Recipes for Success

Gary D. Strack, P.E.
Shafer, Kline & Warren, Inc.
Lenexa, Kansas
Member, APWA Leadership and Management Committee

Food and fellowship are the keys for the new "Recipes for Success" series of articles. Last month's APWA Reporter concluded the Leadership and Management Committee's third series of articles entitled "The Baker's Potluck" which touched on a variety of leadership and management topics. "The Baker's Potluck" was preceded by "The Baker's Dozen" and "The Baker's Menu" series. All of these articles are available on the APWA website ( or by contacting Ann Daniels, APWA Director of Technical Services, at (800) 848-APWA or In addition, the entire collection of the first two series is available in a single book from APWA (Building on the Basics: Core Competencies for Public Works Managers).

The fourth series of articles beginning next month is entitled "Recipes for Success" and will focus on topics related to career development, mentoring, and setting career goals. Article titles in the upcoming series include: "Humble Beginnings - Unlimited Potential," "Ethical Behavior," "Role Model," "Different Types of Mentoring and Mentor Qualifications," "How to Get a Mentor," "Good Listener," "Commitment," "Competence," "Setting Career Goals" and "What APWA Has Meant to Me." The importance of participating in APWA will become apparent as you read these articles. We hope they will help you and your colleagues in your careers.

The members of the Leadership and Management Committee are always looking for article topics and guest authors are welcome. In the interest of saving time, we recommend you submit your topic for consideration prior to spending a significant amount of time writing an article. In addition, if you have a unique insight or experience with any of these topics listed above, please share your information with Ann Daniels who will then pass it on to us. You never know, the committee may think your experience is worth sharing with all APWA members and ask you to assist or write an article about it. So send it in!

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it." - Lou Holtz

So why did we choose "Recipes for Success" as the title of our next series of articles? Our articles over the last few years have been focused on leadership and management topics and haven't specifically addressed how to improve yourself and career if you are not in a management role (notice I didn't include leadership; more on that later). So the committee felt it was time to address individual development issues. In addition, mentoring is a focus for the new year of APWA President Larry Frevert and virtually all of the upcoming articles apply to some part of mentoring. So why didn't I include leadership? The Leadership and Management Committee has come to believe that a leader of an organization does not have to be in a management position. In fact, one of your non-management employees may be a leader in your organization; it might even be you. Remember, "A leader does the right things and a manager gets things done right."

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - John F. Kennedy

Back to mentoring for a moment, if you have a structured mentoring program in your organization that you would be willing to share with the Leadership and Management Committee, we would like to hear from you. Our committee is collecting data on types of mentoring programs that are in use to see how it may be used to our APWA members' benefit. Currently there is no plan to establish an APWA mentoring program and the committee will not recommend one to the Board without evaluating existing programs. But we are encouraging everyone to use mentoring to develop public works leaders, transfer knowledge to the next generation of workers, improve our organizations, and improve individual capabilities.

"Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves." - Unknown

But the real reason behind all our series titles, is FOOD! Our committee really likes it and it is a requirement for being a member! Ann Daniels has been collecting recipes of public works departments' favorite dishes and will add one to each of our "Recipes for Success" articles. If you haven't submitted your recipe for wastewater stew or roadkill gumbo (or some other appetizing name) yet, there is still time to share that delicious recipe with the rest of APWA. Keep your eyes "peeled" for a delicious recipe from your fellow APWA members.

"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business." - Henry Ford

In closing, I want to give some well-deserved recognition for a job well done to Sue Hann, John Ostrowski, and our Chair Bill Sterling for the huge effort they put in on the update of the ICMA green book now titled Public Works Administration available through the APWA Bookstore. And their effort was amplified by our tremendous staff liaison, Ann Daniels, who almost single-handedly coordinated 50-some authors of this manual. The next time you see them, please tell them "thank you" for their hard work on your behalf. They are giving back to the organization which has given so much to them. Someday it will be your turn. Is it today? Only you can decide when.

Gary Strack is a member of the Leadership and Management Committee and a former member of the Membership Committee. He can be reached at (913) 888-7800 or