Thoughts on Leadership: Happy July Fourth

By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels found me in Denver. I began my Monday with WIG calls and on Tuesday, I participated in the weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy call in the morning, then flew to Denver, Colorado. Wednesday I joined the team at Kentwood Real Estate for an evening with Kentwood top performers. On Thursday, I had breakfast with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Innovative Real Estate CEO Scott Nordby and a few of his team members I hadn’t met before. After breakfast, I headed to the airport to write this post.

My trip to Denver was filled with celebration, and on the topic of celebration, there’s a big one coming up this weekend, I feel like a kid again. I can’t wait.

To get to know some of our team members, I have a series of 18 questions I’ll ask (and they’ll ask me). It’s a way to strengthen our connection. One of those questions is: “What’s a memory from childhood that stands out?”

Whenever I’m asked that question, I always answer the exact same way: July Fourth.

As a kid, I lived on a cul-de-sac, and the entire cul-de-sac and some nearby households (about 10 total) would get together and chip in to buy fireworks. We made a big potluck BBQ right in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Everyone made their favorite dish to share and brought steaks to BBQ with their families. We all lit off fireworks together, and that was our Fourth of July. It was just so much fun.

Give me a memory from childhood that stands out?

It was that one.

Fourth of July is such a special time. It’s not only a celebration of our country but also of community. We’re celebrating the people around us who make up our “team.”

Let’s travel back in time and dig in a little deeper to explore the history of this holiday.

What was America like in 1776? Well, many of the 13 colonies had been in existence more than 150 years and a strong, middle-class economy was developing from the likes of farmers, artisans, lawyers and tradesmen. In 1776, people traveled by horse-drawn carriages; food was cooked over wood-burning fires. The American Revolution was already underway (it started April 1775) and the hunger for independence was burning in the hearts and minds of colonists.

In June of that year, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Yes, an entire month passed before independence would be declared on July 2. One more month went by and on August 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Reviewing the chronological order of our American independence begs a question: What are we really celebrating on July 4 if it wasn’t the drafting of the document or the signing of the document that declared our independence?

On July 4 one very specific thing happened: The Continental Congress approved the wording of the Declaration of Independence.

The draft had been submitted several days before and on July 4, the Continental Congress collectively gave their consent that the document was complete. When printed copies of the Declaration of Independence were later circulated throughout a brand-new America, the date on each copy read July 4.

So, what’s the message? July Fourth is a celebration of the birth of our country and our independence, but on another level, it’s also a celebration of an outstanding team—our Founding Fathers—whose collective wisdom and insights brought about widespread change. It’s no small feat and absolutely something to celebrate as we light fireworks and BBQ this weekend. While I may not be celebrating on my childhood cul-de-sac, I will be celebrating with my family, commemorating the teamwork and hard work that set us on a path toward freedom. Have a happy Fourth of July!

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