How do you communicate passion over practicality in the workplace?

Man holding a red woolen heart concept for valentine's day, busi

By Mark A. Leon

I grew up with an overwhelming amount of imagination. I was the youngest of four and for the most part my parents loved me, but didn’t feel like going through the motions of involving me. From a very young age, I have been on my own to discover the world. This most likely has contributed to my nomadic and creative persona.

For the last decade, I have been motivated by a world of possibility. Not quite in the Houdini manner, but I look at organizations and I see potential outside the walls of accepted practice.

A number of years ago, General Electric (GE) coined the term “boundaryless”. That term has stuck with me throughout my career.

In 2008, the idea of a corporate community page on Facebook was taboo. In 2009, creating LinkedIn groups focused on building a skill specific talent community was silly at best. In 2010, a career experience blog highlighting individual success stories and telling the cultural story one person at a time was shunned upon. “What is the value added?”, “How is this going to help us hire people?” – These were the questions posed by the senior leadership or the naysayers.

In 1998, we had a challenge: How do we support our growth in Engineering and Product Development as a result of a major decade funded government contract? The solution: Let’s show them what we got. The idea was formatted for an on-site career fair and expo.

Here was the pitch:

  1. We reach out to the professional sports teams, museums, theaters and radio stations asking for donations and participation.
  2. We do a picture collage of the last 80 years and focusing on the number of generational families that have worked here.
  3. We show off our state of the art 3D simulation studio.
  4. We have hiring managers on-site to answer questions and do same day interviews.
  5. We offer an inside look at the future of military design and development with plant tours.Impossible they said. You won’t get buy in from all the departments. We can’t interview people right off the street. This will be overwhelmingly expensive.At about $600 per attendee and 21 confirmed hires, this was a raging success. The answer was simple; we brought passion, culture and a very intimate personal touch to the candidate experience. If you drove by our facility, we looked like an old manufacturing plant gated in with no clue what was going on inside. Invite them in and they will come. They sure did. Almost 300 attendees on a Saturday morning.In the last 15 years, I have updated my resume once and have not seen the light of day of a job board. I am approached and on occasion I listen.The career choices I have made have been because of a few common trends.

    1. The recruiter provided me with an incredible candidate experience. Quick follow up, education on the role, deep interest in my background and love of their company.
    2. The hiring managers challenged me. They weren’t looking for a body with some technical or soft skills to fill a role. They were looking for individuals to partner and contribute to the growth and innovation of their teams.
    3. A set of values that were demonstrated in the words and actions of the team.

    I am very good at what I do and I know I have limitations. I work extremely well as an individual contributor, but thrive with a team that shares expertise and values support.

    We all have good and bad days, but the minute it becomes a regiment of mental clock in and clock out the passion dies and the wall come tumbling down.

    Do we need process? Absolutely
    Do we need checks and balances / QA? You bet
    Do we need mandatory training? Hmmmm, I suppose
    Do we need structured hierarchy? No always.

    What companies truly need is a human capital element that thinks and acts with emotion. The ability to care about your team, clients, supervisors, subordinates and cross functional groups is a gift. That gift will reverberate and send positive shivers down the spines of all you are in contact with.



    Start each day with positive electricity and energize those around you.


The Greatest Love Story – Original Poem

love1We’re gonna be the greatest love story this small town has ever seen

To the highest mountains we will climb
Tasting the soft wet crystals of snow on the capped tip overlooking the heavens
As you lay your body up to mine, the smell of your worn denim feels like home
Sun setting into the night sky; your face a bright ball of love

Right now, I ain’t scared of dying as long as I spend every breath with you

Down by the river up on the tree together
Hoping the strength of the branch will win the battle against gravity
Watching the bark drift with the current
Kids splashing away their worries
Clouds giving the sun a temporary bed

On the open road, your hair blowing in the wind
With the spirit of a thousand horses, you rejoice with grace
Scenes of Americana racing at 85 miles per hour
The most beautiful picture in my mind
Forever branded in technicolor

love2In a crowed bar
In a world with no rhyme
Blues and greens mixed with black and white
You picked me
In the briefest of insane clarity, your heart took hold of mine

You looked me in the eyes
Two strangers in a strange land
Without direction; without a home

You looked deep past the cloudy mist of uncertainty and said this simple phrase, “ours will be the greatest love story”.

Training without Discipline will not defeat the Dark Side

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.” – Yoda

Pain it temporary.  it is a nerve impulse pulsating throughout your body to hold you back.  It is a mental exercise in the derivative movement toward failure.  We so often choose to give up instead of finding a path to success.  We have the heart.  We have the focus.  We have the determination.  But the spirit to learn and nurture one’s self is the failed journey so many of us follow.

That lack of heart is so often found in the corporate world.  In conference rooms to classrooms to online, training is viewed as this necessary evil….

  • “It is required that I take this training”
  • “It is the only way I will get promoted”
  • “I have learned everything I need for this job.  Why do I have to do more training?”
  • “I know more than the trainers.”
  • “I am too busy and just don’t have the time.”
  • “I already went to college, why do I need to sit through more training?”

How many of you have found yourself saying one or more of these phrases in your career?  Don’t be shy.  I think even I rattled off a few from time to time.

Have you ever wondered, what differentiates a top performer from an average performer?


The thirst for knowledge and improvement.

That is the separation point.

A true leader and adventurer in the workforce has the following attributes:

  • A constant thirst for knowledge and learning
  • A heart to see things through to completion
  • A yearning to share and help others be better
  • A passion for something
  • A never give up attitude
  • A sense of discovery
  • A detective mentality.  Hunt for the answers

Is that you?  You don’t have to answer that right now.  Perhaps you are very satisfied with that pay check every two weeks.  It provides food, shelter and an annual family vacation.  Throw in Netflix, college football and a few BBQ’s and you have a full life.  There is nothing wrong with that life path.  I commend you.

From the Edison’s to the Ford’s to the Job’s:  This planet was built by leaders who believed that failure was not an option and that training and education were the key to everything.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Flying Machine invention was published in 1499, 404 years before the Wright Brothers launched from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  Between six generations, we never stopped learning and finding out how truth and application could become one.

As you make a passage through history, a common theme you will see among the great men and women who have etched a place for all eternity, is the thirst to learn.  Their constant pursuit of perfection through training and education were the foundation of their many successes.

As you look around the office and identify those that are true explorers of knowledge, learn from them.

Here is your homework:

  • Find out what your personal passions are.  Dig deep and truly understand what energizes you.
  • Seek perfection.  Never settle for what you know.  Find training that will keep you focused and driven.
  • Pursue your goals one step at a time.
  • Challenge yourself to want to know more.
  • Never stop growing as a person, a professional and a student of life.

Go Gently – Original Poem

Go gently
Go gently my friend
Into that place beyond possibility

Be passionate with the hope of a better now; suspended from any expectation
Be strong with the might of a force spanning galaxies

A fiery will; a breath-taking view; an eternal feel of uncertainty

Be gentle with a heart that beats with each new life
Be assured a continuation of this passage of love
A gatekeeper to a future with no beginning; unknown end

You hold a box filled with a million points of light
All shining upon you
Blinding to soothe us into another dimension

Let go of your sight; for you will finally see
Forgo tomorrow for this will not end

Go gently into the darkness
Let yourself be pulled without fear

We are born to light
We rest in a bed of radiant heat

Release all expectations
All grants are a privilege to the selfish

You are the gift within yourself

Go gently
Guide this force without hesitation; without fear; without understanding

It is love
Love is truth

It will find you
Guide you
Hold you safe

Feel the grains of sand coat your mortal skin

I Promise You This – Original Poem

I hope that you will understand
This is not a one night stand
When I reached to take your hand, I meant to promise you this life I have planned

Please forgive me for I have sinned
I rushed you into my arms without the honor of chivalry
A knight less humbled by the lustful passion silhouetted by the candlelight
The vision of you forever pinned

With my words I swept you away to a place where poetry and motion left us breathless
With one final gasp I heard your calls
A cry for help and happiness and so much more

You lay beside me dreaming a lifetime away flying together on a magical journey high in the sky
The sun is our enemy
Hard, raw and judging

Judge thee not
Our sins are prayers for the future
I promise you this

I will return
I will remain

In time, you will see
In passing, we will grow
Fondness in a kiss

Patience in the passing season


I promise you this
This is not a one night stand

I echo again these words
I promise you this
This is not what I had planned