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What We Hear – LEVICK
Fixing the ImpossiBle
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What We Hear

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Dig It

The Beatles

Like a rolling stone

A like a rolling stone

Like the FBI and the CIA

And the BBC, BB King

And Doris Day

Matt Busby

Dig it, dig it, dig it

Dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it

When the Beatles’ “Dig It” came out in 1970 on the album Let It Be, I digested it like a million other teenagers (I was twelve and a half, well past my pre-teen years!). It was my sister’s album because she was two years older, had a record player (not a stereo, mind you) and a record collection that topped maybe 20 records. I listened to that album until the grooves were so deep they took on water.

I knew every word, or so I thought. Fifty years later I still know most of the words to most of the songs. You measured your hipness in those days not just by knowing the album and the artist, but understanding the cultural references. I knew them all – B.B. King, Doris Day, the FBI and CIA – or so I thought, though only by familiarity, not by detail.

Imagine my shock when I learned after half a century I was mis-hearing one of the references. I thought Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr (if you have to look those up, well, never mind) were once again using a made-up name like “Jojo” (a reference to a loved groupie) and “Jude” (a code name about John Lennon’s divorce) saying “Max Busby,” a reference I figured sounded good but didn’t mean anything.

As an American teenager, eager for but having no idea about British football (it was only occasionally available in theaters by closed circuit or a highlight accidentally making it onto ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”), I had no idea there was a real Matt Busby. I had always thought it was “Max” (and tell the truth, if you are old enough to remember, you likely did, too). This may not be as great a controversy as most people not understanding the worlds to “Purple Haze,” but it is an embarrassment nonetheless. Imagine thinking your entire life that Vince Lombardi’s first name was Lance and that he was a figment of someone’s imagination?

While on convalescence for a few days last week (did you miss our newsletter last Monday?) I watched a movie about Matt Busby and came face to face with my half century of naivety. Matt Busby wasn’t just one of the greatest football managers of all time in England, but an extraordinary human being. Having lost eight of his players in the 1968 Munich air disaster – a disaster he survived but which haunted him to his grave – he made it a point to find time to coach youngsters throughout his life, often disadvantaged ones. Imagine Casey Stengel or Pat Summit coaching your youth team while still coaching professionally?

There was no Internet in 1970. You heard literally a thousand new things a day and if you couldn’t read about them in your local newspaper, ask or look them up, you went on your merry (albeit naïve) way. Not so different from today, really, and that’s the point. We all think we are better informed because we could be, not because we exercise that investigative muscle.

How much of life do we wander around thinking we heard, and as a result, understood? In an age when there is so much instantaneous judgment, that should be the first rule: listen, really listen. Then research and gain perspective. Not just your own perspective but a broader one. Then, as they used to say on “Saturday Night Live,” we should “discuss among ourselves.” I’m wondering that if I misunderstood something I heard 10,000 times for 50 years, then maybe none of us are listening all that well.

So while you are in the listening mood, we have a few programs for you:

A special webcast with Wake Forest’s Center for the Study of Capitalism with Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, John Kostyack of the National Whistle Blower Center and Bill McGovern of Kobre & Kim. Whistleblowing, is, after all, the art of listening, really listening, considering, reflecting and, upon believed confirmation that something is terribly wrong, summoning the courage to act. Not letting it be is a long and winding road.

And while there are many other programs from the past week, the other one that struck me was the indomitable Lucinda Low of Steptoe & Johnson, LLP on the FCPA. I’ve known Lucinda for years but this is the first time we spent one-on-one time for so long and it was as much a joy as it was informative, with her delivering a tour de force of what companies and institutions need to be thinking about regarding the FCPA.

Now, ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Happy listening.

Richard Levick

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