Happy New Year!
I’m so lucky to have always known what I wanted my future to be. Building was in my blood from the beginning, and I’ve always desired to help people do better, feel better and mentor folks towards contributing to society in a way that they could multiply across a large spectrum.
I’m humbled and somewhat shocked at the success of my building career and the tremendous number of projects that we’ve built across North America. More importantly, I’m humbled by all of the people that we have touched, the jobs that we have created, and how we have continued to make sure that we stay committed to our motto – Beyond these Walls. This means that what happens inside the buildings once they are completed is more important than the brick-and-mortar work done. Hard to imagine that all of this has been achieved by a college dropout.
There have also been many opportunities to be impactful in the community. Since the founding of my businesses, I’ve always surrounded myself with people who had a core value of community improvement, which is essential.
This year, we’ve had many exciting opportunities to make an impact. We have scholarship programs at multiple schools including Penn State, internships, foundation research in rare disease, cancer, and aging, capital improvement donations to SCAD and to Washington University Medical School, Deaf Education, game-changing investments in diversity and inclusion, Habitat for Humanity, and many, many more.
At Expo 2020 Dubai.
This year, I was given an amazing opportunity to serve in a completely different way when I was appointed by the White House to serve as United States Commissioner General of the US Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. This is what I consider to be the best job in the entire State Department. I’m working with a new family of team members and have met an incredible number of new friends from all around the world. We work together as colleagues, collaborators, explorers, and adventurers in each other’s cultures and values in a hopeful and diplomatic spirit.
It’s been easy to advocate for America. This opportunity allows me to see hundreds of thousands of people come through our doors at the USA Pavilion and share what makes America truly special with them. From the perspective of someone who’s lived the American dream in every way, this is really incredible. The ideals, goals, ambitions, and intelligence that drives the technology born in America will continue to make the world safer, more sustainable, and more economically stable.
The Expo 2020 Dubai has been amazing and a great success so far. It’s continuing to bring 192 countries together in the world’s largest event in two years, and it’s the biggest event ever in the Middle East in a location where two-thirds of the world’s population can visit in a single flight.
On a personal note, I’ve probably met more people in the past three months than I met in the past three years. I’ve met folks from every ethnicity, background, and religion, and have personally visited over 165 country pavilions. Many of these visits were official greetings, but others have been a stroll through to get an insight into each nation’s message and attributes.
To say the pavilions are eye-opening would be an understatement. Some countries are focused on politics, policies, technologies, and partnerships, while others are focused on tourism and opportunities for investment. All of them are sincere and represented by folks that are in so many ways just like me.
I’ve noticed that we all prioritize families, our careers, and our responsibility to our nations, and most importantly, that we are united in wanting to leave a better world for the next generations. These visits are changing my views and my sense of urgency.
An urgent issue for the world to resolve is for more people that are deciding on Climate Change to have a clear understanding of the many opinions and facts. Political choices instead of scientific information can negatively affect entire populations and potentially imperil the people who have the least to say about it, so it is important to be accurately informed on this issue.
Social Media has connected us, but also divided us at warp speed and has been weaponized by bad actors for an unwholesome purpose. This requires a careful and complicated response, probably from the creators of the platforms and new innovators. A Post-Covid world needs everyone to listen to each other to develop more tolerance for different points of view and fight the extremism that is dividing us in an unhealthy way.
The Expo’s core message of “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future” with a sub-focus on sustainability, mobility, and opportunity is spot on. Seeing how each country has responded to these themes has been refreshing, educational, and inspires hope.
I have always advocated for kindness, compassion, walking in each other’s shoes, and treating people the way we want to be treated. This year has been a strong enforcer in my mind that all of this is needed more than ever.
Be Safe, Stay Calm, and Persevere.
Featured in Construction Forum, read more here.