Dov Siedman, author of the book, “How,” says there are basically two kinds of authority in the world: formal authority and moral authority.
The former can be (pick one: taken, granted, elected, appointed). The latter must be earned through respect from those over whom one has authority. He’s not talking about COMMANDING respect, he talking about gaining true respect through leading by example and giving the people what they want and deserve.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman referred to Siedman in a June 2013 column about protests in Turkey. Friedman says Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lost the respect of his people. He says they don’t want to overthrow him, as has been done, or is in progress, in other Muslim countries. They just want him to know that he is making or changing rules about religion and other things, and they don’t like it. They just want him to, as Friedman puts it, back off.
But Siedman’s work can be applied to other parts of life. In fact, Siedman’s company, LRN, advises CEOs on how to gain more moral authority within their organizations.
Think of any work situation. Is your boss (pick one or more: overbearing, incompetent, cheap)? Do you hate going in there, but have to so you can put food on the table? If you were in your boss’ shoes, how would you run the place?
You don’t gain respect by edict. You earn it by your behavior. Think of it this way: if you were in your boss’ shoes, would you think you’d have a better, even more profitable operation if the people working for you genuinely respected you? If they talk at lunch, or after work, are they maligning you or are they admiring you? If you already have some authority over people, even your children as a parent, you need to be concerned about that to a great degree.
Sure, you are going to take some actions that not everyone will like. But if you have their respect overall, they will understand why you did it and work with you. It makes for a much smoother and, if it’s a business, generally a more profitable operation.
The other advantage of leading by example, and behaving so those on your team respect you, is you say less to them. They will follow what you do. Words can be misunderstood or misconstrued, but actions provide much clearer meaning.
If you are starting, or want to start, your own company, think about Siedman’s work and earn moral authority from the employees you ultimately hire. They will thank you for it by their actions. And you might actually enjoy giving priority to THEIR success first. It will pay you dividends that are worth more than money.
If you want to start a company, even if you are working for someone else, visit You should be able to spend a little time building your fortune without interfering with what you are already doing.
If you are a boss, test out your moral authority. Go to lunch with your folks, or meet them after work. If they welcome you, you may already have moral authority. If they find reasons not to include you, you know you have work to do.
If you don’t care what they think of you, you have some thinking to do. It could take you a long time to earn their respect. In fact, you may have to do it gradually as newer employees join you. It takes lots of energy to be a dictator and hold power when those below you hate you. It takes far less energy and stress to earn moral authority.


Traditionally, students went to school to see and listen to teachers.
They took what they learned home to practice – what we know as homework.
They brought it back to school the next day to see what they did right, and what they did wrong.
But what if it were reversed?
What if students heard and saw the teachers at home, and came to class to practice what they’d learned. Or, better yet, to see what they could do with what they’d learned?
In a two-day conference titled “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asked himself the following question: why am I paying $50,000 a year for my kid to go to college, when he can learn all he wants for free from massive, open online courses?
Friedman’s friend, Michael Sandel, teaches the famous, Socratic “Justice” course at Harvard, which has 1,000 students. The class is launching March 12, 2013, as the first humanities offering on the MIT-Harvard edX online learning platform.
In the blended education model, Friedman says students at San Jose State watch MIT lectures on circuits and electronics, and do the exercises at home. Then they come to class, ask the SJSU professor questions about the lectures, then devote most of the class time to problem-solving and discussion.
At the college level, this model allows more students to learn from the best teachers in the world. It also could lower the cost of college, because so much is available online. But it also gives colleges the flexibility to add more to the college experience while lowering the cost. It gives students the chance not just to learn, but also to apply what they’ve learned in practical situations. Students will not just get a degree, but could come out of college with some working knowledge in a given area.
But at the high school or middle school level, it could really lower costs. Suppose a high school student heard lectures on history, math, English etc. on his computer at home. Then, he came to school to do his “homework,” and to take tests. What if he could e-mail his questions to the lecturer and get answers via e-mail? What if the student had to log in to hear a lecture? The school could monitor a student’s activities at home.
What if there were more time at school to be with friends, and have fun? Do you think that might increase attendance, and lower the dropout rate? What if schools were more like labs?
Education at all levels has to not just get better. It has to get cheaper. Friedman, in his March 2013 column, talking about the college level, said that the bottom line is that the residential college experience has huge value. But blending in more technology into education will enhance that experience, improve education and lower the cost of college.
At lower education levels, more students can learn from the best teachers through online classes. They can have more fun at school applying what they’ve learned. School systems can have greater flexibility in the number of buildings it needs, the number of teachers it needs etc. In short, they could do much better for less money.
If you are in the education field, know that your world is changing. How fast it will change is anyone’s guess. If you don’t like what you see coming, visit That will give you a possible Plan B, should your situation change for the worse. For students, however, better education is on its way. For taxpayers, that better education could come at a lower cost.


We are easing out of the Great Recession, though it is still difficult for some.
We are heading into the Great Inflection, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
We are in a hyper-connected – not just connected – world, Friedman asserts. We are seeing more wealth created, and much better productivity in the workplace.
But, that isn’t translating into lower unemployment. You see, some of the jobs lost in the Great Recession will never return.
Think back to the time when World War II ended, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, labor unions had great clout and – here’s the big one – technological progress was relatively slow.
If you got laid off from a job, chances are it was a slow period for your employer. When things picked up, you were back to work. Men – most married women did not work then – would crow about “steady” work. In other words, there were few peaks and valleys in their business. They got a paycheck every week for their 40 hours, plus, for some, the bonus of overtime.
College education was for the few. Parents wanted their sons to get out and work, and their daughters to get married. That idyllic life didn’t work out for everyone, but it did for a large number of people.
Contrast that period to today. If you have a job, you fear change, because it comes quickly and you don’t know how that change will affect you, until it does. Companies reorganize one day, and a few months later they do it again. Each time, usually, more people lose their jobs, replaced by some machine which, likely, will be “old” technology a year later.
As companies cut jobs, many of them are creating new and different ones, either at the same time, or a short time later. The people being cut may not fill the bill for the new positions. Something to think about: if your current job is a series of repetitive tasks that don’t require you to create anything, you should be thinking about learning something new. Chances are, your job will not last as long as you want it to.
Some of the folks from those earlier working days, once they hit a certain age, balked at learning “new stuff.” They were counting the days until they could retire. Today, if you don’t learn new stuff, regardless of your age, you will be gone, probably sooner than you want to be.
Friedman points out that with rapid change, the workforce has to keep learning. Your schooling, whatever it is, won’t last you the rest of your life anymore. It will always be with you, but education today is merely an entry vehicle. The people who survive in today’s workplace are those who are always learning, who can deal with change in stride and can foresee what might be coming. As Friedman puts it, you have to provide added value to the technology.
For those of you either shut out of the modern job market, or who live in fear that one day you will be, visit It’s one of the best of several ways you can create wealth WHILE you await your fate in the job market. One day, perhaps, you might not even need the job market.
In much of the discussion about employment and the economy today, many long for those old days. Jobs were “protected.” Work was, for many, “steady.” Workers had a certain security that they were convinced was never going away. Many today fight the changes that connectivity, technology and other productivity enhancements have brought. They want it stopped. But, it’s like standing on railroad tracks and holding out your arms, thinking you are going to stop one of those bullet trains.
Progress will happen with or without you. You can choose to fight the Great Inflection, or you can work to be part of it. If you can’t beat it, either join it or look for a new plan. Put your fate in YOUR hands.