Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

What Tiger Failed to Learn from The King

Please don’t take this post as hitting Tiger while he’s down. That’s not my intent. I’ve been meaning to write these thoughts for a while now, ever since Arnold Palmer passed away in September last year.

Your first thought might be, ‘what leadership lesson can I learn from a professional athlete who plays a solitary sport?’ That’s a valid question. I believe that Arnold Palmer would’ve been a great boss to work for had he been a titan of corporate America rather than golf royalty.

Arnold Palmer possessed the most important leadership characteristic of all – authenticity.

It is said that what endeared Palmer to the throngs of fans was the fact that he didn’t care if you were the President or a busboy at the country club, he treated everyone the same – with great respect and humility. Likewise, he acted the same as well. He came from a humble upbringing, and even though he earned 62 victories on the PGA Tour (5th all time), and was nicknamed, “The King,” he never acted like royalty. In old school terminology, he was a regular guy. He never tried to fake who he was.

In December, Golf Magazine published a special edition in tribute to Palmer. I’ve read the issue, cover to cover, twice. Arnold’s leadership lesson was tucked into the very first article in the issue, and it jumped out at me.

Writer Alan Shipnuck detailed how, in the fall of 1997, he and a number of fellow golf writers were asked to attend a summit arranged by the sports management company, IMG. Palmer and Woods both were represented by the agency, but Palmer put IMG on the map. The meeting was an effort by IMG to portray Woods in a more welcoming light…the agency wanted the best player in golf to be loved as much as the former superstar. But Tiger didn’t get it.

Palmer would shake your hand if you stuck it out while he was walking down the fairway to hit his next shot…Woods would ignore you, like you weren’t even there. Palmer spent thousands of dollars of his own money on postage, every year, autographing memorabilia that fans sent to him and sending it back. Tiger thought autograph seekers were an intrusion. Palmer could often be found in the garage of his modest home in Latrobe, PA. tinkering with a golf club and having a couple of adult beverages with colleagues or neighbors. Tiger lives in a gated community surrounded by high fences that no one can see in to.

Was Arnold right and Tiger wrong? Not necessarily. Arnold was nicknamed The King, but he never acted like royalty. He treated fans and groundskeepers as if he treasured them, and he did. He didn’t seek fame and fortune, but it found him because of how he treated others and because of how he behaved.

Tiger wanted the fame, the fortune and to be adored by the fans, but he never wanted to, and never did, give anything of himself to the fans to earn that admiration. In one of the IMG sessions between Palmer and Woods, the writer, Shipnuck, wrote that Tiger said, “I don’t understand why everyone has to know everything about me.”

We don’t. We just needed to know who he really is.



Posted by on June 29th, 2017 No Comments

What Leadership Lessons Can We Learn from the Big Dance?

Whether you’re a CEO, a director at a non-profit, a nurse manager or the pastor of your parish, there were three important leadership elements to be learned from the NCAA Basketball tournaments.

The first revelation is that there are a variety of leadership styles. Some work and some don’t. When I was a kid, the public thought there were three very specific leadership styles, and no one knew there were others. You either were a military leader (a former general or major who’d come home from the war); you were a captain of industry; or you were a successful sports coach (Knute Rockne or Vince Lombardi).

If you watched the Big Dance and looked at more than the bouncing ball, you would’ve seen coaches who are yellers, coaches who are Jimmy Buffet, coaches who are micro-managers, coaches who are preachers and coaches who are teachers.

Leadership style is critical because it impacts how the people on your team function. I use ‘team’ in a global sense, not specific to athletics. The way you behave rubs off on the people around you. If you panic all the time, cry ‘the sky is falling’ every time you face adversity, and generally behave like your hair is on fire 24/7, that’s how the members of your team will act.

If you face adversity with calm, poise, empathy and thoughtfulness, that’s how your players will respond in the same scenarios. How do you want your team to behave?

The second element that came out of the tournament is that, as the manager of an enterprise, large or small, you need to be aware of the impact that individuals outside of your enterprise have on your endeavor. What do I mean by that?

When you watch basketball coaches, or any athletic coach, watch how they interact with the officials who administer the game their team is competing in. How do they interact with the media? How do they interact with the fans? If a coach chooses to berate the officials at every bad call, eventually that’s going to have a negative impact on his team. Officials are human. If a coach acts like a jerk when a television reporter is trying to interview him/her as they are going into the locker room at halftime, that reflects poorly on the program and on the university. It might influence a potential donor to the institution. (BTW, as a former college athlete, a coach and a journalist, I think the stupidest thing television tries to do is to interview a coach in the heat of battle, and in the middle of the contest). Instead of verbally assaulting a referee after a questionable call, how might it impact that coach’s team if he, instead, calmly talked to the official during a free throw or a television timeout when no one else notices?

Finally, and maybe most important, how do you treat the people on your team…the people who work for you, the people who manufacture your product, the people who administer your programs and services? I see too many coaches (and bosses in every other enterprise) who do not understand this simple principal: your leadership style does not work for everyone on your team. Every employee on your staff, every player on your team, every student in your classroom will not respond to your leadership style in the same manner. We know, from science, that everyone has different ways that they learn information, they have a different way that they respond to criticism AND to praise. It’s the responsibility of the leader to figure out how his co-workers, his players, his sales staff, etc. respond to those different stimuli. Does that mean that the leader has to be a chameleon in order to satisfy everyone? No, that violates what I believe is the most important characteristic of effective leadership (Authenticity). But the leader must figure out how best to motivate, criticize and praise the members of his team in order to earn their best performance.



Posted by on April 6th, 2017 No Comments

Why I Don’t Post Political Thoughts on Social Media

My wife awoke at 5:30 this morning to the news she had been dreading for at least a month. Our former neighbor passed away last night. Now, to some, that might not be a big deal. That’s understandable. But there’s a lot more to the story.
When we moved to York in 1994, we didn’t know anyone, and there was a lady living next door to us, and she was alone, except for the many dogs she rescued over our years there. She loved her dogs. She was in her 60’s, but she was feisty, funny, and, my parents generation would’ve said – high-spirited.
Because my wife is who she is, we started watching out for Florine. She had no family in the area, and a small friend group – one of the dilemmas of getting older – you start losing your peers. If Florine didn’t have a place to go for a holiday meal, Diane would invite her to our house. If Florine looked lonely, Diane would invite her to the kid’s play at school or something similar.
I’m still not sure if we adopted Florine, or if Florine adopted us.
Fourteen years ago we moved about 1.5 miles from Florine because we outgrew the little house we had lived in for 8 years. But Diane stayed in touch with Florine.
About four years ago, Florine, now in her 80s, had to sell her home and move into an assisted living facility. She just couldn’t take care of her home and her dogs and herself on her own anymore. Diane continued to visit when her schedule permitted.
About two years ago, just before Altzheimer’s struck, Florine and Diane figured out that Florine’s friend, who was her power of attorney, was taking her money.
Florine asked Diane if Diane would be her power of attorney.
So for the past two years, Diane has been figuring out medical bills, insurance company hassles, monitoring bank accounts and paying an occasional bill for Florine. For a woman who works at least 50 hours a week, is an awesome Mom to our three daughters and just last year completed her Master’s degree, she really didn’t have the time.
When Florine asked Diane to be her power of attorney, Diane never asked Florine which church she attended, what political party she was affiliated with, if she believed in global warming or in making America great again. She never asked Florine what was in it for her. What was she going to get out of it.
She just did it…partly because she’s an extraordinary person, partly because that’s how she was raised, and partly, quite simply, because that’s what we’re supposed to do.
So, to me, if all of us in this country can’t do what Diane did…be a better spouse, be a better parent, a better neighbor, a better co-worker, it really doesn’t matter who is sitting in the Oval Office in late January.

Posted by on October 31st, 2016 No Comments

Smart As A Box of Hammers

I’ve been blessed with three daughters, and not once in 18 years have I wished that I had a son. Well, maybe when I’m cleaning out the garage and I could use some help moving a ridiculously heavy item. Of course, with my middle daughter weight training four days a week in preparation for the upcoming basketball season, that’s become less of an issue.
The only unfortunate aspect of my three girls is that they’re all in the teenage years. Which means I’m about as smart as a box of hammers.
They’ve had in incredible impact on my life, mostly positive ways. One of their more significant contributions has been their influence on my writing. My just-released non-fiction book, Final Four Leadership, is inspired by my oldest daughter’s foray into the college search process. My audio book in 2004 was likewise motivated by my girls.
Final Four Leadership profiles eight of the most successful female leaders in our country, and it also uncovers five universal secrets they share in successful leadership.
This space will primarily be devoted to leadership and to father/daughter issues. Occasionally I might rant about my Steelers or Phillies, but I promise to keep those to a minimum.
Welcome aboard. My friends with older daughters tell me once my three girls get further away from their teenage years, I’ll begin to reclaim my lost intelligence. So I’ve got that going for me.
P.S. As a bonus, just in time for the Holiday season, we’ve also decided to release my first work of fiction. I Can’t Remember Christmas is being offered at a crazy low introductory price because we want to share an awesome story with you all. Enjoy.

Posted by on September 24th, 2009 No Comments

Dear Daughter, I Forgot Some Things

An audio book by David F. Salter

Your daughter’s just turned 13 and, in her eyes, you’ve become as smart as a box of hammers.
Talking to your teenage daughter can raise more emotions than helping your wife select draperies for the guest bathroom. But it’s got to be done.

A recent study shows nearly half of teenagers have had intercourse before age 18. An estimated 10 million girls and women in America suffer from an eating disorder.

In a series of letters to his teenage daughter, Salter discusses a number of critical thoughts that fathers need to share with their teenage girls.

This is not a ‘how-to’ primer from a child psychologist. It’s a candid conversation from a regular Dad who wakes up every morning with three girls fighting for the bathroom, the hair dryer and the “good” hairbrush.

Posted by on August 15th, 2009 No Comments

Dave’s new book

I have a new book coming out in September! Stay tuned for details…

Posted by on August 13th, 2009 No Comments