Vail Daily column: A letter of gratitude | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: A letter of gratitude

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Dear John:

Oh. Just looked at the salutation. No, this isn’t that kind of letter. Hah, hah, hah!

As you know, my daughter recently graduated with a degree in psychology. Well, she’s put me on a personal improvement program. One of the assignments is writing a letter of gratitude to someone. I chose you.

Sure, I could write a boss, colleague, family member, another friend, mentor, teacher. Positive influencers fill our lives if you think about it. Maybe that’s part of this exercise, considering everyone we could and probably should thank like this.

The nature of the Vail Leadership Institute you started has this multiplier effect for these influencers. Well, thanks a lot! The field only widened.

I have advisers I might not have even known otherwise, or gotten past small talk. I wouldn’t have them to thank without you. Worse, I wouldn’t even know it.

I cheer hard for everyone who has taken part in roundtable sessions you set up as a cornerstone to share business experiences and something of our souls. The window seat on each other’s livelihoods — and lives — fosters this, I think.

Imagine a whole community of people who know each other this way, and how we each might contribute more for strangers we’ve come to care about well beyond their business issues. I suspect you have.

You know, maybe this note also springs from the latest success of the Vail Valley Foundation with the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. In celebrating the organization, it only seems fitting to spare a thought for one of the people who started this group and then served as its first president.

Of course the foundation has evolved with John Garnsey and Ceil Folz, speaking of people you and I both admire greatly. Let’s not forget Harry Frampton, chairman of their board for more than three decades. Just looked this up. Wow. I understand he’s had some sort of day job all these years, too.

I put you in that pantheon, as well. You did a lot of the early heavy lifting. Without you, I’m not sure the foundation would have its, well, foundation.

Yes, I know these days you are doing that emeritus thing with the institute, giving the group room to evolve with new leadership. I don’t doubt that the seeds you have sown will grow into another stalwart organization.

And yes, I realize you are just one of many in these efforts. I see you as a regular Tom Sawyer, you know. Focusing on writing your books actually might be dangerous.

Between you (“The Leader’s Journal” so far) and the Vanoureks (“Triple Crown Leadership”), I can just see a movement based on Old World virtues at the heart of leadership. We certainly need more of that in this world.

I’m afraid you’ve also been a bad influence on me. Just exposure to you fires me up to try new things — approaches, products, constantly think about possibilities. My overlords can credit some of their heart attacks these past four years to my incomplete understanding, but full-throttle enthusiasm, of your example and institute’s lessons.

Ah, the institute. I haven’t even gotten to the practical lessons for a career journalist thrust upon responsibility for the business after the Great Recession struck.

When I think about the Daily’s business success, I see the front lines taking initiative, having the ideas we put into play, influencing our fortunes directly. In this, the boss — me — can only screw things up.

There’s little question that the secret sauce is our managers: Managing Editor Ed Stoner, Magazine Division General Manager Susan Ludlow, Advertising Director Patrick Connolly, Distribution Manager David Hakes, Marketing Guy Mark Bricklin. The staff is talented and experienced, too, so no slights there. I’ve just never seen managers who go so consistently above and beyond, though. It’s jaw dropping.

I guess what I’m saying is thank you for helping me screw up a little less! That indeed has made a difference.

I’m looking forward to learning more, living more by your example, broadening my business and life perspective more, and continuing, I hope, to screw up less and less — all through the roundtables and lectures and reading and thinking through the Leadership Institute.

And just knowing you.

Of course, this is just between you and me.

Sincerely,

Don

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.