“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” – Ephesians 4:29
Today the Caribbean celebrates the life of Independent Senator Sir John Stanley Goddard: a soft-spoken but effective business leader; a captain of local industry but a man with a profound regional and international perspective. Dr. De Lisle Worrell, Governor designate of the Central Bank of Barbados and Head of The Caribbean Centre for Money & Finance (CCMF), University of the West Indies, last week apprised me of the CCMF one-day seminar hosted by the Bank of Jamaica at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston, on Friday, September 4, 2009. The seminar entitled, “Strategies to Cope with Global Uncertainty – Choices for Caribbean Business & Finance”, is being held against the background of what the CCMF describes as “extraordinary times in which many of the conventional wisdoms appear to be ineffective and leaders in business and government are having to make up new rules to cope with the crisis and the uncertainty.” This seminar would have benefitted significantly from Sir John’s perspective. But that was not to be. Senator Goddard was a man of few words but always well chosen and insightful and a man with an unassuming aura but with an influential and penetrative reach. He was not a part of the formal diplomatic corps but he could have been any day. Sir John was often heard to say in the corridors of power in which he graciously strode: “You must always speak the truth, but the truth must not always be spoken”, a message which is quintessential to diplomacy and discretion. He knew when to be silent and when to release incisive invective to achieve the objectives at hand. He quietly influenced others to adhere to the same principle. He understood the meaning of the phrase “Silence is Golden”. It is reported by Gary Martin, author of the Meanings and Origins section of the Phrasefinder site www.phrases.org.uk, that – As with many proverbs, the origin of this phrase is obscured by the mists of time… the poet Thomas Carlyle, in his 1831 book states… “Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule”. This epitomises Sir John, the consummate business icon. In the mid 1980s, Sir John suffered an illness which, as far as I can recall, left him lifeless and he was flown under emergency care to Canada for diagnosis and treatment. As part of his rehabilitation I then remember seeing him on Worthing beach morning after morning, where I was wont to take my exercise, with his wife and the physiotherapist for what seemed like an eternity as he “learned to walk again”. So successful was this therapy that he recovered to be able to drive his car. Such determination personifies the character of the man. I was privileged to be closely associated with Sir John in the height of his career. There were associations thorough: The Caribbean Agricultural Trading Company – CATCO (1981); the Caribbean Financial Services Corporation; the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce; the establishment of the Barbados Private Sector Association shortly after the 1991 economic crisis; and the Knowledge Development Institute (KDI) in 1994. In 1993, I made my first non-intransit visit to Singapore. I was very impressed with the progress made in that country compared with Barbados, given that in 1970 Barbados was, at that time, according to all macro-economic indicators ahead of Singapore. When I returned to Barbados I was motivated to write a letter to the press to share the experiences of the visit. I entitled my letter “Barbados the Singapore of the Caribbean”. When the article appeared in the Barbados Advocate, Sir John, always on the look out for new opportunities, called me and asked me to follow up with other letters expanding the concepts that I espoused. This I did and that was the beginning of what is my weekly column “Strictly Business” now in its 17th year and which I find a joy to produce week after week. I am indeed thankful to Sir John for taking the interest and providing the much needed encouragement at the outset and indeed during our many professional encounters over the years regarding my visionary thinking. Even though I began my career as a member of Faculty at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Barbados (1968 – 1977) and many people, including Sir John perhaps, may regard be as a visionary, I would like to think that the 32 years of my post UWI faculty career would allow me to at least get through the door of the chamber of business management. When faced with this conundrum in 1993, I was moved to author the adage “Vision without Action is mere Fantasy; Action without Vision is Folly; Neither Vision nor Action reeks of Irresponsibility; Vision and Action induce Synergy”. I believe that I have now evolved from the realm of fantasy and that the implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model™ is a manifestation that the “Vision and Action” have now induced synergy. I extend sincerest condolences to his family, especially since his departure was earlier than expected. May he rest in peace!