David Rockefeller or the Essence of Wisdom

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on David Rockefeller, a man who inspired and gave her wise counsel for years.

According to many, wisdom is a quality forged in the hearth of time that creates a very powerful alloy from experience, knowledge and good judgment.

The end result is the ability to take action with the highest degree of suitability under any given circumstance while reducing errors to negligible proportions.

Knowing David Rockefeller was meeting wisdom.

He would not spare a minute of his time without consequence for him and for all those who crossed his path regularly or tangentially.

He held a promethean approach to life that led him to share with others the fruits of knowledge or experience.

Accordingly, he would take time to present his views, discuss them and lead people into a decision that although was of his making, always felt as collectively owned by the group. Once a decision had owners, he knew action would ensue and he could move onto the next project, idea or endeavor.

And his wide leadership came wrapped in the most exquisite albeit toned down manners and a sense of humility that made him truly charming.

I remember him visiting Neva, his daughter, and my classmate at Harvard to “peep into the next big thing that MBAs will bring into our boardrooms.”

He, that had the most powerful network of world leaders (150,000 people) constantly exposing him to change and transformation, felt the need to sit in a classroom to gaze into the future.

And he would come out feeling he had gained a new and fresh insight into the secrets of development.

Ready to cross Harvard Yard and enter into Elaine’s sandwich shop to frolic in the memories of times past when he was a student who enjoyed the gastronomies of the undisputed queen of college fast food.

And while the world will most probably remember David Rockefeller for his philanthropic work which benefited New York City, Harvard and the emerging markets of Latin America, Asia and Africa, his most salient professional virtue was entrepreneurship and innovation.

When challenged by his board at Chase Manhattan Bank because business was slipping behind archrival Citibank, he led the restructuring effort, brought on board Peter Drucker — one of the most talented business advisors of all time — and took a hit in his own office, accepting budget cuts and reduction of headcount.

He knew leadership emerges from common work and common cause.

He accordingly infused his people with the flame of transformation to achieve a remarkable turnaround that made history.

He was an insatiable traveler and a shrewd art collector.

He enjoyed discussing public policy and private business behavior.

His discernment was so remarkable that he could lecture tyrants like Fidel Castro on freedom and development without engaging in abruptness or improper manners.

He was a family man who deeply admired the transformational leadership his grandfather John D. Rockefeller exerted in the United States.

He was candid and transparent to the point that one could read in his sagacious eyes his frame of mind.

That mind was always working to create value, whether in the realm of philanthropy or in business.

He went to his final meeting with immortality while dreaming of the next trip and the next big project for his beloved New York City.

Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Monday March 27th, 2017. 

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*