by Dan Lammot
Most importantly, I wish you, your loved ones and all those who support your mission in life a happy and healthy holiday season. I sincerely hope you’ll make time to pause your connection to the grid, walk in the woods, down an avenue or on a beach, spend time with those you cherish and remind yourself why it is well worth waking up every day. I trust you’ll remember your duty to leave things better than you found them, to finish well the things you start and not start things you cannot finish well–and most of all to never stop being curious.
Which reminds me of the story behind Albert Einstein’s famous statement (paraphrased from original):
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
The original quote was published in the May 2nd, 1952 edition of LIFE magazine (see page 62 here), nearly three years before Einstein would pass away in Princeton, NJ and just under 20 years after he called for the founding of the International Rescue Committee, a highly relevant and disruptive organization that is to be admired.
Einstein shared this advice with journalist and author of the LIFE article, William Miller, Miller’s son Pat (then a Harvard freshman) and a German professor who volunteered in World War I, had been a French prisoner of war and later became a poet. Together–in Einstein’s Princeton parlor room–they discussed religion, anti-Semitism, the survivability of the human race in the face of global conflict, God, faith, the meaning of life, the value of and relationship between knowledge and intuition, the impossible challenge of proving truth itself and the importance of relentless curiosity. In my imagination I can see the conversation that started between a genius, a journalist, a college student and a professor evolve to one of four souls searching for their own truths, proof and wonder.
The honesty of Einstein’s advice speaks for itself. He offered it to Miller’s son Pat in the midst of a conversation whose themes are every bit as relevant in 2017 as they were in 1952. He guided Pat’s focus toward becoming valuable by giving more to life than he received–rather than becoming successful by taking more than he gave. This is a lesson worth reminding ourselves of today, and always.
As the year 2017 draws to a close, I once again find myself mulling through the big ticket curiosities–like those discussed in the parlor that day in Princeton. I am thinking about all we have learned since roundCorner’s journey began in 2009, how giving and philanthropy have evolved over these years, what we will do in 2018 to leave the world better than we find it today and about how we remain committed to demonstrating that how we do things is just as important as, if not more important than, what we do.
Most of all, and on behalf of the entire roundCorner team, I am immeasurably grateful for the gifts of trust and transparency and the shared sense of value we have received this year from our customers, partners and colleagues. These are the things that motivate us to continue changing the way people change the world. They are the value we strive for.
I am humbled by and more excited about the future than ever. Happy new year to you and yours, and may you be of great value to the world in 2018.