On the heels of a roller-coaster 2016, we’ve discovered just how far from “normal” current events can be. We’ve learned how vulnerable even the largest technology firms can be to hackers, scammers, Russian trolls, and bands of Macedonian teens pushing fake news. We’ve borne witness to a presidential administration that has drawn lines in the sand on immigration, taxes, healthcare, and freedom of the press, while endorsing Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers while brushing off allegations of the former National Security adviser’s collusion with Russia.
But we’ve also witnessed how people triumphed despite adversity. Natural disasters have ravaged homes and businesses, yet prompted some entrepreneurs to rally to supplement and surpass government relief efforts. As in years past, several people and organizations have stood out as paragons of leadership, showing how to motivate and inspire, while others have served as role models for exactly what not to do.
Here’s a look back at some of the best and worst moments that stood out to us in 2017 (in no particular order).
Rose Marcario, CEO, Patagonia
Back in April, Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario made a strong statement against President Donald Trump and his administration.
Less than 24 hours after joining with our industry to celebrate the economic power of outdoor recreation, in a hypocritical move, the Trump administration took unprecedented steps that could result in the removal of protections for treasured public lands. We take this as a sign that Trump and his team prefer to cater to fossil fuel interests and state land grabs for unsustainable development, rather than preserve a vital part of our nation’s heritage for future generations by protecting federal lands owned by every citizen.
Marcario went on to urge citizens to make their voices heard by contacting Congress, and pledged to take legal action against the administration if there were continued threats to National Monuments.
After leading Patagonia’s political activism that includes brand marketing, lobbying government, supporting local environmental and indigenous groups, creating 360-films, and the company’s first-ever broadcast TV ad, Marcario is threatening to pursue legal action against the Trump administration to ensure the protection of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. This suit would complement another lawsuit filed by others to protect Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Jose Andres, chef and restaurateur
Jose Andres is the Spanish chef who is most often credited for bringing the concept of small-plate dining to the U.S. The founder of more than a dozen restaurants was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2012 and “outstanding chef” by the James Beard Foundation.
But Andres had a particularly brilliant moment this year: He led relief efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria. Just five days after the storm passed, when the island residents were still largely without power and running water, Andres arrived to feed them. He put in place a network of kitchens, supply chains, and delivery services that eventually served more than 2.2 million meals. The New York Times reported that no other single agency (including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or government org) fed more people fresh food in the aftermath of the storm.
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
When Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2014, the company had a reputation for its cutthroat corporate culture and failure to innovate past its competitors. Nadella responded by asking top brass to read Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and modeled and encouraged empathy. And he’s been quick to point out the dark side of AI during a keynote at Microsoft’s Developer Conference, something Fast Company’s Harry McCracken says he tried and failed to envision coming from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Google’s Sundar Pichai.
In an era where emotional intelligence is just as valued as technical expertise, Nadella’s leadership bears out how such an approach can impact the bottom line as well. Microsoft’s share price has surpassed its previous highs during the dotcom bubble and generated more than $250 billion in market value in just three and a half years.
Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood
It’s been a year of prolonged fighting for Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. The current administration and Republican-led Congress has tried to implement legislation that would have blocked Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid patients from being able to come in for services.
For Richards, the inspiration to keep fighting comes from calculating how many women Planned Parenthood serves daily. “We did the math early on, and every single day we could keep our doors open, approximately 8,118 people got care,” Richards said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival. Richards stood firm against spinning off Planned Parenthood’s most controversial service despite the threat of losing an estimated $350 million from the passage of the American Health Care Act that would repeal Obamacare.
“The minute we begin to edge back from that is the minute that they’ve won,” she said during an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Ava DuVernay, film director
Ava DuVernay took a similar stance to prioritize principle over profit. The first black female director to helm a film with a $100 million budget, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, took to Twitter to say she was “standing with” journalists who were boycotting the production company’s screenings after they banned the Los Angeles Times for investigations into its business dealings.
The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington for peacefully bringing together nearly 1 million participants in D.C. and spurring over 600 “sister marches” in cities around the world in support of human rights.
Ridley Scott for replacing Kevin Spacey in the film All the Money in the World after it had been nearly completed. “You can’t tolerate any kind of behavior like that. And it will affect the film. We cannot let one person’s action affect the good work of all these other people. It’s that simple.”
Maxine Waters for “reclaiming her time” by redirecting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin back to the issue and sparking a movement for women (particularly women of color) with the Women’s Convention, and Elizabeth Warren for igniting similarly inspired resistance (“nevertheless, she persisted“) for refusing to be silenced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during her criticism of attorney general nominee Senator Jeff Sessions.
John Oliver for confronting Dustin Hoffman during a panel discussion that evolved into a targeted interrogation of sexual harassment allegations. When Hoffman offered the same apology he issued previously in a statement, Oliver retorted, “It’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off. It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen], then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘It wasn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
As the Trump administration chips away at our civil liberities, millions of Americans have looked to the ACLU to fight for them. The 97-year-old nonprofit had a detailed plan of attack for Trump’s presidency, thanks to executive director Anthony Romero’s leadership.
This article was originally published on www.fastcompany.com, viewed 19 Dec, 2017