glyph 219: writer, reporter, observer, blogger ... a kind of being there that makes a difference: walking the line, seeing with own eyes, listening to people directly involved ... Sam Walton, George S. Patton, David Hackworth ... military, U.S. Army ... iraq 2005, war, terrorism ... news ..... streaming audio here


Michael Yon : Online Magazine

observation, listening, reporting, writing, by a man who is there in a way that matters

'I did not come to Iraq with the intention of having someone tell me what the people on the "front lines" were thinking and feeling. I came to see with my own eyes.' —Michael Yon

Michael Yon is an independent, informed observer chronicling the monumentally important events in the efforts to stabilize Iraq. His dispatches have the benefit of his life experiences without drawbacks based on deadlines or demands of marketplace. The cost of these dispatches is borne solely by Michael. Readers who enjoy these dispatches and want to support Michael's mission in Iraq, can make a contribution using a PayPal link. —from Michael's website

'The successful bondage of man depends, at least in part, on equal measures of ignorance and intimidation. These are the twin towers of both tyranny and terrorism. Controlling access to information constrains the power of ideas, allowing a climate of confusion and fear to rise in the vacuum.' —Michael Yon, from posting of Monday, July 11, 2005, "The Books of Salah al Din", A Dispatch for Medical Professionals and others wishing to help Iraqi People.

This is great reporting —leif

Sunday, June 19, 2005
Walking the Line
The Big Picture


Sam was, by all accounts, a practical hands-on man whose grip had the grit of hard work. He started it all with little more than a barren field and some air in his pockets. Through hard work, he turned that into a store. Unfortunately, hard work alone wasn't enough to overcome beginner's fumbling, and Sam lost that business, but not his drive for success. So on the next go-round, in addition to hard work, he took the experience that he milled into business smarts, and opened another store, and the customers lined up.

Years later, Sam would attribute the turn-around to one principle: he listened. He asked customers what they needed, where they wanted it, and how they decided which store to get it from. He listened to what they told him, and built his store from their answers. Such a simple idea made his initial success seem more like a lucky play than a blueprint for an empire, but each new store he opened followed that same plan and each met with the same outcome. In a curious bit of irony, as his chain of stores lengthened, so did the distance between him and the people he liked to listen to, threatening to sever the connection that grounded his company. Sam knew he needed unfiltered information from the front lines to keep the road clear so that success could grow.

He also figured out one of the best ways to get true, unfiltered information about his own workers, and the competition, was to walk the line. Sam would hang out and drink coffee with the truckers who made the morning deliveries. Dressed like the working man he was at heart, people never knew he was their boss when he'd walk into one of his many stores and shop. He spent days talking with employees on the floor, searching for the hard-to-find items, chatting with the other customers up and down the aisles, trying the patience of the folks at the returns desk, and checking out at the registers he owned.

From a headquarters Arkansas, Sam Walton crushed the competition that at first dismissed him as a hillbilly tooling around in his pickup truck with his hunting dogs riding shotgun, lapping at the breeze. But Sam Walton had selective hearing. He knew who to hear, and who to ignore. With his deaf ear trained on his critics, he re-made most of the concepts about the retail business in America. He went from an oddity who was marginalized by the so-called "experts" in business, to the icon cited as the model in most graduate business schools. In all ways, Sam Walton was the corporate equivalent of a muddy-boots General, like George S. Patton.

Colonel David Hackworth, one of the most decorated—and controversial—military leaders in US history, offered nearly identical advice to military leaders. Hackworth said that to really know what's going on, you have to talk to the grunts. You have to walk the line.

I came to Iraq to walk the line. Modesty demands that I qualify this by saying I am not placing myself on a level of greatness of any of these men. I just happen to follow that same principle. Here in Iraq, where so many things are so very different from the way they are reported in the mainstream media, I am actively guided by the advice of these men every step of the way.

I did not come to Iraq with the intention of having someone tell me what the people on the "front lines" were thinking and feeling. I came to see with my own eyes.


Michael's book, Danger Close

Associated Press, Mitch Stacy, on Michael Yon, January 31, 2006

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