Friday, December 22, 2006

"The Season of Giving"

'Tis the days before Christmas
And I'm stirring and writing and figuring around here
To get as much done as possible
And close out this year.

So night before last
What do I do?
Watch a little TV.
Maybe you, too.

It's not my normal thing, TV.
But something inside was telling me
"Flip it on, flip it on
And see what you'll see."

And to much of my surprise
What do I find ...

The show that immediately came on: PBS News Hour. But not with Jim Lehrer. The story: "The Many Legacies of Andrew Carnegie" in which Paul Solman (NewsHour Economics Correspondent) interviews David Nasaw - a Carnegie biographer. Seems that Andrew was quite a multifaceted guy. Loved by some, hated by others - even to this day. He believed in survival of the fittest (socially speaking) yet he saw one of his missions as being to pull others along with him.

Proportionately speaking (considering the economy of his day) Carnegie gave away more money than Warren Buffet and Bill Gates combined for the betterment of his fellow human being. Yet, he simultaneously refused to raise his workers wages or give them a shorter workday. He was a complex man ... or as Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation described him, "a man of contradiction."

I felt it an intriguing short episode - especially at this time of year - "the season of giving." I also felt it was significant given the that the Allied Ronin Leader's Retreat is just days away ... that this retreat was inspired in some ways by old legends of how Carnegie, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and Luther Burbank supposedly would slip away from their day-to-day business, get out in nature to camp with each other and talk about ideas. It was for them (I was told) a way of reflecting on life and stimulating their creativity for the future.

You can read the entire PBS interview by going to

An aside - It was a further interesting vignette given the roots of "human potential movement" from which has come the modern self-help, positive philosophy, personal and professional coaching, etc., etc., industry. All of this was in large part inspired by an early twentieth century assignment given by the great steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, to a budding young author, Napoleon Hill. The result of which became one of the most sold books written in the English language - "Think & Grow Rich." For background on this see "The Laws of Success" by Napoleon Hill.

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