A Great Battle

  “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” Philo of Alexandria, Jewish Philosopher “Lovers” by Marc  


I’ve been in Las Vegas for a couple days. My uncle Raymond passed away (he was 94) and some family members gathered for a memorial. Twenty years ago, the oldest La Grou brother (my dad had 8 siblings) decided to spread his ashes on a remote hilltop in the high desert, about an hour outside of Vegas. To this day, nobody knows how or why he picked this particular hill.. We were taking care of my dad during his last months of life in 1994. He gave me a map and told me that he wanted his ashes to be spread on the same desert hilltop. Since then, other siblings and their spouses have joined them in this beautiful, desolate place they called Stonehaven. Each time we’ve visited, a wonderful Lutheran pastor named Don Pieper officiates an intimate memorial in his church’s building in Henderson. We all shared our stories of Ray: he appeared as an extra in 30 movies (lived in L.A.), rode the scariest roller coasters with his grandkids until age 92, made untold 8mm-S8-VHS-DV movies of family events (he filmed our wedding in 1983 – a treasure), and always infected others with a hopeful, positive, can-do outlook. Ray lost his only son (Skip) in Viet Nam. Ray’s granddaughter Jennifer, whom I had never met, gave a beautiful talk. When Jen was finishing up her masters at UCLA, she lived with grandpa and they became very close friends – wonderfully reflected by the depth of love in her memorial talk. I want to write more about Jennifer in the near future – she’s living in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire as a relief director for the CARE organization. An amazing woman. After the memorial, I took all of Ray’s grandkids – my cousins – to the Celine Dion show. Celine uses our recording equipment so we always get the “VIP” treatment! After the show, her audio director, Francois Desjardins, gave us the grand tour. Here’s Francois and the grandkids after the show. Jennifer is left, then James and  

Global Social Venture

Yesterday, Cynthia and I enjoyed a day in Berkeley at 2007 Global Social Venture Symposium – an exploration of business enterprise that drives meaningful social change. The discussions focused on a diverse collection of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists successfully leveraging capital and commerce to effect social good. MBA schools are realizing a need to augment the traditional “bottom-line” approach to business. Some have dubbed this emerging model the “double bottom line” – with profits benefiting both investors and the common good. The GSV Symposium shows that DBL economics is not only working, but thriving. GSV included a competition in which 157 entrepreneurs from 20 countries presented business plans which promote profitable social ventures. Entrants are judged on their venture’s DBL impact. One winner is a start-up called Dlight – a maker of LED lighting resources for rural families still using candles and kerosene lamps (over 2 billion people). D-light will cut rural lighting costs by nearly 80% while greatly improving family health and safety. Another competition winner, Revolution Foods, has already launched their venture of providing healthy meals and nutritional education to lower income public school children. As I know from my son’s experience, K-12 nutrition is somewhat of an oxymoron. Revolution’s private-sector model delivers far healthier foods at competitive costs – with resultant drops in nutrition-related health care costs. Entrepreneurs were everywhere at this conference, and the creative energy was electric. Keynote speaker Majora Carter (who will also be at the Q Conference in two weeks) got us started by showing how one person with vision can impact an entire city (NYC) for the common good. If you click on any link on this post, make it Majora’s TED talk. You will be deeply