On my way, to where the air is sweet…

One of the best parts of my job is being able to meet and work with smart and creative people, leaders in their fields. Today, for instance, my colleague and One Change Assoc. Exec. Director John Mulvihill and I spent an entire day with Richard Earle, David Basch and Mark Chinoy of the Regis Group here in Leesburg, VA — bashing and remodeling the One Change concept and trying to figure out how to make it global.

Before coming to my fledgling NGO, John was Deputy Secretary General of the Canadian Red Cross. He managed the Red Cross through the Hep-C blood crisis and dispatched teams to assist people in distant emergencies such as floods, earthquakes and storms. Last night as we were checking in to the Leesburg Hampton Inn (a fine but unremarkable hotel off the highway to Washington), he told me about other places he’d slept for work: In Tanzania waking up with a chicken on his head, in Central America with a tree in his room after hurricane Hugo, and in Indonesia after the tsunami, woken up by “two huge rats f*cking on the night stand.” Now he works for me. And he seems happy.

Richard and his colleagues are senior American thought leaders in social marketing. I met Richard when he was the keynote speaker at a conference where I was also a speaker last April in Denver. I sent a bulb with a handwritten note to his hotel room.

Tonight at dinner, after a full day of planning and analysis, Richard, Mark and David they shared stories of their long careers: Running the brand rescue plan for Tylenol after the cyanide crisis, managing the fallout from the Carol Burnett National Enquirer lawsuit, inventing clay animation for Sesame Street. These guys have done it all. I’m so impressed by their experience, but moreso by their humility, their humanity. And that they think I’m on to something.

They can tell me how to get, how to get to … where I want to go.

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