Vocation

A Sometimes Solitary Life

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 fo ...[Read More]

Place and Power

Place and Power

Listen to “Place and Power” by Fred Smith   If you want well-written insight into the work of speechwriters and their behind-the-scenes influence, I would suggest Barton Swaim’s book, “The Speechwriter.” Its soul-searching honesty about the conflicts, challenges and moments of both praise and despair are good reading. Some of our finest pundits, commentators, and authors hav ...[Read More]

The Glitter is Gone

The Glitter is Gone

Listen to “The Glitter is Gone” by Fred Smith   In the past there has always been an unspoken bond between the very rich “one percent” of our world and the rest of us. During the Great Depression, people flocked to the movies to escape the harshness of their lives and catch a momentary peek at the one percent who were doing well. For years, the most popular movies were those with ...[Read More]

Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis?

  Listen to “Quo Vadis?” by Fred Smith Haley was five when she came to me and said she wanted to set up to sell lemonade in the front yard.  Not being the craftsman my father was, I hammered together a very wobbly cardboard and wood stand.  After she laid out her cups, pitcher and money box, I stepped inside the house for maybe two minutes.  When I returned she was gone – along wi ...[Read More]

Crossing The Line

Crossing The Line

Listen to “Crossing The Line” by Fred Smith   One of the most pronounced trends in the non-profit world in the last ten years has been the number of men and women in business careers making a transition to the non-profit world. Books like Bob Buford’s “Half-Time” both launched and responded to a wave of men and women who wanted to move “from success to significance.” For many who ...[Read More]

Monks And Money

Monks And Money

Listen to “Monks and Money” by Fred Smith   One of my treasures is a framed picture of Peter Drucker, Bob Buford, Tom Luce and myself outside Peter’s house in Estes Park in the early 1990’s. Underneath it, Bob wrote, “The Beginning of the Social Entrepreneur Network.” It was an idea we had been working on for several years and one that was close to Peter’s heart as it combin ...[Read More]

All That Is Hidden

All That Is Hidden

Listen to “All That Is Hidden” by Fred Smith   “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn Over the years, I have returned to read the remarks of Alexander Solzhenitsyn given at Harvard University in 1978 and published later as “A W ...[Read More]

Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away

Listen to “Not Fade Away” By Fred Smith   I was 38 when I realized I was a misfit in my work. Teaching in a traditional boarding school on the East Coast, I was working overtime to adapt – but unsuccessfully. It was no one’s fault. It was simply not the right place for me. During that time I discovered a book by Ralph Mattson and Art Miller, Finding a Job You Can Love. Their ...[Read More]

An Unremarkable Life

An Unremarkable Life

Listen to “An Unremarkable Life” by Fred Smith   I re-publish this every few years to honor my father and grandfather. They were so different and each found it difficult to love and understand the other. Fathers and sons. I know something about that. If all I knew about my grandfather was what I read in his 1952 diary I might think he was a man whose life was a monotonous string o ...[Read More]

The Beginning And The End

The Beginning And The End

Listen to “The Beginning And The End” By Fred Smith   I have worked with a number of entrepreneurs over the years and there are a few common themes and characteristics in their lives. One of them is an extreme focus and a personal identification with projects. They start things, grow them, and then look for exit strategies. In fact, the exit strategy is built into the plan from th ...[Read More]