Friday was a long day for me which is kind of strange to say considering how much we all pushed ourselves this week. We took the morning and walked around the French Quarter again to the market and small shops to buy souvenirs of our trip. The rain started to swing off those iron balconies that line the streets and we knew our work in New Orleans was done. We had an informal lunch and said our goodbyes. The sun popped through again like a message from the city; its final communication that there will always be a warm place for us there. Each of us went our separate ways by mid afternoon. We had an unexpectedly large travel party making a late trip to Atlanta. Some of us with our luggage and others without. Hopefully there’s a nice pair of shrimp boots on their way to Indianapolis. Charlotte and the Todds (I know you thought you had seen the last of them in 1987 playing alongside the Pixies at the Paradise, but everybody’s on the comeback trail these days) were sticking around to do some work with Habitat for Humanity. Hopefully, for their sake, the rain was in my suitcase – I was supposed to go to Florida. I didn’t expect to celebrate my 30th birthday bouncing around the skies somewhere over Maryland on my way back to Massachusetts, but that’s life.
As a wise man from North Carolina once said, we had a lot of firsts on this trip. We’ve all got a taste of how we can use our talents to help the world become more financially literate and there are opportunities in every town. Operation Hope is going to move on to South Africa where they hope to teach a million people about financial literacy. Obviously that’s a bold program that’s hard to even conceive. Let’s start locally. A lot of people tell me that I shouldn’t buy this product because it’s made abroad or I should boycott this business because it’s bad for the environment – these actions don’t make a lasting change. Helping the little guy start his own business that will one day compete having developed a better product will engender the changes we’re all looking for.
I want to thank the other four folks from Massachusetts who are all significantly awesome. I had a chance to meet with people from all over the Eastern half of the country and trade ideas and good times. In my mind, our team was an absolutely perfect mix of people. This trip takes an open mind, but when we all leave those minds open the synergies that it allows are fantastic. That’s not always easy in our industry. We as individuals will see it, the firms that sent their people down will see it, and I think the local communities will find benefit too. Thanks to Tom Pender from North Carolina for being everything on this trip so that the team could focus on just helping people. Oliver Bell and his team at Operation Hope were brilliant as well.
Here in Massachusetts we always talk about the blizzard of ’78, how it created a sea change in the way that we have to work together during tough times. On a greater scale, obviously, was the lapping devastation caused by the hurricanes in Louisiana. As we sit here in an economic slump, let’s never spend time trying to gauge or define what is a difficult time. When the opportunity comes let’s just work together. Good things happen.