Teddy Roosevelt and Watering the Grass by Shawn Conrad, CAE

I like a good quote. Every year, I’m the guy who shops for those desk calendars that have a quote attached to each day. I am especially fond of the ones that place a special emphasis on quotes from former U.S. Presidents, particularly the 16th, Abraham Lincoln.

Recently, though, I have been fixated on another president, the 26th–Theodore Roosevelt. Yes, the Rough Rider, the former secretary of the Navy, governor of New York, running mate of William McKinley (the unfortunately short-termed 25th president). Teddy Roosevelt was the U.S. leader at the turn of the 20th century and most of his speeches and meetings were captured for historical purposes. He coined “speak softly and carry a big stick” and, like Mr. Lincoln, did not have speech writers help him make his point, but instead developed his own messaging. It’s interesting to note that his words were used for many years by a coffee manufacturer when, after drinking a cup at a Nashville hotel, he quipped the blend was “good to the last drop.”

One Roosevelt quote I am extremely fond of places an emphasis on giving back to one’s occupation or community. I came upon this quote when I first started my own career in association management and have placed it at the top of the many special sayings I have kept over the years. Roosevelt believed strongly that:

Every man owes part of his time and money to the business or industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.

I was recently reminded of this quote as IPI sent out our biannual Call for Volunteers, seeking those interested in helping IPI advance the parking profession by volunteering to serve on one of our committees or task forces. Having worked with other industries before coming to parking, I have been amazed with the overwhelming response we receive from hundreds of eager members looking to become more involved. These volunteers are integral to everything we accomplish. Here’s to all of you!  I believe Mr. Roosevelt would be very pleased with your commitment to your profession. I know I am.
I’ll leave you with one more quote whose author is unknown. This one, I think, applies to almost every aspect of our home and work life: “The grass is not greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it.”

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