"I am me, not the shadow I cast."

humanize the hero to meet the heroic human.

He grew up in a narrow space between a mother who cheered no matter what, and a father who could never quite be pleased. Above and below him were innate social skills and affection for a less than flexible religious tradition. There were times when he felt hemmed in, but mostly what he felt was the embrace of voices he respected, and those voices formed the tunnel that gave him two options: forward following one grand life idea, or backward, which he knew wasn't a real thing.

So he moved forward. "A long obedience in the same direction," some called it, marveling at what looked to them like tremendous discipline. To him it was simply the exploration of one good idea and worth while effort.

It was the only compelling vision he's ever had, and while it's gratifying to see the success that's built around him, through years of hard work, nothing else has ever struck him as nearly so interesting, or filled with so many people he'd want to be around. 

"It's not hard to fall in love," he points out. "Or to stay in love. But people focus on the wrong part of the relationship. The trick isn't choosing the other person. The trick is choosing who you are, and being that person on purpose. That's true with marriage, friendships, faith, and one's career. It's okay to be whoever you are, and of course to evolve as that person. In the end you have to do both of those things. Some people are afraid of being themselves, and they worry what being themselves will cost them. There is a cost, but it goes down over time. Being someone else is what really gets expensive."

His consistency built a career that touched thousands of people and made a meaningful difference in the world. But it also intimidated his children, whose sense of self and direction was less clear, and who struggled with performance issues and the typical over- and under-achieving paths that those issues create. 

"I never had a plan," the children read in his book. "All I've done is respond to circumstances." That was the single line that opened up the family conversation. He never saw his consistency as anything but continuing to make the same choice again and again, as though it was the only choice he really knew how to make. They always saw his consistency as a daunting discipline. What had always been something so obvious to him has now become the topic he spends the most energy teaching and instilling in his family and the many people he mentors.


  • Principal interviews
  • Family interviews
  • Associate/friend interviews
  • Printed honor book
  • Non-family honor book version
  • Original illustrated children's book
  • Commissioned art 
  • Original music
  • Family gifts
  • Advice book
  • Honoring event / experience
  • 6-18 month total engagement time

Please think of this as an abbreviated list of variations from which we can build the engagement.

The board paid for his honor package. Part of the effort remained private, exclusively for his family. Part of it went to the organization, a way to capture his legacy to inform the future of the organization.

From his story, five hallmark words emerged as a reflection of the man, as well as the the organization he'd spent years shaping. From his always supportive mother, on the left, Praise. From the father he'd forever sought to impress, on right, Pursuit. From the relationships that supported him and fueled his desire to shelter others, beneath, People. From the faith and basis for his abiding confidence in the long view principles that guided his decisions, above, Prayer. And in the center, the place of his own definition and joy, filled and protected by the rest, Passion

Custom art inspired by the five words hangs on the walls of his old headquarters. 

The family's vacation home, on a high New Mexico plateau, features an outdoor fire ring encircled with stone seating, engraved with the five words. Praise is to the east and the sunrise. Pursuit is to the western sunset. People is to the southern glow. Prayer is to the northern stillness. And there is an embossed bronze coin the size of a manhole cover inside the ring of fire, with space enough for a three people to stand when the fire is burning (as his granddaughter did when she was married on that spot) with the word Passion carved into its artwork.

He created a simple advice book entitled How to do Passion. The organization uses it as an instructional tool for every new employee, and for employee reviews.