Philip Van Doren Stern is hardly a household name. You’ve probably never heard of him, but in the late 1930s, Stern wrote a short story called The Greatest Gift that was rejected repeatedly by publishers at the time. In 1943, he printed 200 copies and sent them to his friends for Christmas. A few months later, an executive from RKP Pictures heard about the story and bought the rights for $10,000. Just a year later, he sold it to Frank Capra’s production company for the same amount. By 1946, Stern’s story was adapted to a full-length feature film which we all know as It’s A Wonderful Life.
It’s A Wonderful Life, which was not a box office hit in its day, is recognized by the American Film Institute among the top 100 films ever made and has given pleasure to countless families every holiday season. The whole story here leaves me inspired by Stern, Capra and, of course, the movie’s lead character George Bailey. Each of them improved the lives of those they touched. They walked the talk of positivism, persistence, resilience and impactfulness.
During this holiday season, I’d like to recognize our Vistage members and Chairs who led companies and, in many respects this country, through the most difficult economic and even psychic downturn in recent history. They too are not household names, but leaders who stood tall in the face of adversity and who through their sheer determination, innovation and devotion to their employees, families and communities, gave us The(ir) Greatest Gift. Imagine what our country and our future would be like had these Main Street business heroes not courageously, and with integrity, led us from the cliff to a better, stabler place.
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and a successful new year. It’s A Wonderful Life indeed.