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MikkiLeaks: Honoring Our Heroes by Phil Liebman
Mikki Williams. CSP, CPAE Mikki Williams. CSP, CPAE
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Chicago, IL
Friday, July 10, 2015


“I didn’t have time to write you a short letter– so I wrote a long one instead.” —Mark Twain
This is one of my favorite and most often borrowed quotes. It appeared in a letter Mr. Clemens wrote on June 15th 1871. But the scandal here is that it seems he had “borrowed” the quote from a French gentleman named Blaise Pascal who, according to Wikipedia, was a mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher. In 1657 Pascal wrote: I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.
Since Twain’s turn of phrase appeared more than 200 years later I’m not sure we can say it was actually “borrowed.” While suggesting it was stolen from a dead-man’s pen (Pascal) might seem a bit harsh it is likely accurate. And given Twain’s penchant for irony I wonder if the fact that Blaise was the son of a tax collector may have had something to do with some sense of justice or Karma. But I’m not here to talk about Karma or justice. I’m actually here to talk about me. (This leak’s on me!)
Regardless of which version of the quote you prefer it has been suggested it might well apply to my famously oft-long posts. I should also probably clear up rumors suggesting that I am verbose because I am paid by the word: I am in fact not paid at all. Hence, it brings us back to the opening quotation. Since I am not being paid you may wonder why I risk life and liberty to dangerously reveal truths to my loyal readers? The answer is that I do what I do to honor my heroes. This is the same driving purpose in my life that has me working with CEOs and other top executives – because I believe they all have the potential to be my heroes. And I have hopes that I can help you become my hero as well. This begs the question: Who are YOUR heroes? I had always disliked being asked that question. I struggled to point to any one person and definitively say he or she is my hero. I would find myself making it up to suit the context of whatever discussion we were having.
There were plenty of people whom I greatly admired but few I knew well enough to consider their actions heroic. I could count my mother and father and my mothers’ father among the heroes in my life, and could rattle off some great heroes out of history but struggled to identify living heroes beyond those I knew intimately.
Then about ten years ago when I became a TEC/Vistage Chair I came to realize that the people I admired most were the people I had been inviting into my professional world and into my groups. These men and women, through their inventiveness, dedication, and skill at accomplishing things, and above all else their caring, were doing more to benefit society than I had previously experienced when I idealistically immersed myself in politics and government. I came to see that through their ability to create value and solve problems these business leaders were better able to benefit the social, economic and cultural needs of our communities and the world. And the evidence of their good work is all around, in the dedications on libraries, hospitals, university research centers, and even a few towns named for them. I had discovered who my heroes truly are.
Do you ever think of yourself as a hero? Or whom you might be a hero to?
Are you courageous? Do you have an insatiable desire to do or to make things better? If so, you could certainly be one of my heroes. What does it take for someone to be one of yours?
A Final Thought on One of My Heroes 
I began working on this month’s contribution to MikkiLeaks over the long Independence Day weekend. One of my historic heroes happens to be Benjamin Franklin. Beyond being an inventor, a statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin was also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. In 1727 in Philadelphia, Franklin established The Junto, a club for mutual improvement. Its purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs. They also were a charitable organization that made a subscription public library of their own books. Franklin credited his business success on having this resource available to him, and Juntos, built on the same principles, exist to this day around the world. In good measure it is quite similar to the resources provided to the CEOs I work with through my Vistage Groups and is experienced worldwide by more than 18,000 Vistage and TEC members. It is something perhaps available to you. OK, so this could be seen as an unabashed plug for Vistage and shameless self-promotion for your author but I did note earlier that I am not getting paid for any of this so you can’t fault a kid for trying. It is just something I thought you ought to know. Until next month….remember, “shhhhhh.”

Phil Liebman is a Vistage Group Chair, a Fellow at the Thayer Institute for Leadership Virtuosity and the Founder of the BullFrog Group – helping CEOs become better leaders. You can reach him by email at phil@Strat.com - or by phone at 845.262.8611 or Visit www.TheBullFrogGroup.com
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