On Inauguration Day

Greetings.  Today marks the 57th inauguration of a United States President.  It also provides an opportunity to think about the history and promise of our country, and the challenges we face living up to our ideals in a way more complicated world than our forefathers (and our foremothers) ever imagined.  And regardless of your political persuasion, the nature of our presidential inaugurations speaks volumes about the stability of our democracy–and the unique potential of our increasingly diverse nation.

Today also suggests the possibility that each of us can periodically (in this case every four years) take stock of where we have been, where we are trying to get to, and the best path for reaching our goals and dreams as companies, organizations, and individuals.  To reflect on the powerful stories and rich histories that have brought us to where we are today.  To take account of our real promise and the challenges we face in making it a reality.  And to imagine a newer and more optimistic set of priorities that would challenge us to reach our real potential by working together with colleagues, customers, partners, and even competitors.

Who knows what the next four years will bring in Washington.  We can only hope that our leaders on both sides of the aisle will seek to find meaningful compromise and even innovation in addressing the biggest issues we face as a nation.  Because whether we are willing to admit it or not, their actions and inactions have a great impact on almost all of our enterprises…and on our ability as a nation to continue to be a remarkable source of energy, imagination, creativity, invention, hope and opportunity.

Inauguration

We win in business and in life when we decide to inaugurate our own fresh starts.  And when we find the courage to get beyond old thinking in building a more compelling and shared future.

Cheers!

Surrounded by Possibilities

Greetings.  It's the end of another week and another chance to take a break from your work routine to discover some of the remarkable genius in the world around you.  If you happen to be in Washington, D.C., this weekend, you might enjoy the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall and a number of other locations around town.  This event is designed to inspire young people to see the wonder of science, technology, engineering, and math with amazing exhibits, presentations, and demonstrations that bring these fields to life.  And the timing couldn't be more critical as the U.S. struggles to maintain its creative mojo.

In case you've missed the news, a shrinking number of young people are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math and that fact does not bode well for our long-term competitiveness as a nation.  So efforts like this–aimed at making these disciplines hip, compelling, and even entertaining–are important for kids of all ages…and might even spark your own innate sense of curiosity and possibilities.

But if you're not playing to be in town this weekend, why not use this occasion to visit your nearest science museum?  And allow yourself to be excited by the power of discovery and its role in the success of your company or organization.  In fact, why not commit to finding one or two brilliant ideas that challenge you to think differently about the products, services, and solutions you offer.  Ideas that provide a window on how to be more valuable to those you have the privilege to serve.  And while you're at it, why not invite some of your colleagues to join you?  

And since your ongoing business success is all about adapting to and capitalizing on change, the following video–which I first saw about two years ago–might help to jog your thinking about the imperative of innovation… 


 

We win in business and in life when we open our eyes to a world of new ideas, innovation, and possibilities.  And when we seek to discover the information that matters most.

Cheers and have a fun weekend exploring!

Discovering the Genius in Everyone

Greetings.  Sometimes people need a bit of help to discover the real genius inside them.  An outstretched hand, a caring smile, a willingness to listen to a story that is hard to tell, a bit of insight or learning in a few missing essentials, the welcome reassurance that they have what it takes to succeed in this complicated world, or even a bit of tough love.  

On Saturday evening our family had the privilege to host a very special dinner party.  It was a chance for friends to come together for relaxed conversation and delicious Swedish food.  But what made the evening so special was the fact that it was a fundraising event for a nonprofit organization that makes a real difference in helping formerly homeless families find stability on the journey to unlocking their real potential.  And, it was one of 50 parties being held throughout the Washington, D.C., area to support Sinai House, a four-unit apartment building that provides transitional housing, financial literary, educational and parental support, childcare, and a sense of community.

Sinai House was started in 1992 as an initiative of Temple Sinai–an initiative aimed at addressing the challenge of homelessness in our nation's capital.  The idea for the parties was the brainchild of Tricia Davis–an amazing woman who had a huge heart, an unstoppable spirit, and her own genius for fundraising and marketing causes that mattered.  She died of cancer much too early in life, but left a rich and enduring legacy.  And part of that legacy was the simple idea of hosting dinner parties for friends that ended up raising tens of thousands of dollars.  So on this Saturday night, hundreds of people attended parties with checkbooks in hand to continue an 18-year tradition of helping people discover the genius inside them in a world that had thrown a few obstacles in their way.  

And at the heart of each party were the stories of families that Sinai House has served.  Stories that brought smiles and tears with each telling.  Stories of abusive relationships, drug addiction, and life on less than kind streets.  Stories of mothers forced to give up their children with only faint hope of ever getting them back.  But stories that became personal triumphs as women got their lives together, were reunited with their families, and eventually found work and career success as employees, talented managers, and even business owners.

We win in business and in life by helping others to discover their own genius and potential.  And, in the process, helping ourselves to discover the best of what it means to be human.

Cheers and have a brilliant week ahead!