I had another topic to write about, but since today is 9/11 it’s really hard to write about anything else. Just like I have every September 11th since 2001, I spent the morning watching the reading of the names at ground zero on TV and reflecting on how that day, and the weeks and months after, permanently affected my life and the life of my loved ones. I was fortunate enough not to lose any close friends or relatives to the terrorist attacks that day, but like every New Yorker, I know friends of friends or relatives of friends who perished that day. And like every New Yorker, I lost my skyline, my best view of the city from up high, my favorite bathrooms at Windows on the World, and the best bar to take a friend from out of town.
Everyone has their story of that day, but I want to talk about the day after, and how two different leaders had two very different reactions. At the time I was co-founder and President of a small software company in midtown. That night, after we knew all our employees and clients were safe and accounted for (our office was about 50 blocks North of Ground Zero, but one of our biggest clients had offices on the 35th floor of Tower 1), my partner and I got on the phone to discuss our next steps. I was so distraught and basically freaked out, that I was in no shape to go back to work the next day and I also assumed that all our employees felt the way I did. But my partner wanted everyone in the office, back to work as usual, not a day to lose in our busy deadline driven schedule. We argued (as we often did) and finally, after Mayor Giuliani declared that New York City offices should close on September 12th, I won and we called our employees to stay home that day.
When we returned to work on the 13th, I was still a mess. It was my partner who rallied the troops back to work and led us back to some kind of normal routine. Although I initially disagreed with his reaction to the crisis, I was pretty amazed by my partner’s ability to lead and keep focus amidst the incomprehensible events we had just experienced. In many ways it was the return to the mundane tasks of everyday living that helped me move forward from that terrible day. I guess what I am saying is that it takes all kinds of people to run a company, organization, even a country effectively. I’ll try to keep that in mind as I go on with my mission to convert people into better environmental stewards.