Posts Tagged ‘community’

Learning about Leadership and Community

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Learning about Leadership and Community at an Express Pros Webinar

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter

Destination: Dickson City

On a beautiful August morning, our Face of America journey took us to the McCann School of Business in Dickson City, PA. We went there to participate in a webinar featuring JackMcCannSBDC Smalley, the director of HR Learning and Development for Express Employment Professionals.

The event was organized by Amy Clegg and her staff at the Express Pros office in Scranton.

When we arrived, Brittany Pagnotti, Rameika Jones and Nikki Schake were attending to all the little details that would make the event a success.

In our opinion, the venue was perfect. The atmosphere was welcoming. The food was delicious, and the sense of community was genuine.

At the appointed hour, Evan Miller, the Campus Director of the McCann School of Business, welcomed everyone with these gracious words; “We are happy you are here.”

A Very Special Moment

It has always been our pleasure to celebrate the accomplishments of Amy Clegg and her Alexis Shotwellteam, but this time she turned the tables on us with an announcement that took us by surprise.

By nature, Amy is a giving person. She likes to help others get ahead. On this special occasion, she introduced Alexis Shotwell to the audience. Alexis is a student at the McCann School of Business. She wants to specialize in early childhood education.

When Alexis came to the front of the room, Amy told the audience that Alexis would receive the first annual Dr. Tony and Mrs. Kitch Mussari Leadership Scholarship. The moment belonged to Alexis. The surprise belonged to Kitch and me. No words can accurately describe the expression of delight on Alexis’s face, and the feeling of gratitude in our hearts for this honor.

Priceless Thoughts from Patricia L. Camayd

Being a good listener is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

Patricia L. Camayd is the Business Manager for Oliver Price & Rhodes Attorneys at Law. When she was a child she overcame shyness, and she became a good listener. Today shePatricia fully appreciates the importance of being a good listener. It is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

What is not said is often more important that what is said.

At the same time, she understands the importance of effective communications with employees. It is more than texts or e-mails. Effective communications is deeply rooted in the art of listening which requires these important elements: the elimination of distractions; the ability to read between the lines; eye contact; the ability to ask the right questions; showing respect; avoiding commentary or interjection; and matching the employee with the proper training and educational programs.

It is important to recognize and express gratitude to employees.

To move forward with employee engagement and aligned goals, it is important to think win win. Celebrate your joint and continued success. Say thank you as many ways as you can imagine is always a good idea.

Employees cherish personal letters that recognize their accomplishments.

Patricia Communication

These are a few of the things Patricia does to build effective employee relationships.

Establish mentorship programs.

Hold regular individual meetings for professional development.

Establish recognition programs, wellness programs, health and relaxation techniques.

Conduct team building exercises.

Encourage employees to write attributes about others which contribute to the organization to be read publically.

She ended her presentation with an excerpt from the poem Desiderata:

With all its sham drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. Max Ehrmann

Jack Smalley’s Sage Advice

We are defined by who we are after we make a mistake.

Jack Smalley is the Director of HR Learning and Development for ExpressJack Poster Employment Professionals. For more than a generation Jack has been doing all he can to improve the workplace environment. He is best described by this observation from Brian Tracy:

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
On this day, Jack addressed The Top 5 Leadership Mistakes.

Mistake 1

Do not assume that your best employees do not need recognition. According to Jack, your best employees need and deserve recognition. Employees and supervisors should be given credit where credit is due.

Mistake 2

Don’t accept mediocre performance from C employees. Lowering the bar for the C employees who make up about 50% of the workforce will not move the organization forward. Overloading the A performers who make up 20% of the workforce is not the answer. There is no such thing as a good employee with a bad attitude.

Mistake 3

Dictator Decision Makers will not improve the work environment.

Referencing a famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon, Knowledge is power, Jack made the case for embracing people who think differently. He believes that great leaders know the value of maverick thinkers. Great leaders enable people to be different.

Mistake 4

Great leaders know how to communicate effectively.

Jack Smalley

Employees need to know what is going on. An employee deserves honesty. When it comes to leadership, everything is on the table.

The messenger is as important as the message especially when the message is bad news.

The top communication mistake is not telling the truth.

Mistake 5

The failure to mentor employees is a critical mistake.

In a compelling way, Jack used his own experience to demonstrate the importance of mentoring. His grandfather advised him to find something in life you enjoy. His father was his best friend. As a fire chief, he lived by these words: Don’t ask people to do things you are not willing to do yourself.

When Jack was 12 years old, he admired the quarterback of the high school football team. Every Saturday, he would meet with Sammy Dugger who mentored Jack. This was a priceless experience. It enabled Jack to become a successful football player in his own right, and it documented virtually all of the characteristics of successful mentoring.

Relationships matter. There is not a leader on earth who can succeed without employees_1 sharing information. You must surround yourself with good people, and you must be credible. Avoid anonymity. At all cost, take a personal interest in people.

Jack’s greatest mentor is his wife. She taught him the greatest lesson. Live family first.

When Jack mentioned David Cottrell’s book I thought about a famous quote from Monday Morning Leadership. It is a perfect description of Jack Smalley’s leadership philosophy:

Leadership can’t be claimed like luggage at the airport. Leadership can’t be inherited, even though you may inherit a leadership position. And leadership can’t be given as a gift – even if you’ve been blessed with an abundance of leadership skills to share with someone else. Leadership must be earned by mastering a defined set of skills and by working with others to achieve common goals. David Cottrell

The Express Employment Professionals Webinar event was an excellent example of what Jean Vainer wrote about community:

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.

On this special day we experienced America at its very best, and for this wonderful learning experience we want to thank:

Amy Clegg;
Amy Staff

Nikki Schake:

Brittany Pagnotti;

Rameika Jones;

Evan Miller;

Patricia L. Camayd:

Jack Smalley.

You are the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

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Marywood University: An Evening of Celebration

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Marywood University: An Evening of Celebration and Community

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2015
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Freedom Lies in Being Bold. Robert Frost

Our Face of America Journey took us to Marywood University in Scranton for a wonderful evening of celebration, and MU ApEvent 1 community. On this cold April evening, while snow flurries filled the air outside the Nazareth Student Center, the atmosphere inside the building was warm and welcoming.

More than 150 students, teachers, board members, advisory council members and guests came together to celebrate the creation of Marywood’s School of Business and Global Innovation. This is a bold initiative designed to attract students and provide them with unique opportunities that will serve them well when they graduate.

MU ApEvent 2

The event was organized by Dr. Christopher Speicher who was assisted by students, staff and other faculty members. From the informative student displays strategically positioned along the parameter of the room to the delightful array of appetizing hors’doeuvres thoughtfully located in a place where everyone had easy access to the food, it was a top shelf event, and that was obvious to everyone who attended.


These are a few of the things we learned about this major development in the School of Business at Marywood:

The president of Marywood University, Sister Ann Munley,MU ApEvent 3 believes that it takes a village to educate a student. In her remarks, she thanked all the members of the Marywood Village including members of the board of trustees, the administration, the Marywood Corporation and cabinet members. members of the Business Advisory Committee, the faculty, staff and community leaders.

She made it very clear that at Marywood University it is all about the students. They are our future she told the audience, and this initiative is designed to create new and meaningful opportunities for them.

Quoting Dr. Art Comstock, Executive Director of The School of Business and Global Innovation, Sister Ann identified three pillars of excellence: to instruct, to instill and to MU ApEvent 4inspire. She said the Marywood University students who placed first in the 2015 DeSales University Fleming Ethics Bowl Competition reflect these pillars of excellence.

She also complimented faculty members who exemplify the pillars of excellence. Every day, she said, they model accountability, integrity and ethical leadership.

She defined the ultimate goal of the School of Business and Global Innovation with these words: “We want to create servant leaders who will make positive contributions to the communities in which they live and work.”

She ended her presentation with this thought: “Effective teaching is about transforming lives one at a time. It is about helping students to be their best self, and it is about motivating students to aspire to greater things.”

The Question

When Dr. Art Comstock returned to the podium, he askedMU ApEvent 6 this question:

Why are you here this evening?

His answer was simple and direct. Tonight is about celebrating accomplishments. You are here because you care about Marywood. You want this program to grow and succeed. We are looking back in order to move forward, and we are motivated by the maxim of Dr. Rex Dumdum: “I don’t like students. I love students.”

He spoke about the eight colorful display tables that highlighted what students are doing to make the most of their education.

He encouraged everyone to engage with the students. Let them tell you about their aspirations. Help them with suggestions that will enable them to get better.

He reminded everyone that it will take a village to reach our goals, and he urged everyone in the room to celebrate all that is and all that could be.

A Quiet Hero

Chris DiMattio is a quiet hero in every sense of the word. MU ApEvent 8He was born and raised in Dunmore, PA. In 1988, he received a degree from Marywood College. For more than 25 years he has been an accredited investment fiduciary, a retirement plan advisor and a respected officer at FNCB Wealth Management Services. If you are looking for a living example of success, the life of Chris DiMattio has all the moving parts.

Yes, his business resume is impressive. Yes, his awards for community service at the local, regional and nationalMU ApEvent 9 levels are equally impressive. For Kitch and me, the most attractive quality of this extraordinary person is his kind and welcoming way. In short, Chris DiMattio is a nice person. There is a fundamental goodness about him that is reflected in the way he treats people. He is an affirmer, an encourager and a helper. He enjoys what he does. There are no histrionics, no pretentions, no uncomfortable moments when you are with Chris DiMattio. He has mastered one of the main precepts of leadership:

A good leader takes a little more of his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit. Arnold H. Glasow

For this reason and many more, Chris DiMattio was an excellent choice for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Deep Roots

John Lawless is a big man with a great smile and important MU ApEvent 10responsibilities. He is the chairman of the Business Advisory Council.

His roots run deep into the soil at Marywood. He met his wife at Marywood. His sister graduated from Marywood. His daughter is an adjunct teacher at Marywood. His oldest son was an accounting major and his youngest son is a marketing major. It is fair to say that the Lawless family is Marywood Proud.
MU ApEvent 11

On this special evening Lawless was entertaining, interesting and informative.

He wants to expand the Business Advisory Council and use it as a resource to provide opportunities for students in the School of Business and Global Innovation. He is interested in the executive in residence program. In his mind, an old pro is someone who has been around the block and can show young people the way.

For Lawless, great leaders begin as great followers who follow great leaders.

A Common Purpose

MU ApEvent 13

While I was taking pictures for this article, I thought about something H. Jackson Brown, Jr. wrote about community:

Remember the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.

Whenever I looked through the viewfinder of my camera, I saw people giving more. I saw what Alice Waters called the essence of education, people teaching kids by example how to live in a community in a responsible way.
MU ApEvent 12

On this special night at Marywood University, I saw a living mosaic of the words of John Winthrop: people delighting in each other, making others’conditions their own, rejoicing together, keeping the unity of spirit in the bond of peace.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Thank you, Dr. Rex Dundum for inviting us to this event. It is an experience we will never forget.

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An Unforgettable Weekend in Shanksville

Monday, September 26th, 2011

A Review of our Visit to Shanksville

Written by Pat Richel

When my friend Pat agreed to accompany me on the trip this past weekend, I worried that it would be a long three days for her.  I had often talked to her about your work, Kitch’s ordeal, and Skip’s cheerleaders when we were on the beach, but I still wondered.

From the first time we all met at the restaurant, Pat and I were made to feel so much a part of the group.  Everyone who was there that weekend had an important connection to Shanksville.  (Except us, of course.)  Pat and I were also constantly amazed at everyone’s role in the total picture.  We quizzed everyone and by the end of the weekend, knew so much about all.

I was deeply involved with the Twin Towers, because I knew someone who died, and also knew some survivors.  My nephew was late going to work that day, and would have been a casualty if he hadn’t overslept.  Our next door neighbor worked in a bank next to the towers.  I was working at Montclair State University at the time and was on my way to teach a 1:00 P.M. class that day.  Montclair is built on a mountain and the road on the way to the college gives a clear picture of the New York skyline.  When I saw the towers and the smoke, I was sickened.  Needless to say, I canceled classed when I arrived.

And so, though I was extremely saddened about what happened at Shanksville, the Twin Towers affected me more.  That certainly changed this weekend!  I learned so much and appreciate what everyone has done to keep the memory of those heroes alive.  Each moment of the weekend was enlightening.  Even if it made us cry.  It certainly transformed two chubby Pats from New Jersey.

After speaking to the cheerleaders, I noticed that they were transfixed with all that went on, and they too, will never be the same.  In my heart, I predict great things for all of them.  They will make their mark on this world and everyone will benefit from it.  I only wish that all students could have the opportunity to have a dose of the Mussaris and develop the "Shanksville Standard".  How much better would our lives be?

My only hope is to make the documentary accessible.  I know that it is not your purpose to commercialize it, but students and adults need to see it.  I can’t wait to see it again. 

My last thought is that I wish I had seen the old memorial with the angels, the flags, and the mementos.  The new permanent memorial is cold and almost forbidding.  Maybe that is just my opinion.  Hopefully the wonderful, volunteer Flight 93 Ambassadors will make peoples’ visits more meaningful.  The ones I met are prizes!

Thank you again for an unforgettable weekend.  Pat and I are still talking about it and will continue for a long time to come.

(Pat Richel is a school nurse, a teacher and a breast cancer survivor. She Lives in New Jersey.)

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The Secret to Our Remarkable Weekend in Shanksville

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Visiting Shanksville: The Secret to Our Remarkable Weekend

Written by Tony Mussari
Copyright 2011
Mussari Loftus Associates, LTD

The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.  Norman Cousins

I’ve been thinking a lot about our recent visit and screening in Shanksville. It was a remarkable experience on so many levels, and I think I know the reason why.

The places we visited were special, but that alone does not explain it.

The weather was reasonable decent, but that was to be expected.

The cost was not prohibitive, but that has always been the case.

So what caused people to write such celebratory and kind words about the weekend?  Words like these:

We could not stop talking about our experience this weekend. As always it was touching, respectful and beautiful. 

It was an amazing weekend in Shanksville.  This is your finest video.  What a fitting way to end a ten year project.

My sister told me about her wonderful experience she had with you and your wife over this past weekend and I’m so happy that it was a huge success.

We want to thank you for an unforgettable weekend. It meant the world to us being there with you both.

I believe in my heart that people enjoyed this weekend because they felt a genuine sense of belonging and a genuine sense of community.

I experienced those feelings at our dinner for 14 at the Pine Grill.  Just look at the smiles on the faces of the people, most of whom had just driven over four hours to get to Somerset, PA.

The feeling of community was palpable in the dining room of the Comfort Inn, in little gatherings at the permanent memorial, at the Methodist Church in the parking lot before Flight 93 Ambassadors Sue Strohm and Chuck Wagner made their presentation.

Outside the entrance to the Lutheran Church Recreation Hall before our community dinner people were laughing and smiling as they carried food into the building while others milled around to talk with one another and wonder if Bill Gaydos would ever arrive with his three blond friends.

So what was this sense of community that made us forget about all the things that bother us every day?

I think it can be best defined by identifying what was absent during this priceless weekend.

There was no anger, no alienation, no busyness, no contention, no confrontation, no hostility, no indifference, no loneliness.

What we had was a sense of equanimity, a sense of family, a sense of neighborliness, a sense of sharing.

There was no digital obsession.  There was genuine face to face and heart to heart communication. We were talking, learning, sharing, caring and spending time together.

We had common purpose and meaning tied into a desire to remember and a determination to think about, talk about, and show respect for people other than ourselves.

We were living and affirming what my friend George Parks said life is all about. Pariicipation. Someone wasn’t doing it for us. We weren’t watching it. We were doing it, living it and loving it ourselves.

We were giving testimony to the poetic words of Maya Angelou:

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

The snapshots we recorded document it.  The pleasant memories we carried away with us are embedded on our souls, and these memories prove that we knew what to do with our time and with one another.

We were not alone together. There were no distractions, no diversions, no digital solitaire.  

We were together, engaged and involved in something bigger than ourselves and that made all the difference.

We came to Shanksville on this September weekend to honor the heroes of flight 93. We came to this small town to remember with respect the men and women who gave their lives for our country after Spetember 11, 2001. We came to watch an artistic depiction of what America is at its best, and without knowing it or straining to do it, we built a community, a neighborhood, a family that reflects the best America has to offer.

To paraphrase the words of Dorothy Day, we brought the long loneliness of our lives to Shanksville, and like the men and women we came to honor, we discovered the answer to everything in life and death is community.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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