My July Leadership Newsletter

What is a Life of Climb? Learn more about the CEO journey here.

July 4, 2022

Today is July 4:  Our nation’s 246th birthday

Happy Independence Day!

May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please,

but the opportunity to do what is right.”

Reverend Peter Marshall

Chaplain of the US Senate


For Your Edification and Enlightenment:

American Made

The Other Kind of Independence

Small is Beautiful

Large is Temporary

American Ingenuity for the Fourth

Removing the Front Door

Regular Features:

Econ Recon:  “A Monty Python Economy?”

Vistage Webinars for All

Best Blogs  

For Our Friends Outside the Family

American Made

Today is July 4…the day we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the most consequential document ever written.  It made America possible, so let me ask you a question, my fellow Americans:

Have you ever read it?

Have you shared it with your children and grandchildren?

After the fireworks are over and before the long weekend is gone, take five minutes (it’s a quick read)  and expand your citizenship IQ regarding what all the fuss was really all 246 years ago. It’s only 1,320 words in length  (about three pages ) and offers an enlightening list of the many grievances that drove the Founders to take the existential risk of declaring independence from the greatest power on earth at that time. 

These grievances against a government they did not choose will make many of our complaints pale in comparison; especially since we are also blessed with a constitution that allows peaceful change without violence, rebellion, or insurrection; something that the extremists on the Left and Right of today appear to have forgotten.  

The Declaration’s signers understood, as many today do not, that the Declaration and the Constitution made it possible for to have our say, but not always to get our way; and when we don’t, to work for it peacefully.

The signers were the ultimate protesters, rebelling against the mightiest nation on the planet with the best standing army in the world at the literal risk of their lives. As Benjamin Franklin, one of the signers, remarked at the time of the irrevocable choice they had just made,  “We must all hang together or most assuredly, we will all hang separately. “ They made the very act of protesting a right for which they deserve our undying thanks and remembrance..

The Declaration of Independence was our indispensable American moment.  Without it, all that followed that we take for granted becomes problematic.  Take a few minutes to study one of the greatest documents ever written. You may be surprised what’s in it…and you’ll probably be one of the few Americans who’ve read it start to finish. 

It’s what makes us Americans. Please share it, especially with the young people in your life.

The Other  Independence

The Declaration of Independence’s most treasured words affirm that among our most “inalienable rights…..are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”     For many, happiness to varying degrees requires financial independence as well.

If you want to help the young people in your life (and perhaps yourself) achieve such independence,  I suggest you share this ten-minute video from Scott Galloway,  professor, entrepreneur, and author of the highly recommended “No Mercy, No Malice” blog.

How well do you and yours understand the “Algebra of Wealth?”

Small is Beautiful (again)

Boomers will remember a popular book from the 70’s titled “Small is Beautiful” that took to task the well-intentioned mega-projects of that time that did not produce the intended benefits.   Professor Roger Martin in his “Play to Win” blog offers an analogy to that theme that may help you look at your marketplace with fresh eyes.  Many SME companies get addicted to the high volumes that large customers provide.  But such volume comes with a cost, and some are starting to wonder if it’s worth it.

Marketers should check out Dr. Martin’s short blog post on the topic “Small is Beautiful:  Why You Need to Pay More Attention to Small Customers.”  (My thanks to my fellow Vistage Chair Colleague in Los Angeles Jed Daly for this article).

Large is Temporary

Many CEOs are captivated by the annual lists of the largest companies.    As interesting as the rankings may be in any given year, what’s really edifying, and sobering, is how the rankings change over time.  

The American Business History Center (ABHC) publishes “Largest Companies Charts”  and updates them annually.  What is interesting (and perhaps a little disturbing) for CEOs is not just these companies’ relative position on the list but that entire industries have been displaced down the chart. .  Autos and oil dominated in 1994;  check out the leading industries in 2021 for an object lesson in just how much can change. The most interesting feature of these charts is their dynamic nature;  press the green animation button in the lower left corner of the graph and watch the rankings change year by year and which companies rise and fall.  

BTW, if you’d like some insights into why companies lose a dominant position, check out the least known, but perhaps most important of Jim Collin’s books  “How the Mighty Fall”    If you don’t feel like  reading one more book, try this short video  interview with Collins recapping the book from a few years back.    How close is your company to “falling?”

American Ingenuity for the Fourth

American ingenuity has been long and rightly celebrated for what it’s brought to us and how our freedom makes it possible   A timely example of same is how drones are being creatively used to replace fireworks this Fourth of July.

Fireworks have been impacted by supply chain and transportation issues, making them significantly more expensive this year.  Moreover, in many parts of the American West that have been ravaged by wildfires, the risk of fireworks shows is just too great a risk to public safety.   

What to do?   Many cities have replaced their fireworks displays with fleets of drones (2 min video) programed to present a visual, safe, and cost-effective tribute in the night sky to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave (a great example of innovation by using a new technology to satisfy an old need).  

Removing the Front Door

The first line of IT defense for many companies are the usernames and passwords employees use to access their companies’ IT systems; it’s akin to have a lock on the front door and an alarm system to advise you if it’s opened by someone not entitled to do so..   You wouldn’t put a note on the door telling an intruder the key is under the doormat or what the alarm code is.   But that’s what many companies do according to   Vistage IT Security Speaker and Cybersecurity Expert Mike Foster.  Mr. Foster suggests you remove the front door.  Find out how to do that in his recent blog post:     Anatomy of a Password Attack, and How to Prevent Them.

Econ Reco

A Monty Python Economy:    Remember the character in Monty Python “Search for the Holy Grail   who kept insisting “I’m not dead yet!” ?  Dr. Brian Wesbury’s recent post suggests a similar analog to the increasing fears of a recession.  Check out his blog post  “We’re Not Already in a Recession.”

The Surge Ebbs:   The money supply, and consequently inflation, surged during Covid.   Dr. Wesbury’s urges calm in  other posting this week posits that recent measures of the money supply indicates that “The Monetary Surge Continues to Ebb”  suggesting that as of now  “things appear to be moving in a direction that will bring down inflation in the years ahead.”

Dis or De::   Inflation comes in several flavors and it’s important to know which is which.    Lauren Saidel-Baker of ITR Economics does and offers a few interesting paragraphs on the difference between deflation and disinflation.  Be sure you know the difference.

2008 vs 2030:    The Great Recession of 2008 caught many by surprise.   The economists at ITR Economics have been forecasting a Great Depression in 2030.  Take a few minutes for ITR”s short posting  how 2008 and 2030 will be the same and how will they be different.

For Our Friends Outside the C-Level Family

These webinars from Vistage Research are

available to Vistage Members and Non-members alike

Cutting-Edge Decision-Making Resources from Vistage Research

Events open to Members and non-Members

Best Blogs

I resource material for your “edification, enlightenment and enjoyment”  from many sources.  I will continue to provide specific recommendations as above for the content I think is worthwhile.    But if you don’t find anything to your liking above, check out this list of the best (in my opinion)  blogs, websites etc. for the C-Level Executive.  I will feature this on an ongoing basis and update this list as I discover new resources.  

All are free and do not require a subscription.  Enjoy and learn!

General Business

Vistage Research and Insights: Webinars and articles for the C-Level and those who aspire to it.   (Available to all, not just Members).

Chief Executive Magazine :   Great, short articles for CEOs.

“No Mercy, No Malice”:      Many want to be thought leaders; few are.  Dr. Scott Galloway is. Thoughtful (no malice), researched commentary but without filters (no mercy).

Jim Collins:   Need I say more? 

Marketing and Sales

Sales Leadership:    Creating emotionally intelligent (EI) salespeople with Colleen Stanley, one of the country’s best experts on sales management and EI.

Boost Profits   Too many executives worry about selling more without thinking about whether they could be charging more.  Vistage speakers Casey Brown and Doug Butdorf have shown hundreds of Vistage members the way to increasing profits at current volume levels.  This website is an excellent repository of videos and blog posts on this important topic.

Managing Yourself

The Farnum Street Blog  :  Thought provoking articles, newsletter and GREAT podcasts offer “Timeless insights for life and business.” 

The Pinkcast:  Daniel Pink- One of the best business writers on innovative topics. Author of “Drive” and  “To Sell is Human.”

Think with Pinker”  with Dr. Steven Pinker   If you can’t think, you’ll sink….in your career and much else.  Dr. Pinker will make you better! 


ITR Economics:  Alan and Brian Beaulieu-Decades of consistently accurate forecasting accompanied by advice for executive action.

First Trust Economics Blog:   Brian Wesbury’s blog on the economy and the markets.  Always worthwhile. 

Visual Capitalist:   Economic (and other) data graphically presented in innovative, fun, and compelling ways.


Mike Foster’s IT Security & Best Practices Blog:  Mike Foster has been a trusted resource on IT Security for Vistage Members for years.  Has a great newsletter too! 

General Interest

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History”:   “Because Sometimes the Past Deserves a Second Chance.” 

Gates Notes:      Microsoft Founder Bill Gates’ Personal Blog.  Great reading recommendations 

Feel free to forward this newsletter to your customers, vendors, and other non-member friends.  I’m happy to add your friends and colleagues to the distribution list if you like.

Trust you will find something that resonates with you, 

Ed Stillman

Senior Chair

Austin Texas

Phone or Text 512-422-6232

Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?