Individual and collective commitment to excellence matters most.

I must admit that I had to be dragged kicking & screaming by Laurie Pehar Borsh (a truly top tier professional in her field, you can learn more about her business by visiting or to actually write this blog. Since its inception, I’ve often wondered whether or not anyone was actually reading it. Well, I’ve erased all these doubts thanks to the avalanche of feedback I’ve gotten over Saturday’s “Ted” entry. Maybe it’s the only interesting thing I’ve ever written, but as a result of the reaction I’ve gotten to “Ted” I will use today’s space to set several records straight.

First and foremost I will not allow this blog space (or anything associated with it) to be utilized by people who are trying to settle their own scores. Some people have attempted to post comments alleging someone they know is “Ted”…those will not be permitted here. I write about the situations I encounter because I swim in the deep end of the pool; not many are overly experienced in the deep end nor are they particularly comfortable there. If I can help others navigate their way through these treacherous waters it’s my privilege. In today’s volatile economy we are all better if we can learn from one another, share our useful experiences, and dig out (without the need for government intervention).

I’m amazed at how many people have contacted me to guess who “Ted” is.

I’ve heard from people I don’t know submitting names I’ve never heard of (thank you for reading this blog, by the way—I hope you find it interesting and helpful).

I’ve heard from former and current colleagues with their wild guesses.

Heck, I’ve even heard from at least one guy who insists HE IS “Ted” even though Saturday’s post doesn’t even closely resemble my involvement in his affairs (in this instance, I don’t recall the last time we had lunch or the last time we spoke for 2 consecutive hours…just for openers).

I am as shocked as I likely find it telling that everyone seems to know a “Ted,” and some might even see themselves in “Ted.” The point of this piece was not to publicly pick on an individual who temporarily re-entered my life after a long absence nor is it intended to provide rumor mill material for amateur Tom Ruskins of the world (another plug: Tom Ruskin is Founder/CEO of CMP Group,, a top-notch investigative and protection agency).

So why are so many people fixated on “Ted” and how do they seem to know far more of them than I ever conceived? I don’t know every motivation or detail, but I’m going to take a stab at it nonetheless.

It starts with one of my core business premises: FUNDAMENTALS RULE. There have been and there remain way too many businesses across too many sectors that are so lacking in fundamentals, in their desperation to get out of urgent trouble they make matters worse. “Ted” apparently hit a universal nerve because a not insignificant number of readers are either working with or for companies that are caught in the vicious cycle of fundamental-less businesses.

Keep in mind that “Ted” was written as part of my Blog Trilogy with August 6th’s “Cultivating Major League Talent” as the opening act. Much of the thinking here has been inspired by one of the most insightful and brilliant people I know, Rich Thau Founder/CEO Presentation Testing ( Rich and his company do phenomenal work. You may have read about one of his most topical projects in the current Business Week edition. If not, here’s a link: During a recent discussion with Rich he mentioned that an area he’s personally very interested in is education because it is the foundation for building and maintaining the nation’s competitive edge. EXACTLY!

An abandonment of fundamentals layered over a poorly educated workforce—at all levels—is the recipe for disaster that, I believe, conspires to create business conditions too many of you relate to.

An education is certainly what we get from attending school, but I find continuing and practical application of the many lessons we learn (best evidenced by serious ongoing personal/professional improvement) is most meaningful. The point is we can’t cultivate major league talent if organizations do not instill learning and doing cultures.

Companies can’t expect to post solid results if employees are ill-equipped to contribute, especially in the more competitive global economy. Economies will suffer if bankers stray from sound underwriting principles where the after-effects, among others, are lack of capital, available credit, and unacceptable rates of unemployment.

Undoubtedly stemming from Apollo 11’s 40th year anniversary last month I’ve heard the phrase“If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we….{fill in the blank with your favorite subject}?” more than I’ve heard it in quite some time. Perhaps an oversimplification, but the catalyst for putting a man on the moon was President Kennedy’s memorable phrase from his September 12, 1962 speech at Rice University: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” In other words, it takes a focused, educated, tempered-in-fundamentals effort to come close to achieving any goal.

My Blog Trilogy was intended to echo JFK’s words and apply them to business, at least among those who honor me by even occasionally reading my posts. As evidenced by the response I got to “Ted,” there are too many among us, in responsible positions or otherwise, who have unfortunately chosen the opposite path by doing what’s easy and looking for short-cuts.

Building and sustaining achievement is hard, but by following the right formula it’s as achievable as it is rewarding. Trying to figure out who “Ted” is, in my opinion, becomes yet another example of obsessing on the easy and unimportant; what matters is our individual and collective commitment to excellence.

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