I am inspired by quotes. My all-time favorite, Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.

Today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the controversy over an out-of-context quote at his D.C. memorial allowed TV annd radio to replay one of his best fire-and-brimstone speeches:

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace, I was a drum major for righteousness, and all of the other shallow things will not matter.

Listen to it. What power he had.

I gathered a basketful of new quotes last week as the new CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver rallied the board of directors and staff. Guillermo “Bill” Vidal, a Cuban orphan who became mayor of Denver, oozes inspiration and leadership. He shepherded a spirited discussion and marshalled the energy of 40 people.

He opened with a collection of his favorite quotes, which quickly found their way to my notes:

Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality.

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for.

A poor carpenter always blames his tools.

People don’t follow programs they follow leaders who inspire them.

If you see a snake, kill the damn thing. Don’t form a committee on killing snakes.

The Hispanic Chamber had a tough 2011, losing its former CEO to a domestic violence charge. But I left the two-day board retreat feeling like I joined an organization on the brink of greatness.

Former Denver Mayor Federico Pena challenged us to become the most powerful economic organization in Colorado. Then he quoted the state’s current lieutenant governor, Joe Garcia:

Quit thinking about our potential. It’s time to act on what is before us.


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