About the Author


About me

About the Author

The No-Øs of Leadership Preface by Mike Easley

I invite you to read through my Leadership Point of View - stories, values, and aspirations which have been key in creating a cohesive approach to integrating work and the personal self. With the ultimate outcome being an integrated person in all aspects of life.

May you be inspired to ponder your Mentors, Purpose, Values, Leadership Vision, Promise, Expectations, and Example and begin to create your own Leadership Point of View.


I have been blessed with many mentors in my life; each of them appearing at the right time and place.

When I think about the most influential people in my life, the first person that comes to mind is my maternal grandfather. My Grandpa’s greatest gift to me was teaching me about work ethic. To my Grandpa, the measure of a man was how hard he worked. In my Grandpa’s opinion, it did not matter if you wore gloves to work or wore a tie. What mattered was that you gave it your all, for as long as it took to get the job done.

He encouraged me to go to college by telling me that he never had the opportunity to receive past an 8th grade education. At the same, time he would tell me that 50 cents and my college diploma would get me a cup of coffee. My most memorable experience of my Grandpa’s leadership style happened on my 13th birthday. My Grandpa came in my room at 7 a.m., woke me up and quickly put me to work in the yard filling in ditches. I was crushed that I had to work on my birthday. My grandpa told me that I was a man now and would be working on my birthday for the rest of my life. Finally, when the day was done at about 4 p.m., my Grandpa gave me 10 dollars. I was totally shocked since my wage working with him during the summer was $1 per day. He must have seen the look on my face because he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Work like a man, get paid like a man.” My Grandpa was never one for many words.

Jack Hwang is the Grand Master of a Tae Kwon Do school. Mr. Hwang is a very humble and quiet man. I learned the Tae Kwon Do “Aims to Achieve” during the years I was an active student, and internalized them during the years that I taught Tae Kwon Do. Integrity, Perseverance, Indomitable Spirit, Courtesy, and Self-Control are the “Aims to Achieve” or Tenets of Tae Kwon Do. It wasn’t until I tested for my 4th degree black belt that I finally understood Mr. Hwang’s style of leadership—in order to achieve mastery, you must humble yourself and serve your students. The literal translation for Tae Kwon Do is “Hand and Foot Way”, but the true meaning of “Way” is the true pearl of wisdom that was passed to me by Mr. Hwang. Most people would assume the meaning of “Way” was direction, manner or method. While this is partially correct, the true meaning of “Way” is what happens when a doctor helps a patient, a teacher teaches a student, or a parent helps a child with a bruised knee. “Way” is about the basic “helping and healing” of people. In that context, Tae Kwon Do is not about learning how to use your hands and feet in self-defense, but it is about using your hands and feet in helping, healing, and teaching.

In my professional experience, I have been blessed with wonderful mentors, and many of them actually knew that they were mentors to me. Clearly the most influential person in this area was Doug Bursey. Doug is a huge man—both in stature and presence. Most people I knew absolutely hated working for Doug. Doug had a very odd and unnerving way of staring at a person. His gaze would penetrate your soul and any uncertainty you had would reverberate with fear under his scrutiny. Doug had a way of asking more of you than you thought you were capable of doing. He would throw you in the deep end and not come in after you until he sensed you were going down for the third time. When I worked for Doug, I did the impossible and I stretched beyond anything I thought I could do. I was one of the few privileged people that Doug let see past his crusty, rugged exterior. I saw this side of Doug one evening when we met the bereaved wife of a lineman who had just been fatally burned in an electrical contact accident on the job. From Doug, I learned that you could be tough on the outside and tender on the inside.

The strongest mentor in my life has been my maternal grandmother—or Grandma. She is a powerful prayer warrior and has held me accountable to myself and to God. She told me on her 80th birthday that she is finally beginning to see things as they are and that she was so foolish in her 60s.

At the core of my being is the need to fix things.

The bigger the mess the more I like it! I also like to solve problems by simply looking at them from a different perspective. Oftentimes, if you are able to convey this perspective to others, you experience that “Aha moment”. This has occurred numerous times in my business career where I challenged the assumed constraints, and did things that could not be done according to conventional wisdom. The saying “you should call an expert if you want to find out how not to do something” rings true with me. I want to quietly go about making things better. I am inspired to make the positive difference and to leave things better than when I found them.

Integrity, Perseverance, Courtesy, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit are my core values.

I know I am living these values when I look at myself in the mirror and feel no twinge of regret or wave of remorse in what I have said, done or thought.

My Father’s greatest gift to me was his living example of “taking personal responsibility”. My father had struggled since his return from Vietnam, and did not find himself until he graduated from college when I was in the 9th grade. Through all the moves—from one job to another—while I was growing up, my dad never let his family know of his inner demons. Personal responsibility lies at the foundation of my core values, for without this foundation there would be no driving force to maintain these values.

I am firmly convinced that there are three No-Os of leadership that create fatal flaws in leadership. These are Ego, Libido, and Dinero. The carnage of leadership failures involving the No-Øs is everywhere.

I truly want to be a leader worth following.

I have sought leadership positions since I was very young. At first I liked leadership because of the freedom and sense of being in charge that came with it. Through my young adulthood, I felt as though I deserved to be the leader since I felt competency and commitment to the task at-hand were the prerequisites for leadership.

Now in midlife, and definitely past “mid-career”, I see leadership as a heavy load that, under the right conditions, can be easily borne and under the wrong circumstances is a crushing burden. I have seen the impact of my decisions played out in the reality of people’s lives and, because of that, I am increasingly motivated and inspired to be the best leader I can be. Not so much for me, but for the people whose lives I impact as I lead.

If people will let me lead them, they can expect that I will give 110% and I will not quit on them.

I will hold true to my core values and my faith in both my professional and personal life. I will try to learn something new every day. I will not ask them to do anything that I would not be willing to do myself. I will open myself to their feedback and be willing to hear all things. I will not take their harsh criticism personally; however, I will not be immune to the pain of hurt feelings. I will be compassionate as I point out areas for improvement in others and be grateful for having things pointed out to me that I could improve. I will do my best to help them meet challenges.

I expect my people to be hard-working, honest, value-centered, and to avoid the No-Øs of Leadership.

I realize that some people can work “harder” than others, and on any given day one’s ability to work hard varies. My expectations for them are to be honest, value-centered and to avoid the No-Øs of Leadership, which do not vary from person to person or from situation to situation. I expect people to be honest with themselves as well as with the people around them. I expect people to have compassion for each other. And while it’s not so much an expectation, I would very much appreciate them having compassion for me.

Next to me giving my word, giving my example is the most powerful way I can show my commitment to be a leader worth following.

I demonstrate my desire to learn and to grow by looking for ways to learn new things and to revitalize things that I might have overlooked or under used. I keep myself mentally sharp and physically strong by taking care of myself and making positive choices in what I do to my body. I learn from my mistakes by admitting them and making a sincere effort to do better next time. I strive to demonstrate integrity in my relationships, my actions, and my decisions.

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