Last night I spoke to a group of about 250 – 300 people at a dinner sponsored by the Upstate Community of Keowee Key for the Upstate Wounded Warriors. This is a group that is helping Marines and Sailors re-enter and adapt to life outside of the military after being medically discharged. The group was about 1/3 former military. There were 40 active duty Marines there as well. I had my prepared remarks (below) ready to go, but when I arrived I was overwhelmed with the young men and women Marines. A mixture of appreciation, sadness and fear. It was as nervous as I can remember being before a talk. I turned to my wife Susan and asked, “is this the right talk for this group?” She said yes. The response was positive. I got a little choked up at the end and had 5 Marines and a bunch of civilians come up to me afterwards…one Marine in tears. My story is that it didn’t connect with everyone, but I am glad I spoke to this group.
Wounded Warriors Talk: 6/22/11
I had a sense something was up when Callahan called and started talking to me about this event. Then I thought, maybe not and just as I thought we were saying goodbye, Tim said, Mike, one more thing; The speaker we had arranged for the event could not make it, so would you fill in. So, on behalf of Angelina Jolie, please accept her apologies. And, what is even worse for the other half of the audience, Brad Pitt was going to come with her. But, you have me…and with that comes a brief talk that was written with a sense of gratitude and love.
In the introduction you heard that I served in the Marine Corps. You may take that part of my resume for granted at a gathering that is honoring Marines and Corpsmen. But, I consistently introduce myself as a former Marine when addressing civilian audiences. Now, I will often joke that the two things I kept from the Marine Corps were my haircut and polishing my shoes, but in fact I have kept so much more. Tonight I plan to speak about some foundational leadership traits and principles I learned in the Marine Corps, how we are expanding and adapting them to the workplace and a philosophy about how I/we show up in the world. I will use a personal example to try and connect with the wounded warriors in the audience and I will share an approach to viewing and moving through what some may call challenges.
This information is rather dated, nearly 3 decades since I was in the Marines, but I kept my Officer Candidate Handbook. In the appendix there were the Leadership Traits and Leadership Principles.
Courage – Physical and Moral
Be Technically and Tactically Proficient
Know Yourself and Seek Self-improvement
Know your Marines and look out for their welfare
Keep your Marines informed
Set the example
Insure that the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished
Train your Marines as a team
Make sound and timely decisions
Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities
Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions
We could stop right here if this was a leadership course for any business. In fact, I think that leadership training is what puts you and me as former military at the front of the line for many employers. Yet, I think there is an opportunity for a transition and adaptation for us civilians. At GHS we talk about the attributes of High Performing Teams and how we can shift from a pseudo community to an authentic community. These principles are based on research and proven effective in for profit and not for profit corporations. Listen for the similarities to what I learned in the Marine Corps:
From Complaining – To Healthy Responsibility. We talk about shifting from complaining to healthy responsibility, moving between a state of complaining to one of healthy responsibility through self awareness. I will spend time on that in a minute.
From Concealing – To Revealing. An important concept at work and home…every week I consciously think about what am I concealing from my wife Susan, the Board, my peers? I do not always tell them by the way. Be careful, it is not permission to dump on someone…hey, Mike I think you are a big, fat jerk. It is more about revealing what is true for and about me and it usually speaks to an emotion.
From Façade – To Authentic Feelings. I believe unexpressed emotions are incredibly damaging to organizations. In fact we train our leaders on how to “Clear” with each other.
From Entitlement – To Appreciation. Entitlement is all around, just listen. In my experience, the most entitled individuals are often the ones that are viewed as the most successful, either financially or socially.
From Conflict – To Creativity. It is important to know what I want. If it is to win, I like conflict and competition. If it is about something bigger, I like to move the energy of conflict to creativity.
From Defensiveness – To Curiosity. This is one of the “AHA” moments for me..whenever I feel defensive, I get curious about what is going on with me. A key for me is my body. When I get a knot in my stomach, I step back and figure out what is going on.
From Control – To Participation. There is a time and place for both…like all of these shifts.
From Knowledge – To Wisdom. I need both and wisdom applies knowledge.
From Rules – To Compassion. If you live by the sword you die by the sword….policies and procedures are tools, not the goal.
Being Right – Being Present. Breathe and listen…tough for Marines…tough for men…tough for me.
We also talk about how we want to “show up” in the workplace or home or community or the world. It is my belief that how I show up at church or home or work or in the world has to be harmonious with how I show up in all of these places and when it is not harmonious, that is where I need to do the work…the work on me. So, at GHS when I talk to leadership about how to show up in the world, the conversation is about the 4 ways. It is an oversimplification to say there are only 4 ways to show up, but it is a framework we use to shift our culture. Imagine for a second a square divided into 4 boxes. The lower left hand box is the “To Me Box.” That is the box where things are happening to me, where I am at the effect of something or someone else. It could be my kids, the traffic, the economy, my boss, the weather…it is the mindset that always manifests in one of 3 roles: Victim, Villian, Hero…Whenever these roles show up, there is drama and unproductive energy. I still go there and take on these roles, but the difference now is I am aware and get unstuck sooner. And, I get unstuck by taking healthy, personal responsibility.
That leads to the next box, the “By Me” Box. This is where I learn the skills of personal mastery and I learn to ask myself the big question…”what is it about me…you fill in the blank? What is it about me that argues with my wife, child, sister, co-worker, the driver in the next lane, my boss, the economy, democrats, republicans, etc.. It is back to the place of taking Healthy Responsibility and knowing where I am coming from and owning my part and then doing the work on myself. My goal as a leader is to shift my organization from the “To Me Box” to the “By Me Box.” And I believe I am seeing that shift and there is benefit to the organization and the individuals who are embracing the shift and like camouflage, it is continuous…we always need to keep applying it.
Ok, there are still two more boxes. I will talk about the next one in more depth and I will pull in a personal story. The next box is the “Through Me Box.” This is the box of organizational and personal growth. Here is where I ask the big question, “what is seeking to emerge through me, through this organization? This is the statement of faith and higher purpose – however you may define faith and purpose. And there is a gateway. Similar to the gateway of responsibility that was needed to move from being in the “To Me Box” to the “By Me Box.” The gateway to the “Through Me Box” is another tough concept…and, the word used may be particularly difficult for the Marine mindset, but that is the idea of Surrender. The movement to the bigger purpose in life comes from surrender – which is an incredibly engaged way of being not a passive way of living.
Here is the story: on October 2nd 2009 our 6 year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I often describe finding out about his diagnosis as being trapped underwater. It was overwhelming. I was clearly and appropriately living in the “To Me Box,” I was at the effect of Diabetes. Since that time, I have been learning to breathe underwater and in my own way that comes from the idea of Surrender. I remember helping myself go to sleep at night by repeating “Thy Will Be Done” over and over and over. I also remember the response to “Thy Will Be Done” was “Get Up and Do.” It means getting up at 2am to check blood glucose, changing sites where insulin is delivered and learning about continuous glucose monitoring. Surrender is seeing what is supposed to emerge from the situation and doing the work. I even play with the notion of shifting from being helpless or overwhelmed by diabetes to being curious and constructive with diabetes. Can I learn to love diabetes? is the great question for me.
I don’t conceal my feelings as much anymore, rather I reveal them, most often to Susan, and what a relief. I still have waves of sadness. In fact, not too long ago, I found myself in tears as I watched a movie that triggered fear and sadness about the loss of a child. Yet, I am curious about why diabetes has shown up in my life. Here are some possible answers: It gives Ethan’s two sisters and two brothers an opportunity to experience love and compassion for their brother. It supports Ethan to be more present and care for his body. It allows me to face death. It connects me to face areas in my life where I do not have control. It teaches me to trust other. It helps me get in touch with my vulnerable feelings and grow spiritually.
Maybe the great question is a statement: my son should have diabetes because…
So that is my story and perhaps a connection to the Wounded Warriors in the audience. Last week I read about a world class hand cyclist. He told the story about getting mail from the mailbox in his wheel chair and a little girl was riding by on her bike and asked him what happened. He described his injury and why he is in a wheel chair and she said she was sorry and that was too bad and rode off. On the way back to his house he thought about her comment and was struck by how many great things he was able to do because of his injury – he had shifted to a place of deep appreciation. I wonder if this will be the approach to life Ethan takes or that you take or I take..
Regardless, I plan to meet you in the “To Me Box,” because there will be days when I am overwhelmed or Susan is overwhelmed or Ethan is overwhelmed. I remember early on talking to Ethan right before giving him another shot of insulin. He was confused about why this was happening and kept happening. I said, son, diabetes is forever and I know it sucks…he looked at me and said, you suck! I so get that, and love that, and I know there will be times when it will suck again for him, for me, and for you. I know the path for me is responsibility and surrender and I hope you will consider it in your life.
Now, I mentioned there were four boxes…the last one is the “As Me Box.” I will let you ponder what that may look like in your personal moments of prayer and contemplation. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight and please accept my deep appreciation for your service. Semper Fi.
We have over 600 managers at GHS. They arrive here from internal promotions and from other organizations. Some are seasoned and some are first time managers. We spend a lot of time and money training them with regards to finances, procedures and policies at GHS. We have also started training them to think outside of GHS and become more attuned to what is going on in the community. I like the broader perspective and connecting our managers to the bigger why. The techniques of simulation and experiential learning are proven effective techniques for adult learners. The following write up came from Venice McCall, one of our educators in Human Resources….I think it is pretty neat.
‘Simulations and an actual poverty tour will offer one an opportunity to experience first-hand some of the challenges that families in our communities experience every day.
GHS’ Mission is to heal compassionately, teach innovatively, and improve constantly, and our Vision is to transform health care for the benefit of the people and communities we serve. With those tenets, as we connect to our purpose, these simulations will help one experience first hand some of the challenges that families in our communities experience every day. It will help provide a better understanding of the day-to-day realities of those in our communities who are living in poverty.
The Rev. Beth Lindsay Templeton will lead the Poverty and Medical Access Simulations, which will highlight the state of chronic crisis of living in poverty. She is the Director of Our Eyes Were Opened – United Ministries. Beth shares fresh insights, thought-provoking lessons, and timeless wisdom that exemplify an organized and compassionate process that include various approaches designed to help others to decide how, when, and whom to help in times of need.
This simulation can open one’s eyes to the human cost of poverty. The power of this unique learning resource is that it creates, like nothing else, insight into the state of chronic crisis that consumes so many working, poor families. Participants experience one month of poverty comprised of four fifteen-minute weeks. Afterwards, in the debriefing, they share insights of extraordinary vividness and intensity.
During this 2 hour simulation, one will experience the challenges of keeping your family fed, housed, and safe when resources are limited. Participants are grouped into one of these family situations and are then given the task of providing for food, shelter, and other basic necessities. A minimum of 25 participants required.
Medical Access Simulation
Even if we have universal healthcare, access to medical services will still be a problem. This simulation will focus on just some of the challenges faced by people who need healthcare. It will help us to better understand the many challenges some of our neighbors face each day and access to medical care is one of the many hardships. A minimum of 10 participants required.
GHS’ Values are compassion, respect, caring, honesty, integrity, and trust. We live our values through open communication, forward thinking, creativity, continually striving to improve, responsiveness, a willingness to change, education, research, and clinical quality. As we reflect on our values and connect to our purpose, this tour will help open one’s eyes to neighborhoods with limited choices. A tour through less fortunate neighborhoods will highlight the limited choices, which some of our neighbors experience every day. This tour will accommodate up to 28 participants.’
The energy and vision behind the Scotish Games is Dee Benedict….for those of you that know her, you know what a force she is…for those who do not know her…watch out! Dee has transformed the Celtic community in the Upstate in just a few short years and these games really are world class. Dee sent me the following note the other day:
“Hey Mike, Here’s how good your people are: We had ____ collapse as he was waiting to go on for the massed bands. Within 90 minutes he was on the operating table for life-saving surgery to treat an aneurysm. 90 minutes. Incredible.”
I forwarded to Rachel Edwards so she could pass along to the transport team that performed so well that day. Rachel responded, “Mike, You have no idea how special this note is. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. _____ and his daughter. His care and outcome are nothing short of a miracle. Everything worked as it should have. We are doing a Case Review on Mr. ______at Monday’s STEMI meeting and I could not be prouder of the Mobile Care crew. John and Beth with Mobile Care are the best. Also, Jeanne Sandhal was the NM of the first aid tent and played a role as well. What is so very amazing is that the transmission of the EKG to the CPC MD would not work, however, Dr. Crumpler trusted the medic and called the STEMI alert on his word and the Cath Team was already present upon patient arrival and this was a Saturday morning! This was the first time this happened at Mobile Care. I am not finished with it but the attached is the Case Review Power Point. Less than 2 years ago Mobile Care did not even have a cardiac monitor for every truck and the ones we had could only do 3-4 lead EKGs. Now we have new Physio LifePak 12s and as you can see, they definitely did their job for this patient. Thank you for your support of us and for sharing this note. I will share it with others as well. Have a great day! Rachel”
I want to protect privacy so I de-identified the information in the emails, but I believe the message is clear.
A few things jump out to me with this string of emails:
- the importance of a thank you – it started with Dee and ended with Rachel to her staff….a little acknowledgements mean a lot
- the depth of service that the county and GHS have…remember, that same weekend we had Freedom Weekend Aloft and the ProCycling Championship taking place, yet we were able to cover it all
- finally, the depth of service and capability that exists in Greenville – just think of the technology and training that went into this story. It is a great place to be.
I have attached the presentation that Rachel mentioned if you are curious. If you cannot see the presentation below, CLICK HERE to download the PDF.
I have been writing posts for about a year now and a good indicator of that is I am starting to repeat myself. Here is a letter that my wife sent out to family and friends about our son Ethan. It is a good reminder to me that Type I Diabetes is forever, at least for now.
Hello Family and Friends!
It has been over a year-and-a-half since Ethan was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Since that time, he has gotten rid of his training wheels, lost a front tooth, made his First Communion, earned his Wolf Cub badge and his purple belt in karate, and grown a couple of inches- but one thing that hasn’t changed: he still has diabetes. Because right now, no matter what changes happen in his life or our family, Ethan will have diabetes and all that goes with it until we find a cure.
In the past year, he has transitioned to an insulin pump, which means instead of getting shots two to three times a day, he gets a needle inserted into his… well, the only place he has fat (he won’t let me say where!)every three days. A tube runs from the port to the pump, a sophisticated device the size of a pager, which controls the amount of insulin that goes into his body. He still tests his blood by a finger prick about eight times a day, and now we count the carbohydrates of everything he eats.
Soon we plan to start him on a continuous glucose sensor, a quarter-sized device that will constantly monitor his blood glucose levels. Mike and I have had the device at home since April, but have delayed starting it because it means inserting one more needle into his skinny little body. He recently confided to me that he is still a little scared each time he pricks his finger for a blood test(remember, he does that 8 times a day).
Our family has certainly adapted to having diabetes, and in many ways it has not changed us too much. Ethan still plays basketball, soccer, and football, practices karate, rides his new bike and fights with Andrew. He is actually signed up for his first triathlon, the Tri to Cure (www.tritocure.com), on August 13. He can still have sweet treats, as long as we know the carb count, and he has learned the health benefits of a good steak… and developed a sophisticated palate that includes dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. We travel all over the country via car or airplane, and he is always proud of himself if he can get through security without taking off his pump! We haven’t tried international travel, although that too, in time, will be a hurdle we will overcome.
If all this sounds like diabetes isn’t that bad, it is only due to Ethan’s character and resiliency, and a family with resources and ability to care for a special child. It is a disease I would not wish on anyone, and what it calls on us all to do sometimes feels like just too much. There are so many things for parents to worry about, why do we have to worry whether the guy at the snack stand gave our kid Coke instead of Diet Coke? I cannot imagine how single parents, especially those with limited incomes, can do this and keep their kids healthy. From all I have heard, researchers are this close to finding a cure, and the artificial pancreas, a device that is essentially a pump and CGM combined, is even closer. So why aren’t we there yet? Money. Yep, it’s that simple. The more money we can raise via walks, galas, and other special events, the closer we will be to a cure.
Please be part of Ethan’s Impact, our team for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes, either as a walker raising money or by sponsoring a team member. The event is September 10, 2011, here in Greenville. Last year Ethan’s Impact raised $9,000, and this year we would like to get to an even $10,000. It’s a lofty goal, but I know with your help, we will get there. Here’s the link:
Hope to see you there!
I am pleased and excited that The USC School of Medicine-Greenville is now an LCME (Liaison Committee Medical Education) “Candidate School.” We learned late last evening that we were approved for our site survey at this week’s LCME meeting in Chicago. This “preliminary accreditation” site survey will take place July 10 – 13. While this decision was expected and the site visit dates have already been penciled-in on our calendars, we are nonetheless quite excited about the continued forward momentum that the LCME announcement represents.
As background, I have copied some public information that helps to describe the what and why of Rating Agencies.
Overview: Rating agencies assess the financial strength of companies and governmental entities, both domestic and foreign, particularly their ability to meet the interest and principal payments on their bonds and other debt. Rating agencies also carefully study the terms and conditions of each specific debt issue. The rating for a given debt issue reflects the agency’s degree of confidence that the borrower will be able to meet its promised payments of interest and principal as scheduled. The rating for a given debt issue may differ somewhat from the overall credit rating for the issuer, depending on its specific terms.
Impact: Debt issues with the highest credit ratings from the agencies will incur the lowest interest rates. Investors’ confidence in borrowers’ ability to meet their payment obligations is highly influenced by the rating agencies’ analyses. Meanwhile, the interest rate demanded by investors on a given debt issue is inversely correlated with the creditworthiness of the borrower: stronger borrowers pay less, weaker borrowers pay more.
Analogy: The credit rating agencies perform similar work to consumer credit bureaus. The credit scores that the latter produce for individuals similarly influence the rates of interest at which individuals may borrow.
Leading firms: The leading firms in this sector are:
Standard and Poor’s (also commonly called S&P)
Rating Agencies Visits
Last week, I joined Terri Newsom, CFO, Greg Rusnak, COO and Larry Gosnell, Treasure on a trip to visit Moody’s Fitch, and Standard and Poor’s in New York. These meetings were scheduled at our request and they offered an opportunity to update the agencies on progress with key strategies, introduce our new CFO, and review current operating performance.
We structured our presentations around the five multi-year goals and stressed the consistency and connection to the strategic plan that we shared at our last visit in 2008 and showed progress in working that plan. I have attached a copy of the slide presentation. Key themes/messages included:
* Total Health –as the foundation of our approach to healthcare delivery.
* Highly Integrated Delivery System – we emphasized physician-led, leadership development, improving operations, and growth. We linked physician integration to key process improvements and also discussed GHS’s readiness for value-based purchasing and qualifying for meaningful use.
* Accountable Care Organization – We described ways that we are preparing for risk-based payments, and piloting these approaches with GHS employee health plan. We also communicated that we have not made a final decision regarding early adoption based on concerns regarding uncertainty of downside impact and cost to establish and maintain the required ACO structure.
* Academics and School of Medicine – We described these initiatives as good for patients, and families, our community and GHS. Analysts had done their homework and questioned local support. We described local support, emphasizing the difference in the Upstate support and noted MUSC’s competitive concerns.
* Financial Sustainability – We focused on payer strategies and financial performance between 2008 and 2010. Payer mix has remained stable and attractive with increases in revenue from all payers but more so from Medicare due to aging population and the growing retirement community in Greenville County. The combined self-pay, Charity, and other categories increased almost 1.5% due to the impact of the recession. Financial performance over the presentation timeline was positive, showed growth in volume and improvement in operating margins. All financial ratios are trending in a positive direction.
All the agencies have rating committees that will determine the GHS rating for this year. The analysts will present our information to their committees over the next several weeks and we should know our rating positions from all three agencies by late June or early July.
If you cannot view this slide presentation below, CLICK HERE to download the PDF.
I have mentioned in the past that I do Town Hall Meetings every 90 days. Here is the most recent installment. Even though we have up to 1,600 employees attend one of the sessions, that is only a fraction of the 10,000 employees at GHS. This video is made available for those groups or individuals that cannot attend. This is a pretty typical meeting update and the emphasis this go round is Employee Survey Results.
This past Memorial Day Weekend was a whirlwind of activity for Greenville County, the cities of Travelers Rest, Greenville and Simpsonville, Furman University and the Greenville Hospital System. A common theme through all of the events and venues was remembering and honoring those who served. That recognition was most notable at Furman with the Scottish Games. We had special guests join us from Scotland and I have included a write up by one of their Sergeants. At the USA Procycling event we had competitors in the Hand Cycling event that were “wounded warriors.” And finally, Freedom Weekend Aloft, was all about fun, family, and enjoying the freedom protected by many who are in our individual and collective memory. I deeply appreciate how the staff at GHS step up to support our community and all of those events…Semper Fi.
Here is the letter from Sgt. Steven Boyd:
I returned from Afghanistan slightly early to assume the appointment of Company Sergeant Major of the Rear Operations Company, The Royal Highland Fusiliers (2 SCOTS). In March my Company Commander asked me if I thought any of the Jocks would like a trip to Greenville South Carolina. My initial reaction was yes probably all of them would like to go. He then explained that the Battalion had received an invitation to send 6 Jocks (Fusiliers) to form the Honour Guard for the Scottish games in Greenville. I was given the task to find willing soldiers to fill the spaces. After putting the word out amongst the Jocks I had 44 volunteers for 6 spaces. I was then informed that the games this year had a large emphasis on the US Memorial weekend and that money was being raised for wounded soldiers’ charities in both the States and here in Scotland. I then decided that it would be only right to select soldiers who had been wounded or injured whilst serving in Afghanistan. I then came up with a short list which then got whittled down to 6 after clear consultation with our medical staff to make sure they were fit enough to travel. Once I had my 6 names the Coy Comd told me I had to send a chaperone, Sgt Boyd couldn’t volunteer quick enough. So that was that, we had 7 willing soldiers to fulfil the task. The regimental admin officer went ahead to book the flights and Sgt Boyd and myself went about getting all the administration in place. Visa exemption forms, Uniforms and medals tailored and medical appointments rearranged. The RAO came in with the flight booking confirmation and told me that I would be as well joining the group just to make sure all goes well. No arguments there I can assure you.
On Tuesday 24th May we set off in our minibus on an eight hour drive from Penicuik in Edinburgh to Heathrow airport. We flew to Washington DC then on to Greenville. At around 1400hrs local we arrived in Greenville not quite knowing what to expect. A piper, the local media, a medal presentation and the majority of the people in the airport applauding us was definitely not on the list of expectations anyway.
“Being piped out of the airport to be met with TV cameras, newspapers and all those people was a bit of a shock, I did not expect that and to give an interview to the paper was unreal said Fusilier David Walker.
After settling in to our hotel room and freshening up we were collected and taken to the Ale house for a few beers and an introduction to Southern hospitality. I can assure you once again it exceeded our expectation. Firstly we met Red, our bar maid. After some gentle persuasion not to drink the typical mass produced American beers we tried some of the locally brewed beers. I must apologise but I did return to Budweiser, Mainly as it was easier than going through the long list to order a beer. We then got to sample some fine cuisine. Chicken wings with an almighty kick. Although they practically set our lips on fire and brought a tear to the Jocks eyes they didn’t leave a single wing. Fusilier Derek Ferguson said “I literally thought that my mouth was on fire but couldn’t stop eating them, the pub crawl was outstanding and everyone was so welcoming, thanks to all we met”. A couple of the Jocks continued on through the night with Eric (US Navy) and explored a few more bars for the rest of the evening. All in all an excellent first night in the states, the hangover wasn’t quite as enjoyable though.
Thursday brought a whole new day and experience. A visit to the BMW performance driving centre. We couldn’t believe the opportunity being put in front of us. Many of us could only dream of driving an X5 but to drive one over the cross country test track was unbelievable. Fusilier Liam Kemp was especially nervous as he went round the course as he had never sat behind the wheel of a car before. It was quite obvious at this stage. Then off to the Rat race with the 135’s. all stabilisation off and go for it on the skid pan. What a thrill, unfortunately Mrs Jan Strudwick came out on top beating most of the young fusiliers to their embarrassment. LCpl Dean McMillan said “the experience of driving the cars around the skid pan was great. I could never have imagined it. I won’t be telling anyone I was beaten by a middle aged woman though”.
Next on the agenda was the BBQ at travellers rest. Again the hospitality was second to none. The food was very tasty and the local music was great to hear. A short history lesson from the mayor soon made us realise the similarities between South Carolina and Scotland and you quickly understand why the Scots chose South Carolina as the place to settle. A much warmer climate with all the attributes of home. The foothills also provided secluded little areas to brew some of the good old home brew of moonshine. I must admit I did not expect the moonshine to taste so nice. I think I will need to be getting a copy of the recipe or organising some export relations there.
Friday brought a relaxing day for the Jocks. Believe me some needed it more than others. A trip to the mall allowed us to pick up some bargains and a visit to a traditional South Carolina neighbourhood. We then received a call to inform us that due to inclement weather the parade had to be cancelled. The Jocks were very disappointed as rain doesn’t stop anything in Scotland. If it did the country would be at a standstill. The corner pocket was the next venue where we had the pleasure of listening to some pipe tunes and shooting some pool with the locals. The 2nd division US Marine corps band definitely stole the show. Thanks to SSgt Steve Williams for the performance his guys put on and I think I can speak for everyone in the bar when I say they were very entertaining. The Jocks immediately struck a chord with some members of the band and won’t forget the experience in a hurry.
Saturday morning brought a very early start. 0600 reveille, getting into our uniforms ready to move to Furman University. At 0800 we were off to the games to be privileged to conduct the honour guard for a very distinguished list of guests. The heat was very uncomfortable in our uniform but that goes to the back of your mind and you concentrate on the task in hand. 1030 and the swirl of the pipes is our cue. After a very warm introduction the Jocks swagger proudly across the games field and wheel in to form the guard in front of the stage. As they turn in they were proud to be part of such an event and to raise a salute to the deserved recipient of the Medal of Honour, Sgt Baker. The Games kicked off and the spirit of Scotland was very much alive.” It makes you very proud to see the way our Scottish heritage is such an important part of the life style in South Carolina. It makes you realise how much we as Scots take our own heritage for granted” said Sgt Steven Boyd.
That evening it was very humbling to be in the presence of Maj Gen Mastin M Robeson USMC and Maj Gen Mark Strudwick RRS. The emphasis on helping wounded servicemen from the modern conflicts is very close to the Jocks who accompanied me and Sgt Steven Boyd. Each of the 6 Jocks suffered injuries on the recent deployment o Afghanistan but were certainly not the most serious. However they all need support of some sort and if this can help we will all be grateful. I would like to close with thanking the people of Greenville for all they did for us and the hospitality they showed towards us. As the Jocks have learned there is many uncertainties in life but one certainty is the Jocks will be back in Greenville.
WO2 (CSM) Jason Craig.
“You all made my first taste of America outstanding and left me longing to return” Cpl Gen Mullen.
“I think I speak for us all when I say we had an amazing time and the people of Greenville couldn’t have done enough to make us feel welcome” LCpl Jason McGowan.
“It was great to see how much the people of Greenville want to keep the Scottish heritage alive” Fus Liam Kemp.
“We were pleasantly surprised to be met with a piper and also with the reception we received at the airport” Fus David Walker.
“This was one of the best experiences of my life and I thank you all very much” Fus Derek Ferguson.
“I would like to say thanks for inviting us to Greenville. It was my first time in the states and I will definitely be back for a holiday” LCpl Dean McMillan.
“I would just like to say thank you to the St Andrews Society of Greenville for their generosity and hospitality shown to the soldiers of the Royal Highland Fusiliers. We have been made to feel very welcome and the trip was a dream come true. Sgt Steven Boyd.
The following article appeared in the State Newspaper. It had all the elements of a fun story for me – politics, drama, academics and email – what’s not to like? Admittedly my first reaction was fear – what do my emails look like? What would the Board say? Have I ever made a comment in an email I might regret? What would people think if I used a , OMG or LOL or some other texting convention?
I think email is a useful tool at work. I don’t plan to stop or slow down using it as a result of this, but it is a good reminder that email is potentially a forever event – oh my, so is blogging. I appreciated the humanness, playfulness and humor that I saw in the emails. I inject humor into many of mine and I imagine my staff have sent a few emails to each other about me. I think it is important to have fun at work. And finally, I plan to be mindful of the emails I send out – not so much to edit, but to see if I have any unresolved issues with the people I am writing about. It may be a good opportunity to clear the air.
I would welcome your comments about email – feel free to send me one with a frowny face at MRiordan@GHS.org.
How USC navigated trustee flap
Emails show officials’ initial caution gave way to support for Moore
By WAYNE WASHINGTON – email@example.com
University of South Carolina officials were shocked into silence in March when they learned that multi-millionaire donor Darla Moore had been replaced on the school’s board of trustees.
But that silence quickly gave way to repeated efforts by USC officials to let Moore know how much they appreciated her support of the university, according to documents obtained by The State through the Freedom of Information Act.
Those documents — requested by The State on March 29 and released Wednesday — underscore the vexing challenge that USC officials faced in the wake of Moore’s ouster. How could USC stay in Moore’s good graces while not angering the woman who removed her from the board, new S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley?
They also peel back the curtain on the Moore-USC relationship. USC officials take pride in Moore’s support of the university, but the emails show there is more than a little fear of her, too.
For example, USC official Thomas Stepp relayed to provost Michael Amiridis — the university’s No. 2-ranking executive — that a Moore associate, Jim Fields, predicted “Darla will be explosive” over the news of her removal by Haley.
“It will be interesting to see Darla explode to someone else ),” Amiridis responded, using the digital symbol for a smiley face. Stepp, secretary of USC’s board of trustees, emailed back to Amiridis, offering a prediction of his own, concerning Haley: “I predict that if the Governor runs for re-election, she will face a well-financed opponent.” “I’m sure Darla considers it a slap in the face and she will not forget,” Amiridis responded. ‘Lawyers and cheerleaders’
It was Stepp, on March 11 at 4:41 p.m., who officially broke the news to USC officials that Haley had replaced Moore.
“We learned a short while ago, and sough (sic) confirmation from the Secretary of State, which we received, that Governor Haley today:
1) Reappointed the Hon. Mark W. Buyck, Jr. to our board and
2) Appointed Mr. Thomas C “Tommy” Cofield, an attorney from Lexington to fill the seat held by the Hon. Darla D. Moore.”
It was tough news for USC, particularly for those in the business school, which bears Moore’s name.
“Spoke with Harris (USC President Harris Pastides) earlier on this,” emailed Hildy Teegen, dean of the Darla Moore School of Business. “I’ll reach out to her next week. Ugh.”
Pastides cracked a joke when Stepp emailed him that Cofield is an attorney whose daughter is a cheerleader.
“Lawyers and cheerleaders … isn’t that always the way?!” Pastides wrote to Stepp.
Stepp responded by pointing out what angry USC students and alumni already were complaining about — replacing financier Moore with attorney Cofield would cut the number of women on the board to one and boost the board’s already high number of lawyers.
“We really need another lawyer,” Stepp wrote in an email to Pastides. “We’ve only got eleven now! The Lawyers Committee can be the Board and deal with its surfeit of minorities and women. OK, I’ll hush.”
Unlucky ‘with politicians lately’
As was the case with Haley’s office, USC officials seemed slow to grasp the attention Moore’s removal would get from students, alumni and media.
Initially, USC tried to limit its response to Moore’s removal to a statement from board chairman Miles Loadholt. But angry responses kept pouring in, forcing university officials into the uncomfortable position of explaining a decision they had no role in making.
The brouhaha had been bubbling for several days before Moore said anything about it publicly. If she ever reacted “explosively,” she did not do so in public.
“I was with Darla and others in Lake City today,” Mike Brenan, S.C. president of BB&T, emailed Teegen on March 21. “She was in good spirits. She was hosting a luncheon for Senator (Lindsey) Graham. In her introduction she stated that she has not had much luck with politicians lately.”
Teegen already had emailed Moore about Haley’s decision. “I’m deeply saddened by this move as I know you realize,” Teegen had written on March 16, five days after she and other USC officials learned of the move.
As anger over Moore’s ouster grew, USC students and alumni decided to hold a rally at the State House, a move that put university officials in a bind.
Students and alumni were angry; the school’s biggest donor had been dumped in favor of a Haley campaign contributor. But USC officials tried not to give Haley, a graduate of archrival Clemson University, the impression that they were coordinating opposition to the governor’s move.
“In terms of our response, we plan to thank students who have shown interest and support,” Carolyn S. Jones, associate dean of the business school, wrote to Teegen. “Otherwise, I think we do not want to be in a position of encouraging or discouraging a march on the Statehouse as referenced in some of the (Facebook) postings.”
‘We need a huge turnout’
But USC officials later came to see a large showing at the students’ March 23 rally as a measure of support for Moore.
Pastides and Teegen went to see Moore at her Lake City home on March 19. At the suggestion of a USC staffer, Pastides took along pro-Moore newspaper clippings. “Think she might be amazed at how much she is loved!” the staffer had suggested in an email.
Almost immediately, USC officials began expressing a desire for a large turnout at the students’ rally.
“We need a huge crowd,” Luanne Lawrence, USC’s vice president for communications, wrote to the university’s State House lobbyists on March 19, urging them to spread “the word among staff and legislators” about the rally. “More explanation when I see you. Can you help tell others?”
Ultimately, about 150 people showed up for the rally, including USC administrators. No administrators spoke.
The tone of the rally was more pro-Moore than anti-Haley, though some students did rip the governor for what they saw as a purely political move that unnecessarily embarrassed the largest financial benefactor to public education in S.C. history. (Moore also has given millions to Clemson.)
Word spread at the rally that Moore would hold a town-hall-style meeting the next day, on March 24. The meeting was billed by USC officials as an opportunity for Moore to thank students and alumni for their outpouring of support.
But the town-hall meeting meant that USC officials had to navigate again the shoals between Moore and Haley. USC trustees were told the “University does not know (Moore’s) message,” and USC was not behind the event. President Pastides “has spoken with the Governor whose staff had inquired if this is an official University event and the Governor understands it is not an event sponsored by the University,” Stepp emailed the trustees. “Clearly if the Governor or Darla Moore ever ask to have the opportunity to speak from the campus they would be given that courtesy.”
‘The word is getting out’
That was not the whole truth.
USC officials had been in talks with Moore for days to discuss her plans to address the situation. Emails show officials carefully had crafted a statement by USC — Pastides dictated some talking points — and prepared press materials to match Moore’s announcement.
That was because the USC officials knew Moore was about to parry Haley’s thrust, and USC’s coffers were about swell.
“Hey Darla,” Business School dean Teegen wrote to Moore after the students’ March 23 rally. “Looking forward to seeing you here tomorrow! I was at the rally — I’d say that we saw about 200 folks there — not just students — clearly also alumni and the business community represented there. The word is getting out strongly for tomorrow’s Town Hall meeting — I know the students will be eager to have the opportunity to talk with you. and of course we’re thrilled about the big news (and have worked hard to keep that under wraps, to not spoil the great surprise). Feel free to give me a call on the cel (sic) if you’d like to talk to today — otherwise I’ll see you tomorrow.”
(Moore replied asking “what about boeing.” Later emails — between Pastides and Boeing officials — indicate Moore’s question was about USC’s desire “to identify ‘the right partnership’” for its aviation research-and-education center with Boeing, or — as Pastides also emailed Boeing — maybe Savannah-based Gulfstream, maker of private jets.)
Moore’s “big news” turned out to be a $5 million donation to pay for that aviation center — the same center Haley successfully had argued against in budget discussions with legislators.
Moore said she wanted the center to be named after the late Ronald McNair, a fellow Lake City native, who died in the 1986 Challenger explosion.
At the town-hall meeting, Moore charmed her audience, who greeted her with enthusiastic applause. She delivered a couple of subtle jabs at Haley, took a few questions from students — none from the press — and walked away.
‘Government is … irrelevant’ In no time, two things happened. No. 1, USC administrators quickly started lining up for Moore’s just-announced gift. Teegen assured an emailer that the business school would get some of the money.
But Anthony Ambler, dean of USC’s College of Engineering, emailed provost Amiridis that the engineering school, vital to an aviation center, “knows nothing about it (Moore’s gift).”
“Will the bulk of the $ come to Engineering?” Ambler emailed.
“The answer is probably yes,” USC’s provost emailed back, “but we need to talk since your Business colleague,” a reference to Teegen, “will most likely disagree with my opinion.”
Ambler sent back a digital smiley face. No. 2, Moore was bathed in praise from USC officials.
“You were perfect today,” Teegen wrote to Moore later that day. “Thank you for your exemplary handling of this current situation and for your renewed commitment to USC and SC.”
Hours later, in an email to Teegen and Moore, Pastides shared his own thoughts.
“Let me add to what I said earlier to Darla’s voice mail,” the president wrote. “The context was ideal; the delivery was the perfect combination of ‘prepared yet spontaneous;’ the student questions were excellent; the standing ovations were heartfelt; the impact on the state’s economy will be real; and the response of government is … well … irrelevant!
“This was a really good day.
“PS The contrast between McNAIR and Hot air is obvious.”