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CEO Speaks Transcript 7.9.22

Happy Saturday and welcome to CEO Speaks for Saturday, July 9th, 2022.

While there is much to share throughout TMA Nation, from next week’s NextGen conference to groundbreaking webinars, T&T awards submissions, our global nominations cycle, and more, today we pause and reflect on what has overshadowed so much for so many following the July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

While gun violence has become all too commonplace in America and something we wrestle with almost every day, the mass shooting here in Chicagoland last week hit very close to home, not only it is because it is home to TMA and our largest North American chapter, but because so many of our members and their families were directly affected by this horrific tragedy.

As eloquently stated by TMA Chicago/Midwest chapter President Michael Brandes, we are facing a complicated problem, without any easy answers. But we, in the turnaround industry, are accustomed to dealing with complicated problems. When you have the tools to help, there is a tacit obligation to do what you can’.

Before I speak about calls to action and how we as a community can and must be part of the national dialogue on this chronic issue, let me share some personal stories from our members on the front lines of this tragedy.

It starts with Michael Brandes, who grew up in Highland Park and whose three children, ages 9, 7, and 4, got dressed in red, white, and blue in preparation to attend the Highland Park parade but ultimately did not.

Michael’s mother, however, was there and, in the panic of those terrible moments of gunfire, called her son as she was fleeing the parade with her friends, their kids, and their grandchildren. Fortunately, they were not victims fallen in the freneticism of those terrifying moments.

Others I reached out to had no less distressing recounts of being in the midst of this painful, unexplainable, and horrific few moments of terror.

Like TMA Chicago-Midwest member Jill Kirshinbaum, whose Dad, a long-time and revered member of the Highland Park community, with Jill and her family in tow on this glorious day in a friendly and family place, recants how in a matter of seconds ‘the monster ripped through the fabric of our community. ‘We were all too close,’ she said. ‘Friends who were behind the podium saw way too much. Others were struck. Others died’.

This happened in Highland Park, Illinois, last week and Uvalde, Texas, just a few weeks before. And we all ask not if but when it will happen again because it has become all too commonplace in America.

From Columbine to Aurora to Highland Park, there is so much terror, fear, unanswered questions, and a national debate rages on.

We debate mental health, second amendment rights, the legality of assault rifles, and more.

But that's the national debate, not the personal story of what’s really at stake.

As Micheal put it so very well, ‘Ultimately we all generally want the same thing, to provide a safe place for our loved ones.’

But perhaps TMA member Leah Girstinson summed it up best when she said, This day...I can't even begin to describe how awful.. how terrifying this all has been. We didn't go to the parade though we were supposed to be there with our day camp; my crappy MOMNESS missed that email. I'm scared. I'm angry. I don't know what to do. How do you tell your kids that their friends may not be OK? We are not ok.’

I am so TMA proud of our community for how they have stepped up in support of each other in this time of personal crisis. It's what we do. It’s at the core of how we care for each other and genuinely care for each other in a meaningful way.

Now, as a community of people who fix what is broken, I hope we all find a way to contribute to the national conversation about the complexities of these difficulties and deeply personal issues.

Gun violence is a problem. Mental health too.

But we can and must move our local, state, and national elected officials to hear us, work with us, and make America beautiful again.

As Michel Brandes said, we all want the same thing in providing a safe place for our families, our children, and the future of our great nation.

Today is a time to mourn and reflect. But tomorrow, we must band together to take positive steps forward for the betterment of us all. That is my hope, and just as our leaders and members joined together to support a community, I hope that as turnaround professionals, we all can be part of this long-needed fix of something that continues to affect us all so very hard.

As always, thanks for taking the time to listen today. In this year of Innovation through Disruption, your input is critical, your contributions paramount, and your engagement is the foundation that will create a better TMA for all our members.

Until next time, I’m Scott Stuart. Be safe, resilient, and TMA Proud.