Business Class: Celebrate what we have in common

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News

Friday, May 17, 2013

A very small number of Americans will ever have private access to a former or current president of the United States.

Even fewer will attend an event featuring the sitting U.S. president alongside his predecessors.

As the senior vice president of Manhattan Construction’s Southwest Florida Operations, Bruce Fields recently became part of an extremely elite group of those blessed with unprecedented presidential access.

Not only was Fields afforded the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with former President George W. Bush, he was subsequently present at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on April 23.

Fields scored his invitation based on a personal career milestone. He served as Manhattan’s project executive in charge of the construction of the new $250 million facility in Dallas.

Working alongside a very high profile “boss,” Fields and the former president, first lady and as many as 600 artisans a day worked collaboratively to bring their shared vision to life on the Southern Methodist University campus.

Bush_A_197Attendees at April’s dedication ceremony included Bush, his father, President Obama, and former Presidents Clinton and Carter as well as a virtual army of dignitaries and heads of state.

As one might expect, an appearance on this particular guest list practically guaranteed the attendee a profound impact on his or her views on politics and professionalism.

As Fields listened to five presidents — each representing different generations and belief systems — he experienced a flashback to this beloved bygone era. A time when the impact of the nation’s accomplishments was regarded with greater awe than the challenges faced in getting there.

Though we have certainly seen modern-day examples of our country coming together in a crisis, Fields observes, “I witnessed five presidents put aside personal politics and demonstrate an authentic and sincere support of each other. They came together in celebration of a national achievement.”

They varied from Carter’s heartfelt listing of Bush’s accomplishments to Clinton’s overt appreciation for their cooperative efforts on behalf of Haiti.

From George H.W. Bush’s joy at honoring a son to Obama’s acknowledgement of Bush’s support, the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie was palpable.

“We all know there are differences in the ideologies of the two political parties,” Fields continued.

“However, on this particular day, it was both unexpected and refreshing to see these prolific gentlemen focused instead on what we have in common.”

There’s no doubt that Fields’ business successfully merged with the political arena.

For the rest of us who sometimes perceive the business world as steeped in political maneuvering, how much better our professional and political lives would be if a legitimate spirit of cooperation were the norm and not relegated to special circumstances.

Randall Kenneth Jones, a speaker, writer and professional storyteller, is the creator of and the president of MindZoo, a Naples-based marketing communications firm. He can be reached at or 239-304-9611.

Pictured above: Bruce Fields and Former President George W. Bush (top) and the George W. Bush Presidential Center (inset).

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