Archive for March, 2011

One of Us

Oh, one of these nights at about twelve o’clock
This whole earth is gonna reel and rock
Saints will tremble and cry for pain
For the Lord’s gonna come in his heaven airplane.

“One of Us” by Eric Bazilian, recorded by Joan Osborne

Flying always puts me in a philosophical frame of mind, and the first day of spring found me pondering life’s big questions as I flew home from Rome.

On the way to the airport the taxi’s radio played “One of Us,” and after several days of Rome’s in-your-face Catholicism I smiled at the song’s irreverence:

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the Pope maybe in Rome.

The flight route via Amsterdam took us across Europe’s highest and lowest points, and the clear skies afforded spectacular views all the way from the snow-capped Alps to the watery Dutch countryside. Flying this downhill route from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, it seemed as if someone had put a pin in the Earth’s balloon, deflating the mountains, their vertical sluices of snow melting from the peaks flattened into the network of canals that carve the lowlands into islands. Continue reading ‘One of Us’

Writing as Social Enterprise

Attending the 11th annual Social Enterprise Conference (SECON) last weekend at Harvard, I was surprised when one of the guest speakers quoted E.B. White. I doubt White is often (ever?) cited in lectures at Harvard Business School, and I wondered if the international students, a significant portion of the audience, even recognized the name.

Jointly organized by students at the Business School and the Kennedy School, SECON 2011 drew about 1,200 students and professionals seeking inspiration and ideas on how to “sustain impact and live change.” Sunday’s keynote speaker, Robert S. Harrison (CEO of the Clinton Global Initiative) reminisced about how, as an idealistic young law school grad, he was advised to defer pursuing a career in public service until he had some real world experience under his belt. After two decades on Wall Street, first as a corporate attorney and later as an investment banker (at Goldman Sachs…), he finally found his way into the public sector when former President Bill Clinton recruited him to lead the CGI, a high-profile offshoot of the Clinton Foundation. Alluding to the professional calculus many of the ambitious and idealistic audience members were doubtless making, he displayed a slide with a quotation he attributed to E.B. White:

“I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult.”

Warning bells rang in my head. The phrasing and the sentiment simply did not sound like White.

Social Enterprise Conference 2011 at Harvard Business School

Continue reading ‘Writing as Social Enterprise’


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