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Friday, September 11, 2015

What Leadership Means to Me

Author's note: The following is a paper prepared as part of the admissions process for his pursuit of a Ph.D. through Milwaukee's Cardinal Stritch University.

Copyright 2015, Aaron Scott Robertson. All rights reserved. 

What Leadership Means to Me
Aaron S. Robertson, MSM
May 11, 2015


This author, through a combination of personal work experience and leadership roles held, attempts to define leadership, reflects on his leadership experiences thus far, and states his desires and expectations in pursuing and obtaining a doctorate in leadership.

Keywords: leadership, service, learning, continuous improvement


In this paper, this author begins by offering his definition of leadership and explaining how he has functioned as a leader. He then proceeds to discuss change and how he has participated in it. Next, he discusses his interest in creating a learning organization and how he has contributed to the creation of such an organization. Following this, he defines, in his mind, the correlation between leadership, learning, and service, and how he has utilized his service for the transformation of an organization. He then closes by discussing his goals and expectations for pursuing a doctorate in leadership, and how attaining this degree will enhance his ability to further lead and transform organizations.

Leadership and Change

While there is virtually an endless supply of definitions, ideas, arguments, and perceptions in existence for what constitutes leadership, this author generally understands leadership, through both his own personal experiences along with observing others, to be the catalyst that drives change and that empowers – enables – others to realize their potential, either directly or indirectly. He also believes that anyone has the potential to be a leader, at least to some degree. And so in this light, it is fitting to share these two definitions – or arguably, perceptions – that this author discovered one evening while perusing the Internet for leadership thought, as they adequately sum up what he generally understands the essence of leadership to be:

Leadership is the art of serving others by equipping them with training, tools and people as well as your time, energy and emotional intelligence so that they can realize their full potential, both personally and professionally – Daphne Mallory, family business expert, The Daphne Mallory Company (Helmrich, 2015).

Too many people view management as leadership. It’s not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role. Being open and authentic, helping to lift others up and working toward a common mission build influence. True leadership comes when those around you are influenced by your life in a positive way. – Kurt Uhlir, CEO and co-founder, Sideqik (Helmrich, 2015).

There are many instances where this author has made contributions as a leader in a variety of work, service, and business organizations over the years, going back to at least his college days as a bachelor’s student, overseeing various student clubs. For purposes of this particular discussion, however, he would like to focus on his role as a customer experience team lead in the communication solutions division at Stericycle, Inc.

In this position, held by the author since March 2015, he is responsible, along with three other team leads, with orchestrating and overseeing coaching and general staff development initiatives for an office of approximately 40 call center agents and support staff. Additional responsibilities with the role include general human resources and customer service duties such as staff scheduling, disciplinary action, conflict resolution, documenting attendance incidents, running reports, and, in working with the office’s customer service staff, some elements of client relationship management.

This author has sought to use this supervisory position as a platform for getting to better know his direct reports, help them build on their strengths and talents, and prepare them with the skills and the big-picture mindset needed to either advance into other roles within Stericycle, if that is of interest to them, or at least help them prepare their foundations for successful careers elsewhere in the future. Stericycle is a national, diverse, publicly-traded company with an international presence. As such, many opportunities exist for advancement, and so this author would like to see his direct reports have plenty of those options available to them. Certainly, his philosophy and approach to working with both his colleagues and direct reports has been heavily molded by his studies in preparation for the degree of Master of Science in Management, which he attained in 2013.

In staying with the subject of his employment with Stericycle, this author recently went through – and it remains an ongoing process – change, via a corporate acquisition. Stericyle acquired this author’s then-employer, Spectrum Communications, a privately- and family-owned Milwaukee-area telephone answering service and call center, during the summer of 2014. He has been employed with Spectrum/Stericycle for nearly three years as of this writing, since the summer of 2012. With the acquisition has come the need to adapt to, and embrace, despite many similarities to Spectrum’s, albeit on a significantly smaller scale, a different culture and policies. And now, as a customer experience team lead, he is also playing a noteworthy role in guiding others at his office through the transition. As with all instances of change and transition, there certainly has been some resistance, particularly among agents and other staff that had served with Spectrum for many years.


This author’s desire to create and foster a learning organization is driven by a strong passion to see others flourish and maximize their potential. By incorporating the philosophies and strategies – essentially, the culture – that create the proper conditions for a learning organization, both individual and organizational opportunity become virtually limitless. And while such outcomes only appear at first glance to be immediately beneficial to the organization implementing such a culture, as well as to the individuals within that organization, the broader implications for whole societies and economies become evident over the long term as such organizations partner with others on ventures and the individuals within these organizations leave for others, cross-pollinating with their acquired knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, learning organizations drive broader change and improvement in entire societies and economies, and because of this fact, are socially responsible merely by virtue of their ideals and commitments where fostering authentic learning is concerned.

This author has sought to contribute to the creation of a learning organization in a number of meaningful ways. Returning to the topic of his time with Spectrum Communications and, later on, Stericycle, he has sought out opportunities to share with his colleagues and superiors knowledge and insights gained through both his formal education and practical work and business experience. He has done this via mechanisms like cross-functional committees, one-on-one meetings and interactions, workshops, listening sessions, and research reports and special projects. In some cases, he has spearheaded these various efforts, while in others, has merely been an active and engaged participant. Likewise, he has taken as many opportunities as possible to learn from others within the company, from all levels and a wide array of functions.

Service and Organizational Transformation

This author views the relationship between leadership, learning, and service as being like spokes on a wheel. They are interconnected, and, therefore, move along together on a journey. When one of these spokes, these facets, is on the move, the other two accompany it for the ride. He believes that one cannot have one of these – call them what we may: activities, events, ideals – without the other two being present.

The driving force behind the journey, the one facet providing significant support to the other two, is learning. Learning is behind it all. When one is continuously learning, one is compelled to share the insights gained with others, thereby fulfilling leadership and service. The leadership and service components, then, are naturally attained because the insights being gained by the individual, which in turn are then dispersed out to others, are helping those others in some sort of meaningful way, either personally or professionally. For, what is the point in one’s desire to be in a continuous state of learning, embarked on an ongoing journey of discovery and adventure, without sharing that knowledge and wisdom with others, thereby lifting them up in some sort of impactful way? How is it even possible to avoid doing so? This author cannot think of a logical explanation.

Even when the learner may not consciously be aware at any given moment in time of what his or her discoveries may mean in terms of service and leadership to others – he or she may solely be focused on his or her own career advancement or some sort of other personal gain at that moment – what is being learned, nonetheless, is still helping others along the way as he or she strives to climb higher on the latter of personal success. This arguably holds especially true today, in such an intertwined global community, workplace, and economy. That being said, learning for personal gain is compatible with learning for the benefit of others, and vice-versa, and leadership and service are not possible without the presence of learning. Therefore, anyone who has the capacity to learn has the potential to be a leader to at least some degree.

This author’s service has been applied to the transformation of Spectrum Communications, and, later on, his office branch of Stericycle, through his commitment to continuous learning and improvement. He is constantly seeking out ways to do things better and to place staff members from varying functions together in an effort to spur new ideas and increase overall efficiency and productivity.

Goals for Doctorate in Leadership

As far as goals and expectations for pursuing a doctorate in leadership are concerned, this author has many. Likewise, the number of academic and personal interests he has is, perhaps, just as diverse and large in quantity.

In an attempt to tie all of these seemingly different ideas and interests together under one general system and methodology of study concerning the subject of leadership, this author is convinced that everyone has the potential to become a leader, at least to some degree. He is currently working on developing his own broad-based leadership model to explain just what he means by “at least to some degree.”

A few of the essential questions that this author hopes to have at least somewhat addressed through his doctorate studies, and, consequently, the questions that will continue to drive him through the remainder of his life and career, are: How do we come to recognize those with considerable talent and potential in our workplaces and organizations so that we can help foster their development – to enable them by providing them with the right support and resources necessary to thrive? How do we cultivate the right conditions necessary to spur opportunity for others, be it economic, creative, or some sort of other personal or professional needs and goals? What are the ingredients for a successful organizational culture? Taking this thought a step further, what is the actual recipe – the measurements – for that successful organizational culture once the ingredients are known? Getting to the heart of questions like these, or at least as close as possible, for this author, are what it means to define and cultivate leadership, and to be of a genuine, long-lasting service to others. Attaining this degree will help get him that much closer.

This author is aware of the commitment that must go into the pursuit of such a degree and understands that it will not be easy. Yet, not pursuing it leaves a major void in this author’s personal life goals and with a nagging feeling that, without it, he is somehow short-changing others. While the journey will certainly be difficult, the rewards awaiting at the end, for both this author and those he is of service to, are simply too many to not make the effort.


Helmrich, B. (2015, January 23). 30 ways to define leadership. Business News Daily. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from definition.html

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

John Domanski and the Daydreamers at Jammin' on Janesville August 7

Aaron S. Robertson, 414/418-2278,


Muskego, Wisconsin – August 3, 2015 – John Domanski and the Daydreamers, a local band performing alternative rock -influenced original music along with its take on a number of classic covers by artists and groups like The Beatles, The Monkees, CCR, Tom Petty, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and more, will be performing during Muskego's Jammin' on Janesville this coming Friday, August 7, by Domino's Pizza. The band is once again being sponsored by that business, having performed at the same location for June's Jammin' event.

"We're really grateful to be partnering again with Andy McKee," said Aaron S. Robertson, the band's manager and now bassist, speaking on the owner of the Domino's location. "Andy's a great guy to be working with, and we're looking forward to another fun time with a high-energy show that's sure to please many different music interests."

In addition to Domanski on guitar and lead vocals, and Robertson on bass, the Daydreamers also include Ben Kluge on second guitar, Noah Stovich on keyboards and percussion, and Dan Joerres on drums.

For additional information on John Domanski and the Daydreamers, please visit the band's Knome profile at: .

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

John Domanski and the Daydreamers

John Domanski and the Daydreamers
John Domanski and the Daydreamers (sometimes also styled as " John Domanski and The Daydreamers ") started out as a three-piece band. The band is based out of Muskego, Wisconsin, a suburb in the Milwaukee metro area.

In addition to its alternative rock -influenced original songs, the band also performs a variety of classic covers, ranging anywhere from songs by The Beatles and Tom Petty to Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

John Domanski and the Daydreamers personnel:

John Domanski - guitar and lead vocals
Ben Kluge - second guitar
Aaron S. Robertson - bass, manager
Dan Joerres - drums
Noah Stovich - keyboards and percussion

John Domanski and the DaydreamersIn May 2015, John Domanski and the Daydreamers released its first album, a five-song EP entitled, Ignite.

Tracks from Ignite:

1) As the Sun Goes Down
2) Whatever
3) Talk to Me Hold Me
4) Bad Timing
5) She Wears No Shoes

Check out one of the band's very first episodes of the Daydreamer's Lounge! In this episode, members discuss living life on your own terms and doing what you truly love.

Dear Entertainment Manager,

We are John Domanski and the Daydreamers, a band based in the Milwaukee area (Muskego, specifically). We are currently booking shows around Wisconsin, and we would love the opportunity to perform at your venue.

Founded earlier this year, we perform original music influenced after the alternative rock genre, and can certainly perform a number of classic covers, as well. Our repertoire includes a diverse variety that is sure to please any crowd, ranging from songs by The Beatles and CCR, to The Monkees, Tom Petty, Nirvana, and Foo Fighters.

With a Facebook following of nearly 2,300 fans, a Twitter following of over 1,000, and significant marketing expertise available to us, we are confident that we can drive a considerable amount of these people to your venue to see a performance by us.

We invite you to get to know us better by visiting our Web site at, and our Facebook page at You can download and store our contact information and much more to your smart phone with our new electronic business card:

In closing, we thank you for your time and consideration. We would love the opportunity to work with you in the near future.

All the Best,

Aaron S. Robertson, Manager, Bassist

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Milwaukee Air & Water Show 2015

2015 Milwaukee Air & Water Show: One of Wisconsin’s Largest Family-Friendly Free Events

This summer, Milwaukee’s lakefront will once again play host to one of Wisconsin’s largest family-friendly free events – the Milwaukee Air & Water Show. The show, which has grown into quite the spectacle since its debut back in 2004, will take place at the lakefront between Bradford and McKinley Beach on the weekend of July 25th and 26th.

This year’s July time slot will push the show a month later than the city’s previous Air & Water Show – a move in which organizers hope will prevent a repeat of last year’s fog issues that grounded the air show for the entire weekend. Barring more fog troubles or other inclement weather situations at this year’s event, the water show will run both days from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. followed by the ever-popular air show, which is scheduled to take place from noon to 4 p.m. each day.

The announced headliners for this year’s air show include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, who will pilot their internationally recognized red, white, and blue F-16 Falcon jets and France’s Breitling Precision Jet Team, the world’s largest team of professional civilian jet performers. Also headlining the event are the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the U.S. Army’s official Parachute Demonstration Team and the Aerostars Formation Aerobatic Team, whose breath-taking passes and awe-inspiring maneuvers always delight the crowd.

Headliners for this year’s water show have yet to be announced.

The 2015 Milwaukee Air & Water Show will also feature an interactive display that lets show attendees get up close and personal with a real A-7 Corsair II – the type of light attack aircraft that was flown by the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. While exploring the interactive display, guests are welcome to try on a variety of pilot gear and may even climb inside the cockpit of the aircraft itself.

There will also be plenty of quality vendors located along the lakefront ready to provide food and drinks to those in attendance. As such, event organizers are asking for spectators to leave their coolers, grills, and food at home and to instead support the local economy by purchasing their food and drinks from the lakefront vendors.

Though the event itself is free to the public, tickets for reserved seating and parking will be made available by the event organizers. Tickets for the reserved parking, specifically, will be very limited and as such, are expected to sell out quickly. Be sure to purchase your reserved seating and parking tickets well in advance if you wish to take advantage of such conveniences.

For more information about the 2015 Milwaukee Air & Water Show, please visit their website at

Mexican Fiesta 2015

Mexican Fiesta - Three Days of Fun, Food, Music, and Culture

For over 40 years, Mexican Fiesta has celebrated the sounds, culture, and tastes of Mexico while honoring the traditions and family-values of the growing Hispanic community. This year’s festival will once again be held at Milwaukee’s Summerfest Grounds located at 200 North Harbor Drive and will run August 21st to 23rd from noon until midnight each day.

The family-oriented event will feature many culturally-themed attractions, including a gallery of Latino-influenced artwork, an impressive lineup of national and international musicians and entertainers, and lucha libre wrestling on Saturday and Sunday. There will also be midway rides, a children’s area with a dedicated children’s stage, a handmade craft fair, and over 400 food vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors at the commercial expo.

As Mexican Fiesta would not be complete without some contests to enjoy throughout the three day event, the organizers have added several to the weekend’s festivities. On Friday, dancers will celebrate the rhythms of merengue and salsa during the salsarengue contest. Another dance contest will occur on Saturday, as well as a traditional Mexican screaming contest and a hopping contest. Saturday will also feature Hot Wheelz 2015 – a car and motorcycle show with fantastic cash prizes. On Sunday there will be a traditional costume contest for children aged 1 to 11, a jalapeƱo eating contest, and an amateur bachata dance contest.

Tickets for the festival are $13 pre-sale or $15 at the gate, but there are free admission opportunities available. Anyone wishing to attend the festival without paying the entry fee will be granted free access to the grounds on Friday between noon and 3 p.m. Seniors aged 65 and over, people with disabilities, and active military personnel and veterans can also attend Mexican Fiesta free of charge on both Saturday and Sunday by arriving between noon and 1 p.m. Current identification will be required at the gate. Children aged 8 and under are always free with a paid adult admission.

More information about Milwaukee’s Mexican Fiesta can be obtained by visiting their website at or by contacting festival organizers directly by emailing or calling 414-383-7066.

Milwaukee Untapped Tours

Don’t Just See Milwaukee – Experience It with Untapped Tours!

Untapped Tours of Milwaukee, host of “Milwaukee’s most complete city tour”, not only lets you see the city from the comfort of a private air-conditioned bus, but it also helps you to experience it like a local. For three full hours you’ll witness firsthand what makes Milwaukee such a uniquely vibrant city as you visit some of the city’s best attractions.

While touring the city, guests learn about the rich history of the area while visiting some of the city's more famous attractions like the Milwaukee Art Museum, Miller Park, and North Point Lighthouse. Lesser known sites, however, are by no means forgotten and are also given their due attention as the tour progresses.

Over the course of the tour, you’ll drive past some of Milwaukee’s most stately mansions, while making plenty of photo stops at some of the city’s most beautiful locations and famous landmarks. You’ll also be invited to enjoy a cheese “sampling” at Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee’s only urban cheese factory, as well as a beer or soda tasting at Lakefront Brewery, where guests receive a complementary pint glass to remember the occasion.

Though certain destinations are commonly visited during the tour, it is important to note that not all tours feature the same attractions due to game day restrictions or other closures. Not to worry, as there is always plenty to see and do along the ride and many great photo opportunities to be had. If you have your heart set on visiting a specific location and are concerned about missing out, however, you can always inquire about which locations will be featured on which dates before making your reservation.

Anyone interested in taking the tour must first make a reservation, which can be made online at through the site’s calendar application. The tour, which runs daily from late spring through to early fall, costs $38 per person, with lap-seated infants riding free of charge. If at all possible, book early to ensure your preferred date and required number of seats are still available.

Once you’ve made a reservation and your reserved tour date has arrived, it is requested that you check in with Untapped Tours ten minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. You are asked to check in with the group at City Hall, which is located downtown at 200 East Wells Street at the intersection of East Wells and Water Street. From there you will begin the tour. The tours generally start at 10 a.m., though Sunday tours tend start an hour later.

If for whatever reason you are unable to take the tour during your reserved time slot, not all is lost. Rain checks are provided upon request, though refunds are not. Please keep in mind that any participants under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for the duration of the tour and to keep the experience more personal in nature, each tour is limited to just 11 guests.

More information about Milwaukee’s most complete city tour can be obtained by visiting Untapped Tours’ website at, emailing, or by calling 414-698-8058.

Westown River Rhythms

Westown River Rhythms – Free Outdoor Concert Series

The 2015 summer concert series at Pere Marquette Park should be a good one if their posted schedule is any indication. Over the course of the 12 week series, the park will fill with a range of sounds from an assortment of musical genres. The free outdoor concert series will run every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. from June 10th through August 26th.

This year’s lineup again consists primarily of Milwaukee-area talent with a couple international bands also scheduled to perform on the riverside stage. The first international group to perform will be one of Ireland’s top traditional groups, FullSet, on August 12th, followed by Australia’s BROTHER who will bring their unique Celtic tribal flavor to the stage August 19th.

The full 2015 Westown River Rhythms schedule is as follows:

June 10: Painted Caves (Middle Eastern psychedelic meets California surf rock)

June 17: Uprising (pop/rock)

June 24: De La Buena (Latin American meets African diasporic)

July 1: WhiskeyBells (traditional country and Americana)

July 8: Thriftones (multiple genres)

July 15: Trapper Schoepp (Americana rock)

July 22: The Rockin’ Johnny Band (blues)

July 29: Copper Box (accordion-fueled roots rock)

August 5: Five Card Studs (soul, rock, and disco hits from the 60s and 70s)

August 12: FullSet (traditional Irish)

August 19: BROTHER (Celtic tribal)

August 26: Hugh Bob and the Hustle (heartland rock n’ roll)

Pere Marquette Park is located right on the Milwaukee River at 900 North Plankinton Avenue. For more information about Westown River Rhythms, please visit the Westown Association’s website at