Monday, February 8, 2021

1985 - Leadership Lessons from the "Real Thing"


Ducking the wind with Ann (L) and Bill (R) on a faithful road trip

(Fifty Nifty Years In United States Series)

This is the same Bill who was part of my early Y story in Temple City. He is a few years older and always made sure that I knew that. He was in the seminary when we met and then decided that he was to be a journalist and a Y director and then ultimately a chiropractor.

The influence he had on my story was in his work as a journalist. In late 1983, I had gone back to see an former high school teacher (Shirley Rosencrantz from a previous story) and changed my major in college. In 1984 Bill graduated and went to work for a small town newspaper in Tremonton Utah (forever known among my friends as Tree-stump Utah).

Bill loved to drive his Toyota pick up and would on occasion just go off on a half day road trip around Southern California. While we lived in Utah, we once had a four road trip (somewhere in Idaho) just to find a McDonald's for fries and a Coke.

In the Spring of 1985, Coca Cola had launched itself in an endeavor further known as "New Coke." Their rival Pepsi had had a national challenge taste test and determined that most folks preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi. Coca Cola re-engineered their formula and came up with that sweeter taste. There was a huge backlash and by July of that summer, Coca Cola had already announced the return to their original formula and back to the "Real thing" as the marketing campaign extolled.

In 1985, I had already visited Bill and ended up with internship for Cal Poly Pomona, CA (my college) at his newspaper. He was the editor and chief writer and chief photographer and lay out artist and typographer. I spent the summer in Utah (and my 21st birthday where the entire state celebrated on that Sunday, July 24 – yet another story).

I learned a great deal from Bill about energy and where you direct it. He has always been an inspiration on faith. As mentioned. Bill was in seminary when I met him while we worked at the Y. We had some of the best discussions on faith and mission.

As a young person, his influence on how I looked at faith and religion made an impact that has lasted to this day. He was my first roommate in college when I moved to Treestump for the summer to work under his guidance.

Bill taught me how to work in a dark room developing photos. He taught me about writing and focus on a story. And it was on a road trip where we discussed God and faith and doubt. Bill said, “If you have room enough to doubt, you have room enough for faith.”  

Faith has many aspects and that summer helped me realize that I may not be up to a new taste in my fortunes. Like Coke, I had my original formula in life to serve in youth development through the camp experience. I even had a short Scout camp experience that summer as well with a Troop in the mountains above Logan, UT.

I learned from that experience that your "why" in life can be derailed or you can choose a different formula and ultimately, you will have to choose the real thing that inspires your service.

I am in debt for all the lessons and the one about faith has been the most enduring. To this day, I check in with Bill several times a year. Our lives have gone in different directions and I am grateful for having him on these 50 plus year journey as I have been in these United States.

Post Script - My invitation goes out to you who are reading this. Please leave a comment and let me know where you are in the world. I'd love to hear your thoughts on my take on leadership as well. Please consider "Following" this by clicking on the "FOLLOW" button to get reminders about the next leadership story.  


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