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A: I have a lot of abhorrence to be honest. I don’t watch much television. I am so uncomfortable with what is on that my grandchildren might possibly see during prime time. I have to say I am kind of in a state of disbelief. It’s not me feeling guilty; somebody else oughta feel guilty that they have lost any sense of propriety for relationships that should be treasured. No. I tend to watch a lot of news because we have such a global business that what happens in the Ukraine [and elsewhere], the tornado in Kansas [all has an impact].
Q: Give me one word that describes business traits you have recognized in your grandkids.
A: We have a range, from 9 to 22. I think one of the most important traits in business is to be trustworthy. There are people who break trust and cast a bad [light] on all of us. I see them as trustworthy and that matters a lot to me. Then I could say each might have different things I can see. We have a grandson who produced the big Hasty Pudding Show at Harvard. It has been done at Harvard, in New York, Bermuda. He’s got organizational skills. His brother is the head of sales, he’s a salesman and my dad would love that. My dad [said] Nothing happens until it’s sold. Then I have one granddaughter who jumps horses. She is the competitor. I have to say she’s driven. She understands focus, discipline. I have another granddaughter who was a national debate champion, who is actually sales manager for the Harvard Crimson. She’s a communicator, she’s in your business. So communications, trustworthiness, sales ability, organizational skills — there’s a great mix in there — and they care. You have to care about people. You have to be able to build real relationships to be a long-term success.
Q: Do you think the word “bossy” needs to be banned?
A: [Extended laughter] I think the word is kind of interesting. It used to be that people would criticize women — either they’d say they were too shy, not assertive enough. Or if they were assertive, someone thought they were aggressive or bossy. I think it’s [not good if just] used as a pejorative, but you know I think there are times you need to be bossy. I am more a consensus leader but at 9-11 there are times you don’t ask anybody’s advice. You say: We have got to do this, this and this. It’s clear you are the boss, the buck stops here and you need to use that skill.
Q: Last month your work to stop human trafficking was recognized by the Harriet Tubman Center.
A: This goes back to the first question you asked and that is: What humbles me. You think of somebody like Harriet Tubman, nothing going for her, she was born a slave. She ended up escaping, bringing [people] out of slavery in the Underground Railroad. She actually led a unit in the Civil War. These people who have this inner vision and strength are such an inspiration. [This honor is ]so nice because they give you a walking stick. She used a stick. She had some kind of accident and needed to walk with the stick. That meant so much to me and it reminded me of another walking stick of a lady I met in India. She was a wealthy, successful lady spending a good part of her time working hard on bad issues: human trafficking and use of children in brothels and the overwhelming poverty in India. I asked her, “Why aren’t you out enjoying your wealth? You could be anywhere in the world and instead you are really giving of yourself.” She said, Gandhi’s my inspiration. All he had were spectacles, a couple yards of cloth, sandals and a walking stick. There’s that walking stick again. The stick reminds me of Tubman, Gandhi and that we’re each on a journey, and we need support from a walking stick or each other. There is so much to do and we need each other. As long as we have breath we can make a difference.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Buzz.”