Vinko Bogataj

Does that name ring a bell?  He was the ski jumper whose 1970 crash was immortalized in the introduction to Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay.  The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat…  Vinko was the agony of defeat part, but luckily, he survived.  I always think about him when the Olympics are taking place. 

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is an interesting phrase, and not just for the Olympics.  I’ve been hesitant to write about the recent Summer Games in Tokyo.  It’s just not that exciting to me anymore, primarily due to the fact there are too many sports I have no interest in.  But it does make me reminisce about memorable Olympic moments from the past. 

My family spent a week at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.  We saw Alberto Juantorena, the great Cuban 800-meter champion and Edwin Moses the 400m hurdles champion.  I shook hands with Sugar Ray Leonard and watched Phil Boggs win a gold medal in diving.  We saw Kornelia Ender and the East German women dominate swimming events, only to be disgraced in later years due to the doping scandal.  These are just a few of the memories I will never forget. 

I’m sure every sports enthusiast has their favorite Olympic memory.  Most, I assume, are gold medal moments, but not all.  Victory, for many athletes is just being able to participate in the Olympics.  Representing your country at this unparalleled venue must be the thrill of a lifetime.

The Olympics unite and uplift the world like nothing else can.

Post Olympics, what can unite and uplift us?  The pandemic certainly unites us, as it is a global problem, but it isn’t uplifting.  Solving climate change and saving the planet is uplifting to many, but it is far from uniting.  What could possibly accomplish both?  Sadly, I have no obvious candidates.

But here is one idea…  In a word, Hope.  There is always hope, no matter how discouraging things get.  Hope is really an attitude.  Despite all the issues and challenges our country faces today, despite the animosity and polarization, we can still be hopeful.   

This is one hope I have for our country.  I’ll call it the Leadership Development Project. 

It starts with building a team of outstanding individuals that collectively has the following characteristics, competencies, and experiences:

  • Superior intelligence
  • Advanced education   
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Effective communication skills
  • Business and economic acumen
  • Embodiment of sound core values
  • Commitment to integrity in word and action
  • Comprehensive understanding and appreciation of BOTH liberal and conservative viewpoints
  • Willingness to compromise for the greater good
  • Belief in, and practice of, servant leadership

What would this team having all these traits actually do?…  Its primary function would be to identify candidates for political office at the national level.  They would set term limits for Congress.  They would identify the very best candidates for President.  They would convince the finest men and women in our country to serve.  Today, our country’s finest are not working in politics at the national level.  Convincing our finest to serve is our nation’s biggest challenge.    

I am hopeful that we can do this.  Without doing this, it will be much more difficult to remain hopeful about our country’s future.      

Can you think of individuals who should be on this team?  Send me their names. 

Michael Kayes, CFA