from being funny to harassment? How does a female stand up for herself as a person without being labeled a derogatory comment? These issues and many more will eventually be worked out. As society, and demographics of the workforce, changes more woman will enter the fire profession. The woman who work in the profession today are true pioneers with the grit of the woman who walked across the great plains in the 19th century. There are creating the path for the future and have earned the right to be called “Professional Firefighter.”

Leaders in 2013 Must Learn and Embrace Diverse Cultures to be Effective

Leaders in 2013 face new challenges as work force demographics change and employees with different cultural histories begin to come into the workforce. I talk to managers and supervisors notice I did not say leaders, who say “foreigners” need to learn English, or why should I learn about their culture, they should learn to be American. This is a very short sighted view. First, America was founded by people from somewhere else. Even the original Indian inhabitants came from someplace else. As a country we became diverse because people did not completely give up on their old traditions and cultures just to become an American. You do not, and cannot, wipe your memories away when you become an American.

The effective leaders understand and embrace having a diverse group of people working for them. They inherently understand diversity reduces the chance of “group think”. They also understand that their success is based on the actions of the individual employee. The employee’s actions are based on how they interpret the directions of the leader. Their interpretations are based through the context of past cultural experiences. Therefore, to be effective, the leader needs to understand the cultural history and context which develop the individual expectations of their employees. Then the leader can tailor their message to the individual employee. The overall message remains the same, but the individual meaning is shaped through the cultural lens.

It may sound like a lot of needless work, but it isn’t. By learning a basic level of the cultures of your employees the leader actually builds a greater credibility with the employee. The leader learns something’s that they may not have known, but more importantly, they have a new tool to put in their tool box. Leaders who not only develop their employees but also develop a cultural awareness of their employees become a “hot commodity” for their organization. Opportunities to grow, both inside and outside of their company, will most assuredly follow. So, from even an individualistic point of view, learning the cultural histories of your employees and how to lead them creates greater opportunities for you

All Hazard Incident Management Teams are there for communities when disasters strikes.

When a hurricane strikes regions of the United States, a tornado tears through a town, a wildfire threatens to engulf thousands of acres and homes a Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 All Hazards Incident Management Team can be dispatched to help your community when it is needed most. Most people have probably not even heard of Incident Management Teams (IMT’s), or valuable jobs they perform. When disaster strikes, these highly trained units are put in place by federal, state, and local governments to plan the response and aid communities in recovering from disasters. The experienced leadership of Incident Commanders allows these extremely versatile units to be effective in whatever type of situation they are called upon to manage.

Most people probably think that when disasters strike FEMA runs the show. In reality, it is FEMA’s responsibility to ensure that localities receive the equipment and supplies they desperately need. But it is your local officials who run the show, unless the situation is such that a national emergency is declared. It is the local government that begins the process of responding to emergencies and disasters. First responders usually work for them. They all have disaster plans, but situations can be more complex than the local agencies can handle. It is then that Incident Management Teams may be called to help save lives, mitigate problems, and guide local governments in recovery.

At present, the United States has 16 Type 1, and 16 Type 2 Incident Management Teams are stationed around the country. These team members have, if you will, day jobs in public safety, but a team is on standby, bags packed, and ready to deploy anywhere within a couple hours. Teams are highly trained to respond to any type of incident. They have learned to use their tools to work the process and not get overwhelmed by the incident. Team members come from various backgrounds within the public safety arena to form these teams and undergo years of specialized training, testing, and mentoring before they are assigned a position. It may take up to 20 years of training to become fully certified on one of these teams. The management gurus are not paid like CEO’s of large multinational corporations even though they are called in to save their facilities from destruction.

The Incident Commander is responsible for bringing and leading the teams that respond to various types of disasters. When an IMT comes to town there is not a 9 –to – 5 schedule. The IMT teams operate 24 hours a day until the objectives are accomplished. The Incident Commanders of these elite teams ensure the “Planning P” is followed and all roles are filled and operating at top level. The commanders, and teams they lead, work in public safety, serving not only their communities, but are willing to go anywhere when needed. Next time you see a disaster unfolding, look to see who the community brings in to help organize and lead the recovery. Chances are, behind the scenes you will see an All Hazards Incident Management Team.

Hypocrisy of “We do this in order to protect you from yourselves”.

On a daily basis we hear the platitude that we must ban guns on one hand to protect people from harming themselves and other. It is interesting to hear we have to ban guns from hunting because people can accidentally shoot themselves or someone else. Sometimes people do shoot themselves or others while hunting. But let’s examine the shifting idea on the gun debate. As our population grows, we require more land to develop and build upon. We increase and develop the rural areas and turn them into bedroom communities creating our ever larger commutes to work. The loss of rural areas cuts down on the area where people can hunt. With loss of areas to for game to live there are less people who can go out and hunt and use firearms. With fewer hunters than non-hunters the idea grows that “We don’t need guns to hunt.” Why, “Because we don’t know anyone that hunts” and therefore its bad to have guns that can hurt people in my neighborhood.

But here is the hypocrisy of our society. Look on ESPN and watch extreme skateboarding, X-Games, motocross, or even NASCAR and see those people endanger their lives. Every weekend sports channels highlight NASCAR wrecks at 200 miles per hour. For more excitement they show when the cars under extreme stress come apart and debris lands in the stand hurting innocent spectators. We celebrate and reward people who fly through the sky, on a board, 30 feet in the air. We mourn that people die participating in these extreme events, but is having a gun is more dangerous? On average 38,000 people die a year in automobile accidents. But you say, “That’s different, we need them. They are a part of society.” So were rifles for the past 400 years. Even today, some people need firearms to hunt for the survival of their families. Even the excuse that the Second Amendment is outdated because we don’t have to worry about the government being tyrannical has gone by the wayside. When the government goes after the media and uses the IRS to suppress the rights of its citizens then it looks tyrannical, and thus breathes new life into the argument of needing guns to protect us from oppression.

If we are going to outlaw anything that can hurt you, or potentially everyone else, then park the cars that may kill someone in an accident and wrap everyone in bubble wrap. I don’t hunt and therefore someone can’t say I’m just a crazy NRA fanatic. The fact is life is dangerous. Don’t try to ban one thing saying we are looking out to protect society while celebrating others which are just as dangerous. To go all out on one and ignore the other because “We like the other one” is simple hypocrisy.