Back in the U.S.S.R. - Leadership SHIFT Tip

In the summer of 1987, the Soviet Union was still considered the enemy, Gorbachev was its leader, Ronald Regan insisted that he should "tear down this wall," Billy Joel was on his U.S.S.R. tour, and my wife was with her travel abroad study group in Moscow. 

It almost seems like yesterday.  

Last weekend my wife traveled back to her alma mater nestled in a small, remote hamlet in upstate New York. She and her Russophiles were celebrating their study group's thirty year anniversary. They traveled in from places far and wide including hurricane-ravaged Houston and Switzerland. 

Crazy, right? Who does that? It was just a study group. 

But the better question to ask is, why. Why would you spend a holiday weekend fighting traffic, airports, and customs for a brief visit?

The answer, Richard "Dick" Sylvester.  

Dick was their professor. He's brilliant. He went to West Point, Harvard, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. His Russian knowledge and expertise are beyond reproach. 

But this doesn't answer the question of why. 

If you are lucky to spend a few minutes with Dick, then the reasons are evident.  

His passion is infectious. As my wife put it, "His enthusiasm inspired us to get better, to get to the next level, to be like Dick." 

He shifted their world view. He helped them fall in love with the language, customs, and people. He helped them see the commonalities that we share regardless of where we live.  

Dick changed their lives and made it so much more than just a study group. That is why they traveled so far.  

College is different than professional life. This is true. Some may say this type of reaction to a business leader is impossible. After all, GenX is longer so young and impressionable and millennials are too hard to figure out, some believe. 

Perhaps they are correct, but what if we decided to act as if it was possible?

What's the cost in trying?  

It worked for Dick. Why couldn't it work for you? Plus, you must be curious about who will show up for you in 2047.   

Have Fun Storming the castle!


"If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you,
you haven't done much today.
- Mikhail Gorbachev