Bearing Witness to History: Eight Years Ago Today

Eight years ago today, I was fortunate to be in Washington DC for the first inauguration of Barack Obama.  How and why this came to pass is something that is known and understood by those who are closest me, but it suffices to say that a decision to be an active participant in history was a big part of it.  It is an experience that will always be with me, and is, perhaps, one of the most important things I have ever done.  Words seem insufficient to describe the magnitude of what it means to be a witness to history; it is truly humbling.

It is equally difficult to begin to describe what that sunny day in Washington was like; one that seemed less about political parties and more about people, community, and the new days ahead.  Although not everyone had voted for the incoming President, the sense of excitement and pride was clear.  I’ve never seen so many exuberant people in one place; teary eyed, with open hearts, raising their voices to be heard.

From my vantage point on the parade route, I listened to the ceremony as it echoed over the speaker system, alongside tens of thousands of others.  I remember thinking that the solemn silence of the crowd at that moment seemed almost eerie, as if in some other world, time, and place.  Maybe, they too where thinking about being in the presence of history that children would learn about hundreds of years from now.

How much our world has experienced since then.  I recently listened to the archive of a radio interview that I did on that day and was struck my comments: so much happiness was in the air; pride, togetherness, inspiration.  The call to action and responsibility for making the world a better place were met with careful contemplation.  “What’s it like to be there?”, I was asked.  “It’s great”, I said “people are so excited.  What more can I say?”, I wondered aloud.

I remember observing people of all ages connecting with one another in a way that I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since.  The crowd wasn’t one of strangers; it was humanity, and they were there to be humbled, to bear witness, to celebrate.  The roar on Pennsylvania Avenue was so loud as the motorcade approached, I could barely hear the reporter’s questions, but yet, I can remember it all now like it was yesterday (my time at the National Press Club moments later left me feeling equally awestruck, but that’s another story).

As an advisor, I’ve found that groups have a much better opportunity for success when they can find common ground; areas where they recognize that they are more similar than they are different.  In adversarial times, it can be difficult to find this state of mind, and I’ve been met with more than one blank stare or dead silence over the years when suggesting “why not collaborate?”, “why not talk to them?”, “why not listen?”  What’s inspiring, though, are times when those around the table see this opportunity, understand it, and are motivated to take action.  This mindset, even in some small way, reminds me of what I saw between strangers in the crowd on that special day, all those years ago.

Season’s Greetings!

Wishing you a wonderful Holiday season, and prosperity, health, and happiness in 2017!

A special thank you to everyone I have worked with this year; it’s been a pleasure to play a role in your success!

Jenifer Bartman

New Beginnings

Since leaving my executive role in the venture capital industry in 2008, I’ve been busy. After selling our business, I returned to my consulting roots, bringing along the valuable lessons I learned as a venture capitalist: all about building great companies. The result has been practical solutions for a host of entrepreneurs and business leaders, and I’ve approached my work in the way that I would appreciate as a client, having played a key role in growing, managing, and exiting a company myself.

Somewhere along the way, I was inspired to raise my voice and share some of the many experiences I’ve had, through articles, courses, webinars, books, and presentations. I’ve found that I have a lot to say, and my catalogue of published work has expanded as a result. Clients tend to find that the scenarios I write about seem oh, so familiar, with some wondering if I’m writing about them. The truth is, there are many similarities in what leaders encounter in the course of building a business, a fact that tends to be reassuring. It’s this experience that I’ve been able to tap into, bringing practical solutions to resolve issues and support future growth.

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Fast-forward to 2015, when I realized that it was high time to re-launch my website, to capture the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I have to share. I’ve organized my website to reflect the main areas in which I focus: Work (business advisory services), Speak (presentations and seminars), Learn (courses, books, and webinars), as well as lots of information about my background. In this blog, you will find an archive of some of my published work, with lots more to come going forward.

Like the “behind the scenes” photo I’ve included here, we’re bringing a whole new style to the business advisory world! Being in business is all about opportunities, and in a competitive world, someone should benefit; why not your company? So, welcome to my website; I invite you to have a look around and be in touch to discuss how I can help your business.