Contrary to any rumors you may have heard, Father’s Day was not George Washington’s idea, nor invented by Hallmark Cards.
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Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in Spokane on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who reared his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors hadn’t enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.
It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 1938 she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. But the trade groups didn’t give up: they kept promoting it and even incorporated the jokes into their adverts, and they eventually succeeded. By the mid 1980s the Father’s Council wrote that “(…) [Father's Day] has become a ‘Second Christmas’ for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”
A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents.” In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
– Thank you, Wikipedia
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Shawn H. Wilson, president of Usher’s New Look Foundation which offers programs for youths. In many workplaces, he says, “people tend to make excuses or spin the truth,” attitudes he finds harmful to an organization’s culture.
To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
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Bryant: Do you remember the first time you were somebody’s boss?
Wilson : I actually became a manager pretty early, at 19, with the Y.M.C.A. in Milwaukee. I went from lifeguard to aquatic coordinator, and I supervised all the lifeguards and the swim instructors.
I remember the transition for a couple of reasons. One, it was tough going from peer to supervisor. I was naïve about it, thinking, “Oh, we can still have this great relationship.” But ultimately I had to figure out that it was more important to be a great supervisor than a great friend to the team, because that was in the best interest of the organization.
So the lesson was that your actions speak louder than words. I sensed my staff looking at what I was doing more than what I was telling them. It’s like that saying, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
I’ve always remembered that, because I think whether they’re looking at you or not, they’re definitely monitoring what you do, and you can’t contradict what you’re telling them with your actions.
Bryant: What are some leadership insights you’ve learned from mentors over the years?
Wilson: I’ve learned a lot about humility from many leaders. And I’ve seen some who were not very humble, and they ended up paying the price for that. If someone calls you humble, that’s the biggest compliment they can give you because they see that you have something to be cocky about, but you’re not. It’s important that your staff sees that, and it’s important that people who invest in the shared vision see that. People ultimately want to be around other individuals who are humble because we’ve all been around the cocky guy. That’s not a fun guy to be around.
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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times‘ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.
“I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
As Hannibal Lector explains to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, the Roman emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, endorsed the idea of focusing on the essence of a subject. The French later formulated the concept of the précis. Still later, Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” All this serves to create a context, a frame of reference, for Ken Segall’s brilliant analysis of what drove Steve Jobs to create an insanely great company that continues to produce insanely great products.
As Segall explains, “Simplicity doesn’t spring to life with the right combination of molecules, water, and sunlight. It needs a champion – someone who’s willing to stand up for its principles and strong enough to resist the overtures of Simplicity’s evil twin, Complexity. It needs someone who’s willing to guide a process with both head and heart.” These are among the passages, themes, and concepts that caught my eye throughout Segall’s lively and eloquent narrative:
o Standards Aren’t for Bending (Pages 15-16)
o Small Groups = Better [Collaborative] Relationships (35- 38)
o The Perils of Proliferation (52-54)
o Thinking Different vs. Thinking Crazy (74-77)
o Simplicity’s Unfair Advantage (93-95)
o Never Underestimate the Power of a Word (123-125)
o Death by Formality (132-135)
o Technology with Feeling (138-140)
o Ignoring the Naysayers: Inventing the Apple Store (180-184)
I have read all of the books written about Steve Jobs and Apple and reviewed most of them. In my opinion, with the exception of Walter Isaacson’s definitive biography, none provides a more thorough explanation of Jobs’s values, standards, and motivations than does this one. As Segall suggests, Jobs’s greatest achievement is that he “built a monument to Simplicity.” As Jobs invariably had the last word at the conclusion of conversations and meetings, it seems appropriate that he also have the last word now: “Simplicity can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”