Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Is A Valentine

Fred Rogers’ ministry was children’s television.

We went to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” at the wonderful Living Room Theatre at FAU. It was terrific.

The documentary on the life and legacy of Fred Rogers explores the timeless charm of Mr. Rogers who for more than 30 years entertained and educated children on PBS.
When the film ended, you could hear sniffles from the sold out audience.  Mr. Rogers still resonates.
In fact, he may resonate now more than ever.

When I looked around I saw a lot of senior citizens in the crowd..maybe their children or grandchildren watched Mr. Rogers or maybe they did too.  Regardless of their age, they were really moved by the story of a man who decided that his ministry would be children’s television.

Mr. Rogers kindness, authenticity and simple message of love seems so rare and unique these days that watching it onscreen is deeply moving.

There’s a longing in our society these days, a missing element and Fred Rogers epitomizes that void.

As a result, there’s a certain melancholy in the documentary. And I’m not sure  it’s intended.
But there’s a sense that with the passing of Mr. Rogers in 2003, that an era has passed in America that cannot be recaptured.
It was an era of community, tight knit and supportive neighborhoods, acceptance and love.

Sure, everything looks better in hindsight. And Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood took place in pretty tumultuous times. The documentary covers how his show dealt with subjects such as assassination, war, race and 9/11 which took place a month after he retired. PBS brought him back to address the horrors of terrorism.
Still, there was also an innocence to the neighborhood—there was love and acceptance.

The melancholy was the unspoken thread that somehow something has been lost in the intervening years.

The film concludes by asking the audience to think of someone special in their lives; someone who helped you in your life’s journey.
And that’s probably the source of the sniffles I heard in Boca.

If we are fortunate, we’ve all had that special someone or multiple helpers in our lives.
Remembering them is important. Honoring them is also important by being there for others in your “neighborhood.”

Fred Rogers’ message was one of love and understanding.
It’s a timeless message of kindness. It will never go out of style and it’s needed now more than ever.
Mr. Rogers widow believes her husband would have been devoted to healing our nation’s divisions. He would have tried to find a way to bring people together.
To me, that’s the essence of leadership. It’s also the essence of humanity and what we are all called to do.

Things We Liked & Happy Birthday America

Life has been such a whirlwind that we forgot our list of things we liked in May.

So this post will include a round up for May and June, while wishing you a safe and happy Independence Day.

Dinner at Baciami, a great spot in Boynton, owned by a Delray resident with two great Boca/Delray people Perry and Diana Don Francisco. Great food, great service, awesome atmosphere. We went back with more friends in June. Highly recommended.

Delray Craft Beer Fest—especially the grapefruit beer. Some of my less evolved friends poke fun at my appreciation for “fruity” flavored beers. I say, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Catching the movie “Tully” starring the immensely talented Charlize Theron in a decidedly non glamorous part. Well written, a nice way to spend a rainy spring day. We also saw “Book Club” at Cinemark Boca. As we move well into our AARP years it is nice to see mature romance portrayed on the big screen. Diane Keaton remains as charming as she was in Annie Hall.

Bob Costin got a smart phone. The legendary former Delray Beach City Commissioner who avoided email and the Internet for decades finally gave in. Now if only he would text us.

Breakfast at Christina’s…it’s not just the Tabanero hot sauce, it’s the omelets. The best around.

Attending the FAU Sandler College of Social Work’s 2018 induction ceremony. To see 110 social workers honored brought tears to our eyes. They are heroes.

Happiness is being able to talk to Fran Marincola about something other than parking. Especially when that something is Springsteen on Broadway. Make sure you stop by Caffe Luna Rosa to see the Springsteen signed guitar we were able to snag on Touch of Modern.

Lunch at Mario’s on Glades. Just plain good.

Leadership Florida…it’s always inspiring.

Lunch with Andrew Duffel of the FAU Research Park. Always informative and always thought provoking. Not to mention the sublime food at Cuban Cafe.

The Joe Cotton Band Live At the Crest. Original songs. Great performances. Good crowd. A tambourine. Long live rock. Catch them when you can.

True Kitchen and Fresh Kitchen. Both in Boca. Both really good. And healthy too. Bolay too..delish.

Dinner at Domus in Boca. So good. Fresh pasta, an exuberant chef and a nice atmosphere.

Meeting Tony, Val and Maks of Dancing With the Stars Fame at their new dance studio at the Town Center Mall. Thanks to the Kaye’s for the invite.
Now if only The Bachelor would relocate here.

The Front Porch—this historic Delray spot is a great place for a summer salad, parmesan dumplings and great specialty cocktails. Check it out.

As summer heats up, we urge you to shop and dine local. In the past few weeks, we enjoyed visiting Vintage Tap, Harvest, 5th Avenue Grill, La Cigale, Oleo, Boheme, Brule, Papas Tapas and Deli on Rye. It’s nice to walk in and grab a table, even nicer to keep our local businesses successful during the slow months.

Finally, on a sad note we mourn the loss of two terrific Delray people: Dr. Fred Love and Pasqual Ranich.

Dr. Love was a wonderful guy who was a big part of an historic Delray family. We enjoyed a very nice relationship. I spent some time this month reading old emails he sent. He was always a gentleman and we had some wonderful discussions about Delray. A true gentleman.

Pasqual was a sweet man. We met when he was working at Boston’s on the Beach and I was privileged to help when he opened the Hurricane which he quickly built into a favorite local spot.
I will miss his smile and we will all miss his kindness. Just a wonderful guy.

Have a safe and enjoyable 4th. See you next week.

Better Angels….

They got the ‘damn paper’ out the next day. Those of us who know journalists knew they would.

It’s dangerous to be a journalist.

Five were murdered last week in Annapolis, Maryland.

It’s dangerous to tell the truth and dangerous to share a community’s stories because there are people who don’t want the truth to be told. Especially if it challenges their worldview or their actions.

We are living in a society that’s rapidly dividing. One of the symptoms of that division is we now have our own set of facts. You have yours and I have mine.

And that’s dangerous too.

The most dangerous people in our society are those who are so cemented in their politics that no amount of information, no science, no research, no argument, no amount of logic can get them to consider another point of view.

So some angry, twisted and lethally armed lunatic who lost a defamation suit against the Capital Gazette newspaper decides to walk in and murder his community’s fact seekers and story tellers.

Journalism is a tight knit profession and having been in the field for a long time (in a prior life) you tend to know people in newsrooms throughout the land. I didn’t know Rob Hiassen even though he worked at the Palm Beach Post in the 90s. But I knew his nephew Scott Hiassen who covered Delray in the 90s.

Scott’s dad is Carl Hiassen, a legendary Miami Herald columnist and bestselling author. Carl was Rob’s brother and now Rob is gone for good. And it makes me sad. It makes me angry.

It stings because I’ve worked in newsrooms and they are full of life, humor, knowledge, stories, history, smarts and talent. The people who work there are overworked and underpaid. They work there—if they are lucky to have a job these days—because they love to write, they believe being a journalist is important work, they know in their bones that what they do every day is essential to Democracy.

They don’t always get it right. They miss stories. They make mistakes. There are reporters and editors who are biased—some of that comes with being human and some of it comes because they play favorites and also because they are human. I think we forget that sometimes.

 But there are many journalists who do an amazing job writing the first draft of history, who ferret out the facts, tell the stories, and do the investigations. There are many who report on the everyday too—the often boring city commission meetings, the stories on budgets, taxes, police, high school sports, library programs etc.

If we pay attention to their work, we learn about our communities. If we tune out, we lose out.

There was a time when newspapers were the water coolers of our towns and cities. They were on every lawn, every morning or every week and they kept us informed as neighbors. They built community. They gave us a common frame of reference.

The Internet changed all of that. Newspapers are struggling which is unfortunate because they are still essential to our Democracy and the health of our communities.

You can’t get local news on the Internet in many, many places. That’s starting to change but the business model is still evolving and the big challenge is finding the revenue to support quality journalism.

Even though I long ago left daily journalism, journalism has never left me. I still see the world as a reporter does. I enjoy stories. I look at things and say to myself ‘now that would be a great story’ and I get disappointed when the journalists on the local beat here in Delray Beach and Boca Raton miss what I know to be happening. Trust me, the best stories go untold.

We even invested in a local newspaper because we believe in the power of the medium and the need to cover stories and express opinions even if those opinions rankle the powers that be.

We didn’t buy a local newspaper because we saw it as a quick path to riches and fame. We bought the paper because we care about our community and we want to tell stories that may otherwise go untold. Our July issue—fresh on the stands is a case in point full of stories on local people, businesses, events and charities.

In the absence of a professionally edited and curated water cooler we get the wild west—trolls, haters, rumors, falsehoods, innuendo, misogyny, racism, bots, hackers, content farms—real fake news which is different than news you don’t like or that doesn’t toe the party line.

We are at a dangerous inflection point in America.

We are labeling the free press a danger to our Democracy when in fact it’s a guarantor—regardless of its imperfections.

I’ve been on both sides of the notebook so I know what it takes to do the job. I tried to get it right when I was on the local government, features and police beat. I tried to give context, I tried to quote people correctly and I tried to get the facts right and explain it in a way that made sense.

My old editor, Tom Sawyer (his real name) drilled into his troops the need to get out into the community. He implored us to develop sources beyond the usual suspects, dig for information, double and triple check names, facts, figures etc. He urged us to listen and write stories that explained how decisions—budget, zoning, policy—would impact our reader’s lives.

We frustrated him at times. My lasting image of him in my mind’s eye is Tom with his head in his hands, his face red, his eyes tired from reading and being challenged by a group of free-spirited storytellers. Yeah, sometimes he barked at the moon, but we knew he liked us.

On my first day on the job, 31 years ago this month, he took me to lunch with a few others to Tom Sawyer’s restaurant on Boca Raton Boulevard. I was 22 and very happy to be in Florida and to have a job. He assigned me to a place called Delray Beach, which is where I ended up living because it was much more affordable than Boca. It was all friendly until he told me that they named the restaurant after him and therefore I should never let him down or disappoint him. I was gullible (journalism cured me of my gullibility in short course) and I believed him, sort of.

I went to work in a newsroom with wonderful people, who were smart, funny, ferociously curious, fearless, creative and mostly nice.

Since that special time I have worked in a slew of other places with a bunch of other special people but nothing was as consistently interesting/creative as that old newsroom on East Rogers Circle and later on Fairway Drive in Deerfield Beach.

So I suspect that the newsroom at the Capital Gazette was special too. And to think of five people killed, others injured and terrorized in such a creative and important place….well it just really stings.

We best find our ‘better angels’ as Abraham Lincoln implored us to do before the Civil War. Or we will repeat history and ruin a damn fine thing, which is America itself.

 

Experts, Beginners and Long Term Thinking

“We said at the outset that the degree of difficulty is high and success is going to require an expert knowledge, a beginners mind and a long-term orientation.”  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on hiring a new CEO to run a company designed to disrupt (improve health care delivery) in America.

Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan Chase and Amazon are teaming up to try and solve what has been an intractable problem: delivering high quality health care at an affordable price.
While I wouldn’t bet against Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon and Bezos, the three business titans trying to solve health care I’m more intrigued by Bezos’ quote.

And since we often write about leadership in this blog, I thought we would look at Bezos’ thoughts through the prism of public leadership.
With local and state elections looming it’s a good time to consider the jobs that are up for grabs: Mayor of Boca Raton, Council Seats in Boca, County Commission, Governor, Senator.
It’s fair to say that the degree of difficulty is high for all of these jobs.

Difficult… but not impossible.
These jobs and others do require some subject area expertise.

I was amazed at the amount of work and vast amount of subject matter we dealt with on the Delray Beach City Commission. Municipal finance, budgets, pensions, labor union contracts, public safety, race relations, urban planning, infrastructure, parks design, site plans, neighborhood revitalization, housing policy and on and on and on it went.

It would have helped to have an “expert knowledge” but absent that you learn to rely on city staff and your own reading and studying. Still, you can’t master it all.
To follow Bezos’ quote, the lack of expert knowledge gives you a beginners mind which is so important. But only if that mind is open to new ideas.
A beginners mind allows you to view issues differently— hopefully without bias and hopefully creatively.

I just read a fine new book entitled  “Unsafe Thinking” which urges us to think differently, shed biases and lead.
Bezos touches on the book’s  themes with his prescient quote.

His final point: a long term orientation. How important this is!
Isn’t that what’s missing on the national scene which seems to always be about the next election cycle?

Progress gets lost when long term thinking loses out to short termism.
When safe thinking crowds out risk, vision and responsibility to the future we all lose.

I don’t know if Dr. Atul Gawande–the new CEO– will succeed in his new role trying to fix health care. But when Bezos says he is the perfect blend of expert, beginners mind and long term orientation I know he has a chance.

And if any of the candidates for the offices we will vote on August 28 possesses those traits…well…that would be something. That would really be something.

Resilience + Intelligence=Something Special

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer died last week.

I will miss him.

Not because we shared common views on politics—we didn’t. But because he was an intelligent and brave voice and those are rare traits in these days of belligerence, alternative facts, echo chambers and blind loyalty.

Mr. Krauthammer did not follow anyone blindly. He was conservative, but independent.

He had people he admired but his admiration was rooted in ideas and ideals and that’s a welcome approach that helps to avoid a cult of personality.

Krauthammer was in Boca Raton two years ago to keynote the annual Boca-Delray Community Event of the American Friends of Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross).

I had a chance to attend but had a conflict. I’m sorry I missed it. I didn’t know his voice would be silenced so soon. At 68. Cancer is just terrible. .

There are scores of great writings from the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, but here are two of my favorites.

“You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures,” he wrote in the introduction to his memoir, “Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics” (2013). “Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933.”

How true, we’d be wise to listen.

 

As someone who was paralyzed while a young man in medical school, Krauthammer was an inspiration and a living lesson in resilience. He loved the Bernard Malamud book “The Natural” in which the protagonist Roy Hobbs is shot by a crazed fan which derails Hobbs’ baseball career.

 

“No one knows why Hobbs is shot,” he wrote. “It is fate, destiny, nemesis. Perhaps the dawning of knowledge, the coming of sin. Or more prosaically, the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter. Every life has such a moment. What distinguishes us is whether — and how — we ever come back.”

 

In those few beautifully written sentences, Krauthammer covers fate, human vulnerability and resilience.

It’s sad that he’s gone. It’s nice to read someone you disagree with but respect. Someone who challenges your beliefs, makes you think and makes you believe that intelligent and respectful debate is still possible.

Rest In Peace. And thank you.

Our Towns: A Formula For Success

Our Towns is a journey through what’s working in America.

James and Deborah Fallows are living the life I dream about.
Flying from town to town across America, embedding themselves in the community and writing about what they find.

James has done this for years as national correspondent for The Atlantic. For the book “Our Towns”, he and his wife alternate writing chapters as they visit places such as Eastport, Maine, Greenville, South Carolina, Burlington, Vermont and Winters, California.
Every town they write about is a place I’d love to visit.

Their prose is so vivid, their descriptions of the town’s stories are so compelling that you find yourself fantasizing about visiting or living there.
They seem to find the people that make a place go and spend time at brewpubs, YMCA’s, libraries and innovative schools.
They look for vibrant downtowns, committed business and civic leaders and along the way you become invested in the towns they write about.
All of the towns have a story and an arc: from despair to revitalization.
Some have  fully “arrived”, places like Greenville and Burlington and Holland, Michigan some are on the way (Eastport, Maine) but all have some common elements:
Committed citizens, a willingness to invest, a desire to improve, honesty about the problems they face, schools that take chances and set high standards, an embrace of culture and quality of life amenities and an ability to celebrate their wins. They aspire and they have civic pride. They also seem to have microbreweries. Seriously.

Anyway, the Fallows’ have come up with 11 signs a city will succeed based on their travels.
Here they are:
—Divisive national politics seem a distant concern.
—You can pick out the local patriots. You can answer the question “who makes this town go?” Sometimes it’s a mayor or council member. Sometimes it’s a volunteer or local business leader.
—Public private partnerships are real. Successful towns can point to examples and say “this is what a partnership means.”
—People know the civic story. America has a story. So does California. And so do successful towns and cities.
—They have a downtown. And that downtown is healthy and has some ambition. Good bones are critical but not enough.
—They are near a research university. This is somewhat controversial because not every successful town is so blessed. But it helps.
—They have and care about a community college.
—They have unusual schools. Schools that innovate, take risks and deliver.
—They make themselves open. Great cities are inclusive and work to assimilate newcomers.
—They have big plans. They aspire, they have vision and they execute.
—They have craft breweries. Fallows calls this perhaps the most reliable marker. His point: “ A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur and a critical mass of mainly young customers.”  He challenges us to find an exception.  Fortunately, both Delray and Boca have craft breweries. So does Boynton Beach.

Take a look at the list and see how many signs we have. Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a good summer read check out “Our Towns.”

 

But For Leadership Florida

Dr. Frank Luntz gives us the numbers: we are a nation divided.

I spent the weekend in Sarasota at the annual meeting of Leadership Florida.
Leadership Florida is a statewide organization devoted to building community.

That’s not easy  in a giant and diverse state. It’s a monumental task.
Because not only is Florida huge, but many of us come from other parts of the nation and world and so we may not identity the Sunshine State as “home.”

I’m an example, I am a New Yorker and identify strongly with the northeast. But Florida is home. I’ve lived here 10 more years than I lived in New York.
Still, while I’ve always loved Delray Beach, Leadership Florida helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the entirety of Florida.

I’ve learned that we live in a remarkable state. Florida has a rich history, an exciting present and a very promising future. We also face some complex challenges ranging from rising seas to political division.
But what Leaderahip Florida proves is that if good people come together in a spirit of community they can work together to solve problems and seize opportunities.
Now I realize that sounds Pollyanna and simplistic, but the truth is these leaders from the world’s of business, politics, academia, health care, energy and the non profit world– who range from liberal to ultra conservative– show how people can work together across ideological lines.

The annual meeting weekend is jam packed with learning sessions that often raise provocative questions.
This year, we listened to Michael Smith, a former Obama administration official and executive director of My Brothers Keeper, Dr. Frank Luntz, who shared some sobering news on our divisions and a path forward, former George W. Bush White House photographer Eric Draper, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a social media expert who talked about what’s good about social media at a time when all we’re hearing is how it’s ruining our kids, our brains and our country and a raucous panel on the pros and cons of autonomous vehicles.
The sessions provoke lots of thinking and healthy debate.
And that’s good. It’s what we’re often lacking as we talk past each other.

I’ve long felt that if you populated Congress or the state legislature with a random sampling of Leadership Florida graduates, you’d see a whole lot of problems solved.
Oh there would be arguments  and differences galore, but I’m certain that these leaders would always find a way forward.
We need more of what Leadership Florida offers: intelligent debate, treating your allies with humility  and your opponents with respect.

Bits from the weekend:
–We had dinner with former White House photographer Eric Draper who chronicled all 8 years of George W. Bush’s term. I loved his session so getting to sit next to Mr. Draper at dinner was extra special. He talked about the Bush family, the rigorous nature of the job (over 1 million images shot, international travel and the pressure of not missing history as it unfolds).

Also at our table, Gregg Pettersmeyer who served two presidents (Nixon and Bush 41) in senior advisory positions and Capt. Charlie Plumb who spent 2,103 days as a POW during the Vietnam War and is a founder of the Navy’s “top gun” school. He’s a remarkable man and beyond nice.
We got lucky with our seat assignment because my Leadership Florida classmate Wendy Spencer is now CEO of the organization after serving as director of National Service for two presidents. She hooked us up. (Class XXIV perks). These types of opportunities are also called “but for Leadership Florida” experiences. They’re invaluable.
–We got some insight from Claire Diaz Ortiz on how as a Twitter executive she helped get the Pope on social media. She talked about the positive aspects of social media at a time when the technology is under siege. It was a welcome respite. But concerns linger about data privacy and social media’s role in sowing division.

–Dr. Frank Luntz talked about public opinion and reminded us how far institutions and professions have sunk in the minds of the public. (More on his findings in a future blog). But right now, elected officials, bankers, lawyers, journalists and CEO’s are held in very low regard.
And we enjoyed a great presentation on autonomous cars with advocates (the co-founder of Voyage which serves The Villages) and the entertaining Alex Roy president of the Human Driving Association. (More on that too in the future).
Hope everyone had a great Father’s Day! If you can, check our Leadership Florida. Apply for the cornerstone class program or Connect if you’re a young professional. It’s a worthwhile investment of your time.

In Praise of Dad & Dads

 

My dad was about my age today in this photo taken in 1990 before my sister’s wedding.

My dad turns 80 on Friday.
I don’t think he’ll mind me revealing his age; he’s earned his stripes, it’s just a number and honestly  he looks 20 years younger. Seriously. He does.
My dad is a hero of mine.

I’ve been blessed to have had many heroes and heroines in my life, special people who have inspired me simply by living good and meaningful lives.
But no blessing is bigger than having a father and a mother who were wonderful beyond words.

We lost mom 20 years ago this October and we miss her every single day.  But we are so fortunate to have dad in our lives through the decades.
I’m especially lucky because he lives so close, just up the road from us.

I’ve spoken and written about my dad before. And everything I’ve ever said remains true: he inspires me, he motivates me, he counsels me and he has always been there for me and everyone in our small but close family.

As you get older, you begin to think about life differently.
You appreciate the present because you know good things can be gone in an instant. You also anticipate the future because life is good and where there is life there is hope. And you look back too and reassess.
When I look back one word comes to mind: luck. I am so lucky to have had a great dad.

My dad was a very hard worker. He spent hours and hours of his life running his pharmacy and we spent those hours with my mom who was warm, nurturing and very involved in our lives but never ever in an overwhelming way. No, she had just the right touch.

She also took care to ensure that my dad had his space and time to recover from the long hours. She looked out for him and always told us how hard he was working and how lucky we were. So gratitude was taught to me and my sister Sharon. You later learn that gratitude ensures happiness because you focus on what you have– not what you’re missing.

To my dad’s credit, when he was home he was present and so we have great memories: family trips, summers at the “pool club”, visits to the U.S. Open, memorable visits to see our grandparents, aunts and cousins and family dinners where we discussed politics and current events.

Those “wonder years” influence who you are. I believe we bring our own spirit to the world, but our parents shape who we become.  So I am a grateful son. And my sister  is likewise grateful.
As I reflect on Father’s Day and a milestone birthday this week, three words in addition to luck come to mind.

Reliable—my dad was reliable. He always made a living. Always came home right after work. Always was good to our mother. We always felt safe.

Reliable is an underrated word. But if you can rely on family and friends in a volatile world where we are oh so fragile..well..that’s ultra special. In a world of constant change and tumult, being reliable is an amazing gift. And when you are reliably good to people, let’s just say there are no words to describe how valuable that quality is.

Loving—We always felt loved. That’s what great dads do. There was no doubt that we were central to his life. His career was a important means to an even more important end. The end was family; a good life for our family.

Smart– My dad is an educated man. He graduated from an Ivy League school, had a successful career as a pharmacist and was a successful small business owner. All those require smarts galore. But my dad has smarts beyond those impressive things. He has the smarts that enabled him to live a great life. He just knows how to navigate the curveballs, deal with the inevitable setbacks, bounce back from the tragedies all of us endure and find a way to be happy. He always keeps his head about him. There’s that old reliability I told you about.

I could go on, but there’s really no words to describe someone who gave you everything and continues to give.
Happy birthday dad. Happy Father’s Day too. We love you.
And to all the dads out there thanks for all you do. I hope we all continue to dance for a long time.

My dad Sandy (we are Sanford and son) and his lovely life partner and main squeeze Fran.

We Are A Tennis Town

A rivalry for the ages.

We saw a terrific movie last week: Borg vs. McEnroe which is On Demand.

The movie—which did little box office—has been called the first great tennis movie.

Truth is, there is a very little competition. I’m not sure there’s even a good tennis movie never mind a great one.

But Borg vs. McEnroe is really good.

The Swedish actor who plays Bjorn Borg looks eerily like him and while it takes a while to buy Shia Labeouf as Johnny Mac you quickly lose yourself in the story of Borg’s quest to win a fifth straight Wimbledon title.

He was all of 24 in 1980 but already burned out from having turned pro at 15. Bjorn’s son Leo, himself a top junior player, plays the young version of his dad. He’s terrific.

You quickly see the toll the sport has played on Bjorn’s emotional state. He’s depressed, exhausted and on the precipice of a big fall. He would leave the game at 26.

John McEnroe is the young, arrogant lion eager to topple Borg. He’s fire to Borg’s ice, although we learn that Bjorn is a lot more like McEnroe than we thought. Yes, he has a volcanic temper but he’s bottled it up and is paying a high price.

I’m writing about this wonderful era of tennis a day after the French Open finals only because there are many local ties to the legends of the game.

Bjorn Borg has played at the Delray Beach Tennis Stadium on a long defunct tour known as the Nuveen Champions. Jimmy Connors has played there as well both on the Nuveen and at the Chris Evert Pro Celebrity Classic. Guillermo Vilas, Andres Gomez, Ivan Lendl, Mat Wilander, Andy Roddick, Johan Kriek, Jim Courier, Aaron Krickstein, Serena and Venus Williams, Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Kei Nishikori, Juan Martin Del Potro, Jennifer Capriati, Jimmy Arias, Mardy Fish, Lindsay Davenport have all played in Delray.

And of course, John McEnroe too.

We are many things, but we are also a tennis town.

Boca has a rich heritage as well with classic matches between legends of the game at Boca West, the Boca Resort and Club and the Polo Club.

Way back in the 80s and 90s, Delray hosted the junior version of the Davis Cup at the old Laver’s Resort. The greats of the game came through here as kids staying with local families. The Sunshine and Connolly Continental Cup were great events. Those of us who love the game would watch the young players and wonder which ones would be on Centre Court at Wimbledon in a few years. It turns out it was quite a few.

Over the years, we attracted tennis players as residents, academies (Rick Macci and others) and other junior, senior, Fed Cup and Davis Cup events. The Slims and of course our ATP event.

During the French Open, it was fun to follow our “Delray players” (those who play our event every year) as they made their way through the draw.

It was really thrilling to see local junior Cori “Coco” Gauff—remember that name—win the junior title.

Coco is the granddaughter of Yvonne and Red Odom. We wrote about her grandma a few weeks ago.

Yes, Delray has a tennis heritage.

The greats of the game have played here and now perhaps the future.

Keep your eyes on Coco and check out Borg vs. McEnroe to relive tennis’ golden age.

 

 

 

In Praise of the Research Park

I’m a big fan of the Research Park at FAU and its CEO Andrew Duffell.

The park has become a major economic engine for Palm Beach County and beyond serving as warm and inviting place for talented entrepreneurs and researchers to build and scale their companies.

That’s important, because “economic gardening”–growing your own so to speak is smart policy.

As far as I’m concerned, Northern Virginia can have Amazon and its H2 Headquarters (and that’s where it’s going folks), I’d rather save incentive money and grow our own company’s right here at home. The Research Park is a good example of how that can work.

The Park’s impact has been profound– if somewhat unsung– in a region where it is hard to gain appreciation.

The 2017 numbers—which never tell the whole story—are nonetheless impressive. Consider:

  1. $387 million of investment capital raised
  2. $535.65 million in economic impact
  3. $67 million in annual payroll
  4. 3,088 total jobs sustained, that’s direct and indirect employment with another 250 jobs plus planned.
  5. 33 companies housed.
  6. 16 new patents in 2017.

On October 3, the FAU Research Park will host its annual awards banquet at The Addison in Boca.

It’s the fourth annual awards ceremony and it’s really a terrific idea to celebrate the success of the park and shine a spotlight on some of the standout players making it happen.

This is the power of having a university and a research park in our community. And the best is yet to come because I believe in the leadership of the park and their track record of results.

“The recipients of this year’s Research Park at FAU awards are all hugely impactful to the mission of the Research Park – to foster R&D at FAU and foster economic development in our region,” said Mr. Duffell, president and chief executive officer of the Research Park at FAU. “We are grateful to each for their unique contributions and hope that they inspire our stakeholders.”

The Research Park awards recognize distinguished contributions to the Research Park’s mission to create and sustain the ideal environment for innovation and invention, maximizing the academic and entrepreneurial talent and regional resources in South Florida to accelerate economic development and prosperity.

The award recipients for 2018 are:

Distinguished Researcher: Gregg Fields, Ph.D. is a professor, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. Fields applies chemistry in novel ways to answer important biological questions, many of which assist in the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a renowned researcher who holds six U.S. patents and has one application being reviewed. The technology developed by Fields has resulted in three commercial products, currently sold by five different companies. He has authored or coauthored more than 260 scientific publications and has presented more than 190 invited lectures.

 

Distinguished Entrepreneur: Daniel Cane is the chief executive officer and co-founder of South Florida-based Modernizing Medicine, Inc., a healthcare IT company that is revolutionizing the way in which healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Joining the Research Park in 2012, Modernizing Medicine has grown to more than 650 employees and has raised more than $332 million in total investment. In 2016, the South Florida Business Journal named Cane as a “South Florida Ultimate CEO.” In 2015, he was named “EY Entrepreneur of the Year®.” Cane earned the Excalibur Award for Palm Beach Small Business Leader of the Year for 2013. Additionally, he also was named “Palm Beach County Ultimate CEO” by the South Florida Business Journal and “CEO of the Year” by CEO World. Recently, he and his wife, Debra, donated $1 million to FAU’s A.D. Henderson University School for STEM education initiatives.

Mr. Cane is a local product hailing from Lake Worth. What makes Dan extra special is that despite the rigors of running a hyper growth company, he has taken the time to be visible and accessible to local entrepreneurs and organizations. It makes a difference, because Mr. Cane serves as an inspiration and a role model for those aspiring to make a dent in business.

 

Distinguished Leader: Steven L. Abrams has been a member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners since 2009, winning re-election twice. Abrams has a lengthy record of public service. He is the former mayor of Boca Raton, elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2003 without opposition. In the 2005 election for mayor, Abrams received the most votes in city history and was later named mayor emeritus when he stepped down in 2008 due to term limits. Abrams’ work in regional transportation has been instrumental in the success of the Research Park at FAU’s access to Tri-Rail and the new I-95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard, making the Research Park at FAU the only research park to have a direct on-ramp to an interstate.

Mayor Steven has been a terrific friend over the years and has served with distinction wherever he has landed. Many years ago, we went after Scripps together leading our cities joint efforts to bring the institute to Boca. While we fell one vote short, Steven showed his mettle and his commitment to economic development. He’s a very worthy recipient.

 

Distinguished Organization: Small Business Development Center at FAU delivered substantial consulting and training services in 2016 that resulted in a significant return on investment, including delivering more than 13,000 hours of consulting to 1,360 entrepreneurs at no cost. The SBDC’s services resulted in the creation and retention of almost 6,000 jobs in our region, and generated almost $700 million in sales. The SBDC’s role in Florida’s economic development by assisting entrepreneurs in every stage of the business life cycle is invaluable and an important complement to the greater FAU community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event visit www.research-park.org.