Rick Baker Thought Posts
Left Menu Space Holder

About the author

Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

E-mail me Send mail
Follow me LinkedIn Twitter



<<  April 2019  >>

View posts in large calendar

Recent Comments

Comment RSS

Sir Isaac Newton & the power of the Mastermind Alliance

by Rick Baker
On Aug 15, 2013

While most of us didn’t fully appreciate it when we were introduced to the stuff in high school classes, certain mathematicians and scientists have made monumental contributions. Few reached the level of recognition enjoyed by Sir Isaac Newton.

Sir Isaac Newton is remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time. He lived from 1642 to 1727… a ripe old age in those days. His contributions to science included: the universal law of gravity, the laws of force and motion, the laws of optics, and the founding of the mathematics known as calculus. These contributions surpassed those of almost every scientist before or since Newton.

Newton said, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

He also said, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.

Sounds like a good example of Integrity, as defined in another Thought Post.

Yet, the historical records show two sides of Sir Isaac Newton: 

  1. He illustrated the humility of a leader as the quotes above illustrate
  2. He engaged in a decades-long, public battle with the German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz, debating which one had been the first to create the mathematics of calculus. Newton had accused Leibniz of plagiarizing his calculus work.
  Sir Sir Isaac Newton                          Gottfried Leibniz

By the time of this Newton-Leibniz dispute, Newton was a very well-known and well-respected leader in many fields of science and mathematics…and other fields. With such a reputation and long list of amazing and diverse accomplishments, what motivated the great Newton to engage in such a battle with Leibniz?

Perhaps the answer lies in a bit of thought around the Royal Society of London, a prestigious scientific community chartered by King Charles II in 1660. The founders created the Royal Society to promote scientific research and discussion. Newton was president of the ‘Royal Society’ from 1703 until his death 24 years later. Newton was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705. A few years later, during Newton’s term as president, the Royal Society accused Leibniz of plagiarizing Newton’s calculus work, created a committee to respond to Leibniz’s objection, and decided in favour of Newton, not Leibniz.

When that happened, like Newton, Leibniz was in his sixties. His reputation was ruined by the Royal Society’s decision. He died a few years later.

More than two centuries passed before Leibniz’s name was cleared…the history books now show both Newton and Leibniz as independent creators of calculus.

Today, three hundred years after the fury of the dispute, Leibniz is remembered as one of many great mathematicians.

Sir Isaac Newton is remembered as one of the handful of greatest scientists of all time.

While this story contains many lessons, one stands out in my mind.

Whether we are a fan of Newton or Leibniz, whether we believe Newton illustrated an error of Integrity, and regardless of who was right or wrong we must acknowledge the power contained in a focused group of people, acting in harmony toward a shared goal [a Mastermind Alliance, as defined by Napoleon Hill]. The Royal Society served as Newton’s Mastermind Alliance, a group of people working in harmony towards a common goal. Newton used that Mastermind Alliance. 

Throughout the last half of his long life, Sir Isaac Newton had stature as a leader in the field of science. During his lifetime science was beginning to be respected. The Dark Ages had cleared and it was more acceptable to question European religious beliefs. That was especially true in England. Newton’s work validated recently-accepted scientific claims including ‘the Earth orbits the Sun, not vice-versa’. That aspect of Newton’s thinking resonated well with the English royalty. It also resonated well with England’s scientific community. Newton took advantage of that.

Newton used the Royal Society Mastermind Alliance to etch his name indelibly into front pages of the history books.

That’s a graphic example of what we mean when we say focusing the power of a Mastermind Alliance.


PS: both Newton and Leibniz are among my list of heroes.


Hero Worship | Wisdom: Surviving the Test of Time

The Attributes of a Leader

by Rick Baker
On Jul 31, 2013

You may agree with the attributes/character traits presented below or disagree with them...either way, give them some thought. Create your own list...a list you can live and lead by.

For my part, and seeking simple, I think the required attributes of leadership can be summed up in 3 major qualities:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Self-control
  3. Drive
These qualities can be broken down into components and they can be combined to create a longer list of the attributes of leadership.
Here are some classic thoughts on this topic...
From 'Think and Grow Rich', Napoleon Hill's 1937 classic:

Based upon knowledge of self, and of one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent follower will be dominated by such a leader very long. [some thoughts on Courage]

The man who cannot control himself, can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate. [some thoughts on self-control]

Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers. [some thoughts on keen sense of justice]

The man who wavers in his decisions, shows that he is not sure of himself. He cannot lead others successfully. [some thoughts on definiteness of decision]

The successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks. [some thoughts on definiteness of plans]

One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more than he requires of his followers. [some thoughts on doing more than paid for]

No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all of the factors of a Pleasing Personality. [some thoughts on pleasing personality]

The successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers. Moreover, he must understand them and their problems. [some thoughts on empathy and understanding]

Successful leadership calls for mastery of details of the leader’s position. [some thoughts on mastery of detail]

The successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers. If he tries to shift this responsibility, he will not remain the leader. If one of his followers makes a mistake, and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed. [some thoughts on responsibility]

The successful leader must understand, and apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce his followers to do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION. [some thoughts on cooperation and harmony]


From Wess Roberts' 'Leadership Secrets of Attila The Hun' (1985/2009 audio)

  1. Loyalty
  2. Courage
  3. Desire
  4. Emotional Stamina
  5. Physical Stamina
  6. Empathy 
  7. Decisiveness
  8. Anticipation
  9. Sense of Timing
  10. Competitiveness
  11. Self-Confidence
  12. Accountability
  13. Responsibility
  14. Credibility
  15. Tenacity
  16. Dependability
  17. Stewardship



Hero Worship | Leaders' Thoughts | Wisdom: Surviving the Test of Time

Thought Tweet #785.5

by Rick Baker
On Jul 19, 2013

Thought Tweet #785.5 Make sure your business solutions are less complicated than your problems.


The Thinking Behind The Tweet

If you cannot get your people to do what needs to be done, you are not alone. And, perhaps you are not in good company. Or, perhaps you need some straightforward help.

Do not buy into the current trend of thinking that claim solutions need to be complex. That's untested...unproven smoke-and-mirrors opinion.

3 great reasons to strive to excel!

by Rick Baker
On Jul 2, 2013

Doing excellent work. Mastering skills. Striving to be better or best.


Excellent work is a truly wonderful thing to experience.

I have had the opportunity to observe mastery of work and the gratification and other rewards work-mastery provides. I have worked with amazing people and had the good fortune to be part of amazing business teams. When I observe business people settling for less, sometimes much less, it gnaws at me. I know what they are missing. And it troubles me to stand by and watch.


Why should you strive to excel at work?

1. The Feeling of Satisfaction: Positive feelings warm us and enliven us. When we know we have excelled at a work-task we feel satisfaction. Everyone feels that way when they do a task really well. Think back to your childhood. Remember winning a race, getting a high mark in school, hitting that home run, drawing a wonderful picture, singing well...and other such achievements. There is much gratification in work well done...even small achievements create lasting memories. 

2. The Comfort of Belonging: Recognition by other people energizes us. In our hearts, we are all social beings. When other people compliment us or recognize our work contributions we feel pleasure. We feel like we belong. We feel positive. This causes us to strive to achieve even more. Communities play a huge role in our lives: from family, to neighbourhood, to school, to city, to country. We learn this when we are young and it sticks with us. When at work, we feel most-comfortable when others recognize our good work...and when we extend to them similar recognition. When at work, we are most energized when we are part of a group that achieves and recognizes individual actions and successes.

3. The Power of Confidence: Self-confidence happens when we know we can handle situations and actions. And, better than anything else,  baby action steps pave the path for unshakable self-confidence. You have watched little ones learn how to walk...perhaps a brother or sister when you were young...perhaps your own children. With each tiny step, with each little stumble, with each return to the standing position, with each start over and try again...confidence is built until, over time, walking becomes natural and easy. The same applies to work tasks. With planned practice work skills grow. With errors and trying again we learn how to generate better results. With effort and time work tasks are mastered. And, when we step back and celebrate just how far we have come we gain and reinforce self-confidence.

You know these 3 states of mind.

You have experienced them.

You have enjoyed them.

It is within your ability to experience them to a greater degree. That is why excellent work is a truly wonderful thing.

Gravity & Levity: Why-How Opposites Attract [WHOA]

by Rick Baker
On Jun 13, 2013

Gravity & Levity: polar opposites, each laced with double entendre.

Gravity was Zarathustra’s archenemy. Gravity is the fabric of Newton’s legacy. And, when I first heard John Mayer’s song ‘Gravity’ I was blown away…like Aristotle envisioned fire escaping gravity and levitating to the sphere of the moon’s orb…where the light is.

Seneca saw levity as the bone of all good and virtuous. George Bernard Shaw believed levity to be the best package for communicating the right things to say. And, when I first read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ‘Antifragile’ I solidified my thinking about the importance of blending polar opposites into our lives…and our decisions.

Then I read Galileo’s ‘Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems’: gravity & levity became front and centre in my thoughts…and they stayed there…two polar opposites, hand-in-hand, sharing centre stage.

While some see him as dark, I think Nietzsche is the most-interesting philosopher…brilliant beyond bi-polar…meshing messages of and with gravity & levity: 

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

“The certain prospect of death could sweeten every life with a precious and fragrant drop of levity – and now you strange apothecary souls have turned into an ill-tasting drop of poison that makes the whole of life repulsive.”

“I would believe only in a God that knows how to Dance.”

 Friedrich Nietzsche





Why-How Opposites Attract [WHOA]


  • An intentional blend of gravity & levity helps ensure variety and moderation.
  • An intentional blend of gravity & levity promotes balance and curiosity.
  • An intentional blend of gravity & levity builds character.


  • Read works that blend gravity & levity…as examples, choose Nietzsche over Newton…choose Twain and Taleb
  • Listen to works that blend gravity & levity...from the Beatles to Beethoven…with some Wagner samplers in between
  • Experience the gravity & levity of the arts…from Michelangelo's David to David Blaine...without riding on high horses


  • Gravity keeps our feet on the ground; Levity places our head above our feet.
  • Gravity attracts one body to another; Levity adds dance to their relationship.
  • Gravity draws and centres; Levity enjoys new horizons.


So, when it comes to gravity & levity I will pay attention to When-How Opposites Attract.

And I am with Nietzsche and Mayer, if I must choose between gravity & levity…

WHOA gravity, stay the hell away from me



Gravity & Levity: the Meaning & History of the Words

Source: Online Etymological Dictionary

gravity (n.)

c.1500, "weight, dignity, seriousness," from Middle French gravité "seriousness, thoughtfulness," and directly from Latin gravitatem (nominative gravitas) "weight, heaviness, pressure," from gravis "heavy" (see grave (adj.)). The scientific sense of "force that gives weight to objects" first recorded 1640s.

 levity (n.)

"want of seriousness, frivolity," 1560s, from Latin levitatem (nominative levitas) "lightness, frivolity," from levis "light" in weight (see lever) + -ity.




How to stop complaining

by Rick Baker
On Jun 11, 2013


While in Italy last month, I re-read Marcus Aurelius' 'Meditations'. It is therapeutic to consider the self-help messages this famous Roman Emperor wrote over 1800 years ago.

Here's an excerpt, from book 4 section 3...

"What's there to complain about? People's misbehavior?

But take into consideration:

  • that rational beings exist for one another;
  • that doing what's right sometimes requires patience;
  • that no one does the wrong thing deliberately;
  • and the number of people who have feuded and envied and hated and fought and died and been buried.

...and keep your mouth shut."

One of my heroes...


Marcus Aurelius

121 AD - 180 AD


Attitude: Creating Positive Attitude | Hero Worship | Wisdom: Surviving the Test of Time

490 Dutton Drive - Suite C6 - Waterloo ON N2L 6H7 - phone 519-886-6522 - fax 519-886-8795
Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.