How about these for a series of random and disconnected thoughts:
The World Cup – as a serious sports fan who has spent endless hours watching youth soccer games (and practices), I am into it. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, at least not in the US, but for several billion people it really matters. I was still on Oasis of the Seas when the tournament started and watched the first game (Mexico vs. host South Africa) on the big screens at the AquaTheater. Just seeing that one game with our guests wearing their national shirts and even some face paint was evidence enough that we did the right thing by buying the rights to show all the games.
Small towns – almost all 5k races are nice affairs that support a charity and a community. But the race I ran in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, notwithstanding my slow time, was especially nice. The race commemorates the loss of Christopher Cash who graduated from OOB High School (nickname Seagulls!) in 1985 and was a state champion in track. He died in Iraq in 2004. That would be tragic anywhere but even six years later the remembrance of loss and the ongoing process of community healing was palpable in the old high school gym where race registration was set up. The local bagpiper played, the local Salvation Army band played, the local massage company provided free massages and the awards were given out.
Final running note of the season – I ran on the fancy track at UF in Gainesville at the Sunshine State Games on June 13th. Although I was the fastest Master’s runner in the 3000 meter race, I was disappointed in my time of 11:18. A few hours later, when the temperature was 98 degrees in Gainesville and hotter on the track, I ran the 800m in 2:31.84, third overall Master and second in my age group. The aging process notwithstanding, I believe I am early enough in my second racing life to get faster next year. My goals are 5k: 18:35, mile sub 5:30 and 800m sub 2:30. I can imagine doing a half-marathon. A full marathon is not in the cards.
My Andy Rooney moment — I recently sat in on a panel of distinguished academics, consultants and business people speaking about corporate governance, which is a topic of keen interest at most or all companies these days, at least public companies. In essence, the panelists’ point of view was that given any chance to do wrong (by shareholders, by the world, etc.), company management will do wrong. Indeed, one would have to live in a cave not to know the plethora of failures of companies across industries and continents in recent years (and decades and centuries). But it is simply not even close to correct to assume that all people in company management are inclined to go down a wrong path. The pejorative assertions that these panelists made about how business executives think and act bear no resemblance to any experience I have had in my 22 years at Royal Caribbean. Anyhow, who are typically the people who end up in management at companies? People who did well in school, applied themselves on their jobs and had skills and personalities that people valued. So they ascended the ranks over time. Of course, in this population there are going to be bad apples and occasionally even wholly bad companies. But the vast majority of my management colleagues come to work every day trying to do what they believe to be right for our guests, our shareholders and our colleagues. In order to believe they are collectively fundamentally inclined to do wrong (they are not) it seems to me you would have to believe that even the best our society can offer in terms of education, parenting and mentoring is equally fundamentally off base, because that is what produced these very people. Ok, enough of the soapbox. Feel free to comment on this as well as on anything else you find to be of interest.
Farewell to Stuart – We recently lost Stuart Reading, our hugely respected, admired and liked Director of Casino Operations, to cancer. His untimely passing is a blow to us and even more so to his wife Nikki and their two children. Stuart was excellent at what he did, never caused any drama and was admired by friends and business colleagues across the fleet and around the world. In short, he was quintessentially the type of businessman and person I was just defending in the paragraph above. Nikki has been kind and eloquent in her praise for the support of the operations team throughout Stuart’s and the family’s ordeal. She and her children will continue as members of the Royal Caribbean family.