Memorable Decade

Before sitting down to write this month’s issue of Fast:Forward, I re-read each of my previous 119 newsletters. Over the past 10 years, I’ve written about three hurricanes, two inaugurations and one lengthy economic malaise. I embarked on several journeys knowing I would share the experiences with readers, including: booking the first-ever JetBlue flight out of Houston; inviting my favorite author, William Martin – who I didn’t know – to have dinner in Boston; taking up swimming as exercise at age 50. I opened up about jury duty for a capital murder trial and having to decide my position on the death penalty, reflected on the passing of two mentors and described what it was like to be a blind shopper.

My first year-end ‘Lessons Learned’ column appeared in 2007, and the response was so positive I’ve made it an annual endeavor. (Good decision: two of the three Decembers prior to that I had discussed the wisdom of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Marcia Brady.) Other times I shared stories about the seafood restaurant in Ft. Myers that ran out of fish, the formerly homeless young man from our community who is now a budding NBA star and the cleanest bathrooms in America at Buc-ee’s.

The best compliment I received from a reader was: “You have a talent for taking people and events that don’t appear to have anything in common with your point and making it all come together with ideas for business and life.” Emails like that ignite the energy that flows through my fingers onto the keyboard. I’m the vessel; the inspiration clearly comes from elsewhere.

Overall, I identified the list below of 77 people who – in all their human frailty – have appeared in my newsletters as guiding lights of leadership, vision and grace:

John Adams
Abraham Lincoln
John F. Kennedy
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
Barack Obama

Supreme Court Justices
Sandra Day O’Connor

Robert Gates
Rudy Giuliani (2 times)
Colin Powell (2)

John Glenn
Neil Armstong
Walter Schiarra

Baby Jessica
Louis Zamperini
Chesley Sullenberger

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Thomas Edison
Henry Ford (2)
Walt Disney (3)
Warren Buffett
Steve Jobs
Michael Dell
Allan Mullaly
David Neeleman (2)
Bob Parsons
Mark Zuckerberg
Tony Hsieh
Elon Musk (2)

Fiction Writers
Edgar Allan Poe
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Mark Twain
J.K. Rowling
William Martin (3)

Business Writers
Peter Drucker
Stephen Covey (2)
Tom Peters (2)
Jim Collins (3)
Seth Godin (5)
Malcolm Gladwell
Patrick Lencioni (3)
Daniel Pink
Marhsall Goldsmith

The Beatles
Mick Jagger
Bruce Springsteen (3)
Michael Jackson

Will Rogers
Leopold Stokowski
Paul Harvey
Dick Clark
Tim Russert
Merle Harmon

Maureen McCormick
George Lucas
Michael J. Fox
Sandra Bullock

Jackie Robinson
Darrell Royal
James Street
Herb Brooks
Bart Conner/Nadia Comaneci
Bill Walsh
Michael Phelps (4)
James Casey
Tim Tebow
Colt McCoy/Jordan Shipley
Tiger Woods (2)
Rory McIlroy
Missy Franklin
Jimmy Butler


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