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  • Mark Olivito

10 Days In America: Houston, We Have A Problem!

Every business is different in terms of "speaking up" when it comes to society issues, current events and generally any topic OUTSIDE of the business's core products and services. I would imagine most tend to stay out of the public discourse, and it certainly seems "safer" to stay on the sidelines.


But for me, I'd rather run the risk of alienating a few people than NOT speaking my mind as it relates to being an active, concerned citizen, business owner, husband, father and friend. I don't claim to have "answers" and I'm not even sure what questions need to be asked, but I DO have a perspective. That perspective is usually shaped by my role as a business owner....


May 25th, 2020 America witnessed a horrifying tragedy with the senseless, cruel death of George Floyd. How can you watch the 8+ minute video and NOT be shocked, enraged and quite frankly horrified? Almost everyone I've talked to has expressed this emotion. I am right there with them. My heart breaks for his family and anybody that has experienced the brutal reality of racism.


I'll never forget waking up on Saturday and seeing "America Burning" with numerous protests across the country in disbelief at the the killing of George Floyd. Peaceful protests collided with store looting, property damage, and violence. Pain, anger, rage was all over the place. It was heartbreaking, and to be honest, by Saturday night I was absolutely exhausted.


But a couple of things stood with me from from the past 10 days that, PERSONALLY, give me hope.

Sheriff Chris Swanson from Michigan.



Laying down your gear. Opening your arms vs clenching your fists. My hats off to Sheriff Swanson for leading by example. BUT, equally important, and I wish I can give credit to someone who's EQUALLY important: That FIRST person that yelled "Walk with us!"?? Optimism, listening and empathy can be contagious. But SOMEBODY has to accept the hand. One voice started it, and than others followed.


Thousands in London protested as well. It really is true that the world follows closely what happens in the USA.


Unrelated to the protests, my family and I enjoyed a classic real life movie last Saturday. We were inspired by the Space X/NASA return to space and I remembered a great movie, starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Gary Sinise: APOLLO 13.


This mission had what seemed to be one crisis after another with all astronauts facing what seemed to be massively long odds for coming back home safely.


2 massively different outcomes were possible: "Worst disaster in NASA history, or our Finest Hour?"

2020 is clearly a year nobody can predict. From the Covid 19 pandemic and resulting 100k+ lives lost, 40mm jobless claims and the resulting economic destruction, to the pain that inspired national protests.

It absolutely feels like the scene of Apollo 13. I can only hope that we'll look back on this year in the future and say: This was a pivotal moment.


To begin BOTH the re-building of our great country AND the healing of it, it will require elements from all the above videos.

  • Someone laying down their battle gear and asking, "What can I do?" And notice that the leader didn't care about their political party affiliation? In fact, I bet that thought never entered his mind.

  • Someone taking the Sheriff up on his request with the courage to yell "WALK WITH US!"

  • The crew of Apollo 13 charting a new mission when their dream was shattered, "lets return home safely."

  • A supporting team in Houston that refused to let "failure be an option."

Racism and the resulting pain has been in our country for FAR too long. Everybody plays a role to get us to a better place. I don't expect this to happen quickly, as the problem has been with us for FAR too long.


But I DO believe that everyone can make a choice to make your individual world's a more accepting place.

  • To listen more.

  • To open your arms instead of clenching your fists.

  • To start moving forward in our businesses, communities and families WITHOUT blinders on.

  • To work together, with each other, as a Team. Because high functioning teams (and communities) with collective goals/missions will always beat the soloists concerned about strictly individual outcomes.


2020 won't ever be forgotten. Who knows if it will be our finest hour or not, and to be honest that's too big of a question for me to contemplate. But I do believe we can each use our voice, listen, and try to solve the problems in front of us, and we can do that with our immediate circles of people around us.


Stay Safe.

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