Last Week at Rotary

October 4, 2018

DAN HILL
Founder of Sensory Logic
Author of Famous Faces Decoded

Dan Hill, Ph.D., is the founder and president of Sensory Logic, Inc., which pioneered the use of facial coding in business beginning in 1998. As an expert facial coder, Dan is the recipient of seven U.S. patents related to advanced methods for the scoring and analysis of facial coding data. He is also a certified Facial Action Coding System (FACS) practitioner. Dan has done consulting work for over half of the world’s top 100 B2C companies. Among his five previous books is Emotionomics, chosen by Advertising Age as one of the top 10 must-read books of 2009, which featured a foreword by Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons in its second edition. Dan’s TV appearances have ranged from ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Al Jazeera, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, CNN, ESPN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC’s “The Today Show,” and PBS, to The Tennis Channel. For radio, Dan has been interviewed by the BBC and NPR’s “Marketplace”. Print and digital coverage of Dan’s work has included: Admap, Advertising Age, Adweek, Allure, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, The Financial Times, Forbes China, Inc., Kiplinger’s, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Politico, Time, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, in addition to his having been a columnist for Reuters. His essays were noted with commendation in the 1989, 1991 and 1994 editions of The Best American Essays. Since his education at St. Olaf College, Oxford University, Brown University, and Rutgers University, Dan has given speeches and led workshops in over 20 countries. Along with his wife, Karen Bernthal, he lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and Palm Desert, California.

Dan Hill is an expert at reading emotions on people’s faces. He said, “The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves.” Also he shared a picture of “The Thinker” while quoting Descartes who said, “I think, therefore I am.” which he said, “implies that we are rational.” Everyone feels before they think. We make decisions based on emotions. Decisions are made for two reasons: the good and the real reason. Most of us are more like Watson than Sherlock who thinks of emotions as noise, then he gets back to the truth. Only a third of the people actually know what they are feeling at a given time.

I began my business in 1998. I was lucky. It was a time when we became more aware of the brain which has led to the study of emotional intelligence and perception. “Ability EQ” gives a 6% edge. When compared to tennis, the number one tennis player only wins 53% of the points. It is actually much closer than you think. Presidential races are won by a 2.2% margin. Therefore, a 6% edge provides a big advantage; especially when a sales person often tells 3 lies in 10 minutes of conversation.

All emotions are on our face. It’s universal even in children as young as 9 months of age. Only body language is determined by culture. Facial muscles are the only ones attached to the skin. There are 44 muscles ready to convey what a person is thinking so pay attention. Another author, Professor Paul Ekman in Emotions Revealed concurs with my book, Emotionomics, in saying that body language conveys 50% of meaning, while facial coding conveys much more. I pioneered its use in business. Today it is a $1B industry. The facial industrial complex has begun to link with artificial intelligence. I use facial coding for constructive purposes, but there are many nefarious uses as well. For example, the Chinese government monitors the local population and pulls out those who are not impacted by government propaganda. On the other hand, if it’s used in hospitals to detect what is happening to a patient. I believe that our society will be transformed over the next five to ten years. Emotions can be diagrammed. Trust is the basis of business versus contempt. In marriage counseling facial coding can detect true feelings with a 98% accuracy predicting whether a couple will stay together or not. In speed dating one can predict interest with 100% accuracy. It can predict what we do not say, because our face will.

We study celebrities for the emotions behind their actions. Anger is a dominant emotion signaling the intention to gain control. It is passionate. It can lead to violence when held unchecked. Emotions have upsides and downsides. For example, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has a face that exemplifies happiness. At the same time, however, Facebook’s recent difficulties may have resulted from his being too footloose on the details. We are very complex. Emotions overlap. Fear and surprise often show themselves together.

When people approach one another, they may come in anger, happiness, or sadness. Anger is demonstrated by a tightened face with lowered brows and taut lips. It may be manifested by a hit. Happiness is detected by a face that lifts upward. It is often accompanied by a hug. Sadness is about loss and is signaled by a wrinkled face. A wince pushing up the cheeks is the surest sign followed by closing eyes. Janis Joplin comes to mind.

We spurn one another with disgust and contempt. Think of Kanye West whose upper lip flares. Contempt by Hillary Clinton was demonstrated by superiority with the corners of her mouth curled up and out. Yet, in New Hampshire after Hillary spent $50M and came in third there was no smirk. Had the cameras picked up her sincerity that night in the town forum, she could have beaten Obama on the rest of the campaign trail.

Reactions emote as surprise or fear. When surprised, our eyes widen for about a second. If any longer, the person is acting. Eyes widen because we want more information. With fear, our face opens and our lips pull back bracing for fight or flight. I think of OJ Simpson’s face. He was insecure.

Questions/Answers
1. Does the US Military use facial coding in their selection process?
Yes, the FBI and CIA use it as well. Even at West Point cadets are monitored.

2. Is it used in court? No one has been called to be an expert witness. I think of the priest who was investigated in a major city diocese. He showed his emotions after all.

3. What about in the case of Kavanaugh versus Ford?
There is no lying muscle. People have horrible memories. They only remember what is searing, while losing the peripheral details. We can detect lying by asking the person to tell the details of their story in reverse. We remember novelty items or what’s new or meaningful. Ford remembered distinctly “They were having fun at my expense.” While it wasn’t meaningful to Kavanaugh or to Mark Judge, they forgot it.
Impressions of Kavanaugh: It was a normal reaction for Kavanaugh to be outraged at his being publicly embarrassed. He showed indignation. If you look at Kavanaugh’s high school photos, he demonstrates a lot of anger. The burden of proof is on his side.
There were few details on his side.
Impressions of Ford: She was authentic. She was terrified. There were horizontal lines across her forehead and her mouth was pulled wide.
Note: If you would like to read more about Dan Hill’s work, read his blog: @emotionswizard

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September 27, 2018

MARIELA OYOLA-BRAUCH
Founder & CEO

Puerto Rico: The People
Mariela is the CEO & Founder of Jibaro. Jibaro is a lifestyle brand dedicated to celebrating and promoting authentic Puerto Rican culture, heritage, and principles. The Jibaro brand shares the story of Puerto Rican culture and roots with high quality apparel and home good products that are creatively designed. They value craftsmanship and pride themselves in providing their customers with only the most authentic and highest quality products. Additionally, Jibaro delivers the best customer service possible. Further, Jíbaro donates 10% of its profits to charitable partner organizations that are focused on the economic and social advancement of the Puerto Rican people and the ecological protection of the island. By buying their merchandise, customers are helping Jibaro to increase donations to their partner non-profit organizations.

After watching hurricanes pummel her native island of Puerto Rico last fall, Fort Mitchell resident, Mariela Oyola-Brauch, knew that she would be stepping up her company’s efforts to provide support to the people there.
Today founder and CEO Oyola-Brauch is celebrating the first anniversary of Jibaro, a lifestyle brand with a mission to celebrate and to promote authentic Puerto Rican heritage. The company sells men’s, women’s, and kids apparel including shirts and hats, and decorative items for the home, donating ten percent of all profits toward nonprofit organizations based in Puerto Rico.

In addition to founding her own company, Mariela has become an organizer for Puerto Rican events throughout the tri-state area. Only a week after the hurricane devastated the island, Mariela used Jibaro’s Facebook page (#JibaroRoots) to reach out to all Puerto Ricans living in the USA who had not been able to communicate with their loved ones, due to lack of electricity, inconsistent internet, and cell phone services.

With the help of Mariela’s family living in Puerto Rico, they were able to locate almost 30 elderly people in 10 different towns and send videos and messages confirming their safety back to concerned family members. In addition, Mariela recently helped organize a major hurricane relief effort with leaders at Madison Avenue Christian Church, identifying and partnering with PANI (Programa de Adolecentes de Naranjito, Inc.), who will be using the fundraising proceeds to help increase psychological and counseling services for children and adolescents in Naranjito, Puerto Rico.
Mariela also separately collaborated with Covenant-First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cincinnati and Cincinnati for Puerto Rico, to raise and donate funds towards the recovery efforts. Most recently, she managed a project with Water Mission (Watermission.org) to begin the restoration of an inoperable water well that serves over 300 families in Naranjito, Puerto Rico. Through her efforts, over 1,000 individuals who had been without a functioning water source for over 5 months will soon have a sustainable solar-powered well.

Migrating with her family to Bronx, New York at nine months old, Mariela returned to Naranjito, Puerto Rico to be closer to family members. After obtaining a Chemistry degree from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Campus and a master’s degree at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, Mariela worked as a chemist for almost ten years, developing and innovating consumer products for Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s most prominent marketing and manufacturing companies.
Mariela’s passion to serve those in need led her to work at Crossroads Health Center, an inner city medical clinic, and as a Spanish medical interpreter at the local hospitals. Along with being a full-time mother, Mariela is an active volunteer, who has mentored a young girl for 10 years, participated and led numerous domestic and international service travel trips to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and to Central and South America.

Jibaro has sold its merchandise to customers located in 27 U.S. states and 45 towns in Puerto Rico. Jibaro has donated over $1,500 to non-profit organizations since its inception in March, 2017 and currently has over 5,000 Facebook followers.
Mariela Oyola-Brauch received the Impact 100 Wendy H. Steele Award for volunteering excellence through her leadership with the Hispanic Network Mentoring Initiative and her active involvement in the community.

I realized that I must be a serial entrepreneur with my first memories of making arts and crafts at home and selling them to my fellow classmates at school each day. It was when I had made $40 one day when the nuns said, “Enough is enough!” and I was rapped on the knuckles for selling at school.

“I want for you to see Puerto Rico (PR) as I see it: like it was when I was young.” It is a true labor of love that I celebrate the heritage of the mountain folk of PR. Russell Smith described Mariela in his introduction to the club saying, “Mariela has used her business experience and connections from her years working at Proctor and Gamble to support her people and she embodies faith, hope, and love as she reaches out to help her people with Jibaro.

Today PR is shattered. To remind you of recent trends comparing the US with PR. During the Zika epidemic PR lost 38 while Florida lost over 300 people. A half a million people have migrated to the US from PR. My sister was among them. Crime and unemployment rates in PR where there were as many as 716 homicides. In comparison, in Cincinnati at the same time there were 62. These facts are just to help you picture the differences in our quality of living. It was these facts that motivated my husband and I to begin thinking that we MUST do something. We decided to shine a light on the lives, values, and traditions of the PR mountain people. We named the business that we started Jibaro, which means mountain folk. Actually, in PR it refers to a farmer up in the mountains. It was an insulting term that meant they were illiterate. Instead, I think it refers to my family’s heritage and I appreciate where I am from. So Jibaro was launched to sell apparel and home goods to benefit my PR people.

During the 1920s – 1940s in America, photographers were sent to travel the country to photograph its people. Among the pictures were some from PR. They were beautiful! Then along came Hurricane Maria. What a surprise! PR had never experienced any storm like Maria. The wind was so strong, yet it moved so slowly. It was like a “tornado that wouldn’t move out.” My family told me during it on the phone that it felt just like the walls were moving in and out.

For three weeks after Maria, I tried to be strong for my father. There he and my mother were in the midst of complete devastation. He spent his career working as a social worker. As I grew up if there was a storm anywhere in PR, we went as a family to help the people. We were always volunteering. Many times we went back to this one beach. It became my favorite beach. It meant so much to all of us. Later when I grew up, I got engaged and even married at that beach. After hurricanes we went back over and over again to help the people to rebuild their lives.

When the Hurricane Maria struck, I scheduled a flight to PR almost immediately thereafter. I planned to take a satellite phone so I could help people find their loved ones. I advertised and more than 30 people had responded wanting my help. The day came for me to depart and the flight was suddenly canceled without warning. The PR people had no water or electricity. There were no working traffic lights. Poles were down everywhere. I called my father to ask if he would help find the 30 missing people. He said he was able to fill up with gasoline, even though in long lines, every morning. My family drove around following any leads they could and eventually found information about all 30 of the missing people. I finally got there myself. We brought water, sanitation items, and music. We brought them joy where they had been afraid. My friends here pitched in to help. How I love Cincinnati! Even Russell Smith’s church members responded wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, mental illness and suicides are up in PR. So is migration. Puerto Ricans are leaving every day.

My husband and I partnered Jibaro with a non-profit out of Charleston, SC called Water Mission (water mission.org). We are now involved by repairing wells to re-provide much needed water. When there is no electricity, we learned there is no water. Today we have connected with 300 families by helping them with their needs and to help them find jobs. We are helping them to set up solar panels to help supplement their electrical sourcing.

I see PR through its people: artists, children, people doing whatever it takes to regain their lives. There is color, coffee, music, and even rum. Love is blooming amidst the chaos. Here are a few pictures of PR. San Juan on the water surrounded by a wall. If you share my enthusiasm, advocate for PR. Look up jibaro.com. You can practice your Spanish, or buy apparel and home goods. Just say “Rotary18” for a discount on all items for the next week.

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September 20, 2018

JEFF WYLER
Founder & CEO
Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

Auto Retailing: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Jeff Wyler is the Chairman and CEO of the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family, the company he founded in 1973 as a Chevrolet dealership. The company has grown from the one Chevrolet location in Batavia to 15 locations in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky representing 16 different makes of automobiles. Sales have grown from 200 a year to more than 39,000 in 2017, and his service departments repair more than 400,000 vehicles a year. His original 12 employees have increased to slightly more than 1,500, and The Jeff Wyler Automotive Family was listed by Automotive News in 2017 as the 39th largest automotive retailer in the country.

Civically, Mr. Wyler currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Art Museum and is Vice Chairman of UC Health one of the largest hospital systems in Cincinnati. Previously, Jeff Wyler served as Chairman of the Board of CBank, a commercial bank located in Montgomery, Ohio that he helped co-found in 2007. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors of Bank One Cincinnati and on the Board of Trustees of the University of Cincinnati for nine years where three of those years he served as Chairman. He is also Chairman of the Wyler Family Foundation.

In 2006, he became a minority partner in the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he sold tickets to pay his way through college. He was elected into the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame in 2010, recipient of the “Dealmaker of the Year” award from Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) in 2014, and the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Award for Entrepreneurial and Civic Spirit also in 2014. Mr. Wyler is a member of the Commercial Club of Cincinnati, an organization of the top 65 business leaders of Greater Cincinnati. From 2005 to 2008, he owned and operated a NASCAR Truck racing team that won three races including Daytona in 2007.

Jeff and his wife, Linda, have four children, three of whom are active in the business, and six grandchildren.

Owen Wrassman introduced Mr. Wyler to the club. In jest he said, “Wyler.com is all we need to say.”

Jeff told us that he had once been a Rotarian in the Batavia Rotary Club. He had even been elected President of the club at one time. They met regularly for breakfasts on Saturdays. He told us when he was president; women were not invited to the meetings. However, his wife, on the other hand, was the first to join Rotary when she was invited into the Hamilton, OH Club. He said that he was honored to come today to speak to us as well as to admit that he was curious about us due to our size and prominence in to downtown so many years later.

He immediately drew a comparison about how public opinion viewed his profession. He said, “You may as well have gone to have a root canal from your dentist today as come and listen to a car dealer!” This is because on the spectrum of trust in professions, car dealers are at the very bottom of the list preceded only by a visit to the dentist. Way up the list are lawyers and even further up, bankers! I have found that when people come to a car dealer, they want respect, but their manhood is at stake when they learn that someone else got a better deal.

We are a retailer. We simply purchase from the manufacturer and pass it on to you. You may have a piece of iron that you want to trade-in at the time of the sale that I’ve got to sell first, so there’s a lot more than meets the eye at the showroom. Our next service at the time of purchase is the financing of the vehicle.

History
I promised that I would talk about the history of car sales. It may be hard to imagine, but the retail part is only about 100 years old. Cars replaced the sole transportation that had been used for thousands of years. Picture this: New York City had 100,000 horses in 1900. They deposited 2.5M tons as they went….and we complain about car exhaust! Now 7,500 companies manufacture autos. At the turn of the century, a car dealer offered 4 or 5 cars only. They were challenged to get these cars out to the public yes, but what they really needed was the cash fast from them to buy more. Today Tesla, for example, manufactures until the demand meets supply.

Franchises at the turn of the century were renewable annually. This made for an arbitrary business model and lasted until the mid-1950s.

When I began in 1973, there were six Chevrolet dealers in Clermont County and thirteen more in the Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky region. The population centers were concentrated in the northeastern part of the country and the Midwest. After WWII, people began to move westward. The dealerships followed where the people were. Phoenix, the fifth largest city, had 11 dealerships, practically the same number as Cincinnati. I would love to offer a hard and fast sticker price, but when you shop around; my competitors will not match it.

From December 1941 to the end of WWII in 1945, we did not build cars. The Depression made people unable to have cars. There was a strong demand, but there were price controls. Dealers managed to figure around it by offering the car at the price controlled level of $1,000 and then added accessories to up the price.

It wasn’t until 1972 (?) that we had our first sales: 23 payments of $35/month and on the 25th a balloon of $800 was due. Often the balloon payment wasn’t disclosed. Dealers routinely rolled the mileage back saying, “It doesn’t matter how many miles is on a car because what is more important is: how many more it can go!”

The sticker went on the car window in 1958. Car sales was the most regulated industry. We acted as bankers writing contracts in pen, and then checking for the payments in the book. That was it!

We do over $400,000 in repairs each year. Of these about 80,000 come in though were bought elsewhere.

I have spent millions of dollars on buildings, but my real front door is wyler.com. At any one time I have 8,500 cars with their pictures and their prices on-line. You fill out the credit form and can talk face-to-face over the computer to the sales person. We value your present car. We then find any number of cars that you may want within a 5 – 10 mile area, and the sale is made. Or you can pay a fee of approximately $300 to have someone else find and negotiate the price of your chosen car. We have been voted one of the “Top Ten Places to Work” this year. The many years of tenure among my employees is remarkable. We just had the President’s Club dinner this past Saturday night where we honored employees with more than ten years with us. We are a family business. We are Cincinnati!

I used to meet here in the Hall of Mirrors quarterly with General Motors. It is good to be back!

Future
600,000 electric cars were sold last year in China. People here just do not want to pay the additional $10,000.

Ride Share is popular in population centers like Washington DC, NYC, and Chicago, but it is hard to get it going in Cincinnati.

Questions/Answers
1. My first answer before you ask me anything is: “My favorite car is the one with my name on the back of it!”

2. Why are manual transmissions going away? People are lazy. Ha! Today there are only 2.5% that are stick shift.

3. Advertising $
We used to have rules stating that we couldn’t advertise anywhere, but where we had our dealerships. Violators were penalized by forfeiting their next shipment. Radio and TV covered my market. I used both for about 12 years. Then a friend offered to make a TV ad. He produced it on his own. His wife wanted a special car so that was the price! USED CARS that were available only through pages and pages of newspaper are available on the internet. Today, we employ 40% for radio and tv ads and 60% for digital. We’ll stop some of the radio and TV as well as the mailings. We used to advertise with a sign at the Great American Ballpark. We took it down, but it will be returning in the next few years.

We tried the “Fast Lane” Program where participants could change cars often. We needed 100 to break-even on the program, but only got 45 so it won’t continue.

4. Where did you get the expression in your advertising, “Eggs are cheaper in the country” come from? From a dealership who used it in Columbus. I asked the owner, Bob, if I could use it as my slogan too. He said, “Sure. I got it from someone in Harrisburg, PA.” Wouldn’t you know I wound up buying Bob’s dealership!

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September 13, 2018

JIM LEBARBARA
“The Music Professor”

Jim LaBarbara began his career in broadcasting in 1959 while working on his undergraduate degree from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and has been heard on hundreds of radio and television commercials ever since. Throughout the years, Jim worked under the pseudonyms of Jimmy Holiday while working in Meadville, Titusville, and DuBois, Pennsylvania, and J. Bentley Starr in Erie, Pennsylvania. He began using his real name on the 50,000-watt WKYC and WIXY in Cleveland and the year he spent in Denver. However, he is best known as the “Music Professor,” a moniker that was given to him when he began his work in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for the powerful WLWT, WCKY, WSAI, and WGRR FM, among others. Jim’s graduate studies were at the University of Cincinnati where he earned a Master’s Degree in Broadcasting and was an adjunct professor at that university for several years. Jim is regarded as a respected musicologist on early rock ‘n roll. He was named one of the “Top 40 Radio Personalities of All Time,” was listed in the Rock Jock Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. He has a son and daughter and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio along with his wife Sally.

Ron Ott introduced Jim LaBarbara to the club. Jim responded immediately to the introduction along with the serenade by “Sonny and Cher” by saying, “I remember the time when Sonny and Cher were performing on stage and a barage of preteens in the audience broke through the crowd barrier and stormed the stage.” Sonny simply said, “So what do you want to do now?” They jumped down off the stage and the concert went on.

Jim said, “Back when I landed at WLWT in 1969, not many people recognized “rock and roll” for what it was. It all started in the 1920’s with Trixie Smith and then King Records picked up on it in the 1940’s. Remember “Rock Around the Clock Tonight?” The term “rock and roll” was black slang for sex…..and the rest is history!

Jim began to roll down memory lane. Let’s just step back in time and remember….

Bill Randall was the #1 disc jockey who was behind the scenes of the Dorsey Brothers, the Ed Sullivan Show, and even the Jackie Gleason Show introducing and promoting Elvis Presley. He first hit the microphones with “That’s Alright Mama.” There was a commotion backstage. He was nervous. Within a week, he released “Heart Break Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” which became a 1M record seller by the time it sold to RCA.

Buddy Holly died and it was termed by Don McLean as “The Day the Music Died.” Chuck Berry hit the charts with music that reeled in the teen crowd with his stories. Muddy Waters thrilled his audiences with the “duck walk” right on stage. Little Richard found Jesus at a church.

Jerry Lee Lewis was writing the stories about him that were not ever as good as reality. He married his 13-year-old cousin. When asked about it he said, “Oh she’s closer to 14.”

Dick Clark owned it all: “Sixteen Candles,” the “Mashed Potatoes,” etc.

In November 1963, the President was reported to have been assassinated. We did not know what to do. At that time, the “Singing Nun” was #1. Then Christmas ticked by and we were into January of 1964, when four guys showed up from England. They gave us the simple old American music back that we had lost like “She Loves You” which was from Gary Lewis and the Pacemakers (remember “I Like It!”), “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” To get them on the air, we disc jockeys had to say, “We’ll pull your records if you don’t at least listen to the Beatles.” They were open to suggestions because of George Marlin.

In Cleveland, KY was THE radio station. I was 24 – 25. I was hired in 1969, to change the music of WLW. I was on at night while Dixon and Braun were on during the day. I was told to do more talking with pop music groups to inform the public. It was because Stan Matlock of WKRC had opened up the market to information with his “Magazine of the Air.”

I became friends with James Brown. We would sit up until 4 o’clock in the morning talking. James did not drink. He was conservative. He told me many stories. He told me that Otis Redding went to King Records after he would play in the football games on Friday nights. Otis gave me “Two Hearts.” Pat Boone covered black music. Remember “Tootie Fruity?”

Chubby Checker should be in the Hall of Fame. Jackie Wilson recorded with him.

I remember when we celebrated New Year’s Eve here at the Netherland Hilton. It was all lit up. The night featured Lonny Mack who was “the best” guitar player ever. We made music at the Gibson Hotel here in Cincinnati where in room 105, Harry Carlson regaled me with so many stories. Another place was the Twilight Lounge in Hamilton, OH. There were so many good places!

Andy Williams claimed he was “corrupted in Cincinnati.” Back then WLS in Chicago played recorded music while WLW played live music. Andy Williams was in Cincinnati to see his first girlfriend, Elaine Evans, who happened to be a member of the Walnut Hills Women’s Club.

Ray Vaugn went blind. He was not born blind.

Davy Jones and the Monkeys never got money from the sales of their memorabilia.

I have been truly blessed. I have met many wonderful people during my career.

Questions/Answers
1. Tell us about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was very political. Yet, anyone who recorded with Atlantic Records got in. Probably 85% of the “famers” were convicted felons.

2. What do you think are today’s performers’ view of drugs? I’m only familiar with the 1950’s – 1960’s. Drugs flew then.

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August 30, 2018

W. RODNEY McMULLEN

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

The Kroger Company

Rodney McMullen is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Kroger Co. Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve America through food inspiration and uplifts customers through a seamless digital shopping experience at 2,800 grocery retail stores under more than a dozen banner names. Kroger also operates 38 U.S. food-processing plants and 274 jewelry stores (through the acquisition of Fred Meyer).

Rodney joined Kroger in 1978, as a part-time stock clerk in Lexington, KY. During his career with Kroger, he has served in numerous leadership positions, including Assistant Treasurer, Vice President of Planning and Capital Management, Corporate Controller, Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and Vice Chairman. He was elected to Kroger’s Board of Directors in 2003, to President and Chief Operating Officer in 2009, and to his current position in 2014. Rodney was named Chairman of the Board in 2015.

Rodney is a member of the Board of Directors of Cincinnati Financial Corp., VF Corporation, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), Cincinnati Business Committee and Consumer Goods Forum. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Xavier University and on the Dean’s Advisory Council of University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Rodney earned bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Finance, and an MBA with an Accounting concentration, all from the University of Kentucky.

Rodney and his wife, Kathy, live in Cincinnati and enjoy traveling and hiking.

Kroger’s official purpose is to “feed the human spirit.” This overlaps with Rotary’s purpose. When people come to a Kroger store, they are coming for food. Food is our primary job.

CEO McMullen then showed a video with the following facts.
Kroger was first to put a butcher shop into the grocery store in 1883. There were supply chains as early as the turn of the century. Kroger was first to scientifically test the products it sells in its stores. Thanks to mergers and acquisitions, Kroger extends in the US from coast to coast. It is presently the largest florist in the country. In addition, it operates 19 dairies. From horse-drawn carriages to home delivery, Kroger employees have been doing their part. The first store was on Pearl Street very near what was once home plate in the Reds Riverfront Stadium. Today Kroger is in 35 states and in the District of Columbia. (End of video.)

Recently I was at an event in the city and learned about a water project that one of our Kroger employee teams put together. They did not have to ask me. There is no waiting for permission from the top. They are empowered to initiate from whatever position they hold.

Today Kroger is redefining the grocery shopping experience: from efficient shopping within the store to a seamless delivery from afar. We are even delivering kids’ needs such as a forgotten lunch or a spiral notebook to their schools while the parents are at work. We deliver whatever you want, wherever you want it! Parcels arrive in boxes decorated in streetscapes for kids to color later on.

Kroger moved its digital headquarters to Cincinnati. We moved on faith in fellow Cincinnatians. Where digital talent is lacking as we have many jobs to fill, we will partner with others to make Cincinnati the Kroger epicenter. Presently we have 1,000 associates, but we are looking to grow.

We have two Kroger brands: Simple Truth that brings in more than $5B in sales and Private Selection. We are launching Simple Truth in China on Alibaba on “Singles Day.” Singles Day is November 11, (11/11) the biggest shopping day in the world. This is our first international venture. There are many middle class households in China in whom we trust will try/like the Simple Truth line.

OCADO is the world leader as an online grocer. They are partnering with Kroger in the US.

Home Chef, out of Chicago, is making money providing a way for working families to eat together. Statistics show families who eat together have kids that get into less trouble.

NURO is a driverless delivery vehicle for delivering grocery orders directly to households. We launched it in Phoenix a few weeks ago.

Look up krogerstories.com to learn more. We are not your parents or grandparents’ grocery store any longer!

After the recent tax cuts directed by the Trump Administration, Kroger reinvested its tax savings back equally into associates, customers, and shareholders. In addition, we provide $3,500 per year to any employee for additional education, from undergrad through a Ph. D. program.

We have a goal to end hunger by 2025. Last year, we provided 325M meals. This was enough to feed everyone in Iceland for one year. In addition, by 2025 we will eliminate plastic bags. Our customers can do this anytime earlier however. This year, Kroger was named #6 on Fortune Magazine’s “Change the World List.” It takes all of us working together so we can make the world a better place.

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August 16, 2018

SHERIFF’S OFFICE RECOGNITION DAY

Thursday we thanked the Sheriff’s Department for their service to our community. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil presented the following awards to :

Administrative Excellence Award
Deputy Robert J. Weber, Court Services

Superior Achievement Award
Major Chris M. Ketteman, Director of Corrections

Hero/Valor Award
Deputies Nicholas E. Rauen, Lawrence L. Mehn and Jeffrey R. Landis, Enforcement

Career Enhancement Award
Captain Scott A. Kerr, Corrections 

Sheriff Jim Neil introduced his staff at the Sheriff’s Department and said, “Thank you, Rotary. We both seek to put the service of others first.”  

Administrative Excellence Award
Our first recipient, Deputy Rob Weber, has been a part of our department since 1999. He is assigned to Court Services duty. He has excellent administrative skills. In this job we are required to serve workers and to provide security services to all in court. You may not know, but there are a lot of fights at the Court House. Every morning when Deputy Weber comes to work, he has no idea what might transpire that day. It is his job to inspire. When complimented, he answers, “I’m just doing my job.” 

Upon receiving his award, Deputy Weber said, “I follow a calling to serve. Thank you to my wife and also to my colleagues.” 

Superior Achievement Award
Major Chris Ketteman joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1988. He is over the Jail Division. He has received 54 letters of appreciation or accommodation. His responsibilities extend outside Hamilton County to Columbia, Sycamore, and ________ townships amounting to more than 500 inmates. Inmates range from illiterate to having a post-secondary education. The biggest challenge is when former inmates return to society after their jail experience. We have a progression of jail ministers who help. Because jails have become so overcrowded, Major Ketteman oversees a reduction in the jail population. He is exemplary of having a positive impact on others. 

Major Ketteman said, “I feel like Sally Fields right now because ‘everybody really likes me’…….today!” Thank you, Rotary.

Hero/Valor Award
I want to introduce three officers who reacted well and quickly to an active shooter incident in 2017. At a McDonald’s Restaurant, 7671 Beechmont, at 10:50 PM, the three officers arrived, went inside, and found two victims, one shot in the head. They took custody by caring for the victims and the others inside as well as  securing the restaurant against other shooters — all in the time that it has taken me to stand here relating the event!  The three officers are Jeff Landis, Larry Mehn, and Nick Rauen. We are so proud of their professional oversight of this incident. 

Officer Mehn spoke for the three saying, “We are so thankful to Rotary!”

Career Enhancement Award
Major Chris Ketteman introduced Captain Scott Kerr. Major Ketteman told us that Sheriff Neil has been with the department for six years. He is known for asking us, “What can we do better to serve our citizens?” He also asks, “What is the future of the Sheriff’s Office?”

Captain Kerr attended the Police Institute, living in a dorm away from his family, for three months. During this time he studied these questions and has returned with ideas to be implemented that will improve the impact of the Sheriff’s Department in keeping with Gandhi’s philosophy that a “society will be judged by how well it treats its weakest members.”

Captain Kerr said, “The Police Institute experience has been extremely useful.” Also he thanked Rotary.

In conclusion Sheriff Neil answered many questions posed by Rotarians. Questions and answers follow.

Questions/Answers
First, Jim Neil said, “Today there are 1,569 offenders in Hamilton County. This is the third largest jail in Ohio.”
1. Do all officers carry Narcan?  Yes 
What are we doing that is new? Upon arrival and we detect a drug overdose, we leave a family member or a close friend with a second dose of Narcan so they can immediately reverse the overdose if/when it happens again. We are also handing out Narcan at the county jail to help family members who have overdosed.

2. What program can reduce the jail population? We have always had a full jail, whether we had 300 or 3,000 beds. Ever since I was a deputy, the jail has been full. The reforms that we are putting into place are what we call “pods” for help with recovery, reentry into society, and more. We want to stop the cycle. 

3. What about our homeless population? When camps are moved, we work in a support role. Beds are available to the homeless, but there are motivating factors that cause them to refuse the help. Such reasons include not wanting to follow housing rules like couples must seek separate housing, no drugs (risking discomfort from withdrawals), no pets, etc. Others are paranoid and are afraid of others. 

There used to be a group who set up camp right at the jail. They said they felt safe there. We engaged with the population and tried to find out why they were homeless. We were able to place many of them and linked them with Human Services professionals who would follow them. There were a few, however, who just wouldn’t accept the help. 

The only arrest was a sexual predator who did not file with Hamilton County. 

In Cincinnati, the Sheriff’s Office “will do what’s right.”

4. Are there any common issues at sporting events and schools when securing against predators? We are beginning to assign “peace officers” to schools who request them. Fortunately we have had few serious incidents. There was only one: a kid shot himself while at LaSalle HS.

We are training deputies in security programs and in human resources. We will do more as funding becomes available. We are open to growing the program if schools want us.

5. What is the status of organized crime in our area? Drugs are driving the crime in our area. We’re experiencing an epidemic. We have no offenders in jail “for the habit.” There is a violent sub-culture that pushes drugs. 

6. What about “conceal/carry” of firearms locally? I’ve followed the law since 1981. You have the right to bear arms. We offer a training program for “best practices.”

To distinguish between the terms, “carry conceal” requires a permit and training. A person must be eligible; i.e., free of a mental condition or of a prior record of misconduct.

“Open carry” is legally your right, but it tends to make people nervous.

7. Cincinnati is contending to host the World Cup where hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world will descend upon our city. What is the Sheriff’s Department doing to prepare itself?

Thank you for this information!

At present we are facing a $10M cut or a layoff of 150 people. This will devastate our safety. If we promote events, we must have safety, or the people won’t come. It must go hand in hand. We must have adequate protection. Cincinnati is a wonderful place to live and to raise a family as you know! It is a small city with a large region: a population of 300,000 within the city, but more than a million in the region that comprises Butler, Warren, Brown, and Grant counties and northern Kentucky. 

8. When the President of the U.S. pops into town, who pays for it? You and I do. We utilize officers on duty. I make sure that I am working at these events. In fact, you may not know, but I am a certified bomb technician and have been since 1997. I am the only Sheriff in the US to have this. When any dignitaries visit Cincinnati, I’m there. It’s not political. Even though I’m an elected official, I will be there. I want to be known as a “police professional, not as a politician.”

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

TODD SCHWARTZ
Executive Director

Todd Schwartz became the Executive Director of the European American Chamber of Commerce (EACC) in January, 2017. With the support and guidance of the EACC’s Board of Directors, he develops and implements EACC activities in three key areas – Economic Development, Talent and Workforce Development, and Business Development. The EACC is part of a growing transatlantic network with chapters in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, New York, New Jersey, and the Carolinas.

Prior to joining the EACC, Mr. Schwartz was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. His twenty-eight year career as a diplomat included overseas tours in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Qatar, the Philippines, Kuwait (Counselor for Economic Affairs), Canada (Principal Officer in Winnipeg, Manitoba), and Iraq (Counselor for Economic Affairs). His assignments in Washington have included tours as Director of the Office of Iraq Economic Affairs; Director of the Office of Iran Affairs; Assessor with the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service; and Deputy Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs. He received numerous awards throughout his career, including three Superior Honor Awards, six Meritorious Honor Awards, and the Secretary’s Career Achievement Award.

Mr. Schwartz earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics at the Richard T. Farmer School of Business at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. A father of four, he is married to the former Nancy Dye Sunderland of Dayton, Ohio. Nancy and Todd now reside in the Mount Washington area of Cincinnati. 

Deborah Schultz introduced her good friend, Todd, to the club. Beyond the information provided above, Deborah further described Todd’s expertise as a “trivia buff extraordinaire.” She told us she appreciates what Todd is doing at EACC to support many local businesses.

Todd told us that one of the first things that everyone asks him is how he got a job with the State Department? My first trip overseas included a tour of six countries in Europe with a choir from Miami University. I remember being fascinated by the people I saw in the various countries in Europe who “not only spoke, but thought” in a foreign language.” I enjoyed it so much that when my very next opportunity came during my junior year, I signed up for Miami’s Luxembourg program.  During the program, I field-tripped all over Europe. Finally, when I returned and was back at school during my senior year at Miami, the State Department came to campus to interview the expected graduates. I interviewed, took, and passed the State Department’s entrance exam.  That’s how it began.

My tenure at the State Department involved being more than a diplomat.  I was the father of three sons and a lovely daughter.  I dragged my wife, Nancy, and our family around the world. The kids were always changing schools. They followed everywhere, but they couldn’t go with me to Iraq.  I was gone for a year.  This posed many challenges for 28 years, but also we were offered many opportunities.  

Todd showed us a picture of himself in the desert of Iraq with a large fire burning behind him in the picture. He was standing at a crossroads of tire tracks in the desert sand. He said, “We quickly learned to walk where the tire tracks were in order to miss stepping on a mine.”  Yes, there were challenges!

When it came time to retire from the State Department, it was Nancy’s career that brought us to Cincinnati.  She enjoyed telling me, “Now you will have to find something to do!”   

That’s what led him to the EACC. The Mission Statement stated that it intended to “stimulate business and network relationships between the tri-state region and Europe.”  Interestingly the translation for “Greater Cincinnati” was met with stares and the question, “greater than what?” Thus the word choice “tri-state region.”

Initially EACC was the French-American Chamber of Commerce with international chapters in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, NY, NJ, the Carolinas, Miami, and Boston. Today there are more than 120 companies locally. They are largely manufacturers. We facilitate their business relationships.  

You may ask, “Why is the EACC in Cincinnati?” Because there are over 200 European companies from Germany, France, the UK, and Italy to name a few operating locally. We make it our business to help them so they can create jobs. This makes our region the 11th largest exporting region in the US while being 29th in population size. 

What does the EACC do? We work in three areas: economic development, talent and workforce development, and in business development. Examples of economic development include working with a local company like Fluid Bag and Finland. Workforce development includes partnering with Cincinnati State and with foreign companies that provide internship programs from European companies here in the US.  Business development is ongoing with many networking events such as Stammtisch which means regulars who meet monthly with business directors from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Another example is L’Appertif, a French cocktail hour for networking prior to the evening meal. Other opportunities are planned for an overview of the business climate for trade, commerce, and investment in the Baltic countries offered by their embassies.  Please see www.europe-cincinnati.com/events for more information.

If your company brings in anyone from Europe or exports to Europe, then we can use our network to help you. 

Questions/Answers
1. What is the impact of tariffs? We are a 501 C 6 organization. Recently we had the European Union Ambassador here to speak just prior to the onset of the tariffs. He said, “Europeans are concerned. This has created a lot of uncertainty.” 
2. What are the perceptions of Iraqis about the US and Americans?  They recognize that the vast majority of Americans had nothing to do with the war in Iraq. They also know that the State Department is there to help them, even though we broke their country. I arrived in Iraq three weeks after the Black Water incident. The Iraqis I met were wonderful people who generously provide hospitality. At the same time they resent our presence there. Even the military just wants to fix what is broken and get back home. 
3. What about BREXIT and food production?  Europe is fragmented as is the UK.  I don’t see that people will be starving in the streets. I am concerned, however, about disruptions in the supply chain.  It is clearly a mess. I think the average person’s standard of living will be negatively affected. 
4. Does the EACC have a structured education program? No. We do work with UC a lot though. They have a chapter overseas.  Each country has great exchange programs. I will put American students who wish to gain foreign business experience on their radar.
5. International business is conducted here with people who have a short-term visa, like a V1 visa. They have gotten help at the airport. However, renewals and approvals are taking longer and longer. This is a cost of doing international business. This cost will be increasing in the future due to uncertainty. 
6. Expansion by the European Union (EU) in the future?  There was an article about this just today in the Wall Street Journal. The next few years will be a challenge for the EU.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

MONICA J. POSEY
President
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Dr. Monica J. Posey became president of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in June 2016 and has energized the College with a collaborative leadership style and a vision for increasing student success and strengthening employer engagement. She is Cincinnati State’s first woman president and the first African American woman to lead an institution of higher education in Greater Cincinnati.

A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Posey holds a Doctorate of Educational Foundations from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University.

After a business career that included eight years with AT&T Company, Dr. Posey moved into higher education in 1991, first at the University of Cincinnati as Assistant Director of Career Development & Placement, and a year later at Cincinnati State, where she was named Assistant Dean in the Engineering Technologies Division. In 1998, she established and became director of the College’s Office of Institutional Research. In 2003, she became Academic Vice President and an officer for the college, a position she held, adding the title of Provost in 2015, until being named interim President in September, 2015. During much of her career she has taught Business Statistics as an adjunct instructor at UC.

Dr. Posey’s extensive list of recognitions and community service includes the Business Courier Women Who Mean Business award, the Greater Cincinnati YWCA Career Woman of Achievement award, and a Distinguished College Alumni award by the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. She is a graduate of the Cincinnati U.S.A. Regional Chamber Leadership Cincinnati Class of 2010, and serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, ArtsWave, the Holocaust & Humanity Center, Minorities in Math, Science, and Engineering, and GRAD Cincinnati, Inc.

Dr. Posey and her husband, Rev. Dr. Michael J. Posey, live in Green Township. They have one daughter, Marchelle, and three grandchildren. 

Ken Keller introduced Dr. Posey to the club. He said that Dr. Posey has been energizing Cincinnati State ever since she ascended to the Presidency in June, 2016.

What’s Happening at Cincinnati State?

Dr. Posey told us that nearly half the students at Cincinnati State are attending the Community College. Due to the “open access” policy at Cincinnati State, no matter what a student’s academic achievement level, each is invited to attend classes. Placement testing enables their insertion at the appropriate course level.  

Cincinnati State’s faculty offers a qualified technical education. They are not asked to do research in order to promote. They share their industry experience instead. We offer a transfer program through partnerships with other academic institutions to transfer credits earned while at Cincinnati State. Our largest partnership is with the University of Cincinnati. We are a two-year institution where students who attend can go on to earn their bachelor degrees at these additional four-year schools: Northern Kentucky University, Miami University, and Mt. St. Joseph, to name a few. Wilmington College actually uses the Cincinnati State buildings to offer four-year degrees of their own.

Our goal is that we want some part of our curriculum to have a practical aspect through co-ops. As you may know UC founded the co-op system. Few two-year schools offer a co-operative component. Some of our students are enrolled in “terminal training” programs (ending in a certificate with no degree intended).

Cincinnati State enrolls 9,600 students each semester on average. It is the 4th largest academic institution in Greater Cincinnati. We offer the bachelor degree – bound student a two – year Associates degree. We also offer a High School Dual Credit program for high school students who desire college credit prior to high school graduation. Tuition is $158 per credit hour. This amounts to $5,500 per year or approximately half UC’s tuition. We offer classes in Clifton, Middletown, Harrison at the airport for aviation training, and Evendale at GE. Class size is approximately 16. We do not offer classes taught in large lecture halls. Upon graduating, approximately 90% stay in this region for work. 

Cincinnati State’s demographics are as follows: 

  1. There are more females than males enrolled. 
  2. The average age of students is 26. There are high school students and adults who are returning for retraining.
  3. 20% are African-American. 3% are Hispanic.  7% are international.  3% are Veterans. 15% are high school students.
  4. We primarily service Hamilton and Butler counties, but also some come from Clermont County. 
  5. We offer tuition reciprocity (credit that is accepted by all local institutions). We recommend checking with the administration prior to enrolling in courses, however.
  6. Most students are employed, some with as many as three jobs. Many students are eligible for financial aid. 

We offer courses in the following industries:

Nursing – A student can earn an RN degree from an Associates degree. This provides a significant increase in pay.

Manufacturing and Engineering

Information Technology

 Business Technology

 Culinary – The pastry chef at the Omni Netherland Hilton, incidentally, is one of our graduates.

Our initiative states that we at Cincinnati State are committed to the eradication of poverty in our region. While a student is enrolled in a program we offer such support as childcare and career counseling with help to find a job. For example, if a student chooses welding where they need math and problem-solving skills, after the two-year program they can earn $40-50,000 if they work full-time. Most can enroll with financial grants so they finish with “no debt.”  Yet, if students don’t want a two-year program, but instead want a 3 – 4 month certificate, there is no federal financial aid. Because of this, we at Cincinnati State decided to start a fund to help support these students.

We bring high school students in, and even their teachers, to learn in our “hands on” curriculum. For example, land surveyors need a bachelor’s degree and an experience component.  

Next year we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary. We are offering new degrees all the time in order to keep up with the culture. One such because of its popularity is a degree in Brewing Science. Another is becoming a Food Science Chef. 

Our goals are that we are continuing to try to reach more students. For example, if a high school student thinks he/she will be going to UC or OSU and suddenly learns that he/she has not been accepted, we want them to come to us and then, perhaps, try again. 

We want to elevate residents of the region from low paying jobs. 

We are trying to keep ahead through partnerships; that is, with institutions that guarantee credit transfer. 

We want above all to inspire, engage, encourage, and transform.

Personally Speaking

Sometimes my students tell me that they can’t relate to me. I tell them my story so they will change their perspective. 

My parents were older when I was born. My father worked on a cotton farm in South Carolina. Even though he worked hard, he realized that to provide for his family he would have to move us to Philadelphia where we attended the Philadelphia Public Schools. My parents knew nothing about college, but they did know about hard work. As it turned out, I got a full scholarship to Cornell University. When I arrived, I discovered the students at Cornell were middle class; whereas I was working class. I graduated, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Before long I enrolled in the MBA program at the Wharton School. Quickly I was surrounded by very aggressive students and wondered, “What am I doing here?”

Afterward I came to Cincinnati because my husband had been hired to work at Procter & Gamble. Soon thereafter, I began teaching as an adjunct professor. After 27 years at Cincinnati State, I realized that although I had started a doctoral program once, I had never finished it. BUT … now it was the time! I began the process and when I graduated at last, I applied for a Dean’s job two different times and was turned down for both. I kept working. When Dr. Odell Owens came to lead Cincinnati State, he recommended me for Vice President. Before long he recommended me as Provost. Finally, as he left Cincinnati State, he recommended me as the next President. 

I have decided that through failure, if we keep working, we will eventually have success and hope. This is what I try to convey to the students at Cincinnati State. That’s MY story!

Questions/Answers
1. Describe the financial challenges you face at Cincinnati State. 
When the economy is good, fewer people enroll. I’m tasked with rounding out the abrupt “ups and downs” in enrollment due to the economy. Everyone at Cincinnati State has helped me with the budget. We’ve cut our spending rather severely. We do not receive any “Levy funding” as does Sinclair College. Our only revenue source is tuition. Although it is low, it is controlled by the state.  

2. What about the state’s regulation?
Each school has its own Board of Directors. In the Transfer Program, everything is guaranteed to transfer. In engineering, however, there are two degrees: associates of arts and associates of science. Transfers are easily obtained with the latter, but not the former. I recommend that students learn about the credit status of the courses they take prior to enrolling in them so there will be no surprises.

3. What about on-line classes?
We offer 20% of our classes on-line. There are many technology classes that need lab experience so most classes are still offered on campus.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

THE HONORABLE ROBERT A. McDONALD
8th Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs
Retired Chairman, President, & CEO of Procter & Gamble

Robert A. “Bob” McDonald was nominated by President Obama to serve as the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA). He was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on July 29, 2014.

Secretary McDonald led the VA in its ambitious transformational journey to be a world-class service provider and the No. 1 customer-service agency in the Federal government. His goal was to give Veterans consistent, high-quality experiences. Secretary McDonald’s five Veteran-centric strategies effectively improved  veterans’ experience, improved the employee experience so employees could better serve veterans, improved internal support services, established a strong foundation for the VA’s growing culture of continuous improvement, and enhanced strategic partnerships across the country. By the end of Secretary McDonald’s tenure, veterans at all VA Medical Centers had access to same-day services in primary and mental health care when needed right away, among many other improvements.

Before joining the VA, Bob McDonald was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G). Under his leadership, P&G significantly recalibrated its product portfolio, expanded its marketing footprint by adding nearly one billion people to its global customer base, and grew the firm’s organic sales by an average of three percent per year. This growth was reflected in P&G’s stock price, which rose from $51.10 the day he became CEO to $81.64 on the day his last quarterly results were announced—a 60 percent increase from 2009 to 2013.

Bob McDonald is personally and professionally committed to values-based leadership and to improving the lives of others. Bob and his wife, Diane, are the founders of The 2  McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character at West Point—an annual gathering that brings together the brightest young minds from the best universities around the world and partners them with senior business, non-governmental organizations, and government leaders in a multi-day interactive learning experience.

The recipient of numerous leadership awards and honorary degrees, in 2010, the University of Utah Alumni Association named Bob a “Distinguished Graduate.” The West Point Association of Graduates named McDonald for its admired “Distinguished Graduate Award” in 2017, recognition provided annually to “West Point graduates whose character, distinguished service, and stature draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives.” In 2014, The President of the Republic of Singapore awarded Bob the Public Service Star for his work helping shape Singapore’s development as an international hub connecting global companies with Asian firms and enterprises.

Bob McDonald graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1975. He earned his MBA from the University of Utah in 1978. An Army veteran, Bob served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He completed jungle, arctic, and desert Warfare training and he earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, then-Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Bob McDonald and his wife are the parents of two grown children and the proud grandparents of two grandsons and one granddaughter. His son is a partner at Taft, Stettinius law firm and he is the founder of The Brandery. His daughter-in-law is expecting a new baby soon.

Bob McDonald
The last time I was here I spoke at my daughter’s wedding. I must say that it is much less expensive this time! 

During Doug Bolton’s generous introduction, I was reminded of the time I saw Valerie Jarrett (former Obama aide) and President Obama lying on the steps of the dais during his introduction (because the introduction took so long). After all, it is the President of the United States. No introduction is necessary!

Lessons Learned: or What I Wish I Knew at 20

Having purpose in life leads to reward versus ongoing meandering. I learned about Rotary’s purpose from my wife, Diane’s, father, Wade, who was a Rotarian.  I must give all the credit to my wife for my rebuilt empathy (sensitivity to others) after being an unemotional Airborne Army Ranger.

Once when I was visiting Harvard, a student asked me how to become a CEO. I told the audience that “I can’t prescribe that, but I can say that everyone wants to succeed.” In my first experience leading an infantry battalion, I encountered people who had been told all their lives that they were losers. They believed it. We gave them small tasks. With each success, the tasks got larger. 

While I was with P&G, I traveled the world. I was invited into people’s homes to see how they were using P&G’s products. When leaving, I asked them, “What’s your dream?” All over world, each one answered, “I want a better life for my family.”  Try to catch someone’s dream and help them make it happen.

My definition of character is a leader who puts the needs of his/her organization before his own. For example, an entrepreneur eats last. The needs of the enterprise are his/her first priority. 

Take responsibility. A cadet is the lowest rank. He/she has only 4 responses. They are:
1. Yes, Sir!
2. No, Sir. (This is not an honorable response.)
3. Sir, I do not understand.
4. No excuse, Sir! (Which means he/she is taking responsibility and it won’t happen again.)

I am reminded of the West Point prayer where we say, “God, help me to choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.”

Leadership matters. I regret how long it took to get the right person or leader into the right job when I came to the VA. It took 2.5 years. I am reminded of what Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great, said, “To lead effectively you must get the right people on the bus in the right seat.” 

Culture matters. This is why many resign when new management comes in. At the VA, many employees echoed, “I’m a prisoner and I can’t reach my goals.”  I am reminded of two stories. In the first, a disabled vet arrived at the VA in Spokane, WA. He cell phone called the receptionist inside the VA for help with the 20 foot distance from the car to come inside. The answer by phone was, “I’m not allowed to leave my desk.” The veteran was forced to call 911 in order to come inside the hospital for his appointment. Bob responded immediately, “This is not what we want for our veterans!” 

In a second, a nurse in White River Junction, New Hampshire experienced a “no show” from a veteran who was never ever late for his appointments. She took the initiative and went to his home and found him lodged between a living room chair and his wheel chair. Had she not gone to his home, he might have died there unbeknownst to anyone and unable to get help. Bob said, “We MUST have our veterans backs!”

The VA was too rules-based, which made it a safe environment, but it was not what we must do for our veterans. This wasn’t a good customer service model. We had to change it to have a good healthy, customer-responsive culture.

Cincinnati is a precious environment. If you haven’t lived elsewhere, I will assure you that it is very unique!  In 2003, 3CDC was created. We invested $25M into the city and it was matched. Fortunately we got Steve Leeper to come here from Pittsburgh, despite his leanings toward the Steelers. His ability to revitalize has made us proud of Cincinnati. Look what has become of Downtown, OTR, the Banks, and on it goes!

Next, Centrifuse provided a place for entrepreneurs to have their logistical needs met. Once in place, venture capitalists began coming to Cincinnati to invest. Bob told us, “I’ve been out requesting financial contributions and I want you to know that perhaps only one in 1,000 of those asked, declined. I am so impressed with and I can’t speak highly enough about the generous spirit of this city. I once lived in Orlando, FL. They have come to Cincinnati to learn. 

The United States has a long history of military action. Most of us have served. Our volunteer army system is good, but the US needs more widespread involvement. Only 1% serve in the military. When a civilization contracts its military, it loses touch. We must take care of our veterans and, civilians need to be better connected to those who serve. 

Did you know that disabled veterans organized themselves as the Veterans Administration at Memorial Hall after World War I?  They have become a fantastic organization. Why do we need the VA today?  First of all, for research. It was at the VA that we had the first liver transplant and the first prosthetic arms that were powered by the brain, to name a few. Secondly, for education. The VA trains more nurses and doctors than any other organization. The VA was set up by Omar Bradley. It was Bradley who created the association between the VA and medical schools. It is no accident that UC and the VA are down the street from one another. It is this association that will insure the VA gets state of the art care.

Many ask me why veterans are so humble and won’t talk about their service?  One vet after his Normandy experience said to the Ambassador of France, “We all feel inadequate.”

Bob said, “I know vets who with no arms and legs are leading very productive lives.” They say of themselves, “How can I complain, when my buddies made the ultimate sacrifice?” Remember in Steve Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private Ryan, where Tom Hanks stood in the cemetery imploring the grave markers, “Please tell me I earned it.”

Questions/Answers
1. I am a veteran. I get great service at the VA. I have no complaints. Another veteran, a female, retired Army Colonel said, “The VA is an outstanding “team” of people.”

2. Which was more challenging, being CEO at P&G or directing the VA? Each was a blessing. There is nothing more precious than being responsible for someone else. In both cases, my challenge was to inspire people. I wanted us to open the windows, let the sunshine in, and put down the draw bridges. 

3. The VA has made progress, but now how is it to be sustained? If the VA was on the Fortune 500 list, it would be 9th. P&G is 25th, for comparison. There are 22M veterans and 6M of them are in medical care. The VA changes its leaders every 4 years. Many leave in scandal. We need for the VA to become a quasi-governmental organization — not political. After all, “What’s political about veterans?”

In 2016, we codified the VA’s accomplishments. We invited the Harvard Business School to critique the VA. We are eager to uphold any suggestions. Write me at RAMWP75 (which stands for my initials and West Point class of 1975).

4. What has changed you most by your experience at P&G? The turning point was our move to the Philippines. We saw that we could change lives with the products at P&G. The majority of people in the world live in much worse conditions than we do in the US. Very few are literate and even fewer have computers.

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July 12, 2018

GERDA BRAUNHEIM

FROM STONISCHKEN TO GEDHUS – A CHILD’S VIEW OF WORLD WAR II

To ensure a little known history is not lost, Gerda Braunheim is sharing her childhood memories of brutality, homelessness, and heroism while fleeing from World War II. Gerda experienced the horrors and trials of World War II as a young girl living in East Prussia. She will be sharing the story of her recollection of what happened when Hitler invaded Europe, and she was forced to flee her home, taking refuge in train stations, and leaving everything behind. She fled with her brother Willi, her older sister Lilli, an aunt, and their grandmother. She landed in a refugee camp in Gedhus, Denmark, that contained over 5,000 displaced Germans who had no way of communicating with loved ones left behind in Germany, as all communication was suspended for two years. Her story isn’t about political viewpoints or economic impacts of the war, but the impact of the war on the world of a young girl. She will also share the details of her immigration to America in 1956.  

Gerda Braunheim was introduced by Past President Ute Papke. Ute told us that Gerda was born in East Prussia which had once been a part of Germany. Today the area has been divided into Lithuania and Poland. We learned that Gerda’s mother became very ill when Gerda was young. Her mother actually died when Gerda’s father went to war. This is a true story of a child facing war and loss without parents.

Gerda said Hitler moved into Poland (1939) and later destroyed Stalingrad (1943). From there they moved on to control Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) by 1944. The army was strong; yet over time they suffered substantial losses. At least 700 trains came through to supply the Russian forces each month. 

The Germans were ruthless. Once the Russians began to retaliate, nothing could stop the Russian army. 

Gerda said she remembers seeing the Russian troops moving toward her home town. They forced out over 12M people from their homes and farms. No one could understand what was happening, but everyone heard the bombs. 

The biggest burden was on the women who were left behind once all the husbands had gone to war. What I remember was that we moved from town to town, but we couldn’t outrun the Russian invasion. We finally got to a harbor where there were ships waiting to help transport the refugees, but there were only 4 ships and 25,000 people needed help. One of the ships had been a cruise ship. More than 10,000 people were aboard. It went down and about 9,000 people drowned or died of exposure in the icy waters. 

By this time it was August 2, 1944. I was with my aunt and grandmother. We boarded a train and hastily said good bye to our homeland. We got off in a small town and stayed 3 months. It was the coldest winter on record. While there, we learned that many people either froze to death or they starved. The town had been 12,000, but it was decimated by the harsh winter conditions. While there we stopped at a lady’s farm house. She was afraid to open her home to strangers. Little did she know that she would become a refugee herself a week later. The Russian Army kept coming. We walked to another village and found another farmhouse that turned their three beds over to us five. We thought we might be safe for a while when after five days, Russian tanks rolled in. For three days and nights the soldiers set houses on fire, shot civilians, and in short, had no mercy. They actually went into the farmer’s homes and took control. They luxuriated in the security of having enough to eat. 

On February 2, 1945, the Mayor went to the Russians to ask them to cease their attack on the town. He found the Russian soldiers to be so drunk that he came back to the remaining townspeople and directed them to join him and his family to escape from the town at once. My grandmother was too afraid so someone carried her. We walked through snow from about 10:30 at night until 2:30 AM. We didn’t know if the drunken soldiers had awakened and surrounded us. It was very quiet walking in the forest. We suddenly became aware that my aunt and grandmother were no longer with us. We realized that the forest was too thick for the tanks to follow us. Once stopped, the group became aware that we three children had no one to look after us. During war times, everyone was fighting for their lives, so they told us to leave them and to return to our grandmother and aunt who had stayed behind. We started walking back when we came upon three Russian defectors. They said we would never survive, because things would surely get worse. We realized that we would have to abandon our grandmother. We found a barn for the night, then continued walking the next day and got to another village, but had to continue walking to village after village. Finally we reached a larger town, but it was only a shell of its former self due to the bombing. As we walked, there were dead bodies everywhere. They couldn’t be buried because of the frozen ground. I remember a lady with an infant. The infant had frozen to death in its mother’s arms. All we could do was to wrap the infant in a blanket and lay it in the snow. 

We finally boarded a train that would take us from Germany to Denmark. It normally took about 4 hours, but in our case the weather was so bad it took 3 weeks. The homeless people aboard were so hopeless and discouraged from the traumas they had endured. After about three days, we got a Danish newspaper. Although we couldn’t read Danish, we learned that Germany had capitulated. We departed the train for a school where we were kept for three months. They insisted upon shaving our heads to rid us of lice and cleaned us for no one was able to bathe during the exodus. We were extremely filthy after being on the run for so long. 

Time went by with no further news. We were Germans in Denmark.  After three months, they put us on another train. In 1927, Hitler had established a pact where he agreed not to bomb an area if detention camps were built. We were taken to a camp where there were 5,000 refugees. In fact there were 1,100 camps that housed a quarter million people. Denmark didn’t know what to do with all of us. During this time over 7,000 infants and children were starved to death, to make room for more refugees.

Finally, I learned that my father had survived the war. He was working in Germany to bring us back together even though after the war Germany had little to offer: no food or housing. We hadn’t had any schooling for so long. There weren’t any schools.

After WWII, we were invited to come to America. I had been working and made about $25/week in early 1956.  The day I landed in New York harbor I was greeted by the most beautiful sight: the Statue of Liberty! Finally on December 19, 1956, I arrived at the Museum Center in Cincinnati. There were 47 others with us. We had so little. Each worked to establish him/herself in a diversity of professions. I am so grateful to America for giving me the opportunity to become who I am today.