This word keeps popping up

The word isn't trust. It is consistent.

In a multitude of settings, from a variety of voices this week, I heard people affirming the importance of consistency.

I don't think any of us need a definition of it.

What we may need is a fresh recognition of its importance.

The person who is consistent is dependable and predictable.

When the service is beyond what you expect, being dependable and predictable is a great thing. It builds trust and interest, and becomes a differentiating factor in the marketplace.

If you are consistent, you aren't focused on looking for the next new thing. Instead, you are focused on results. You are focused on making a difference that matters, every time.

There is an internal strength to being consistent that breeds confidence.

It breeds confidence only if you are improving at the same time. Just being consistent and nothing else is not the answer. Rather, being consistent in bringing your A-game to your life or work is.

So, here's a plan for the next week.

Look at your schedule, the work that you have to do, and plan for everything you do to be consistent in one specific and important area.

What might those areas be?

It could be doing things on time.

It could be following-up on contacts and conversations with people.

It could be on the language you are using to describe who you are and what you do.

It could be leaving the office on time to get home for dinner on time.

It could be any number of personal disciplines that you've not been able to master because of a lack of consistency.

Consistency comes from focus and practice, and with it a difference that matters in many ways.

Let's give it a try this week.

All in a handshake

Peter Mello posted this video yesterday of Mark Bowden talking about how to shake hands. I found this so compelling because he speaking about something so instinctive and invisible, yet reveals an insight that can affect every relationship we have in a moment of time. Watch the video.

Mark sees that at the heart of the handshake is the establishment of trust.

Trust is such a key element in success and leadership today.

Trust is an ethical term. The handshake is a form of social etiquette.

I've heard it said that etiquette is ethics in action.

When people come to trust us, we also gain their confidence in us. As a result, our own self-confidence should grow.

Barriers that exist between people can be lowered by simply how we greet them with a handshake. I know there is more to it than that, but it begins there.

Click on the video again and go to YouTube where you can find other videos of Mark talking about how our body language affects relations with people.

The Recession is a Game Changer

Do you need proof that the world has changed with this recession?

Check out Tom Peter's list, Recession46: Forty-six “Secrets” and “Clever Strategies” For Dealing with the Recession of 2008-XXXX.

He starts by stating the obvious.

You come to work earlier.
You leave work later.
You work harder.
You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
You volunteer to do more.
You dig deep, deeper, deepest—and always bring a good attitude to work.
You fake it if your good attitude flags.
You literally practice your “game face” in the mirror in the morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
You give new meaning to the idea and intensive practice of “visible management.”
You take better than usual care of yourself and encourage others to do the same— physical well-being significantly impacts mental well-being and response to stress.
You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a “pre-worn” raincoat on eBay.
You try to forget about “the good old days”—nostalgia is self-destructive
(And bores others.)
You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass any time soon, and so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.
You work the phones and then work the phones some more—and stay in touch with and on the mind of positively everyone.
You frequently invent breaks from routine, including “weird” ones — “changeups” prevent wallowing and bring a fresh perspective.
You eschew all forms of personal excess.
You simplify.
You sweat the details as never before.
You sweat the details as never before.
You sweat the details as never before.
You raise to the sky and maintain at all costs the Standards of Excellence by which you unfailingly and unflinchingly evaluate your own performance.

In effect, you need two plans going forward. You need a new business plan. And you need a personal development plan.

Even as government becomes an increasingly intrusive part of our lives, we are more independent than ever before. The social support structure of family and community are not what they once were. Which means that if you do not have an attitude and the behaviors to be resilient and adaptive, then you are going to have a hard time coping with the changes that are taking place.

Read Tom Peters whole list. Copy it. Reflect on it. Factor it into your personal development plan.

HT: Dan Pink

Taleb on Skepticism

Smart people many times outsmart themselves because they are confident about their intellectual ability. I place all politicians in this classification. The result is not an expansive mind open to truth or reality, but rather a closed mine of opinion and suspicion. When our minds become closed, we treat our opinions as personal statements, and we treat those who oppose us as threats or even enemies.

This is what I thought of when I watched this interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan. Here they are discussing David Cameron, UK Conservative Party leader who may well be the next Prime Minister. In this instance there is no difference between the politics of Britain and of the US. The difference is between kinds of liberalism and conservatism.

The key here is skepticism. Taleb is making a differentiation within the traditional economic ideology of both the left and the right. They are talking about conservative economic approaches, but the point applies to liberal/ progressives as well.

Skepticism isn't a tool applied to other people's ideas. It is applied to one's own decisions. It recognizes that every free decision holds risk. The question is how to mitigate the more disastrous consequences related to risk.

At the heart of Taleb's point is the need for politicians to be circumspect and humble about their own ideas. Their confidence and the public's declining confidence in them should be a sign that something is amiss.

I find no evidence of this kind of intellectual integrity by the politicians in Washington. This concerns me as it should every person on the planet. What happened a year ago is possible again. Where's the skepticism by the news media, by academics, by the public? There is evidence of it, but it is written off as disloyalty. In essence, check your brain at the door. Just be a good citizen and think as your are told.

I think it is time for a great deal more skepticism. Remember that on election day Tuesday.

If you have not read Taleb's books Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, I suggest you do. He is an excellent tonic to the optimism that passes for reason in Washington.

On Fear

Donquixote-PicassoRoy Williams' Monday Morning Memo is always filled with insightful, inspiring stories. Roy, the Wizard of Ads, is a very wise soul. In this morning's letter he writes,

I am reminded of what Michel Eyquem De Montaigne said with tongue in cheek during the French Renaissance 450 years ago, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

As expected, we received a firestorm of email 2 weeks ago as a result of the Monday Morning Memo of March 2 in which I said I had chosen not to be fearful about the future. It seems that a lot of people take pleasure in fretting and they want me to get on board.

But a frightened person frightens other people. And these newly frightened people will frighten still more people until finally no one is spending any money. Fear is the fuel of recession. I understand perfectly what’s happening in the world. I simply choose not to be afraid.

I also choose not to be afraid.

Fear is a recognition of insecurity. There are ways to approach this notion of fear.

Fear can come over me because external circumstances dictate that I should be afraid. Alone in a dark parking lot and a rough part of town is a good time to feel fear. This is the kind of fear that Gavin De Becker considers a gift.

External circumstances can spark fear, not from insecurity, but from inadequate understanding or lack of perspective. This is one of those times. No one can see the whole picture. We can't see the big picture because the complex interaction of forces at work are never fully available to us.

If we are dependent on our own ability to see everything, to manage our external life with absolute security, then we will be afraid during times of disruptive change. However, this is a false security, and always has been.

The reason that I am not fearful is because I accept the chaos and complexity of change as normal, not abnormal. I accept it as the context which tests every ounce of my brain and the beat of my heart to look for a pathway to success.

In other words, I choose not to be fearful because it leads to worse complications. It does not make the hard external circumstances go away. Instead, I learn everyday how to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. As I do, my confidence grows because I learn from the experience.

The hardest challenge is to have had success or a good job, and suddenly, they are gone. You are left on your own, and the security of external circumstances that you became accustomed to having has faded away. Now, you are left to your own capacity to change and grow through the chaos of the moment. It has always been this way. The fact that millions of people are sharing this experience may not mean much right now, but it does suggest possibilities that others have not recognized.

These changing circumstances are also affecting our relationships. They are under threat, just like our businesses.  Old assumptions have to be placed on the table to see whether they are sustainable. New commitments made that build strength for adapting together to these chaotic times.

If you live your life, and run your business dependent upon your ability to manage external circumstances for security, then you will live your life under stress and fear. We get rid of fear by learning to be confident in our ability to adapt and change. This is an internal change, within us, that then becomes reflected in our outward actions.

The last thing to say about this is that I cannot do this alone. I cannot master the fear inside me by force of will. Two things must occur if the fear in me is vanquished.

First, I must admit it to other people. I must join with them in acknowledging our shared fear, and then find comfort and support for transforming it into the kind of confidence that we need to find the opportunities in the midst of chaos.

Second, I must turn my focus from my own fear to helping others get over their's. When we give ourselves away, we find a connection with people that makes sense of the chaos. We begin to see that much of our fear is produced by our lack of meaningful connection to other people.

Here's one example of what I mean. Here in Asheville, it has been a cold winter. Our church in late January, early February decided to open up a community room on Saturday afternoons for those who are on the street without a place to go. This action was simply a stop-gap measure to fill a specific need in the care for the homeless. I learned last night that a fellow came on Saturday to the room. Met some of our members, and returned on Sunday morning for our late morning worship service. He was so moved by the connection he found with the people on Saturday, and the service on Sunday, that at the conclusion of the service, he came and became a member of the church. I'm not sure a homeless person has ever joined our church, so this is a rather remarkable occurence.

When people connect in service and support to one another, they find their fear diminish, their hope returns, and their confidence for managing the chaos of life strengthened. This is what each of us can do, and it begins personally by choosing not to be afraid. 

Subscribe to Roy's memo here.

Photo credit: Google images

Quick Takes: Fear vs Confidence - the brain science view

Ellen Weber is a treasure. She is able to write about the science of the brain and how it relates to business and professional life in a way that is understandable and enlightening. I'm constantly fascinated by her perspective.

She has written an excellent post on fear and confidence. Here's part of it.

In reality, financial experts increasingly warn us that fear can drain an economy, and it makes sense if you consider the mental disaster fear creates. ... The opposite of fear is confidence, that fuels mind-bending strategies for change and reaches beyond fears that stunt renewal. How so?  ...

Fear causes cynics to react without much reflection. Why so?  Dangerous chemicals such as cortisol rev up in brains focused on negative or scary news. Driven by cortisol, it’s no surprise that knee-jerk responses tend to follow. That’s how brains work. It’s also true that people respond differently to fearful situations such as job loss, and that chemical and electrical activity differs in every brain. Where some run or point fingers over sinking economy,  others optimize opportunities for change. Through taming their amygdala in tough times, successful people win wonders in the most difficult financial situations. Have you seen it happen?

Confidence, the opposite of fear, triggers chemicals such serotonin for winning reactions that open the brain to solutions, in spite of difficulties.

So, it appears there "mind over matter" is a good prescription for handling these fearful times. Train your mind to look for opportunities. Get out, take a walk, get away from the bad news.  In other words, you don't have to live in fear. Confidence can be developed.

The future is local

I've been talking to people. Here's what I'm hearing about how they are handling the recession.

Fear, desperation and hunkering down are typical descriptions.  No confidence about the future. I've yet to talk to a person who either runs a business or owns one that believes the government's stimulus efforts will do much good.

Heard about a guy who bought rental property as a retirement investment. He's had to take a second job to pay the mortgage because his tenants have lost their jobs.

Heard a guy tell another about a long career with a company that started early in his life. He retired well and young, and now is having to think about going back to work because his investments are in such bad shape.

Read in a Tom Peters' post the other day a quote from Peggy Noonan. She first speaks about spread of pessimism.

This isn't like the stock market crash of 1987 or the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2001. People are not feeling passing anger or disappointment, they're feeling truly frightened.

The reasons:

This isn't stock market heebie-jeebies, it's systemic collapse.

It's not just here, it's global.

It's not only economic, but political. It wasn't only mortgage companies that acted up and acted out, so did our government, all the governments of the West, spending what they didn't have, for a decade at least.

And at the center of the drama is your house—its worth, or its ability to see you through retirement, or your ability to hold onto it. An extra added angst bonus: Those thinking now about retirement are just old enough to remember America before the abundance, before everyone was rich, rich being defined as plenty to eat, a stable place to live, and some left over for fun and pleasure. For them, the crash has released old memories. And it's spooking people.


Perhaps the biggest factor behind the new pessimism is the knowledge that the crisis is not only economic but political, that we'll have to change both cultures, economic and political, to turn the mess around. That's a tall order, and won't happen quickly. One thing for sure: Our political leaders for at least a decade, really more, have by and large been men and women who had fortunate lives, who always seemed to expect nice things to happen and happiness to occur. And so they could overspend, overcommit and overextend the military, and it would all turn out fine. They claimed to be quintessentially optimistic, but it was a cheap optimism, based more on sunny personal experience than any particular faith, and void of an understanding of how dark and gritty life can be, and has been for most of human history.

The crisis isn't just global, but local. It isn't just about the ability of large institutions, business and governmental ones, to foster trust and confidence. She is right this isn't a simple burp along the path towards prosperity. We are experiencing the first great systemic failure or collapse (as Kevin Kelly calls it) of the connected era. 

The Noonan quote that Peters selected. 

I end with a hunch that is not an unhappy one. Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone's garage, somebody's kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That's where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.

My experience of working with people and their organizations they make the transitions of organizational change has shown me that attitude is an important factor in dealing with a crisis. Fear and desperation need to be replace with trust and confidence. Hunkering down isn't survival. It is burial. The future is local and it is collaborative.

The challenge we each face together is the recreation of a local business environment that supports innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration. It doesn't start in Washington, or on Wall Street or at your state capital. It starts right where you are.

I end, as Noonan ended her column, believing that opportunities abound right now. They are not easy or simple, but they are there for people and business who are willing to put aside territorial privilege, act collaboratively and practice innovation and entrepreneurialism in their businesses and community organizations. 

There is great strength in every community waiting to be released. It is up to us. Let's begin the conversation that makes this happen.

How a Non-Profit and a For-Profit together find success

A year ago I began a project with a small non-profit health care provider in a remote rural county here in North Carolina. They had many problems that needed to be addressed. Over the course of four months a long range plan was adopted which included a restructuring of the board, a revitalization of their by-laws, and the development of a marketing plan that would grow their image and support in the region.

Before the plan could be fully implemented, it became obvious that they were running out of money, and that if nothing was done, they would be out of business by the end of the year. So, we went back to work to modify their long range plan to incorporate into it a partnership that could provide them additional revenue. 

After some research, three options emerged. The first a merger with a competitor from a neighboring county never got beyond an initial conversation. The second a possible acquisition by a local provider of different health care services than the non-profit's.  The third was to sell to a for-profit health care provider in the same business.

As we approached this decision, we had two basic criteria that we applied to our decision making process.  It was essential that whatever happened, it would be in the best interest of the people of their community. After all as a not-for-profit organization, their stakeholders were the people they served.  Our prior planning process had revealed a lack of confidence by the community in the organization. Our plan was to rebuild the foundation of trust and confidence by the community. The mission of this healthcare organization was one that potentially could touch every person and family in the county. So, the failure to be a financially sustainable organization was not just a business one, but also a failure to fulfill its mission to serve their fellow citizens.  It was, therefore, essential that any solution would lead to greater opportunities to serve the people of their county. No small task.

The second criteria for finding a partner was that they could bring financial resources to the agreement.  For their problems were not really a management or service/operations problem, but a financial resources one. To build the numbers of client/patients to financially sustainable levels would not happen over night.

The clock was ticking, time was running out, and urgency was the name of the game.  After initial discussions, the first two options were put aside because there were no prospects for financial resources coming from either.

So, conversations began with a for-profit health care provider from out-of-state that already had another business enterprise operating successfully in the community. The thought occurred to all of us, "How does a for-profit business partner with a non-profit organization?"  There are all sorts of legal issues that must be addressed. So, we pulled in a couple of lawyers to advise us on these factors.

Over the course of three months, discussions and meetings were held that led to a purchase by the for-profit of particular assets of the non-profit.  The arrangement that they created is a story of how through persistence, creativity and attention to one's mission, even in the most dire circumstances, solutions can be found.  Here's the result of our work.

The for-profit is purchasing the non-profit's Certificate of Need and License to operate in five contiguous counties in North Carolina. That is all they are purchasing. While they apply to the state for approval of the transfer of license, they will operate the non-profit organization under a management agreement. This agreement begins December 1.

The non-profit retains the rest of its assets, including outstanding accounts receivable, their building and furnishings, and remaining funds in reserve. The non-profit will begin a new life as a philanthropic organization with funds that it can use to raise awareness of their mission of service to their community, and for indigent patients in their community.  Along with a foundation entity owned by the for-profit, payment for services by those in the community who "fall between the cracks" of the health care system can be met.

The resulting agreement, announced yesterday to staff and community, is a win-win-win one.  It is a win for the non-profit who met the criteria for continuing their mission and for the financial resources to do it in their transfer of operations to the for-profit organization.  The for-profit organization wins because they have the opportunity to build up services that had not reached its capacity to benefit the community, and provides them a base for expanding services in areas not provided by the non-profit. It is a win for the community because the specific health care services provided by the non-profit will continue.

The response from former board members was positive and hopeful. From the staff, a sense of excitement about a stronger organization that will provide them greater job security, opportunities for better compensation and benefits that the non-profit could not afford to provide.  By the board, a sense of hope, optimism and relief.

What are the lessons to be learned from this story?
Just how important trust and confidence matter. I cannot speak to what would have happened if a merger or acquisition by one of the other two options had occurred. The circumstances were not right at the moment they were presented. So, we'll never know.

However, as the non-profit board and the leadership/ownership of the for-profit got to know one another, it became increasingly apparent that there was a growing level of compatibility between the two organizations.  This made the deal the best it could possibly be.

Two things can be said about the leadership of the for-profit. It was apparent that there was no narrow, only one way, our way deal to be made. Instead, I've rarely encountered the level of openness to options by leadership that has been in place as long as they have. My assessment is that they are absolutely clear that their mission is to serve people and to do so in a business-wise viable manner.

That openness to let the deal become what it needed to be built trust and confidence in them. This was not a for-profit predatory organization looking to take the assets of a failing organization and slip off into the night.  I've seen that before. No, their commitment to the mission of service to the people of this rural county was paramount and enabled the board to see that not only were they a group to be trusted with the mission, but also they could have confidence that this group would succeed in ways that the current organization had not able to achieve.

In my role as facilitator, intermediary and consultant, I came to understand the importance of two things - communication and resilient optimism.

In a negotiation between two businesses, rumors begin to surface. People talk, and often the talk is inaccurate. In this case, all the rumors were wrong and apocalyptic in tone. At the appropriate time, the board of the non-profit instructed me to tell the staff about what was taking place. We talked about a range of issues, like their continued employment, and one of them asked if they could tell others. Here's the nature of real communication. I said,"I believe it is not time for you to talk about this outside of this room. However, my assumption is that once this meeting is over, that the news will be all over town." They asked "Who will that come from?"  I said, "My assumption is that one of you will be the source of the news getting out."  And, I was correct. For this reason, it is important to be absolutely clear about what is told in these situations. It can't be a hype. It has to be a straight-forward depiction of what is happening, to the degree that it can be said.

Finally, when an organization sees their money running out, it produces many different emotions. Fear, panic, remorse, anger, guilt, and denial to name a few. What this project did was reinforce my experience that resourceful, resilient optimism is required to thrive in hard times. We have to believe that there is an answer and through persistence and hard work, we will find it. In my dealings with the board of the non-profit, I never allowed them entertain the option of closing down. I was confident that if they stayed open to new ideas and options, one would surface that would work. And it did, and will beyond anything they could have imagined a year ago when we started this project.

Yes, in a time of diminishing expectations for the future, great things can still happen. We just have to remain open to the opportunities that are emerging, and learn to embrace them with energy and commitment.

And the story doesn't end here. Next month, once the management contract begins, the non-profit board will begin to plan for its next life as a philantrophy still committed to providing services to their fellow community members. I look forward to the opportunities that will come for them.

Quick Takes: Bill Taylor on the current financial hardships

Bill Taylor is a clear thinking, rational guy. His Mavericks at Work book, co-authored with Polly Labarre is a must read. He has a brief column that focuses on what business people needed to be doing while they deal with the financial hardships we are all facing.

Here's one take away that is worth pondering all day.

Don't just remake your balance sheet, reassert your mission statement. This crisis is as much about values, trust, and business integrity as it is about declining stock prices and limited credit. Be sure to remind your colleagues, your customers, and the world at large why what you do matters, why you started the company in the first place, and what kind of impact you're trying to have on the world. Here's a question I always ask CEOs to think about: "If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?" Well, since plenty of companies may go out of business, remind everyone around you why staying in business matters.

My perspective is that now is the time to demonstrate why people should have trust and confidence in us. Trust because we are ethical and honest, caring and perceptive about their challenges. Confidence because we have the capacity to help them through these difficult times.

Read Bill's post, and consider the reasons why people should have Trust and Confidence in you and your business today.  And then consider why they as your client also deserve your trust and confidence.

Observations on Trust and Confidence

Observation 1:
After watching the debate last night, I came away less assured that we can trust either of these men to lead the nation forward. They both seem to be stubbornly stuck in the past. Both think that they can finesse the global economic system by paying a bait and switch game of new taxes and tax breaks. These are not men who have a clear understanding about the future.  They are products of 20th century thinking about government. 

Obama: Last night he spoke of a net cost reduction to the federal government. Based on what I heard him say to date, he is saying is that through clever tax policy, he'll not have to cut the cost of the federal government. He didn't say that he would cut the budget except for military expenditures.  These vague tricks of phrase about tax increases for the wealthy, tax reduction for the middle class, and promises of health insurance for all don't add up. The pandering to the fear of the middle class only means that the middle class will bear the brunt of the recession that will be made worse by his tax policies.

McCain: He wants to the lower the cost of government, and then promises a $300 billion bail out of bad mortgages. I see where his promised federal expeditures are not much less that Obama. More pandering. More spending. Less clever than his opponent.

Also it is a false notion to think that the financial issues are really between a free market and government regulation. We don't have a free market economy. We have a government subsidized free market economy that is regulated for political purposes. Both of these men know this, so the issue is really a false one, intended to provide a platform for distinguishing them. This is bad politics because it means that the crucial issue of the poltical entanglements of Washington and Wall Street will not be address, and will become worse because it benefits the incumbent party.

Observation 2:
There is a fundamental issue of trust that is not getting sufficient exposure. Congress is at its lowest approval level in history. Translated - this is the least trustworthy group of elected officials in US history. If it was simply that they were crooks, it would be easy to address. But, what we have is a culture of incompentence because political advantage drives the congressional bus.  Obama and McCain are part of this culture of incompetence. Neither are outsiders. They understand the game.

Observation 3:
Monday sitting in my hotel room waiting to go to a client meeting in the evening, I watched coverage of the financial markets on the television. In interview after interview, the assessment of the financial situation was that there was a lack of trust between members of the financial system. The financial system that we have is built on trust. When I put my money in the bank, I trust that it will be there when I want to withdraw it. When I invest in a mutual fund or a 401K, I don't expect to lose money.  I accept the risk of fluctuation. But I don't expect to lose everything because of governmental failure. Our financial system depends on people willing to invest in it. If the perception is that it is untrustworthy then people won't invest. They will become more solitary in holding on to cash or some other hard currency. Without the trust of the people, the ability of communities to grow and meet the needs of people will diminish.  At the heart of our whole society is the requirement that trust be maintained.

In my work, I have found that effective partnerships are built on trust and confidence.

Trust is a product of respect. It is the belief that I am who I say I am and that I am honest.

Confidence is a product of competence tested and proven effective. It is the belief that I can accomplish what I say I will. 

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are wanting us, you and me, to believe that they are trustworthy, competent individuals who can lead the country. The more I look at who these men are the less confidence I have in them.   Last night's debate left me with a cold chill wondering what financial disaster and global conflict awaits because of the hubris and untrustworthiness of these men. 

In my lifetime, I have never felt a greater sense of uncertainty about the future than I do right now. Never. Not after 9/11. Not during the failures in Iraq. Not during Vietnam or the riots of the 1960's. Those were all relatively simple issues to address compared to where we are now. And I don't trust these two candidates, nor their parties, nor their colleagues in Congress to do what is in the best interest of the American people.

From my observations, neither candidate has earned my trust and confidence. And that leaves me wondering if for the second time in my life, that I may not vote for a presidential candidate.

Am I alone in my concerns?  Does anyone else feel this way? Are we a nation of lemmings running toward the cliff?  Is everyone just going along because they feel paralyzed by the complexity and magnitude of the challenges facing us?

Please think clearly about these candidates.

Please come to your own objective, independent decision about the trust and confidence we have in them.

Please don't trust just what the campaigns and media say about them.

Please think for yourself. It may be your greatest contribution to the future of our country you can make in the next month.