Keelan: A little book with a big message

By Don Keelan

When you read the recent news articles about employee/employe corporate dishonesty, disloyalty and lack of commitment, you can only wonder if we have lost our moral compass. Corporate and non-corporate organizational culture and behavior have gone astray when you read that national and international banks with long operating tenures have capitulated to pay billions in fines for violating currency laws. Banks are not alone; one can also include pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors.

And for sure, the business community does not have a monopoly on failing to follow their moral compass. The same can be assigned to such long-standing organizations as the Boy Scouts, religious organizations, universities, hospital networks, etc. The news frequently reports sexual assaults, price-fixing, favoritism and misrepresentation.

For all of the above and more, “The Ten Rules for Business Success,” a recently published book by retired Dorset, Vermont, attorney David Meiselman, Esq., is a timely and much-needed read.

Brooklyn, New York has exported other interesting and talented folks in addition to Vermont’s U.S. Senator — in this case, David Meiselman. However, David took the long way to settle in Vermont. He started with a tour in the U.S. Marine Corps with much of his time spent in Vietnam, then law school, and finally, over four decades of practicing his law skills (along with his law partner and wife, Myra) in White Plains, New York.

David’s commitment to service continued upon his Vermont arrival over a decade ago. He served for eight years as a trustee at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, including three years as the Board’s Chair. Along with his colleagues, he played an enormous role in the organization’s affiliation with Dartmouth Medical Center.

David’s book is a must read for the younger generation entering the workforce, college, or graduate school. As the author points out, the book is not meant to be an academic tomb; instead, more of a guide, a compass if you will.

Divided into ten short sections, the book deals with the expectations of a “Great Employee” and how to be a “Great Employer.” Of the latter, Meiselman quotes business guru Ken Blanchard: “In the past, a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be a partner with their people. They can no longer lead based solely on positional power.” An important statement that more leaders should embrace.

Notwithstanding, the chapters on Leadership, Communicating, Honesty, and Loyalty were the most purposeful and powerful. For example (space does not permit to cover them all), on leadership, David notes the following: “Leaders do not abuse their power, and are never mean or out of control.” He goes on to say, “The courtesy of a leader can be contagious and by setting a proper example, improve the morale and mindset of everyone on the team.” How sorely needed
this ideal is today.

The book is sprinkled with quotes from historical figures such as John Quincy Adams, Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Peter Drucker, and T. Boone Pickens. How appropriate it is for a book on leadership to quote Aristotle: “If you want to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.” You have to wonder if organizations that have paid billions in fines could have avoided such had someone in leadership spoken up? The same silence can be ascribed to the Boy
Scouts and the Church. Where were their leaders’ voices?

I would be remiss if I failed to mention one other timely quote that David included. It is from Dean Koontz: “Never waste energy beating yourself up. Other people are standing in line to do it for you.” And for those who serve in local and state elected positions, the quote is so worthwhile.

You can obtain David’s 80-page book at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont or online. David has arranged for the book’s sale proceeds to be donated to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

2 thoughts on “Keelan: A little book with a big message

  1. Thanks Mr. Keelan for the recommendation. Will add to my winter reading list.
    A book that fleshes out similar themes is “Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing” by Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe. The book is about applying some of the lessons of Aristotle to today. Professor Schwartz’s TED talk about the book is one of the more popular of these talks. Worth checking taking a look or checking out reviews of the book if you happen to be interested.

  2. “They can no longer lead based solely on positional power.“ I completely agree with this statement, however it is not new. Or at least it shouldn’t be. 27 years as a military officer and every good leader I have known never used their positional power. They didn’t have to. The bad leaders I have known had to use their positional power. It was the only thing they had.

Comments are closed.