Today in New York City I finally had the feeling that the seasons have turned.…
When I was a sophomore at Villanova, I was able to sneak away for a few days to visit my parents in Bachelor Gulch, Colorado. At the time, my mother was quite excited with her purchase of a new dining room table and chairs. She had successfully sold the previous set of chairs to a buyer down valley, and I was recruited to help load and unload the purchased goods. I didn’t think too much about the request and certainly didn’t think that reading today’s headlines and about the death of Milton Friedman would make me remember that sunny Colorado day.
As it turned out, the couple that purchased my mothers chairs would make a lasting impression on me. After showing me where to unload the goods, Meyer and Barbra Feldberg invited my father, mother and me into their home. They offered us something to drink and we sat in their living room and chatted about things of interest. Meyer turned to me and asked me what year I was in school and what I was studying. I was very pleased with my courses that semester, and quickly took the bait to self promote my most recent research. The paper, of which I was most proud, was entitled “My Social Responsibilities as a Future CEO.” With a small amount of glee, I compared my personal opinions with those of Nobel Prize winners like Milton Friedman. Citing specifically, Milton’s 1970 The New York Times Magazine article “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.”
Meyer noted to me that he was familiar with this text and said I was certainly citing an excellent source for my own business philosophy. After actively listening to my thoughts on the subject, Meyer leaned in and asked me if I had read Milton’s most recent book. I said that I had not had a chance, but that I was interested in his views and saw him as a true economic genius of our time. Meyer grinned and with the utmost class and poise said that I should definitely review his text and to pay close attention to page 244. Here is where I would find a picture Meyer took of Milton Friedman, Milton’s wife Rose, and Barbra Feldberg when they were together in Africa.
It was, for me, a true moment. It was the small world phenomenon, magnified and tangible before my eyes. We are all connected. We all influence each other. Whenever I read Milton Friedman, I think about that day. I am almost certain this is not a lasting memory for Milton’s friend, Meyer Feldberg, but as a nascent CEO, I hold that moment on high. We are all connected. Let us strive to be moral, just, and fair to each other.
I am sorry to hear of Milton’s passing. It had been my wish that had I ever met him, I would have recalled for him this story. I am grateful for his work and dedication to us all. He was truly a great man who successfully championed individual freedom in areas such as politics and economics. A business week article on his death wrote:
“He has used a brilliant mind to advance a moral vision — the vision of a society where men and women are free, free to choose, but where government is not as free to override their decisions,” President Bush said in 2002. “That vision has changed America, and it is changing the world.”