What's Happening in Character?

Joe Mazzola

Recent Posts

What's the Character Lesson in the Rutgers Coaching Incident?

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

What does it take for leaders to make really tough decisions?

I’ve been following with great interest what happened at Rutgers University after the video clip of their basketball coach received so much attention.  The whole thing is pretty sad on several different fronts.  However, it is also rich with “teachable moments,” for coaches and others who are in positions of trust and leadership. 

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Topics: character education, teachable moments

The Legacy of an Honorable Man: Remembering Sandy McDonnell

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 @ 11:03 AM

One year ago, a great American died.  His name was Sandy McDonnell.  He was an honorable man who left behind a remarkable legacy.  It is one we can all learn from.

Sandy was brilliant.   After graduating from Princeton and completing graduate school in Colorado, he worked on the Top Secret Manhattan Project during World War II.  Afterwards, he went on to reach the very highest levels in the corporate sector.  He rose through the ranks to become CEO of a giant aerospace company.  Along the way, he traveled the world, met Presidents and heads of state, and received lots of high-level awards and honors.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character, leadership, integrity

The Power of Perseverance: Character, Health and Fitness

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 @ 09:03 AM


This blog was written from my perspective as a Personal Fitness Trainer and a lifelong exerciser.  It provides very helpful and easy-to-understand tips on losing weight and getting into better shape.  My goal is to help those who struggle in one or both areas.  All of the information comes from a longer paper on the same subject which you can access through a link at the end of this posting.  So, with this brief backdrop, I am pleased and honored to share the following information that I believe will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.  More importantly, it will help improve your quality of life in countless ways.  I’ll start with Diet and then shift to Exercise.  Okay, the warm-up is over—let’s roll.

Diet—Tipping the Scales for Success

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Topics: key lessons, discipline, core values

Lessons in Character and Integrity from Les Miserables

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 @ 12:02 PM

It seems like everyone just can’t get enough of Les Miserables.  It’s the world’s longest running musical, now seen by 60M people in 42 countries.  Along the way, it’s received 96 major international awards.  The most recent movie version is a box office smash, earning eight Academy Awards nominations.

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Topics: role models, character, integrity, moral character, ethics

What’s the Worst Part of the Lance Armstrong Cheating Scandal?

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 @ 12:01 PM

I was a big cycling fan before the sport got popular in our country.  And, back in the day, I was a pretty serious cyclist myself--I spoke the lingo, wore the gaudy jerseys, shaved the legs, rode custom racing bikes with “Campy Record” components and I had the muscled-up quads one only gets from logging thousands of miles in the saddle. 

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Topics: integrity, moral character, cheating, teachable moments

'Bully'-- It’s Time to Stop Talking!

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

Last Friday I had the honor of representing CEP at a special White House screening of the movie, Bully.  The movie is heart-wrenching.  When it was over, I felt sad, disappointed, emotionally drained and angry.  I can remember thinking to myself, “My gosh, how in the world can we as a nation allow this sort of thing to happen?  Aren’t we better than that?”

Bully, in the end, is really a graphic depiction of a breakdown of good character in many ways—on the part of the bullies, the bystanders, and even some school administrators and teachers.  It’s also a sad reflection on our culture—we as human beings.  After the film, several parents and students who were in the film spoke, along with the director, the Secretary of Education, the Sr. Advisor to the President and the Superintendent of Schools for Sioux City, Iowa, who showed great courage in opening up his school system for taping.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, school climate, bullying advice

What Sandy Showed Me

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

 I have a very heavy heart right now because Sandy McDonnell passed away. You see, he was my hero. Like many others who knew and loved this great man, I now feel a huge emptiness in my life that I know will never be filled. I loved Sandy like a father.

It was a great blessing to have him in my corner for the five years I served as CEP’s executive director. Anyone who knows me would surely tell you that I needed all the help I could get, too. And that was especially true since I had no experience in the nonprofit sector until Sandy and others hired me.  

Fortunately, on the work front, Sandy was always there for me. He coached and guided me through all of the really important and tough areas of running any organization—like financial management, strategic planning, human resources and more.

And, Sandy did all of this mentoring quietly and behind-the-scenes. Board members, staff and others never knew all he did for me from the shadows. That’s because Sandy was one of those very rare but genuine servant leaders that many of us read about but never meet. He couldn’t care less about being in the spotlight. Instead, he worked to make everyone else around him shine. 

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Topics: CEPLeaders, key lessons, role models, leadership, integrity

Veterans Day - A Teachable Moment

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Sun, Nov 6, 2011 @ 17:11 PM

I had the great fortune of being raised by a loving family. They instilled in me certain values that shaped me into the person I am today. None of the adults in my family had much of a formal education though. My grandfather, for example, came to our country at the age of 10 with about a fifth grade education. He was a water boy on the railroad and later became a shoemaker.

My father never graduated from high school either. He fixed wrecked cars for a living and eventually owned his own shop--“Mazzola’s Body Shop.” It never had running water or central heat. During the winter, he burned coal in a pot-belly stove to warm the place up. I loved hanging out at his shop, and I learned a lot, too. Most people don’t know it, but I’ve painted cars, changed engines, installed transmissions, and I still service my own vehicles. In fact, I’m doing a brake job on my son’s car this weekend.

Oh. I forgot to mention why my dad never graduated from high school.

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Topics: Service learning, family, integrity