At a recent memorial service in Boston’s Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox), several people came up to me and made this observation:
“Mayor, your City Administration (1983-93) was the most diverse administration ever in Boston, and probably of any city in America. This is a tribute to the people of Boston and to all people committed to ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity.”
Our three top financial officers during my administration were African-American and the personnel director was Hispanic. The list went on and on. But perhaps the most insightful comment at the memorial service came from a Harvard University Business School professor, who said, “In 1991, Boston was voted by the prestigious American City and County magazine as the ‘Best Managed City in America.’ Boston’s administration in those days truly reflected the diversity of this large, great, historic American city. Boston wasn’t just trying to achieve diversity, but equality and an efficient workforce.”
Many years have gone by since I was mayor, but I can’t ever recall another time when our city has been singled out by the media in such a laudable way. Often times these things are overlooked and under-appreciated, only to be recognized many years later, if at all. Yes, I know our bond rating went way up and the performance of services was ranked among the best by outside business managers, but nobody ever connected our broad diversity with our efficiency of services. That is, until just the other day at a funeral service. Even the Rabbi who officiated at the service made reference to the unique role that people of all faiths played in the reshaping of a “new and inclusive” Boston all those years ago.
But then I thought about what I heard from two good friends of mine, who happen to be two of the greatest basketball coaches of all time—Joe Mullaney of Providence College and Red Auerbach of the World Champion Boston Celtics. They told us, “It’s not the best players who win championships, but the people who work together as a team.”
I remember the night in Tennessee long ago when I was the last player cut from the Celtics, and Coach Auerbach said, “Ray, I’ve known you since you were our ball boy. You’re like a son, but I can’t play favorites if we’re going to continue to win championships.” It’s a lesson that stayed with me through life, from City Hall and the White House to the Vatican.
We can learn these same valuable life lessons in business as well, with corporate and employees working together for the collective good of the company. Of course, it’s always the company’s obligation to be fair to its employees, and build a culture of appreciation and inclusion, while providing a quality product to its customers. I enjoy telling people how the international network marketing company I’m a part of continues to provide high quality nutritional products. I can say this with credibility because I believe in its nutritional supplements. I have personally experienced its success and so has my 9-year-old grandson Braeden, who was born with a rare neurological disease called SPTAN1. While he still experiences difficulties in his speech and walking, we have witnessed significant improvement. I think one of reasons for the company’s success is its teamwork approach in scientific research and its creative distribution practices. As I learned in sports, politics and business, nothing succeeds like integrity and teamwork.
RAY FLYNN is Special Advisor to an international network marketing company based in Florida.
An Honors graduate of Providence College, Ray holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University in Education.
Ray was an All-American Academic Basketball player for Providence College, selected Most Valuable Player in the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden in 1963.
He was voted Greatest All Around Athlete in the History of South Boston.
Ray Flynn is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican (1993-1997) and former Mayor of Boston (1984-1993).
He wrote a bestselling novel, The Accidental Pope, and a biography, John Paul II: A Personal Portrait of the Pope & the Man. Ray is a humanitarian, motivational speaker, and frequent National TV analyst. Today he coaches special-needs
children in baseball and soccer. Ray and his wife Kathy have six children and 17 grandchildren.