Accountability: The First Brick of Success

I love this brick. I paid $10 for it in 1982.


It came from the Anaconda Mining Company smokestack in Great Falls, Montana. The “Great Stack,” as it was called, was built in 1908 and was 585 feet tall—quite a feat for the times. Karen and I were lucky enough to be living in Great Falls in September 1982 when a demolition crew detonated charges to bring it down while the whole city watched.

But it didn’t go quite as planned. This is how the Great Falls Tribune described the moment:

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Relationships: Being Different is Okay

WeddingJohn (age 22) and Karen (19) on June 21, 1980

Karen Elizabeth Giles Miller has many roles …

  • “Best friend” to John since 1976
  • “Mrs. Miller” since 1980.
  • “Mom” to seven children (four from the stork and three by adoption)
  • “Grandma Nonnie” to Joshua, Becca Boo, and McKenna
  • “Girlfriend” to many women; “mentor/teacher” to several
  • “Co-author” of Parenting the QBQ Way
  • “Birthday girl” on Oct 20th 

And one other title that fits her well:

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Personal Accountability: Doing My Job

Do you job

I asked Molly, our twentysomething daughter, who has served as captain of soccer and basketball teams, “Molly, in your opinion, what makes an effective team?” I was honestly just curious what she’d say; it wasn’t like I was doing book research! But I loved her answer: “Everyone taking care of their own stuff, Dad. Everybody working hard at doing their job.” I appreciated her thought so much, it went into Outstanding! under the chapter titled, “Work!”

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Want Change? Lose the Consultants, Ask QBQs

After 28 years of calling on senior executives, I want to scream …


I just returned from speaking on “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” in Europe. In my travels, I met several people who told me their employer currently has “change management” consultants* (Old joke: A consultant is someone who borrows my watch and tells me what time it is!) roaming their hallways, holding small employee meetings, and leading executives to and through mountaintop retreats.

And my guess is, the consultants are working from a definition of “organizational culture” that sounds something like this:

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5 Lessons Learned When I Quit Making Excuses

Ancient proverb: “A man resembling a beached whale must travel a journey beginning with a single step.”

WL journey final

When I saw the picture on the far left seconds after it was taken April 8, 2012, I knew a “first step” was needed. The next day—at 195 pounds—my journey began …

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The 3 Components of Personal Change

I just can’t resist using these pictures I took near our Colorado home, because every single time I see this scene I wonder this:

Do I do anything over and over that fails to generate a positive result?


On the left we see a driveway overrun with weeds, and a small formerly attached garage in the background. I say “formerly” because the house it was attached to burned down three years ago.

On the right we see several issues of the weekend Denver Post, tossed there by a delivery person week after week even though the house at this address burned down three years ago!

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Do Not Train! Unless …

Here’s a question every organization can ask:

What problem do we have that would be solved by a positive change in our people’s thinking, emotions, and behaviors?

This email came from a prospective QBQ! client:

“We are a large manufacturer of industrial products and we ship to customers all around the world. Our plant is operating six to seven days a week with very little down time, causing fatigue and tension between our teams. We hear a lot of ‘It’s not my fault’ and ‘I am a victim’ stuff, along with the ever popular blame game.”

Now that’s real stuff.

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