Gosh. Wow. I did not expect this. I definitely didn’t imagine I’d be at this podium only a year ago, when I was reeling from a series of business failures that, if one believes in hindsight, were extremely avoidable.
But here we are.
Without those failures, as well as the many, many others that followed, and the other failures that followed those, I would not have arrived at this historic moment.
To quote the sacred motto of the Kushner Participation Awards, AKA the “Kushys,” “None aspire, fewer endeavor, okay is good enough.”
Like all of you in my tax bracket I grew up sneering at the idea of participation trophies. Just showing up, phoning it in, or doing it half-assed never seemed like a life goal – or a business model. Then I learned that the act of participation itself is just enough. As my ethical role model Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is 80% of life.” And friends, if just showing up gives you that much of an advantage, why bother with the other 20%?
The video you just watched, highlighting members of the Kushy Hall of Fame, acquainted you with the foundation’s most important values: Don’t be afraid to stumble into things. Never sweat the details. Experience is overrated. And, remind yourself and others, every day, that no matter how things turn out you’ll be able to add whatever situation you’ve found yourself in to the win column.
My humility prevents me from claiming to embody those values, so you’ll need to connect the dots on your own. But we all know the story about my most recent endeavor to remake global affairs.
It’s a bold tale, in which the scion of a failed real estate developer, freshly graduated from B-school and having burned his way through his and others’ substantial inheritances by doubling down on rural shopping malls, was tasked by a prep school buddy with sorting out a simple little situation called Korea. My intuition was enough, and after a couple press conferences that grabbed the horrified attention of leaders on both sides of the DMZ I judged my mission accomplished. The smoking remains of North and South Korea notwithstanding, I’m proud of my success and have little regard for what historians, who lacked the good sense to pursue real, revenue-generating degrees, will write.
I see the bar is open. I’m finished here, folks.