Corner Office-A New Year, A Better Tomorrow
As the clock strikes 12 on December 31, people all over the world will be cheering and wishing each other a happy New Year. For some people, the new year simply means a new calendar or a major hangover from too much celebrating. But for others, including most business leaders, the new year symbolizes a clean slate and the prospects of a better tomorrow.
I’d like to spread happiness with the following collection of well-known and lesser-known (penned by my own hand) New Year’s toasts and wishes:
Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.
Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to have classes and seminars on business ethics and ethical behavior, but just listened to our consciences? What if we all practiced the Golden Rule? Can you envision a more peaceful world if we utilized an arsenal of diplomacy as big as our arsenal of weapons? And imagine what it would be like if we’d love our neighbors as we love ourselves!
May your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, never in want.
—an Irish toast
Say, wouldn’t it be nice if greed wasn’t so pervasive in our society? What if we could redefine success in new terms to include measurements such as a healthy psyche, strong personal values, and being a family man or woman? How impressive it would be if companies embraced the notion of true philanthropy.
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.
—T. S. Eliot
Let’s all try to use a new vocabulary focused on “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me” in the new year. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were less judgmental? It would be illuminating for all people if those in the spotlight (such as radio personality Don Imus) understood the full impact of their hurtful and disrespectful comments. Picture how wonderful it would be if we taught our children the meaning of one simple word: respect.
God bless us, every one!
—Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
I wish for a world that exploits similarities rather than differences. I wonder what business could accomplish if we’d close the gap between high-paid CEOs and the salaries they pay their labor. Wouldn’t it be good if all employees who contributed to the good fortunes of shareholders would be rewarded, instead of a select few? Imagine what a huge difference we’d make if those of us who have been especially blessed shared our good fortune with those less fortunate—because it’s the right thing to do.
Each age has deemed the newborn year the fittest time for festal cheer.
—Sir Walter Scott
Can you visualize a more cheerful world of nurturing and growing relationships with our spouses, our children, our parents, our employees, and with other nations? And on a less serious note, wouldn’t we be extremely cheerful if the Minnesota Vikings and Gophers could both find the formula for success?
Here’s a toast to the future, a toast to the past, and a toast to our friends, far and near; may the future be pleasant, the past a bright dream, and may our friends remain faithful and dear.
Think how lonely, sad, and emotionally bankrupt we’d be without our true friends. We should thank our real friends more often, because they stand by us through thick and thin, and do just about anything for us because they care. Shouldn’t we make nurturing our friendships a high priority for the new year?
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.
We are lucky to have been born in—or live in—a country where our only limitations to achieving success are our doubts or lack of ambition. Wouldn’t it be great if more people understood that they can achieve whatever they make their minds up to do, and they don’t have to rely on others to provide for them? Imagine the tremendous rewards if more schools, places of worship, and families taught this principle to all children in our great country!
Ring out the old, ring in the new; ring, happy bells, across the snow; the year is going, let him go; ring out the false, ring in the true.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Wouldn’t it be a different world if we could truly ring out the false and ring in the truth? We could start this process with our political campaigns. It’s my wish that the elections next year aren’t about (untruthful or distorted) attacks, but about real issues debated by people who care more about our country than their own careers or political agendas.
Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve; middle age is when you’re forced to.
I’d like to be able to turn back the clock and recapture my youth, yet retain my experiences and the wisdom gained from them. Although we can’t travel back in time, we can share our experiences and knowledge with the next generation by mentoring, teaching, writing, and speaking. Our youth would be better off by learning from our mistakes, instead of repeating them. And our world be in better condition if more executives insisted on and taught good corporate values and ethics.
Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last.
Let’s all agree that it would be in our best interests if corporate directors practiced good governance by remaining “independent,” and representing the constituency groups they were elected to represent. Directors should be activists for shareholders, employees, and communities. I wish that more companies would have directors who concentrated less on the “Rules of Congeniality” and more on doing what’s right—even if it meant running against the herd.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Can you envision a society where, for instance, my son, who is a police officer, and my nieces, who are teachers, had incomes that were even a fraction of the salaries of highly paid hedge fund managers and CEOs? In 2006, the top 25 wage-earning hedge fund managers in the United States earned an average of $560 million each. The average CEO of a Standard & Poor’s 500–listed company received almost $15 million in compensation. Compare that to what the average public elementary teacher or police officer earns: $45,000. What does our society value more? Safe communities and educated children, or a few smart people who continue to create more wealth for themselves?
As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.
Sometimes I wish that we never had to deal with adversity and disappointment in our lives, but that’s not very practical. Instead, I dream about the healing power of people understanding that adversity doesn’t build character, but defines it. I’d like to make up a world where everyone focused on the glass being half full, rather than half empty. Shouldn’t we give thanks every single day that we wake up in the morning and have a free choice about what we do with our lives, and that we can become whatever our minds can imagine? I envision that we’d leave this world a better place for the short period of time we are given to occupy it.
Whatever you have planned in 2008, my wish is that you achieve it and that our world benefits from it. Happy New Year!