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Monday, August 27, 2018

A Gap in Perspective

Our pastor decided to do a series of messages over the summer that involved answering questions from the congregation. One area of questions I knew would arise involved women in leadership at the church. Congregations differ on how this is handled.

The arguments raised over women in church leadership mirror cultural questions. Aren’t women as capable as men to offer leadership? How should gender equality be administered in the workplace to assure its viability? Does the principal “equal pay for equal work” have application in all spheres of the workplace?

Answers are not always easy—or what people want to hear. Worth reading is a story in The Atlantic describing a video interview with Jordan Peterson and the British Journalist Cathy Newman. It’s titled, “Why Can't People Hear What Jordan Peterson is Saying?” Peterson is the outspoken University of Toronto clinical psychologist who aggressively defends the role of men in a society.

In part of the interview with Peterson, Newman presses the professor on the equal pay issue. She’s pressing the issue of a nine percent pay gap in median hourly earnings between men and women. From the transcipt…

Peterson: Yes. But there’s multiple reasons for that. One of them is gender, but that’s not the only reason. If you’re a social scientist worth your salt, you never do a univariate analysis. You say women in aggregate are paid less than men. Okay. Well then we break it down by age; we break it down by occupation; we break it down by interest; we break it down by personality.
Newman: But you’re saying, basically, it doesn’t matter if women aren’t getting to the top, because that’s what is skewing that gender pay gap, isn’t it? You’re saying that’s just a fact of life; women aren’t necessarily going to get to the top.
Peterson: No, I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, either. I’m saying there are multiple reasons for it.
Newman: Yeah, but why should women put up with those reasons?
Peterson: I’m not saying that they should put up with it! I’m saying that the claim that the wage gap between men and women is only due to sex is wrong. And it is wrong. There’s no doubt about that. The multivariate analyses have been done.”

Peterson then proceeds to cite examples and evidence to his point.

On August 2nd, published an article titled, “Mothers’ low productivity hurts overall pay for women.” It is an opinion piece by Yana Gallen, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. She received a PhD in economics from Northwestern University. Her research focuses on understanding the sources of the gender pay gap—preferences, discrimination, and/or productivity.

She writes, “The backbone of the equal pay movement—equal pay for equal work—assumes that men and women are equally productive in the same job. But the evidence does not support this claim. Using Danish data, I studied the relative output of firms employing more men compared to firms employing more women and found that productivity differences explain about two-thirds of the gender pay gap. On average, women are 8-percent less productive than men, so we would expect them to be paid 8-percent less.”

Professor Gallen’s conclusion? “A large gap between pay and productivity would suggest that women are being paid less for the same work. But I do not find a large gap between the pay of women and their productivity.”

What’s the point? No person should be discriminated against because of race or gender in hiring. Or for pay purposes. However, people should be paid for the quality of work they do commensurate with the factors of experience, education, and their relative value to the success of an organization. That’s not always easy to measure.

Blanket statements about equality without facts to support a position can lead to wrong conclusions. And in the end, these do not serve any of us well.

Want true equality? The Bible gives us one of the greatest examples in our standing before God. It says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith….There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26, 28, NIV)

God is an equal opportunity lover of mankind if you accept His gift. Refreshing, isn’t it?

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Bugs in the Office

I wouldn’t want Michael Cohen as an attorney. I would not ask Omarosa Manigault Newman to be on my team. And I would not want to ever report to Donald Trump. Frankly, it would very difficult to choose any of them as friends.

You know their names, right? Michael Cohen has been the high profile personal attorney for the president. Omarosa Manigault Newman is the former reality TV star who became a top White House aide to President Trump. No explanation is needed for The Donald. But let me start there.

I’ve only worked for two bosses in my life who I would describe as controlling. They lacked the touch of human kindness with employees. They were inflexible.

President Trump carries a lot of that in his management style. What really sets him apart as a leader, however, is his spirit of revenge. Cross him in a way that hurts his pride, and look out. We saw it in the primaries with fellow Republicans. We see it with the press being called “the enemy of the people.” And we see it when a former team member doesn’t measure up.

Michael Cohen has been President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer. He is currently under criminal investigation by the Southern District of New York for certain unscrupulous business activities including payments made to certain women with sexual claims regarding the president. He is also the guy who made secret recordings of his conversations with Donald Trump. How is that for a “trusted counselor?”

Omarosa Manigault Newman is another story. By most accounts, the president gave her wings via her television appearances with him and a White House job. Once in her role, the story goes that she didn’t measure up and was terminated. It happens. What followed, however, virtually never happens.

Omarosa covertly recorded conversations both in the White House and with Lara Trump. She saved those recordings until the recent release of her book, Unhinged. The book purportedly is an insider's discrediting of President Trump. Now she is sharing audio she should never have recorded.

Dana Perino was commissioned as a special assistant to the president and served as a deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush in 2005. She, along with many others who have worked inside that prestigious White House, has likely heard and seen much that’s unpleasant. But you don’t secretly record people!

Regarding Omarosa’s taped conversations, Perino blogged, “That is galling, despicable behavior. And even if Omarosa didn’t think that the president of the United States–the one who had given her the opportunity to try to achieve great things–doesn’t deserve better from her, I believe the citizens of this country do.”

During her tenure, Perino recalled that a White House employee wrote a book that criticized former President Bush. Dana was hurt and angry. That word got to the President. According to Perino, “He didn’t ask me to fight. He asked me to forgive.” And as President Bush told her, “working in the White House…isn’t about the self but it is about the people of this nation. They deserve the best work ethic White House employees can muster.”

That attitude and the words of forgiveness from President Bush reflect a far cry from the tweet barrage shared by President Trump following Omarosa’s pitiful actions. It’s demeaning to all involved. Yes, we deserve better.

The Michael Cohen and Omarosa Manigault Newman stories do send a warning to us all. We are being watched more than we realize. And recorded as well. And tracked by Google. Beware.

Jesus of Nazareth said there would be a day when what seems private will be revealed. “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” (Luke 8:17, NLT) Something we should all keep in mind to guide our daily behavior.

In the meantime, don’t bother calling Terminix. These bugs in the office are much more sophisticated.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information:

Monday, August 13, 2018

Signs of Our Times

I cut my broadcasting teeth during my time in the military. First assigned to the personnel division, a highly fortuitous (or providential) friendship in the same office alerted me one day that the Air Force was looking for broadcasters. Although I fell short of one requirement, my friend explained that sometimes waivers were offered for the point difference I needed.

He was right. And I got accepted to attend the Defense INFOrmation School (DINFOS) at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the fall of 1973. Six months later, I was an honor grad and headed for my first (and only) duty assignment at Keflavik, Iceland. I became the TV sports guy for American Forces Radio and Television (AFRTS). Thus began my career in broadcasting.

Not long ago, I signed up for a Facebook page with other former members of that military broadcast group. It was from them that I first learned of the passing of one of the legends of this fraternity— Adrian Cronauer. He was, if you'll remember, the inspiration for the film Good Morning, Vietnam, which starred Robin Williams. Cronauer had recently died at the age of 79.

It would take too long to share his legacy. See the film if you need that story. But he shared, in 1989, a few particulars of the movie that were true. "Yes, I did try to make it sound more like a stateside station. Yes, I did have problems with news censorship. Yes, I was in a restaurant shortly before the Viet Cong hit it. And yes, I did start each program by yelling, 'Good Morning, Vietnam!'"

I’m not sure whether he traversed the same hallways as I did at DINFOS. But a lot of talented broadcasters did—and went on to successful careers outside of the military. I’ve made my mark in a way as well.

Around the year 1998, I was making a journey from Pittsburgh to San Diego. I made a stop in Indianapolis to visit what was Fort Ben Harrison. I found the DINFOS building where my life was so changed.

The end of war and the passage of time had shut down the base as a military training post. The barracks area looked like a ghost town. Curiously, the DINFOS sign still hung above the entrance to that building. I so wanted to claim that piece of history, hoping it would not be thrown into some dumpster one day. It belonged in a broadcasting museum as a piece of military history.

This recollection came to mind this week as I wondered about the future of the Global Leadership Summit (GLS). This event, founded by Bill Hybels of the legendary Willow Creek Community Church, had grown to phenomenal heights. Visionaries from corporate America, a former US President, and former British Prime Minister have spoken at this magnificent leadership training event.

As I wrote last week, the Summit convened last week in rather dire circumstances. Its founder and chief advocate, Bill Hybels, has been forced out of both the church and the GLS. Then, just as the Summit was to begin, more negative publicity surfaced both about Hybels and the downsizing problems that resulted at the GLS.

And so I wondered, what will happen? I remember the vibrant, life-filled days during my time at DINFOS. Only to return years later and find a ghost town remaining. A shadow of history.

I’m not predictor. And I certainly hope that there remains a future—a bright future—for the Global Leadership Summit as well as the Willow Creek Church. So much good has emerged over the years from both.

On the other hand, we must never believe that what’s in front of us now is permanent. It is not. Including this very Earth.

The refrain of the old hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” calls us to a more lasting perspective of life. It says,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. 
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, 
In the light of His glory and grace.”

Today, my friend, invest your time in that which will last.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information:

Monday, August 6, 2018

When Your Pitchman Goes Away

In just few days, the 2018 Global Leadership Summit (GLS) convenes at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Last year, around 7000 people filled the main sanctuary for the two day event. Sessions will also be broadcast around the country. About 1475 sites are expected to remotely host the event in 2018, both in the US and internationally.

Later, many of the sessions will be repackaged and delivered to other foreign lands not hosting the live event. All told, The Summit will take place in 135 countries and in 60 languages in 2018. This remarkable learning endeavor for pastors, business, and lay people has drawn approximately 2.5 million attendees around the world since the GLS began in 1995.

This year, however, the Summit will have a very different feel. Something will be missing. Or rather...someone. That would the founder of the Global Leadership Summit—Bill Hybels.

No need to get into the complicated details here. There is plenty of information on the Internet about Bill’s personal struggles of the past year. Let it be said, however, that his absence at GLS leaves a big hole. And a costly one.

Bill Hybels drove the machine. He lobbied for bringing in top talent to speak. He conducted marvelous interviews with big time players in the corporate world who could open up new avenues of thinking. His own personal talks at Summits were, in my opinion, some of the best. A missing Bill Hybels will be a shot heard around the GLS world.

And when I say his departure is costly, it has been. No one wants to openly discuss details, but some remote locations decided to cancel. Some speakers decided not to participate. I’ll be very interested to see if the main campus attendance remains strong.

In recent years, we’ve seen other well known corporate spokespersons lose their voice. Most recently, Papa John's Founder and former CEO John Schnatter. He resigned his role following a racial slur on a conference call that brought outrage. The company immediately removed him from any advertisements, seeking to “regain trust.”

Almost immediately, the University of Louisville announced plans to remove the Papa John’s name from its football stadium. And the company’s stock went on a see saw. First it plunged to a 12-month low. After Schnatter’s resignation was announced, stock prices regained 12 percent over several days. But what’s next?

A few years back, it was George Zimmer who discovered an unwelcome mat waiting for him at the headquarters of Men’s Wearhouse. This well known pitchman for the firm he started lost his job in 2013. The lead director of Zimmer’s handpicked board called George in and with Trump-esque style said,“You’re terminated. We’re packing up your office furniture and putting it in storage.” It seems Zimmer’s persona in media was no longer drawing the right crowd.

Losing your main pitchman often results in losing ground with customers. There is no perfect barometer on this. I imagine some Papa John’s customers will drop off. It certainly happened to Men’s Wearhouse. The GLS is feeling the pinch.

Most people in Jesus' time assumed that with His death His followers would disappear and His fan club would dissolve. Quite the opposite happened. The resurrection of Jesus, and the empowerment of His spirit within generations to follow, has kept His message of hope and eternal life very much alive.

The “pitch” that comes with the Gospel is a free gift offer. You receive more than you can conceive. Jesus told His disciples, “'Truly I tell you,' Jesus replied, 'no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.'” (Mark 10:29-30, NIV)

That’s some promise. Following Jesus is always a winning proposition. This pitchman isn't going away.

I guarantee it.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.