Unfollow me, please

It’s been very busy on my end over the past month. I released my second podcast, published my first flash-read on Amazon, and have crisscrossed the country. Despite all of the good stuff, those who aren’t fans of mine capitalized on some mistakes that were made under my watch.

As a superintendent, the buck stops with me.  I am responsible for everything that happens under the time I am there. I’m also responsible for giving and getting the best possible education for students. I’m not perfect, and I will never pretend to be, but I will say there is truth in that the higher you climb up the leadership ladder, the bigger target you become.

With being so busy, I hired a media group to take care of my social media and my online presence. I was online from time to time, but I also have twins that just turned two and am making presentations all over the country, so I didn’t bother with it.  What could go wrong, right (note –  sarcasm)? Well…for me, all of it.  In talking about some future projects, the person took that information and misrepresented me online. Not cool at all. It eventually turned into a local news story, and before I knew it, I had to start playing defense.  I looked like a fool. Had I not corrected any of it, who knows what this would have become?

I fired the company and hired a new firm to handle this. They did, and we move on, right?

WRONG!

I’m thinking to myself that these people could have cost me my career and that no other superintendents would receive such hatred and have stories told about them in troll-land. Then I turned to this research thing called the internet.  I found this.

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and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.47.12

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.47.48

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.47.58

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.48.07

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.48.21

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.48.31

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.48.41

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.48.48

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.49.43

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.49.53

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.51.11

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.51.34

and this:Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.52.47

Do you get the point?

But this is why I’m on the top of the mountain. Right? I’m paid to take the cheap shots.  I’m paid to wear the target.  I’m paid to have thick skin and deal with scads of nonsense.  If I wasted time on verifying or acknowledging every little thing I’ve heard about myself, I’d either be dead from stress or would be hospitalized for exhaustion.

I’ve been “unfollowed” and “unfriended”  on social media, and I’ve read a whole new level of hate mail and threats that I never thought could even exist.  Most of it is just true colors; others are just trolls who have nothing better to do. Nonetheless, I had five significant takeaways from all of this.

1. Tell your story, or somebody else will.  I’ve heard a colleague say this over and over again, but it should be gospel. While some say it’s better to say nothing at all, I am the leader who refuses to sit back and have my words twisted or have flat-out lies told about me. I have told and always will tell my story. I have nothing to hide, and my accomplishments verify such.  If people want to go on and hate, lie, or just try to take me down, I could care less. I will always stay focused and stick to what I believe in and do best.

2. Don’t blindly trust a firm to oversee your social media. There are thousands of companies (who charge thousands of dollars) that “manage” your online presence. I trusted a company to monitor my stuff, not fabricate it. While the onus ultimately falls on me for not self-stalking my own presence, I was silly enough to let someone else handle my name. Not cool. Once I saw the misleading information, I had it taken down, and I fired the firm for doing it. It’s that simple. Make sure you’re searching your name at least once a week.

3. Get out of your own head. For almost a solid hour, I sat reading hateful comments from trolls, wondering why this person and that person disaffiliated from my social media, and even dealt with an idiot threatening to harm my family. I was down on myself and thought I was on a path to failure. Then, reality sat in. Why do I make news? Why do I have haters? Why am I the focal point among some circles? Simple. I’m great at what I do. I rose to the top super fast. I have national accolades. I’ve brought in international speakers to districts, raised test scores, and have continually bucked the status quo for my entire educational career. I’m far from done, and I won’t stop, despite what anyone else says or does. I will make sure that all students get what they need to succeed. Don’t overthink anything, especially about the shoulda-woulda-coulda stuff.

4. Less is more. My ROTC instructor once told me that I have the gift of gab. He thought so much so that he made me the battalion public relations officer. That was a pretty big deal in 9th grade. One time, I went on about a topic for too long, with most of the information not even being relevant. He sat me down and said, “From now on, less is more.” I have had trouble with that throughout my career. It’s a weakness I constantly try to improve. I say too much and get off topic. It’s my skeleton in the closet. Keep it short and sweet. Elaborate only when necessary.

5. Stay on the path. I sleep very well at night (and no, it’s not because of booze or sleeping pills). I sleep well because everything I’ve done I did for the best of reasons. I sleep well because I have an amazing network of support built around me. I sleep well because my twins tire me out! I sleep well because I stay on the path in all I do. If I didn’t, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today or doing what I do today.

Soooooo…if you can’t accept that mistakes happen, or believe everything you read online in a forum of trolls, false tweets, and gossip, then I ask you to please unfriend or unfollow me. If you’re believing all of the stories out there about people, afraid of who’s looking to see whom you’re following, or are just being shallow and don’t want to read or hear what’s really happening in public figures’ lives, that’s fine with me. If you haven’t figured it out, I could care less what trolls or people that aren’t my friends say about me; neither does anyone who is successful.  My job is to do what’s best for kids.  Period.

Onward!

Amazon, iTunes & Fake News

I’m pleased to share with everyone that my first podcast, ThE TuB, was published! We had a great time making it; you can check it out on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn.

I’m also pleased to announce the first of EitnerEDU’s flash-reads called “Closing The Door.”  Flash-reads are a new concept for me–ten pages or less, offered at either 99 cents or free. You can find them on Amazon, the iBook store, and the Barnes & Noble Nook website.

Last but not least, I have come to terms with “fake news” and how easily it can dominate a conversation, movement, or person. What was once libel, slander, and even character assassination is now merely accepted in talk radio, forums, chat rooms, tweets, and even in print.

With the release of the EitnerEDU flash-reads and podcasts, I am vowing that all content will be factual and practical. There will be no words taken out of context or content fabrication. All information will be presented that has applicable meaning that you can use as you grow, learn, and move forward.

Change Illness – YUCK!

The following was written by Dr. Rick Jetter, co-author of “Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank”. It’s a great post that hits home in many schools that take issue with moving forward or are non-progressive.  You can purchase the book on amazon.com and follow Rick on Twitter @RickJetter . Read on.

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We have all heard it before:  Change is hard.  It hurts (sometimes).  And, change places lots of tension on our schools and organizations.  What is interesting is that it isn’t really necessarily about “change” at all; it’s more about what is attached to “change” that we often don’t acknowledge.  If we view change as an illness (for those who don’t want to change much of anything in our schools), perhaps we need to look at the symptoms of change before we judge anyone of not being open to new ideas or improvement.  Here are some symptoms that come up time and time again within our schools.  See if you notice any of these symptoms within your system, as well:

1.  There are too many initiatives (things) going on.  Too many software programs.  Too many literacy directives.  Too many new books coming in.  Too many e-mails explaining what we didn’t do yet or what we need to do next.  This is a huge symptom of “change illness.”

2.  There isn’t enough training (or thorough training).  When #1 is going on, training often falls by the wayside, as well.  They are connected.  The problem with the lack of training is that now frustration sets in.  Frustration of not knowing what to do with something “new.”  Have you established a solid training program that will diminish frustration?

3.  There isn’t enough time.  Our educators have lives.  They have families.  They have outside interests.  So, what they accomplish in school is often high energy.  High octane.  Exhausting.  We need to always remember this.  Life comes first.  Jobs and careers come second.  If a teacher cannot attend something after school, it doesn’t mean that they are disengaged.  Maybe they have to pick up their child from school or run to the grocery store in order to put dinner on the table that night.

4.  There isn’t enough enthusiasm.  How do we get anyone excited about anything?  There is power in creating exciting opportunities, forums, and collaborations.  When we fail to promote, market, or even show excitement about something, ourselves, how can we blame anyone else for not being on board when all we are doing is making them bored about a topic or initiative?  Turning educators off from the start will lead to “change illness.”

5.  Educators just want to enjoy our students.  “Less is more,” especially when we recognize the requests we make for additional paperwork, new requirements, more deadlines, intricate forms to fill out, or an increase in meetings that take staff away from their instructional time and enjoyment with their students.  Before we pile more on the plates of our educators, we have to Spring clean a bit, re-focus, stop the clutter, and breathe. 

These 5 root causes of “change illness” should be on our minds each day and it’s OK to have open dialogue about these symptoms in order to evaluate if what you want to change is really worth it for both your students and staff.

 

AASA + NOLA = G-R-E-A-T

Last week, The American Association of School Administrators held its’ annual national conference in New Orleans. Superintendents from all 50 states were in attendance, and yes, the good times did roll.

I have been to New Orleans over a dozen times, but this time was much different.  This was a gathering like I have never seen before.  There are conferences, and there are gathering of the movers and shakers.  This was the latter of the two.

There were Superintendents of Districts of 300 students; others oversee over 30,000. There were vendors, there were elected officials, and yes, there were many from my home state from New Jersey.  62 to be exact. 62 Superintendents all conveying in a national stage to be a part of the big picture, not be on the outside looking into it.

There were workshops, there were meetings, and there were open forums.  Conversations were intense; workshops were powerful.

Some of the best learning occurred in the conversations in the halls and on the floor. Running into colleagues is great, but nothing is better than getting the support, respect, and high-fives.

It’s a right-of-passage in this position to go through the fire to earn your stripes.  I earned mine over the past few months and got the credit for such from my peers.  Nothing beats that, and that;s something you can’t ever take away from a Superintendent.  I officially got my ‘street cred’!

I highly recommend that all Superintendents attend NCE in the future; Nashville is next year. I hope to see you there.

 

5 Guaranteed Ways to Pour Slop Out of Your Bucket

Dan’s blog is one of the best around.  Read the post below and get ready to be charged up! Find the original post at : 5 Guaranteed Ways to Pour Slop Out of Your Bucket

Overbooked, overwhelmed, and over-committed …

You have slop in your bucket. Life grows meaningless as time passes, unless you pour out the slop.

5 guaranteed ways to pour slop out of your bucket:

#1. Identify slop:

The trouble with slop is it comes disguised as fulfillment. You end up carrying a bucket of putrescent slop. The weight of your bucket feels impressive. Before long it smells like crap.

Slop:

  1. Repeated activities that lack long-term impact.
  2. Good activities that don’t contribute to meaningful goals.
  3. Every activity that’s disconnected from values.

What’s stinks in your bucket?

#2. Seize more opportunities – solve fewer problems:

Pour fresh water in your bucket by asking, “What opportunities might we seize today?” Everyone who focuses on solving problems camps in the past.

It’s hard to build the future when you’re always fixing the past. Work to create something new rather than fix something broken. Problem-solving centers on something that already happened.

An opportunity seized is a problem solved.

What opportunity might you seize today?

#3. Seek significance not busyness:

The seduction of feeling important because you’re busy trivializes leaders.

I asked Jon Acuff how to pour slop out of the bucket. He mentioned our need to feel important by being busy is about who we are.

Jon on feeling important (1:16) Listen for the tip on delegating at the end.Audio Player

How might you seek significance over busyness?

#4. Choose joy:

Jon also suggested making a long list of everything we do. Identify the things we enjoy. Do more of that.

How might you listen to joy?

#5. Embrace the irresistible yes:

I’ve come to believe that learning to say ‘no’ is pathetic. It suggests we don’t have an irresistible ‘yes’. Say ‘yes’ to something so captivating that saying ‘no’ is necessary.

What mighty ‘yes’ is calling you?

Once it’s gone, time never returns.

How might leaders pour slop out of their buckets?

Follow Jon Acuff on twitter. @JonAcuff

Buy Jon’s book: Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck