A Personal Note From Michael

It’s been an interesting and challenging couple of weeks with three major events taking place in my life:

1) I just returned from a 4-day trip to Hawaii. I was there to address the 4-H Western Regional Leadership Forum – about 300 staff, volunteer and student leaders of one of the oldest youth programs in the nation. 4-H has been a partner of CHARACTER COUNTS! from the beginning (1992) and my goal was to re-energize the partnership and introduce them to CHARACTER COUNTS! 4.0 and some dramatically new strategies to increase impact, sustainability and measurability. I think my remarks were well received and we will find new opportunities to reach more kids and families.

Even more important to me was an opportunity to spend quality time with my 14-year-old daughter Mataya (the youngest of my five kids) who agreed to accompany me. We had serious focused time, including a brutal hike to the base of a waterfall, parasailing (she flew, I watched) and snorkeling (a first for both of us). I am more convinced than ever that quality time is usually found in hidden places during quantity time and I am very grateful for the opportunity to stay connected with a young woman in the midst of the enormous personal changes inherent in adolescence.

2) I participated in two 3-day school/teacher trainings at newly designated “Regional Instructional Centers.” We chose both a secondary school (Warren High School) and an elementary school (Price Elementary) in Downey, California (near Los Angeles) because of their extraordinarily successful district-wide implementation of CHARACTER COUNTS!. I compared the difference in our original version of CHARACTER COUNTS! in 1992 to the original version of Windows compared to our current version and Windows 8 and my large 1990s Motorola cell phone to the iPhone 5 because we have so dramatically expanded our capacity to improve the ethical quality of society. I was very pleased at the enthusiastic reception to our efforts to create an integrated, values-based student development system that addresses academic and social-emotional values and skills and the creation of a positive and safe learning climate as well as the development of the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship). I think our new strategy is a game changer.

3) I conducted a one day workshop for about 35 Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs at the Institute. The meeting was an invitation-only conference hosted by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) so that the heads of various California policing agencies could learn about and react to strategies for creating an exemplary policing organization. These strategies are the core of a book I have been commissioned to write (with the aid of a highly qualified editorial committee) by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which will expand on two books I wrote for POST in 2006 concerning the creation of an Exemplary Peace Officer. I introduced and we discussed my proposal of Eight Core Principles of Exemplary Policing Organizations.

For those who have a preconception of what police chiefs and sheriffs may be like, I want to tell you they are for the most part very much like CEOs of major organizations. The ones I have worked with are well-trained in executive and managerial concepts and totally dedicated to public service. This group was especially eager to participate in the process of defining an exemplary policing agency and provided  valuable feedback that will be incorporated into the book.

Next up: we’ve just scheduled visits to Bogota, Colombia, and to Trinidad and Tobago, where I will be meeting with the Minister of Education and others to discuss an island-wide program similar to the Tus Valores Cuentan program we have in Puerto Rico. The travel sounds much more exotic and fun than it usually is, but the growing international interest in our work is very gratifying.

Best and warmest,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.