Entry #23: Love doesn’t figure on the balance sheet, but it’s the only thing that makes a difference.
Entry #23: "Love doesn’t figure on the balance sheet, but it’s the only thing that makes a difference."
I attended the national Net Impact Conference in Baltimore October 25-27, 2012. As a side note, I am grateful that I got out of Baltimore on one of the last flights on Sunday, October 28 before the airport closed because of Hurricane Sandy. Hurray! But, let’s continue to think about and help those on the East Coast who are digging out from the losses.
At the conference, I met some people who are truly devoted to sustainability and heard some amazing speakers, but it was a study in contrasts. It was frustrating in some ways because there was a lot of spin from corporate managers about their sustainability efforts. I need to learn about that, of course, because I teach future business leaders.
The conference ended with inspiring words. Auret van Heerden, the closing speaker, was amazing, and his story was totally humbling. If you Google his name you can learn some basics about his life of service, beginning when he spoke out against Apartheid in South Africa following the massacre in Soweto in 1976. Van Heerden about risks and decision points in one’s career. One of his major decision points was his choice not to “confess” even when arrested as a result of his participation in organizing student-led protests. He was interrogated and tortured for seven weeks, followed by 100 consecutive hours of even more horrific torture. He said that the only way he got through it was with “pure, unadulterated love.”
Van Heerden’s address brought a standing ovation from the audience. He ended with, "You will face such decision points in your personal and professional lives. Take it. Make that decision. I urge you to make it with love. Love is unusual and odd... it doesn't figure on the balance sheet. It doesn't figure in minds of most corporate executives. But it is the only thing that makes a difference."
What a breath of fresh air and truth! I am thankful that he was our closing speaker.
To learn more about Net Impact, visit http://netimpact.zerista.com/. I am advisor to MSU’s chapter of Net Impact.
Paulette L. Stenzel
I am Professor Emeritus of International Business Law and Sustainability at Michigan State University (MSU). I am also a mom, learner, writer, violinist, environmentalist -in -process, traveler, and avid reader. I continue to teach part time at MSU and coordinate the Broad College Ethical Leadership program Additionally, I advise Spartan Global Development Fund - a microfinance organization.