Reflections……………….Social Circle


                                                                                    Gary Coker

 In the world of air travel I am known as a ‘white knuckler.’ Consequently, when flying, I try to busy myself either with conversation or reading. On a recent trip, while flying at an altitude of 28,000 feet, I was trying to find something to eliminate the woes of a turbulent ride. I had read all of the material located in the back of the seat when I opened my briefcase and found a copy of Southern Living. Although somewhat outdated it would take my mind off the plane ride. Thumbing through the magazine I was struck by the article “News from the Social Circular.” As I read the article outlining stores and events from the town of Social Circle, Georgia I immediately began having flash backs of yesteryear when I worked at Fred C. Hale’s grocery in Social Circle. A store where everyone was called by their first name preceded by Mr. or Miz. It was a culture where political correctness had not been discovered. Saturdays saw this small southern town packed with patrons waiting for the weekly drawing entitling the lucky winner with goods and merchandise from the local merchants. It wasn’t the shopping that created “street to street” people, but, rather, camaraderie of a community who enjoyed fellowship with each other. It was a community where these merchants closed early on Friday night to watch’ Social High’ play rival schools in basketball. It was a community that embraced fun, laughter, apple pie and God. It was truly a ‘social circle.’

Although time has separated me physically, I still become nostalgic and filled with emotions when I travel in my mind to those days. The stores are quiet now, there are no Saturdays filled with the voices of the people excited because they were among their friends or they had won the weekly drawing. The town sits in stark contrast to those earlier days.

As I embarked from the plane I’m sure the other passengers wondered why I was smiling after a rough plane ride. They did not know that I had been in the midst of ‘bobbie socks, “duck tails” the “Platters” and friends that I dearly loved. I had just walked down memory lane with enough memories to last a lifetime. O’ the joy of it all.

P. S. Tell Dorothy Parker Congratulations on her victory in our game of h-o-r-s-e.

Employment Vacancy…….Personnel Search

                                                                                             Gary Coker

The past several years I have had the opportunity to assist school systems throughout the United States with developing strategic plans and conducting executive searches for Superintendents and Heads of Schools.  Prior to this experience I had the privilege of serving as Chief Executive officer for  some of  the great schools in the southeast.

In my 40+ years serving and working in educational systems one of the tasks that establishes the success or failure of an organization is in the recruitment and placement of personnel.  A classroom must have a competent, knowledgeable, caring teacher.  The success of the students in that classroom is dependent upon the teacher.  The same is true of a school system.  The school must have a competent, knowledgeable, caring leader who strategically fulfills the mission of the organization.

Recently I have been requested to recommend a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a very large organization.  In the process of gathering data to understand fully the needs the new CEO will be required to address it was necessary to revisit their mission statement.

 Initially the organization had a fairly homogeneous population and was governed by a group of individuals elected by members of the community.  The founding fathers had made most of their decisions, laws and statutes around Judeo-Christian principles.  This premise is still very visible in most of the governing documents but in actuality does not function in the community at large.  The population has become very heterogeneous with pluralism and tolerance for the individual exceeding the good of the whole. In the market place competence has been sacrificed for equality.   It is evident a breach in the original intent has occurred.  It is within this environment a new leader must function. 

The major task for the new leader will be to continue following the transformation that has begun to occur in the organization’s foundation or return to the original intent of the Board of Directors.

After a lengthy search I have two candidates who are finalists for the position.  I need your help.  The following is the result of the initial interviews.   I will present the educational background, work experience, character synopsis, and selected references for each candidate.  You the reader will let me know your choice and why.  We will follow Federal guidelines in not discriminating due to Race, Ethnicity, or Gender.   No names will be given and each candidate will be referred to only as Candidate One (C1) or Candidate Two (C2).

Candidate One is a very friendly gentlemen with a warm and caring smile.  He is the type person you would want to take on a family outing,  fishing or playing golf.    He is energetic, articulate and personable. He is very likable.

Candidate Two comes across somewhat robotic.  He is friendly and speaks in a statesman like manner.  His presentation of self is positive, although somewhat stiff.  He has good command of the English language and readily meets and greets individuals in a caring manner. 

Candidate One is a graduate of one of the most prestigious universities in the nation.  He has an advanced degree in law, undergraduate degree unknown.  Grades and activities acquired and/or participated in during his time of enrollment were unavailable.  All personal material is sealed as a result of a Federal Court order.

Candidate Two is a graduate from two of the most prestigious Universities in the nation.  He graduated Cum Laude with stellar grades.  Double Major:  Business/Economics and Law.  Traveled to France after graduating with a Bachelors Degree and served as a missionary introducing Jesus Christ to local countrymen.  He speaks fluent French.

Candidate One:   His business and leadership positions are limited.  Experience has been in the organizing of groups for purposes of expanding the group’s self-worth.  He served briefly in the governing body for a state.  There were not any noteworthy accomplishments during his tenure and attendance at meetings was sporadic. Prior to his present placement he had no cooperate experience or leadership roles in business or work.  Most recently his efforts in business and work have been marked by failure.

Candidate Two:  He comes from a family of leaders both in business and public service.  He inherited a large amount of income from his father’s estate and contributed all of it to charity.  He is a self-made man and has outstanding business experience in leadership roles.  He is noted for assisting businesses that are on the brink of bankruptcy and bringing them back to solvency.  He was the CEO of a large cooperation for four years and his successes are numerous.  He provided leadership  to an international organization that was moving toward failure to recovery. This enormous task was done without compensation.

Candidate One:  The vacancy to be filled has moved from a faith-based platform to an open society.  Candidate One is a professing Christian although he did not participate in the National Day of Prayer to avoid ‘offending anyone’.  He joined with another non-Christian group for a day of prayer.  In the past year he has not regularly attended church of any denomination and can frequently be seen on the golf course on Sunday. His previous church, of 20 years, received national attention with its condemnation of the United States.

Candidate Two:  A devout Christian subscribing to the tenants of Jesus Christ and belonging to the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  He follows the Mormon religion with its restrictions of a life style that is not God honoring. He worships weekly in his local church.

Candidate One:   His references speak in glowing terms of his ability to articulate a vision for transformation and change.  There are neither work place references nor college references.  Persons of note include individuals who have had  experiences in pursuit of changing the ideals of America.  Several references have had legal difficulties for non-payment of taxes or rebellion against United States policies.

Candidate Two:   His references read like a Who’s Who in America. Terms like Outstanding Leader, insightful, servant, and hard worker pepper his letters of recommendation.  Personal references are above reproach.

The final interview will occur November 6.