26 October 2012

Election Year

With the presidential election on our doorstep, I have been thinking a lot about voting and the responsibilities of leaders.

I was reminded of my junior year in high school. At the end of the school year I decided to run for a study body office and prepared a speech. I detailed all of my qualifications and wrote witty lines in between, though not laugh out loud funny. I was quite proud of my speech, and I'm sure I made some signage as well to hang around the school.

Speeches were given at a school assembly from the lowest study body position to the highest ranking candidates. When my turn came to speak, I was nervous but felt well prepared. My opponent had the opportunity after me to give a speech, but that's not exactly what happened. Instead of speaking, my opponent did a strip tease dance to music. I can't remember him saying anything except, maybe a "Vote for me!" at the end. He won.

Is it any surprise? Of course it was high school, but I would say that attitude about voting is fairly comparable with our society today. Marketing is big - who's name do you remember when you're at the booth to vote? What one word misspoken in the debate changed your opinion of the whole race? The candidates are so opinionated in the beginning and yet middle-of-the-road near the end that it's hard to tell what anyone really stands for - and they are doing it because "that's what the people want." I'll still vote, though, because it's my responsibility and privilege.

With all this in mind I read this quote from my MBA case study about Interface, Inc. - a company that has pledged to be oil-free by 2020:

"Paul Hawken (author of The Ecology of Commerce) argued that business people alone could reverse the trend of environmental degradation from industrialization. Individuals did not possess the collective power to do so. Governments were typically reactive rather than proactive and thus were unequipped to provide the transformation change. Thus, said Hawken, it was up to capitalist business, 'the only institution large enough, wealthy enough, and pervasive and powerful enough to lead humankind out of the mess we are making.'" - Strategic Management: Concepts & Cases by Frank T. Rothaermel

Statements like this remind me that I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on society through business, even when our political leaders are incapable.

While we're on the topic of speeches, voting, and making a difference you should know that this week the hubby ran for Vice President of his class.

He says that he's more than prepared to take over for the student government president and protect the school, should the student president ever be promoted to Washington.