Oprah – Rarely do we get a true glimpse into what the American dream is about. Born in Mississippi to a teenage single mother, Oprah grew up in extreme poverty and has risen to shatter numerous glass ceilings. She is currently the third richest self-made woman and is the richest black American, ever. So, when Oprah speaks, people listen – and they should! But Oprah for President: I think not. And I’ll tell you why…
I did not watch Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globe Awards live (I tend not to watch Hollywood awards programs as the righteousness and hypocrisy usually make me want to vomit), but at dinner Wednesday night my 19-year-old daughter was raving about the speech and played it for us. Honestly, I was skeptical as I figured it was going to be just another “rah-rah everyone in this room is so important” diatribe, but boy was I wrong. Oprah started out by poignantly reflecting on her experiences from both a female and a black perspective, as well as the importance of mentors and role models, and then gracefully waded into the waters of the #MeToo movement. Once there, she tactfully pointed out that while Hollywood may have shined a spotlight on the issue, the victims who need the most support were not the elite in the room. Those most in need are the single mothers and others who have no resources to protect themselves from harassment, and she and others in positions of power and influence must be their voice. She concluded by acknowledging and reminding every woman watching that men are not the enemy. Bravo!
The message and impact of this speech is precisely why Oprah should not run for President. Unlike most, Oprah has the credibility to call out elitists and pressure them to create real change rather than just jump on the bandwagon to grab headlines, the way many do. More than anyone in recent history, she has put her money where her mouth is and has used her wealth and influence to help everyday people. America needs her to keep doing that unhampered by partisan politics.
Some may argue that as President she could foster even bigger change and benefits for the country. I think the idea is naïve. As President, Oprah would necessarily have to make decisions that would cost people jobs, food, citizenship, and life. Finding herself in this position would be the exact opposite of what she has based her entire life, wealth, and reputation on, and if she had to start making those decisions, Oprah, the modern-day Camelot, would be lost forever. And right now, this country (and world) needs more hope and humanitarian efforts, not less. To lose such an icon to gain just another President would be a shame.
Energeia Board of Advisors – I kicked off the week with my first Board of Advisors meeting for the Energeia Partnership at Molloy College. I am a member of the Energeia Class of 2016 and have been very inspired by the people I’ve met through the program. For those who may not be familiar with it, Energeia is a leadership academy that focuses on identifying and addressing the issues that challenge Long Island, including poverty, healthcare, institutional racism, transportation, and energy, to name only a few. Each “class” of Long Island leaders participates in a two-year academy featuring a series of programs, each focusing on a particular issue impacting our region.
“Energeia” is a Greek word used to describe the demonstration of inner character in deeds, and the name couldn’t more aptly describe this remarkable group. I look forward to working with my fellow board members and using this role to both educate and learn from Long Island thought leaders.
Everything Is a Negotiation – On Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of presenting on one of my favorite topics, negotiation, to a group known for their wild and crazy ways: accountants and financial professionals! Thank you to my friend Arthur Sanders for the invitation to present at the January dinner meeting for the Long Island chapter of IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) at the Woodbury Country Club. My presentation, entitled “Everything Is a Negotiation,” focused on the basic building blocks that all negotiators need, as well as strategies to master the emotional side of negotiation, which is the real key to negotiating effectively. I always enjoy talking negotiation with a new group of people, and this evening didn’t disappoint.
Softheon – I spent some time last week with my good friend and client Eugene Sayan, CEO of Softheon, whose mission is “to make healthcare affordable, accessible, and plentiful.” Eugene has built a terrific company (it was recently named one of the top 5 places to work on Long Island) and I feel proud that such a brilliant person has chosen Long Island to build and grow his business.
Legislative Breakfast – I’m excited for our first HIA-LI event of the year, which is the Annual Meeting & Legislative Breakfast next Friday, January 19 at the Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack. I will moderate a distinguished panel of speakers including State Senator Tom Croci, State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, and Kulka LLC President & Founder Jack Kulka, with remarks by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. This is a really important event to clear your calendar for, as we’ll be debating the 2018 economic forecast, the new tax law, the opioid crisis, paid family leave in New York, increases to the minimum wage, Hauppauge Industrial Park updates, healthcare, efforts to eradicate MS-13, and more. Hope to see you there. Register here.