Leadership: If Not You Then Who, If Not Now, Then When?

Artemio San Martin is a Board Member of Leadership Austin, and President Emeritus of the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s Austin and Cleveland Chapters. He has held financial and business roles in global organizations in Mexico and the US, such as Siemens, Monsanto, US Dept. of State, and World Trade Center Cleveland. He is a certified Project Management Professional, and holds MBA and MS degrees from The University of Akron.  

“If not you then who, if not now than when?” – I first became acquainted with this quote attributed to Jewish scholar Hillel the Elder during a community event in Cleveland over a decade ago. I had relocated from Mexico City to the State of Ohio, pursuing my dream of graduate education at The University of Akron, and I was working for a global corporation at the time. In the hastiness of everyday activity, these inspiring words served as a reminder of the personal responsibility and transformational influence carried by the act of leading. 

Truly, there is no better time to lead than today. We might feel hesitant to take charge now instead of sometime in the future. Nevertheless, we can be certain that change will happen despite our degree of preparedness. People grow, things adjust, and situations evolve. The only decision we ought to make is how actively to engage in this perennial process: taking the lead and not waiting for permission, making our mark without regrets, seizing the day as if it was our last one to live.

For some people, the word “leadership” might appear to have a very formal connotation reserved for those remarkable men and women that have driven significant change throughout the course of history.  People like Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela would come to mind. In reality, we are all invited to answer the call of leadership within our own sphere of influence. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have been privileged to lead in the corporate and non-profit sectors. In addition to my career in Business and Finance, I have served on the boards of great organizations, such as Leadership Austin, National Society of Hispanic MBAs, Cleveland Hispanic Round-table and University of Akron College of Business Alumni Association. I have also actively participated in Corporate Councils and Employee Resource Groups to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In all of these engagements, I have had the opportunity to make a difference and leave a legacy for the generations to come.

There are multiple causes and groups looking for inspiring and transformational leaders. Today, we have the responsibility to identify that “sweet spot” in which our talents and passion intersect with critical needs in the communities we live in, powering a relentless desire to lead and become agents of change.  Author and speaker Seth Godin says it really well in his book “Tribes”: “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” The time is now! Go on and lead! 

Today’s post is the fourth of the SOS Leadership Men Who Lead Blog Series. The purpose of this blog series is to share the stories and insights of men who are answering the call to leadership in their lives. Come back each Friday to read more!

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