Sunday, May 25, 2008

How to Be A Leader...

Alright, this post is really not about leadership... it is about my recent termination from The Community College Foundation as director of sales and marketing for TechEd, the Technology in Education International Conference & Exposition.

I think the leadership part comes from the central reason I was terminated... the new President of the Foundation, Rick Fowler, felt he could not control me, therefore I was not an effective member of his team.

Now, to be fair... I agree. If an employer says X, but I know the correct action to be Y... I am not going to do X. That's is simply stupid.

Many employers would disagree. I know. I've been one. Of course, in my case, I surrounded myself with people whose skill level was such that I would defer to their thoughts and expertise unless I was absolutely sure of my desired direction - based on my years of experience with the subject.

Mr. Fowler, on the other hand, has ZERO experience in the event, conference & entertainment industry. He comes from a background of military discipline having retired from the Air Force as a Colonel in charge of logistics and air cargo. After retiring he joined the organization where many retired military that have no immediate civilian skills end up... USAA.

From there he was recruited to lead a failing Community College Foundation... a little background here... The Community College Foundation was a thriving organization in December 2005 when I joined. Through 2006 things were going well, until the right hand of the original president, David Springett, left to follow her husband to DC. Then various factions in the Foundation decided to organize a coup to dethrone Dr Springett. The coup failed but not without long-term damage to the Foundation. The leader of the coup left, David was asked by the board to focus on an incredible project called ePassport (electronic vital record-keeping for foster youth), and an COO was brought in to run day-to-day operations... Dr. Lloyd Messersmith. As a contractor Lloyd was getting paid an enormous amount of money to keep the Foundation going strong.

But, under his "leadership" the Foundation lost a multi-million dollar contract with the County of Los Angeles... essentially crippling the Foundation. Why was the contract lost? Because Dr Messersmith didn't know a damned thing about the proper way to conduct a group or to develop proposals... he left it in the hands of someone in charge of that contract and she had her eyes set on joining a new group... the one that won the contract. The bottom line... her proposal sucked and Dr. Messersmith let it go through.

Through 2007 the only mission of the Foundation was to stay alive. Dr Springett resigned, the Board of Directors sold the building David Springett worked so hard to acquire, they closed the ePassport program, the only one of its kind with huge upsides to it, blamed David for mismanagement... and the list goes on and on. All Lloyd did during his tenure was take a paycheck and keep saying "I am truly working the hardest I ever have to keep the Foundation alive".

In the meantime, TechEd, a division of the Foundation, was thriving, having increased attendance each year and increased revenue from both attendance and exhibit hall sales. Both of which I managed.

We had only a skeletal team... my boss, William Neece, director of operations Maureen Julian, an incredible sales associate Jill Noordzij and me - later Adrian Rutherford joined us in the sales dept.

My average day? No less that 10 hours. Even if I came in as late as 8:30, I would easily be there until 6:30. As we got through 2007 William resigned in a beautifully orchestrated move right after a quarterly Board meeting. Lloyd made Maureen the department head because he disliked William and I reminded him too much of William.

Of course, Maureen, while a great individual and a good administrator is not a Conference Director... though she is getting better.

Okay, this long and drawn out blog was supposed to be about Rick Fowler.

Rick has a reputation in Sacramento Circles as a bit of a hot-head and a political wannabe. He once told me that while his values align more with Tom McClintock, he is supporting Doug Ose because he thinks he can win (4th Congressional district race to replace the retiring John Doolittle)

In that one statement he told me everything I needed to know about him and his LACK of values.

But why did I get fired? We held TechEd 2008, our 13th Annual in Ontario, So Cal, on April 13 - 16. During that time, Rick's first, no less than three times did Rick counter a decision I made and do so publicly. Not just coming over to me and saying... "hey, I know you want to do X, but I really would like to do Y".

No, he yelled across a room in one case... embarrassing members of our planning committee who had agreed with the decision... in another, he derided me in front of a sponsor... embarrassing the sponsor to the point that the sponsor apologized to me.

What were these decisions? Life threatening choices? Make or break moments? NO. In the latter case, Mr. Fowler wanted to have a meeting at 6:45 instead of 7:30 as scheduled on our master plan. Walking by me he said... it looks like things are ending early lets do our debrief now... my response? Not Yet. To which he stopped, came back and insisted that we do it now. After telling him I had other things to do before the meeting, he told me to follow him NOW! (this was in front of the sponsor).

Needless to say, I did not follow him. I continued with my duties and we had the normal meeting at 7:30 that evening.

Of course, the consequence was that Rick with the help of a highly ineffective HR director Tara Martinez, built a case to fire me... and I was terminated on May 5, upon my return from two weeks of Navy Reserve Annual Training. Maureen, my direct boss, was strangely absent from my termination meeting.

So, is this how you lead? Probably not. Am I a model employee? Definitely not. In my meeting with Rick he cited his inability to control me as part of the reason... I replied with "yes, if you want to control me and micromanage, then NO I am not going to be an effective member of your team."

Of course... as one final note... I am the ONLY member of the Foundation that kept graphs of EVERY product I produced since day one - graphs that they would not return to me. I am therefore the ONLY member of the Foundation that can prove consistently that I increased my product each year directly and facilitating my team of exhibit sales to bring in the rest of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from TechEd.

I wish everyone at the Foundation the best and hope TechEd continues to provide incredible opportunities for educators everywhere to learn the latest in Technology in Education.

OKAY... I've ranted enough on this one.... whew!

Using QuickPlanner to Plan our Trip...

Okay, I admit that I should have done this earlier... but I am going to plan the next thirty days before my one month hike of the Pacific Crest Trail ( using QuickPlanner Plus (

While this trip with my father has been over two years in the planning, this last month is the most critical.

QuickPlanner Plus came out of simplified strategic planning for my various business activities and my need for comprehensive marketing plans for my day job with The Community College Foundation (not there anymore... see for my rant on that one).

I've used it successfully in planning the West Coast Brew Fest, the Northern California Blues Festival, Suds on the Green and the Fair Oaks'toberfest. I've used it to develop business plans, software launch plans, teaching plans, even weekend fun plans.

But now, with only a month before my father and I start on our trip at Mt McKinley and hike 300 miles to Echo Lake, I am going to maximize my planning process by using QPP to develop the step by step guide I need to get it all done - while also planning the Northern California Blues Festival June 21 & 22 (

This afternoon, I am going for a nice bike ride and some tennis playing with my girlfriend, then I will come back and do the plan.

I will post the plan in the user's forum at, which for a limited time is free to all... take a look at let me know what you think.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Personal Beacon Locater

One other piece of equipment I am considering is the SPOT Personal Locater, read about it here...
Since I am adamant about not bringing technology on this trip... meaning no cell phones or computers, I think this will provide the assurance our families need that there are no problems.
It has several functions including a 911 beacon, SPOT Tracker in real time, and check in function which allows us to send a pre determined communication letting them know where we are on Google Maps.
It will be about $140 for the unit, plus $99 for the one year subscription, and $7.95 for the rescue insurance... ;-)
Let me know your thoughts...

Choosing Clothes and Weather...

As I am looking over my gear, I am considering my clothing options.
I am currently opting for the lighter weight direction, with something like:
2 Moisture Wicking T-Shirts - Short Sleeve (Mountain Gear or Columbia)
1 Moisture Wicking T-Shirt - Long Sleeve
1 Eddie Bauer Windbreaker Jacket (has removable fleece liner that I will not bring)
2 Cotton/Polyester Blend Conversion Short/Pants
1 Black Webbed Belt (military issue)
4 Pair Polyester Performance Underwear
4 Pair Injinji Toe Socks
2 Pair Merino Wool Light Hiker Socks
1 Pair Vasque Breeze Hiking Boots
1 Pair Rockport Sandles
What I am not sure about is the following:
How cold can it possibly be during July? Weather in California is consistently becoming more and more schizophrenic. Are you bringing long underwear just in case? I have seen recommendations for bringing a warm vest to keep the core warm, what are your thoughts? 
Also, in case of rain, are you bringing rain gear or just a lightweight parka?
I was looking at the Frogg Toggs and a basic set of the performace gear can go for as little as $49.95. Their gear claims to be wind proof and water proof which would eliminate my need to bring the Eddie Bauer jacket. But I would need a vest of some form.
As is always the case with me, I am concerned about the monetary side of things. I am going to buy the short and long sleeve shirts because I figure that is most consistent piece of clothing I will be wearing for the month, I already have the pants and the Eddie Bauer Jacket, and I am trying different underwears to see what I can get that will not chafe.
I am completely sold on the Toe Socks and will use those instead of liners and I will bring Tea Tree Oil to fight my athletes' foot.
With our mutually balding heads, what sort of hat were you planning on bringing. That one I used from Eddie Bauer on our Twin Bridges Hike was nice, but it was too hot and I sweated a lot. I need something similar but breathable. I may actually try getting a military issue desert covert.
Looking forward to your thoughts...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tents and other stuff


I do hope your boots work, as you need. Let me know. My boots are doing
good on my left foot, but my right foots is not comfortable. I have been
going to a therapist to correct or fix the pain on the bottom of the foot.
Not helping much. I will be doing a 8 hour hike next week with full pack to
see how my foot does. At this point it would be a real problem on the trail.
I will let you know.
As far as the bear canister I bought it at It was the
cheapest price I could find. The canister is a Garcia Machine Backpackers
Cache for $55.00.
The sleeping bag sounds good. The nights might get down to 25 or 30 degrees
at the elevation we would be at. Make sure it will keep you warm. I would
talk to the staff over at REI. I bought a Big Agnes Encampment +15 Long Bag
for $109.99 at REI's big sale. I will be sleeping in it next week in my back
I have read about using tarps as covers. It would work if we had trees and
bushes to attach the tarp to. I do not know the trail and so do not know how
wooded the area and trail are. The way I look at it is this way. If the
night is nice and there is no chance of rain I will sleep under the stars
with my tents rain cover over me and my sleeping bag. That will keep any
dew-drops off of me and my sleeping bag. The tent will come in handy when
the weather looks bad or when there are snakes in the area HA! HA!

Talk to you later,


Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Just to let you and to document the purchase, I did get the REI tent you recommended, the REI Half Dome 2 HC # 728-308. Though, more and more, I am seeing other options by some more experienced hikers that are doing lightweight tarps and other covers. Of course they are through-hiking so there is a different issue in packing and going ultra-light.


More On Equipment...


Doing some research and wanted to pass along this tip... and interesting way to make a measuring cup using our standard utensils.

This site,, is very interesting. Targeted mainly for through-hikers and other enthusiasts, it definitely has some other great tips.

On another note, I will be hiking this weekend back up to Twin Bridges to determine if my new boots (see previous entry) are up to snuff. I will load my backpack with about 40 pounds or so.

I need a new sleeping bag, one that is not as warm as my current Coleman bag. I was looking at the REI Travel Sack... - What do you think?

I figure I should also get a travel liner / bag liner to add warmth when needed and keep the bag clean...

QUESTION: What is the Bear Canister you purchased? Where did you get it?

I will be heading into REI early next week to go over backpacks and such... taking my Everest in and have them fit me for it and determine its suitability. Good to have REI around...

Your Son

Monday, May 05, 2008

Termination & Personal Belongings


I wish to formally request the following:

1. Please mail me a letter of termination detailing the reasons as laid out in this morning's meeting. You can mail it to the address on file.

2. A cursory look at my belongings proved that much is missing. I therefore request an escort to my former workstation (after hours if that works best for the foundation) so that I may secure the rest of my personal belongings. Please have the two crates from my office at TechEd that were paletized in the warehouse also in that space so that I may retrieve personal items from there as well.

Thank you,

Matson Breakey

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Ongoing Adventure of the Boot...


It was a great idea for us to hike Twin Bridges. It was a wonderful opportunity to test my new Asolo boots. And boy am I glad I did!

As my last entry about the boots indicated, I absolutely loved the fit and the feel of the Asolo.

But, as we discovered, the soles were dissappointing, mainly while hiking from snow to granite.... and the resultant lack of grip.

There are many things I am willing to forgive on a boot, but loosing grip on a 30 degree angle is not one of them.

Anyway, I returned the boot yesterday to REI during their busiest weekend of the year and purchased a pair of Vasque Breeze GTX XCR. They are rated as hiking and not backpacking but the experts at REI thought that they should be fine for the 55 lbs we will be carrying. I like the mesh breathability and the Vibram soles which are noted for their no slip qualities.

Interesting enough, the Asolos I bought were size 13, these new boots are size 14 (the 13's allowed my toes to hit front).

I will be trying these over the next few weeks and see how they hold up.

Your Son

Thursday, May 01, 2008



A quick note. REI is having a large sale and they have a 2 person tent for
$109.99. It is the REI Half Dome 2 HC # 728-308.

Talk to you later