These leaders are making a difference

How John Krasinski, Mat Shaw, Mark Baillie, Karsten Tüchsen, Todd Jones, and Carol Aberizk are finding ways to meet challenges, spread joy, and inspire hope


In these times, we have a lot to distract us and bring us down. Being aware of how my focus and my thoughts determine my actions, I have chosen to invest some time every day looking for examples of leadership in action, of people from all walks of life and across many different industries stepping up to offer hope and inspiration. These people are making connections, meeting needs, solving challenges, and spreading love, and I want to celebrate that.


Spreading joy when we need it most

A few weeks ago, many of us logged onto social media and found a familiar face smiling at us beneath a hand-drawn logo. Actor John Krasinski has just debuted his fun, upbeat, and inspiring “Some Good News” YouTube series. The former The Office and current Jack Ryan star showcased some of the happiest news on social media for the week to the delight of hundreds of thousands who have viewed and shared that first video. And, he’s kept it up each week, with assists from famous friends such as Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Joe Buck, as well as the cast of Hamilton, and recently adding a happy musical intro from Squad Harmonix.

Week after week, Krasinski shares timely, inspirational videos of creative parents connecting with their kids and healthcare workers celebrating patients being released from the hospital. He’s also finding creative ways to celebrate and appreciate those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, and giving us simple reasons to smile like silly weather reports from very unofficial meteorologists. 

Since then, more than a few copycat “Some Good News” programs have sprung up across the globe, with regular folks sharing their own good news stories and inspiring clips. Krasinski gives that imitation a very enthusiastic thumbs up, saying these people get it, and he’s happy they’re spreading the joy.

Sharing art to put a song in our hearts

The Broadway show, Six, was about to debut when the lights went out and the curtain came down on the Great White Way due to social distancing guidelines. Two stars in the ensemble cast, Samantha Pauly and Brittney Mack, took their talents online, singing on social media to appreciative fans. Pauly said she initially started recording herself just to keep her vocal chops on point while the show was on hiatus. When she and Mack heard how fans were responding, they decided to keep it up, inviting people all across the world to sing along.

And we don’t need to be Broadway stars to put a song in people’s hearts. Utah dad, Mat Shaw, and his 15-year-old daughter, Savanna, have delighted people with their impromptu duets on social media. That joy is infectious. Savanna told local media she’s looked up to her dad for his singing ability her whole life, and “it’s been amazing” to be able to sing with him and share it with her friends. Now their shared joy is spreading hope and happiness to millions.

Finding creative ways to solve big challenges

You may have seen videos of farmers across the country having to dump fresh produce and milk due to reduced demand. Florida-based grocery chain, Publix, saw those videos too, and they decided to step up in a big way to help these farmers as well as food banks that are struggling to keep up with current demand. The grocery chain is leveraging its storage and distribution infrastructure to purchase the fresh produce and milk from the farmers, then donating the much-needed food to Feeding America, a US-based network of more than 200 food banks that helps to feed more than 46 million people. Speaking of this effort, Publix CEO Todd Jones said, “We are grateful to be able to help produce farmers, dairies, and families in our communities…”

This is an impressive example of a business finding a creative way to use what they have to help people on both ends of their supply chain.

Moving across the country from the Sunshine State, when the call came, asking for ventilators to help COVID-19 patients in Sacramento, California, two Sandpoint, Idaho based companies, Percussonaire and Daher, came together to meet that need, recently delivering a “rush order” of 1,000 emergency ventilators that will help medical teams in California’s hardest-hit areas keep up the fight. To meet this need, Percussonaire had to dramatically ramp up production, and they proved more than able to do so. President and CEO Mark Baillie described how his company met the challenge. “We average roughly 100 ventilators per month… We’re probably toning around 3,000 at this stage.” And they are not done yet. Local media reports they expect to eclipse 6,000 soon.  

With manufacture underway, someone else needed to step up to manage the logistics of delivery. Enter Daher’s Kodiak Aircraft Operations. Working with the Bonner County EDC, Daher and Kodiak were able to transport the ventilators directly from Sandpoint to Sacramento. The life-saving ventilators were in the air and on the way to California just hours after coming off the assembly line.

Meeting local needs

These problem-solving efforts are not limited to bigger companies and national challenges. All across the nation, people are investing their creativity and ingenuity, helping to keep local communities supplied with everything they need. From cooking meals for medical staff and first responders, to sewing masks for grocery store workers and 3-D printing face shields for hospital staff. One such effort is being led by Carol Aberizk and other members of a group called the Sew’n Sews, who started making masks for friends and neighbors in their community. When that need was met, they found another. Now the ladies are providing masks for hundreds of residents of local assisted living facilities and for local home healthcare professionals in their community.  

Making a way to stay connected

Imagine you’re elderly, in love, and separated from your significant other not only by quarantine, but also by a national border. That was the challenge facing Karsten Tüchsen Hansen (89) and Inga Rasmussen (85). He lives in Germany, and she in Denmark. With borders closed, one cannot visit the other; so, each day, they travel to the orange-and-white-striped barricade marking the border for their date. He brings chairs and schnapps. She brings coffee and the table. They sit, at appropriate social distance, laugh and chat, keeping the romance alive in spite of everything conspiring to keep them apart.

Finding opportunities to inspire

All of these good things happened because one or more leaders saw an opportunity and chose to act. Each of us has a similar opportunity to do what we will where we are, as long as we choose to think creatively, act positively, and live generously. 

Have you seen examples of creative thinking, positive action, and generous living around you in this time? I would love to hear about them. Please comment below, send me a message, or comment on my Facebook page. Let’s spread stories of hope and happiness together!


*Images from YouTube, Press Releases, and other online sources



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