Before you decide upon an ethics program for your organization, consider how the facilitator conducts it, and what content he or she exposes your people to.
We don’t think training people about ethics should be from a situational or conditional perspective. We don’t believe in excuses or promises. We don’t believe in people sitting in a chair absorbing content. We think participants must immerse themselves in the world of ethical behavior and then practically apply that behavior every day on the job. We are serious about this. However, learning about ethics does not have to be uncomfortable, dry, and a guilt trip. We make it interesting and fun by emphasizing interaction and participant input. Afterwards, many people want even more!
In the 2-hour program we offer at Creative Communication Network, we use the following agenda to cover these topics:
- Traits: A failure in ethics starts with the loss of foundational human traits. What kind of person works in an ethical organization?
- Danger Signs: Most ethical failure is quite unintentional. Discover and examine your organization’s own danger signs.
- Prevention: An “ounce of prevention” is good for physical health, and it is equally good for ethical health. What preventative disciplines do you have in place in your organization?
- Ethical Bases: Sometimes, ethical failure is the failure to cover every ethical base. Does your organization have all the key players, and elements, in place?
- Scenario Discussion: Each participant will also participate in some challenging scenarios that open up discussion for noble, ethical behavior. We will also have time for questions and answers.
We call our program:
Ethical Undergirding in a World of Intentional, even Willful, Blindness
- 2-HOUR INTERACTIVE, FAST-PACED TRAINING SESSION
- CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION FOR ALL ATTENDEES
- CERTIFIED LIST OF ATTENDEES FOR YOUR COMPANY’S RECORDS
Here are the terms:
- $800 facilitation fee for an unlimited number of participants.
- $3.50 per-person materials fee.
- Discounts available for same-day, 2-sessions – $1500; same-day, 4-sessions – $2750.
- You are responsible for any location or audio-visual equipment rental, and refreshments.
- 50% deposit required upon booking.
We’re really excited about this program. We are confident about what we do.
Complete information is available simply by calling (972) 980-0383. You can also send an e-Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS COULD BE THE BEST $800 YOUR COMPANY HAS EVER SPENT!
SHIELD YOURSELF FROM DAMAGING, COSTLY LAWSUITS BY CERTIFYING YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH OUR ETHICS TRAINING
When Bill Lee and I wrote Organizing Change (San Francisco: Pfeiffer-Jossey Bass, 2003), we did so from a large-scale perspective. Our premise was that it is easier to consider change from a high-level such as a one that affects an entire organization, then, whittle it down to whatever level you want to use, such as a division, department, or unit.
While the magnitude of a change may differ by size, the principles do not. As you read our book, you will find three major concerns that you want to be aware of for any change that you lead or initiate. These are to be:
inclusive – go as deep as possible in the organizational charts of the areas affected by the change; get input from as many people as you can; it is difficult to argue against a change you helped create. Remember what Covey said years ago – “without involvement there is not commitment.” Make the change “our initiative” not “mine.”
systemic - consider how the change will affect all types of stakeholders; consider other departments or units in the organization, internal and external customers, consumers, and so forth.
systematic – organize the change phase by phase; decide who does what when; get it right the first time, and you will not lose productivity while kicking off the change initiative.
When you lead change, you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s seat. You make decisions that craft and create important paths that various stakeholders take to solve a problem, correct a difficulty, or make something that is “good” even better. What is important, however, is to know that you never begin with the change initiative. You always begin with the recognition of a problem, issue, or uncomfortable situation. That principle will remind you of John Kotter’s first step in his change process, which is URGENCY. In fact, he wrote an entire book about that step, which you can purchase a synopsis of from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
It is amazing how many people I have taught this process to in professional workshops and courses over the last ten years. I remember the first one for Citi so well, as if it were yesterday. Right now, we have two weeks to go in the MBA course “Leading Change” at the University of Dallas College of Business, where I use this book and teach practical implementation of the process. In this course, we don’t talk about change – we make change.
I know it works. We would not have had this many interested people if the process were unsuccessful. Fortunately, I hear back from so many individuals who implement the program in their organizations, that I am inspired to continue to share it with others.
At Creative Communication Network, we offer two paths for change. We do this in workshops, consulting, and coaching for both paths.
Take MANAGING CHANGE
if you want to:
Cope with change you didn’t create
Work in a change-friendly environment
Reduce personal anxiety about change
Produce an environment of freedom
Look for positive changes to implement
Take LEADING CHANGE
if you want to:
Reduce the impact of a problem
Design an organized change initiative
Gain commitment by influencing others involved in the change
Boost the positive impact of change on those affected by it
Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the change
We’re really excited about these programs. We will be going into companies as well as conducting public workshops. Complete information, including agendas, outlines, objectives, pricing, and other details are available by calling (972) 980-0383 or sending an e-Mail to: email@example.com
Don’t wait! Join the fully satisfied individuals from many organizations who have benefited from these programs.
Here is how to get the book that we use in Leading Change. It is now a print-on-demand book directly from the publisher. After you get it, you can contact me for the templates that are featured within the book. This is the link to use:
When Your Ethics Are Unethical – A Lesson From History (“Restrictive Covenants,” Including from Right Here in the Heart of Wealthy Dallas)
following accepted rules of behavior : morally right and good
So, here’s a question. What happens when your ethics are unethical? What happens when “following accepted rules of behavior” actually means following utterly unacceptable rules of behavior?
Try this line of thought:
Property values must be protected
Anything that threatens property values must be opposed
It is unethical to do business in a way that threatens property values
Sounds reasonable, “right,” doesn’t it?
But what if it is wrong?
Something I heard recently sent me combing back through my handout on the book Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby. (I presented my synopsis of this book at the Urban Engagement Book Club). I remembered the passage about Hugh Prather, who developed part of Highland Park (that’s the “Wealthy Dallas” I referred to in the title of this post) early in the last century. It was modeled after other developments across the country. So, If I lived in a different city, it would be a different developer and a different development I would have thought of. Across the country, developments put “restrictive covenants” front and center in their legal language. From the book:
Self-perpetuating restrictive covenants soon found their way into… Highland Park north of Dallas,… and many other high-end subdivisions.
The people behind these developments considered the increase of, or at least the protection of, property values to be a major ethical obligation. Nothing was to threaten the value of the property. Nothing! Which led to a code of ethics, developed by the “National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB), one of the most powerful trade associations in the country.”
A code of ethics. That is a good thing to have, right? That is a good practice, to establish a code of ethics, for all professionals to follow. Professionals would proudly would let it be known that they abided by such a code of ethics. They were safe and reliable, good folks to do business with.
So, here is what was included in their code of ethics (again, from the book):
In 1924 NAREB made racial discrimination official policy, updating its code of ethics to say, “A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood… members of any race or nationality… whose presence will clearly be detrimental to the property values of that neighborhood. Like termites, they undermine the structure of any neighborhood in which they creep.” All of which was legal.
So, it was ethical to practice discrimination; it was unethical to not discriminate.
Wilbur Zelinsky of Pennsylvania State University formulated the key theory in 1973, which he called the Doctrine of First Effective Settlement. “Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the later social and cultural geography of the area, no matter how tiny the initial band of settlers may have been,” Zelinsky wrote. “Thus, in terms of lasting impact, the activities of a few hundred, or even a few score, initial colonizers can mean much more for the cultural geography of a place than the contributions of tens of thousands of new immigrants a few generations later.”
So, let’s recap.
Property values are to be protected – it is ethical to protect property values; it is unethical to lower, or even threaten, property values.
“Initial colonizers” carry a lot of weight, no matter how many different kinds of people come into a place later…
So, here’s what I ‘m saying. Racism was basically placed in the very ethical DNA in many parts of the country. To allow people from the “wrong race or nationality” to purchase property and move into the neighborhood was potentially “detrimental to the property values.” Thus, it was an unethical practice of any real estate professional to do business with such people. Because the protection of property values provides a higher ethical standard than acceptance of fellow human beings.
And, make no mistake. This had nothing to do with “meritocracy.” If a black person had the means to buy a house in a given neighborhood, they were prohibited from doing so – legally prohibited. It would threaten the property values. (Read the book Some of My Best Friends Are Black. It is a sobering read).
I would call this unethical ethics. Wouldn’t you?
(And, yes, sadly, racism is still present in too many ways in too many places).
Now, here’s the issue for today. Do you think this ethical stance, this “restrictive covenant” practice was wrong? I do. And it has certainly been outlawed. Restrictive covenants are no longer legally allowed (though some have “stayed on the books.”)
But we’re still not to the point. Here’s the point. If those who came before us – people who were smart, well-educated, “pillars of the community” – called such practices “ethical,” and were so wrong (and, they were in fact so very wrong), is it possible that some of our own stances today that we consider “acceptable rules so behavior; ethical” are equally wrong?
My bet is yes. And the pursuit of ethics is all about that quest – identifying our own unethical behavior, even behavior we have not yet realized is unethical.
Here’s my bet. The horror I feel while reading about practices in the early 1900s (practices which lingered well into my own lifetime) will be similar to the horror others feel 100 years from now as they read about some of the practices we follow today.
Horizontal Connections; Vertical Connections – What Good Networkers Can Learn from a Great Journalist (A Networking Lesson from Lawrence Wright)
This is great advice for all who what to become better at “networking.” And, who doesn’t want to become better at networking?
Lawrence Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. His latest book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, is also an award winning work of journalism. And, this book was the selection of the Summer Points Book Club of the Dallas Morning News.
Mr. Wright spoke this past Sunday here in Dallas, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News. He gave a brief presentation, then had a terrific, lengthy question and answer session. Nicole Stockman, the leader of the Summer Points Book Club, asked him how he manages the research challenge for his books. He interviewed many hundreds of sources for his book The Looming Tower, and fewer, but still hundreds for his book Going Clear.
Here’s his answer (paraphrased, from my memory):
First, he comes up with every name he can that could offer him information and insight. Then he talks to as many as would agree to talk to him. (As he talked about this, he described how he would fly to any city, to speak to any source for information).
Then, after each visit, he just knew when one visit would be enough, or… he would like to go back to certain folks time and again. He called these his:
A horizontal connection was a one-time visit – valuable, but once was enough. Maybe once was enough because that was all that source had to offer. Or, maybe, once was enough because that person was not open to further conversations
Here’s a reinforcement of this idea from Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors) by Keith Ferrazzi:
Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.
A vertical connection was a person for whom one visit/interview was not enough. This person was perfect for repeat visits/interviews. Maybe they had more to offer; maybe they were willing to talk more. These were the folks he would go back to time and again.
(From somewhere back in my memory, I remember reading how David Halberstam, another Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, organized his research. This sounds similar. But I really like the clarity of the terms: horizontal and vertical connections).
So, there’s your networking strategy. Practice Horizontal Networking; meet every one you can. Talk to as many people as you can. And, Practice Vertical Networking. Some of those “new connections” become repeat connections – those “we become evaluable to each other” connections.
The successful organization and management of the information that makes connecting flourish is vital. Tracking the people you know, the people you want to know, and doing all the homework that will help you develop intimate relationships with others can cause one heck of an information overload.
Lawrence Wright learned how to manage all of the information from all of those “sources.” In our lives, we have to learn how to manage all of our connections. Horizontal and Vertical Networking can be a good way to tackle this challenge.
For most of America, people who work still have a traditional job. They go to work; they work in a workplace alongside other workers. They have an office, or a cubicle, or work in a factory, and they have fellow workers, and get to know their fellow workers.
And, when you read all the articles about employee engagement, and employment rates, they are mostly focused on such jobs.
But, in another segment — a growing segment, it seems – there are people who work without going to work in such a place. (I am one of them).
And, many of the benefits of traditional work are beyond our grasp. If you work in a home office, as I do, there is no break room, no water cooler conversation.
Enter the “Co-working” trend. The Dallas Morning News highlighted this trend in this article: Co-working industry exploding in North Texas by Hanah Cho. Here are some excerpts:
The co-working industry in North Texas is exploding. In the last two years, at least a dozen places have opened to cater to entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers who want to share office space.
Developers and entrepreneurs believe there is strong demand for co-working spaces in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, given the region’s economy, changing demographics and increase in startup business activity.
“As more people work remotely as contractors, solopreneurs or mobile employees, shared office space has become an appealing and more affordable option. Instead of long-term leases, co-working members typically pay fees ranging from $20 for a day pass to $1,000 a month for a private office.
Fees cover amenities such as high-speed Internet, printing, a shared kitchen, bottomless coffee and occasionally beer.
Most important, co-working spaces tend to share a similar mission: to build community and foster collaboration. Instead of tenants, there are members who share ideas, barter services and mingle outside of work. Many Dallas area co-working spaces host business workshops and other programming as well as after-work events for their members.
“When I work at home, I start to get depressed and kind of isolated,” said Amy King, founder of Nested Strategies, a branding and creative consulting firm. “When I’m sitting in a collaborative work environment, even though I don’t talk to anyone, I feel like I’m not alone. If I get stuck on something, I could walk 20 feet and [say], ‘Hey, does anyone know WordPress or could anyone help me with this?’”
It’s been a lot of years since I read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. For the vast majority of workers in America, they still work like they have for decades, by going to work, and working with others at work. They do not work alone.
But, for this growing contingent of solo folks, we are working alone, drinking water and coffee alone, and having a lot of conversations with ourselves. For people like me, this new trend could help provide one of the many pluses of a good work life – a sense of community. And co-working could help stimulate that creativity and collaboration need that breakthrough thinking requires.
It’s going to be worth watching.
Bill Gates asked Warren Buffett What His Favorite Business Book Was; Mr. Buffett Had an Answer – Do You Have an Answer to that Question?
Not long after I first met Warren Buffett back in 1991, I asked him to recommend his favorite book about business. He didn’t miss a beat: “It’s ‘Business Adventures,’ by John Brooks, ” he said. “I’ll send you my copy.” I was intrigued: I had never heard of “Business Adventures” or John Brooks.
It begins this essay by Bill Gates, Bill Gates’s Favorite Business Book: John Brooks’s 1960s collection ‘Business Adventures’ still offers many insights into running a strong business.
Now, did you notice the key element? Bill Gates asked Warren Buffett to recommend his favorite book about business. Warren Buffett had an answer, and in fact loaned him the book.
This is not unimportant.
Warren Buffett did not say “Oh, there are so many good ones. I can’t recommend just one.” Nor did he say “I don’t read business books.” He has read enough business books that he has a favorite.
This reveals that Bill Gates reads business books. It reveals that Warren Buffett reads business books. It means that books are important enough to Bill Gates that he asks people he admires to name their favorite business book. It means that Warren Buffett had an answer to the question – he could in fact recommend a favorite business book.
That’s the big point!
Now, a little more. The rest of Gates’s essay describes why this book is so valuable. Again, from his essay:
As the journalist Michael Lewis wrote in his foreword to Brooks’s book “The Go-Go Years,” even when Brooks got things wrong, “at least he got them wrong in an interesting way.” Unlike a lot of today’s business writers, Brooks didn’t boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success. (How many times have you read that some company is taking off because they give their employees free lunch?) You won’t find any listicles in his work. Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters and show how things went for them…
Brooks was also a masterful storyteller.
So, the lessons (yes, in a five point list… sorry about that):
#1 – Read good books
#2 – Talk about the books you have read
#3 – Ask people you respect what their favorite business books are
#4 – Read the “favorite books” that you learn about from people you respect
#5 – Have an answer ready to the question when someone asks you what your favorite business book is
And, for the record, I am reading their favorite book now: Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks (just reissued). Ask me later, and I’ll let you know if I move it into my “favorite business book” spot personally.
According to mckinsey.com readers, these were the most popular articles during the Second Quarter of 2014. Here’s a direct link to reading any/all of them. 1. Change leader, change thyself: Anyone who pulls the organization in new directions must look inward as well as outward. [More to follow each, 1-10] 2. The seven traits of effective digital enterprises: To stay competitive, companies must stop experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves into full digital businesses. Here are seven traits that successful digital enterprises share. 3. Strategic principles for competing in the digital age: Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Read about six critical decisions CEOs must make to address the strategic challenge posed by the digital revolution. 4. Lead at your best: Five simple exercises can help you recognize, and start to shift, the mind-sets that limit your potential as a leader. 5. Digitizing the consumer decision journey: In a world where physical and virtual environments are rapidly converging, companies need to meet customer needs anytime, anywhere. Here’s how. 6. High-performing boards: What’s on their agenda? Directors report that they have a greater impact as they move beyond the basics. 7. Can strategic planning pay off?: In this classic McKinsey Quarterly article, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., proposes four guidelines to help strategic planners make the crucial leap from plans to decisions. 8. Grow fast or die slow: Software and online-services companies can quickly become billion-dollar giants, but the recipe for sustained growth remains elusive. 9. Disruptive entrepreneurs: An interview with Eric Ries: Companies are all too aware of the disruptive power of technology. In this video interview, the author of The Lean Startup argues that the competitive reaction of many organizations remains fatally flawed. 10. Global flows in a digital age: The movement of goods and services, finance, and people has reached previously unimagined levels, and a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute says they could double or even triple in the next decade. A related slideshow tracks the expanding network of global flows. * * * To check out other resources, learn more about McKinsey & Company, obtain subscription information, and register to receive email alerts, please click here. To learn more about the McKinsey Quarterly, please click here.
I am an angry man. You do not deserve to know why. It would exceed the allowable word count for our blog.
Are you angry also?
You can great comfort from a book by Bill Perkins entitled When Good Men Get Angry (Carole Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2009). I have found this book useful, although ultimately, I will likely need more than this. But, it is a push in the right direction. Maybe it will be that for you also.
In his own words, Perkins explains why he wrote this book. Click the link on this line to read more.
The purpose of the book is to provide men with the insight needed to process and express their anger as Jesus would. With that in mind I read every book I could find on anger. I then identified the six key anger issues and provide the reader with an understanding of each of them. By using real life counseling/coaching sessions I provide the practical insight needed to understand the source of anger and how to successfully deal with it. While it’s a short book, every word is important and I think the reader will glean life-changing insights.
The book features numerous “Stories of Anger,” each with a chapter devoted to it. The major themes of the book are:
One of these, on respect, is entitled “The Man Who Withheld Sex From His Wife.” Interesting. I really never thought about that, but I suppose it happens. A later book he wrote is called Why Naked Women Look So Good: Understanding a Woman’s Deepest Needs(New York: AudioInk, 2013). I have no idea how many copies that one has sold, but I will add it to my “read someday” list. Should I put a book cover over it? If you’re curious, here’s why he wrote that one, taken from Amazon.com:
“By identifying eight vital needs of a woman, and showing a husband how to meet them, Perkins provides guidance to help a man become irresistible to his wife and for living more creatively and sensitively. Chapters are organized into three parts for easy reference. The first part provides one reason why naked women look so good. The second part identifies what need this reveals in a man’s wife. And in the third part, simple steps are provided to help a man love his wife in a way that strengthens her self-image, builds her confidence and allows her to more freely give herself to her husband—both emotionally and sexually.”
Who is Bill Perkins? I found this biography from his web site (www.billperkins.com).
Bill Perkins’s wit, insight, and penetrating stories make him a sought-after speaker for corporate and Christian groups. He has conducted business and leadership seminars across the country for companies such as Alaska Airlines and McDonald’s. Bill has appeared on nationally broadcast radio and television shows, including “The O’Reilly Factor.” He addresses men’s groups around the world and has conducted chapels for major league baseball teams.
Bill served as a senior pastor for 24 years and is the founder and CEO of Million Mighty Men. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary.
Bill has authored or collaborated on 22 books, including the best selling Six Battles Every Man Must Win and When Good Men Are Tempted. He also wrote 6 Rules Every Man Must Break, the Jesus experiment, and When Good Men Get Angry. Bill coauthored the business book Give ‘Em the Pickle!,and the Handbook to Leadership.
He and his wife, Cindy, live near Portland, Oregon. They have three adult sons and two grandchildren.
Perkins sounds like a fine guy. And, the book I am reading is neither ultra-religious, nor ultra-psychiatrist or counselor.
You will just see yourself in the stories. Sometimes, being angry is pretty silly.
Let’s hope all of us afflicted with anger get over it. I hope I do. The world will be a better place.
I have read Stuart Woods‘ novels for many years. He publishes three new books a year, rotating major characters and themes. Thirty-nine of his books have made the New York Times fiction best-seller list.
His last few, however, have focused upon Stone Barrington. Barrington is a former cop, and an attorney of counsel in a New York firm, who is also wealthy and a playboy. One lesson from his adventures is that money sometimes winds you up in some pretty difficult places.
Woods is a great writer, and his strength is dialogue among characters. In most cases, you feel as if you are standing with them, observing, reacting, and taking it all in. Rarely do the sexual escapades reach the level of what you would call salacious, but they do present just enough to pique your interest. Surprisingly, only two of the books have been made into television mini-series.
The newest book is called Cut and Thrust (New York: Putnam, 2014). This is a book set in the context of a political convention in Los Angeles, with most of the action at Barrington’s hotel, The Arrington, named after his ex-wife who was murdered in a previous book. In addition to Barrington, the other major characters are the outgoing U.S. President, Will Lee, and his wife, Katharine Lee, who is running for President. Barrington is dating her deputy campaign manager, Ann Keaton.
Frankly, I would love to fly on the airplanes that Barrington flies and travels on, and also, stay at The Arrington. I would not love to see the room service bill for all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, late night buffets, and bar orders. My favorite book of his was called L.A. Dead, which you would have to find in garage sales.
If you have never heard of Stuart Woods, here is his biography from his web site (www.stuartwoods.com):
Stuart Woods was born in the small southern town of Manchester, Georgia and attended the local public schools, then graduated from the University of Georgia, with a BA in sociology. He doesn’t remember why.
After college, he spent a year in Atlanta and two months in basic training for what he calls “the draft-dodger program” of the Air National Guard. Then, in the autumn of 1960, he moved to New York, in search of a writing job. The magazines and newspapers weren’t hiring, so he got a job in a training program at an advertising agency, earning seventy dollars a week. “It is a measure of my value to the company,” he says, “that my secretary was earning eighty dollars a week.” He spent the whole of the nineteen-sixties in New York, with the exception of ten months, which he spent in Mannheim, Germany, at the request of John F. Kennedy. The Soviets had built the Berlin Wall, and Woods, along with a lot of other national guardsmen, was sent to Germany, “. . . to do God knows what,” as he puts it. What he did, he says, was ” . . . fly a two-and-a-half-ton truck up and down the autobahn.” He notes that the truck was all he ever flew in the Air Force.
At the end of the sixties, he moved to London and worked there for three years in various advertising agencies. In early 1973, he decided that the time had come for him to write the novel he had been thinking about since the age of ten. He moved to Ireland, where some friends found him a small flat in the stableyard of a castle in south County Galway, and he supported himself by working two days a week for a Dublin ad agency, while he worked on the novel. Then, about a hundred pages into the book, he discovered sailing, and “. . . everything went to hell. All I did was sail.”
After a couple of years of this his grandfather died, leaving him, “. . . just enough money to get into debt for a boat,” and he decided to compete in the 1976 Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR). Since his previous sailing experience consisted of, “. . . racing a ten-foot plywood dinghy on Sunday afternoons against small children, losing regularly,” he spent eighteen months learning more about sailing and celestial navigation while his new 30-foot yacht, a Ron Holland design called Golden Harp, was being built at a yard in Cork. He moved to a nearby gamekeeper’s cottage on a big estate, on the Owenboy River, above Cork Harbor, to be near the boatyard.
The race began at Plymouth England in June of ’76. He completed his passage to Newport, Rhode Island in forty-five days, finishing in the middle of the fleet, which was not bad since his boat was one of the smallest. How did he manage being entirely alone for six weeks at sea? “The company was good,” he says.
The next couple of years were spent in Georgia, writing two non-fiction books: Blue Water, Green Skipper was an account of his Irish experience and the transatlantic race, and A Romantic’s Guide to the Country Inns of Britain and Ireland, which was a travel book, done on a whim. He also did some more sailing. In August of 1979 he competed, on a friend’s yacht, in the tragic Fastnet Race of 1979, which was struck by a huge storm. Fifteen competitors and four observers lost their lives, but Stuart and his host crew finished in good order, with little damage. (The story of the ’79 Fastnet Race was told in the book, Fastnet Force 10, written by a fellow crewmember of Stuart, John Rousmaniere.) That October and November, he spent skippering his friend’s yacht back across the Atlantic, with a crew of six, calling at the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands and finishing at Antigua, in the Caribbean.
In the meantime, the British publisher of Blue Water, Green Skipper, had sold the American rights to W.W. Norton, a New York publishing house, who also contracted to publish his novel, on the basis of two hundred pages and an outline, for an advance of $7500. “I was out of excuses to not finish it, and I had taken their money, so I finally had to get to work.” He finished the book and it was published in March of 1981, eight years after he had begun it. The novel was called Chiefs.
Though only 20,000 copies were printed in hardback, the book achieved a large paperback sale and was made into a six-hour television drama for CBS-TV, starring Charlton Heston, at the head of an all-star cast that included Danny Glover, Billy Dee Williams and John Goodman. The 25th anniversary of Chiefs came in March, 2006, and W.W. Norton published a special commemorative replica edition of the hardcover first edition, which can still be ordered from any bookstore.
Chiefs established Woods as a novelist. The book won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America, and he was later nominated again for Palindrome. More recently he was awarded France’s Prix de Literature Policiere, for Imperfect Strangers. He has since been prolific, having published his fiftieth novel, Severe Clear in September 2012. Next summer, at a date to be determined, Paris Match will be released.
After publishing fifteen novels before appearing on the New York Times bestseller list, he has since had thirty-nine straight bestsellers on the the Times hardcover list.
He is a licensed, instrument-rated private pilot, with 3,400 hours total time, and he currently flies a Cessna Citation Mustang jet (see photo below,) and in September, 2013, moved up to the new Citation M-2, and his wife, Jeanmarie, who has recently earned her private pilot, instrument and multi-engine ratings, will train for the copilot’s seat in the new jet. Stuart sails on other peoples’ boats, owns a Hinckley T38 power boat (hinckleyyachts.com) and is a partner in a 85-foot 1935 Trumpy motor yacht,Enticer, (which can be seen atwww.woodenyachts.com and on the cover ofLoitering With Intent). The yacht has been recently restored to like-new condition.
Stuart Woods is no longer a born-again bachelor, having married the former Jeanmarie Cooper of Key West in January, 2013 and they live with a Labrador Retriever named Fred in Key West, Florida, on Mount Desert Island, in Maine, and, occasionally, in a New York City pied a terre. (Of a warm nature, he says he’s always looking for 70 degrees Fahrenheit.)
If this post inspires you to read Stuart Woods’ books, go back as far as you can, and just start reading. Many of the titles are available in paperback, and through secondary sellers available from Amazon.com.