Get to Know Bob Emiliani

NAME: M.L. “Bob” Emiliani

1 BobE

AGE: 65

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini (that will become obvious as you read more below 😉).

OCCUPATION: Professor Emeritus and Owner of Cubic, LLC. I research, write, teach, and train on the subjects of progressive and classical leadership and management.

RESIDENCE: Southern Rhode Island.

BORN AND RAISED IN: South Florida.

RIGHT NOW I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF: Various home projects. Getting things done that didn’t get done due to years of work and overlaping commitments.

MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Perseverance. How so? 1) Surviving in school, all the way to the PhD, given that I was not a good classroom learner. 2) My work on both progressive management and classical management, which for decades has garnered near-zero support from all the top Lean promoters and influencers. Creativity. How so? I always had in mind that my work should go where others did not go, and in doing so be original and creative, often, but not always building on the work of others. Courage/Sacrifice. How so? Saying what needs to be said, despite the conseqences.

TOPS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Relaxing and reflecting. I’ve been working since I was 13 years old and always engaged in numerous activities simultaneously. I have traveled around the world and see no need for doing anymore of that.

I ALWAYS CARRY/WEAR: Lip balm and hand sanitizer — even pre-Covid.

WHAT I WANTED TO BE WHEN I GREW UP: Adventurous in terms of work and personal activities, and heterodox in terms of thinking.

WHAT DRIVES ME IS: Curiosity, a desire to learn, and sharing what I have learned with other people.

I TRY HARD TO: Think for myself, and not be influenced by people who are high in status.

I DISLIKE: Conflict, but often find myself in a position where I must defend my work.

MY HEROES ARE: Any person or group that faces sustained discrimination. Also, critics, because they think while most others are just on autopilot.

MY FAVORITE AUTHORS ARE: All nonfiction. These include Taiichi Ohno, Scientific Management era authors (i.e., Taylor, Gantt, the Gilbreths, Wolf, etc.), and Thorstein Veblen. Their work is revelatory and still relevant to improving the human condition.

BOOKS ON MY NIGHTSTAND: There are always half a dozen. Next up is Power and Progress: Our 1000 Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity, by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson.

TOP THREE SONGS ON MY PLAYLIST: I can’t say. My taste in music is eclectic, so I listen to a few different genres every day, several dozen songs each day. I am not a fan of country music, blues, or opera.

FAVORITE THREE MOVIES OF ALL TIME: Catch-22, Animal House, and The Matrix.

FAVORITE TV SHOWS: Family Guy and South Park; Breaking Bad and similar TV shows that have high production values, great writing, great acting, etc.

TOP COMFORT FOOD: Pasta, Nongshim instant ramen noodles, and sushi.


TRAITS I MOST ADMIRE: Sharing, fairness, empathy, and honesty.

PET PEEVES: Illogical thinking, blind adherence to the status quo.

FAVORITE QUOTATION: “The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.” — Thorstein Veblen. This speaks to my endless curiosity and wanting to always learn more.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT OUR LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD: We can walk into town and enjoy the shops and restaurants.

MY FAVORITE MISTAKE: Taking an interest in Lean.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: My wife. Also, the internet and books; I love to feed my mind.

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ME: I started working at the age of 13 in a camera shop and quickly became deeply involved with photography and darkroom work. I designed and built my first racing bicycle frame at age 18 (and I built the jigs to hold the tubes in place while brazing in high school metal shop; sold the cameras to pay for framebuilding parts). Soon after that I wrote 16 articles on the metallurgy of framebuilding and bicycle components. I spent years as an electron microscopist (scanning and transmission). Such fun work that was! In recent years, I love to cook, work out, and tend my vegetable garden.

I WISH I COULD: Draw, roller skate.

BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED: “Don’t do that.” Which I ignored.

ADVICE I BEST LIKE TO GIVE: “Most advice is banalities or platitudes.”

IF I RULED THE WORLD I WOULD: Reduce human suffering.

IF I WON THE LOTTERY, THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO IS: Figure out how much money to donate to people less fortunate than me.

I DRIVE A: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek.

I WISH I DROVE A: 1974 Honda Civic.

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE: A variety of hot sauces.

MY FAVORITE SPORTS ARE: Ice hockey, basketball, baseball.

MY FAVORITE WEATHER IS: Cloudy; rain, misting, fog, snow (its conducive to creating)


MY FAVORITE COLOR IS: No favorite; I like them all. Orange is of interest lately.

IF I COULD INVITE ONE SPECIAL PERSON TO JOIN ME FOR DINNER AND CONVERSATION, I WOULD INVITE: Not one but four separate dinner engagements — Alive: Sarah Silverman and Seth MacFarlane. Deceased: W. E. B. Du Bois and Thorstein Veblen. All, in their own ways, offer deep insights into people and society.

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