Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who Am I, Why Am I Here?

I come from a blue collar family from Northern California.  My mother and father both worked hard to help me be successful and happy.  In school I always gravitated to Math and Science and enjoyed participating in sports.

All of this led me to going to college at the United States Naval Academy.  There I studied Computer Science but I also learned about leadership.  In the end I graduated with a degree and already many lessons on leadership.  The one lesson I remember best and has always helped me as a leader was simple, "take care of your people and they will take care of you".

I spent almost nine years in the Navy in over six different leadership positions leading groups as small as five to as large as thirty.  During those years I think I saw almost every leadership style, but I pretty much stuck with what I had learned at the Academy, "take care of your people and they will take care of you".  I was also very lucky to be surrounded by great hard working people which made it easy and fun.

Once I left the Navy I entered my company as a Test Engineer where I would be a individual contributor.  It was the first time in my adult life I did not have someone reporting to me.  It was different to just be responsible for myself.  In a way I was more relaxed and a little less stressed, but I did miss helping people grow in their jobs and lives.

A few months ago I was selected to a leadership position and moved from being an individual contributor back to leading a group of people.  Most people know that there is a big difference when you make this change.  I went from thinking how I would complete my projects, to how I will take care of my employees and help them complete their projects.  I guess if you look at it in a way I took on an exponential amount of work and responsibility, but I also gained the chance to influence my employees lives in a positive way and guide us in a direction of continued success.

I have always enjoyed learning and I was looking for some leadership help when I found Managing with Aloha (MWA) by Rosa Say.  At one time MWA meant "Management by Walking Around" to me, but now I associate it with the book by Rosa Say.  It may be because one of the best leaders I ever worked for in the Navy was Hawaiian, or possibly because I enjoy the Hawaiian culture and lifestyle, but I am sure it is because I believe the words Rosa has written and hope to model them as I begin my new leadership journey.

Along with MWA I needed a process to help manage that exponential amount of work and responsibility so I am using David Allen's book Getting Things Done (GTD) to help me keep my mind clear and my focus on leading my team to achieve our mission.  

My goal is to blog to help share my journey.  Please feel free to participate with comments and feedback.  If this helps just one person I will consider it a success and since I am sure it will help me, does that mean I already won?



  1. This is quite an honor Chris, thank you so much for selecting Managing with Aloha in this way as you have done. I’ve read David Allen’s books and adopted parts of his coaching as well (the Weekly Review habit has been particularly helpful to me) and so I’ll be eagerly following along as you share more. What a joy for me to be one of your first subscribers!

    I think that journaling as you read, learn, and do is powerful self-coaching, and to blog publicly is an act of generosity, (something great leadership requires in large healthy doses).

    Please write me any time I can help you.
    Me ke aloha,
    Rosa Say

  2. Rosa,

    Thank your for your kind comments and taking part of your day to help make me a better leader. As I say in my new post MWA resonates with me and my beliefs as a leader.