Category Archives: Leaders who blog

New book: The School Administrator’s Guide to Blogging

Mark Stock5111HDsjJcL._SL500_AA240_ I first blogged about Mark Stock two years ago when he was a blogging Superintendent of Schools for the Wawasee Community School Corporation in Indiana. He is now Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Wyoming and maintains a blog called The Stock Mark Report.

Mark recently had a book published titled The School Administrator’s Guide to Blogging. With my permission, he’s included some excerpts from my white paper that I published for the UK titled Guide to Civic Leadership Blogging: How to use weblogs as an effective local leadership tool.

Charlie Kyte The book just arrived but I intend to immediately loan it to Charlie Kyte, fellow Northfielder, and a blogger and podcaster (audio and video) in his role as Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA). Kyte’s blog is titled The VOICE of Minnesota Education.

Blogging in government report: the good, the bad, and the ugly

slu_david_wyld_blogs1.jpgWyldCoverBlog.jpgDavid Wyld, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Department of Management, has written a report for IBM’s Center for The Business of Government titled, The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0.

The entire report is available via PDF as well as an executive summary, but the hardbound 100-page version can be ordered for free and it arrives within 10 days or so… a nice gesture on the part of IBM.

There’s also a news release on the report posted on the Southeastern Louisiana’s website titled Southeastern’s David Wyld documents blogging revolution among elected officials, public agencies.

The Good
It’s a very thorough overview of govenment-related (federal, state and local) blogging. Most of my government blogging clients are listed/named in the report (Eden Prairie Fire Chief George Esbensen is the only one singled out for a large graphic), but there a large number of government officials blogging who were completely new to me. He’s also included many stories that really help to illustrate the range of gov’t bloggers, as well as the potential and pitfalls of blogging. He understands the technology — one of the few to write about blogging who understands the power of both the permalink and RSS — but he wisely avoids listing blogging tools and services. The report is well-organized and illustrated, and Wyld writes in a style that I found readable, a nice touch for a research report.

The Bad
Wyld misses the leadership blogging boat, never once using the term and only in a few instances, citing those blogging-related activities (eg, affirming people) that distinguish a leadership blog from the usual government official blog. It’s odd because he does distinguish between a campaign blog and a blog that’s used once elected; between a blog that’s authentically authored vs. one written by staffers. And he does list my Guide to Civic Leadership Blogging in his references. But it’s a major oversight to include nothing about the importance of using a blog to leverage one’s leadership interactions that otherwise disappear. He’s evidently thrown off course by the ability of a blog to have comments, which he mistakenly thinks are required for a blog to be considered a blog. It’s also a major oversight to say nothing about the importance of strategic storytelling in his ‘how to blog’ section.

I can only surmise that Wyld misses the boat in part because evidently he doesn’t blog himself, didn’t keep a project blog while working on his report, and doesn’t provide a web-based area for feedback on the report now that it’s been published. The report is not likely to be discussed much in the blogosphere because its sections aren’t able to be linked to — only the entire report. Maybe Wyld doesn’t really understand the power of the permalink like I thought. He certainly isn’t walking the Web 2.0 talk. Wyld asks rhetorically and presumably with a degree of implied criticism, “Yet, to date, why has the Web 2.0 revolution not carried over to government to any great extent?” The same could be asked of university professors who write research reports about the Web 2.0 revolution.

The Ugly
There’s nothing too ugly about the report, other than a few typographical errors and at least one misspelling, “Define yourself and your prupose” in the tips box on P. 7 of the print version, fixed in the PDF. I cite the latter because I disagree with Wyld’s emphasis on the importance of spelling in a blog, and thus the irony:

This almost goes without saying, but it is surprising how many blog posts have spelling and/or grammatical errors. When spotted, such mistakes can generate satirical comments, spawn bad publicity in traditional and non-traditional media, and detract from your message. As the saying goes, “That’s why God made a spell-checker!”

In sum: get this report if you’re a government leader. But don’t assume that this is all there’s to it.

Government gets it right: a time-limited, leadership project blog wrapped around a F2F forum

I have about a dozen or so word or phrases that Google Alerts looks for and one of them is the phrase “leadership blogging.” Today I got one alerting me to a ZDNet blog post by Phil Windley titled Blogs and the flu: eGovernment in action:

Last week, Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, penned the final post on the Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog (PFL blog)-a blog sponsored by HHS. The blog consisted of over 100 posts from contributors in the healthcare, faith-based, business and community sectors. The blog is a great resource for current thinking on how the US can respond to the threat of pandemic flu. The blog is not ongoing, but rather was active for five weeks (May 22 – June 27, 2007). Each week featured a theme and half way through there was a leadership forum with people live blogging the event…

I think the blog is a noteworthy example of how blogs can be used as a tool in eGovernment to raise awareness, start conversations, and encourage public participation. The blog is well done and deftly avoids the pitfalls of official government blogs. Hats off to HHS.


I’ve not read it all but what appears to be missing is A) participation by the leaders in the comment threads attached to their own blog posts; and B) blog posts by leaders in which they indicate that they’ve read the comment threads and better yet, agree/disagree with or learned something in those conversations. Again, I could be wrong about this, as I’ve not read everything.

But I’m impressed with this effort for the same reasons Windley noted. I’ve done time-limited web forums involving leaders in Northfield since the mid-90s. I’ve also worked with some clients in which we’ve used a project blog in conjunction with a time-limited web forum. This stellar effort by HHS gives me more ideas about how my efforts could be improved upon, whether the forum portion of it is F2F or web-based.

Blogging superintendent blogs a national conference

aasalogo.gifI got an email today from Jay Goldman, Editor at the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) alerting me to the fact that Superintendent Mark (who I blogged about a month ago) is doing a blog at their annual conference this week with the catchy title:

MarkStockWeb.jpgTaking Stock of the AASA Conference AASA blogs New Orleans!

“One superintendent’s daily musings on his experiences at the 2007 National Conference on Education of the American Association of School Administrators in New Orleans, La.”

Also, Becky Manley, a reporter with the Fort Wayne, Indiana Journal Gazette, did a story on Mark and his blog earlier this week titled, Wawasee school chief leads way in blogging.

School superintendent Mark Stock, blogger


Mark Stock is Superintendent of Schools for the Wawasee Community School Corporation and he has a weblog titled The Wawascene.

He contacted me last week because he’s doing a presentation on blogging at the AASA annual convention in March in New Orleans. He had an article in the May, 2006 issue of AASA’s The School Administrator titled “Blogging to my advantage: a superintendent discovers a new tool with unlimited possibilities for two-way connection with his community.”

The morning we spoke on the phone he had just posted an update to his blog from the local hospital because of school bus accident. I told him I was thrilled to see him do this because ‘near real-time blogging’ is an important element to making a leadership blog compelling for readers. And in a crisis situation, it’s a terrific way for leaders to be able to speak directly and quickly to their community/constituencies. A blog post in a crisis can offer accurate information, convey reassurance, and prevent as well as dispel rumors.

Mark’s blog is also a good example of writing with a “voice of authenticity.” I loved this little insertion in a recent post about special ed:

OK – now hang with me here. This is a crash course on statistics.

And here’s an example of what I call ‘strategic storytelling.’ It’s a gem: The day I became convinced that special needs students aren’t the only ones benefiting from being included.

Lack of blogging by CEO’s


In today’s New York Times: All the Internet’s a Stage. Why Don’t C.E.O.’s Use It? by Randall Stross.

(That link should work, even if you’re not logged in with a username.)

The headline’s a bit deceiving. The article is all about the lack of CEO’s blogging, not about their general lack of use of the internet.

He focuses much of the piece on Jonathan Schwartz, the blogging CEO of Sun Microsystems:

When Mr. Schwartz was promoted to the top job at Sun this spring, he automatically became a member of an elite group: Fortune 500 C.E.O. bloggers. He is the only active member. Where is everyone else? Capital markets function as they should when the flow of information is strong and unimpeded. Mr. Schwartz has shown ably that for the chief executive sincerely interested in increasing information flow to the fullest range of stakeholders, a blog is a hydraulic wonder.

I blogged about Schwartz a couple of weeks ago as part of my ongoing Leaders Who Blog series. But Stross’ article shows why he’s a journalist and I’m not. To wit:

Assuming that other chief executives are willing to make their thoughts just as visible as Mr. Schwartz’s, the blog provides a highly efficient medium of publication. Mr. Schwartz, for instance, simultaneously reaches shareholders, software developers and current and prospective customers. With posted responses, these groups easily reach him as well as one another.


WHEN an employee of a publicly traded company publishes regularly on a business blog, something valuable for outside observers is created: a firsthand chronicle. This deserves to be called something special, a primary blog – that is, a primary source, created by a participant or eyewitness – that distinguishes it from all the other blogs (and, yes, from all other newspaper columns, too) that are written at a remove by commentators. Primary blogs maintained by Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s would provide the most vital information to investors.

I didn’t know about this, but Stross notes that Schwartz wrote a one-page piece titled If you want to lead, blog for the Harvard Business Review last Nov. It’s available for $6 online. This blogger has a summary.

Stross cites Debbie Weil (author of The Corporate Blogging Book – to be released this week) as trying to make the case for blogging by persuading “reluctant executives with the argument that blogging would save the time they now spend on hundreds of daily e-mail exchanges.”

I cite this as well, though as one of the strategies in the How to blog effectively section of my Leadership Blogging Guide. I don’t think of this as a reason to blog. CEO’s and other leaders need more rationale than that. I’ve ordered Weil’s book to see if she addresses the Why, but if I had to sum up why more CEO’s don’t blog, it would be:

  1. lack of knowledge of the leadership benefits

  2. fear of the time comittment

  3. fear of the interaction

  4. lack of confidence in how to convey the transparency and authenticity required

  5. a reluctance to undermine/ruffle the feathers of the corporate communications and legal departments

A good weblog coach can help address all these concerns. 😉

Blogger Jonathan Schwartz, CEO, Sun Microsystems

jonathan_schwartz.gifJonathan Schwartz is CEO of Sun Microsystems, a Fortune 500 company (#211) with about $11 billion in annual revenues. He became CEO earlier this year when longtime CEO Scott McNealy stepped down. He’s evidently the only Fortune 500 CEO to have a weblog.

He’s been posting to his Jonathan’s Blog since June of 2004 where he listed his reasons for starting one:

First, I’m a big believer in the idea that innovation is self-sustaining when it loses its predictability. I figured I’d do my part to promote self-sustenance. Second, to change the format and fidelity with which what I say is transcribed. No more comments from the pundits “in context.” Now you get them straight from me. Third, to get unfiltered feedback from the community… I promise to listen – from all the constituencies we serve (customers, stockholders, developers, consumers, suppliers… all).

He’s got a tough job ahead of him… slashing thousands of jobs and getting the company back on a profitable track. But after reading a few of his recent posts with his new CEO hat on, I like how he’s using his blog. Some examples:

This April post on why he’ll continue blogging emphasizes the importance of “… unparalleled transparency into everything we do, precisely because it’s the most efficient mechanism to accelerate change…” He sees his blogging as an example of this transparency, and specifically said so again two months later in this post: “You can tell I’m a big fan of transparency – that’s why I write a blog (with comments on, and yes, I read every one, as do a host of others at Sun). It’s why I encourage others to drive the conversation in the market, as well. Transparency’s at least a part of the solution. If not an outright competitive weapon.” This paragraph was preceded by a link to a blog host by a very unhappy customer.

He also walks the talk by hosting a visit from a competitor, a well-known Microsoft blogger named Robert Scoble, who in turned blogged at length about their lunch. They both caught quite a bit of heat from the comments attached to their posts.

I like it that he’s regularly mentioning specific employees in his blog posts, detailing what they do, their recent accomplishments, or their new assignments. He really should include photos in these posts, however, as any mention of a real person with a photo, especially an employee, propels that entry into the blogosphere and email inboxes with a force many times a text-only post.

Lastly, his posts seem to be increasingly less frequent. I’m guessing he’s fallen into the trap of thinking he must have Big and Important Things to blog about because otherwise he’s too busy. He’s not yet mastered the art of blogging very short stories that can be as effective.

Blogger Carole Brown, Chair, Chicago Transit Authority


Carole Brown is Chair of the Chicago Transit Authority and maintains a blog called Ask Carole. The blog’s purpose:

“I created this blog to answer some of the questions people have been asking about the CTA’s funding situation. We on the board have asked many of these same questions, and we want to help get the word out. So please feel free to send comments or questions to, and check back regularly for answers and updates to our efforts to increase transit funding. — Carole”

Brown’s blog seemingly has a much wider purpose than just funding. She tackles all sorts of issues related to the CTA — performance measures, maintenance issues, customer service, equipment purchases, policy changes, etc. Her blog’s purpose statement should be amended.

She’s got an audience of readers who chime in with a dozen or more comments on nearly every post. In part, this seems due to her engaging writing style in which she both teaches her audience and responds to their collective concerns, e.g. here when she writes “There are several great comments and questions in response to the performance measure update…”

She also responds occasionally to critical comments posted to the CTA Tattler blog, for example here when she writes “Kevin O’Neil and many others are continuing to hold our feet to the fire on improving customer communications during service disruptions…” and she actually links to a Tattler blog entry by Mr. O’Neill. This is very gutsy thing to do and adds tremendously to her overall believability, authenticity, and approachability. No wonder people post comments.

She’s recently started to add photos to blog entries, using them to teach in this post (those photos should enlarge when clicked but they don’t) and to recognize/affirm people in this one (photo correctly enlarges.) I hope she continues adding photos to nearly every post.

Overall, this is a very good leadership weblog. It shows what can be done with just one or two posts per month… not enough for a CEO/Executive Director/President who’s a full-time employee but enough for a board chair of a large organization. She’s to be commended.

Some quick recommendations: complete the profile or link it to somewhere where there is one; abandon Blogger in favor of a platform like Typepad or WordPress that allows posts to be put into categories; and link to the blog from several obvious places on the CTA main website. I could only find a link to her blog on the Board Meetings page… there should one on this page and better yet, on a homepage sidebar.

[This profile is part of my ongoing Leaders who blog series that I began in June, 2006]

Blogger Karen Christensen, CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group

karen_christensen.jpgKaren Christensen is CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a small (dozen employees) publisher in Massachusetts. I’ve been looking for women CEO bloggers and her Berkshire Blog: a global point of reference weblog is the first I’ve come across. She’s been blogging since late 2004.

In January, 2006, she used this post to explain her reason for blogging: “I love the chance to write about things that catch my eye, without worrying about how they fit into a book, but the point of this blog is really to give our friends, colleagues (many of whom are friends, too), and customers (ditto) a look at what’s going on at 314 Main Street, Great Barrington.”

In that same post, she announced that others from the company were going to be contributing to the blog, but other than a few posts from her editor, Marcy Ross, that effort has apparently failed… a common occurrence with group blogging, for reasons I’ve detailed in this podcast. To her credit, she’s kept up her blogging, with unusual frequency for a small business owner.

The first thing I noticed from her recent posts: she’s very good at incorporating small amounts of storytelling into her blog entries. In this June 20 post, note how the first paragraph is the simple, engaging personal story that sets up the announcement/promo info in the second paragraph.

She even tells a teeny tiny story here, as a way of encouraging her blog visitors to read an article, something I rarely see in a media diet blog post. This is a perfect example of what I wrote in my Guide, “There’s hardly a blog post that can’t include some elements of storytelling. Imagine yourself talking to a colleague or friend about what it is you’re blogging and then bring that tone to your post.”

I could go on about other things I like about her blog, eg, her opinionating about publishing issues, her discussion of company projects in the works, her short personal blurbs about authors she knows. Lots to like about this blogger.

I’d like to see her write more about her employees. And I’d like to see more photos and images. She made a stab at using Flickr back in March but that evidently hasn’t worked. I understand why and that’s my rationale for helping some of my current clients learn to use the blogging application, Zoundry Blog Writer… which I’m using to compose this post.

[This profile is part of my ongoing Leaders who blog series that I began in June, 2006]

Blogger Will Weider, CIO of Ministry Health Care and Affinity Health System

Weider.jpgWill Weider is CIO of Ministry Health Care and Affinity Health System in Wisconsin.

He calls his blog The Candid CIO and introduces it with this phrase: “This is the place where I share what I have learned through my mistakes and other crazy things in the life of a healthcare CIO.”

I like his conversational tone… at times, delightfully irreverent.

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“They do not last. They rupture. And the longer they’re in the body the more likely they are to rupture. The statistics are kind of scary, because around about 50 percent are ruptured by 10 years. And when it gets to 15 to 20 years you’re looking at almost 90 percent of implants that are ruptured.

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What is most worrisome is that while most of the anabolic steroids is contained within the capsule, some of it leaks out, we don’t know where it goes, we don’t know what it does, we have no idea.”

– Dr. Ed Melmed, board certified plastic surgeon

Each year in the United States approximately 300,000 women and teenagers undergo breast augmentation. It’s thought that the total number of implants carried out each year worldwide is anywhere between 5 to 10 million.

Before the operations women are often told by their surgeons that it is a safe procedure with “very little” risk. The FDA also says breast implants are relatively safe.

Most of these women don’t know that this is simply not the case.

There is in fact a growing body of Breast Actives, in conjunction with thousands of horror stories from women all over the world whose implants ended in disaster, to prove that they are not safe and are actually causing debilitating autoimmune disorders and other physical problems in many women.

He’s good at conveying his knowledge of his industry without getting overly techie. He’s got a knack for storytelling, as conveyed in this post about one of their doctors.

However, that post would’ve been waaaaay better with a photo of the doctor… or at least of the doctor’s hands and/or the fingerprint system. Photos serve a strategic purpose, even for an audience who’s likely to be mainly other healthcare IT professionals.

Although I only scanned his archives quickly, I didn’t see any posts about his staff, peers, or any organization employees. I’m starting to wonder if a leadership blog can be evaluated in part on to what extent it’s a “thought leader” blog vs a “people leader” blog.

I know he’s a client of mine but one leader who uses his blog as a “thought leader” and a “people leader” is Scott Neal, Eden Prairie City Manager.

[This profile is part of my ongoing Leaders who blog series that I began in June, 2006]