Giving Thanks!

Almost a month ago, beginning this day, I felt the world change for me. That day was the day that I felt called in to action, big time. I sleep less, think more and with such greater clarity. I feel so much more engaged with my family, my community, and the world in general. So much knowledge that I had absorbed over my life seems to have become profoundly relevant and I just want to write it all down and share.

So this Thanksgiving in addition to being thankful for all the things I am usually thankful for – my family, our health, our friendships, our home – I am also thankful to all of you who by visiting my blog, receiving my newsletter, posting a comment. sending me an email ……. are in some way connected to my passion to change the world for the better. I give thanks for your words that you have shared that say how committed you are to social change. It is in us all caring, just a little more, that the world will become a better place.

So this Thanksgiving I would like to share a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I turn to for inspiration. In countless ways this poem is of the moment, for me, and I know for many of you….I hope you enjoy it, and have a joyful Thanksgiving.

IF ………………………………………

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Citgroup Bail-Out, Fiscal Stimulus, the Latest Fed Program

I was pleasantly surprised by the positive market move on Monday in response to the Citi bail-out plan, which to me is a more than a little scary. I agree with some of the commentaries that are yelling for a coordinated and thoughtful approach rather than the Sunday night plans that commit billions and billions of taxpayer dollars. As for Obama’s announcement of a huge fiscal spending plan, yes we need one, but again this has to be extremely thoughtfully implemented. What we do not need is a plan of the likes of this past summer which was a complete waste of money. Big issues remain in the credit markets but I am confident that the FED and the Treasury are doing everything they can to improve the markets. This Program annoucement is a good one, but they are doing just SO MUCH that I am worried about the cummulative impact of it all on their balance sheet. We are in unprecendented times and they are doing unprecedented things.

Yesterday I sent out a newsletter that summarizes the factors that I believe contributed to the financial crisis, as well as some steps you can take with respect to financial preparedness. If you have not yet signed up, please do, good stuff to come!

A Brief Letter to the New Treasury Secretary and Be A Superhero!

The National Council For Research on Women invited me to submit piece in the form of a brief letter to the new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Please find it here. Also Read Sara Gould’s submission and a related article. As I said yesterday I am very excited about the choice as I hear he is a very smart guy and a great listener. He has big challenges ahead of him as these two articles in the papers yesterday point out. Here and here.

I have been thinking a lot about leadership these days, and the failure there of. Eight years ago I left my position running the fixed-rate mortgage trading desk at Goldman and moved to the executive office to help “manage the careers af the firms managing directors.” ( internal memo ) In that capacity I spent a lot of my time on leadership development, and served on the task force from which Pine Street, the firm’s leadership development effort, emerged. We met with countless leadership gurus and I collected stacks of books and articles on leadership but one of my all time favorites was a piece written by Tom Peters in March 2001 called “Rule # 3 – Leadership is Consfusing as Hell.” From the intro…”For the next five years, it’s business on a wartime footing….” doesn’t that feel like now? This is a must read piece. He goes on to put forward 50 leadership principles, with the 49th one inviting readers to submit their own…. here was mine.

“Be a Superhero. Remember what it was like to jump out of bed on those Saturday Mornings so you could rush to turn on the TV to get another dose of Superman, Batman, or in my case Wonderwoman! These characters inspired you to change the world, to do the right thing, to fight evil wherever it reared its ugly head. To be an example, and yet hide your true identity because it was not about personal glory. They never asked “what is in it for me”and they tried not to let the bad stuff get them down. They had a job to do and damn it they approached it with absolute enthusiasn and discipline. Be a superhero!”

We need a lot of Superheros right now and I hope Mr. Geithner proves to be one of them!