July Memo – The Price of Greatness
June, a thirty day month and day shorter than May, dropped less than expected, putting us in a good, sustained position to drive into our seasonal “up” months of July and August.
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This month, I want to share a different type of memo; one that is a nice fit for the peak of summer.
First of all, I am not a particularly political person, am averse to partisan politics have no desire to every have the company dragged into the bar brawl that lives in our public space right now. Nevertheless, I do have a strong sense of what is right and wrong in the world which pops up every now and again when inspired or horrified, and lately I’ve found tremendous inspiration in Winston Churchill’s autobiography – from his youth until he was 25 (and featured prominently in The Crown, season 1, episode 4).
In the book he recounts a speech he gave, and which I excerpt below. It spoke loudly to me right now, and I hope does the same to you. Is it a political speech? I suppose it must be called one because he gave it in Parliament. Is it political now? It shouldn’t be, but ironically, yes, it is, for the resolve of his time reflects unflatteringly on our own.
What does it have to do with our company work right now? Why this memo? It speaks, I believe, to the deeper mission, for which if you don’t believe this political speech from 1943 you cannot believe in the work that we do each day through our screens, keyboards, cameras and mice.
Ultimately it is the belief that we exist on this earth to take responsibility for the earth, ourselves and others. Our medium is the home, design, food, cooking, family, but our goal is to live better and to never forget that not only are we inseparably connected to the earth, but we are also connected to one another. If you fail, I fail. If you thrive, I thrive. This underpins all.
For the month of July our work is plainly set out and our teams are nearly full. Stay focused on your Objectives which guides us in the short term, but take this as inspiration for what is at stake in the long.
Harvard University, September 1943
…The price of greatness is responsibility. If the people of the United States had continued in a mediocre station, struggling with the wilderness, absorbed in their own affairs, and a factor of no consequence in the movement of the world, they might have remained forgotten and undisturbed beyond their protecting oceans: but one cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilised world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes.
If this has been proved in the past, as it has been, it will become indisputable in the future. The people of the United States cannot escape world responsibility. Although we live in a period so tumultuous that little can be predicted, we may be quite sure that this process will be intensified with every forward step the United States make in wealth and in power. Not only are the responsibilities of this great Republic growing, but the world over which they range is itself contracting in relation to our powers of locomotion at a positively alarming rate.
We have learned to fly. What prodigious changes are involved in that new accomplishment! Man has parted company with his trusty friend the horse and has sailed into the azure with the eagles, eagles being represented by the infernal (loud laughter) – I mean internal -combustion engine. Where, then, are those broad oceans, those vast staring deserts? They are shrinking beneath our very eyes. Even elderly Parliamentarians like myself are forced to acquire a high degree of mobility.
But to the youth of America, as to the youth of all the Britains, I say “You cannot stop.” There is no halting-place at this point. We have now reached a stage in the journey where there can be no pause. We must go on. It must be world anarchy or world order….
Full speech: The Gift of a Common Tongue, September 6, 1943