Search This Blog


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Moral Leadership

Author's note: The following is taken from a larger paper prepared as part of a course taken for his pursuit of a Ph.D. through Milwaukee's Cardinal Stritch University.

Copyright 2016, Aaron Scott Robertson. All rights reserved.

Taken from "The Importance and Relevance of Moral and Ethical Principles in Leadership"
Aaron S. Robertson, MSM
April, 2016

Personal Mission Statement

The personal mission statement of this author is, “To help others discover their true potential with the talents and gifts granted to me.”

This author believes that each person has his or her own unique gifts and talents – potential – to share with the world. Unfortunately, many of these aspirations, dreams, and skills go uncultivated and never actualized, either because the one in question does not want to fully acknowledge and develop them for whatever reason, or because the happenings and trappings of modern, complex, everyday life interfere with their successful fruition. This author, knowing how little time each of us possesses in this lifetime to develop these unique gifts and talents for the betterment of both ourselves and for others, has always strived to share his unique perspectives and experiences with the broader world, and, in turn, assist others in discovering their full potential and sharing what they have to offer, as well. On the subject of time, which largely guides this author in his overall life philosophy, he wrote in a previous paper, “My Personal Theory of Leadership”,
Time can be a wonderful thing. With its passage, a person can build a successful and satisfying career. It can heal many of the physical and emotional wounds and illnesses we carry throughout our lives. Time allows interest to compound in a person’s investment account. It lays the foundation for meaningful and lasting relationships of any kind. It can give way to stunning hair and nails, or an impressive beard. And the passing of time can close the gap between a person’s formal education and practical work experience, creating more of a cohesive union between the two, along with more impressive credentials for an employer. But as we as society always look forward to the new year so that we can have that psychological fresh start when it comes to achieving resolutions, and as we continue to cheer, “There’s always next year,” when rallying around our favorite sports teams, we do not realize at that moment that each passing year brings us, as individuals, that much closer to our demise. This author does realize this fact at that moment. He is always aware of the finite amount of time we have to make meaningful contributions to society and to the individual lives that we connect with along the way. And so his leadership style and approach are as much tied to life philosophy as they are to his role as a tactician in business and management. (Robertson, 2015)
With this context established, devising this author’s mission statement came with great ease.

The Need for Moral Leadership and Action

For this author, it seems nearly impossible to envision society at large being able to exist without moral leadership. And not just moral leadership emitting from the usual suspects – the giants; the heavyweights; the legends we as a society have come to know and revere through the proverbial textbook – but moral leadership coming from the countless number of people who have gone to, and will go to, their graves an unknown; unknown, in this context, to the broader world. There is something extraordinarily profound to be said about the everyday – about everyday people going about their lives, guided by some set of principles that allows society as we know it to exist and to go on continuing to exist. Without these values, namely cooperation, collaboration, open-mindedness, and mutual respect, there would be complete and utter chaos. Now, it is obvious and it goes without saying that not everyone possesses these values. However, enough people do, that it prevents society from descending into total self-destruction. This author would like to devote this discussion, specifically, to the value of open-mindedness and how it relates to the subject of moral leadership.

This author has seen a number of times now the recent major motion picture, The Big Short. Based on true events, the film looks at several New York-area investment bankers and fund managers that were able to make tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars off of the mortgage crisis of 2008-09 that took the United States and many other countries throughout the world into recession. These investors were able to make these gains by investing significant sums of money in insurance instruments that would pay out when the underlying mortgage bonds that these instruments insure, fail. They predicted, through a thorough analysis of readily-available and accessible mortgage data and other economic indicators, that the housing market was about to crash. Yet, mainstream, conventional thinking at the time was that the housing market was very safe and stable. After all, it always had been up to the crash. Mortgages had never caused a crisis before, so it could never happen, right? These investors were considered on the far fringe, going against the grain of the conventional business and economic thought of the day. They were laughed at and dismissed by the big banks and brokerage houses, and embraced with open arms by those that sold the insurance instruments, convinced that these investors were handing them large sums of free money via the premiums they were paying for the coverage (Gardner, Kleiner, Milchan, and Pitt, 2015). Because so many in the investment world lacked the open-mindedness necessary to even consider the theories and arguments advanced by these rebel investors, based purely on data freely accessible to anyone wanting to take the time to look at it, world-wide recession ensued. Millions lost homes, jobs, and life and retirement savings. This quote by Mark Twain at the beginning of the film says it all: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so” (Gardner, Kleiner, et al., 2015;, n.d.).

The Big Short movie trailer

The case of The Big Short is certainly an example of a lack of open-mindedness on a major scale, with consequences of nearly-insurmountable proportions. But on an everyday basis, a lack of open-mindedness can hinder or prevent economic opportunity, business deals, new or improving relationships, and overall personal and professional growth. For this author, refusing to be open-minded, especially to data and facts that may demonstrate the validity to another side of an argument, goes against one’s ability to utilize one’s talents and gifts for the benefit of both one’s self, and, more importantly, for others. The result is intentionally- known and wasted potential, and for this author, this goes against the grain of morally-responsible leadership and is, frankly, reprehensible.

Now, this author is not suggesting that everyone be open-minded and open to negotiation on every matter in life. Most people, under normal circumstances, possess some sort of core that may or may not consist of belief in a god, as well as thoughts on how they view that god, how they feel others should be treated, what actions and decisions are out of the question, how they view one’s relationship to others, and so on. And even then, changes to these core beliefs can certainly change gradually over time as a part of natural growth and development as new insights are gained and experiences had. But everything else should be open to discussion. One’s closed-mindedness is irresponsible, and it can have broad, sweeping implications on the lives of others.

Moral Leadership Platform

With this author’s assertion that open-mindedness plays an integral role in moral leadership, it is important that he demonstrate this value, certainly in all that he does, but especially in his role with his work organization. Being open to any and all possibilities, opportunities, and facts and data, is crucial for the continued success and growth of the organization. However, the rewards of doing so, that is to say, remaining open-minded, or the consequences of not doing so, have far-reaching implications that extend well-beyond the work organization proper – the implications spill over into the individual lives and livelihoods that comprise the organization. For this author, who is in a supervisory role, not embracing this value can mean hindering the personal and professional growth and development, and hence the advancement, of the team members charged to his care. This, for this author, is morally irresponsible and unacceptable, and is contrary to his personal mission statement of, “To help others discover their true potential with the talents and gifts granted to me.”

Bibliography (n.d.). Mark Twain quotes. Retrieved from

Gardner, D., Kleiner, J., Milchan, A., Pitt, B. (Producers), & McKay, A. (Director). (2015). The big short [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures

Robertson, A. (2016, January 3). My personal theory of leadership. Posted to

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Paper Shredding Event in Hales Corners

Saturday, April 16, 2016, from 9am-12pm - The Hales Corners Lions Club, in partnership with Associated Bank and Cintas, is pleased to once again host its annual paper shredding event. The first three boxes are free of charge, while additional boxes are only $5 each!

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Series on Leadership in New Berlin

A Series on Leadership

Offered by Tina Boyle Whyte (Milwaukee Global Leaders) and Carol Schlintz (Me First!), 6:30 to 8:00 PM (with networking from 6:00 to 6:30 and 8:00 to 8:20) on Tuesdays4/54/195/75/21 (and more) at Citizens Bank on Mooreland Road in New Berlin. To learn more, and to register, please visit this Facebook event page.

Mastermind groups are designed to help you navigate through challenges using the collective intelligence of others. This mastermind group will focus on developing the leadership within of members in the group. The group will utilize John Maxwell’s, a global leadership expert book: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

Mastermind Session 3
Let's "Blow the Lid off" of your Leadership Limitations!
- Define the many ways that leadership becomes limited, and therefore not as effective as it could be
- Explore examples of leadership limits in ourselves and the organizations with which we’re associated
- Discover ways to “blow the lid off” of limiting leadership so that the sky-and-beyond are our “unlimited"

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Endorsement of Bob Donovan for Milwaukee Mayor

Aaron S. Robertson

For a safer, more prosperous Milwaukee and surrounding metro-area, it’s Donovan on April 5.

Bob Donovan has proven that he is ready to serve as Milwaukee’s next mayor, and he deserves that chance by voters this coming Tuesday, April 5.

The long-time south side alderman has the backing of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, the Milwaukee Police Association, and the Milwaukee Professional Fire Fighters Association. Additionally, he has picked up the endorsement of long-time north side alderman Joe Davis, who was also running for mayor before being ousted in the primary back in February.

Mr. Donovan has taken issue with Milwaukee’s rising rates of homicide and other crimes, cause for serious alarm; has come out fighting against the proposed downtown streetcar project as a total waste of taxpayer dollars and other precious resources; has been a vocal proponent for strengthening economic growth and opportunity, education, and failing infrastructure; and has consistently reminded the current administration time and time again that there is a lot more to Milwaukee than just its downtown, highlighting the need to ensure that all of the neighborhoods that comprise the city are given due attention from City Hall.

There’s a lot at stake in this mayoral race, and from a big-picture perspective, the rewards – or consequences – extend far beyond the city limits, spilling into all communities – even other counties – that make up the broader metropolitan area. If the city wants more shoppers, diners, festival and concert goers, sports fans, business deals, events and event sponsors, etc. coming in from the suburbs, then it needs to do a better job of reigning in crime, strengthening infrastructure, and fostering a more robust business climate.

Bob Donovan is the candidate for the job. Elect him this Tuesday, April 5.

On Economy Alone, it's Trump on April 5

Aaron S. Robertson

For those that know me well, this endorsement is merely a formality, as I have been on the Trump bandwagon since last summer already. Please note that in my endorsement here of Mr. Trump, I’m only going to focus on the economy, a topic of particular interest to me. I’d be writing a book here if I went on to discuss other key points.

I sincerely feel that Mr. Trump is the candidate best capable of steering our economy in the right direction. He undoubtedly knows and understands, between his own talent and his ability to bring other great minds to the table, how to build tremendous wealth. He has become a great business success. And I know what the critics and skeptics are going to say here to that point. They remind us of all the ventures that Mr. Trump launched over the years that apparently either met with little success or simply went nowhere altogether. They cite his four bankruptcies. They say he inherited a lot of his wealth. They remind us that his clothing line is manufactured in other countries.

My counterarguments to all of this are plain and simple.

In regards to the failed ventures, that’s the risk that comes with the territory when one chooses to be an entrepreneur. So he tested the marketplace a number of times and discovered that the market wasn’t there for him at the moment. I say, “Big deal.” His stories of successes and failures are no different than any other entrepreneur out there. It happens. And if you’re not continuously trying and occasionally failing along the way, then you’re not on your way to building anything. And we know that Mr. Trump has managed to build something pretty special over the years he’s been in business.

The bankruptcies? Again, I have to say, “Big deal.” Corporate reorganizations are more common than we think they are; Mr. Trump isn’t the sole leader and decision maker in his companies; and all of his ventures are heavily dependent on consumer spending and discretionary income, which means they are largely tied to the health, or lack thereof, of the overall economy. This means that, should he be elected president, Mr. Trump has a genuine stake in building and maintaining economic vitality – his own businesses suffer if everyday working people and consumers lack the means to support them.

On the point of inheritance and other early sources of help from others, it doesn’t matter if we only rely on Mr. Trump’s own statement that he started out with a $1 million loan from his father and built his wealth up from there, or if we go with Marco Rubio’s claims that he inherited $100-200 million from his father’s estate – a $10 billion fortune is a far cry from $200 million, clearly showing that Mr. Trump must have been doing something right all these years on his own accord.
And if you’re not continuously trying and occasionally failing along the way, then you’re not on your way to building anything.
Finally, on the subject of his clothing line, Mr. Trump is merely going along with market forces when he has his clothing manufactured in other countries. I’m speaking in broader, more general terms here, but I’m willing to guess that many American workers do not have the desire to, nor the skill set necessary to, manufacture clothing. Hence the reason the vast majority of all of our clothing we purchase is made overseas. Having his line of clothing made elsewhere does not mean Mr. Trump is not interested in, or incapable of, creating jobs in the United States.

Again, I reiterate that a $100-200 million inheritance is a far cry from a $10 billion fortune, demonstrating that, between his own smarts and the immense talent he surrounds himself with and can bring to the table for the benefit of this country, Mr. Trump has what it takes to build a strong economy in which everyone can have a true opportunity to come out a winner. And people from all walks of life realize this. Mr. Trump has built a history-in-the-making coalition whose size and scope is unprecedented. People of all colors, creeds, socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, and political persuasions are flocking to his corner.

Just on a strong, robust economy alone, Mr. Trump has my support in the Wisconsin presidential primary this coming Tuesday, April 5, and I hope he can have my support once again come November as the nominee of the Republican Party.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Local Original Milwaukee Bands

Milwaukee's original music venues may be fewer in number than they were in the 'good old days', but the passion to create original music in Milwaukee is huge, and there are more original projects in Milwaukee than ever before. Here are a few who are doing well and that you should check out, but remember there are many more out there, and don't be offended about any we've missed out!

The Cool Waters Band
A basement jam session in 1993 with brothers Greg and Dan Waters along with their friend Mike Cool turned into a musical journey that’s now lasted more than two decades. That journey includes being based in Colorado for a time before returning to the area and building a loyal following. They split ways in 2007, but remained on good terms, occasionally playing reunion shows for a fan base that has always been eager to get more Cool Waters. Now they are back together again "permanently" according to their website. Members of Cool Waters Band worked on other projects for a number of years. Drummer Matt Gieseke played with Boxkar while frontman Greg Waters formed Greg Waters and the Broadstreet Boogie. The Cool Waters style is often described as an eclectic mix of roots rock. A Warner Brother’s rep once explained their music as "…Maroon 5 meets The Black Crowes meets Train meets Tesla."

Visit the Cool Waters Band website

The Muddy Udders
Green Bay based band, The Muddy Udders, calls their style of music “toe-slapping grease rock.” They say that could be anything from punk to rockabilly to blues and maybe even a little metal. Basically, this trio plays rock and roll. Matty Day, Augie Barnhart and Roelke Thunderbolt got their start in 2006 and make regular appearances at Green Bay rock venues like the Crunchy Frog and White Dog Black Cat Cafe. They also tour around the Midwest. Matty composes most of the original songs, and they’ve recorded three albums so far. The band also likes to change up their roles – switching instruments on albums and during performances.

The Traveling Suitcase
This Oshkosh-based trio was a standout at the first-ever Mile of Music Festival in Appleton. They recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign allowing them to complete a new album. Brandon Domer (bass and keys), Bill Grasley (guitar) and Nicole Rae (drums and vocals) play tight-knit rock, bringing both Janis Joplin and The Black Keys to mind. They have passionate, high-energy performances led by Rae who drums and sings at the same time. The Traveling Suitcase once had quite a few other members – but they’ve since boiled things down to the basics – a move that has helped the band focus according to Nicole Rae. "In the beginning we were speed dating each other," she explains. "Now we are in a healthy, committed threesome relationship."

Fun w/ Atoms
Green Bay was once a haven for indie music. At the center of that was the band Fun w/Atoms. They were known as the “unofficial house band” at a bar called Lefty’s – which was a place that all sorts of soon-to-be famous bands played – including the Violent Femmes and Soul Asylum. The members of Fun w/Atoms – Rick Smith (guitar), Dan Collins (bass) and Curt Lefevre (drums) are still playing and still making albums together. Their latest, Smart, came out in 2010. Record producer Butch Vig – who also worked with Nirvana and Garbage, produced the band’s critically-acclaimed debut album Main Street – which was released in 1985. In 2013, Fun w/Atoms played a Lefty’s reunion show at Phat Headz in Green Bay.

Rev. Norb and the Onions
While Fun w/Atoms played what you could call indie pop rock, another Green Bay band that emerged shortly after took advantage of the growing punk scene. That was Boris the Sprinkler, led by wacky frontman Rev. Norb (Norb Rozek). The irreverent punk rockers were known for wearing outlandish outfits and poking fun at anything and everything. Today when Rev. Norb plays a gig, he gets back-up from Manitowoc band The Onions. Rev. Norb has also written for music mags like Maximum Rock and Roll, and even put together a line-by-line analysis of Boris the Sprinkler’s music in 2013 – The Annotated Boris: Deconstructing the Lyrical Majesty of Boris the Sprinkler.

Jetty Boys
Bandmates Drew Fredrichsen and Eric Mahnke were part of another group called Leg Hounds, which broke up. They found themselves a drummer in Jon “Bunnz” Mickelson and have been performing together since 2007. During that time they’ve played hundreds of shows and released three albums. Their latest is Let ‘Er Rip, which was released last summer. The Jetty Boys have a familiar punk sound that one online music critic described this way when reviewing the band’s sophomore album – Sheboygan: “This album is exactly what Green Day should be doing now, instead of sucking. This is all the catchy alt-pop-punkness that Green Day use to be back when they were great.”

Other great original bands and acts around Milwaukee today include Shaker and the Egg, Boxkar, The Sleepwalkers, Rob Anthony, Christopher Gold, Misleader, Sly Joe and the Smooth Operators, The Redleg Rebellion, Dead Horses, Dead Modern Villains, Red Light Saints, Harvey Brown, Eric Lives Here, The Ditchrunners, Copper Box, Hillary Reynolds Band, and on and on... You get the picture. If you want to find some live original music around Milwaukee, then you're going to be spoiled for choice!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Starting a business in Wisconsin

Local Resources
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is part of the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education. The SBDC offers numerous classes throughout the year to help new and existing businesses improve performance and turn ideas into viable business concepts. Each year, a “First Steps to Entrepreneurship” workshop is offered in both Ozaukee and Washington Counties. The “Fast Trac” Entrepreneur Training Course, which is a nine-week intensive course geared toward starting and growing a business, is also offered once per year in Ozaukee or Washington County. All other SBDC courses are taught at the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education campus in downtown Milwaukee. Check the website for course offerings. The SBDC also runs the Wisconsin Business AnswerLine, which provides counselors to answer your small business questions from 8:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday. The Answer Line number is 1.800.940.7232.

BizStarts Milwaukee

BizStarts Milwaukee’s mission is to create a vibrant, innovative, and prosperous entrepreneurial business climate in the Milwaukee 7 region by inspiring, nurturing, connecting, and celebrating entrepreneurs and their companies. BizStarts has resources for all stages of entrepreneurship – from evaluating feasibility and market demand to planning to start up and running a business. The website has literature and pointers for small business owners, as well as a list of classes and events for small business owners and a listing of service providers in the Milwaukee 7 region. BizStarts has also partnered with the Small Business Development Center in Milwaukee to develop the Fast Trac Tech and mentoring program as part of the “Venture Track” initiative, which is intended to provide support and direction for high-growth, innovative companies.

Milwaukee 7

The Milwaukee 7 website has demographic information for each County in the seven county region, including Ozaukee County. The website also has information about the Milwaukee 7 resource center, which is located in the WE Energies headquarters in downtown Milwaukee at 231 W. Michigan Street. The center exists to support the mission of the Milwaukee 7 economic development collaboration to strengthen the economy of southeastern Wisconsin by attracting, retaining and growing companies and diverse talent. The Milwaukee 7 Resource Center provides interested parties with armchair access to information about prospective site locations, demographics, and the region’s cultural and leisure activities.


SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. SCORE is a network of 13,000+ volunteers who offer small business entrepreneurs confidential business counseling services at no charge. SCORE also provides local workshops and events throughout the country to connect small business owners with the people and information they need to start, grow, and maintain their businesses, as well as online workshops available 24/7. SCORE provides resources, templates and tools to assist entrepreneurs in developing tools and plans they need to navigate their way to small business success. SCORE representatives will provide free mentoring services upon request at a mutually agreed upon location in Ozaukee County. Call 414.297.3942 to set up an appointment.

State Resources

Wisconsin Business Development Finance Corporation (WBD)

The Wisconsin Business Development Finance Corporation (WBD) was formed to assist small businesses in gaining access to capital in order to grow their businesses, provide job opportunities, and inspire their communities. The WBD provides the knowledge, service, and resources to foster economic development solutions that grow jobs, businesses, and communities. The WBD provides Small Business Administration 504 loans, which help small businesses secure long-term, fixed-rate financing. WBD also provides consulting and loan packaging services to banks and borrowers. The WBD office closest to Ozaukee County is located in Waukesha at W229 N1433 Westwood Drive, Suite 206. The Waukesha office phone number is 262.970.8533.

Wisconsin Business Wizard

The Wisconsin Business Wizard is a tool intended to help new business owners determine licensing, permitting and regulatory requirements; obtain necessary application forms; identify available state resources; and access other valuable business-related information. The Wizard uses a five-page question and answer tool to create customized information to help entrepreneurs start and operate a Wisconsin-based business. The site also has additional resources for starting or growing a business in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC)

The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is a statewide economic development corporation that provides quality business education and financing to Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. WWBIC offers educational programs, small business loans, and individualized business assistance. The WWBIC is located at 2745 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Milwaukee. Call 414.263.5450 for additional information.

Federal Resources

US Small Business Administration (SBA)
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The SBA website has information about SBA loans, disaster assistance, free online training courses, laws and regulations relating to small business, and a library of online resources. The closest Wisconsin District Office is located at 310 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Room 400, in Milwaukee. The phone number for the Milwaukee office is 414.297.3941.