Final Presentation, and It’s the Little Things

It has been far too long since I posted here. Sharing my experience has been, for me, an integral part of the program. I am aware that the CSC experience has changed me. The changes are visceral, emotional, and spiritual, and they are difficult to convey. I think that difficulty stems from the fact that, though I know the changes are there, I have still not fully digested or comprehended them. Blogging forces me to “process” the experience and at least try to understand and articulate the meaning. Blogging also seems more than a little self-indulgent. If you enjoy my musings, and/or if you get something out of them, sincere thanks, both for reading and for your patience. To those who may be reading this out of some familial or other sense of obligation, thank you, too, and I apologize for posting again 🙂 For those in that latter category, bad news: don’t think that the word “Final” in the title means this is my last blog post. I’ll share the events of our last 48 hours (+/-) in Jaipur and our “goodbyes” (in quotes because it’s not forever) in another entry, and, as promised in my first entry, I have more to say about the beginning of the process.

I use the same disclaimer at the end of each of my blog posts. I think it is important that, before I go further, I go ahead and state this now: The views expressed in this blog represent my own personal views and not necessarily those of IBM. I’ll save the part about The Beatles (flippant though it may sound, I really mean it) until the end.

I am highlighting the disclaimer early because I am going to reference some controversial events transpiring in my country over the past several days, and those are pertinent to one of the observations I had planned to talk about in a future blog post. Well, the future is here. I don’t really have time to do this tonight, but I need to get it out while it’s most relevant. For the record, I think my little story (and it is such a little story) is always relevant, but time is of the essence. We’ll get to that soon enough. First, let’s get back to the mission, and tying it up with our final presentation.

Our presentation to our client went really well. It might be more interesting to say otherwise, but I’m afraid the truth is not exciting. I can’t complain when our client’s Executive Director stands up and says “We’re going to implement all of your recommendations,” and it is clear he is not messing around. Again, the testament is to our client for seeing a problem (or, as the cliché goes, an opportunity) and pursuing its resolution.

I’ve posted a few pictures from our final presentation. Friends and family don’t really grasp what it is I do for a living. IBM’s CSC allows us to take the skills that are continuously being morphed by what we do for a living and use those in a different way, which of course feeds on itself, allowing for further development. That’s the secondary element of CSC: personal development, with philanthropy being primary. Anyway, these pictures might just give a little glimpse into the mystery of a day in the work life of Alê, John, and Preston. It looks a little like a recruiting brochure for a Big 4 Accounting firm. Except much cooler. Sorry, Big 4.

Now let’s get to that part where the disclaimer really needs to be emphasized. Often when I travel, whether for pleasure or business, it’s the little things that make a big impact. Oh boy, here I go with another cliché. Heck, I’m not even sure I haven’t already said the exact same thing in another blog entry, but I am not going to re-read them in the name of self-editing.

Anyhow, one afternoon toward the end of our 4 weeks I was getting ready to get on the elevator in our hotel. There was an older gentleman who looked like he was straddling the worlds of “I might just go into this shop” (there was, indeed, a jewelry story in the lobby of our hotel), and “I’m getting on the elevator.” I hopped on, then held the door and asked him if he was getting in. “No. I’m waiting for someone. Thank you!” The doors almost closed, and suddenly they separated like they do when someone hits the button at the last second. It’s that man, and he has someone with him that I’d guess is his son. The man is maybe in his 50s, the son, maybe in his 20s. He apologizes, and I say “No problem at all.” Sometimes I talk to strangers, and sometimes I don’t (my wife will insist I ALWAYS talk to strangers). These seemed like nice fellows, so with no intention of masking my Southern U.S. roots I said “Where are y’all from?” The dad’s reply: “Iran. Are you from the US?” “Yes sir I am.” I stuck my hand out to shake theirs and said “Cool! I do not get to meet or talk to many people from Iran. Friends!” They smiled, shook my hand, and the son said “My brother lives in the US! Illinois!” That was it. The door opened on the third floor. Time for me to get off. 3 dudes from 2 countries who in recent decades have, at best, exhibited tensions with each other, and at worst have thrown around words of war. “Y’all have a great evening!” “Nice meeting you!”

I always intended to tell this story in my blog as a (clichéd) reminder that tensions between countries are between politicians and (often abused, on all sides) ideologies, not between people. For anyone who stumbles across this blog or this entry at a later time, I am posting this on the evening of January 31, 2017, 4 days after our new President signed an executive order suspending for 120 days the entry of refugees into the U.S. and suspending for 90 days travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven countries, including Iran.

I am not here to stoke debate whether this executive order is “good,” “bad,” effective, or destructive, nor to be excessively political. You should know I am registered as an “independent,” not affiliated with any political party in the U.S. I regularly vote for members of both major parties as well as independent and “third party” candidates. I disavow all convenient political boxes: I am not conservative, I am not liberal, I am not moderate. I AM opinionated, and my opinions transcend those outdated labels. I am thinking about the two friends I made on the elevator. I am wondering if they think about our encounter and others they have had with Americans and whether I meant what I said (I did) or whether I side with our President. Or both. I don’t want to be so unfair to people who disagree with me as to suggest that someone couldn’t be their friend AND agree with our President. I wonder if they had plans to visit their brother/son living in Illinois but now cannot. In case it is not clear, I do NOT support this executive order.

So, it bears repeating, in full:

The views expressed in this blog represent my own personal views and not necessarily those of IBM. That said, if IBM doesn’t like The Beatles, then IBM should really think about starting to like The Beatles.

#ibmcsc #india32

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3 thoughts on “Final Presentation, and It’s the Little Things

  1. As I prepare for a trip to ‘the wrong side of the wall’ aka Mexico, the same thoughts have crossed my mind. Will they see me for who I am or will I too carry the label of political decisions. Thanks for your insight- always enjoyable posts!

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    1. I am confident your client, your partner organization, etc. won’t even think about it. And, for the most part, no one else will either. People are people and I think most know that. Looking forward to reading about your experience in Mexico City (I haven’t been in almost 20 years but loved the time I spent there with my prior employer)!

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