Following on my recent posts on youth experience, today’s Wall Street Journal’s In the Lead column written by Carol Hymowitz is entitled “Early Start in Business Teaches CEO’s Lessons They Use to This Day.” (Unfortunately, subscription required to read the on-line edition).
It’s a great article about the experiences some of today’s most prominent business leaders had in their youth. Ms. Hymowitz writes that “Warren Buffett, ceo of Berkshire Hathaway made his first profit reselling bottles of cola when he was only six and earned about $5,000 delivering newspapers in high school – most of which he promptly invested.”
Bill McDermott, ceo of SAP tells stories about a number of jobs that he had as a teen that helped form how he leads his company today. “Whether it’s a deli or SAP, it’s always about differentiating and serving the customer so they keep coming back to you.”
I got my first real job at 14 years old when I was hired as a deckhand on a ferry boat. I got the job through one of my dad’s connections. I remember my first day when the cranky captain complained about the prior mate and how they should never hire anyone under 18. This certainly focused me on proving myself. At 19, I got my captains license and became the captain of the ferry. Needless to say, this was a job with a lot of responsibility and the lessons I learned from it were valuable and long-lasting.
This again proves that we are all an accumulation of our experiences and that it is so important that young people have rich and diverse ones through education, travel and even work.
Technorati tags: Experience, work, life, Wall Street Journal, Warren Buffett
This morning my mother called with some sad news; her brother, Pete passed away last night. Uncle Pete had been very sick for quite a while so this was not a big surprise. However, the loss of a family member is never easy.
Uncle Pete had a very special place in my life when I was a young boy. He was my godfather and the uncle that gave me the chance to do things that I would never be able to do at home. Uncle Pete taught me how to handle a gun and he took me hunting. He taught me how to ride a minibike which ultimately forced my parents to give in and let me buy my own. Going to his house was always a blast!
This brings me back to my earlier post about how experiences form and inform us as we travel through life and that their impact can grow strong as we get older. Uncle Pete represented adventure, excitement and fun. However, in all the things that we kids did with him, safety was priority #1. At a very early age I learned about responsibility, accountability and respect from Uncle Pete. These were important lessons that have stayed with me throughout my life.
When I got a little older and had more distractions as a teen, Uncle Pete played less of a role in my life and we pretty much went separate ways. However, the experiences that we have and the lessons that we learn when we are children are hugely important in who we ultimately become. I thank Uncle Pete for exposing me to things I would never otherwise have experienced and, consciously or unconsciously, teaching me some pretty important things (values).
BusinessWeek magazine’s January 29, 2006 cover story is entitled “Imagine a world” and addresses the recent trend in businesses focusing on the “triple bottom line” by integrating social responsibility into their strategy and plans. BusinessWeek also produces a podcast each week that focuses on the current cover article. (Quicktime7 or iTunes required.)
The December 2006 edition of the Harvard Business Review, the HBR Spotlight was entitled “Making a Real Difference” and it also focused on corporate social responsibility. HBS Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, managing director of FSG Social Impact Advisers, wrote a very interesting article entitled “Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.”
Additional interesting reading in this HBR issue includes From the Editor, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Getting the Logic Right,” the HBR Spotlight Introduction “Making a Real Difference” and “Disruptive Innovation for Social Change” by Clayton M. Christensen, Heiner Baumann, Ruddy Ruggles and Thomas M. Sadler rounds out this great HBR issue focusing on social changes. Finally, a free HBR Ideacast podcast with an interview with the authors can be also be downloaded. Continue reading Corporate Social Responsibility in Business Media
Today I came across a great blog called MHC at Sea 2007: Mount Holyoke students take to the high seas during January term. It’s a group blog that captures the adventures of a crew of Mount Holyoke College students during a sail training experience onboard the Bark Picton Castle. From their blog:
Thirteen students and Professor Chris Pyle of the Politics Department will book passage on the 300 ton steel barque Picton Castle for a 14-day voyage from Grenada to Martinique, with stops at Cariacou and Bequia. Students will be integrated with the ship’s crew of 16 (on a three-watch system) as sail trainees, and will learn the arts of piloting, seamanship, and tall ship handling, much as sailors did in the late nineteenth century.
This will be a working voyage, not a Caribbean cruise. Trainees will be expected to participate fully in the ship’s operation, working aloft, walking on ropes 80 feet in the sky to set and furl sails, hauling lines on deck, manning the helm, navigating, standing watch, helping in the galley, and doing basic maintenance. Students will also write a running weblog, transmitted daily via satellite phone. Sleeping accommodations are in tiers of narrow bunks; there is no hot water for washing or bathing.
What I find particularly remarkable is that this group of students joined the Picton Castle shortly after Laura Gainey, a member of the vessel’s professional crew, was lost overboard during the transit from their homeport of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to the Caribbean. If you only have time for a few posts, I encourage you to read Laura and Laura in my heart which deal with the loss of a crew member at sea. Continue reading Life’s lessons learned under sail
Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and in recognition of the holiday last night I reread his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963). I am sure that I must have read it previously in a highschool or college civics course but I more recently became re-acquainted with it when I participated in Aspen Institute’s Executive Seminar last May. If you have not read it or need a refresher like me, you can find online and downloadable versions here.
I believe that King’s letter is an amazing work for many reasons with one of the most important being that it effectively frames the difficult conversation. This is no small feat. Sitting in a jail cell presents a limited range of options for leadership but King quickly responds to the opportunity created by the Alabama clergymen’s public statement (April 12, 1963) directed at him regarding the nonviolent demonstrations taking place in their community. It is a very powerful piece of writing and worth the time it takes to read closely. Continue reading Core Values (Part 1) Martin Luther King Jr.
Today marks the end of the second week of my newest life adventure. After spending more than 25 years in organizations with co-workers, I find launching this solo endeavor to be to be exciting and scary at the same time.
I made the decision to leave my previous position in early November and from then on through to my departure at the end of December I was totally consumed by tying up as many loose ends as I could. This really didn’t leave any time to start the important process of planning for the future. Of course, I did think about things in broad terms but as they say, the devil is in the details. So for the past 2 weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking about what is important to me in life and work. Continue reading Changing Perspective
Today marked the beginning of a new adventure. After 6 exciting, and at times challenging, years leading the American Sail Training Association I needed a change. There were many reasons why I decided now was the time, not the least of which is that I really wanted to have the opportunity to spend more time with family. Joy turned 2 yesterday and Luke will be 4 in a few months; it’s such an exciting time in our house and I did not want to miss it. (Check in with the MattapoisettMellos)
I have launched new company called Sea-Fever LLC, hence the name of the blog. Through Sea-Fever, I will embark on a consulting career focusing initially on the nonprofit sector. I am also working on a few other interesting projects which will be covered in this blog from time to time.
This blog will deal with a wide range of issues that interest me including challenges and opportunities in the nonprofit sector, new media and storytelling. I will also write about leadership which is a topic that has interested me ever since I was a young boy and which will be a significant part of the Sea-Fever program.
Finally, why Sea-Fever? The sidebar has a link to the inspiration which was the classic poem by John Masefield. My life has been incredibly influenced by the sea and sailing and to me Masefield captures the spirit, adventure and enthusiasm that all facets of life deserve.
Welcome aboard. I look forward to our journey together.