Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

HOPE

He is now ten years old, but Jon came into our lives three years ago when our youngest son and his wife adopted him from the Texas foster care system. Jon’s story is one of unimaginable abuse–emotional, physical, and other things too horrible to mention; horrors that Jeanette and I cannot understand or fathom. Jon’s biological mother abused drugs and sold her body to feed her drug addiction.  He would be taken by the state and returned several times to his mother and his family with five other children. But he was not wanted and was treated harshly by the very people you would think would protect a child, their family. Unfortunately, the foster care system was not any better, and Jon was placed in foster home after foster home. The situation became so bad that Jon was, one time, duct-taped to a chair by a foster family because of…

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New Democratic Socialism and Marxist Theory

In the coming months, the voters in our country are going to hear a discussion about “Democratic Socialism”. Defenders of this new “Democratic Socialism” argue that the Soviet Union was an aberration of socialism and was not the norm. The new groups that are now pushing this new generation of “Democratic Socialism” claim their vision and version is a kinder and gentler socialism, with democratic inclusiveness, social justice, and egalitarianism for all.  These new advocates claim to reject the socialism of the Soviet Union and claim any attempt to link their version to the old Soviet Union socialism is an attempt to throw their ideas into disrepute through guilt by association. The problem with their argument is that any claim of socialism that is based on class conflict is still based on Marxist theory and forms.  The claim about the “one percent wealthy” is merely a modification of Marxian terminology…

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Five Leadership Lessons from Grant

Leading and the core elements of leading are interesting to study. One area that is fascinating to study is military leaders. Their leadership role is much larger for one simple reason – lives are at stake. Military leaders are literally making life and death decisions. It is a responsibility that weighs on them long after the battle or war is over.  For the rest of us, there are key lessons to be learned in leading from military leaders. I am thankful I do not have to make those types of decisions. One general in particular always stands out to me – Ulysses S Grant. He demonstrated, at the Union’s lowest point in the Civil War, that he could lead and win.  He showed the resolve to defeat Robert E. Lee, who had become almost mystical, both in the North and South. Lee had become that figure and leader the Union…

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Five Fatal Flaws for an Employee

Many times, a business or organization is faced with a tough decision concerning keeping an employee or letting an employee go. Those moments as a leader or manager are never easy, but a situation or event has forced a decision to be made. How to evaluate and document what is essential to the organization is critical. Understanding what can be fixed and what cannot are important questions. Here are my five fatal flaws that would cause a serious conversation about termination: Lack of ability to learn from mistakes – We all make mistakes; mistakes are part of the human experience. I don’t worry too much about what I call “one-off” mistakes. “One-off” mistakes are missteps that happen just once. What catches a leader’s attention is the same type of mistake that is being made repeatedly. A mistake is corrected, but the person then keeps making the same mistake over and…

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RGV Innovators and Entrepreneurs

I spend a lot of my time working with startups and entrepreneurs, and it is one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of my day that I get to do at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Seeing some of the fantastic ideas in development, and some even becoming realities, is thrilling. Our culture believes creating something from nothing can be done overnight and that entrepreneurs and innovators catch “lightning in a bottle”. In actuality, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. The average entrepreneur and innovator we work with will take almost five years to get his/her idea to a profitable stage, if it makes it that far. So, here are a few things I have noticed about our local entrepreneurs and innovators: They have lots of ideas – The innovators we work with have lots of ideas, and one approach leads to two or more ideas in…

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McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Part II)

Last week, I wrote about the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Chamber board has been strategic in finding key leaders across sections of McAllen’s economy who bring to the table relationships and the ability to drive critical goals for the Chamber. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board is the tipping point, or “X” factor, for our organization. Here is Part II of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors: Jason Leal – Jason is the immediate past treasurer for the Chamber and brings a robust analytical approach to the trends financially impacting the Chamber, along with the benefits of a long-term banking relationship. Todd Mann – Todd is new to the board and is President and CEO of McAllen Medical Center. The healthcare industry is a massive driver in the local economy and is impacting the community in a variety of ways. Carlos Melguizo – Carlos…

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Part I)

The new fiscal year for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce started October 1, and I am excited about all the new things the Chamber will be doing this coming year. One of the essential touchstones for the Chamber’s success is the board of directors. These businessmen and businesswomen make such a huge difference in our success and bring the intangible, or “X” factor, to the table. The board has the ability to commit to, and see the possibilities for, the future and the role the McAllen Chamber can play in the business community. Listed here are the people who are driving the Chamber’s success: Sally Fraustro-Guerra – Board chair and “connector”. Sally knows everyone and has stepped up, time and time again, in making things happen at/for the Chamber. She is always positive and willing to do whatever it takes for this organization to be successful. Bob Boggus – Chair-elect…

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The American Dream

From the very beginning, the United States was founded on the concept that anyone could become anything they wanted. It was never a guarantee, but it was the concept of a “fair chance.” The dream meant a “fair chance” to achieve what a person desired, no matter where they were born or the circumstances of their birth. Government is not supposed to block a person’s path, and everyone should be offered a fair chance to compete.   What we have seen in the last decades has been an eroding of that confidence in the American way. Here are some examples of the erosions: Well connected and wealthy families cheat to get their kids into prestigious colleges and universities. Cheating to win. Doors to jobs and opportunities seem to open for people who have the right family connections and right school ties. Connections to win.  If you are not born in America…

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Five Decision Making Traps to Avoid

There has been a lot written about decision making and what goes into the process. Bad decisions made by businesses get scrutinized repeatedly – they even become urban legends. Here are several examples: Ross Perot passed on buying Microsoft for $50 million in 1979; IBM allowed Microsoft to retain the copyright of the DOS operating system.  In 1999, Excite (a popular search engine in the 90s) passed on purchasing Google for $750,000; Western Union turned down purchasing the telephone patent for $100,000; In 1970, NBC and CBS passed on Monday Night Football; and, last but not least, Edwin Drake failed to file a patent for his oil drilling process in 1858 (he developed the process of using pipes to keep water away from the drill bits and ushered in the modern oil business).  Here are five traps that can happen during the decision-making process:  The First Idea Trap. We tend…

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Core Values

One of the critical things that drives the success of a business or organization is the set of core values of that organization or company. Core values are the foundational stone for success and provide the “North Star” for businesses managing change and disruptions in the marketplace. Without clearly defined core values, an organization bounces from situation to situation, without really understanding why it has chosen to do things a certain way. Core values become the guiding principle and standard by which situations, customers, and even how internal matters are handled. Core values become “red lines” that are not negotiated or compromised. Everything can be traded and compromised, except core values. Easy to say, but much harder to do.  A person’s core values need to match with his/her business or organization’s core values. Without a close match, there is internal stress created, which results in a mismatch between an individual…

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Get Your Tickets NOW! MXLAN Is Coming

MXLAN is McAllen’s five-day interactive arts and music festival that celebrates the past, present, and future culture of our region. Our goal is to make the event an authentic experience that ignites a spirit of adventure, experiences, and kinship. We will bring thousands of visitors to McAllen to engage in unique experiences that celebrate our region’s ties to Mexico, but also the emerging Latino experience for the Rio Grande Valley and our unique food, music, and culture. Here is just a short list of some of the activities happening:      Friday, July 26th at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, July 27th at 11:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m., Sunday, July 28th at 10:00 a.m., and 3:30 p.m. The Mindgames Chess Festival, powered by the McAllen Independent School District, will feature chess and video game competitions. $3,600 in winnings (100% guaranteed). Note: Both schedules merge after Round 2. Online Registration is $50 + $2.00…

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A Celebration of Culture: McAllen’s MXLAN Interactive Arts and Music Festival

MXLAN is McAllen’s five-day interactive arts and music festival that celebrates the past, present and future culture of our region. Our goal is to make the event an authentic experience that ignites a spirit of adventure, experiences, and kinship. We will bring thousands of visitors to McAllen to engage in unique experiences that celebrate our region’s ties to Mexico, but also the emerging Latino experience of the Rio Grande Valley and our unique food, music, and culture. Here is just a short list of some of the activities happening:   Wednesday-Sunday The MXLAN Mercado is free and open to the public from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. We will have over 150 Mexican Artisans and exhibitors. If you miss shopping and going to Mexico, this will be your chance to see and spend some money on some unique and one-of-a-kind gifts.       Wednesday 8:30 PM The Neon Run,…

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Weddings and Funerals

Weddings and funerals are signature bookend events. One demonstrates a commitment that goes beyond one’s self, and the other tells the tale of a life and how it was lived. Last week, as I sat in Ruben Cardenas’s funeral, I was reminded about one of Ruben’s life focuses on making an investment and impact in our community. He instilled the same message in his children, Dr. Carlos Cardenas, Oscar Cardenas, and Diana Albrecht. Each echoes that same DNA that was so important to their father and his life.   Ruben Cardenas was the McAllen Chamber’s longest-serving volunteer – 59 years (a record that will never be broken). Ruben could be direct, blunt, and forceful, but he was committed to making McAllen world class. As I sat there, I began to reflect on how a person can genuinely measure their effort and impact. Moreover, my thoughts turn to the two most…

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Why “RANTS” Don’t Work

Going on a “rant” never works. It seems like every day someone on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or some other social media platform vents and calls out a person or group. This almost always backfires and usually does more damage to the person doing the “rant” than to the person being “attacked.” The person doing the “ranting” may feel good after the post for a short period but, long-term, people begin to question the “ranter’s” mental state and stability. La Croix’s CEO, Nick Caporella, has a history of lashing out at a wide range of people and groups. Two years ago, he went after short-sellers of his company’s stock prices. Everybody who was questioning the stock value was a “perpetrator and self-serving manipulator.” The “rant” was done in all caps, with vast claims of the “best year ever.”  Many financial observers labeled the outbursts bizarre and even bordering on deranged.…

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