alum John Strelecky '97 has set an audacious philosophical
for himself: He's trying to discover the
meaning of life while also helping others find their "purpose
it bridging the gap between B2B and "2B or not 2B." Whatever
label fits, it's clear Strelecky is staking out territory
beyond that of the typical MBA.
The kernel of his thought is symbolized by his story of
the sea turtle.
While snorkeling off the coast of Hawaii, a swimmer suddenly
notices a large green sea turtle. He watches the turtle swim
effortlessly underwater, away from the coast. The swimmer
tries to keep up, but soon the physically slower --- but
nevertheless faster --- turtle ditches him.
turtle's speed is not an illusion, but based on a brilliant
adaptation. "The turtle never fought the tide," says the
swimmer, "but instead used it. The reason I had not been
able to keep up with him is because I was paddling all the
time, no matter which way the water was going."
That story comes from a small nonfiction book, The
Why Are You Here Caf», that Strelecky self-published last
year after he and his wife, Cindy Zhao '00, a real-estate
investor, backpacked for nine months in Asia and Africa.
For Strelecky, the sea turtle serves as a metaphor for
email SPAM, the array of mass media hype and annoying telemarketers,
a lot of life can get eaten up, he says. "The
people I've encountered who are most happy with life are
the ones who have clearly identified what they want out of
life and are pursuing it."
Strelecky calls this approach PFE, or Purpose for Existing.
Today, Strelecky of Orlando, Fla., runs a writing, speaking
and consulting business aimed at helping people and companies
get the most out of life.
Strelecky grew up in suburban Chicago and attended Emory
Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. Unfortunately,
shortly after he graduated, a previously undiagnosed heart
condition put an end to his aviation career.
Outgoing by nature, Strelecky is competitive and a top
volleyball player. Off the court, Strelecky believes in purpose-driven
excellence. He urges companies not to recruit the
best talent, but to attract the best talent through clearly
defined statements of their corporate Purpose for Existing.
People with personal PFEs that are similar to an organization's
PFE will be drawn to that organization, he says, thus attracting
the best talent by providing a close fit between the firm's
goals and that of prospective employees.
notes that his business philosophy practice derives from
he and his peers had while engaged in more
traditional management consulting. "We found that leaders
at all levels often acted with diligence, but not always
with purpose," he explains. "They worked very hard to achieve
things, but often did not have a clearly articulated reason
why those 'things' were the 'right things.'"
In a recent issue of Executive Excellence, Strelecky
provides an example of a company PFE that is "clear, impactful
and to the point." Pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. Inc.
states: "Our business is preserving and improving human life÷.
All of our actions must be measured by our success in achieving
Strelecky, his world trip accentuated life's preciousness. "After
a day of climbing a remote section of the Great Wall of China,
or watching a herd of zebra on the African plains, you are
much more hesitant about giving up even a single day to do
something that you don't find fulfilling," he says.
Returning to Florida, Strelecky was inspired to write his
first book and is now working on another about his travels.
He also cofounded the business philosophy practice at Morningstar
Consulting Group, based in Rochester Hills, Mich.
His goal is to inspire others to figure out, and then do,
exactly what they want with their lives.
"Life isn't infinite," he says. "If
you aren't careful, days can turn into weeks, and before
you know it, all you
have is a list of things you would like to do and no more
time to do them."
--- Daniel Cattau