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SVP International

People, Around the World, Out Over Their Skis

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On the plane from Tokyo back to Seattle … What can one take away from 12 days in three SVP’s halfway around the world? So much.  It’s mind-boggling. Since I’ve used the three buckets a few times, I’ll use it once more, what the heck.

It’s All about PEOPLE

I know that’s not a novel thought, but in this work, it IS the people that make, that are SVP.

The leadership teams are pretty stunning – Takuya and Takashi in Tokyo, Steven in Seoul, JingJing and JiaShu in Beijing are the five staff in the 3 cities, all U-35’s with the energy of people half their age and seemingly the wisdom of people twice their age.  And there are also world class social entrepreneurs in every city – Haruo Miyagi at www.etic.or.jp, Sun Mi Seo at www.letsplayplanet.com, Gan Wang at http://bit.ly/TBPmzS.

Great people attract more and more great people.

The Desire to Give Back Is UNIVERSAL

The desire to give back, the attraction to the SVP model, the way people across cultures, ethnicities, geographies, philosophies talk about SVP is UNIVERSAL.

After travelling across those three mega-cities, it’s inescapable that where you live makes a lot of things different across our world … a lot. But talking to human beings about what they want in their lives, what they hope for their communities, why they want to give of themselves makes it inescapable that where you live is irrelevant to some things, very important ones, that we hold in common across our world … a lot.

They may say it in different words and languages, but the hopes and dreams are very much the same.


All of this is still a great experiment, new roads we are travelling with awesome new colleagues around the world (India and Australia and the UK too), and the outcome and destination ten years from now is very much to be written. We are OUT OVER OUR SKIS.

When we did our 15th Anniversary for Seattle last year, our theme was about being really ready to start now, the first 15 years were “warming up.” The intentional implication is that now is not the time to stop and keep only doing what we are doing, but to stay bold, unafraid of challenges and risks and failure. To truly aspire to be a part of real change in our communities.

I feel that same spirit in our work around the world.  If we ever reach the day where we just like things “the way they are” or we are afraid of the new, the risky, then we should find a whole new group of people to lead.

In Asia, the sense of possibility, peril, and potential is … palpable. I hope you can feel at least a little bit of it in Charlotte, Boston, Bangalore, Calgary, Austin, Los Angeles, and 28 more cities …. because you helped make Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing possible … and in turn they are giving each of us new ideas and connectedness and a greater sense of possibility … full circle, around the world.

P.S. I love to leave home and go out and see the world, it’s such a great experience and broadens the mind and heart and soul. There are amazing people all over the world. The only thing that’s just a little bit better … is coming back home to Seattle, WA, USA. Americans are not perfect, but I know I live in a great country and feel lucky and blessed every time I come home … especially to see Lori, Ben, Nick and Sam … see ya in a few hours. 🙂


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