The team cleaning trainer is Neo, from the movie the Matrix.

He doesn’t know where he is, how he got there, or what he is supposed to do, but everyone keeps telling him that he is going to be awesome.

This is the story of my life. At least, it was. Life has become quite blessed and meaningful since I started attending Open Door Baptist Church. It was October 2015 if I remember right. I heard Mary the Piano player sing beautifully then Pastor Don tore into a hell fire and damnation sermon. I walked out of there that day knowing for sure what I needed to do. This made everything fall into place and I finally got my priorities straight.

Han Solo

Patton’s second in command is the Director of Custodial Services, none other than the swashbuckling space pirate, Captain Han Solo.

Han hasn’t got any custodial experience but he has dodged every trap and escaped from every tight spot that the enemy has ever tried. He is mostly concerned with keeping the desperate band of rebels on day shift together, and he is usually busy avoiding asteroids and evading Imperial Star Destroyers.

George S. Patton

The cast of characters begins with the Associate Vice President Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, General George S. Patton, as portrayed by George C. Scott.

He is an engineering true blood and has staked his reputation on a swift and efficient transition from clumsy inept day time cleaning, to lean, mean effective night shift teams. He considers that this will be a slam-dunk, and couldn’t possibly go wrong.

George S. Patton personified my mentor, idol and friend that had implemented the same program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This was the team that won the program of the Year Award in 2006. In September 2009 we began implementing at Wake Forest and we ran into problems from the very beginning.

Sleepy Pasture University

And here we are, nobody recognizes this place because it is entirely fictional.

These are the images that I used at a National cleaning industry symposium in 2011. They tell the story of implementing a new cleaning system at Wake Forest. This was the reason that I came to Wake in the first place. It was an exciting time but also very challenging. These images and their captions are at time a raw reminder of the great difficulties that we faced, and ultimately overcame.

Symposium 2010

A big moment for me was the opportunity to give a presentation at a National Cleaning Industry Symposium in 2010. The location was Portland Oregon. I spoke about my experience rising up through the ranks from cleaning worker to manager.

As a way of illustrating my point I compared the management styles of Darth Vader and Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

To my delight the crowd loved it and I had many of them in stitches. It secured me a place to speak again at the following years symposium. The gist was That Darth Vader had been a poor manager when he strangled Admiral Ozzel for coming out of light spped too close to the Hoth system instead of sneaking up on the rebels.

  • Darth Vader: The rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of light speed too close to the system.
  • Darth Vader: He is as clumsy as he is stupid. Admiral Piett, you are in command now.

Lessons learned on how not to manage like Darth Vader:

  1. Darth Vader didn’t explain to Admiral Ozzel that it would be better to approach slowly.
  2. He didn’t give any opportunity for re-training.
  3. Dead (or fired) employees can’t be developed.

This was the first time that I used edited images in a presentation, and I had made 3 Star Wars themes ones for the occasion.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It started with a simple mistake.

My adventure at Wake Forest University actually started some time before I even knew that it was going to be an opportunity. I was managing custodians on the night shift at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I got involved in the introduction of a new cleaning system.

To make a long story short, our organization won the Program of the Year award at the 2006 symposium.

This picture was taken at the symposium in Williamsburg, VA. Shown here are (left to right)

Back row: Herb Richmond, Bobbie Lesane, Jim Alty, Tim Moore, Matthew Lawrence

Front row: Joseph Ellison, Bill Burston

Sadly, Bobbie Lesane passed away in July 2009.

In 2006 Bobbie and I travelled by car to and from Williamsburg. She was a generous soul and she had a big personality and an even bigger laugh.