Posts Tagged "leadership"

Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven

Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven

The following is adapted from the commencement address by Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University of Texas at Austin on May 17.

See Video:  Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven

The University of Texas slogan is “What starts here changes the world.”

I have to admit—I kinda like it.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com, says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.

That’s a lot of folks. But if every one of you changed the lives of just 10 people, and each one of those folks changed the lives of another 10 people—just 10—then in five generations, 125 years, the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

Eight-hundred million people—think of it: over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—eight billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of 10 people, change their lives forever, you’re wrong.

I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the 10 soldiers with him are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a noncommissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500-pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn were also saved. And their children’s children were saved.

Generations were saved by one decision, by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is: What will the world look like after you change it?

Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.

And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, Calif.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long, torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacle courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships. To me basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

1. Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

2. During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy. Every day, your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help—and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

3. Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class, which started with 150 men, was down to just 42. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them. No one was over about 5-foot-5.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African-American, one Polish-American, one Greek-American, one Italian-American and two tough kids from the Midwest.

They out-paddled, out-ran and out-swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim. But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the nation and the world, always had the last laugh—swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure people by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

4. Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough. Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle, it just wasn’t good enough. The instructors would find “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed, into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

There were many students who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right, it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training. Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.

If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

5. Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards, times that you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards, your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus. A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue, and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list. Yet an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students, who did two hours of extra calisthenics, got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength—built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

6. At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot-high wall, a 30-foot cargo net and a barbed-wire crawl, to name a few.

But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level, 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot-long rope.

You had to climb the three-tiered tower and, once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the slide for life—head-first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the top of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training. Without hesitation, the student slid down the rope, perilously fast. Instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head-first.

7. During the land-warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island near San Diego. The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for great white sharks. To pass SEAL training, there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim.

Before the swim, the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. The instructors assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position, stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you, then summon up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

8. As Navy SEALs, one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training. The ship-attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over 2 miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.

During the entire swim, even well below the surface, there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you. But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight, it blocks the surrounding street lamps, it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the centerline and the deepest part of the ship. This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission, is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

9. The ninth week of SEAL training is referred to as Hell Week. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing-cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure from the instructors to quit.

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone-chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything. And then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two, and two became three, and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted. And somehow, the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan named Malala—can change the world by giving people hope.

So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

10. Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell.

If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world—for the better.

It will not be easy.

But start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.

 

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally

Automaker Ford was losing billions of dollars when Alan Mulally took the wheel in 2006.

Here, in an interview conducted by New York based Rik Kirkland, senior managing editor of McKinsey Publishing, Mulally reflects on his leadership style and his efforts to turn around the organization.

When Alan Mulally was named president and CEO of Ford, in 2006, the famous American automaker was on the brink of bankruptcy. The company was preparing to post the biggest annual loss in its 103-year history—$12.7 billion.

Seven years later, Mulally is widely seen as the man behind one of the most impressive corporate turnarounds in history. Ford has posted an annual profit every year since 2009, its stock price has rebounded, and a new corporate culture has transformed the way the organization works. In an interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, Mulally reflects on his approach to leading a large global organization, the process by which Ford seeks to understand the global business context, the importance of managing your energy (and not just your time), and why he thinks “One Ford” is more than just a catchphrase.

McKinsey: How would you describe your leadership style?

Alan Mulally: At the most fundamental level, it is an honor to serve—at whatever type or size of organization you are privileged to lead, whether it is a for-profit or nonprofit. It is an honor to serve. Starting from that foundation, it is important to have a compelling vision and a comprehensive plan. Positiveleadership—conveying the idea that there is always a way forward—is so important, because that is what you are here for—to figure out how to move the organization forward. Critical to doing that is reinforcing the idea that everyone is included. Everyone is part of the team and everyone’s contribution is respected, so everyone should participate. When people feel accountable and included, it is more fun. It is just more rewarding to do things in a supportive environment.

Say, for example, an employee decides to stop production on a vehicle for some reason. In the past at Ford, someone would have jumped all over them: “What are you doing? How did this happen?” It is actually much more productive to say, “What can we do to help you out?” Because if you have consistency of purpose across your entire organization and you have nurtured an environment in which people want to help each other succeed, the problem will be fixed quickly. So it is important to create a safe environment for people to have an honest dialogue, especially when things go wrong.

A big part of leadership is being authentic to who you are, thinking about what you really believe in and behaving accordingly. At Ford, we have a card with our business plan on one side and the behaviors we expect listed on the other. It is the result of 43 years of doing this.

McKinsey: There have been major changes in the external environment during your long career. How have those affected the way you lead?

Alan Mulally: People often say that the world is becoming more volatile and more complex, that there are exponentially more “moving parts.” The world has always been a complicated and volatile place—it is just that we now have the tools to recognize it, to try to make sense of it, and to respond to it. That can make the process of understanding the broader environment in which we operate feel more complicated. Understanding what is happening in the world has always been a critical part of doing business at Ford. It should be a critical part of doing business anywhere.

McKinsey: How do you make sure Ford understands the larger context?

Alan Mulally: Every week we have a Business Plan Review meeting, or BPR. Our entire global leadership team, every business leader, every functional leader, attends either remotely or in person. We talk about the worldwide business environment at that moment—things like the economy, the energy and technology sectors, global labor, government relations, demographic trends, what our competitors are doing, what is going on with our customers. Of course, we are all out there all the time as part of our jobs, going around the world. The BPR process is the foundation. It provides a fantastic window on the world—the whole team knows everything that is going on.

Then we take it a step further and discuss how those trends are likely to evolve. Looking ahead is critical. We talk about more than what our customers value right now. We talk about the forces in the world that are going to shape what they will value in the future.

Take energy, for example. While we believe petroleum is going to be around for a long time, it is going to cost more and take more time to bring to the market. So we are going to pay more for energy. Beyond that, we believe there is a social consciousness that is developing where people really want to consider alternative energy sources that are more sustainable and good for the planet. So, for every market in the world, we are pushing harder to develop vehicles that range from gasoline versions to diesel, natural gas, hybrid-electric and all-electric ones. We also see a future for hydrogen. That technology roadmap is informed by our clear point of view about where the world is going.

McKinsey: Tell me more about how this process translates into everyday decisions.

Alan Mulally: As part of the BPR, we look closely at our plan in the context of the risks and opportunities presented by the current and future business environment. The BPR meeting is a kind of status check. It is both a strategic plan and a relentless implementation plan. So we look at every element of the income statement and the balance sheet. As new information emerges, we incorporate it right into the plan.

So, for example, discretionary income in the Asia-Pacific region is increasing, and many economies are reaching the takeoff stage for our industry, as new car buyers enter the market. We have used extensive data and research to determine the factors that will influence their purchasing decisions, and we have a specific plan in place to capture those consumers by providing a complete family of best-in-class vehicles. We regularly go over that data to see if anything has changed. If the facts underpinning the plan have changed, our plan has to change as well. The data tell us how we are doing, and in that sense, the data set you free, which is pretty cool.

McKinsey: And how does the leadership style you described translate into your day-to-day work?

Alan Mulally: The first thing a leader does is facilitate connections between the organization and the outside world. You can only grow value and profits by 10 to 12 percent a year, which is what great companies do, if you satisfy customers better than the competition. Second, leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable for deciding, “What business are we in? What is the deep consumer need we are uniquely positioned to satisfy?” And finally, leaders are responsible for trying to articulate and model a set of behaviors.

One of the biggest parts of the leader’s job is reinforcing the processes we are using to meet our goals. Again, that is where the BPR comes in. It is more than a way of asking, “How are we doing?” It is asking, “How are we doing against the plan? What are the areas that need special attention? And then all through the year, what is our plan to improve our performance in the following year?”

McKinsey: You’re widely credited with reshaping the culture at Ford. What’s different now?

Alan Mulally: At the heart of our culture is the One Ford plan, which is essentially our vision for the organization and its mission. And at the heart of the One Ford plan is the phrase “One Team.” Those are more than just words. We really expect our colleagues to model certain behaviors. People here really are committed to the enterprise and to each other. They are working for more than themselves. We are a global company, so we really have to stay focused on the work. There are so many people around the world involved in our daily operations that it has to be about more than a single person—it truly has to be about the business. Some prefer to work in a different way. Ultimately, they will either adopt the Ford culture, or they will leave.

McKinsey: Running large companies is demanding, and you’ve been at this game a long time. How do you maintain your mental and physical stamina?

Alan Mulally: Everybody always talks about how you need to manage your time. You need to manage your energy as well. You first have to ask, “What gives me energy?” There can be lots of sources: your family, exercise, your spiritual well-being. Try to combine those, along with your work demands, into one integrated calendar so that everything is built into your lifestyle. You can get beyond having to tell yourself, “OK, I’m going to have my family life next year in August, on vacation.” Instead, jot down what is really important to you, see if you have allocated time for it, and adjust the calendar if necessary. In our house, we had a family meeting every week—the family BPR—where we reviewed what we needed to do and the support required to get us through the week. It is another kind of process step, and a really important one.

McKinsey: One last question: Henry Ford had a vision. But the world, and the transportation industry, is dramatically different now. Has the Ford vision changed?

Alan Mulally: Henry Ford understood that the desire to move—to have freedom of mobility—is enduring and universal. As economies grow, and even as human beings grow, the first thing they want to do is move. It is a powerful vision—opening up the world’s highways so that everyone can have freedom of mobility, and can access the opportunities for growth that those experiences can offer.

The vision will remain constant, while our role in realizing that vision might evolve. There are tremendous opportunities for safe and efficient transportation in the future— in rapid and public transportation, for example. So we might be part of connecting different modes of transportation—bicycles and waterways and cars and buses and subways—all as part of the vision of enabling movement and bringing people together. Ford can use technology and innovation to deliver products and services that enable that experience at the most fundamental level. That is what we do.

About the authors

Alan Mulally is president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. This interview was conducted by Rik Kirkland, senior managing editor of McKinsey Publishing, who is based in McKinsey’s New York office.

Desecrating the Memoryof César Chávez

LatinoRebels.com

My article first appeared in LatinoRebels.com.

 

 

 

Silva bigger

In 1971, César Chávez moved his home and the headquarters of the United Farm Workers union from Delano to La Paz, a property encompassing 187 acres in the Tehachapi Mountains of eastern Kern County, California.   Kern is the fifth-largest county in California with nearly fifty percent of its population of Mexican-American descent.   When he died in 1993, as was his wish, César Chávez was laid to rest in La Paz.

On October 2012, President Barack Obama traveled to Kern County to establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument  to honor a leader determined to bring the concerns of Latinos to the forefront of the national political debate.   Through his grassroots efforts to fight injustice in all its forms, Chávez became a national icon, inspiring national political power through his slogan “Sí, se puede” — Spanish for “Yes, you can”.

President Obama Announces Cesar Chavez National Monument

President Obama Announces Cesar Chavez National Monument

What would César Chávez say if he knew that in the city of Bakersfield, less than thirty minutes from La Paz, Latinos are being systematically terrorized by Kern County police?

His first question would undoubtedly be “Why are the police doing this?”

“Because we can,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood mocks him in the cartoon above, smirking as he holds illegally confiscated cell phones bearing evidence of his thugs beating an innocent Latino to death.

The second question Cesar Chavez would ask is “Why do Americans know the names Trayvon Martin and Rodney King, yet are oblivious to the names of Jose Lucero and David Silva?”

Next week begins the murder trial in the death of Trayvon Martin, whose name and photograph in a hoodie are easily recognized by Americans.  The public’s familiarity with Trayvon came into the national consciousness when a number of high-profile African American citizens — including Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and President Barack Obama called for a full investigation.

Rodney King’s beating by officers of the L.A.P.D. is another such incident that gained national prominence due to the media’s release of a citizen’s videotaped footage of the incident.  There was a national outcry for a criminal conviction, and even former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley said at the time “The men who beat Rodney King do not deserve to wear the uniform of the L.A.P.D.”

Rodney King Almost Beaten to Death by L.A.P.D.

Rodney King Almost Beaten to Death by L.A.P.D.

That brings us to the stories of Jose Lucero and David Silva, two 33-yearold men living in Bakersfield, California, about thirty minutes from La Paz.   As you will soon discover, Jose and David’s deaths resulted from the failure of leadership by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood who is a disgrace to all the good men and women who wear the law enforcement uniform.

Kern County Sheriff deputies Ryan Greer, Jonathan Juden, Daniel Willis, and Angelos Gonzalez went to Jose Lucero’s home on December 18, 2010, in response to repeated 911 calls from Jose claiming that a female friend was being assaulted in Lancaster.

Jose, a recovering drug addict who struggled with mental health issues, was living at the home of his elderly parents, Florencio and Lilia Lucero.  Prior to that day, reports indicated he was on the road to recovery, but on that day he had relapsed.  Witnesses testified that Jose appeared to be mentally unstable, either as the result of drug use or a prior head injury.  The deputies decided to take Jose Lucero into custody for abuse of the 911 system.

Their arrest strategy was to pepper spray him, beat him with batons, and electrocute him with their Taser guns.  The decedent’s elderly parents were horrified as they witnessed the entire incident.

Pepper spray causes intense pain, involuntary closing of the eyes, considerable tearing, as well as temporary paralysis of the larynx which causes subjects to lose their breath.

The Taser X26 used by the Kern County deputies deliver a 50,000 volt charge.  It uses compressed nitrogen to propel a pair of “probes”—aluminum darts tipped with stainless steel barbs connected to the X26 by insulated wires—toward a person at a rate of over 160 feet per second.

Taser Barb Need to Be Removed in a Hospital with a Scalpel

Taser Barb Need to Be Removed in a Hospital with a Scalpel

The manufacturer maintains that the full 50,000 volts do not enter the victim’s body; rather, it claims the X26 only delivers a peak voltage of 1,200 volts into the body, and an average current of 2.1 milliamps for 5 seconds.  As a comparison, the electric chair administers 2,450 volts at about 5 amps for 20 seconds.

When the deputies became violent, Jose hid behind his father for protection, but the police ordered Florencio Lucero to step away, making Jose an easy target for two of the deputies to shoot Jose with their Taser guns.

Taser Gun

Taser Gun

The impact is as powerful as it is swift.  The electrical impulse from a Taser instantly overrides the victim’s central nervous system, paralyzing the muscles and rendering the target limp and helpless.  In addition, removal of the barbed probes requires hospitalization so that a doctor can remove the probes with a scalpel.

Medical experts report that just one five second Taser jolt can set off irregular heart rhythms, leading to cardiac arrest.  Individuals with mental problems, heart conditions, or abusing certain drugs have a higher risk of death.  Once the steel barbs are lodged on the body, the officer can deliver continued electricity by pulling the device’s trigger again.

Click on the picture below to see a video of a dozen police officers in training being shot — just once — with a Taser gun during a training session.  Note that the barbs did not enter their skin but pierced a vest on their back.

Police Being Shot with Taser During Training

Police Being Shot with Taser During Training

This training video shows the painful result of just one Taser blow, even when the victim is held in the protective grasp of two colleagues.  For safety reasons, most police department policies recommend no more than four jolts with a Taser.

According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers.  In November 2007, the UN Committee Against Torture released a statement saying “use of Taser X26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constitutes a form of torture, and… in certain cases, it could also cause death.”

Jose Lucero, who was unarmed and could easily have been taken down by four police officers, was electrocuted with the Taser 29 times, within a six minute period.  And no, that is not a typographical error:  29 times.  At 5 seconds per Taser, that is a total electrocution time of 2 minutes and 25 seconds! What kind of sick person would do that to another human being?

And if you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, the police pummeled Jose mercilessly  with their batons  33 times which, coincidentally, is the number of times Rodney King was clubbed by the police.

The typical police baton is simply a steel pipe, the use of which can have lethal consequences.  Like brass knuckles, it can crack your head open, break your bones, and cause permanent injury to your bodily organs.  In the case of Rodney King, the bones holding his eye in its socket were broken, and he suffered eleven broken bones at the base of his skull.

Typical Police Batons are Just Like Steel Pipes

Typical Police Batons are Just Like Steel Pipes

These four thugs masquerading as law enforcement officers certainly have nothing on the most heinous torturers of our times. Not surprisingly, their actions are aided and abetted by Sheriff Youngblood’s assurances that this “arrest” was handled in accordance with department policy.

Instead of excising this malignant tumor from the police force by filing criminal charges against all four deputies, he allows the cancer of police brutality to metastasize it the culture of the sheriff’s office by doing nothing.

Jose’s parents awaited the impartial results from the coroner’s office on the autopsy and cause of death. The Coroner’s Office is not limited to the examination of the deceased, but it also includes interviews with family members and other witnesses to assist with the determination.

Imagine the surprise of Jose’s parents when the coroner reported their son’s official cause of death was cardiac arrest following police restraint in association with methamphetamine intoxication.

But now get this.  Who do you think is the Kern County Coroner?

Humor me.  Just take one guess?

That’s right, Sheriff – Coroner – Public Administrator Donny Youngblood.  All three positions were consolidated in 1995 by the Board of Supervisors.  Coroner Youngblood was elected in November 2006 to wear these three hats, after retiring in 2002 after thirty year as a Commander in the Kern County Sheriff’s department.

Coroner Youngblood decides the cause of death of the innocent victims who die while in the police custody of Sheriff Youngblood. Nice.  It’s like Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde coming to life in Kern County.

Donny Youngblood

And for a judge and jury, this was just too ridiculous a lie to swallow.

In November 2012, after three and a half weeks of trial and five hours of deliberation, a unanimous jury found that the County of Kern, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Ryan Greer, Deputy Daniel Willis, Deputy Angelo Gonzalez and Deputy Jonathan Juden were liable to Florencio and Lilia Lucero for the wrongful death of their son.  For witnessing this brutality in their home, the court found negligent infliction of emotional distress resulting in an award of $4.5 million in total damages.

And what happened to the four deputies involved in this brutality?  Nothing.  According to Sheriff/Coroner Youngblood they did nothing wrong, so all the deputies stayed on the force.

And that’s how on the night of May 7, 2013, Deputy Ryan Greer met David Sal Silva, the 33-year-old father of four beautiful young girls between the ages of two and ten.  One day Deputy Greer should explain to Makayla, Catelyn, Chelsea, and Eli why he and his gang of savages beat their father to death for simply passing out on the sidewalk after a very tough day.

David Silva with the mother of his four daughters

David Silva with the mother of his four daughters

Ruben Ceballos awoke around midnight to sharp cracks and piercing screams.  The 19-year-old rushed to the kitchen door and saw Kern County sheriff’s deputies beating David Silva in the head as he lay still on the ground.

“I saw two sheriff’s deputies on top of this guy, just beating him,” Ceballos said. “He was screaming in pain … asking for help. He was incapable of fighting back — he was outnumbered, on the ground.  They just beat him up.”

And then there’s 34-year-old Salina Quair who was just leaving the Kern Medical Center, and saw David die.  It turns out that David had sought help a little earlier from the substance abuse center at the Kern Medical Center.   Unfortunately, a security guard saw that he was intoxicated and asked him to leave.  David barely made it across the street before passing out.

Ironically, Salina called the police on the police.

Not only did Salina witness the savage execution and call 911, she also videotaped it with her phone and testified that the deputies were beating David to death with their batons when he was already unconscious.

“There’s a man laying on the floor and your police officers beat the shit out of him and killed him,” said Salina. “I have it all on video camera.”

She continued shouting into the phone:

“I am sitting here on the corner of Flower and Palm right now and you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight Sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor and eight Sheriff’s ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now.”

Another witness, Jason Land, said he was so traumatized after seeing the murder, he didn’t know what to do. Jason said the police acted like “animals” when they brutally beat David to death right in front of him.  He went to a local news station to tell his account.  A few hours later, police arrested him and charged him with being on PCP, which was a lie, and according to Jason the deputies tried to intimidate him to change his story about what he witnessed.

According to other witnesses, the first deputy to arrive found David passed out on the ground and gave him a knuckle rub on the chest and ordered him to wake him up.  He got up on his knees, but being intoxicated he then fell on his face.  How could anyone possibly interpret his inability to get up as “resisting arrest”?

So who did this deputy call for back-up to help him with this passed out unresponsive man resisting arrest?  The back-up was a K-9 German Shepherd police dog released from his car in the attack mode that ferociously sunk his sharp teeth into David’s flesh, who was only wearing a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers.  The autopsy revealed deep bites on his legs, arms, hands and torso.  Even for days after the attack you could see David’s blood all over the ground.

German Shaphard Police Dog

German Shaphard Police Dog

 

In Seconds a Police Dog Can Rip Your Skin Off

In Seconds a Police Dog Can Rip Your Skin Off

This unprovoked attack by a vicious animal must have suddenly awoken David from his drunken stupor because he began to fight for his life by trying to choke the dog before it killed him.  And that’s when the eight other “law enforcement” officers arrived to savagely kick him and beat him over the face, head, and neck with their bone crushing steel batons.

The police department identified  the seven deputies involved in David’s death as Sgt. Douglas Sword, Deputy Ryan Greer, Deputy Tanner Miller, Deputy Jeffrey Kelly, Deputy Luis Almanza, Deputy Brian Brock, and Deputy David Stephens. Two California Highway Patrol officers also responded, but haven’t been identified.  All officers are still working.

Silva’s uncle described what he saw after seeing his nephew’s body at the coroner’s office. “Bruised up face, chin, ear, busted lip, broken nose, black eye, all marks all over his face,” he explained.

It is completely absurd that these animals have not been arrested, strictly on the testimony of the many eye witnesses to this completely unprovoked execution of an intoxicated man passed out on the sidewalk.

The cover up began immediately after the crime.

At 2 a.m. deputies began knocking on witnesses’ doors, detaining them for hours and demanding they turn over the footage on their cellphones.  Is anyone really surprised that the most incriminating videos are missing from the mobile phones when they were finally returned?

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood held a triumphant press conference on May 23rd during which — contradicting the eye-witnesses — he said that only three deputies delivered blows to David Silva and none to the head or neck.

Sheriff Youngblood declared everything about Silva’s “arrest” was handled in accordance with department policy.  Coroner Youngblood declared David Silva’s death as “accidental,” with the official cause of death listed as “cardiac hypertension.”

These absurd conclusions are no more believable then those made when Jose Lucero was tortured to death.

Silva father said "As far as I am concerned Youngblood is an accomplice to murder."

Silva father said “As far as I am concerned Youngblood is an accomplice to murder.”

The day after Youngblood held that press conference, Silva’s father Sal went on Los Angeles radio to express his outrage: “Although they murdered my son, they say, well, he died of natural causes.  Really? Don’t believe your eyes, don’t believe your ears, don’t believe the witnesses, don’t believe anything, but believe what the sheriff, our good sheriff, has to say.  As far as I am concerned [the sheriff] is an accomplice to murder.”

Fortunately, in the case of David Silva there are numerous impartial and credible eye witnesses who even, without the help of their sabotaged videotaped footage, can recount in their own words what they saw and heard that night.

It’s sad that this evil lurks in the shadows of the César Chávez National Monument, and we all desecrate the memory of his life by doing nothing.

César Chávez will be honored in a week-long series of events between June 3 and June 8, 2013, in Riverside, California culminating in the unveiling of a memorial and statue in his likeness this Saturday.  It will join existing statues there of other civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi.

César E. Chávez Memorial, created by sculptor Ignacio Gomez

If his life is to stand for something, it should stand as a beacon for our country’s citizens to take action against injustice, and especially against the evil residing in Kern County , which affects everyone, not only Latinos.

To honor the memory of César Chávez you can watch this two-minute video (click on the picture below) taken in May 1972 on the 19th day his 24-day hunger strike at Santa Rita Center in Arizona.  He is joined by Coretta Scott King to link the solidarity and commitment of the civil rights movement to the cause of Latino farmworkers to organize an effort to recall then-Gov. Jack Williams and protest an Arizona law limiting the rights of farmworkers.

Cesar Chavez and Coretta Scott King

Cesar Chavez and Coretta Scott King

You see Coretta, Cesar, and other African American leaders and Latinos are joined together singing hand in hand, committed to social change through peaceful non-violence.  “Non-violence is not inaction.  It is not discussion.  It is not for the timid or weak… Non-violence is hard work.  It is the willingness to sacrifice.  It is the patience to win,” César Chávez reminds us.  You also see the movement’s slogan, “Sí, se puede” — “Yes, you can,” on the walls, the same slogan President Barack Obama adopted as the motto for his presidential campaign.

And to honor the last moments of Jose Lucero and David Silva’s valiant fight for their lives against overwhelming odds with a posthumous eulogy, I dedicate to them “If We Must Die” by Jamaican-American poet Claude McKay.   It was written about the 1919 Harlem race riots and served as a call to action to all African American men that it was time for them to stand up for their rights.

If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

This article was originally published on LatinoRebels.com.

LatinoRebels.com

Jessica Landeros and her husband, Casey, live outside Milwaukee with their two young children.   She is currently writing her memoir, UNIDENTIFIED FIGHTING OBJECT: How One Woman Changed Combat, and How Combat Changed Her

Jessica Landeros and her husband, Casey, live outside Milwaukee with their two young children. She is currently writing her memoir, UNIDENTIFIED FIGHTING OBJECT: How One Woman Changed Combat, and How Combat Changed Her

When Jessica Landeros raised her right hand and joined the Navy at age nineteen  following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she had no idea she would become a three-tour combat veteran, a wounded warrior, and a pioneer for equality. The first American woman to serve in combat during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, Landeros helped pave the way for the recent decision to officially allow women on the front lines in all wars beginning in 2016.

As part of a construction battalion tasked with building bases and other infrastructure in a military theater, five-foot-two, 100-pound Landeros was tapped for two stereotypical unfeminine jobs:  plumber and convoy machine gunner. Embedded for months at a time in places most people only read about – often as the only Western woman among hundreds of men – she witnessed countless acts of heroism and leadership. But one day during her final deployment, Landeros herself had to step up and lead in the line of fire.

Part of Landeros’ team’s job was providing nighttime security escorts for supply vehicles and personnel throughout the perilous Al Anbar Province. But one summer day in 2006, the team was assigned daytime security detail for a crew repairing a critical road damaged by bombs. Three hours into the mission, a loud explosion and a plume of black smoke erupted less than twenty- five meters from Landeros’ vehicle, where she was manning her turret gun.

“I jerked my head around in time to see a Hum-V tire reach its apex at fifteen feet skyward,” she recalls. “Then I saw bodies writhing in the sand like fish out of water; two teammates had been hit.  One of them was pulling a knee to his chin; the other was flailing as though his whole body was suffering at once.  Even today I can’t drown out their screams.  I felt my chest tighten as I flashed back to an earlier deployment when one of my teammates, my friend, lost his life to a mortar round.  But I quickly snapped back to reality and forced myself to look away from my fallen colleagues and remember my mission: provide security for the road workers and now for the wounded and the medics who were moving them to safety.  I grabbed my radio and shouted to the gunners to keep their sector of fire.”

Having successfully conducted her life “Mission First” during her previous two combat tours, Landeros understood the weight of her demeanor at this critical moment. She had recently transferred to this battalion of 625 personnel – none of whom had experience in the region.  As potshots from AK-47s came in from the field, Landeros suddenly realized that the guys inside her truck had not moved since the commotion started.  She looked down to find three frozen, wide-eyed men just beginning to thaw. She knew they needed to be engaged to stay safe and sane.

Landeros shook one by the shoulder and asked him to man the gun. He nodded resolutely and moved into position. Then she suggested that the second teammate help move equipment from the downed truck to their vehicle for safekeeping. He took off eagerly.  She turned to the third.

“Ryan, were the guys still moving when they were hauled off?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

“Yeah.”

“That’s good,” Landeros replied. “A moving person is a living person. They’ll be okay. Hurry, make room for their equipment.”

It didn’t take long for the men to complete Landeros’ petty assignments, and she soon noticed that the distractions were quickly wearing off; they were slipping into the dangerous territory of their own dark thoughts. She knew from experience that it was too soon for them to let their emotions take hold. If they were going to fulfill their mission, she needed them to stay in the moment and not become numbed by grief or fear.

“So I did what any smart woman would do:  I appealed to their machismo,” Landeros said.  “I reminded them how scared the poor road workers were, and how we were able to handle it because we were used to this stuff.  I convinced them it was our responsibility to remain calm and in control, because the workers were terrified.  And it worked.  You could literally see their chests swell and their focus return. That was all it took to occupy them until we made it safely back to Camp Fallujah a few hours later.”

Anyone who has been in the military will tell you that one of the first things you learn in boot camp is that the mission is everything.  Without it, people are left to flounder – and ultimately to fail.  However, as Landeros’ experience demonstrates, missions are more than just a set of objectives.  A mission cannot be accomplished without people, and people cannot work to full capacity if they are not tasked in a way that challenges them and channels their strengths.

As a woman on the front line, Jessica is the embodiment of an extraordinarily powerful leadership trait:  the ability, despite societal and historical barriers, to articulate the mission and instill in others the passion to get the job done. It is that ability to issue the challenge and set the stage for its successful completion that is the mark of a true leader – a leader like Jessica Landeros.

Nelson Mandela: Leading with Dignity

Last week’s footage of a dazed and frail-looking 94-year-old Nelson Mandela surrounded by laughing politicians in his living room was condemned on social media as an undignified public relations stunt.

South African President Jacob Zuma and his cronies were criticized for exploiting the Mandela brand as they gear up for the upcoming election.  “Mandela survived 27 years in prison only to become a prisoner of the ANC marketing machine,” said one South African on Twitter.

President Zuma insists this was a sincere effort to show the world that the ailing leader is still alive.

Clearly, Mandela’s health is deteriorating.  He’s been hospitalized three times in the past four months for a recurring lung infection.  Each time, we hold our collective breath as we continue to reflect on his life story.

It was 1964 when Mandela disembarked on infamous Robben Island where he would spend 18 of his 27 years behind bars.  Perhaps as a warning to all those that now seek to exploit his name, Mandala wrote in his autobiography that “Prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity.  In and of itself, that assured that I would survive, for any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose because I will not part with it at any price or under any pressure.”

When Mandela got off the boat, he refused to jog to the prison gate as was expected.  A prison guard warned him that unless he obeyed immediately, he would be killed and his family would never know about it.  He continued to walk.

Minutes later, Mandela courageously stood his ground when a prison officer he’d dared to question moved to hit him. “If you so much as lay a hand on me, I will take you to the highest court in the land, and when I finish with you, you will be as poor as a church mouse,” Mandela warned.  The officer stared in astonishment and backed off.

It was while behind bars that Mandela learned his most valuable lessons in leadership.  As he himself has acknowledged, prison was the crucible that shaped his character.  He went in an angry, immature man convinced that the only way to free his people was through guerrilla warfare.  Yet he learned that revenge through violence brought only fleeting satisfaction.  By studying his jailers, Mandela discovered he had far more in common with his white countrymen then he thought.   In 1990, he came out of prison with the wisdom that forgiveness, compassion, and respect were the most powerful weapons in his arsenal.

The amazing thing is, Mandela didn’t just profess these lofty ideals – he embodied them, leading by quiet example even in the most commonplace of circumstances.  Rutgers Professor Ron Quincy witnessed Mandela’s leadership skills in action while spending time at Mandela’s side as the executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

In 1993, the King Center undertook a project working with a group of American students and their South African counterparts to help train 50,000 South Africans in the upcoming election process.

“We hosted Nelson Mandela at the King Center in Atlanta as part of this effort and then I had the privilege of flying back with him to Johannesburg,” recalled Quincy.

At one point during the 18-hour South African Airways flight, Mandela and Quincy were conversing in the aisle when a male flight attendant demanded that Mandela sit down so dinner could be served.

“I was shocked.  The white male attendant shouted at Mandela in a loud, rude, and disrespectful manner.  I was hardly able to restrain my own anger because I’m a part of this humiliation,” recalled Quincy, who decided to hold his tongue, opening the door for a powerful lesson in leadership.

“Mandela then turns and points to me and says, ‘Actually sir, I’m with him,’ shifting the blame to me as if I was the culprit, the important American.  He said it jokingly in a mischievous way, grinning with a wink of the eye, completely disarming the situation and returning to his seat.”

Quincy watched as this man of enormous international stature chose to sit down quietly.

Mandela later told Quincy that when he was active in the African National Congress as a young man, “I learned that the leaders who last are those who understand that every battle is not the end of the war.  That little incident was not the war.  It was not even important, absolutely of no consequence.”

Mandela cautioned Quincy to “never take your condition so seriously that it impedes you from accomplishing your personal mission, which, in my case, is a free democratic election in South Africa.”

Less than a year later, Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected black president, his landslide victory a glowing testament to his courage and perseverance.

Effective leaders display the same brand of confident humility, dignity and courage under pressure that Mandela exemplifies.  They demonstrate a relentless focus on executing their mission, refusing to be distracted by the petty jealousies, insecurities, and prejudices of those around them.

What last week’s public relations stunt demonstrated is that despite his obvious fragility and old age, politicians still want to bask in the radiant glow of Nelson Mandela’s character.  If only his powerful dignity could seep into their souls.

 

Believe In Yourself and Stand By Your Convictions

To believe in yourself you have to develop your own convictions and stand firmly by them. Though it may sometimes be very difficult and painful, you must find your own path and follow it.

One of the reasons I went to the U.S. Air Force Academy was because I wanted to be independent of my father.  By getting into the Air Force Academy, which I was able to do through a full academic scholarship, I didn’t have to rely on my father to help pay my tuition.

If my father paid my tuition, I would have had to answer to my dad, “El Tigre,” about my grades, and everything else and I did not want that.  My desire to attend the Air Force Academy was also fueled by the challenge of succeeding at a school that is one of the toughest in the United States.

Obtaining recommendations for my application to the Air Force Academy was an important part of the process.  I asked my high school principal for one, and he told me that he couldn’t recommend me because I wasn’t involved in my high school’s Junior ROTC program; I’d be taking away a spot at a service academy from someone who was more deserving.

To get that recommendation, I went from shooting spitballs at the Junior ROTC cadets to being one of those guys parading around in boots and uniform, having spitballs shot at me, and being mocked by my own friends.  Much to my surprise however, not only did I like Junior ROTC, but I also discovered that I was good at it.

I ended up joining the elite Rangers program.  The challenge of doing well in that program excited me and pushed me forward. After two years of Junior ROTC, I achieved the highest rank possible. I finally earned the recommendation that I had originally sought from my principal.

Although my father wasn’t happy with me being in the military, he put a lot of weight and credence in the character traits such as discipline, honor and integrity.  There was no better place than the Air Force Academy to build those traits.

Years later, my father came to respect my decision to join the military.  Family members were invited to a ceremony at the White House for White House Fellows and got to meet President Reagan.  Because of my father’s keen interest in American government and history, he was as excited as I was to be there.  My father knew I would never have been a White House Fellow if I hadn’t gone to the Air Force Academy and joined the military.

Through all of my successes and setbacks, I believed in myself.  Could I have taken an easier path?  Yes.

Did I have to fight my father and work incredibly hard to gain admission to the U.S. Air Force Academy?  Yes.

Did I have total faith in my ability to achieve this goal? Absolutely.

Would I have gone as far without believing in myself and without a burning desire to succeed?  Absolutely not.

STANDING BY YOUR CONVICTIONS PAYS OFF

Actress and screenwriter Nia Vardalos isn’t the prettiest woman in Hollywood, but certainly is someone who believes in herself.  She wrote the screenplay for the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  She also stars in the movie, but that wasn’t necessarily going to be the case if Vardalos had left her fate in others hands. Vardalos refused to sell her screenplay to those interested in making it unless she was allowed to star in it.  She believed in herself as an actress and was willing to risk losing a short-term windfall so she could achieve her long-term goal.

Success is about pursuing your passions, not someone else’s dreams. Although your parents may want you to pursue a safe and traditional path to their version of success, it may not be the one that’s right for you.

And if you’re a parent, remember that if you have done your job well, the best you can hope for is that your children are happy with whatever it is they do in life, regardless of their job or who they marry.

Success is not necessarily measured by someone’s bank account, but by the depth of their soul and the contribution they make to others.

Believe in yourself and stand by your convictions!