Leadership – General Colin Powell’s Rules

           I recently spoke to a class of graduating seniors at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland about being a consultant. The instructor said, “It would be nice if you could speak for a few minutes on leadership, too.”

Besides sharing my personal thoughts, I relied on what has worked for me for years: General Colin Powell’s Rules. I first read them when they became popular when General Powell released his first book, My American Journey, in 1995. I understood them immediately and gained a greater understanding of them while reading his book. I posted them on or near my desk or workplace in every job I could and still have a copy on my desk today.

Why? I’ve never found a time where at least one of them has not applied to the situation I faced. Sometimes, more than one applies. They also serve as a powerful reminder of perspective, human nature, and decision making in so many ways. So here they are.

General Colin Powell’s Rules:

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share Credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

I hope these may come in useful to you at some point, and thank you, General Powell, for sharing them with the rest of us.

Photo Credit: Photo illustration by Peggy Frierson

Veteran Writing Services Celebrates Five Years in Business!

Who would have known that the first scribblings of a horse book would turn into Veteran Writing Services, now a a successful company for five years?

As crazy as it sounds, I woke up one night in October 2009 with an idea for a book sparked by an idea from a friend. My supportive husband understood, and I went to the living room and took down notes until early in the morning for what became the outline of my first book, Believing In Horses. I also fortunately had former bosses who reached out to me during the same timeframe requesting assistance with independent contracting endeavors. Those ended up with me writing for the U.S. House of Representatives and defense contractor General Dynamics Information Technology.

After a few years of what was supposed to be retirement from the Navy, I realized I wasn’t done. I attended the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program based out of Syracuse University and launched my own business. I had started writing poems for my grandparents when I was six years old, continued a passion for writing through high school, and then majored in English and Mass Communication in college. In my next real job in the U.S. Navy, I honed my writing skills, particularly when trying to condense complex topics into as few words as possible for executive audiences. So it made sense to turn all that experience into one cohesive business.

But I didn’t do it alone. The first I have to thank is my wonderful husband, Jaime Navarro. Yes, the same guy I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to tell I was going off to start writing a book. The same guy who drove me to Capitol Hill on my first day of work at the House of Representatives during a snowstorm to make sure I made it there safely. This is the same super-human who cheered me on in book signing events and supported me in folding my writing work into a professional business when I came up with “yet” another good idea.

I thank my mom, Flo Ormond, for her never-ending support. She also gave me great writing genes! As both a creative and a technical writer, she has made quite a difference in the world – which many will never know. I still remember reading through her copy with her word-for-word back in the late seventies for a scientific journal for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I learned the exactness of editing, and I learned it from a master who still helps me to this day.

A shout out also goes to my brother, Eddy, who helped me tremendously, and friends Regina Leonard, Jan Martin, and sister-in-law Diana McGlade. And I appreciate – more  than they know –  referrals from respected leaders in the business world including Terry Roberts, Barrie Gillis, George Rhodes, Maria Romain, Bobbi Huff, Meghann Lewis, and Ken Schutz.

I thank my husband for having a celebration of my five years of business, which he held at Renditions Golf Course with a sign, gifts, and a party. I was so busy with “busyness,” as one of my friends calls it, that I couldn’t take time to enjoy the moment. Jaime made sure I did, and it was perfect. Thank you to all my supporters, and here’s to another five years!

Remembering Diego: Who Trains Who


Last month we said farewell to our fourteen-year-old faithful companion, Diego. Here is a story I wrote about him published in “More Than Best Friends – An Anthology in Support of Guide Dogs for the Blind,” by Kevin Morris. Diego was a special dog and lives on in our hearts and memories.  

I had decided to get a dog because my husband mentioned he wanted a dog. Since he was on a business trip, I decided I would go visit the county pound. That visit resulted in me bringing home the best dog I’ve ever had. I can’t say I own him because it’s more like he owns me.

Sitting in a cage, nose on the cold floor, the dog in front of me was quite the contrast to the surrounding others who were yipping, barking, and craving attention. His sad brown eyes looked up at me, his tail thumped, and he licked his dry lips. Something about this particular dog drew me in. [Read more…]

Creating and Managing Successful Internships

Maryland Horse Council Intern Holden Rafey interviewing Olympian Joe Fargis (photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)

I landed my first professional job at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Md., after serving as an intern while a student at Towson University. At 21-years-old, I became the station’s assistant Public Relations Officer with real duties and responsibilities and had the opportunity to work with industry icons like Oprah Winfrey. I owe that job and experience to my supervisor during my internship, Joyce Kashima. [Read more…]

Horses on the Move – Go, Fight, Win!

Today I’m sharing a video from my wildly talented friend and graphic artist, Brittany Klein. I’ve hired Brittany’s  business, Radiant Resolution, LLC, for a variety of projects, and I highly recommend her services. Brittany also happens to be a horse girl, and my husband, Jaime Navarro’s, teammate for their hunter pace team – Go, Fight, Win (GFW)! Nina DuFour completes the trio. Nina contributed GoPro footage also and  fun commentary in the outtakes. I enjoy being their groom and participating in their adventures. I think you’ll see why!

[Read more…]

A Tribute to My Dog, Amos

I lost my dog, my kind, sweet soul, Amos, last month. It shook me how hard I took it. A wonderful mix of loving Labrador retriever and laid-back bloodhound, he was the perfect dog companion. Rescued from a situation where he had been chained outside, he found a better life and lived to the age of 15. I have so many fond memories of him. [Read more…]