As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Two–no, now it is three–harbingers of hope

TI know it's odd to use this photo, of a gruesome re-enactment, as a "harbinger of hope".  Read on.

I know it's odd to use this photo, of a gruesome re-enactment, as a "harbinger of hope". Read on.

I’m sharing two three heart-warming tidbits to fuel the natural optimism lurking in most of my compatriot’s hearts.

Patriot’s Day is alive and well. It’s a nearly ubiquitous holiday in Boston, anchored by the beloved Marathon and a traditional Red Sox home game.  Daily Grommet, itself,  is located in the “Cradle of American Liberty,”  Lexington, MA.  School’s off and my youngest son was in the first parade of the day, gathering with his middle school band at 7AM.   Last night he said, “There are as many tourists here as ever.  Rancatore’s [the local ice cream shop] was full of people saying, ‘What flavor will I get?'”  I take heart in those tourists. I’ve always loved them, but now I feel more grateful than ever that they would spend their vacation time and budget in Lexington.

The main reason tourists come to Lexington on Patriot’s Day is the 5:30 AM annual Re-enactment of the Battle on Lexington Green.  (In 1775, it was the first official skirmish between the local Minutemen and the British Redcoats.)  The local re-enactors faithfully reproduce every character and action of that fateful morning and hundreds (thousands?) of people gather in the pre-dawn light to watch the impressive, but extremely brief battle.  My own seventeen year old son grabbed a few friends to bear witness today.  If that surprising image alone–that of typically self-absorbed and sleep-deprived teenagers rousting themselves out of bed for a patriotic, historical re-enactment–is not heartwarming, I don’t know what is.

Susan Boyle, holding her own for every underestimated middle-aged person with a dream. I feel like half of my friends are talking about this.  For the other half, I am sharing her stunning recent performance on “Britain’s Got Talent.”  Look at the sneering and derisive expressions of the judges and audience.  Virtually no one expected what this unpromising 47-year-old who has “never been married, never been kissed” knew she could do, and actually delivered.

(You might get an error message about the video being disabled by request.  Just hit the bottom right area where the YouTube logo normally sits, and you’ll get to the video.)

An anonymous donor has been pouring donations into women-led colleges and universities. Here’s the Boston Globe story, in full, and a quote below:

It’s the question on everyone’s lips in philanthropy: Who is the mysterious donor giving away millions of dollars to at least a dozen colleges across the country?

A circle of successful businesswomen? A publicity-shy (or playful) billionaire? Oprah Winfrey?

What is so unusual is that not even the colleges themselves know the answer. But the parlor game is afoot, with only one real clue: So far, all the colleges are led by women.

Wow.  In business, it’s so much harder for women to attract institutional investment.  I assume the same is true, but perhaps a little less dramatic,  in higher education.  Why is it hard?   Investors, who are almost all male, want to see themselves in an entrepreneur/leader.  They often want to live vicariously through that person, and affiliate with their success.  The gender difference, for a woman, makes that pretty tough.  No matter how great a visionary or leader a woman is, it is hard for a man to see himself as hugely similar to her.  He’s not deliberately dissing her, it’s subconscious.

I love that someone out there is actually deliberately funding women leaders.  You go girls.  Even bigger, please keep going Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Donor!

3 Responses to “Two–no, now it is three–harbingers of hope”

  1. Sara Pacelle

    Hi Jules,
    I’ve watched this video a few times and it makes me very emotional. Must be the hope thing you mention. It renews my hope in our society that we can be generous and gentle with each other. We study in school that the human desire for physical perfection is deep-rooted in a “survival of the species” attractive mating need. But, as members of one society, we have a human interdependent need to co-exist, no matter what we look like. Susan is someone’s sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, and yet she is so vulnerable standing alone on that stage. Why does she deserve such derision? Had we lost the hope that someone who looks like her could do what she did? Once we get to know her story (that she is a nice person with an amazing set of lungs!), she conquers our hearts.

    (By the way, since when is 47 years old considered ancient??? I’d like to give that Simon a piece of my mind! Oh wait, I said I wanted us to be more gentle with each other, right?!?)

    Susan Boyle’s triumphant performance is a wake up call to us to slow down, be generous and keep that hope alive.

  2. julespieri

    @Sara–Hear hear! I love your take on someone as “ordinary” as Susan Boyle (who is not ordinary at all) tipping our expectations sidewise. Opening our minds, and our hearts, in the process.


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