New Orleans and Old Wine in New Bottles . . .


It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.  ~Mark Twain

I have been very busy this past week with a coaching assignment for a CEO.  I am always excited to meet a new CEO who is interested in improving their communication and leadership skills.  And this CEO, a woman who took over the family business, is fiercely committed to learning and growing in order to help grow the business and provide for her employees.  As a woman in the largely male dominated engineering sector, she is keen to bring her clients a professional service that will create lasting customer loyalty.

So, besides this being an interesting assignment, it is also in an interesting part of the world, New Orleans. The jazz city! The Mardi Gras city! A city with colorful history and stunning architecture.  The Hurricane Katrina city!  And the city where over the past 50 years many of its politicians have wound up in prison for fraud and other crimes!  They even have a highway named “Chef Menteur” which in French loosely translates to Great Liar!

Legend has it that the Choctaw Indians in the region were great lovers of the truth. One of their chiefs who had a reputation for lying was banished, along with his family and a few devoted followers, to a tract of land near the bayou in the east. So the tract of land has the name Chef Menteur, or “Lying Chief.”

Who couldn’t fall in love with a place like this?

If no tourists came, we’d still have Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a state of mind. ~ Ed Muniz

But back to Old Wine in New Bottles.  Many might think that putting old wine in new bottles is a way to fool an unsuspecting buyer into purchasing bad wine at high prices.  And that is one explanation.

But for me, the “old wine” represents the basic and fundamental wisdom or principles, the “old truths” that sometimes need to be dressed up a bit so they can be more easily understood in today’s world.  That’s basically what the coaching for the past two days has been about.  Nothing new, just the few basic principles of effective communication and leadership, but dressed up with new analogies, stories, examples, and even jokes.  Whatever it takes to help this CEO understand at a deeper level the basic principles.

So, our formal coaching is finished (a couple of follow-up telephone discussions to be held every other week) and I am on to cold, snowy Michigan for a Quarterly Business Review session with another client.  But I am leaving with this old and quirky city having made a deep impression upon me.  Hopefully our coaching work had an equally deep impression on the CEO.

In the classic words of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator: “I’ll be back!”

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
This entry was posted in consulting, Human Psychology, John R Childress, leadership, Life Skills, Personal Development, Self-improvement and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to New Orleans and Old Wine in New Bottles . . .

  1. Steve Borek says:

    I just had a phone conversation with a leader I worked for and the entire hour we talked about leading.

    “It’s common sense, isn’t it?” He said.

    As you say, it all comes back to basic principles. Then taking these principles and delivering them in a language where they other person “gets it.”

    I like the fact you’ll continue to have conversations with the client every few weeks. Leadership, like anything else, takes consistent practice.

    Stay warm John. It’s in the mid 20’sF here in Syracuse. I’ve seriously got to think about moving south to warmer weather.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s