Sunday, November 8, 2015


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Only Time Will Tell If You REALLY Believe That Employees Come First

There are only three agenda items at our executive meetings: People, sales, and profit.

In what order I asked? “That is the order,” was the response.

Everyone in the room looked on like an approving parent.

I belong to a group in Dubai that we called UAE HR Leaders Forum. It is a Whatsapp group that is just absolutely amazing.

We use the social media app to keep in touch throughout the week, pose questions, ask for assistance, etc. Every day there are numerous questions going back and forth about projects, vendor assistance and guidance?

The conversation above was a Chief HR Officer for a major retailer in the region describing how his leadership extols the virtue of their workforce. They are people driven and proud of it. Their thought is that their people come first. They know, and rightly so, that they will in turn take care of their customers.

Employees first, customers second

Are You Making Sure To Change Your Talent Along With Your Strategy?

I have never had strategy and talent explained that way. I am a professor at a Business School here in Dubai and I teach strategy. We should put something together.

At the end of one of my speeches, I was approached by this professor who gave me his background: Ph.D Business, Dean of the Business School, and strategy and logistics expert. I was impressed, to say the least

The title of my presentation was Strategy and Talent: The Key to Organizational Success. As an instructor for the Human Capital Institute, our version of Strategic HR centers on that slide. Strategy changes and the talent equation changes.

Sounds simple enough

The Tide Is Turning – The Old Ways Of Managing A Workforce Are Evolving

These were recent headlines that came across my news feed:

Would You Give Staff a Three-Day Weekend? Global Retailer Uniqlo is Giving it a Go

Facebook Co-founder Calls Out Tech Industry for Lack of Work-Life Balance

How Working Long Hours is Hitting Your Health

How Companies Are Changing Old Ways to Attract Young Workers

In Big Move, Accenture Will Get Rid of Annual Performance Reviews and Rankings

These were headlines that made me go, “Yes, Baby!”

I speak at a lot of colleges in the Middle East, specifically to the HR programs, and one thing I tell them is that the workforce needs you. Your generation is going to bring some organizations out of their industrial stupor.

Begrudgingly, some will make the move and some will keep their heads buried in the sands. The ones that take the step and enter into a new world where every rule and workplace policy is reviewed will stumble at times — but in the end they will win.

The tide is turning

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Better Engagement? It Trickles Down From Managers to Your Employees

I do not care whether anyone here likes me or not.

Please do not come to me with this, I should be the last person that you come to with questions, go figure it out.

Now I just do my job and what is required. Nothing more.

This one-sided conversation was sent to me the other morning from one of my mentees who is struggling with a bad boss.  She loves her job, but the manager dynamic is fragile, to say the least.
The conversation made me remember a terrific white paper that I recently read — State of the American Manager — produced by Gallup. This is a must read for any organization that struggles with engagement.

One of the most glaring statistic was this:

Managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units.”

The drill sergeant disguised as manager

Monday, August 24, 2015

Maybe Amazon’s New World Of Work Isn’t Right For Someone Like Me

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” said former Amazon employee Bo Olson, who worked in book marketing. Or, they very wisely chose to leave.

Explanations like “we’re not totally sure” or “I’ll get back to you” are not acceptable, many employees said. Some managers sometimes dismissed such responses as “stupid” or told workers to “just stop it.”

Ideas are critiqued so harshly in meetings at times that some workers fear speaking up.

“You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus,” said a marketer who spent six years in Amazon’s retail division. “It’s a horrible feeling.”

“You either fit here, or you don’t”

Your Best Employee Role Model? It’s When You Have Active, Engaged Managers

“I love this job. The work I do is so interesting and I am finally in a job that I am learning so much.

My problem is that this manager of mine is totally out of control. Everybody knows it, even her boss, but he just looks the other way. That is why I am beginning my search. We have loss so many good people over the year I have been here because they just will not tolerate it.”

That was an interesting insight I was given the other day. It caused me to think of a seminar on employee engagement I ran in Cairo a few months back where one of the participants gave another interesting insight. They said, “Fire all the bad managers since that is where engagement begins.” Applause erupted.

Whatever your views on bad managers, and/or engagement for that matter, it comes down to two people in the room. The relationship that managers create with their team will determine the level of engagement within your organization.

It starts one connection at a time.

Does your department resemble a wake?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Does Everyone In Your Employ Know Your Organization’s Purpose?

“We believe in our mission and values. We are a connected company and our engagement is strong.
Our people believe in what we do. As a matter of fact, we have a leadership development session coming soon where we are bringing in a world class mountain climber to talk about being a leader.”

This was what I heard from a CEO who I had just met. I must say I was impressed — that is, until I met with their head of HR sometime later. She was incredulous and just shook her head.

That conversation came back into focus this week as I read a recent Gallup study titled A Company’s Purpose Has to Be a Lot More Than Words. I was informed that Mr. CEO I had heard from is the same guy who comes in every morning and walks through the workspace headed directly to his office without offering even the most basic pleasantry, “Good Morning.” He goes into his office and closes the door. So much for being connected.

The big disconnect.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Management 101: Connecting With Employees Beyond Their Job Description

Think back to grade school, high school, college, or your past jobs; I want you to think of the teacher or manager that during this period had an impact on your life. If you can’t relate to that time period, think of the person that connected with you in such a way that you still think of them. I want you to be able to explain why that person is special.”

This was my group discussion question as I led a manager development group the other week here in Dubai.

I wanted them to think of how that person connected to them and meant so much in their lives. This towering figure is one that comes across our minds from time to time, the warm glow comes from the positive interaction that you both had.

I reached out to one of my favorite teachers a while back and she was so shocked to hear from me. The thrust of my conversation was “thank you.”

Employee-manager equation

Are You Creating An Organization Where Anything Is Possible?

“Once a year, engineers at Facebook are encouraged — but not required — to ditch their jobs and try something else out within the company for 30 days. It’s a program that started in 2011 called
‘Hackamonth.‘ ”

As I read this quote the other day from a recent Business Insider article, I just had to smile. That’s because I am just so amazed at how the “newer” companies try out new ways to engage workers. As the article states, many of the new features and products at Facebook came about as a result of this “hackamonth” initiative.

Google also has a version of this, but I understand that it has been modified somewhat.

Creating the incubator throughout the organization

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Creative Leaders Create A Culture Where All Ideas Are Encouraged And Valued

The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”  — Sir Ken Robinson

I came across this powerful quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks.

It brought me back to a time-honored session that I would always roll my eyes at — the brainstorming sessions that no one wanted to be a part of.  It’s when everyone is sitting around the table with their minds running at warp speed trying to come up with a great “idea.”

Yet, this leader knew that this was the way that we are going to innovate. But, he ignored the vast majority of ideas because they did not come from his most favored people in the room.

There was a commercial years ago that played out this scenario.  You had a room full of people all looking bored. There was one “slacker” in the group that came up with an idea. However, it was as if he was not even in the room. Dead silence. No one listened and they basically ignored him.

A no holds barred discussion

Listening To Employees: You Need To Do It One Conversation At A Time

“The only number that matters is ‘one.’ One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a
time. We had to get back to what mattered most.”

I am a big fan of Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. In reading this statement above, Schultz described how his company faltered and lost its way. It strayed from coffee into a host of activities which basically begin the slow drip of non-profitability.

This statement is kind of a back to basics approach, but it would make a great mission statement. It would also make a great leader’s mandate.

How is that, you may ask? How many times have you spoken to a senior leader, and in the midst of that conversation, they were checking email, fiddling with their phone, or basically doing something else?  Yes, they pride themselves on multi-tasking, but are they really listening?

Lesson learned

Friday, July 3, 2015

What Does Real, Genuine Leadership Look Like?

“This may sound crazy, but it’s hard for us when someone turns down a raise,”

That was a recent comment from the Board President at the University of Cincinnati. Not only that, but it’s the third year in a row the university chief, President Santa Ono, has donated his bonus.

Since 2013, he has turned down his six-figure bonus and declined a raise. His reasoning is that he donates it to various funds and to help the college students.

What does leadership look like?

When Will Employees REALLY Become Your “Most Important Asset?”

“How much does it cost?”

This is a question that I am hit with as I intro my presentation. It literally takes my breath away. My response is we can discuss that after I am finished.

But, I need a change in mindset from cost to expense. If you look at employee development as an expense, I may be wasting both of our times.

This approach took courage, but after a while, I realized that if that is the way that executives look at engagement, I know that I am in the wrong place.

A few statistics we all need to consider

This takes me back the notion that employees are our “greatest or most important asset.” Are they really? Those buzzwords should be outlawed.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When It Comes To Ongoing HR Development, It’s Really Up To You

“Can I see a show of hands of people that watch CNBC or any other business channel? Can I also see a show of hands of those that read the business section of your newspaper?”

Both those questions were asked over the past two weeks at different HR conferences [the HR Leaders Africa Summit held in Lagos, Nigeria, and the Lebanon HR Summit]. I decided to ask those questions and I was shocked by the number of responses. Maybe two or three hands went up, and there were at least 50 people in the room in both cases.

And you want a seat where?

My response was, “and you want to be strategic business partners?” My next question was, “what are the major discussions within your industry?” Again, the response was blank stares.

We Could Learn A Lot From How The World Handles Employee Vacations

“No, that will not work. I leave for holiday on the 8th of June and will not return till around the 15th
of July.”

That was the response from a Chief Learning Officer who we have been trying to get together for a meeting. However, it hit me as he told me this that yes, this was vacation season. But more importantly, he would be taking close to five (5) weeks off.

The summer holiday season is upon us and this is a common refrain from expats throughout this region (I work in Dubai, in the Middle East). This is a common practice here, and the only people who it gives pause to are people like me.

Vacation is no big deal

An Imperative For Today’s HR: A Sharp Focus On Data And Analytics

This past week I participated as conference chair for the first ever workforce analytics conference in the Workforce Analytics Forum that was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
the Middle East —

It was amazing to see the various industries from telecom to health care, privately owned to multi-nationals, presenting their analytics and wrapping it into a business case.

I remarked in my closing statement that this level of rigor and alignment would not have been possible even a few years back. But now, to have a conference dedicated to this new level of HR was astounding.

Welcome to the club

Monday, June 1, 2015

Corporate Power: It Has Shifted to Your Customers AND Employees

“We challenge you to find a consumer mobile offer available in the UAE that is better than the offers
you can get with Etisalat,”read the company’s website. “We promise to match or beat any offer, guaranteeing you that with Etisalat, you will always get the best prices.”

The “big brother” here in the Middle East recently has been the marketing campaign by our local telecom Etisilat [In the U.S., think ATT or Verizon]. Their marketing campaign was called the #Etisilat Challenge, and it challenged consumers to find a better deal than their offerings.

However, what happened next was not what they expected.

The pendulum has swung

First Impressions: Why Onboarding Employees Is Like Going on a First Date

"I arrived early excited about my first day and my first real job from college. I just could not believe how disorganized they were. It was like nothing you said. As a matter of fact, they were not expecting me until the following week. When I showed her the letter, she had to make phone calls to HR. It was a total mess. I knew then that I would not be here long.

That short message was told to me by my daughter, who after finishing college, got her first “real” job. Because of my background in HR, I told her what the first day would probably be like since this was a well-known brand.

I had flashbacks of that encounter a few weeks back as I gave a presentation around that theme at the Global HR Summit in Doha, Qatara  last week.

Going on that first date

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Are You Always Ready For When the Worst Finally Comes?

“Well, I lost my job today. To all my Tech friends, let me know of any Mac tech support jobs.”

That was the post that went up on Facebook! As I knew this individual, I immediately reached out to see how I could help. Since I had a lot of friends in tech, I was sure I could get his resume into the right hands.

What happened next kind of took me back.

Update needed

His response to me was this: “I will have to get back to you as I need to update (my resume).” Let’s see, you have been with this company for close to six years and you have not updated your resume?

Social Engagement: If It’s Good For Employees, It’s Good For Customers

It makes me proud to work for this company, because when I travel back to my home country on
holiday, I can see the school that my company (along with all the volunteers) built. I am so proud to work here.”

That was a statement from one of our clients that I spoke to as she told me about her company.
I thought of that statement the other day as I flew back home from a business trip. The Chairman/Founder of the airline Virgin Atlantic made a pitch about their charity and volunteer effort called “Change for Children.” Richard Branson delivers this message and shows the schools and others that his company and employees are all engaged.

His quest is to get his customers involved as well.

What is your customer experience?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Yes, Great Employee Engagement Can Turn Into Great Customer Service

“You know what I always enjoyed, that I still think of a lot? When we would all get together as a
family and how much laughter there was in the house. From our parents to all the kids and cousins, it was just pure laughter.”

When I took my first foreign assignment as a Chief HR Officer, I was told by one of the senior executives. “You know the change we all notice in HR? It is the sound of laughter.”

When you walk in now, everyone is smiling, laughing and joking with each other. At one time you hated to come down here; now it is a respite to walk into a friendly environment — especially all the smiles.

Laughter as nectar of the gods

A Key to Career Success: Mastering the Art of Public Speaking

“When I heard you speak I was shaking in my boots, because tomorrow, I am scheduled to speak after your presentation. Is there any way to put me on behind someone else?” he said jokingly.

I was asked about this change a few months back when I was the chair of the HR Summit in Bahrain. Just a few weeks ago, I made a presentation to The Human Resources Forum in Dubai (THRF), and as one of the attendees was leaving she said, “you make everything so clear and you are the best speaker that we have ever had here at the Forum.”

Since arriving here in the Middle East, I was fortunate to get on the HR speaker circuit. As of last week, I have spoken at about 25 events either as a keynote, conference chair, panel leader, or master class presenter. I have traveled from Africa to Turkey and all over the Middle East.

How I got over my fear of public speaking

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Managers Need to Remember: By Your Pupils You’ll Be Taught

“Can you believe it? Now because of realignment, he works for me.

We worked together for years and he was my boss. He was extremely mean and cruel during those years and would just nit-pick through all my assignments. I needed the job so I stayed and put up with it.

But you know I just could never ‘get even’ or stoop that low.”

Karma is described as the underlying principle that brings back the results of actions to the person performing them. In other words, what goes around comes around.
It could also be described as this: We harvest exactly what we sow; no less, no more.

What a weird scenario

As we move up the career ladder, we manage lots of people who cross our paths and move on, hopefully, to bigger and better things.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When It Comes to Successfully Leading People, Soft Skills are the Key

We had two very distinct corporate headquarters and now we just have one. At our corporate office in
Boston, the doors were locked on the executive floor and you couldn’t get in with your badge unless you worked on that floor.

Now everyone’s badge works on the floor. I also moved the coffee machine outside my door so people had to walk by my office to get to it. Now I can tell people to stop in and say Hi.”

That statement was from CEO Linda K. Zecher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She was recently profiled by Adam Bryant in his weekly interview series, Corner Office in The New York Times.

By the way, this weekly article allows you to peep through the crack of the C-Suite. It is a must read for HR professionals who are looking for insight from senior leadership and their thought processes.

A different scenario, indeed

However, as I read about this one with Linda Zecher I thought of my own experience and it was diametrically opposed to her version. In my version, the new CEO comes in and immediately re-launches what was a normal floor where everyone roamed into an “executive floor.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Building Ambassadors, or Why You Need to Offer More Than Just a Job

“I am so thankful that I got this new job. I now work for a non-profit and we are spearheading all these new initiatives, connecting children and health care. I am on a mission. Never been so excited about a job before from my past of working for profit companies.”

This email message came to me the other morning from one of my colleagues in the U.S. I am hearing more of this type talk from people over the last few years.

This brought me back to a time one of our rising executives quit a promising job and career because her dream job materialized — one that would allow her to work with animals. At the time, I was sitting there listening to this and in the back of my mind, I just did not get it.

Yes, I have changed

So, as I read this “thankful” message the other day, I got ready to respond and noticed that the tag line on my email reads:

We are dedicated to building a better society by helping companies to transform their workplace.”

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The 5 Words Leaders Use That Do More Damage Than Good

The most misunderstood phrase in corporate speak is “People are our greatest asset.”

Those five words do more damage than good.

That was the hook as I began my speech this week at theGreat Place to Work list announcement in Dubai .

I have gotten so that when I hear that phrase, to me it is a signal that whoever said it is not really connected about those assets. If you have to say it, you probably do not believe it yourself.

Does the talk reflect the reality?

But we all see it: The CEO’s talk it, the EVP mentions it, the website is full of the same statement. But I wonder sometimes if I stood outside their building and did a man on the street interview, I wonder what that “asset” would say?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Calm Down, Don’t Worry: A Lesson in Service From Government Workers

Mr. Ron, don’t stress yourself out. We will find it. We always do. You will get a call within 24 hours,
the policeman assured me.

I live and work in Dubai, and I had jumped in a taxi at the end of the day and headed to the mall to pick up an item. When I jumped out of the taxi, being consumed as we all are from time to time (talking on cell phone, writing a note, etc.), I was distracted. I paid the driver and jumped out.

Problem was, I left my wallet on the seat in the cab.

Multi-tasking? It should be banned

When I got to the bank and reached for my wallet, what I had done thought sunk in. I realized that because I had been multi-tasking with the phone to my ear, I had left my wallet in the cab.
In a panic, I found a security guard who “walked” me to Lost & Found. Once there I was asked a bunch of questions and they repeatedly said “Mr. Ron, we will find it; you need not worry.”

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What’s a Top-Rate Organization? One That Gives People Keys to the Culture

“They have a common goal and they have to get there together.”

That was a recent comment made by the coach of an NFL team, Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles. His comment that “culture beats scheme” was made in reference to trading one of his star players, who from all indications, was known as a prima donna and high maintenance.

“When he talks about culture, he’s talking about a 360-degree approach,” says David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California Sports Business Institute.

He added, “A scheme might be limited to perfection on the field. Look at him as a CEO. Take that perspective. He’s not a team president in a player-personnel sense, but he’s president of the team itself. He has to understand every facet of the business. He has to communicate what his goals are to every player all the time, like a businessman has to with every employee.”
I love the 360 degree approach to culture. Are you buying into all facets of the organizations existence, or only your favorite parts?

Message sent and delivered

Thursday, March 5, 2015

When It Comes to Employee Wages, We Just Need to Do the Right Thing

This pay initiative is an important part of our strategies to continue attracting and retaining the best TJX Chief Executive Carol Meyrowitz said in a statement.
talent in order to deliver a great shopping experience, remain competitive on wages in our U.S. markets and stay focused on our value mission,”

Having noticed from afar the recent groundbreaking announcements that have come from major retailers in the U.S., that decision has given me cause for hope.

First Wal-Mart and now Target has, on their own initiative, decided to raise the wages of their workers. That is a good sign. I particularly liked the above statement, tying it to “attracting and retaining.”

Doing what is right

Cumulatively this may sound like a big drag on company earnings, but I see it more as a stimulus to their bottom line.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Leading in Today’s Workforce: Let Your Personal Style Come Through

“You should never be afraid to let your personality and style comes through.”

That has been a foundational statement for me during my career.

My first job out of college was working in the sales division for IBM. I always tell people that IBM was the Google of its day. As part of the role of becoming a sales associate we were all sent to “sales school” where we had to learn to sell the products, sell the benefits of those products, and extend the brand into the client organization.

It is more comfortable being you

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Giving Is the Very Best Workplace Communication

Sometimes, the best leadership examples come from someone who does not have the lofty titles.
We watch in amazement how one tiny gesture ends up giving us the wow factor in multitudes (as the video below shows). Ordinary people, or those in professions that would not be synonymous with leadership, set an example for all of us to follow.

It always brings a smile to my face when I see these random acts play out.

My first foray into human resources was in training & development, but one of the things I found limiting was that when someone would call me and want to send “John” to a management class.
In their mind, we were supposed to miraculously send this person out as a bad manager, and what we would get in return was a flawless leader? However, what usually would return was an individual that was pumped for a few days, and for the most part, then settled back into the comfort zone

What is your vision of leadership?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Planning For the Worst: Compassion Is the Key When Layoffs Come

“Are we all set. Yes, we are all in compliance with the cost savings. All the numbers are correct. Just give me the go ahead and they are all gone.”
Then the conversation changed.
The executive listening to this rundown told the HR person to stop. Do you know any of these people? The answer was no.
Do you know whether it will be difficult for them to find jobs in your area? “I have no idea” was his reply.
Why does HR seem to like laying off people?
What are your plans for trying to help them land something? “I have none” was his reply.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What Do Organization’s Need Today? A CEOs Who Really “Gets It”......

While waiting for a minor surgery this past week, I asked for reading material. Out comes a newsletter, a printed one.
This hospital — American Hospital Dubai — had just hired a new CEO, Mr. Peter Makowski. His introductory greeting was on the first page of the newsletter under the headline, “From the Desk of the CEO.”
I love it when they get it
What I found in that newsletter was a quote from the new CEO. He gets it. In his introductory message to his employees, he said that his job as CEO was based on the best description that he has heard to describe a CEO’s role.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I Learned About Nurturing Talent from My Middle East Gardener

You coddle your people way to much.”
If they do not like this company, let them leave. We can hire someone else at a cheaper price.”
The only people who I consider talent at my network are the people on the air. That is all I care about.”
I’m sick of all this culture stuff. Give me a break.”
All these comments were from senior level executives during conversations concerning engagement, culture, or just their people. The third statement was from the head of a major cable network during a discussion at a dinner party back in New York. That was a very spirited discussion, to say the least.
My wife always tells me to just leave the HR stuff when we go out and lets enjoy the evening. But for some reason if it comes up, I will engage.
Who is in charge now?
I thought of those comments this week during some downtime I had between flights. I once had a former boss tell me that this fancy stuff has no value, but as I travel the global landscape, I am noticing that the pendulum has swung.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A New Way to Work: When Your Office Space Reflects Your Core Values

Landmark Hospitality
As I left a recent presentation at one of our clients, I noticed the design of the hallway leading into the area. My comment was “wow.”
It stopped me in my tracks. The walls were adorned with a blow up of their core values. The other side of the wall were positive thoughts from famous people. I called it a Hallway of Positivity.
With all the talk about culture in organizations today, it makes me proud when I see organizations go all out in trying to create this atmosphere. I sure there are some that will say something like, “yes, but do they live it?
A visual focus on what your culture is about
Landmark Hospitality
Good question, but my take is that during this design process, they could have just agonized over the color of paint and let that be it. But as I walk through their hallways, there are subtle signs throughout that hone in on the same message. That message is, “this is what we are about.”
Today your organization must use every opportunity to talk about what they are about. It is kind of like the soft sell in advertising — keep it front and center at all times.
As I thought more about this, I realized that this type design enables and has the ability to stimulate human flourishing. Walking down a bland hallway, entranceway or walking down that same space with a stimulating color and quotes creates the atmosphere.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Are You Ready For Your HR Career to Finally Go Global?

My name is xxxxx — where are u headed?
I replied that I was heading to Dubai and the conversation started (which was eased by the champagne served in business class).
My seatmate was from Russia. As the conversation continued, our other seat mate chimed in, she was from India. The couple sitting across from us was from Cape Town, South Africa. As I looked around the plane, it seems that we had a mini-UN of travel aboard.
Where is Dubai, anyway?
I was headed back from holiday in the U.S. Our first stop was London, and then we all separated as I was headed back home to Dubai.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

HR Advice to Start 2015: Resolve to Listen More to Your People This Year

“But, it is the General Manager who so sets the tone and culture in an organization.
That statement, by a local reporter, followed the recent firing of New York Jets football coach Rex Ryan. As I watched the news over the holidays, I saw that there were a lot of sports people who lost their jobs.
As another famous football executive, Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, explained years ago, “you are what your record says you are.”
How did you do?
As one year ends and another begins, it is always a good time to reflect on our work and accomplishments for the past year.