• 2020-01-14


Picture what the world was like in early 1920.

Europe was still recovering from the ravages of the nightmarish “war to end all wars” and people were anxious to turn the page and start dreaming again. The automobile was  all the rage. The world’s first commercially licensed radio station opened for business in Pittsburgh and after decades of protest.  Women were finally given the right to vote.  

So, in the midst of all this roaring optimism, Robert dared to publish an article in Popular Science describing how rockets would one day launch ships into space. 

It was an audacious, rather plucky piece of work that stoked public imagination. But, of course, it also drew harsh criticism from the “experts” including the all-knowing New York Times. In a scathing editorial published January 13, 1920, they excoriated Robert’s concepts, insisting a rocket couldn't possibly work in space. And they didn’t just roast his idea – they turned it into a personal attack.

And they didn’t just roast his idea – they turned it into a personal attack.

"That professor Goddard only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

Whether its debating the future of space travel, global warming, electric cars, education, social justice, social media, or issues with today’s youth, a deeper understanding of history helps explain why two people can look at exactly the same thing and see something totally different. 

That’s why perspective is needed now more than ever. 

With clear, objective perspective, you can see:

  • The gift that young people like 8-year old Ryan are bringing us each day with their energetic optimism and boundless creativity
  • The human connection created by the bonds of social media that inspires ordinary citizens to raise massive amounts of much-needed support for worthy causes like help for Australia.
  • The dream of self-determination for anyone who wants to make their mark on the world is literally at our fingertips. Just ask Rajen Ruparell and Mike Gettis of Endy and the 88 million reasons how they successfully disrupted the mattress industry. 
  • How real leaders like Barb Stegemann can make positive change happen through ethical marketing. Where does it say anymore that marketing is defined by cheesy, gimmicky ads, exaggerated hype or delivering oily pitches to work self-serving angles? What if the future of effective marketing is no longer about b.s. and fluff? What if it’s about doing real work that matters to someone who cares as deeply as you do?

And one more thing. 
What if time-tempered perspective can also help us resist those impulsive urges to blurt out angry, mean-spirited opinions without bothering to verify or know the true facts?

Or worse, condemn another person and post it for the entire word to see, knowing full well there are at least three sides to any story.  Yours. Mine. And the truth. 

Many of us believe the world has become a more petulant, self-absorbed and unforgiving place BUT there is some solace in knowing it’s been that way for centuries. The only real difference is that we are witnessing these lesser human qualities all over the Twitterverse every bleeping second.   In many respects the swirling, twirling Attention Economy is also conspiring to make us lose sight of the value of gaining much-needed perspective through the quiet passage of time, space and distance.

Which is why it’s always a good idea to take time every once in a while, and just … stop

Go for a run. Meditate. Walk in nature. Hug a tree.  Find a chapel to pray. Do whatever you need to unplug and find stillness.  


Having clear perspective and clarity is a necessity.

Otherwise you run the risk of a daily existence of your face buried in a phone; assaulted by a dizzying number of selfies and self-serving status updates. 

“Oh …. if only we could go back in time when things were simpler and easier”. 

Hey, when I was a kid, it was perfectly normal to ride a bike without a helmet.  Stay out until dark with neighbourhood friends.  It was also perfectly normal back then to buy a George Carlin record on the sly and giggle insanely with your friends about The 7 Words You Can’t Say on Television”, knowing that your buddies would never rat you out.  Our collective memory banks are stuffed to the gills with fond recollections of nostalgic moments.

What are yours?

Only by peering through the clear lens of hindsight, we also see how the world was dealing with its fair share of problems. Gay rights, civil rights and women’s liberation movements. Watergate and the daily threat of nuclear annihilation as the posturing of two Cold War rivals made us believe they could detonate the planet with one push of a button.  It’s the same game as it’s always been, but now you get to play the game differently.  

26-year old Jonna from Sweden has figured this out.

It's not what you’re looking at each day that matters.

It's what you see and decide to do something about.  

Will 2020 be your turning point?

Will it be your year and decade to reset and re-calibrate? Decide what really matters and the lengths you will go to stick your neck out for the stuff you believe in? 

Robert Goddard’s theories on rockets would eventually be vindicated by the 1944 launch of a German V-2 guided ballistic missile. But it wasn’t until July 17, 1969 that the New York Times finally admitted their mistake. 

"Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century, and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error."

With clear perspective and a little human rocket fuel, there is no telling where 2020 will take you. 

Let us know where you’re planning to go.

Safe travels my friend.

    It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.


p.s… there is a chance you may have never heard of Robert Goddard, but his legacy lives on for everyone who dares to develop an original idea that no one else will believe in.  As a thin, frail and painfully shy 16-year old from the Boston area, Robert became interested in space after absorbing the H.G Wells science fiction classic,  The War of the Worlds. The rest, as they say, is history.


The language of brand speaks to humans in a way that is metaphorical, meaningful, emotional and symbolic. The language of business communicates in a way that is logical, literal, mechanical and analytical. How then, does a business leader – in any industry – any product/service category become fluent in BOTH of these vitally important languages?

This unforgettable keynote/workshop (and preview of the forthcoming book) is designed to challenge accepted notions of how long-term brand-building really works these days. It forces leaders to re-think what's possible and the role they play in creating modern-day legacy. It's entitled: 


How Everyday Leaders Build Irresistible Brands.

If you are a CEO, Senior Executive or Business Owner who has attended one of our speaking events, consider this as an open invitation to schedule a 20-minute Discovery Session.  It's a great, no-strings way to bounce ideas just to see where they land.

For booking inquiries, feel free to reach out and contact us.

Get daily updates and continue the DISCUSSION on FACEBOOK or visit www.gairmaxwell.com

**PHOTO CRED: Photo by Nadine Shaabana Andre Hunter , redcharlie, Martin Jaroš, Joseph Albanese , Jordan Whitt on Unsplash