Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

By Richard Martin

I had a run in with someone yesterday on Linked In who was responding with fallacious and demonstrably false arguments to a guest blog by Quentin Innis titled On Tankies. Quentin wrote the text in frustration at the obstinacy of Western apologists of Russian aggression, terrorism, and imperialism and to provide responses to the most common “talking points” excusing Russia’s invasion and destruction of Ukraine and bullying of NATO countries.

Why did I have a run in? Simply because I too am tired of having to read and respond to uninformed and illogical statements concerning Russia’s destructiveness, aggression, threats, and coercion by individuals who can’t argue a point properly. I just can’t take these people seriously.

I admit it. I lose my cool sometimes, but that’s because claiming “moral equivalence” or spouting “what-about-isms” are a waste of time. Worse, they pollute public dialogue and debate because they are off topic, unethical, and play right into the hands of foreign powers seeking to undermine our national defence, security, and institutions.

Uninformed statements are put forth by individuals trying to debate with serious authors and experts as counterpoints to well-argued and evidenced arguments. The problem is that the so-called counterarguments or debating tactics are nothing more than rehashed talking points from Russia’s lies, threats, and misdirection. Those repeating them have not bothered to read any history by actual historians or reporting by credible, professional journalists. They just assume that what they have heard in a sound bite or a read in a tweet is true and worthy of debate. It isn’t.

For example, there is a popular, but false and uninformed “argument,” that NATO threatens Russia. There is no need to elaborate on the ignorance and stupidity of this statement further. It should be enough to read Quentin’s article or my own of 19 February 2023 on why NATO is not the aggressor, Russia is. A wannabe debater also stated that the war in Donbas is a civil war. No, it isn’t. It was instigated by Russia in early 2014 in response to the Euromaidan Revolution in Ukraine and continues as part of Russia’s invasion and war against Ukraine since then, especially since 24 February 2022. Apparently, that individual had never heard of Russia’s “little green men,” a.k.a. Wagner Group or the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.

These types of uninformed and false claims are easily refuted by doing a quick search on Wikipedia (or through other online sources, including mainstream media). For example, see Little green men: Russo-Ukrainian WarRussian occupation of Crimea; and War in Donbas (2014-2022). At the very least, reading such articles should give one pause that the situation and historical background is much more complex than can be encapsulated in sound bites and tweets. It should also cause someone to think that maybe they don’t have enough background information to make a proper assessment of the soundness of pithy catchphrases and 10-second videos on YouTube™.

But that is apparently too much work for some people. After all, why try to develop a deeper understanding of the historical and political background of a social problem when you can just repeat something that sounds clever and feeds into your pre-existing biases, cynicism, fear, and anxiety about war and conflict? I get it. War is hell, but the fact that you don’t like war and fear it doesn’t make it disappear.

Another false claim I’ve read is that, somehow, “NATO invaded Afghanistan.” It is part of a wider trend of presenting “moral equivalence” statements as serious counterarguments. In logic this is known as the “tu quoque” fallacy: Literally, “so did you!” Anyone who has children knows that the go-to defence after being caught doing something wrong or dangerous is to claim that “He/she/they/you started it/did it too/did it first.” Can we see how puerile that is?

It is a logical fallacy because it doesn’t address the proposition, logic, or evidence that is adduced by the author of the original argument. In simple terms, saying that so-and-so does it too doesn’t counter the logic or content of the author’s position. It merely deflects it in an attempt to hijack or confuse the debate. What started as a presentation of evidence and logically linked propositions leading to one or more conclusions becomes a discussion over something unrelated to the intent of the original author or one putting forth an argument.

If someone wishes to debate or discuss whether NATO “invaded” Afghanistan or not, or anything else for that matter, fine. Go ahead, state your starting position in your own article or post. Don’t contaminate others’ writings with your sophomoric tactics in an amateurish attempt at debate. Put it on your own website or blog! See if someone will take you up on it. On the other hand, if you wish to engage in genuine dialogue, debate, or commentary on an article or post with its author, you should at least try to be on point.

For instance, say someone wishes to debate the author of an article that provides reasoned arguments, with propositions, logical links, and evidence in favour of his position. The way to do that is to address the content of the text and its logic. If the original author says that Russia invaded Ukraine and provides logical arguments and evidence in favour of that position, the correct way to debate or discuss these is to provide counterevidence and genuine counterarguments. Highlighting the original author’s faulty logic or reasoning is also fair game, so long as one has valid points to make.

But showing a map of Europe that indicates the year that countries joined NATO doesn’t prove or argue in favour of NATO aggression. It may be the case that the expansion of NATO as indicated by the map is evidence of anti-Russian sentiment. But it doesn’t follow that the sentiment proves that the countries involved, or the NATO alliance, are aggressive. The opposite is the case. The eastern European countries and their citizens were and remain so concerned about Russian aggression and coercion that they asked to join NATO and were accepted by consensus of then member nations. Moreover, defensive alliances are specifically mentioned as legitimate and inhering in the right to self-defence in the Charter of the United Nations, which the Russian Federation claims to uphold.

Furthermore, one must weigh any claims within a wider political, economic, and social context. NATO was in Afghanistan to lead the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), under a UN Security Council resolution. Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, and could have vetoed it, but didn’t. ISAF was thus the result of a wide international consensus that assistance to the Afghanistan government was needed for a variety of reasons. In addition, there were non-NATO countries that participated in the operation.

But even if that were not the case, even if NATO had “invaded” Afghanistan, that still would not constitute a sound argument in debating someone about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. That’s simply a “non sequitur,” which translates as “it does not follow.”

The final point I wish to address is about qualifications and expertise. We live in a society where everyone’s opinion on just about any matter seems to be taken seriously. The problem is this: Not everyone’s opinion is valid. There is a psychological phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It states that the less some people know about a topic, the less these same people claim expertise.

The most interesting aspect about the Dunning-Kruger effect is that most people, when learning more about a topic, develop less confidence in their knowledge and expertise. They obviously realize that their initial impressions and reactions were uninformed. Then, as they acquire more and more knowledge and experience, their confidence level rises again, but never to the levels of the ignorant who claim expertise with little or no real knowledge. 

Knowledge is a universal acid; it dissolves overconfidence born of misinformation and ignorance. It also gives us humility. Socrates claimed to be the wisest man in all of Greece, not because he knew a lot, but specifically because he realized that he didn’t know everything, or even very much. This type of humility would be valuable to anyone who wishes to debate well-informed experts, who have the knowledge and practical experience to make reasoned judgments.

I will debate anyone who shows humility. Sometimes I need to be reminded of the need for humility. Whether we’re debating the Russo-Ukrainian War, pandemic policies, or anything else, these should be the bottom line. I’ll respect you, if you respect me.


Richard Martin, Président, Académie canadienne de leadership et développement du capital humain

La situation

Dans nos sociétés, les individus consacrent beaucoup de temps et de ressources à regarder ou à lire des médias et des contenus en ligne. Nous ne reviendrons pas à l’époque où les choix télévisuels étaient limités et où il n’existait que quelques sources d’information (inter)nationales. Chez les jeunes générations, l’ampleur de la participation en ligne est stupéfiante par rapport aux générations plus âgées. Cela s’explique par le fait que les jeunes ne se fient pas aux sources d’information traditionnelles, “grand public”. Ils vivent dans le monde éphémère et évanescent des médias sociaux et des plateformes de contenu d’origine collective, dont la provenance et l’intention sont souvent douteuses.

Il en résulte que les jeunes sont inondés d’idées, d’idéologies et d’influences concurrentes ou contradictoires par le biais des médias sociaux, amplifiées par des influenceurs à l’association et aux intentions douteuses, des ouï-dire, des établissements d’enseignement, des organisations de la société civile, de la publicité et des différents modes de vie. Ces messages ne sont pas nécessairement (bien que beaucoup le soient) négatifs ou corrosifs pour les valeurs civiques fondamentales, bien qu’une partie importante d’entre eux offrent un récit qui ne soutient pas ou remet en question nos démocraties stables, sûres, libérales et prospères. Certains canaux et sources d’information favorisent le désordre social et la subversion dans le but de saper la résilience, la défense, les valeurs et les objectifs de l’Occident.

Les principales plateformes de médias sociaux sont les principaux (mais non les seuls) canaux permettant la promotion d’idées et de concepts qui peuvent éroder l’engagement à créer et à maintenir des sociétés pacifiques et sûres qui valorisent la liberté individuelle, la démocratie, les droits de l’homme et l’État de droit et qui sous-tendent les sociétés les plus prospères de toute l’histoire. Je crois que ces valeurs méritent d’être soutenues, entretenues et, au besoin, défendues. Cela dit, la censure et le contrôle centralisé de l’information, qu’elle soit publique ou privée, ne sont pas la solution, car ils vont à l’encontre des valeurs fondamentales de l’ordre libre, démocratique, fondé sur les règles et les droits.

La menace

Des puissances et des forces hostiles se livrent sans relâche à des opérations d’information pour saper le moral, la résilience et la détermination des nations occidentales et de leurs populations. La sensibilisation du public à cette menace et à ses effets s’est accrue depuis l’invasion de l’Ukraine le 24 février 2022, mais l’accent est mis sur la Russie, laissant d’autres acteurs étatiques et parrainés par l’État opérer relativement sans entrave sous le radar du public, des politiciens et des entreprises. D’autre part, cette prise de conscience est floue, limitée et non spécifique. Les individus et les organisations comprennent mal les intentions hostiles, les stratégies, les approches opérationnelles et les techniques, tactiques et procédures spécifiques utilisées pour atteindre des objectifs hostiles.

La menace va bien au-delà des cyberattaques, de la désinformation et de la mauvaise orientation. En fait, je prétends que nous sommes entrés dans une nouvelle phase de la guerre de l’information que j’appelle “guerre épistémologique”. L’objectif de la guerre épistémologique n’est pas seulement d’attaquer les nations et leurs populations avec des fausses informations et de la propagande trompeuses ou déroutantes qui obscurcissent plus qu’elles n’éclairent. Elle va beaucoup plus loin en lançant un assaut à grande échelle contre les facultés critiques et le jugement des nations, des populations et des dirigeants.

Les techniques sont nombreuses, mais elles visent principalement à éroder l’esprit critique en submergeant la sphère publique, en particulier par le biais des canaux et des plateformes des médias sociaux, d’informations fausses, douteuses ou contradictoires présentées sous forme d’extraits sonores, d’images, de clips vidéo et de “mèmes” Internet qui exploitent et renforcent les biais et les paralogismes cognitifs bien connus. Il s’agit notamment des sophismes non sequitur et tu quoque, des heuristiques psychologiques telles que l’effet de primauté, l’effet d’entraînement et d’autres trop nombreux pour être énumérés. L’objectif apparent est d’éroder la capacité des individus à juger ce qui est vrai et faux, qui et quoi croire, et qui soutenir. Il en résulte une attitude cynique et nihiliste à l’égard des faits, des intentions et des objectifs présentés par et pour les puissances et les forces en présence, et cela sape le soutien à une défense forte contre les intentions et les activités hostiles.

La stratégie

Les efforts visant à renforcer la résilience de la société, en particulier pour les générations futures, dépendent de la capacité à fournir des outils concrets pouvant être utilisés rapidement et efficacement pour résister, contrer et évaluer les affirmations, les preuves, les déclarations et les arguments qui constituent la base de la désinformation, de la propagande et d’autres activités d’information hostiles. Cela exige une approche rationnelle et systématique du problème, fondée sur des résultats, des produits et des méthodes clairs.

La clé d’un succès durable et à long terme dans la construction de la résistance sociétale est de se concentrer sur la génération montante de leaders actuels et potentiels qui deviendront des influenceurs, des formateurs d’opinion et des décideurs dans les domaines de la politique et de l’administration publiques, de la diplomatie, des communications, des affaires, de la finance, de la sécurité publique et de la profession des armes.

Le centre de gravité de cet effort est de développer et de diffuser une boîte à outils intellectuelle et psychologique à l’intention des jeunes leaders actuels et futurs, afin d’étayer les analyses et évaluations individuelles et collectives concernant la solidité logique et la validité des diverses affirmations, preuves, propositions, rhétorique et arguments qui sont insérés et diffusés dans le domaine public.

La meilleure façon d’équiper nos jeunes pour qu’ils résistent aux attaques féroces de la guerre de l’information et de la guerre épistémologique est de les aider à reconnaître les différents types d’activités, en vue de les reformuler selon des principes logiques pour évaluer leur probabilité et leur validité globale. De cette manière, les leaders de la génération montante seront mieux équipés pour appliquer leur propre jugement par le biais de processus et de méthodes de raisonnement éprouvés, résilients et invariants dans tous les domaines, sujets, plateformes et contenus.

© Richard Martin

by Richard Martin

Copyright : Nikom Twytit | 123 Stock Photo

I always advocate looking at what we’ve accomplished in order to gain a better grip on where we need to go in the future. This is crucial to learning and readiness as well as for continuing improvement and development. December is a good time to do this as it provides a natural break point for after-action review and self-development.

What were my objectives at the beginning of the year?

Have I achieve my goals in the following areas: financial, strategic, professional, leadership, personal, family, developmental, educational, motivational, volunteering?

Could I have been more focused on key goals and activities?

On the other hand, was I too focused on some areas, to the exclusion of other important goals and activities?

Did I have a strategy and overall plan? Did I adhere to them or was I flexible in adjusting to circumstances and needs as they evolved?

Did I have a good support network and employ it to its fullest?

Did I procrastinate and waste time on irrelevant activities and time fillers?

Did I exercise regularly and care for myself in body, mind, and spirit?

Have I put off important personal and professional matters because I feared the effort or consequences?

What am I most proud of having accomplished or changed during the year that is ending?

What am I least proud of? How can I avoid that in the future?

Was I opportunistic during the year so I could progress faster toward my goals and implement my strategy with greater effectiveness and efficiency?

Did I seize and maintain the initiative, or did I coast on previous gains and try to defend my position?

There are still 4 weeks in December. What are the three key things I can do, right now, to make the end of 2017 a success?

What opportunities are close at hand and that I can seize to gain/regain and/or maintain the initiative as I head into 2018?

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

12 techniques to self-improvement:

  1. Adopt and maintain the growth mindset.
  2. View your successes and failures as feedback for learning.
  3. Study the objective standards of your field, profession or organization.
  4. Observe and emulate positive role models.
  5. Practise self-knowledge in order to assess your leadership against objective standards.
  6. Practise self-awareness so you can witness your behavior, thinking, and performance on a
    moment-to-moment basis and adjust these accordingly.
  7. Create a vision of how you wish to lead in the future, and then determine what competencies
    and traits you will need to achieve that vision.
  8. Assess your past performance as a leader so you can draw lessons learned for now and the
  9. Identify where you are on the learning curve for the particular competencies you need in
    leadership. Are you at the initial awareness stage, making rapid progress, reaching diminishing
    returns, plateauing, or in decline? What is needed to move to the next stage of leadership
  10. What is the next learning curve for you? What are the most likely risks and opportunities you
    face when making the leap to the next curve?
  11. What are your top leadership strengths and your center of gravity? Develop a strategy to
    exploit your center of gravity.
  12. What are your top leadership limitations and vulnerabilities? What is your strategy to manage
    these limitations, depending on the situation and the people you are leading?

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago about how Walmart has decided to provide more training and development for its employees, especially those that are just starting out. This is a welcome development, as companies often fail to provide the most basic skills and knowledge to allow their employees to do a good job. This is particularly the case in the retail sector, and it is compounded by the high turnover.

Walmart has adopted the motto “I know. I can. I will.” This is another way of describing the three types of competencies. I know refers to the knowledge requirements of a job. I can refers to the skills requirements. I will refers to the attitudinal requirements. With my own clients, I tell them that all tasks, functions and responsibilities can be broken out into the KSA scheme that I learned in the army. Knowledge is WHAT the person needs to know to do the job or task. Skills are HOW the person will do the job or task. And Attitudes are WANTING to do the job, and do it well.

Whenever you’re confronted with the need to identify and develop competency requirements, it helps to break these out as follows: What knowledge is needed and by whom? How will the knowledge be applied in practice? What attitude is required to apply these skills and do a good job?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Some of you may be old enough to remember Nancy Reagan’s plea to “just say no” to drugs. If only it were that easy for those who are mired in dependency. The same thing goes for strategy and other aspects of management and leadership. We often end up doing things or acquiescing to commitments that we should just turn down, or outright refuse to do. Ask yourself these questions before deciding to do something or make a commitment:

  • How does it contribute to my major goal(s)?
  • Do I even know what my major goals are?
  • Can I delegate it to someone I trust or MUST I do it myself?
  • Does it contribute to my brand, repute, mission, vision?
  • Do I believe it is useful and will actually work?
  • Am I just going through the motions?
  • Do I WANT to do it or commit to it?
  • Am I just trying to placate others?
  • Am I just trying to please others, or trying to “fit in,” or doing what I believe is expected of me?
  • Who is asking me to do it? Do I respect their judgment and opinion? If not, then I need to get another opinion or give more consideration to MY needs and values.

There are probably more questions to ask yourself, but I’m sure you can see where I going with these…

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Uber-consultant Alan Weiss, PhD, is running the Million Dollar Consulting® Conference in Atlanta in March. He already has 130 people signed up, but his “stretch goal” is 200. As a long-time member of Alan’s excellent communities I can attest to the incredible value of this opportunity. If you’re a solo consultant, coach or speaker, or if you run any kind of professional services business (e.g., accounting, legal, etc.), then this is the place you should be.

The site is below, with dates, presenters, and logistics. This is also one of the most inexpensive ways to be with Alan, as some registrants have pointed out, since he’ll be speaking and present throughout the three days. Please note that the special keynote speaker will be Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the entire field of positive psychology. Wow!

Million Dollar Consulting Convention

Richard listed on

ISN Works introduces Richard Martin as one of its speakers.

I’ve been an independent consultant for eight years now. One of the deepest insights I’ve gained, from my own experience and that of helping others is the unerring value of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the profound belief, faith even, that we are worthwhile individuals and that we have something of value to contribute to others and to the wider world. Unfortunately, many people confuse the belief in one’s unconditional worth and value with the belief that one should be beyond criticism or sheltered from opposition, difficulty, or even enmity.

An acquaintance of mine has been struggling for years with the idea of writing a book. He has—falsely in my estimation—focused on researching the topic to death and developing the ideas of others. If he had just written the book based on what he knows about the topic he would probably have published it by now and started drawing the benefits of having done so. He thinks he has a writing problem and frames his situation in that way. I’ve suggested to him that what he really has is a self-esteem issue. He thinks that he needs to rely on the ideas of others in order to be taken seriously as an author and expert on his topic of choice.

To quote Isaac Newton, we all “stand on the shoulders of giants.” That’s okay, and we should always acknowledge the sources of our ideas and contributions of others. But when that becomes an excuse to put off accomplishing what we truly want, it’s not simply a technical problem. It’s a self-esteem problem.

I’ve often been surprised in working with executives and companies that a lot of their problems stem from low self-esteem, or at least a lack of self-confidence and self-recognition of their unique value. I was doing a project with a professional service company. We were discussing ways of increasing the value—and fees—they could be charging their clients. When I broached the topic of moving from simply providing ready-made information and executing client-defined mandates, to knowledge- and wisdom-based interventions, the members of the group were visibly ill at ease.

When I inquired as to the nature of their discomfort, they told me straight out they didn’t think they could do it, and that besides their clients would never pay for that. They said they could never venture outside the beaten path of how things are done in their industry. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode when Marge washes Homer’s white shirts with the reds, and they come out pink. Marge tells Homer she thinks he looks good in pink, and that he looks different. But he tells her that he can’t risk being different because he’s not popular enough.

As my mentor, Alan Weiss, always says, “You can’t ask others to believe in your value unless you first believe it yourself.” Value is largely a psychological phenomenon. Can we honestly say a $100 thousand Mercedes is worth three times as much as a $30 thousand dollar Toyota (or whatever)? Not objectively at least. The value is in the perception and the branding. Before someone accuses me of not recognizing the workmanship and styling and performance of a Mercedes, I’ll say right away that these are objective qualities. However, there is also a unique, subjective qualitative difference. Technical know-how and proficiency are definitely a source of the Mercedes brand, but so is the self-esteem of the company, its management, and its employees. Moreover, customers acquire Mercedes’s cars because of that perception.

The exercise of sound leadership implies risk-taking and decision-making. This also entails a need for strong self-esteem. If you’re in front and leading, seeking to influence others and giving your view of things, then you will necessarily be criticized and occasionally opposed. You can’t lead if you don’t have the self-esteem to weather its inevitable ups and downs. By extension, leadership is founded on respect. We think of respect for the leader, but that also includes respect of others in general. To lead people you have to respect them enough to give them information, to explain the situation, to let them use their creativity and initiative, and to develop them so they can shine and eventually step into your shoes.

As you can see, self-esteem is not just some ethereal quality suitable only for preschoolers. If we want to take risks in life—And can we really avoid them?—then we require self-esteem. We must believe in our powers and abilities, and be willing to take a chance on them. We must have faith that others want and value our products and services and contributions. Otherwise, we get lost in the pack with no perception of difference and competitive advantage. We also fail to make our best contribution.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2014. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.