Wednesday, November 26, 2014

September: Paper, Parents, and PT

This is the month when I finally feel as if I'm on sabbatical, mainly because I know my colleagues are all back at work. So I have time to get caught up on my blog, which profiles 100-year-old companies and explains the results of my research on common behaviors, or strategies, employed by these old firms. (See I also put the finishing touches on the paper I'm to present at a conference in October and got the PowerPoint all set.

The month flew by. We all enjoyed a special visit by my parents, who drove up from Florida with my brother. John and I drove to Ann Arbor to pick them up and enjoyed a family gathering and Packer game in the process.
                                            My Mom & Dad at Holland State Park

Then came the Watervale weekend with my friends that we've been doing for nearly 20 years. Watervale Inn is an old-fashioned resort in Arcadia, Michigan, tucked between Lake Michigan and Lower Herring Lake and we always have a wonderful time with good food, good conversation, lots of shopping in Frankfort, Beulah, and Benzonia, and long walks along the beach and through the woods.
The Margaret - "our" cottage
 Lower Herring Lake
 The garden at BeeDazzled, one of our regular shopping stops

Gorgeous weather, good times with friends and relatives - and the start of twice weekly physical therapy to try to resolve my lower back pain.

August: Hope-Meiji Gakuin Global Management Seminar & Servant Leadership Paper

Hope College has a long-standing relationship with Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo. My research on 100-year-old companies began when I led a group of Hope students on our Japan May Term several years ago and one of the lecturers was Makoto Kanda. He presented a lecture on his research of shinise - honored old Japanese companies and I was hooked. He and I have been working together researching old companies in both Japan and the U.S. ever since. 

When MGU began offering an International Management major Mako asked me and Hope's Japanese professor Andy Nakajima to put together a 2-week August program for their students. Thus was born the Hope College-Meiji Gakuin Global Management Seminar. For the last 8 or 9 years (I've lost track of when the first seminar took place) I have been co-director of the program, coordinating economics and business lectures for the MGU students (including giving lectures myself),  as well as setting up local and Chicago business visits. This year I had all the planning done for the seminar but, since I am on sabbatical, was expecting one of the other management professors from Hope to actually run the program with Andy Nakajima. However, the other professor backed out saying he was just too burned out from a busy spring semester and the fact that he would have to prep a new course for the fall. I didn't mind stepping in since I enjoy working with Andy and always have a good time with the Japanese students and the professor who accompanies them. 

So soon after returning from Belize, I joined Andy Nakajima in welcoming 20 Japanese students and three staff members and one professor to Hope and Holland. Since I was planning to be on sabbatical, I wasn't scheduled for any lectures and had arranged for another professor to accompany the group on the local business visits. So the only other things I needed to to were the evening picnic at the park, the farewell luncheon and celebration, and the Chicago trip. After the luncheon, which resulted in even more tears than usual, I boarded a bus with the group for the trip to Chicago.

After checking into our hotel we headed for Navy Pier where we always stop at Bubba Gumps for dinner, walk the pier (usually wandering through the stained glass museum along the way), and then go for a sunset Lake Michigan cruise.  


The next morning we go to the Chicago Board of Trade/Mercantile Exchange for a tour, then across the street to the Federal Reserve for a presentation and tour of their Money Museum. A walk up to Wacker Drive, stopping to point out a few Chicago landmarks along the way, for lunch at Bao Wow before going to JETRO (the Japanese External Trade Organization) for the last business meeting of the program.

For their last evening in the U.S. we give the students free time to shop - Michigan Avenue and Watertower Place. Andy takes the students to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and I take the professor(s) out to a nice dinner at the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock with great views over Lake Michigan. (Because the Japanese expect drinks as part of the business social experience, this usually costs me a bit since Hope won't cover alcoholic drinks, but I don't really mind.)

The next morning we sent everyone off on a bus to the airport and then I had the day to myself in Chicago before boarding the Amtrak train back to Holland at 4:50 p.m. It was a gorgeous summer day, so - though I had planned to see the Magritte exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute - I spent the day wandering around the city (and doing a little shopping). Millenium Park and the "bean" were great as was my lunch at the Atwood Cafe where Mayor Emmanuel was also dining that day (apparently he's a regular). A stop at Pret a Manger for a sandwich to eat on the train ride home and I'm good for the day. 

Though doing the Global Management Seminar this year wasn't in my sabbatical plan and it delayed the start of my other sabbatical work, I enjoyed it as usual.

This month I also received the news that a paper I had been working on with a former colleague during the spring semester (and finished up when I returned from the Netherlands) was accepted for publication in the journal Servant Leadership: Theory and Practice. My exposure to Robert Greenleaf's work on this topic years ago and my experiences at Herman Miller were instrumental in shaping my approach to management theory. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

July: Pepperdine's Global Leadership Conference in Placencia, Belize

First let me say I don't recommend going to Belize during hurricane season. We didn't experience one while there, but it sure was windy, rainy, and hot. So why go to Belize in July? Because that's when Pepperdine's International Center for Global Leadership was having their conference and my paper on using short-term study abroad programs to help develop students' intercultural leadership skills was accepted for presentation. (It was also subsequently accepted for publication in Pepperdine's Journal of Global Leadership, so it was definitely worth the trip.)


Anyway, a few weeks after spending some time back home (including moving Nick to Detroit and celebrating my 63rd birthday) we were back on a plane headed for Belize - another place I had not ever visited and which became country #40 for me. The conference was held in Placencia, which is in the southern part of Belize. After flying into Belize City we boarded a tiny little propeller plane with six other passengers and proceeded to do the puddle jumper hop down to Placencia. Although a little unnerving, we did get to see a lot of the country - mostly flat, wet land filled with shrimp and tilapia 'farms' interspersed between groves of banana and other palm trees. After three stops (can't call them airports, they were just landing strips cut into the jungle), we landed at the little airport in Placencia. After waiting quite a while because of a mix-up with the resort, were picked up (along with a couple on their honeymoon) and transported to Roberts Grove Resort, where the conference was being held.

Because of the location, this was a very casual conference. Presentations were more about the conversation and the attendees were in large part Pepperdine PhD students in the Organizational Leadership program. The welcome reception on the first evening (held at palapa the end of the resort's dock, below) set the stage for more interaction among participants than I had experienced at other conferences. Many of these students were full-time managers so I had some great conversations.

John didn't have quite as good time. Not a beach person and with the water too rough to do any of the many water sports available at the resort, he didn't find much to do. We went into the little village of Placencia after the conference was over, but there wasn't much to do there either.

We did not get to experience much of the Garifuna culture of Southern Belize, but the colorful stripes of their flag are evident in much of the clothing, such as this knit hat.

Other than the great fresh fruit at breakfast and some of the seafood, most of the food was unremarkable. 

The view from our room was great and the people I met at the conference were wonderful - but it was a very hot, damp, and windy few days!

Monday, November 24, 2014

June: International Institute of Social & Economic Science Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland

Just one week after returning from the Netherlands, I was off to Reykjavik, Iceland to participate in the IISES (International Institute of Social and Economic Science) conference. I had attended their conference last year in Norway and had been asked to be on the review board for one of their journals as well as chair a session at the 2014 conference. I'd never been to Iceland and was pleased to have my paper accepted for presentation in addition to the other duties.

Given his interest in volcanoes and earthquakes,
John decided to accompany me on this trip. We had a horrendous time getting there since Delta rescheduled us on a later flight out of Detroit than we were originally on, said flight was then delayed because of mechanical issues arriving at JFK in New York 10 minutes after our flight to Reykjavik took off. Even though they knew we were coming and that they didn't have another flight to Reykjavik for 24 hours, they didn't wait the 10 minutes for us and another couple. After much wrangling with Delta customer service we were finally scheduled on an Iceland Air flight the next morning and they put us up in a hotel for what remained of the night. If the Iceland Air flight had departing when it was supposed to, I would have arrived in Reykjavik about 10 hours before my presentation. As it was, I got there just 2 hours before showtime. As we were registering at the Iceland Air desk their computers went down and never came back up. After 2-3 hours of waiting they decided to issue hand-written boarding passes for everyone, which took several hours. Our 10 a.m. flight finally departed at 5 p.m. It was quite a nice flight with interesting videos about Iceland - a great introduction to the country. We arrived at the airport outside of Reykjavik around 3 a.m. and it was not quite dark but not quite dawn either. On the long bus ride into the city we passed landscape that looked like the moon (with green moss).

Finally arrived at our hotel (the Hilton, a little less expensive than the conference hotel and just a short walk away) in time for me to take a shower, dress, inject some caffeine and get to the conference. Tired and more than a little worse for the wear, but ready to go.

Impressive lobby of the conference hotel (Grand Hotel Reykjavik)

The session I was to chair was the first of the morning after the keynote speaker (I may have nodded off a few times during his talk). I managed do my duties of time-keeping and discussion leader, and then I also had my paper to present before being able to relax at a very nice luncheon (some of the best smoked salmon and roasted lamb I have ever had). It was all I could do to stay awake until a reasonable bed time, so in the late afternoon John and I took a bus ride into the city (our hotel was just a ways outside of the city center - a walkable distance, but not this time) to explore a bit. The weather was cool (50s) and a little damp, but comfortable (and good for keeping awake).
Most of the buildings in Reykjavik are very nondescript but here are a few I found more interesting. Corrugated metal is the standard material so those that use color help cheer up the rather gloomy landscape.

Back to our hotel for an early dinner (appetizers in the club lounge actually were plenty for us). We had a nice view from the lounge, the city in one direction and water in the other (well, water both ways). Visiting Iceland in late June assures one plenty of daylight.

On our second day in Reykjavik, the conference continued and John explored. I joined him again in the afternoon for a more thorough tour of the city. The famous landmark of Reykjavik, the Hallgr√≠mskirkja (even the manhole covers feature it - see below), is visible from almost everywhere with its tall steeple. The inside was very modern (and closed for a funeral, so we had to return the next day for me to see the inside). The architecture of the church is supposed to represent the volcanic rock of the island.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An interesting feature of the Hallgr√≠mskirkja interior is that the backs of the pews easily reverse from facing forward toward the pulpit to facing the fantastic organ in the rear for concerts.

We then walked down the hill (Reykjavik has quite a few) and along the water to the old port and the striking concert hall called the Harpa, the most unusual modern architecture we saw in Iceland. It was difficult to get a good picture of the exterior (below, I tried). Some of the most interesting views of the building were from the inside. Below, you will see a photo of me relaxing (we walked a lot) and then a picture when I looked up at the ceiling (the yellow is the bench I'm sitting on and the blue is my jacket).

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Reykjavik manhole cover. (Those of you who have traveled with me know I always take pictures of the manhole covers in the cities I visit.)
 More interesting modern architecture at the city hall and museum.
The last day of the conference was a bus trip for attendees. Besides having social time to get to know the participants better, we toured some of the most famous Icelandic geological sites on what is called the Golden Circle Tour. This tour included the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area (after which all other geysers are named) with its active Strokkur geyser and several "hot pots," and - most interesting to us - the Pingvellir National Park, where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

To the right the Gullfoss waterfall. Below, a stop along the way to see an old-fashioned little turf church.

Standing stones of  old bishops, I guess.

Next the "hot pots" and my attempt at a shot of the Strokkur geyser. Apparently the only other places in the world with this type of geological activity are Yellowstone Park in the U.S., North Island of New Zealand, and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.

But the most amazing part of the Circle Tour for us was the Pingvellir (or Thingvellir - Icelandic language gets translated various ways) National Park. It was named a national park because of the historic events that took place there (the world's first parliament was held here in 930 AD, where it continued to meet until 1798), it is the geology of the area that was so interesting to us. As the place where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet (and continue to separate by about 3 mm each year), walking through this area was just magical. Photos can't begin to give a sense of the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           On the bus ride back to Reykjavik we saw much of the starkly beautiful landscape punctuated with patches of wildflowers (apparently Alaskan lupine gone crazy - very pretty but hard to get a good picture through the bus window).
At the end of each day I was able to relax in one of the "hot pots" at the hotel's spa. These are hot tubs filled with mineral water from the Icelandic hot springs. Not only are they very relaxing (I could float with just the back of my head resting on the edge), a masseuse would stop by to give head and neck massages!

We could have used the day we lost trying to get here to see more of this amazing country. Despite the shortened time, the trip was definitely worth it, not only for what we were able to experience of Iceland but also because my paper was accepted for publication in the IISES journal! 

Good-bye Reykjavik!

                                                                                                                                                Some interesting Icelandic breakfast foods: shrimp, herring, mushroom, or bacon butter for your toast with a shot of cod liver oil. But they always had plenty of smoked salmon for John and their own type of yogurt, called Skyr, for me. We had lots of very good food.