Beyond Politics: A Reminder Why Proximity to DC is Valuable

One of the huge benefits of working in Washington DC is the access to very famous, incredibly smart people.  Yesterday, I was invited to attend a breakfast featuring General James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Commander of the US Strategic Command.  He is a retired Marine Corps four-star and widely recognized as understanding the global posture that America must maintain in this era.  But more than a military hero and visionary, the General is a tech wizard, a management guru, an organization guy, and an innovator.  He spoke for an hour and I was honored to be there.

On leadership, he mused that innovation makes leaders uncomfortable and that it is supposed to; that life-long learning is mandatory for everyone.  He believes social media can bring decision-makers more information than ‘armies’ of staff and that such instantaneous communication is invaluable, although purposeful consensus is difficult. He talked about the power of the crowd or the team to work together to solve problems. He talked about his experience with quantum computing and the opportunities that it will deliver for all of us in just a few years.  He talked about the cost of war and noted that the real cost of returning wounded warriors is really thirty years out. He outlined  impressive medical advances the military has made insuring that if physicians can get to a wounded serviceman or woman within an hour that the survival rate is now 90%+ — never before achieved.  He urged every leader to recognize the supremacy of personnel diversity – gender, race, country of origin, age, experiential references and the like.

But most of all, General Carwright outlined the clear cultural, medical, technical and educational innovations, developed by the military, that are now available to America’s war-weary public.  Wow.

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