To The Moon and Back: Company Values from the Ground Up

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On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy told a special joint session of Congress: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” Forty three years ago, today, on July 24 that dream was accomplished when Apollo 11 which had landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon on July 21, returned home safely. Even with the insanity of America in the late 60s, it was an event that we rejoiced in because it seemed to encompass our best values as a nation. New York Times (NYT) columnist Thomas Friedman, in an article on Sunday, July 22 entitled “The Launching Pad”, said that “Cape Canaveral was the launching pad for our one national moon shot. It was a hugely inspiring project that drove scientific research, innovation, education and manufacturing”. In short, the space program was a bold statement of our national values.

I thought about Friedman’s article and more sadly, Sally Ride, the first female astronaut in space, in relation to a recent article in the Corner Office section of the NYT, entitled “It’s Not About Me. It’s About Our Company Values”, where Adam Bryant reported on an interview with Cathy Choi, President of Bulbrite. Ms. Choi came to her current position in a usual manner; however this different route gave her some interesting ideas about her management style. I found her journey in the business world to be an interesting arc in the context of a compliance practitioner seeking to move the compliance program forward in his or her company.

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