‘Charisma permits the believer to put his or her reason on the shelf and follow the leader.’

September 25, 2021 at 2:51 pm (Book review, books, Family)

The statement above is immediately followed by this one:

It is inspiring, seductive, and dangerous.

In his new book The Emergence of Charismatic Business Leadership, Richard S. Tedlow, author of Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American, enlarges on these aspects of charisma by examining how it functions – or functioned – in various titans of the business world.

Divided into three parts, the book opens with a description of the unprecedented outpouring of grief attendant upon the death of Steve Jobs. Jobs is, almost inevitably, a central figure in this narrative. The book begins with a chapter on Jobs’s own beginnings; Part One then goes on to make some general observations about charisma, focusing on business leaders in the post-World-War-Two era. This time period, Richard asserts, tended to produce business leaders notably lacking in this elusive yet magnetic quality. He offers as an example Harlow H. Curtice of General Motors. (Who? Well, that would be the point.)

Part Two offers profiles of other charismatic business people such as Lee Iacocca, Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Cosmetics) and Sam Walton. I particularly appreciated Richard’s explanation of the source of Walton’s appeal. It’s not what you’d expect, but powerful nonetheless.

Part Three begins with the story of Steve Jobs’s years in the wilderness, as it were, following his (forced) resignation from Apple in 1985. Profiles of Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey follow. Then, the inevitable “Steve Jobs: Triumph at Apple.”

I’m a great advocate of tight structure in both fiction and nonfiction, and I especially appreciate the way Richard structures his book. The life journey of Steve Jobs separates neatly into three parts; those parts can be likened to a tripod which elegantly supports the entire content of the narrative. The moment of Jobs’s passing is almost like a scripted climax: having attained the pinnacle of success, he left us.

I read, a while back, in an article about Edward Abbey, that since his premature demise, he is nicely morphing into a legend of the environmental movement. The same, with regard to the business world, can be said of Steve Jobs.

I want to mention briefly a point Richard makes about Oprah Winfrey; namely, that her success is in part due to the things she did not do:

She did not take her company public. She did not create her own book imprint. She did not license her name to any merchandise. She did not act in a public way that might call her authenticity into question. She did not fall prey to big deals promising the often-spoken-of but rarely found “synergy.”

I’d like to add to that list that she did not marry and/or have children. One thinks, perhaps a bit grandiosely, of Queen Elizabeth the First. The reasoning may  have been the same for both women. (To my knowledge, Oprah Winfrey does have what Wikipedia describes as “a long-term partner.”)

One of the many pleasures of this book is learning retailing lingo like “door buster.” This term describes the huge, immediate hit made by the Ford Mustang upon its introduction to the driving public in 1964. Also Richard’s witty formulations appear from time to time. For example, instruction manuals can mainly be described as “facedown-in-the-soup boring.” From first to last, The Emergence of Charismatic Business Leadership is a wonderful read – informative, surprising, engaging, absorbing,

You might be wondering at my effrontery in calling this author  by his first name. You must forgive me – I’ve been doing it my whole life!

He’s my brother.

 

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Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me…

May 14, 2021 at 6:23 pm (Art, Family)

 

 

Art books, a cookbook, and a mystery, all wonderful, all courtesy of this terrific guy:

Oh,and if you look closely, at the table, you will note the presence of an Amazon Gift Card.

Such bounty, such generosity! Such love.

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Happy Mothers Day

May 9, 2021 at 7:24 pm (Family)

Mother and Child, by Mary Cassatt, 1890

I wish  a very Happy Mothers Day to all mothers, and to all women who have given care, tenderness, and love to the children in their lives.

Lillian Helen Gusman Tedlow, my mother, in a graduation photo from the late 1930s. She attended the New Jersey College for Women, as it was then known.. Founded in 1918 as part of Rutgers University, it was renamed Douglass College in 1955. Daughter of immigrants, she was the first woman in her family to attend college.

My grandmother, my mother, and me, mid 1950s

My daughter-in-law Erica and granddaughter Etta

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A Weekend Worth Waiting For

May 6, 2021 at 7:30 pm (Family)

Ron dropped me off at the airport this past Friday. We wanted to kiss each other farewell, but of course the extremely infuriating masks made the maneuver quite tricky. I immediately thought of a painting by Magritte:

Finally – Finally! – I made it to Chicago.

Bedraggled from travel, I rang the bell. At first, nothing. Then the door flew open. “Hey there!” exclaimed my son Ben.

We hadn’t seen each other in eighteen months. I tumbled inside; we struggle with my baggage. I dropped everything and turned to him, we hugged, and I said:

“Wow! I haven’t felt a surge of pure joy like that in such a long time!” It was true. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how dull and flattened out my emotional life had been since the pandemic took hold.

Ben and Welles

Soon, Mom Erica (and a truly terrific Mom she is!) and I went to pick up the children from school. Etta is ten, Welles is seven. As they piled into the car, Etta greeted me cheerfully – “Hi, Grandma Berta.” As if she’d seen me only yesterday. When we got back to the house, hugs were freely distributed. (All four adults thoroughly vaccinated.)

Saturday and Sunday were  given over to baseball, softball, and soccer, with some screen time in between.

 

Welles is an aspiring pitcher. We feel that he’s got a pretty good arm, already.

Two dinners out, two in. Etta, as always, spent some time making art. She gave one of her creations to me:

I left on Tuesday, hating to say goodbye. I hope to return in just a few months. A year and a half long separation was way too much, but thankfully, it is over.

 

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‘…one of California’s wildest places–mountain lions, bighorn sheep, abundant reptiles, birds, eye-popping wildflowers, and desert-dwelling arachnids, including scorpions.’ – Then She Vanished by T. Jefferson Parker

September 5, 2020 at 9:11 pm (Book review, books, California, Family, Mystery fiction)

This is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest state park and one of the most beautiful, otherworldly places I have ever seen.

I was there many years ago, with my sister-in-law Joan. We drove there from Solana Beach, just north of San Diego. I recall the drive in the mountains as being breathtaking, even harrowing. Joan was doing most of the driving. At one point, she asked if I’d like to take over for a little while. Timid soul that I am, I assented, with much trepidation. But as soon as we go going again, I was loving it – it felt like flight! The huge blue sky of southern California lay open before us. A small pink cloud the shape of a sombrero hovered at the horizon. Oh, I can never forget this.

Upon arriving, we checked in at La Casa del Zorro, a lovely spa resort nestled serenely in the desert landscape. We shared a room; it looked much like this one:

I remember Joan asking to borrow my mousse (both of us having super curly  hair). We hiked a gentle uphill grade. We went to the Visitors’ Center, which delighted me with its large selection of books.

We stayed for two nights at ‘The House of the Fox.’

So why am I thinking about this excursion right now? I just finished a mystery/thriller by T. Jefferson Parker called Then She Vanished. Parker is a veteran writer in the field; I’ve read and enjoyed several of his older titles. This one is part of new series featuring a private investigator named Roland Ford. These novels are set in northern San Diego County, where pretty much all of the action of this particular novel takes place. A very crucial part of the story is set in the desert town of Borrego Springs, home to Anza_Borrego Desert State Park. The description in the title of this post is a quote from the novel,  courtesy of Roland Ford.

Then She Vanished is, unsurprisingly, about a woman who goes missing, but it’s about more than that. There’s a terrorist group on the loose, called the Chaos Committee. Some of their pronouncements sound eerily like what we’re currently hearing from extremist groups. Their actions are horrific. So this is the backdrop for the search for one Natalie Strait. Her husband Dalton does not have faith in the efforts of the police, so he has hired Roland Ford to help in locating Natalie.

Parker is a wonderful writer who has lived in Southern California his whole life. So he’s ideally positioned to render this setting vividly. As a person who has spent time there and who loves the place – especially the desert, I’m grateful to him.

Joan has been gone for a little over three years now, and I miss her very much. A kinder, more  genuinely goodhearted person would be hard to find.

 

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Stop the presses! It’s the return of Susan B. Anthony

January 18, 2020 at 9:38 pm (Family, History)

Now in third grade, Etta was assigned  a biography project. Her subject was Susan B. Anthony.

According to her Mom, she really got into it. So much so that she seems to have channeled her subject. This was the result:

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An excellent time was had by all!

December 2, 2019 at 3:14 pm (Art, Family)

A photo essay in celebration of family.

Day One: On Opening Day!!

 

I went (with Etta, Welles, and their Mom and Dad and  some friends and their children). I watched (among numerous other shrieking and burbling youngsters). And I enjoyed it!!

Day Two:

Mighty Wellesy at the bat!

Day Three: Return to the Art Institute!

First: the Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights. After a lifetime of collecting, Mr. Rubloff ultimately ended up donating some twelve hundred of these to the museum:

Truman Capote called these precious objects “Some fragments of a dream.”

Etta and Welles love them, and so do I.

And now, on to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, some of which have been decorated  for the holidays (but not the ones I photographed, alas):

The special exhibit featured the works of Andy Warhol:

Ah yes – the sainted Brillo boxes!

I feel as though I’ve seen these images time and time again, so for me there were no surprises in this part of the exhibit. One thing I did learn was that Andy Warhol had considerable draftsman skills. He even illustrated some children’s books. This was early in his career.

Yes, different media were represented.

I thought Etta and Welles would get a kick out of these sixties artifacts, but instead they seemed bemused and genuinely puzzled by what they were seeing.

When we go to the Art Institute, we make it a policy to check in with our favorites:

Etta and Degas’s Little Dancer. She’s been photographed several times now with this sculpture, always making sure that her feel are correctly positioned.

Un dimanche apres-midi a L’isle de la Grande Jatte,  by Georges Seurat, called ‘the Dot Painting’ by Etta

Every time I go to the Art Institute, something new enchants me. This time it was Portico with a Lantern by a follower of Canaletto, 1741-1745

We had lunch at the excellent Terzo Piano Restaurant in the Museum’s Modern Wing. Ron and Ben joined us.

Erica, Welles, Etta, and Ben. Kids hard at work on their art. Menus Warhol themed

A trip to  the Museum Shop is always a highlight of these visits. One of the items on sale was a blue plush cat based on a Warhol drawing. You can just barely get a glimpse of it peaking out of the top of Welles’s shopping bag.

Once in the store, he’d fallen instantly in love with this fluffy feline! It is now safely ensconced in his bedroom and named Cutie Pie.

That afternoon, Etta and Welles attended a Gingerbread House workshop and returned home triumphantly carrying these:

 

 

 

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September and October: Filled with important dates for our family!

October 8, 2019 at 4:34 pm (Family)

September 16: Welles Samuel turned six!

October 7: Etta Lin turned nine!

First day of school, Fall of 2019

 

Ron’s birthday tomorrow. Here he is: the luckiest, most blessed thing that ever came into my life:

Oh, and while we’re on the subject: We celebrated our Thirtieth wedding anniversary on September First. This was the also the date of my parents’ anniversary, and so serves as a loving reminder of  them:

Here are Lillian and Samuel ‘Ted’ Tedlow, in Bayreuth, Germany, for the Wagner operas

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Cheering on the Cubs!!

When we arrived in Chicago last month to visit Etta, Welles, and my son Ben and daughter-in-law Erica, Etta ran into the house and threw her arms around my waist and didn’t move for the longest time.

I’m not sure what I did to deserve such blessings, but I am deeply thankful for them.

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Etta Lin’s sartorial sense

July 4, 2019 at 2:47 pm (Family)

Some years ago, as a preschooler, Etta wore this fetching outfit while vacationing with her parents. Since that time, we have become aware that she has an exceptional fashion sense:

Recently, we had the pleasure of watching Etta model yet another lovely ensemble. This one was really special: a top and skirt that she sewed herself, at Sewing Camp! (She also made the bag, which she tosses exuberantly into the air.)

 

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“How do you like to go up in a swing, / Up in the air so blue?”

July 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm (Family, Poetry)

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

“The Swing,” poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Robert Louis ‘Stevenson 1850-1894

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Swinging by Welles, age 5!!!

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