Yes, Kasasa is a business. We make products for community banks and credit unions. But if you know anything about us, you know that we're also a group of people who are extremely passionate about the "why" behind everything we do.
We believe in supporting communities.
We believe in financial independence for everyone.
And we believe in working with integrity and character (or what we call the Patch Values).
At our last all-employee meeting our CEO, Gabe Krajicek, opened the day's festivities with a speech that spoke to his vision for how we should all work during this difficult time of division in our country... and how we can gain inspiration from an unlikely source...
This symposium of peers is going to be the best we've ever had because you guys have done an amazing job during the first half of this year. And we're going to celebrate all day long. But before we do, I want to talk about America a little bit and why I didn't send out my typical Fourth of July email.
Those of you that have been with us for a few years know that each year I try to send out a Fourth of July email and in it I talk about why I'm such a patriotic guy, why I love this country so much, and why I think it's the greatest underdog story in the history of the world. This year I sat down to write that letter and I couldn't do it. I couldn't think of anything I could say that wouldn't inadvertently offend one group or another. And I'm not speaking disparagingly about any group. There are a lot of good reasons for us to be sensitive right now. America, I think we can all agree, seems incredibly divided, but I'm hopeful that I have something that, if we can't all agree on, we can at least smile about. And that is that there is nothing more American than Star Trek.
I can think of no better north star to give us a beacon for our American values than this campy show from the sixties. When I watch the show, I see it constantly reinforcing two ideas over and over again. I think these are the same values that Americans have exuded at the times in our history that we are most proud of. Those values are love and curiosity.
In Star Trek, love has always just meant love. Every single human had value. Even the aliens had value. On Star Trek, in 1968, we saw the first interracial kiss on television in America. They featured Chekov, a Russian, on the bridge of the Enterprise. Now keep in mind this is during the cold war. They were trying to highlight the peace that could come after that then current turmoil. They commonly featured females in leadership positions.
If you watch Voyager one time and don't think Captain Janeway is a badass -- you're watching a different show than I'm watching.
It taught us to look at new cultures with love, compassion, and fairness. And it caught a lot of flack for this recently; About a year ago it showed the first gay male kiss in the franchise's history. The internet was ablaze. "What are you doing?" The Star Trek fans were nearly universal in their response: "Dude, do you even watch the show?" They have been trying to show us that love is love since the sixties when Kirk kissed Uhura.
It's no surprise that Love is my favorite patch value of our company values. For me, it is just the easiest to live. All it means is believing the best in other people. Believing that no matter who somebody is, where they are from, what color they are, what gender they are, or who they love -- that person deserves compassion. They deserve kindness. Perhaps most of all, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
When I'm in this loving mindset, it's very easy for me to remember that no matter how different somebody is from myself, no matter how much I disagree with them, if I could just see the world the way they see it... if just for a second I could take my glasses off and put their lenses on and see the world through their point of view... I would understand, if not agree with, the things that they feel, the things that they do, and the way that they behave.
To have that understanding, we have to be curious.
Star Trek exudes curiosity better than any show I've ever seen. If they didn't, they wouldn't have named their most recent series Discovery. The power of curiosity is that it separates us from the stagnant arrogant state of judgmentalism and allows us to live in the vibrant humble state of learning new things. You cannot simultaneously be judgemental and be curious. Because when you've made a judgment, you've decided. Your mind is made up. You have all the facts that you need. Even if they're not all the facts.
Star Trek refutes this way of thinking. How many times has the bad guy turned out to not be a bad guy? Just a person going through a difficult time in need of some compassion. One of my favorite episodes is I, Borg, and in it is a character named Hugh. Hugh is part of the Borg collective. Now if you don't know the Borg collective, they are the biggest, baddest guys that fight the federation. They are the epitome of evil. Hugh was part of that collective, but he got separated from the collective, and once he was freed from the influence of their thoughts he realized that he was just a person that was lonely and needed a friend.
What a beautiful metaphor for America right now. What if we could see all the people we hate, all the people that we judge, as potentially just lonely and in need of a friend?
Indeed, the mission statement of the show is a statement of curiosity. To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Those words are powerful, even if they are just from a T.V. show. Captain Picard, my favorite captain, once said: "Things are only impossible until they are not." You cannot believe that to be true if you don't simultaneously believe that you have the curiosity to find a way to make the impossible, possible. The Enterprise did not explore strange new worlds to judge the people on the planets that they had found. It explored strange new worlds because they were from a society so far advanced that it was common knowledge that the only path to wisdom was through an open mind. So of course, they remained curious. As they were a curious society and they looked out across their community, they were okay seeing diversity and not seeing a sea of homogeneous sameness.
You may say that is all well and good, but that's not the America that I reside in right now. And maybe you're right, maybe I can't argue with you. But I choose to see things differently.
I choose to believe that America is not what the media tells us it is. I say that with a high degree of confidence because no matter what channel you watch, America is not the legislature, it's not the Supreme Court, it's not the military, it's not the president, it's not the republican or democratic party. America is the people, and we get to decide what we make of it.
I believe that the only thing that separates our country from an amazing period of enlightenment is the population's collective willingness to become more loving and become more curious. Every single one of us can choose to do that every single day. When we do, we are part of the solution. Each of us carries with us a full force we can exert on the society around us. When we use that force to move the momentum of society away from judgment and towards curiosity, away from hate and towards love, we build the country that we all want to see. That is what I choose to do.
I hope you'll join me. I think that you will because I believe that Kasasa will be an inspiration to this country that so desperately needs one. We will show them what it looks like when a group of people work together and accomplish things while embracing the values of love and curiosity.
Are you with me?