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(Photo by DJZ, Geographically Yours Blogspot)

“Things aren’t always as they seem,” I’ve often been told. Meeting a fantastic little lady in Paris, Illinois brought this point home to me.

“Grandma” is the only name I learned to call her. Perhaps it is only fitting, as love is at the essence of that title, and love is at the essence of this woman.

For more than fifty years she taught third graders in the heart of Illinois. Generations of men and women owe their knowledge of the basics to this woman. …


from which all leaders can benefit

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October 7, 2020 Senator Harris and Vice President Pence debate (Getty Images)

By JD Schramm

Most of us will not likely participate in a presidential (or VP) debate, but all of us can learn from the best (and worst) practices we witnessed in the first debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden and only debate between Vice President Pence and Senator Kamala Harris. Without taking sides (or sharing my own views on the race) I wanted to call out some of the lessons that can benefit all leaders.

Prepare fully — while the campaigns varied in their preparation tactics, all four candidates understood the weight of the debate. It’s crucial to invest time in advance for a high stakes conversation or presentation. One of my favorite simple, yet elegant, tools for this preparation is to consider the AIM triangle developed by Russell and Munter. First, consider your audience (primary and secondary) and your intent (as a result of this conversation what do you want them to do) before finally moving to message (what’s the memorable content you want to deliver to cause the audience to take the action you desire). Each candidate appeared to be tackling a different audience, and neither seemed to consider his opponent to be the audience. Trump appeared to focus on reaching his base with an intent of securing their support and driving turnout. Biden seemed to be trying to reach undecided voters with a direct appeal to examine the differences between the two men and then vote for him. While pundits and voters may disagree about the success of either candidates’ strategy, it’s clear both tried to achieve their strategic goals in front of a national audience. …


by JD Schramm

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[From July of 1986 to June of 1987 I had the privilege of traveling in Cast D of Up With People. While on the road I captured my impressions in an occasional column in the weekly newspaper of my hometown, the Ellis County Star. The paper is now defunct, but I’ve revived each of my columns and will drop them here on Medium every month or so as our cast prepares for our 35th reunion in July of 2021 (Depending on COVID of course.) For me, and I hope others, it’s a vivid and optimistic lens through which to view the world once again. I’ve chosen to not edit the columns so that my 22 year old self comes through. …


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Sean was surrounded by his folks and siblings: Erin, Collin, Patrick…their kids and grandkids. The entire McGinnis-Staab family had a rich tradition of wedding celebrations. I grew up in this Volga-German community but was always an outsider since my heritage was German-Irish and we had moved here when I was three I wasn’t “a native.” While I loved the culture, food, and festivities of my hometown, I knew I was always “adjacent” not “a part”.


My dark night of the soul took place sixteen years ago. On June 11, 2003 I made the near-fatal mistake of trying to end my life leaping from the Manhattan Bridge. For the weekend leading up to this crisis I was in a very dark place, wandering the streets of New York unable to call out for help but knowing my life could not continue as it was. This year I chose to commemorate the date and again walked through the night, but this time with a purpose tackling the 16.3 mile Out of the Darkness overnight walk to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I set out to raise $1,600 but have nearly doubled that with donations still coming in. While I walked with others, I walked alone. …


How one city enables me to see my growth with each new trip

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Roma even got her own matching name badge at the Academy of Management.

Precisely 44 years have spanned between my first trip to Chicago and my most recent trip to the Windy City. I vividly recall being here in 1974 when President Nixon resigned. My sister, mom, and I accompanied my dad to a conference at the University of Chicago. We did not see such an announcement from the White House during this trip when I brought my husband and daughter with me while I attended an academic conference of my own.

I love this Mark Twain quote which I saw several times this past…


Lessons from TED 2018 — making up for missing my own class

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Photo Credit: Dian Lofton, TED.

TED 2018 provided a pretty good excuse for me to miss class with my own students on Friday. When I know a student will miss a crucial class for a bonafide reason I’ve been known to ask them to write up a summary of what they were doing (jury duty, speaking at a conference, witnessing the birth of their child) and how it applies to our studies. Well, in an effort to “take my own medicine” I’m going to use this post to capture just a few of the lessons I gleaned while watching 48 talks across the first eight sessions of TED 2018. …


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I’m pretty surprised that it caught me off guard. For weeks I’ve been planning to be in Brooklyn for TEDFest (a simulcast event of the famed TED conference happening in Vancouver). I booked my travel, planned my schedule, covered my commitments at home.

This morning I dashed out of the High Street station and into a taxi for the short drive to St. Anne’s Warehouse. I was later than I’d hoped so my focus was just on finding the space, getting into the theater, and finding a seat for the first of three two-hour long sessions of TED talks. A power failure had delayed the start by a few minutes and so I was right on time. It was only at lunch that it hit me where I was. …


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Some people say I resemble my dad…I’m not sure what they mean. (Around 2006 in Bryant Park, NYC)

Two weeks ago we bid my dad farewell. This will be the first Father’s Day where my sisters and I have not struggled to come up with a gift for him. But, I think his send off from the small town in Kansas where we grew up may be the best gift we could have given him. We followed his wishes, to the best of our abilities. He was a simple, straightforward man of great faith, with a heart of gold and generous spirit. He’d have likely shied away from some of the rich praised heaped on him at his passing, but as Fr. Mike noted in his homily, “we get the last word.” …


It was a new twist on a very familiar story, if I saw it reenacted in a made for TV movie I’d think it was too manufactured to be believed. Having it play out in my own home, however, underscored both the truth and truths of this Christmas story.

On the first Thursday in December around 6:30 pm the phone rang. A social worker asked if we could step in and take on a ten-month old baby boy, let’s call him “Joshua”, who had just been removed from his mother. Most traditional couples have nine months (or longer) to plan for a baby to arrive, we had about ninety minutes. We had many reasons to say no to this request; I was in DC leading a series of seminars and was headed to Arizona for a week to take a different workshop. My husband’s a minister and was coming into the busiest season of his entire year: Christmas. …

About

JD Schramm

Gay dad, Stanford Faculty, and mentor

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