March 29, 2015

March 26, 2015


It isn’t often you come across two articles, on the same page in one newspaper that defy intellectual rigor and speak so loudly to a mentality that demeans people of lesser means than these two articles which appeared in the March 25 edition of the WSJ:  “Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test’” by Charles Murray and “The Next Welfare Reform:  Food Stamps” by Jason Riley.

First, Charles Murray.  Never one from whom I’d expect cultural sensitivity or recognition that people of lesser income face tough challenges, Murray in this article descends into absurd conclusions from statistics he presents.

The starting point of his article is a fact.  On SAT tests, as one shifts from family incomes of more than $200,000 to incomes of less than $20,000, you find the average student score on the combined math and reading tests drops from the 74th percentile to the 31st, a drop of 43 percentiles.  Yes, this is income related. 

Then, drawing on a closely related other test, he notes that the movement of family income from $125,000 to $200,000 only results in the score moving up 3 percentage points, from the 76th percentile to the 73rd, “a trivial change.”

How does he go on to explain this and what does he make of it?  What he seemingly wants to make of it is that income differences really aren’t that important.  He does it by asserting that although children from families of $125,000 “probably live in an unremarkable home in a middle class neighborhood and send their children to public schools,” they suffer “only a trivial disadvantage when competing with children from families who are far more wealthy.”  Implicit here is the notion that a $125,000 income is “not that well off.”  Fact:  it is two and a half times the average household.  The fact that SAT scores within that income band don’t differ a lot doesn’t strike me as remarkable.  What makes it even less unremarkable is what Murray tells us next:  the comparison has been carried out among families whose mothers have equal IQs.  How about that?  He puts aside entirely the well-established fact that a mother’s IQ, which has been influenced by her family’s structure (including its income) would have an effect on her child.  In other words, we are likely seeing, at least to some degree, a multi-generational effect. 

But that’s only the start, and the lesser, of Murray’s misuse of data.
He next talks about a family with an income of $60,000 (without disclosing the SAT results at that level), saying [they] are “likely to be regularly employed, with all the things that regular employment says about a family.  The parents are likely to be conveying advantages other than IQ, such as self-discipline, determination and resilience—‘grit’—as this cluster of hard-to-measure qualities is starting to be called in the technical literature.”  He thereby implies, without stating it, that the difference in SAT scores between a $60,000 income and the previously stated $200,000 income is small (a “non-established fact”) because they share “grit.” 

Then, he moves on to an income level of $15,000 for which we have already learned there is a major differentiation in SAT scores vs. a higher income family.  About this family, he says they are “more likely to be irregularly employed or subsisting on welfare, with negative implications for that same bundle of attributes.  Somewhere near $100,000, the marginal increments in ‘grit’ associated with the greater income taper off and further increases in income make little difference.” 

Here he is suggesting, that lower-income families are in that position importantly because they lack “grit.”  Tell that to somebody who is working for $9/hour, 40 hours a week, doing the best they can with the education they have, and taking home less than $20,000/year before taxes.

Where does Murray end up after this confused presentation of stereotypical thinking and sloppy statistics?  He says: “What we need is an educational system that brings children of all combination of assets and deficits, having identified things they enjoy doing and having learned how to do them well.  What we need is a society that has valued places for people with all combinations of assets and deficits.  Both goals call for completely different agendas than the ones that dominate today’s rhetoric about educational and economic inequality.”

Here he is, making the assumption that children are born with immutable potentialities for success that won’t be influenced decisively by the kind of early childhood support (health, education and much else) in their first five years that would allow them to fulfill their God-given abilities. 

No, he assumes it’s largely given from the start.  Some children are sort of designed for a “middling” life.  How sad; how wrong.


Well, if that weren’t enough, I came next to the column by Jason L. Riley:  “The Next Welfare Reform:  Food Stamps.”  I won’t spend as much time on this.  First, we would all strongly agree that there needs to be a thorough analysis of the sources and causes of the increase in SNAP caseloads from 17.2 million to 47.6 million from 2000 to 2013, as spending quadrupled from $20 billion to $80 billion.  Yes, that requires analysis. 

But the underlying hypotheses in this article are, to put it bluntly, heinous.   

Here are some snapshots.  “The unprecedented jump in food stamp use over the past six years has mostly been driven by manufactured demand.  The Obama Administration has attempted to turn SNAP into a middleclass entitlement by easing eligibility rules and recruiting new food stamp recipients.”  Note those words.  “Recruiting new food stamp recipients”; turning it into a “middleclass entitlement.” 

Going on, he asserts that the President “considers European-style welfare states a model for America.”   Has anyone ever heard the President say this?

He notes that 56% of SNAP users are in the program for longer than five years which “suggests that the assistance is being used by most recipients as a permanent source of income, not as a temporary safety net.”  I’d say it more likely indicates that the level of their income has remained very low, despite the efforts they have made to escape poverty. 

And if that wasn’t enough, get this.  “Instead of hunger being a central nutritional problem facing the poor, the problem is not too little food but rather too much—or at least too many calories.”  Yes, he says, the problem is that people are eating too much.  I’m sure quite a few people are.  Probably even more of those of higher income!  But let’s face it, there are a lot of people, including millions of children, who don’t know where they are going to get their next meal.

I’m not suggesting that there aren’t improvements to be made in this program.  Any expenditure this large demands a careful review.  But the mindset of the author of this article, Jason Riley, is so negative, so unappreciative of the challenges that people of lesser means face, it’s positively maddening.

He concludes the article by sharply criticizing Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge because of her support for immigration reform and more education and, yes, food stamps for those who need it.

I like Ms. Fudge’s platform.


March 21, 2015

Why Wallace Stegner Means So Much To Me

While on vacation, I contemplated why the writing of Wallace Stegner, who my daughter-in-law, Kim, had introduced me to through “Crossing to Safety,” had meant so much to me.  Reading a study of Stegner’s “Life and Work” by Jackson Benson helped me to understand why.
Stegner’s childhood was a lot like my own, it turns out.  Maybe that’s why I like his writing so much.  He was lonely.  Out of the loneliness, Wallace found himself “always volunteering to do something.”  His objective, he reflected, “was to belong to something.”  He “went up through the ranks to Eagle like smoke through a chimney.”  Some measure of his desperation to belong and be admired for something was demonstrated in his admission later in life that he cheated in getting two merit badges on his way to Eagle Scout.  That cheating stuck in his craw for decades and that regret is probably in part responsible for producing a grown man who clearly would rather die than lie or cheat anyone for any reason.  
I can recall stealing popsicles from a store when 6 or 7.
Like me, “Out of Wallace’s high school years emerges a picture of a boy with incredible energy, determination and ambition.  His life was a living testament to the virtues extolled by the books he devoured.  His goal was never material so much as acceptance and belonging, never acquisition of material goods so much as the gaining of some status beyond scorn.  He seemed to rise to the top of or conquer everything he tackled.  He combined constant reading, heavy schedules of school work (which gave him superior grades throughout), participation in sports and achievement in scouts and ROTC with frequent outings and camping trips, an extremely intelligent, capable boy who had been hurt, frustrated and embarrassed.  He was not defeated, did not withdraw totally into himself or give up and go wrong, but instead took his problems as a challenge.  In a sense, his whole life story became an answer to the insecurities he had felt and the pain he had endured.  Despite the pain, his general discomfort with his family circumstances no doubt contributed to his energy, determination and firing ambition.”  
This describes a source of my ambition with telling accuracy.
Stegner found drama and meaningful conflict in ordinary lives.  Throughout his fiction, he contemplates large questions of purpose:  What is fundamental to being human – can a human being live without love, companionship, interaction or help from others?  Is there any purpose to life other than serving others?  And courage – how do we summon it when we need it?
Just as Stegner was driven in his own life to become resilient and steadfast, he admired toughness in others, but of a particular kind – people with moral backbone, people who were tough in pursuit of constructive ends, people who took what fate had dealt them and made the best of it.
Part of Stegner’s literary genius is that he “understood that part of the tension of being human as found in our desire for, and love affair with both risk and security.  What do we risk in our quest for security?  What do we secure in a life of risk?  And where are the motivations behind creating a life of meaning in the presence of uncertainty?  Stegner shows us again and again that it is love and friendship, the sanctity and celebration of our relationships, that not only support a good life, but create one. In friendship, we spark and inspire one another’s ambitions.”  
I embrace every word of this statement.
Drawing form “Crossing to Safety,” Williams replays the soulful reflections of Larry Morgan:  “Whatever happened to the passion we all had to improve ourselves, live up to our potential, leave a mark on the world?  Our hottest arguments were always about how we could contribute…we made plenty of mistakes, but we never tripped anybody to gain an advantage, or took illegal shortcuts when no judge was around…I didn’t know myself well, and still don’t, but I did know and I know now the few people I loved and trusted. My feelings for them is one part of me I have never quarreled with, even though my relations with them have more than once been abrasive.”
As I reflect on all this, I come back to my concept of service in wanting to live a life “that matters to both the people and the place where I belong.” (JEP)  And in doing this, Stegner lights on what it takes:  “Largeness is a life-long matter…you grow because you are not content not to.  You are like a beaver that chews constantly, because if it doesn’t, its teeth grow long and lock.  You grow because you are a grower; you are large because you can’t stand to be small.”
#          #          #          #
One of the things that draws me to Stegner’s later storytellers – Joe Allston, Lyman Ward and Larry Morgan – is that “their wisdom is certified by their uncertainty, by inner debate and self-examination, by their consciousness that although they have had long lives and a variety of experiences, they don’t know everything.   All of them, at a late stage of life, are trying to learn more about themselves, as well as about other people and the world around them.  While having strong values and carefully nurtured, strong characters, they nevertheless remain open to experience, and it is often in the conflict between their strength and their doubt that we find the central tension of these novels.  With these traits, they often seem younger than the young people around them who are often so very sure of themselves, so frozen in their opinions, so terribly close-minded.”  
I very much identify with this.
I also identify with this from “Shooting Star:”  “I’ll tell you what I believe in.  I believe in human love and human kindness and human responsibility, and that’s just about all I believe in…the political revolutions will blow us all up at last, probably, but I’m not working for any.  The only revolution that interests me is one that will give more people more comprehension of their human possibilities and their human obligations.”  
These words from one of the protagonists in the novel could have come directly from Stegner and they could come from me.
For the most part, Stegner’s fictional protagonists are neither hero or anti-hero, neither conqueror nor victim.  They are usually relatively ordinary people who are trying to find their better selves.  They do good things, if not heroic things, but they also fail, betray themselves in some way, and try to recover.
Stegner was a man who lived under the obligation of trying his best to be a “good man” and his writing was part and parcel of that effort.  For him the individual, insofar as his or her capabilities allow, must not only take charge of his or her own destiny, but take on the responsibility of contributing to the welfare of others and family, community and society.
In all of Stegner’s books which I have read --- “All the Little Live Things,” “Spectator Bird” and “angle of Repose” as well as “Crossing to Safety,” Stegner wants to convince us that the past is always with us, whether we like it or not and he wants to show us that while doing the right thing is seldom easy, in the end we must do it, not for someone else, but for ourselves, to make ourselves whole.


March 18, 2015


I have written in several places about the “plague of the other”; how often, usually out of fear or suffering from a lack of self-confidence, we choose to see ourselves as separate from each other and as superior to “the other.”

In the book, “Everyday Bias,”* which develops the reality that we all possess implicit biases, I came across a metaphor by the author, Howard J. Ross, that I found extremely compelling in this regard. 

Here it is.
Many of us have seen the magnificent forests full of aspen trees that grow in large “stands” throughout the northern areas of North America.  The trees are extraordinary, ramrod straight, and often standing nearly one hundred feet tall.  There can be thousands of them in just one stand.  Still, we look at each of these trees and see it in its solitary magnificence.

But there is something interesting under the surface of these forests.  These trees are not at all separate.  Underneath the soil, they are connected by a common root system, and that makes each of these clusters of trees among the largest organisms on Earth.  A new tree grows because the root sends out a runner that then grows into another tree.  The largest of these is called “Pando” (Latin for “I spread”), and is located in the Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah.  Pando covers more than 106 acres and has been estimated to collectively weigh almost seven thousand tons, making it the heaviest organism in the world.  It also is thought to be more than eighty thousand years old, making it one of the world’s oldest known living organisms.

And yet we see it as a lot of single trees.

The trees brings us to a perfect metaphor for we who are as human beings.  We look at the “other” as if he or she is separate from us.  We see the other group as a threat.  And yet, we are all deeply connected.   We share a common destiny on this planet.  We all seek pleasure and do our best to avoid pain.  We want what is best for our children and grandchildren.  All of us are the products of that which we have seen before.  And we are all (for the most part) unconscious about the “programming” that runs our thoughts and our lives.

We can transcend.  We can, through discipline, practice and awareness, find a new way to relate that honors our differences, yet also build upon our similarities.  While the potential for mass destruction looms broadly in the world and our global community expands, we are more and more invited to recognize, as R. Buckminster Fuller said, that “we are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully, nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common.  It has to be everybody or nobody.” 

That is the path before us.  It is indeed the “road less traveled” when we look at our common history.  But it is a road that is worth paving clear.

What could be a greater journey?
*”Everyday Bias, Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in our Daily Lives”



March 13, 2015

March 10, 2015

Tony Judt “When The Facts Change:  Essays:  1995-2010”

I’m going to record a series of fragments and personal reflections from this superb collection of essays.

 “Europe:   The Grand Illusion” (1996) --  Tony Judt is speculating on the “protective arm of ‘Europe’” which he equated to the European Union and NATO.  He expressed the belief that this would “surely not extend beyond the old Hapsburg Center (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland).”   He went on to opine that the rest of what he described as “Byzantine” Europe (from Latvia to Bulgaria) “will be left to fend for itself, (being) too close to Russia and Russian interests for it to be prudent for the West to make an aggressive show of absorption and engagement.” 

This, of course, is exactly what happened and the impact of which we are feeling to this very day, witness the Ukrainian crisis.

 “The New World Order” (July 2005) --  Here is a wonderful quote from Harry Truman:  “We all have to recognize – no matter how great our strength – that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.” 

Judt goes on to describe our military outreach:  “We are maintaining 725 official U.S. military bases outside the United States, and 969 at home, while we spend more on defense than all the rest of the world put together.”

“The Wrecking Ball of Innovation” (December 2007) --  “If modern democracies are to survive the shock of…capitalism they need to be bound by something more than the pursuit of private economic advantage, particularly when the latter accrues to ever fewer beneficiaries:  the idea of a society held together by a pecuniary interest alone is, in John Stewart Mills’ words, ‘essentially repulsive,’ a civilized society requires more than self-interest, whether deluded or enlightened, for its shared narrative of purpose.”

As Albert O. Harshman wrote, “The greatest asset of public action is its ability to satisfy vaguely felt needs for higher purpose in the lives of men and women.”

This, too, is the greatest asset of a company like Procter & Gamble or Walt Disney or Yale University, for that matter.

“Why the Cold War Worked” -- Judt offers a remarkable perspective on what the senior leaders of Europe faced in terms of the major challenges as you look back at the years 1900-1945: 

1.     How to restore the international balance upset by the rise of Prussia—dominated by Germany after 1871.
2.     How to bring Russia back into the concert of nations in some stable way, following the distortions produced by the Russian Revolution and its international aftermath.
3.     How to rescue the international economy from the disastrous collapse of the inter war years and somehow recapture the growth and stability of the pre1914 era and,
4.     How to compensate for the anticipated decline of Great Britain as an economic and political factor in international affairs.

If you ask me, three of these four challenges or dilemmas, as Tony Judt put it, have been fairly resolved.  The one that has not been resolved is bringing “Russia back into the concert of nations in some stable way.”  We had a shot at this post 1989.  By “we” I mean Russia and the West.  But we squandered it.  The Ukrainian crisis is clear evidence of this.  I hope it can be recovered by making Russia part of a wider Europe, even as it reaches out as it surely would to Eurasia.

“What is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy?”  Judt asks.  “Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities (are so apparent)?  We appear to have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it.”

He continues:  “For the last 30 years, in much of the English-speaking world..when asking ourselves whether we support a proposal or initiative, we have not asked, is it good or bad?  Instead we inquire:  is it efficient?  Is it productive?  Would it benefit gross domestic product?  Will it contribute to growth?  This propensity to avoid moral considerations, to restrict ourselves to issues of profit and loss—economic questions in the narrowest sense—is not an instinctive human condition.  It is an acquired taste.”

Read these words from Adam Smith:  “(this) disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” 

Smith regarded the likelihood that we would come to admire wealth and despise poverty, admire success and scorn failure, as the greatest risk facing us in the commercial society whose advent he predicted.  It is now upon us.

Judt asserts that we have lived through an era of stability, certainty and the illusion of indefinite economic improvement.  Frankly, I am not so sure of that, but I do believe he is correct in saying that “for the foreseeable future we shall be as economically insecure as we are culturally uncertain.  We are assuredly less confident of our collective purposes, environmental well-being, or our personal safety than at any time since World War II.  We have no idea what sort of world our children will inherit, but we can no longer delude ourselves into supposing that it must resemble our own in reassuring ways.”

He goes on to talk about the importance of our setting high sights for the future.  That we “remind (ourselves) of the achievement of the 20th century, along with the likely consequences of our heedless rush to dismantle them.”  He sees that in this period we went a long way in “promoting our collective identity and common purposes, the institution of welfare as a matter of right and its provision as a social duty:  those were no mean accomplishments.” 

As we go on now to confront the issues of our own generation “giving every child the opportunity to fulfill his or her own talents and ambitions, confronting the need to work together across the world for peace, recognizing there will always be elements for whatever reason combatting that,” I agree that we will be searching for “imperfect improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances” as the “best that we can hope for, and probably all we should seek.”

“What Have We Learned, If Anything?”  -- One of Tony Judt’s assertions that I embrace is that we have taken haste to put the 20th century behind us.  In the United States, at least, he asserts “we have forgotten the meaning of war.”  And indeed for many of us, I am not sure we ever really knew it.  I was a youngster in World War II and recall it only as a distant memory.  The Korean War is no clearer emotionally.  Vietnam became a searing “episode” but that’s about what it was, “an episode.”  Iraq and Afghanistan, other than for those brave men and women who fought in it and their families, were events most of us saw on the news or read about in the paper.  We felt sympathy for returning veterans, but that’s about it.

Unlike the people of many, if not most other nations, we avoided the scar of war in the 20th century.  In World War I, the United States suffered slightly fewer than 120,000 combat deaths. For the U.K., France and Germany, the figures were respectively 885,000, 1.4 million and over 2 million.  In World War II, the United States lost 420,000 of our armed forces in combat.  Japan lost 2.1 million, China 3.8 million, Germany 5.5 million and the Soviet Union an estimated 10.7 million.  Vietnam, as horrible as it was, recorded the deaths of 58,195 Americans over a war lasting 15 years.

And these combat deaths were far less than the civilian deaths.  The estimated American civilian losses in World War II were less than 2,000.  Contrast that with the British with 67,000 dead, France 207,000 dead, Yugoslavia over 500,000 dead, Germany 1.8 million, Poland 5.5 million, and the Soviet Union an estimated 11.4 million.

If there is one thing we have learned, “war is hell.”  And it should be entered into only as a last resort.  A mandate we have unfortunately not followed in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other ventures where we, knowingly or unknowingly, have set off internal wars, as in Egypt and Libya.

I believe that the reluctance of France and Germany to enter into what could lead to a major war with Russia, Ukraine and the West is influenced by the bloodletting which they and their people have experienced in prior conflicts.

                                                                        J. E. Pepper



March 11, 2015

“A Crazy World”

As I think back over the last two weeks, I shake my head, in concern, frustration and even a small part of wonderment.

There is the threatened shutdown of Homeland Security.  Who would have believed that there would be a contingent of 40-50 Republicans in the House who would defy their own leader, not to mention common sense, and threaten to shut down Homeland Security in order to try to hold Obama hostage for what history will recount as a rational humanitarian act to protect a well-defined group of immigrants from deportation, an action made necessary only because Republican House leadership has not had the courage (call it what you will) to put the matter to a vote.  One wonders what foreign governments and citizens think about this at a time of terrorist attacks and high risk.

Then there is the continued assault on Obama’s health care plan.  The Republicans simply won’t give up in trying to overturn the affordable health care legislation.  Forget the fact that 11 million more people now have health insurance than they did before and that millions more have coverage that previously might have been denied because of a pre-existing condition, or students past the age of 26 now being covered on their parent’s insurance, or that the rate of health care cost increases has declined?  No, despite all of that, we are moving toward a Supreme Court decision whether a very small different interpretation of language in the Act might disqualify the subsidies which are being provided to people in all those states which did not adopt plans of their own.  The Republicans have come forward with alternative plans, obscure in their details, and to the extent knowable, representing either a major reduction in coverage (who could want that; we’re already the only developed country providing such narrow coverage), or being what some conservative Republicans are calling “Obama-Lite.”

Then there is the irony of the Iranian military supporting Iraqi Shiite militia in combatting ISIS.  But the United States studiously indicating that in no way will the support we are also providing to the Iraqi Army and Shiite militia be coordinated with Iran.

At the same time, we have a Republican bloc fighting to stop a negotiation on nuclear arms control with Iran before the deal is completed, without identifying a realistic alternative.

Which brings us to Israeli President Netanyahu’s address to a Republican-dominated Congress, receiving multiple standing ovations, even as he defied the President’s position on negotiating with Iran, offering no alternative in its place other than “no deal” which would have Iran proceeding untrammeled in the development of their nuclear capability.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Party so consumed with “dislike” for a President to so reflexively oppose almost every initiative proposed by the President and his administration.

And then there is the Russian-Ukrainian development.  The most perilous development that I’ve seen on a global level since the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Here, we have Republicans, and some Democrats, too, demonizing Putin to a degree that I have not seen imposed on any Russian leader, even during the Cold War.  There are those who have concluded the Minsk ceasefire wouldn’t work even before it had a chance to take hold.  The threat to provide lethal defensive equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces continues even with its all-too predictable consequence of triggering an escalation of Russian involvement.  Where do people think that will end?  There is only one conceivable positive outcome to the situation in Ukraine:  a negotiated settlement that will create a constitutional structure giving reasonable autonomy to Eastern Ukraine and economic support that offers the opportunity for providing a stable, relatively uncorrupt Ukrainian government.


I honestly can’t recall a recent time where I have seen more dysfunctionality in our government.  Still, we have been in this kind of place before, and we have to try to do what we can in our own circle of influence.  And we are doing that here in Cincinnati surely as we work to achieve a ballot initiative that will provide quality pre-K education for all children and home visiting for families who need it.



March 2, 2015

I wrote this more than 20 years ago, in less than an hour.


I wonder where I would be in this Company today if it weren’t for them.

If Bob Dillard, then District Manager in Philadelphia, hadn’t been the first P&Ger I met in the interviewing process.  I couldn’t believe the interest he showed in me.  I don’t think I had met anyone who combined so self-evidently the qualities of professionalism and character.

If Jim Cochran, then head of Commercial Production, hadn’t been the first person on my interview panel in Cincinnati and, can you believe it, he was giving me advice on how to improve my interviewing skills as I was leaving his office to meet two other P&Gers.  He told me he wanted me to join P&G.  And he gave me advice on how to make that more likely to happen.

I wonder where I would be in this Company if I hadn’t had Ralph Browning as my first Brand Manager who more than willingly, in fact enthusiastically, let me take on tasks that I thought would await 2 to 3 years of experience, and he worked with me, often long hours into the night, to help me do them well.  He introduced me to advertising long before some other folks were introduced.  He encouraged me to go to New York to learn from agencies.  He really cared about my learning.

I wonder where I would be in this Company if it weren’t for my first Associate Advertising Manager, Jack Clagett.  Jack believed in me – in many ways, more than I believed in myself at that time.  He convinced me I should succeed in a big way, and he helped me, sometimes criticizing, but always in a way that I knew was intended to help me grow and succeed.  He came to Nashville twice when I was on Sales Training, not so much to critique store sets or sales presentations, but to make sure that I felt connected to this Company and learn whatever he could teach me.

I wonder where I would be in this Company if my first Brand Promotion Manager (he would be a Marketing Director today) had not been Ed Artzt.  He was a taskmaster, but far more than that, he was a teacher.  He spent hours and hours with me, going over research analysis and how more information could be drawn from them.  He was patient on proposals that I knew he didn’t agree with, but he let me come back, not just once or twice, but 3 or 4 times.  And he even went on one that I doubt if he agreed with, but he knew the risk wasn’t large.  In fact, it didn’t work, but I learned from it and, more than that, I was stimulated by it to believe that this Company would allow people to learn and try things and that management really wanted to help them learn.  What a powerful impression.  I wonder where I would be in this Company if Ed Lotspeich had not been my first Advertising Manager.  I didn’t see Ed that often, but I didn’t need to.  His character and capability were quickly conveyed.  His understanding of advertising and its principles was tremendous.  That was conveyed in some short meetings and many eloquent memoranda.  But equally important was simply Ed’s stature as a man of principle and character.

I wonder where I would be in this Company if I had not come to know several senior Sales people when I was on Sales Training who told me about the extraordinary lengths to which the Company had gone to help families that were in trouble.  They converted the value of respect for the individual into a reality for me.  They conveyed to me that the Company stood behind its words.

I wonder where I would be in this Company if Jack Hanley, then Vice President of the Soap Division or, some years later, John Smale, hadn’t taken often as little as 5 or 10 minutes to say something to me, the specifics of which I can’t remember, but the net of which was to convey confidence that I had a role to play in this Company.

I don’t mean these short recollections to suggest that “all was right” with the world that I lived in.  I had proposals rejected.  I had tough days ... days when I wondered whether I would make it ... but was it ever stimulating.  And challenging.  Above all, I knew these people really cared about me; about my learning; about my ideas.  There was no doubt about that whatsoever, and it meant a great deal to me.

I could go on with these “if it weren’t for them” stories and they would not be just about people for whom I worked.  No, equally, there are the people who have worked alongside me.  And there are people who have worked for me, dozens, indeed hundreds of them who, as I experienced and admired their work and their commitment, taught and inspired me.

Why do I review these experiences?  I do it in order to emphasize the life-changing difference we can make for each other, especially in the influence we have on people in the earlier years of their careers.

It will be our relationships with them, the expectations we set, the learning we provide, the caring we exhibit; it will be this and more which will have a hugely determining role on their future with Procter & Gamble and, if they are like me, on their entire lives.

It is an enormous responsibility and opportunity each of us has.

May we do it as well as the best of the people who did it for us.  Let us never forget that if it weren’t for them, we might not be here today – and, assuredly, we would not have become all that we are.

Let us so conduct ourselves that others will place us among that group they think of when they step back to consider – “If it weren’t for them”.

                                                                                    John E. Pepper