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Do you hate writing that end of year holiday letter?


You know the one I mean: a one-page summary of the year you’ve had. No one wants to talk about bad news. But, no one wants to be dishonest. Yet, there’s always someone who writes about their fabulous vacation, their terrific career and their youngest making the honor roll while the eldest is off to Harvard.

Who wants to compete with that?

We elected to have a card printed with selected photos on the front and a simple message on the reverse:

It was a year of wonderful travels, our 35th anniversary, becoming new grandparents and the publication of The Reluctant CEO. We wish you a very Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year, John and Suzanne

Simple, right? If you want more details, you can Friend me on Facebook.

But the truth is that summarizing your year in a single sentence isn’t very easy. You have to sift through all that’s happened. Everything we mentioned describes a single event. However, each of them is the culmination of a journey.

One can only take a wonderful vacation if you’ve ordered your life so that you have the time and money for it. Becoming a grandparent is biological event but being a grandparent is the result of raising children who can love and create a healthy environment for their children.

And, the 35th anniversary? Well, if you’ve been married, you know how much work it is. It’s not easy but a good marriage is rewarding in so many ways we simply take for granted.

What about the book?

I’ll be interviewed about it on TV this week (Good Day Rochester, 7:50AM, Wednesday, Channel 7, in case you’re interested). Preparing for it has caused me to think through my personal journey. I’ve written a “business fable”. It’s a story about a flawed leader who must find his way in the world. Why did I write it?

Every business book I’ve ever read portrays a picture of perfection. They’re mostly non-fiction.

But, life isn’t perfect. Plans never work out the way you think they will. I wanted to write a story that conveyed the ups and downs of the journey of this one individual – the reluctant CEO.

He is chosen for a CEO job before he is ready. He tries too hard to live up to the expectations of others. It isn’t until he learns how to lead his company according to his personal values that he succeeds and is happy in his job.

I wrote it with Millennials in mind. I think of the younger generation as saviors. I believe they will endeavor to right some wrongs as they grow into leadership roles in our society. This is a story of a young man who does just that. The subtitle – Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul – describes the theme of the book.

It’s been interesting that the readers I have heard from most are CEO’s — CEO’s of all ages. Some are in their 40’s or 50’s and a few are indeed Millennials – Millennial CEO’s.

The primary lesson?

CEO’s and corporate leaders are members of communities and they should remember that when they are called upon to make tough decisions. The community they serve is larger than just their shareholders. It includes employees and families. It includes people in the town where they live and work. Can you embrace that lesson and put it to work in 2017?

I wish the very best to you, your family and your community this holiday season.

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