Bob’s Top Movie Picks About Business: Pt. 2 — Master and Commander: Compassion, Intelligence, and Emotion

The movie Master and Commander (2003) tells the story of Captain Jack Aubrey and his crew on their British man-of-war in pursuit of a French man-of-war during the Napoleonic wars. The entire movie is a fascinating study of character, conduct in difficult situations, and principles of leadership.


One subplot follows a young midshipman, Mr. Hollom, who lacks self-confidence and the ability to lead firmly and consistently. The crew does not respect him, and bullies him without secrecy. When Captain Aubrey notices one of the carpenters deliberately run into Hollom in passing without apologizing and saluting, Aubrey has the carpenter whipped and brings Hollom into his quarters to speak with him. The dialogue is as follows*:

Jack: A man pushed past you, without making his obedience, and yet you said nothing. Why?

Hollom: I intended to, sir, but the right words didn’t…

Jack: The right words? He was deliberately insubordinate.

Hollom: I’ve tried to get to know the men, sir, and be friendly, but they’ve taken a set against me. Always whispering when I go past and giving me looks. I’ll set that to rights. I’ll be much tougher on them.

Jack: You don’t make friends with the foremastjacks, lad. They’ll despise you in the end, think you weak. Nor do you need to be a tyrant.

Hollom: No, sir. I’m very sorry, sir.

Jack: You’re, what? 26? 27?

Hollom: I’m 30 next Friday, sir.

Jack: Thirty? You’ve failed to pass for lieutenant twice. I know you have, but you’re not a bad sailor. But you can’t spend your life a midshipman.

Hollom: No, sir. I will try much harder, sir.

Jack: Look, Hollom, it’s leadership they want. Strength. Now, you find that within yourself, and you will earn their respect. Without respect, true discipline goes by the board.

Hollom: Yes, sir. Um… Strength, respect… and discipline, sir.

Jack: Well… it’s an unfortunate business, Hollom. Damned unfortunate.That will be all.

Three Elements to Leading With Compassion

Leading with Compassion Itself

Though he begins authoritatively and almost harshly, Aubrey knew how to approach the situation once he got into the conversation. He was able to gauge from Hollom’s reaction that Hollom needed some guiding principles and he needed to be taught out of compassion, but also needed to be aware that he could do better. Aubrey says, in so many words, that Hollom can either rise to his potential, or find a new vocation, one that would suit him better. By letting Hollom know that he is aware of his situation and capabilities, Aubrey intended to motivate Hollom to succeed in whatever capacity he was best suited, as opposed to putting him down for not succeeding in his current capacity.

Apply This to Business

It is imperative that your “crew”, or staff, know that you are just, aware, and compassionate. If your staff never see your compassionate side, they only know you as a dictator, and therefore will question your ability to lead. Learn to motivate your staff by being aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and their added results and value to your team, and help them to find the best capacity in which they can contribute and succeed. By so doing, you will help to strengthen their confidence and they will learn to accentuate their strengths and improve in their weaknesses.

Leading With Intellect

Captain Aubrey was also intelligent enough to recognize how to handle the situation that could potentially be difficult to handle; Aubrey needed to balance maintaining the standards of excellent leadership while still helping Hollom with his individual needs. He gave punishment where it was due, maintaining his authority with the crew, maintaining his authority with Hollom by beginning the conversation with the standards of leadership he expects, then tending to Hollom’s individual needs.

Apply This to Business

Whatever your situation may be in your business, being aware and compassionate is once again the key to this principle. It is absolutely possible to maintain the standard of excellence and leadership within your business and still cater to individual needs when appropriate. Getting to know your staff on an individual level — their strengths and weaknesses, and how these contribute to their role in your team and your vision — will help you to gauge how to approach situations that require you to be present.

Leading With Emotion

Captain Aubrey used his emotion in a positive way in his conversation with Hollom. He was able to show Hollom his passion for the standards he had established from the beginning, while still demonstrating his deep-seated conviction that humanity deserves opportunities to rise to the occasion. He also used his emotion in an appropriate way when he demonstrated his severity to the crew as he determined a punishment, once again showing his passion for the standards he had established from the beginning.

Apply This to Business

Letting your staff know about your passion for the work you do is important, not only because it helps motivate them, but it also allows you to set the standards of excellency you expect. Appropriately showing your emotion in one-on-one conversations with staff —towards your work and towards the employees themselves — can help them see their potential and motivate them, as mentioned above.

The Rest of the Story

The character Hollom unfortunately ends up committing suicide because he did not believe in himself. At his funeral, one of the crew members opens up to a passage in the Bible, telling Jonah’s story, whose name the crew used to label people as cursed. The captain upholds his legacy of campassion by  closing the book and continuing to say that every man is worthy, a part of the crew, and deserves a chance. He commemorates Hollom and makes sure that his memory is a positive one. This is truly great leadership.

*dialogue taken from and original movie

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Conversations with Todd: How is ARCHIBUS most commonly used?


Todd: I think most of our clients use it for Space Management and for Building Operations. We’ve also seen it used for Energy Management, Project Management, and I think one of the great strengths of ARCHIBUS is that it’s a really deep well. There’s a lot of stuff you can use it for. Most people start with Space or Facilities Management but there’s a lot of places you can branch out.

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CFTA 2018: A Community of Friends, Professionals, and Breaking the Mold

I attended the Campus FM Technology Association (CFTA) Conference for the first time last year and came back feeling that I had found a wonderful community of friends that shared my passion for the facilities world. This year proved no different.

I got to stay in the Marriott Columbus University Area hotel in Columbus, Ohio. 

Within minutes of having arrived in Columbus, Ohio, I heard my name called out from across the parking lot of a convenience store as I went to pick up some things. It was a colleague that I had met the year before — someone I hadn’t talked to for a year talking to me as if we were lifelong friends. It was a wonderful experience, that repeated itself a dozen times in various ways as I reunited with people I had met the year before.

The conference is small enough in size that we all get to know each other very well; as opposed to other conferences which are much larger, 130 members attended the CFTA last year which grew to 175 members this year. The intimate size provides an opportunity for every member to get know each others’ strengths, successes, and challenges, and to provide meaningful feedback throughout the duration of the conference. Surely, though, the growth of the number of members points to the efficacy of the conference. Michelle Ellington, the president of CFTA, began with a statement on how the conference has grown; over the past five years it has grown from 30 members to 175. It is obvious that the CFTA conference has superbly strong leadership and relevance to today’s growing FM world within the global university sphere.

I was privileged to take one of the five tours available. We toured the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBEC) Building on the Ohio State campus. This was the first building on the campus that was managed through a BIM process. This process allowed stakeholders and maintenance crews to visualize the building prior to occupying and building the premise. Because of this, strategic decisions could be made to more efficiently use the space. One of the most commonly recurring comments in regards to using this process was, “I never thought that I would ever build a building by playing a computer game.”

The Unconference is always the highlight of the week for me. This meeting is held on Friday morning of the conference, and despite attendance being lower because it is the  last day of the event, there was still a healthy 110 to 120 person attendance. 

During this part, a list is made of several discussion topics, then everyone breaks into groups; this time there were four tables. Each table takes a topic, and we all sit together as professionals and colleagues and discuss facets of the topic. I sat in on the BIM topic, and the discussion led to standards, implementation, ownership, and adoption. We all discussed life safety assets, how to manage space, automatically adding square footage, who updates a BIM model and how, and what is maintained. 

The second session I attended was about new technologies.  We discussed using sensors to determine utilization and realization of occupied spaces: options from cameras to movement sensors to sensors on chairs and the pros and cons of each. We discussed using drones with infrared for condition assessment of buildings. We discussed monitoring valves through a central control system. We discussed the ethics of using security cameras in relation to privacy, and many many more topics.

As usual, the CFTA Conference was the highlight of my year. I renewed friendships with colleagues I had met the previous year. I  had stimulating conversations during the conference and was able to expand my knowledge and passion for the FM world. I am excited to see what next year brings, and I highly recommend that all who can attend this conference.

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6 Ways to Change a Business Culture: Pt. 2 — Get Out of the Way

One morning I woke up and realized that I was not happy with my job. I had great staff and great clients, but I was miserable. I have always had a running promise with myself that if I was not happy with my job, I would quit and get a new one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that because I was the CEO and owner of the company, and I had staff that were counting on me.

I contacted one of my business consultants and told him about the situation. He counseled me to hire an HR consultant. This didn’t make any sense to me because I didn’t have any problems with my staff. I decided to take his advice and hire one, though. This transition eventually led me to the CEO mentoring program, Vistage, which we talk about in other articles.


One of the first suggestions the HR consultant recommended was to make an Org Chart. An Org Chart is an organizational tool that allows people to see the flow of a company, roles of staff, and many other aspects of a company’s work-flow. By displaying this in a visual format, one can see what is effective and where there are holes in an organization. Once again, I was confused by this suggestion — at the time there were only 15 of us in the company, and I felt that I knew exactly what was going on and who was in charge of what at all times. 

I did it anyways, and it became one of the best decisions for my company. Not only did it allow me to understand much more clearly what was happening in the company and what everyone’s assignments were, it also allowed me to communicate better with my staff, plan for future roles, and identify deficiencies. In addition, it allowed my staff and me to grow and become even more effective than before.

The second suggestion from the HR consultant was to create a RACI document, RACI being an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. This document’s purpose is to improve communication within a collaborative team. Every person within the team should be assigned a role from the acronym RACI. “Understanding Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RACI Matrix)” by Cara Doglione provides a simple example for understanding how this works:

“John is developing software feature X that will be integrated with software feature Y – developed by Jess. Mike is the project manager and Irina is in marketing. For feature X, John is responsible, Mike is accountable, and Jess needs to be consulted with as her feature will integrate with John’s. Lastly, Irina simply needs to be informed when the task is complete.”

Both the Org Chart and the RACI document began to organize the company in a way so that I was able to more fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of my staff as a whole and of each individual.

These two documents stimulated new goals for me and created a path to focus my energy. This focus rejuvenated me, therefore bringing new energy to the company.

Shadow Leadership

Once I had the organization in place, the HR consultant gave me one my most difficult challenges: to shut my mouth when my employees are trying to accomplish tasks.

I fought this principle at first because my thinking was such: I had built this company from the bottom up, I knew more about the application than anyone else, and I knew exactly what to do because I had done it before. Why would I shut my mouth and not tell my staff exactly what they needed to do?

She told me very clearly that I was stifling my staff. She explained that I was taking away their ability to contribute effectively by not allowing them to go through their own processes to reach conclusions, no matter how quickly or slowly that process may be, nor how many steps it may take them. I had to become the type of boss that could give his staff a task and trust that they would accomplish the desired results, even though they may use a different process than I would have chosen to achieve those results. Once I did this, the results were marvelous.

Putting This Principle Into Practice

A few months after I learned the above principles, one of our clients wanted to install a way-finding application. I scheduled a meeting with two of my staff to explain the project, then shut my mouth and let them figure out the best way to accomplish the task. The direction of the conversation was not going where I desired within the first ten minutes. Still, I persisted in my resolution to shut my mouth, giving only a couple of guiding comments as was necessary, and, 45 minutes later, they reached the conclusion that I thought was best. It was amazing and eye-opening to see this kind of result and growth, both in myself and my staff.

I returned to my HR consultant and shared the experience with her. She was happy to hear my results, then finished explaining this principle to me: people must be allowed to work at their own pace. Some individuals can complete a task in 15 steps, while others may take three to complete the same task. Everyone thinks differently and has their own way of completing projects, and, as a boss, I have the responsibility of not getting in the way of that process so productivity can flourish.

This is a process.

Putting this into practice, like many principles discussed in our blog, is a learning process. It takes mental effort and active choice to implement this attitude and action, but the results are well worth the effort.

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Bob Stephen’s Top 10 Business Books: #2 “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life”

I reference Marilee Adams’ book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life all the time. It has helped me immensely in my communication in the business world, because I have been able to strengthen my relationships with people.

It’s written in a narrative format, following the story of a man who has been having challenges at work and, because of that, decides that he wants to resign. He is counseled to talk to someone about his challenges before stepping away from the job. His journey and solutions are insightful, as he discovers that there are two different approaches to every situation: judging and learning.


We as humans beings naturally see things from our perspective. We want to judge situations and events according to how they line up to the world we’ve built for ourselves. Applying a single-viewed approach to any situation can lead to judging it incorrectly and reaching false conclusions, instead of asking questions to better understand why people act the way they do, why a problem was handled a certain way, or why the desired results are not being realized.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

One of my responsibilities outside of work includes participating in a board of members that handles travel and finances for a local organization. The communication style is such that members are constantly pointing their fingers at each other and trying to find  fault with one another for any problems that arise. I eventually decided to resign because the amount of exercise and energy it took for me to stay on the choice chart was overwhelming, and for my own personal growth, I chose to resign because I did not want to fall into the Judger Pit.


When we discount our tendency to jump to conclusions, and decide instead to ask questions that will help us better understand, some difficult and stressful situations will become experiences that allow us to level with people and strengthen relationships.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

A few years ago, a client of mine needed some help with the application my business provides. I chose a bright, quick employee, that I trusted would get the job done, to call the client and figure out what needed to be done. A few weeks later, my CFO came to me and said that this employee had used company time and money to fly to the client, book a hotel room, and pay for meals. I was confused and felt betrayed, because to my knowledge, the task would only have taken a phone call and a couple of hours.

I decided to apply the asking questions approach, instead of my usual approach that would lead to anger. I called the employee and asked what I hadn’t explained well about the assignment. The employee then recounted to me that he had called the client and realized that the task was not one, but multiple tasks, and that the client had authorized to pay for everything.

I am so glad that I asked instead of just getting angry. I understood the situation much better now, and I could see the logic behind the employees’ choices.

“Switching Lane”: Moving from Judger to Learner

Beginning to process an event as a judger does not mean that you will be limited to viewing things from a single perspective. The “Choice Map” allows us to see that there are different paths we all choose to take when tackling difficult situations. We can choose half-way through an event to see things as a learner.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

I have had many experiences when I think I am explaining something very well, and notice negative reactions, or at least reactions that are contrary to what I expected. I take those opportunities to switch from a judger to a learner and ask questions that will help everyone to feel closer and strengthened. I try to apply this in our Tech and Staff Meetings. I oftentimes will have to ask for clarification and/or other questions so I can understand better and help my staff become more unified.

Learning This Approach Is a Process

We all naturally want to approach events and situations from a judger perspective. Honing the skills necessary to become a learner instead of a judger is a lifelong process. Consistently choosing to change your approach to situations will help with this process, but it is choice.

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Conversations with Todd: What is your favorite ARCHIBUS feature?


Todd: I like the flexibility of ARCHIBUS. Anything you want it to do, it can do. It comes with a lot of stuff out -of-the-box, but if you’ve got a report that you need to write, or a capability that you need to build, it can be used for that.

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Conversations with Todd: How do you measure success?


Todd: I guess I measure success by use. Like if I build something and people use it, especially if they’re using it three years after I build it, that’s success. If I build it and they don’t use it, eh, it didn’t go so well.

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