Paths To Spectacular Success
Looking at examples of spectacular successes from around the world, it is possible to see a wide variety of paths to spectacular success. Choose the path or combination of paths that is most likely to take you to spectacular success.
Once you have chosen a path, use the resources for that particular spectacular success to understand how to take similar steps along that path in your life, your group, and/or your organization.
More paths will be added as Paula Kramer identifies them.
Notice that many of these paths begin with
identifying and satisfying
the needs of ordinary people.
The world’s largest media trivia contest is hosted by the radio station at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Approximately 12,000 people on more than 400 teams participate every year. Teams answer 430 questions over 54 straight hours.
Providing residents with a yearly community homecoming to renew their relationships with each other and with their community while having fun with thousands of other people
Trivial Pictures (No kidding!)
Trivia about Trivia
The number of people and the number of teams playing Trivia depends on when Trivia takes place each April. If Trivia takes place before April 15th, accountants and tax preparers have to work on tax returns for other people instead of playing Trivia for themselves. If Trivia takes place after April 15th, accountants and tax preparers can organize teams and join teams and play to their hearts’ content.
The Oz, otherwise known as Jim Oliva
Garden club ladies, homemakers, retired people, university students, university professors, university scientists, hunters, fishers, bird-watchers, newspaper reporters, newspaper columnists, traditional conservationists, and environmental activists “saw something out of place in the land community and its web of life” and decided that the pesticide DDT needed to be banned. They had no money but they did have guts and tenacity. In 1968 they asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources “for a declaratory hearing on whether DDT was a water pollutant under Wisconsin water quality standards”.
To make the hearing successful, this diverse group created an orderly plan for volunteers to provide lodging, transportation, hearing room assistance, bibliographic searches, transcription, publicity, and information to the people testifying against DDT. A Wisconsin law banning DDT went into effect in January 1970. In part because of the attention the Wisconsin hearing brought to the harmful effects of DDT, a U.S. ban on DDT was announced in June 1972.
Ordinary citizens using their knowledge, experience, and passion to bring information about an environmental disaster to public attention through “the trial of mankind”.
Banning DDT: How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin Led the Way
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
© State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2014
Quotes on page xiii, 157, and 167
In the human body, DDT breaks down into the fat-soluble chemical compound DDE. Scientists in Britain have found that people with Alzheimer’s disease have four times more DDE in their bloodstreams than people who do not have Alzheimer’s disease. Britain banned DDT in 1986.
“Banned pesticide DDT may raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease”
January 28, 2014
Barack Obama’s First Presidential Campaign
Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign encouraged young people to take part in making history by helping to elect him the first black president of the United Sates.
Giving ordinary people the information and tools necessary to speak their own words and take their own actions for making history as part of a national community that they help build
By the People: The Election of Barack Obama
Citi Productions, Class 5 Films, Green Film Company, Reason Pictures
Ceasefire Campaign, Chicago Center for Violence Prevention
Viewing violence as an infectious disease, epidemiologist Dr. Gary Slutkin started the CeaseFire campaign in Chicago to interrupt the behavior that infected neighborhoods with violence and to change the social norms that made violence acceptable. Outreach workers, faith leaders, and other community leaders go out onto the streets to intervene in conflicts or potential conflicts and suggest alternatives to violence.
Using multiple messengers to speak the same message to people who need to see new possibilities and learn new skills
CEOs of the Inc. 500
The U.S. military, big corporations, and Olympic athletic squads administer the Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) for helping high performers improve their competitive edge. TAIS assesses which form of persuasion people use in communication — ideas, criticism, or support. In 2005, Keith McFarland administered TAIS to 250 former and current CEOs of Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. The CEOs scored higher than 82% of the population in communicating support and encouragement to persuade others, including employees, partners, investors, and suppliers.
Supporting and encouraging other people by helping them succeed
“The Psychology of Success”
November 2005, pages 158-159
Children’s Holocaust Memorial
Eighth graders in Whitwell, Tennessee decided to collect six million paper clips so they could understand intolerance and the loss of Jewish lives during the Holocaust. These school children ended up with thirty million paper clips donated from all over the world. The children used the paper clips to create a museum and two memorials to all eleven million Holocaust victims. One memorial is a resting place meant to give Holocaust victims the respect and protection they did not receive during their lives. The students went on to design educational projects about intolerance for other school children around the country.
Giving people around the world a simple way to recognize the harm of intolerance by honoring the feelings of people who lost loved ones and cherishing the souls of Holocaust victims
Documentary by Miramax Films
Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial
Book by Peter W. Schroeder/Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand
D. Michael Abrashoff, Former Commander
Under the command of Michael Abrashoff, the 1998 crew of navy cruise missile destroyer USS Benfold achieved the highest rating ever in the Pacific Fleet for the Combat Systems Readiness Review. Benfold was the worst-performing ship in the fleet when Abrashoff took command. Abrashoff’s Benfold crew also developed several processes that the entire Navy adopted.
Freeing the crew to fulfill their talents, giving them support as needed, and recognizing their accomplishments
It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
The low-budget movie without big stars made through a new studio earned more than $300 million worldwide and won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy. It was the first movie to sell more than 1 million copies on home video.
Encouraging participation and improvisation to blend individual experience into an emotionally satisfying event
The E! True Hollywood Story
First aired September 3, 2000
“Dirty Dancing Time of Their Lives!”
May 28, 2007
Habitat for Humanity
As of 2017, Habitat “has helped more than 13.2 million people obtain a safer place to sleep at night.” Habitat has two paths that intertwine.
The first path satisfies the passions of the people who volunteer.
Giving individuals with similar passions a place and time to work together
to transform lives
The second path satisfies the needs of low income people.
Creating positive identities for people with negative identities through community recognition and support
Together, these satisfied needs and passions create spectacular success.
More Than Houses:
How Habitat for Humanity is Transforming Lives and Neighborhoods
Mars Pathfinder Microrover
The team that built the Mars rover Sojourner Truth brought it in on time and under budget, developing several new processes and devices along the way.
Shaping a horizontal management structure within a system of nested circles
A Practical Guide to Inventing, Developing and Producing Innovative Products
Ebook available from managingcreativity.com
Donna Shirley was Manager of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Exploration Program
The expert on domestic arts, Stewart returned to prominence after the disgrace of her trial, conviction, and imprisonment for lying and obstruction of justice.
Providing the knowledge, experience, skills, resources, and connections that enable people to become experts in a particular area of their own lives
The Martha Stewart Show
Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)
The MREA hosts the most successful and longest running renewable energy fair in the world.
The MREA has left its path to spectacular success. This is what a long time volunteer said about recent and current staff:
“It really bugs me that some people puff out their chests, stick their noses in the air,
and treat you like you are pond scum.”
Read the letter Paula Kramer wrote to sponsors of the MREA’s 2018 energy fair about the pond scum treatment that included abuse of a senior citizen volunteer.
One of the sponsors contacted the MREA, asking them to address my concerns with me directly. When no one at the MREA contacted me after two weeks, I let the sponsor know that they were still treating me like pond scum. He again contacted the MREA, asking them to contact me directly. Since the MREA refuses to see me as anything but pond scum, no one ever contacted me.
2019 Update From Paula Kramer
I include this because I refuse to be a bystander to hypocrisy just as I refuse to be a bystander to bullying. racism, ageism, sexism, etc. I attended a Sunday workshop called “Communicating from the Heart”. The workshop description mentioned the non-violent communication principles of Marshall Rosenberg.
I had a different perspective from the presenter, but she refused to let me say anything
during the workshop. She insisted that what she told us about communication would
work in most situations. I asked if I could talk to her after the workshop. She said yes.
The workshop started at 1:00. Workshop times were one hour. At 1:56 when the presenter
was still going strong, I left. I wrote her a letter with my perspective. The letter came back
to my mail box refused. The presenter was rude and arrogant. There was no heart in her
behavior and communication toward me.
I sent an email to the MREA about the incident. I received no response.
About two weeks later, I mailed a letter to the MREA about the incident. I received
The workshop presenter proved what I wrote in this free download:
The presenter slammed her door to both of my attempts to communicate from my heart.
The presenter refused to walk her talk.
MREA staffers followed the example of the presenter in slamming their doors to me.
I also heard complaints from other people.
My volunteer friend did volunteer again, but she did so because a former volunteer
staffer came back to the MREA. She communicated with that staffer directly.
She was not scheduled for 24+ hours over the weekend, but she did not receive her
schedule in the mail ahead of time. She talked about high staff turnover and how
how difficult communicating was because of high staff turnover.
In the “Communicating from the Heart” workshop, a man sat next to me until he
realized he was in the wrong workshop. He had enough time to express his
disappointment about workshops being scheduled, but not happening.
Several of the presenters talked about technology problems that prevented them
from using computers during their workshops.
The current MREA staffers are behaving badly and performing poorly. Keeping their noses in the area limits their ability to see what is happening right in front of their noses. If the MREA ever schedules the “Communicating from the Heart” presenter for another fair, I will tell as many people as possible about her rude arrogance. I will also tell how the MREA staffers ignored my concerns twice.
Giving individuals with similar passions a place and time to work together towards a common goal in ways that create both individual rewards and positive change in the world
The Energy Fair:
Getting Our Energy from the Sun for 20 Years
Midwest Renewable Energy Association, 2010
Renewing Energies: The Ingredients for Spectacular Success
Documentary on DVD, 2007
Paula M. Kramer
(The Energy Fair book includes quotes from the Renewing Energies documentary, but lists the full name of the documentary incorrectly.)
Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life
A model for pro-life action, the MCCL helped make abortion services mostly unavailable and increasingly limited restricted.
Encouraging individual supporters of a shared cause to speak their own words and take their own actions so that small successes for the individuals can add up to substantial successes for the cause
In-House Rhetoric of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Special Interest Groups in Minnesota: Motivation and Alienation
Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1982
Marsha Vanderford Doyle, Ph.D.
(Paula Kramer read this dissertation for a grad school seminar and has never been able to find the same kind of detailed information about MCCL anywhere else.)
The Posse Foundation identifies talented but underprivileged high school students, prepares them for college with an eight month training program, and helps them find scholarships. The percentage of posse members graduating college is about 90% while the national graduation rate is closer to 50%.
Forming posses of people who work individually towards the same goal while providing constant support to each other
The first noncommunist trade union in a communist country, Polish Solidarity survived martial law in 1981 and several years of repression. The trade union finally forced the government into negotiations that led to semi-free elections in 1989. Solidarity inspired people living in Eastern Bloc countries to create the peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe that helped bring the Soviet Union to an end in the early 1990s.
Recognizing common needs so that individuals from every status and profession in society can work together to create revolutions of identity and of the soul
The Polish Revolution: Solidarity
Timothy Garton Ash, pages 68 and 278
“Poland: Solidarity — The Trade Union That Changed The World”
Radio Free Europe
In January 2018, Southwest posted a profit for the 45th consecutive year. Southwest even posted a profit during the decline of airlines following 9/11. Southwest has more union employees (85%) than any other airline, which means that Southwest executives know how to work with and satisfy their employees. Because their needs are satisfied, Southwest employees focus on working with and satisfying Southwest customers.
Hiring people who work well with other people and are willing to consider the
consequences of their own actions on other people
Lessons in Loyalty: How Southwest Airlines Does It–an Insider’s View
“Southwest Airlines Flies to the Top of the 2019 Workforce 100”
May 12, 2019
The Southwest Airlines Way:
Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance
Jody Hoffer Gittell
“Southwest Airlines marks 45th consecutive year of profitability”
Center For Aviation
January 25, 2018
Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world. Its employee benefitshave frequently put Starbucks on lists of best companiesto work for. Its reputation has put Starbucks on the World’s Most Admired Companies list.
Building a people company of happy employees who serve coffee with the purpose of making customers feel at home in a third place gathering spot between work and home
In 1903, Dr. Ralph C. Smedley was director of education at the YMCA in Bloomington, Illinois. He noticed that the young men who came to the YMCA needed training in communication, public speaking, and leadership. Smedley decided to create a club to provide that training. The name “Toastmasters” came from Bloomington YMCA general secretary George Sutton.
In 1924 at the Santa Ana, California YMCA, Smedley started the club that became the first permanent Toastmasters club. Smedley’s club created such success for Santa Ana’s young men that people in other communities, states, and countries wanted to participate. As of June 2018, men and women of all ages are learning life changing skills in 16,400 Toastmasters clubs with more than 352,000 members representing 141 countries.
Creating a do-it-yourself activity dedicated to individual self-discovery that is nurtured by a group of equals who follow simple, planned activities in a pleasant and social atmosphere
“My Turn: Reflecting on Ralph Smedley’s Words”
Watt Pye, DTM
October, 2009, page 5.
Toyota is the world’s most profitable producer of automobiles. After taking a serious hit from the 2011 tsunami, it again reclaimed its position selling more cars than any other company.
Relying on the problem solving skills of every employee, no matter what their job level in the company
Matthew E. May is a Senior Advisor to the University of Toyota
Toyota is an example of a spectacular success that sours. The souring began when Toyota shifted its focus from quality to quantity. Souring can be slight or severe. Spectacular successes can recover from souring, as Toyota seems to have done.
Between 1810 and 1850 in the United States, Underground Railroad “conductors” (free-born blacks, white abolitionists, former slaves, Native Americans, churches, and religious groups) helped 30,000 to 100,000 slaves escape from the South to the North.
Forming a loose network of independent individuals and groups sharing a common belief and working towards a common goal
Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America
Fergus M. Bordewich
© Paula M. Kramer, 2008
All rights reserved.
Last updated October 19, 2019