Jeff Johnson | Lora and Russ Talbot endowed president & CEO, Iowa State University Alumni Association

The death of Mr. Floyd, at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman while his colleagues looked on, was a stark reminder that our country is still wrestling with racism and the value of Black lives. As business leaders, we all are in a position to model that all human beings must be seen and acknowledged. We must remember that love and understanding cannot be legislated. These two areas are best fostered by steady one-on-one encounters with each other, especially among those who do not look like us. It then moves to truth-telling and honest dialogue. It then becomes intentional — maybe even causing some of us to be a bit uncomfortable. This is modeled this way — I hate that I have allowed my absence and silence to hold me back. I can no longer be passive in this important moment of my and my business and community’s development. And finally, simply express love, and do this the best way you know how. 

 For me, I simply, and daily, acknowledge that when I am in the presence of another human being, whether they look like me or we share anything in common, I’ve dropped the “How are you doing” phrase. I simply say hello, hi, good day, excuse me, please, may I, etc. As a result, I have built rapport, presence and consistency. Oh, and all of this is done with a smile. What am I really saying? 

 Love and service to each other builds trust, opportunity and community. Simply stated, we need to start seeing each other and stop walking past each other. We’re not ships. We are human beings coexisting in a very beautiful yet painful moment. Let’s seize this moment to better ourselves and be better to each other. This makes good business sense, don’t you think so?