I was fortunate in a span of 24 hours recently, to spend time with two friends who have accomplished great things and continue to act as huge inspirations in my life, and in everything I do— especially in my work with the Greek America Foundation.
On Wednesday night, I was invited by Arianna Huffington to hear a talk about transcendental meditation and how she incorporates it into her own life and in her workplace at the Huffington Post. The event also included such powerhouses like Ray Dalio, the founder and CEO of the largest hedge fund in the world, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Mario Batali— all of whom have had their lives changed by meditation.
After the event, I spent some time with Arianna and we chatted about life, what we’re both doing and what we are passionate about. Naturally, the topic of Greece came up and I was so pleased to hear of Arianna’s plans to expand The Huffington Post into Greece.
“I care about Greece,” she told me. She shared her vision to bring a journalistic vehicle to the country that would counter the machine-media that is controlled by corporate interests, leading to a ranking of 99th in the world for press freedom, according to media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders.
It was refreshing to hear of her desire to expand in Greece— and for the right reasons.
The following afternoon, I spent an hour with a friend and mentor— businessman George Logothetis, who took over his father’s shipping company when he was only 19 with just three vessels and transformed it into Libra Group, a multi-billion dollar conglomerate comprising 30 subsidiaries operating across five continents in diverse fields like aviation, shipping, hospitality and renewable energy.
George serves on the Greek America Foundation board of directors and has been a good friend to me for a while now, always offering me guidance and support. He was instrumental in launching one of the Greek America Foundation’s signature programs for young people— an internship program that sends North American college students to various Libra corporate locations throughout the world for invaluable job experience and preparation for the next steps of their professional endeavors.
This internship program also has a Greek side— in partnership with the American College of Greece, that sends Greek students abroad to work for six months in Libra’s expansive international network of companies.
The program is an example of the good George and his company have done for Greece. But his support isn’t limited to philanthropy, like the Libra Internship Program. Libra believes in Greece and George, in particular, has been a big proponent of the country— and more importantly, the people, of Greece. He is dismayed by the incessant stereotyping about tax-evaders and lazy Greeks, and always counters these claims with his own real experiences with so many Greek employees that his various companies employ.
Last month at the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the most power business and political leaders in the world, George went on record, stating his support and belief in Greece, and in Greeks. He spoke candidly with the Fox Business News interviewer and shared with the world his vision for 2014— that this will be the year of Greek growth.
For a country I love so much— to have such strong leadership and vision from abroad, from people like George Logothetis and Arianna— I would say it’s going to be a bright year. George and Arianna’s ideas and vision are refreshing. Recently, I’ve read about teams of Greek American businessmen — called “vultures” by the Greek media, seeking to swoop into the country in crisis and snatch up all of the cheap real estate and corporate properties that are struggling to stay in business. These people are thinking about turning a quick profit and making money from an unfortunate economic decline.
On the contrary, George and Arianna want to invest in Greece’s future— and in the future of the people of Greece, to bring best practices to institutions and companies, and provide a ripple effect of hope for the country. This is what I call true leadership.
George is one of those people who always have wisdom to share and words of advice. He’s often quoted Winston Churchill when I’ve shared some of my challenging times with him… “When you are going through hell…..keep going” he told me once, quoting Churchill.
Yesterday, as we finished our conversation and we were saying our goodbyes, he looks at me and says… “Greg remember… It feels good to do good.”
I responded… “Another Winston Churchill quote?”
No, he says… That one’s mine.