Friday, September 28, 2007

Presidential Politics the Grass Roots Way – Electing a President of Red Sox Nation

As one who has followed the Boston Red Sox since I was 2 years-old (seriously – it was in the genes!), I am in awe of the continued growth of the phenomenon that has come to be known as Red Sox Nation. In every ballpark in the Major Leagues, a growing number of Red Sox fans fill the sits when the Red Sox come to town. Some of them are ex-patriot New Englanders eager for a glimpse of the old hometown team. Others are rabid Red Sox fans and current Boston area resident who travel to distant cities to see their beloved Sox in action outside of Fenway.

I was in Tampa/St. Petersburg last weekend for the three-game series against the Devil Rays. My sister lives in Tampa, so I try to time my visits to her so we can enjoy going together to see the Red Sox play at Tropicana Field. On Friday night, we were seated in the front row of the upper deck – looking down on the Red Sox bullpen. I saw a sign in left field that proclaimed: “Fenway Park South”! I had an unobstructed view of thousands of fans sitting in the seats below me. I counted hundreds – literally hundreds – of fans wearing Red Sox apparel. Familiar names jumped out at me from the backs of Red Sox jerseys – Schilling, Ortiz, Ramirez, Youkilis, Matsuzaka, Lester, Beckett, and Lowell. There were even a few retro jerseys reminding us of the glory days of Yaz, Pedro, and Fisk. As I scanned the crowd, I saw exactly one (1!) fan wearing a Devil Rays jersey – proudly proclaiming his support of Tampa ace Scott Kazimir.

In an article in a Tampa newspaper, Kazimir himself commented on the phenomenon of Red Sox fans taking over Tropicana Field and reversing home field advantage. Similar tales are told by players in Baltimore, Oakland and even the Bronx.

As Red Sox Nation has emerged as a recognizable phenomenon, it was almost inevitable that there emerge an election to choose a President to preside over the Nation. This morning, Tim Russert traveled to Boston to serve as moderator of a Presidential Debate among the finalists for the role of President of Red Sox Nation. That debate will be aired this evening on NESN after the telecast of the Red Sox game against the Minnesota Twins.

The list of finalists includes such familiar names as Peter Gammons, Jerry Remy, Rich “El Guapo” Garces, Sam Horn, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Mike Barnicle. I think it may be too late for Fred Thompson to throw his baseball cap into the ring!

To view the slate of finalists and their platforms, I commend you to this page on the Red Sox website.


And – Go Sox!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Electric Ellsbury Has the Red Sox Accelerating Towards the Post-Season

A few days ago I was at Fenway Park, volunteering at Autograph Alley, as fans waited to meet former Red Sox hurler, Rich Gale. I struck up a conversation with someone who was visiting Fenway Park for the first time. The conversation quickly turned to the topic of rookie sensation, Jacoby Ellsbury. I made some enthusiastic comments about how exciting it was for me to have been at Fenway when Ellsbury had accomplished something I had never witnessed before: he scored from second base on a passed ball. At that point, Keith Chu made me aware that he was at Fenway Park because he had been assigned by his newspaper, The Bulletin, an Oregon-based daily, to write a feature article on the Oregon native, Ellsbury. “Do you mind if I quote you on the things you have been saying?” said Chu, as he opened his notebook and began scribbling in shorthand. I was pleased to have a chance to represent Red Sox Nation in my praise of the young outfielder and five-tool future All-Star:

“There is a special electricity that goes through the stadium when people know he’s going to come to the plate,” said longtime Sox fan Al Chase, who ranked Ellsbury as the most exciting rookie he’d seen in decades of coming to Fenway Park.

“Red Sox Nation loves him.”

Mr. Chu did an excellent job encapsulating Ellsbury’s brief career, and the impact he is having on the Sox push for the playoffs. I encourage you to read the complete article below.

Go Sox!

A Whole New World – Recruiting MBA’s In a Changing Climate

I had breakfast this morning at Harvard Business School with my friend – let’s call him “Jonas.” Jonas is a graduate of one of our nation’s service academies. He spent this summer between the two years of his MBA program working as an intern in New York City for an investment banking firm. This firm, recognizing Jonas’s leadership skills, analytical acumen and operational experience, has extended him an offer to join the firm upon his graduation. While he has not yet made a final decision, at this point he is inclined not to accept the offer. The primary reason is that Jonas has concluded that working the typical 80-90 hour weeks that are typical in the world of investment banking is not conducive to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life.

My conversation with Jonas is typical of the kind of conversation I have been having for the past several years with the best and the brightest of our emerging generation of young business leaders. More and more, these brilliant and well-trained women and men are not willing to leave the “frying pan” of business school just to jump into the “pressure cooker” of the investment banking lifestyle or the road warrior ethos of the major strategic consulting firms. Unlike recent generations of young Turk MBA’s, they are not willing to sacrifice family, health or relationships on the altar of rapid career advancement and lucrative sign-on bonuses.

When I returned to my office after my meeting with Jonas, I found that I had received an e-mail from my friend, Bob Allard, CEO of Extension Engine, and a keen student of emerging business trends. Bob had sent me a link to a very timely article that appears in today’s Wall Street Journal. The Journal’s Ronald Alsop has written a compelling article that describes the phenomenon that I had experienced in microcosm this morning in my conversation with Jonas. Alsop chronicles the fact that many companies are finding it much more difficult to recruit on business school campuses than had been the case in the past.

"The heat is on for corporate recruiters.

With demand growing for M.B.A. graduates, it is a seller's market out there, making it tough for many companies to meet hiring quotas using old tried-and-true recruiting methods. At a time when career opportunities are so plentiful that students can afford to turn down even six-figure offers from investment banks, it is especially difficult for traditional manufacturers to make an impression.

So to improve their odds, recruiters are visiting business schools earlier and more often, raising starting salaries and touting their company's dedication to work-family balance."

The article, which is linked at the end of this posting, goes on to describe the changing recruiting environment and the steps that companies are taking to try to address the new reality.

Let me return to this morning’s conversation with Jonas. After he made me aware that he would probably be turning down the offer from the investment bank that is aggressively trying to hire him before the traditional recruitment season on the HBS campus gets into high gear, our talk turned to the next steps in his job search. I listened to him describe the kind of industries he would consider, the functional roles that would be the best fit for him and the kind of corporate culture where he would be able to feel most at home and be most productive. Then I said, in essence, “We should be talking to my friend, P., who runs a think tank in Washington. That may be a good use for your skills. I will also talk to my contacts at XYZ Partners, a private equity group that specializes in acquiring companies in the industry where you have deep experience. I will also forward your resume to my friend, E., in New York. He has been CEO of several companies in your industry, and he will brainstorm with us about where we might find the best fit for your skills and your lifestyle.”

What I have just described in a nutshell is the emergence of a whole new approach to recruiting on the business school campus that has evolved almost by happenstance. For the past several years, I have developed a role as an informal advisor and mentor to the members of the Armed Forces Alumni Association at Harvard Business School. I am privileged to count among my closest friends current students at HBS and the Kennedy School of Government, as well as many graduates of these two Harvard graduate programs. These men and women are the best of the best – bright young leaders who are committed to using their considerable leadership skills –often sharpened in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan – in helping to build businesses and non-profit organizations that make a positive difference in the world and in the world of their employees and their families. They often eschew overtures from the traditional companies that have grown accustomed to recruiting the superstars from each graduating class at HBS and similar top-tier programs.

As the landscape of recruiting the best and the brightest continues to evolve, I sense that my recruiting practice will also need to evolve and grow. In addition to my primary practice of helping client companies to recruit and hire senior executives that are outstanding leaders, I will need to devote more time and focus in helping client companies to recruit the next generation of leaders - young men and women who are looking closely and critically at the best place to deploy their new tool chest of analytical tools they have acquired in business school.

I am excited about these changes, for I see them as an enlightened trend towards a new generation of business leaders making well-considered career choices. A growing number of these young leaders are committed to working hard, to playing hard, and to investing hard in having a healthy family life and friendships - as well as a successful career.

I am excited about the ramifications of these changes for the recruiting and hiring process. Rather than focusing exclusively on “hard skills,” the most forward-looking companies will have to do a better job of addressing “soft skills” and other intangibles in finding the right fit for the most promising candidates. It is the ability to focus on these intangibles that lies at the heart of my recruiting practice. I find success in taking the time to learn the corporate culture of my client companies so that I might offer my best advice to client company and candidate alike in suggesting the best fit. The best hiring decisions – and the best decision by a candidate to join a particular company – come down to the best blend of matching hard skills and intangibles.

If you have read this far into this article, you must find these issues and these trends to be of interest. If this is the case, I would ask you to consider taking the following steps:

1) Read the full WSJ article linked below.

2) Think of companies where you have some influence, and consider whether one or more of these companies might benefit from my helping them to adjust their recruiting practices to match the emerging reality discussed in the WSJ article and in this article.

3) Contact me and give me the opportunity to explore whether I may be in a position to help a company that is looking to do a better job in attracting the best of the new generation of leaders.



Thursday, September 13, 2007

Musings from the Meadowlands – On Hippos, Hubris and Hope

I had my first taste of tailgating at the Meadowlands this past Sunday. I was the guest of a motley crew of diehard Jets fans – mostly New York City firefighters and police officers, with a few construction workers thrown in. You can imagine the abuse I took before the game - munching on tailgate fare while sporting my Patriots cap and Boston Marathon volunteer jacket. When we all reassembled in the parking lot after the game, it was a different kind of conversation!

A lot happened on the field – and on the sidelines – that day when the Patriots defeated the Jets 38-14. Let me offer my thoughts on the day’s events and the aftermath in the form of a three-part alliterative rant on Hippos, Hubris, and Hope.

Hippos – When the New England Patriots signed NFL Bad Boy, Randy Moss, during the off-season, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, imagining a motivated Randy Moss as an additional weapon to add to Tom Brady’s arsenal made me – and most Pats fans – drool with anticipation. On the other hand, this football organization has presented itself as one of character and pride – and Randy Moss – for much of his career – seemed to epitomize the very opposite of the kind of player the Patriots typically draft, develop and trade for.

My theology is such that I understand both original sin and grace, so part of me was hopeful that with him working and playing under the tutelage of a disciplinarian like Bill Belichick, Moss could take advantage of the “grace” and expiation being offered by the Patriots’ welcoming him with open arms. I was cautiously optimistic that Moss might emerge – not only as a force on the field – but as a model NFL citizen.

Moss missed much of training camp with injuries, and it was uncertain whether he would be able to put on his shoulder pads for the opening game at The Meadowlands. So, imagine my delight, sitting high above the 30-yard line in picturesque East Rutherford, New Jersey – hard by the skeletal beginnings of what will be the Xanadu entertainment and retail complex – when Tom Brady and Randy Moss began to put on a passing clinic. The highlight was a glorious 51-yard pass for a TD that had Moss lining up on the Patriots own 49 yard line. He scampered like a gazelle downfield, blowing by three Jets defensive backs, who were left looking like the dancing hippos from Disney’s classic film, “Fantasia.” That play, and Ellis Hobbs’ earlier record-setting 108 yard kick-off return, seemed to cut the heart out of the Jets – and their fans. By the middle of the 4th quarter, most Jets fans had fled to the parking lot and the healing libations on ice in their beer coolers.

Hubris – I did not have much time to savor the Patriots victory on the field, for by the time we drove out of the parking lot, the radio was beginning to report early hints of what is becoming known as “Spygate.” Someone with Pats credentials was caught on the sidelines filming Jets defensive signals – a clear violation of NFL rules. We have learned in the past few days that Pats’ videographer, Matt Estrella, playing “Apprentice” to Belichick’s “Sorcerer” (sticking with the Disney film theme!) was indeed openly violating a rule that had been reinforced this season with a memo to all NFL teams.

Another Disney film gives us yet another perspective on the Pats sideline shenanigans – the song “A Whole New World from “Alladin.” Consider these lyrics and apply them to the mindset of Belichick and Estrella as they concocted their scheme:

“A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming.”

The Patriots have long been suspected of bending and breaking the rules to gain competitive advantage, but this was the first “smoking gun” incident in which the cameraman and the organization were caught red-handed.

Talk radio in Boston has been rife with uninformed fans and cognoscenti alike chiming in along a broad spectrum of opinion:

“All is fair in love and war.”

“What’s the big deal; everyone is doing it”

“Cheating is cheating”

“They should have to give back their three Super Bowls!”

I have asked myself, “Why?” Why would Belichick, a consensus first-ballot Hall of Fame Coach, risk his reputation and legacy to gain a small advantage? The only satisfactory answer is hubris – overbearing pride and self-confidence. The Greek gods took delight in sniffing out hubris and humiliating the offending mortals. It was hubris that lay at the heart of Nixon’s disgrace and the Watergate scandal and cover-up. Nixon was riding high and was assured of re-election. He did not need to send a team of burglars into the Watergate complex to spy on the defensive signals being sent from the sidelines by the Democratic National Committee. But he could not resist the temptation to be too clever by half and to pile on the Democrats.

It was hubris that drove Barry Bonds, already assured enshrinement in Cooperstown as one of the greatest players in baseball history, to inflate his body and his statistics by taking anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances. And his legacy will forever be tainted with the stain of scandal and cheating and arrogant pride. And so it will be with Belichick. What a shame. The Patriots’, under the enlightened leadership of the Robert Kraft family, have – more than any other sports franchise I am aware of – embodied the principles of “The Medici Effect.”

(see review )

Like the Renaissance innovators of old, the Krafts have assembled a team of the best and the brightest from a variety of disciplines – coaching, strength training, medicine, contracts, finance, accounting, architecture, marketing, public relations and player development. Their innovations in running a model franchise became the envy of sports franchises in every sport. How ironic that Belichick, who cut his coaching teeth at the U.S. Naval Academy watching his father coach at an institution renowned for honor and integrity, should become the “Peck’s Bad Boy” of NFL coaches. How ironic that Belichick himself is in need of the kind of grace and expiation he offered a few short month’s ago to the former miscreant, Randy Moss.

As a sports fan, I am angry that cheating has become second nature for many athletes and coaches alike. As a Patriots’ fan, I am embarrassed and saddened that a pall will hang over the celebration of each victory in the future, and a shadow of doubt will continue to haunt and to hover over the exploits of the past.

Hope – Let’s put things in perspective. While Moss was gallivanting into the Jets backfield, while Estrella was spying on the Jets’ sideline, and while Belichick was getting into the Jets’ head by sticking it to his former protégé, Jets’ coach, Eric Mangini, something of note was happening on another NFL field. Buffalo Bills Special Teams player, Kevin Everett, suffered what doctors termed a “catastrophic and life-threatening cervical spine injury” while making a tackle during the second-half kick-off against the Denver Broncos. The early reports from doctors were grim, holding out little hope of recovery – and questioning his ability to survive the injury.

In the past several days, to the delight and shock of all the experts – Everett has been able to move all of his limbs and there is hope of a miraculous recovery. He is not out of the woods, and he and his family are in need of continuing support and prayer.

Let me conclude this long-winded disquisition by returning to the theme of Disney animated films. In “Pinocchio,” Jimmy Cricket sings these words that were part of the background music of my childhood.

“When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those to love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true”

So, here are my wishes:

That Kevin Everett will miraculously rise from his bed to walk with his head held high and live a healthy and satisfying life.

That Bill Belichick will come down from his lofty perch behind the podium at Gillette Stadium and walk more humbly. That he will learn from his time of playing naughty with the ruffians on Pleasure Island, and from his time of chastening in the belly of the whale of public disgrace and media scrutiny. That he will become less “wooden” in his approach to others and will become a “real boy” under the forgiving paternal guidance of Geppetto Kraft.

That we will not walk away from sports because of the scandals, but that we will come to a place where we can all once again enjoy sports – playing, coaching and watching – as a healthy and honest way for men, women and children to test themselves and stretch themselves to achieve both victory and personal satisfaction in an atmosphere of fair play. Is that possible, or have we come full circle and we are back to “Fantasia”? I hope not.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Announcing An Essay Contest for Enterprise-Based Solutions to Poverty

My friend, Andreas Widmer, is a co-director of a fascinating organization known as The S.E.VEN Fund.” The fund has just announced an essay contest – for undergraduates and graduate students – to explore enterprise-based solutions to global poverty.

The details of the contest are outlined below.

I encourage you to spread the word and make students and educational institutions where you have connections aware of this contest. The cash prizes are substantial, and the subject matter is compelling.

Call for the Inaugural SEVEN Fund Student Essay Competition

Cambridge, MASeptember 7, 2007

The S.E.VEN Fund today published its inaugural 2000-word Student Essay Competition (in English). The competition will award three (3) undergraduate student prizes of

US $10,000 each and one (1) graduate student prize of US $20,000. Submission deadline is December 7. 2007.

Essay Question

“Poverty can be regarded as a matter of exclusion from networks of productivity, and not simply as having an unequal portion of what is imagined to be a fixed number of economic goods. In that sense, ending worldwide poverty is serious business. Describe enterprise based solutions to poverty in this context.”

The winners will be announced on February 7. 2008 and their essays may be published in selected magazines and publications. SEVEN intends to publish a selection of all submitted essays on its website and in an essay book. By entering the essay competition, students are understood to give their permission for their essay to be used in that fashion.

SEVEN intends to run a version of this competition annually.


Foreign economic and government programs have spent billions of dollars during the past five decades to alleviate the high number of people living in poverty. No country has been lifted out of poverty as a result of these efforts, but the mindset remains the same: aid programs are the key to poverty alleviation.

Entrepreneurship as a solution to eradicate poverty (i.e. a focus on wealth creation rather than poverty reduction via re-distribution and government programs), remains controversial because it goes against the mindset that solutions to public problems come from the government rather than from the private sector. The notion of creating wealth is often stigmatized as “exploiting the poor;” and businessmen in developing nations are

sometimes regarded as too self-interested to be a force for positive social change.

At the core of the approach to poverty alleviation is the basic question: Are individual persons, no matter where they live, able to determine their own future? Does positive change come from the ingenuity of the individual or does a group of us have to tell the rest what to do? The answer to these questions goes to the core of our view of how we see the person, as fatalistic or self-determined; and it determines whether our proposed solution to an issue like poverty involves a “top-down” approach or a “bottom-up” solution. Indeed, to what extent do we rest the locus of responsibility for a person’s future on him or her; or on others, out of their beneficence?

SEVEN (The Social Equity Venture Fund) is an independent nonprofit organization1 supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. We provide monetary, organizational, and intellectual support for the research of enterprise based solutions to poverty, in accord with the SEVEN Fund Bylaws. The SEVEN Board provides the leadership, and a variety of qualified jurors make funding decisions.

S.E.VEN Fund– Contact:

The Fund’s activities are enhanced by the active participation of its SEVEN Fund Members. SEVEN Fund Membership consists of all researchers funded by the Fund, as well as researchers with membership granted by the SEVEN principals via invitation or application.

The aim of SEVEN Fund programs is to challenge the prevailing mindset in the fight against poverty. We want to stimulate discussion around the questions of whether wealth-creation may be the most effective solution to alleviate poverty. We invest our efforts and resources to discuss, find, research, and document examples where entrepreneurial success is shown to have led to poverty alleviation. In the process, we support entrepreneurs in developing countries with case studies, mentorship programs and publicity and services that help them succeed at what they do.

Questions &Answers

What is the essay question?

The essay question for both the undergraduate and the graduate student essay competition is: “Poverty can be regarded as a matter of exclusion from networks of productivity, and not simply as having an unequal portion of what is imagined to be a fixed number of economic goods. In that sense, ending worldwide poverty is serious business. Describe enterprise based solutions to poverty in this context.”

How do I submit my essay?

Submit your essay electronically in a MS Word or PDF format only.

o For undergraduate student competition:

o For graduate student competition:

Every essay MUST, in addition to the actual essay, include a 100 word abstract at the beginning of the document.

Along with the submission, you need to include the following information:

Your full name and mailing address, a contact telephone number and your academic email.

Your degree-level and field of study.

Your University’s name, official address and main telephone number; and the name, phone number and email address of someone we may contact at the university (Faculty member, Department Chair, or registrar) to verify that you are enrolled as a full time student.

Does SEVEN have a preferred philosophical or scientific agenda?

We see a number of experts who opine about poverty and prosperity: i.e., macroeconomists, businessmen, educators, political scientists, social scientists, etc. We rarely see enough integration, where the experts of one domain borrow insights from another, and attempt to create an even more robust intellectual framework. We intend to foster this kind of integration, at the level of thought leader and practitioner.

Who qualifies to compete in the SEVEN Fund Student Essay Competition?

Any full time student who studies at an accredited educational institution worldwide2 may submit a 2000 word Essay in English to compete in the SEVEN Fund competition as long as the essay reflects the scope and guidelines stated in the call for essays. The winning students will be required to enter into a contract with SEVEN prior to final award. We welcome applicants from every field of study.

How long should the essay be?

Essays may not exceed 2000 words and must be written in English. Students may write an essay of less than 2000 words. Do not forget that you MUST submit a 100 word abstract along with your essay.

What is the 100 word abstract?

We ask you to submit, along with your essay a 100 word abstract which states the essence of what your paper is about. This is a very useful process for both the writer and the reader as it forces the writer to concisely state his or her point and it allows the reader to enter the reading of the essay with a better understanding of the idea and subject matter.

Do Undergrad and Graduate Students compete with each other?

No, Undergraduate and Graduate Students, while writing on the same question, compete in separate groups.

Are there any restrictions on the prize money? What may the prize money be used for?

The prize money is intended for use at an accredited academic institution for the winning student’s education.

SEVEN will release the money directly to the educational institution or a student loan provider, not directly to the winning student.

How will essays be judged?

All essays that comply with the call for essay rules will undergo a competitive process of a confidential jury review. Expert SEVEN Fund jurors will evaluate and rank the essays according to the criteria described in the call for essays. The winning students will be required to enter into a contract with SEVEN prior to final award.

Can I submit multiple essays?

No, each student may only submit one essay.

Can I collaborate with another student?

You may decide to submit an essay together with another student, but the prize money is per essay, not per student. The two (or more) of you would share the prize.

What if I am unable to submit my application electronically?

Only applications submitted through this form on our website are accepted. If you encounter problems, please contact SEVEN at

Important Dates

* Inaugural SEVEN Fund Call for Essays: Saturday, September 7, 2007

* Deadline for Essay submission: Midnight Eastern Standard Time, Friday, December 7, 2007

* SEVEN Fund Essay Award Announcements: Thursday, February 7, 2008

Acceptable use of prize monies:

Full Time Tuition

University/School Housing (only if it is to be paid directly to the University or School)

Payment against Student Loans


Michael Fairbanks is the Founder of The OTF Group, a software and strategy consulting firm based in Boston. It is the first Venture-backed US firm to focus on developing nations. Mr. Fairbanks is also the Senior Advisor to the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, a USD 100 billion dollar bank located in Washington, D.C., which, last year, disbursed USD 7.5 billion dollars in grants and loans to the Caribbean and Latin America.

He was a US Peace Corps teacher in Kenya, a Wall Street Banker and has, over a twenty year career, advised scores of Presidents, cabinet members and CEOs in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia on business strategy and export competitiveness.

His recent projects include working for the President of Rwanda to improve the prosperity of all Rwandan citizens by increasing the competitiveness of that nation's tourism, coffee and agro-industry sectors; and advising the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan on private sector reforms. He co-authored Harvard Business School's landmark book on business strategy in emerging markets, entitled Plowing

the Sea, Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Advantage in Developing Nations, with a forward by Michael Porter. Business Week Magazine said, “Plowing the Sea points the way toward creating prosperity in developing nations”, the Boston Globe named it one of the ten best books of the year in Politics and Economics, and Exame magazine, Brazil’s leading business weekly, called it one of the ten best books of the decade. He co-conceived and contributed to the global best selling book Culture Matters: How

Values Shape Human Progress, with Sam Huntington and Larry Harrison at Harvard. His next book, edited with Malik Fal and Marcela Escobari-Rose, contains essays by OTF colleagues from around the world. It is entitled “In the River They Swim: Essays on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty.”

His work has been translated into a dozen languages including Korean, Mongolian, and Serbian. He was a visiting fellow at the Hoover institute at Stanford, a lecturer at Harvard, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. He has degrees in Philosophy and Biochemistry from the University of Scranton, a Jesuit University in Pennsylvania, where he was Trustee for six years, and African Politics from Columbia University in New York City.

He served on the Commission on Globalization with, among others, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall, and Joe Stiglitz; advised the Private Sector Commission at the United Nations; and FORTUNE Magazine named him one of the 150 Smartest People in the World. In 2006, his Alma Mater gave him its highest award, a Doctorate in Humane Letters for his “accomplishments and devotion to Social Justice.”

Michael serves on the Board of Directors of various civic, educational and commercial organizations. He lives in Boxford, Massachusetts with his wife Marylee Fairbanks, a veteran of New York stage and Broadway productions, and their son, Sebastian Michael

Andreas Widmer is co director of the SEVEN Fund. Prior to working on SEVEN, he was entrepreneur in residence at Highland Capital Partners, a leading venture capital firm. He is a business executive that has led international strategy consulting and high technology software firms including OTF Group Inc, Eprise Corp, Dragon Systems and FTP Software Inc. He has worked extensively in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America and has brought over 100 leading-edge technology products to market.

During his 17 year career, he has furthered the buildup of four startup companies with cumulative exits valued at over $730 million. Andreas’ current projects include advising several medical device and high technology startup companies on their strategy, venture capital and angel fund-raising efforts.

He serves on the Board of Directors/Advisors of OTF Group, Virtual Research Associates, Twin Star Medical, Smart Destinations, Island Desserts, Legatus Boston, the World Youth Alliance and the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference. Andreas served as a Pontifical Swiss Guard from 1986-1988, protecting Pope John Paul II. He speaks fluent German, Italian and French and has a basic knowledge of Spanish.