Moral Compass: Apple CEO Tim Cook v. Indiana Governor Mike Pence

TEXT: This morning, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, Tim Cook who is the CEO of Apple wrote the following: Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or whom they love. We will never tolerate discrimination… America must be a land of opportunity for everyone. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.

Tim Cook wrote this message in response to the actions of the Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, who on Friday signed into law a bill that will allow its citizens to deny service to anyone if an individual feels that to provide service would be offensive to his or her religious beliefs. The law is aimed at discriminating against gays and lesbians. Of that there is no doubt. How do we know that? Because during the debate on the law, when an amendment was proposed that would have expressly prohibited the law from permitting discrimination, the amendment was defeated. Additionally, while the Governor claims that he would have vetoed the law had he thought that it would be used to permit discrimination, when he was invited to expressly state that it would not be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians, he refused. And he was invited to do so 8 times in the span of 8 minutes yesterday morning. He refused. Instead, when he was asked if he would support changing the law to assure that it would not be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians, he stated, “I would not push for that. That is not on my agenda.”

Let’s talk moral compass.

A moral compass, mine, yours, Tim Cook’s, Mike Pence’s, are the principles that inform our choices, our behaviors, and our actions. Our moral compass is on display every day simply by way of how we interact with one another and by way of the choices we make that affect the lives of the people in our communities. Each one of us helps to shape our world and the world for the people we care about simply by way of our everyday actions and our choices. As time goes on, we will be living in a world that is shaped by the strength of our moral compass.

Some people find themselves in positions that allow them to exert a greater influence on the world around them, again through their choices and their actions, and as a result exert a greater share of influence on shaping the world we will all be living in as time goes on.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

A Tim Cook world vision: A world that is open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or whom they love. A world where we will never tolerate discrimination.

Or a Mike Pence world. A world in which the opportunity to change the laws that permit discrimination are not on the agenda.

I’ll choose a Tim Cook world vision: One in which we treat each other as human beings. It’s one in which opposing discrimination takes courage.

With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.


Send Governor Mike Pence your message.

Tweet him at @GovPenceIN

Support the initiative to pressure the legislature to change the law by sending a message #BoycottIndiana

Citizen Leaders: Grade School Boys Band Together to Stop Bullying

Congratulations to these young grade school boys who banded together to show their support for a first grader who was subjected to bullying and teasing from other pupils. These youngsters rock! In the words of American anthropologist Margaret Meade:

Never doubt that the actions of a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Let’s Leave, They’re Only a Buck Fifty at Safeway

If you are fortunate enough one of these days to drive along the central coast of California between Santa Cruz and Monterey, you will pass by field upon field of tall, thick-stalked, prickly leaved, some say prehistoric-looking spiny plants supporting a fist-sized vegetable that is poetically known as the vegetable of passion, the food of nobility, the thistle of love — the California artichoke. Artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to humankind. They are said to be an aphrodisiac. They were first cultivated for food in the Mediterranean thousands of years ago. Early plantings were first made in North America by French settlers in Louisiana, and then brought to California by Italians in the late 1800s.

Castroville lies at midpoint along the central California coast between Santa Cruz and Monterey. This small town, population 6,700 or so, claims to be the “artichoke capital of the world.” In 1949, in Castroville, Marilyn Monroe was crowned the first official “California Artichoke Queen.” Settled by the Spanish, and planted by Italian immigrants, Castroville is now largely populated by Mexican-Americans and Mexican farm workers who cultivate and harvest nearly four million artichokes from the Monterey region every year.

A mile or so south of town, Pezzini’s 100-acre farm straddles the coastal highway. A nine-foot-high green plywood “artichoke” gives direction to Pezzini Farm’s roadside grocery stand — take exit 414A. It’s not remarkable. Just an old, gray clapboard barn. Yet, it’s entirely unique.

In the back, wooden crates four feet on a side and four feet deep overflow with artichokes. Out front where I poke around, artichokes are heaped into bins, sorted and priced by size — I’m sure there is some official agricultural formula by weight or girth or something like that. To me it looks like: xs, s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl.

If you can’t wait to get home, you can buy an xxl freshly steamed artichoke right there (or if you prefer, some deep-fried artichoke hearts), along with as much dipping sauce as you like — homemade lemon-dill or garlic-mayo, or both. It’s a whole meal. There are a couple of picnic tables just out front, too.

So, on one of my visits, as I was finishing up the last bite of my artichoke heart, a 60-something couple drove up to the front of the stand, parked, got out. The couple poked around the stand for a few minutes, the husband following in the footsteps of his wife.

She closely examined the bins of different sized and priced artichokes — starting with the “xs” priced at $0.79 each, and moving down the line to the “xxxl” at $1.99. Perhaps no more that five minutes into their visit, she paused, turned to her husband, and insisted, “Let’s leave, they’re only a buck fifty at Safeway.” They got back in their car and drove off.

That one sentence unleashed in me a whole stream-of-consciousness. Part of me felt sorry for the woman. Another part of me felt fearful. My stream of consciousness went something like this:

Lady, get a grip.

These are right out of the field.

There’s no way you’re going to find this at Safeway, even if an artichoke there is only a buck and a half.

In that one sentence, I felt jolted by the rude and very real reminder that an important and meaningful part of my world is endangered. I dearly love my community. More accurately, I dearly love the unique character of my community — local mom-and-pop entrepreneurs whose businesses are personal expressions of creativity and courage, and whose survival is almost entirely dependent on our support: on us, the members of the community. In that one sentence, “Let’s leave, they’re only a buck fifty at Safeway,” I was reminded that character survives only in direct proportion to the sum of our actions to safeguard it. Is our world so caught up in commoditization that we are blind to character?

Metaphorically, I believe Pezzini’s is each of the local entrepreneurs whose small businesses form part of the soul of my community. Their grocery store and farm stand represents each of the local entrepreneurs whose businesses offer an oasis of uniqueness and personality in a world mounded with food and furniture and clothing and coffee that all seems to come out of the same limited variety of molds. These entrepreneurs offer a taste of natural, no-artificial-flavor in a world dominated by corporate formula and chemical-infusion. They offer an encounter with robust authenticity — albeit one sometimes rough around the edges. And yes, at Pezzini Farms, chances are that an artichoke will cost more than it does at a strip-mall Safeway.

Chances are, the smaller guys will never be able to compete on price with the bigger guys. Such is the law in an economies-of-scale world.

Chances are, indeed, that my community (well, our communities) will increasingly include the cookie-cutter coffee shop, the big-box building supply hangar, the fast-food franchise, the monolithic bank branch, the identical-looking chain store, the gigantic supermarket, the mega-mart and the big bookstore whose name begins with a “B.” Stocked, supported, subsidized and sometimes supersized by suppliers and shippers originating from places unknown, these better-financed, lower-priced, reliable, predictable, formula-driven purveyors provide (and always will provide) products that we need and want, at prices that most of us can afford.

And for that let us be thankful.

But, chances are the bigger guys might not buy and stock the proudly crafted, local cottage-industry products that you’ll find at the small-guys’ stores. Such is the larger guys’ limitations in an economies-of-scale world.

I liken my community to a patchwork quilt with each store, each shop, each street vendor; each merchant, each market, each mom-and-pop shop; each Safeway, each Shaw’s, and each Shop-and-Save; each minimart and each mega-mart; each small guy and each big guy; each — a colorful, exciting, lively and vibrant patch contributing to the texture and warmth and uniqueness of my community. There is a need for them all.


The local entrepreneurs are part of our fabric. I value the texture that the proud, local proprietors contribute to my community. I’m mindful of my role as a member of the community today, and as a co-creator of the world I want to live in as I grow older. I’m mindful of the character of the community I want to inhabit. And I’m mindful, too, that that character will survive only in direct proportion to the sum of my actions, and those of like-minded individuals, to safeguard and support it.

So, I choose to channel my purchasing power in their direction. Not all, but some. Not all of the time, but some of the time — routinely, regularly. Not because I have to, not because I am told to, but because I want to, and because I care.

I take personal responsibility to support our local entrepreneurs. I choose to freely, frequently and gratefully pay a small premium to our local entrepreneurs as a purposeful, intentional investment in their survival. I have decided not to assess the price of uniqueness as a cost, not to have it weigh on me as an expense. Instead, I have chosen to treat the premiums I pay to the small business owners as investments — investments in supporting the character I long to enjoy well into the future.

I’m thinking that the premiums I pay are minimal investments in another day. I’m thinking that on another day, five months or even ten years from now, as I pass by exit 414A on the coastal highway, I will still see that nine-foot-high green plywood artichoke pointing the way to Pezzini’s small 100-acre artichoke patch and grocery. I’m thinking that I’m investing now, so that on another day, I and many more like me will still stop and sit down at those picnic benches, and that I and many more like me will still eat and celebrate and even give thanks for a freshly steamed artichoke right out of the field — even if someone else still insists, “Let’s leave, they’re only a buck fifty at Safeway.”

— from The Engaging Leader

JUST RELEASED: The Engaging Leader

I am delighted to announce the release of my new series of leadership development tutorials:

The Engaging Leader: Be the Person They’d Want to Follow

The Engaging Leader








The Engaging Leader prepares and prompts you to step into five essential roles of a leader, and be the person others would want to follow. These roles are:

  • Visionary and Voice for Tomorrow
  • Conscience of the Culture
  • Champion of Innovation and Change
  • Coach of Our Talent
  • Trusted Partner and Collaborator

The Engaging Leader is a series of tutorials that helps you deepen your understanding and practice of these five essential roles. Your success as a leader — indeed, the success of the people you lead — requires you to take on the right role at the right time and express yourself and guide the members of your group in ways that build and fortify the bonds that inspire them to follow your lead. For each one of these essential roles, The Engaging Leader offers an interactive framework and practical tools that help you strengthen those bonds and emerge a more engaging leader at work and in your community.

You will apply the frameworks and tools to help you diagnose, plan, communicate, share decision-making and distribute ownership with your partners, staff and followers, and strengthen your capacity to engage their enthusiasm to participate, serve, act and persevere so that together you can make meaningful contributions at work, at home and in your communities.

The five tutorials in The Engaging Leader are designed both for your own individual use as you hone your personal and professional leadership skills and for use by an experienced facilitator or teacher as curriculum material in a professional development seminar or class. A facilitator or teacher can expect to guide a group of participants or students through the tutorials and derive meaningful, applicable benefits by investing seven hours in any one tutorial.

The Engaging Leader arrives on the two-year anniversary of the release of its companion piece The Citizen Leader: Be the Person You’d Want to Follow. This first book is a thought-provoking guide to help you develop and deepen your moral compass — that is, explore and respond to the questions: Who am I? and How do I want to be in the world? The Citizen Leader challenges you to be authentic and courageous so you can say with conviction: I am a person I’d want to follow, and then to extend yourself to make meaningful contributions at work or in your community.

Peter Alduino welcomes your inquiries and your invitation to have him lead a seminar or speak to you and your group on the themes of The Engaging Leader and The Citizen Leader.

Contact Peter Alduino by clicking here.

For more about The Engaging Leader

For more about The Citizen Leader

For more about Peter Alduino

Boy Scouts of America Fail

One month ago today, the Senate confirmed Eric Fanning as undersecretary of the Air Force — the second-highest civilian position in this branch of the United States Armed Services. Today, the 1400 members of the national council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to change its position on whether gay boys and men are welcomed to participate as scouts and troop leaders. As a result of today’s vote, Undersecretary Fanning continues to be unfit and unwelcomed to step into the role of a troop leader in the eyes of the Boy Scouts. Why? Because he is a gay man.

Fanning has been deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy since July 2009. When Bill Clinton was president, Fanning was a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an associate director of political affairs at the White House. But because he is gay, the Boy Scouts of America consider him to be unfit as an adult leader for its young members.

Under the new guidelines enacted today, the Boy Scouts will no longer ban or discriminate against gay boys who have the courage to come out to their peers and their troop leaders. That is, until they reach the age of 18. The day they turn 18 years old, according to the new guidelines, these young men become unfit and unwelcomed to participate in Scouting in any capacity. Why, because at 18, they are gay men — no longer gay boys, but gay men. And that, according to the thinking behind the new guidelines, changes everything and renders these former scouts a danger, a menace, a threat to the teenagers who were their peers the day before. And it renders them unfit for the rest of their lives.

What idiocy is this?

It is the kind of idiocy that continues to allow employers in 29 states to fire an employee simply because he or she is gay.

It is the kind of idiocy that is rearing its ugly head in legislative efforts designed to permit anyone to refuse any and all service to gay men and women simply by invoking a First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression.

It is the kind of idiocy that carries with it the moniker homophobia.

And the new guidelines enacted by the Boy Scouts of America, camouflaged as progressive policy, do little more than reinforce this entrenched homophobia. For all intents and purposes, the national council is just passing the buck to the next generation of Boy Scouts of America leaders.

For my part, I have every confidence that this next generation of leaders will have more courage than the current timid group to stand up, to speak up and to act to assure the equal treatment and the equal respect of all American citizens — our Undersecretary of the Air Force included.

Related Reading:

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls Speaks Out Against Boy Scout Gay Ban: VIDEO

Boy Scouts of America Proposes Dropping Ban on Gay Members

Gay Man Confirmed as Air Force Undersecretary

Boy Scouts of America Proposes Dropping Ban on Gay Members

Boy Scouts propose allowing gay scouts but banning gay leaders

Mormon church endorses Scout plan: let gay boys join, keep out gay leaders

On Terror, Tyranny and Cowardice

On Monday in Boston, we were assaulted by two bombings carried out by unknown assailants for unknown reasons. This stealth act of terrorism, perpetrated on unsuspecting, peaceful and innocent civilians needs to be called out for what it is: cowardice.

On Wednesday in the United States Senate, we were assaulted by the tyranny of the National Rifle Association when forty-five sycophant Senators voted against background checks for gun purchases and transfers for reasons that they can neither articulate nor defend without deceit or deflection.

Today, Thursday April 18, 2013, is the anniversary of the day when two hundred and thirty-eight years ago men of courage stood up against tyranny at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago today, a handful of determined farmers standing in for hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens fought against a tyrant that neither represented nor honored the interests of the people.

Continue reading “On Terror, Tyranny and Cowardice”

Citizen Leaders’ Success: You Can Play Project and the NHL Team Up to Eradicate Homophobia on the Ice

Citizen Leaders are the men, women, young adults and teens who take stock of the kind of world they want to help shape for the people they care about and act to make it so.

—Peter Alduino, Author, The Citizen Leader

In a blog post 9 months ago, I applauded Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman as citizen leaders for their efforts to eradicate homophobia from amateur and professional hockey. These three men founded the You Can Play project — an outreach and advocacy program that challenges the culture of homophobia in locker rooms and among fans by focusing instead and only on an athlete’s skills, hard work, heart and competitive spirit.

As a direct result of their efforts since founding the project 12 months, yesterday, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association announced a groundbreaking partnership with the You Can Play project in what is likely the most comprehensive effort by a major North American sports league to support gay athletes. Hockey News reported, the agreement with You Can Play will see the implementation of an agenda of inclusion throughout the NHL that promotes better understanding of and respect for gay athletes. You Can Play will conduct seminars at the NHL’s rookie symposium and make its resources and personnel available to each individual team as desired. The NHL and NHLPA will work with You Can Play to integrate the project into their Behavioral Health Program to enable players to confidentially seek counseling or simply ask questions about sexual orientation issues.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement, “Our motto is ‘Hockey Is For Everyone,’ and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way. While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker-rooms and in the stands.”

In his statement, Patrick Burke reminds us that the You Can Play Project is not just for pro players. He said, “To me, it’s just as important that a young player playing lacrosse or a 60-year-old playing beer league someplace feel safe in their locker-room. We really want to work on the culture at its core because I believe in any sport, at any level, at any age, at any skill level, you should be able to play sports free of fear.”

Congratulations to Citizen Leaders Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman. Bravo to the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association.


NHL, NHLPA combine to form a partnership with You Can Play Project (Hockey News)

NHL, ‘You Can Play’ announce partnership to support gay athletes (LGBTQNation)

Major Sports Leagues Prepare for the ‘I’m Gay’ Disclosure (New York Times)

NHL Announces Support For Gay Rights, Pledges To Fight Homophobia With New Initiative (Huffington Post)

New review at “Essential reading for anyone who leads — or hopes to lead — others”

Most of us have suffered through the poor leadership of others, and I would argue that it’s because as a society, we don’t have a shared understanding of what leadership looks like. Most people “know it when they see it,” but they can’t really define it, which by extension means that they can’t develop it as a skill.

This book explores the key attributes that inspire others to follow our lead. The premise is that all of us have the ability to be great leaders by being clear about our convictions, exercising humble curiosity, living with integrity, and demonstrating courage. The Citizen Leader purports that leadership is a skill that can be learned, and not just something we’re born with (or not).

If more of us understood the messages in this book, our lives — and the lives of those who follow our lead — would be much better for it.

Read Review at >>

Action Reveals Values: Starbuck’s CEO Schultz Stands Up for the Company’s Value of “Embracing Diversity” (Video)

At Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Wash. last Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz told off an investor who tried to argue that the company’s support for same-gender marriage is bad for business.

The shareholder Tom Strobhar, founder of an anti-gay marriage group, claimed that as a result of the National Organization for Marriage’s boycott of the coffee company, “in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”

Watch as Schultz replies bluntly that Starbucks’s endorsement of marriage equality is not about making money, but about the principle of embracing diversity. Then, he goes on to disabuse the shareholder of the claim that financial returns were disappointing.

Schultz finishes, “if you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” Schultz said, to applause from the audience.


The Road Ahead for the Boy Scouts of America: Bigotry or Decency

To the Board of Directors: Boy Scouts of America

Bigotry has consequences.
Each day that the Boy Scouts of America continues to condone the marginalization of gay boys, it fails to send a strong message to very impressionable heterosexual boys that all youngsters deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
As a result, wonderful, promising young boys die.
Would a Scout have come to Jadin Bell’s aid if the BSA were sending a more inclusive and less bigoted and homophobic message about gay boys and men than it is today? 
The young boys under the influence of the Boy Scouts of America would grow to be better citizens and leaders if they were encouraged to lead the charge against bigotry instead of being threatened with expulsion for doing just that – last week’s response on the part of the BSA to a troop in Maryland. What part of that respone is not repugnant? What part of that response does not reek of complicity in the ugly subculture of intolerance and hatred?The BSA is already on the wrong side of history. But you have to know that by now.

It doesn’t take courage to change at this point, it just takes common decency.