Manes and Associates

As I compose this column, the TV is broadcasting the funeral of General Colin Powell. He was a most respected individual who had earned the admiration of most, if not all, Americans. I don’t know, nor do I care, if he was a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or No Party. I believe, he was a good man who, by his words and his deeds, earned the admiration of the majority of this country. He will be missed.

What follows is a letter sent by the late Steve Cavanaugh, who was the first CEO of the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corp. (LWCC), and me to General Colin Powell in 1998. More importantly following our request is his answer.


May 1, 1998


General Colin Powell

Washington D.C. 20037


Dear General Powell:

In a recent discussion with Steve Cavanaugh, President and CEO of the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation, I made the following comment: “The difference between our success in Desert Storm and our failure in Vietnam, was that in Desert Storm we had a clearly articulated Mission and in Vietnam we didn’t.”

Steve disputed this statement. It was his belief that improved technology was the primary difference in the outcomes of these conflicts.

We both agreed to accept your opinion “as law.” Please help us resolve this dispute. Thank you for taking time to consider this on our behalf. More importantly, thank you for your tremendous contributions to our country.



Michael G. Manes


In two weeks to the day, we had our answer in a handwritten memo. It follows:


15 May 98


General Colin L. Powell, USA (Retired)

Washington D.C. 22314


Dear Mr. Manes,

You’re both right! Wars are won by a combination of the right policies, the right weapons and technology, and most importantly, dedicated and courageous troops.



Colin Powell

As you continue to move forward in this new world and marketplace, consider how to exercise the right leadership and gather the right policies, the right tools and technology, and the most dedicated team. A few wisdoms on the subject, from valued advisors:

“The first role of a leader is to define reality” (Max DePree). Clearly define and engage in the new reality. Don’t waste time dreaming of the good old days. You can’t look back to yesterday and look forward to tomorrow at the same time.

“When little men cast long shadows, the sun is soon to set” (Paul Harvey). People matter most. Hire and develop the best people you can and help them grow even better. If they don’t fit into your organization help them move on, so they can find a place where they can grow and be better.

“No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience” (John Locke). Facilitate the development of your team. Help team members grow as employees and people. Stretch their horizons.

“I never met a man I didn’t like” (Will Rogers}. Focus less on what’s wrong with folks and more on what’s right – right for you, right for your organization, right for them, and right for your community. You and they will be better for it.

The coronavirus is a bug that has changed our lives. Some have been blessed to return to normal, some are creating a new normal, and others are dropping out to take time to create a new reality that they hope will become their new normal.

Unfortunately, some are dropping out completely, defeated by the change.

We’re not going to change the world. But we can change ourselves and our environment to be the best that we can be and hopefully move together as a team into the future. Peace.

Michael G. Manes is the owner of Manes and Associates, a New Iberia-based consulting business. He can be reached at or 337-577-3885.