• Fred's Blog

    He Told Stories

    Listen to “He Told Stories” by Fred Smith   Years ago, as a much younger man, I began a search for wisdom in giving. Although looking back, I realize that I didn’t know what “wisdom in giving” truly meant. I was really looking for advice and a jumpstart – not wisdom. I had read everything available, but I wanted to find a person from whom I could learn not only the practical aspects but also the essential values of philanthropy. I had heard a talk by John Gardner, the author of Self-Renewal, who said, “Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.” I knew…

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    The Rich You Will Always Have Among You

    Listen to “The Rich You Will Always Have Among You” by Fred Smith   Like others, I have been disappointed by corrupt wealthy parents and coaches finding a way around the system by helping a scoundrel open the “side door” to admissions to elite colleges and universities. I don’t think anyone familiar with admissions was shocked by the fact that it happens. We have had various forms of favoritism and rule-bending for many years: Scholarships and loyal alumni boosters making under the table payments to athletes, deals for parents of valuable recruits, and prestigious awards given to major donors for little more than writing large checks. While it clearly points…

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  • Fred's Blog

    A Sometimes Solitary Life

    Listen to “A Sometimes Solitary Life” by Fred Smith   If you read biographies you notice a frequent pattern in the lives of many great leaders. Early success and then years of obscurity and hardship – even rejection and exile. Two good examples are Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Writers and artists may show promise – even brilliance – and then languish for decades before creating anything again. One hit wonders are common in music as are novelists who cannot produce a second best seller. In other words, early success is no guarantee of longevity or continued success. These people battle for years with doubt – especially self-doubt. They wrestle…

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    A Living Thing

    Listen to “A Living Thing” by Fred Smith   My grandfather was a Baptist pastor with the temperament of an Irishman. Named Matthew Bunyan after John Bunyan, he was always addressed as Brother Smith by my grandmother. Mercurial and unpredictable are likely the right words for his relationships with both the deacons and the congregations he served. Today, we would call him a church planter but the truth is he moved around in his career more than most. I remember my father telling me that Brother Smith had an uncomfortable habit of telling the whole truth about the departed at funerals. Maybe his ill-timed honesty kept them itinerant and poor.…