Northwind Pharmaceuticals

Land of Opportunity

America is another name for opportunity.  Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine providence on behalf of the human race.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Like all political seasons before it, this one has us chin-deep in rhetoric.  Factions rule the day as our two party system forces us into a choice that neither represents all of our beliefs, nor will likely accomplish much of what we’d like to see him or her do if elected.  It is easy to feel cynical about a system that has grown so large, so hyped, and so shallow that it feels more like a Hollywood movie than the serious reality it represents to American citizens and the world around us.

Before we throw in the towel and give way to complete cynicism, it is important to keep perspective.  I recently attended a CEO Forum event hosted by BMO Harris Bank.  The theme was “Think Beyond” and featured three compelling speakers talking about market trends, commercial innovation, and government innovation.   Walking away from that event, I was reminded that we still live in an amazing land of opportunity.

The first speaker was Brian Belski, BMO Harris’s Chief Investment Stategist.  He offered a broad set of thoughts from an economic viewpoint.  Though much of what he said was too broad to translate directly into my world, I did walk away with a few key points:

  • Though recovery is slow and things feel unsteady, we are in the middle of a 20 year Bull Market.  Slow but still moving forward.
  • We’ll see a more robust U.S. domestic recovery in the second half of the year.
  • Business investment will increase in the U.S. due to international instability and sales growth will follow.

Mr. Belski referenced numerous data points supporting his view but the most profound elements referenced the psychology of behavior.  Fear, uncertainty, and doubt continue to drive many decisions that are made.  Underlying each of his predictions was a strong faith in the U.S. market and system.  The presentation’s foundation rested in a fundamental belief in the U.S. as a land of opportunity.

The next speaker was George Blankenship, a former executive at Tesla Motors, Apple Computer, and GAP Inc.  Mr. Blankenship’s presentation focused on the innovative approach each of his former employers took in growing their retail businesses.  As the architect of these dramatic retail expansion projects, Blankenship recounted the boldness, creativity, and impact of these amazing organizations (and their leaders) as they created models, products, and strategies that changed the face of their industries.  At the heart of his message? Be bold.  His question: What are you doing to revolutionize your industry?   Underlying his presentation: we live in an amazing land of opportunity.  Check out his current position on LinkedIn.

Our final speaker was former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President, Mitch Daniels.  Governor Daniels referenced broad experiences in industry, government, and education to talk about innovation and change.  Some central themes to his speech included:

  • The power of being bold.
  • The importance of teams and leadership.
  • Choosing priorities and focus.

At the heart of Daniel’s message was an inspiring belief in America as a land of opportunity.  Though the former governor offered many entertaining stories and memorable one-liners, my favorite comment of his was: “If you’re leading an organization, go do something significant.  If you can’t or don’t want to, then get out of the way and give someone else a try.”

None of the speakers ventured into the political realm and the only commentary on the current election was a reference to pendulum swings and frustration in the electorate.  The message: the U.S. will still be a land of opportunity post-election.

So follow the news with a critical eye.  Evaluate your candidates and sort through the rhetoric.  Engage in the process and do your part to impact the outcome.  Let those frustrations and cynical thoughts slide by and work to focus on the opportunities.   Look for the possibilities in your world and seize them.  It is easy to complain, see the negatives, and get caught up in the hype.  The bottom line is that the United States is still the Land of Opportunity.

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