Yes, There Really Is a Man-In-The-Moon

On summer Sundays in Minnesota, the parks and lakes dotting the Twin Cities crawl with couples and families, all soaking up 85-degree heat much as chipmunks store nuts for the coming winter. But on one remarkable Sunday in July, forty years and two generations ago, my family sat together in the relative cool of our basement family room. We were there to witness a transcendent moment, as were some 530-million people world-wide.

Holding two young daughters, we saw a fuzzy impossibility flicker across our television. And listened to an iconic newsman, whose word had come to be regarded as the “truth,” confirm that a man had landed on the Moon. That afternoon, Walter Cronkite described what was arguably mankind’s greatest technical achievement, accomplished barely eight years after President John F. Kennedy declared “…..this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

The date was July 20, 1969, six years after Cronkite carried out a heartbreaking task: telling a nation that it’s President, architect of that grand moment which he would not live to see, had been shot dead. That was 1963, and as Camelot and a country buckled, Cronkite swallowed hard, unable to even look into the camera. With the landing of Eagle, his composure again frayed, but this was a very different moment. Cronkite grinned at the world, like a giddy schoolboy, and framed our wonder: “Oh, geez,” then a gush of nervous laughter, then “Oh, boy. Whew! Oh, boy.”

After walking and working on the Moon’s surface for 2½ hours, Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin reunited with Michael Cooper and Columbia; and, on July 24 their capsule splashed down some 812 miles southwest of Hawaii, paying off Kennedy’s dream of “…returning (man) safely to Earth.” What had seemed impossible had been transformed into something “so easy.”

Today I remember the Apollo 11 astronauts, supported by those at NASA, who crossed the last, great physical barrier of discovery – not with bluster or bravado, but with simple words: “The Eagle has landed,” and “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” and even “Whoopie!” I recall Aldrin’s hope, before his walk on the Moon: “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

And again I imagine three fragile men, who trusted other fragile men as they flew 953,054 miles using nascent technology with less computing muscle than a cell phone, sharing an odyssey of colossal uncertainty. As a British scientist said, “…(Apollo 11) would be inconceivable in the risk-averse world of today.” I hope that is not true, for beyond technology, beyond reestablishing America in the early “space race,” Apollo 11 was an ode to vision, innovation, leadership, determination and courage.

Apollo 11 asked more of man than seemed possible: to reach for the unthinkable, to push past boundaries of imagination and nerve, to find and define a new world. Forty years later, we once again need bold vision, innovation, leadership, determination and courage. Not bluster, not bravado – just a “few (more) small steps for man…” Apollo 11 is an epic story worth re-telling, to those born after Eagle landed, and those who cannot see past the trials of today.

 Larry Cassidy (7/20/2009)

Edited 8/25/2012

Gift For Monica

Gift for Monica

By Lawrence M. Cassidy

I recently attended a Bat Mitzvah for Monica, the 13-year-old daughter of a business associate and friend. I’m more than five times Monica’s age, and I shop only out of desperation, so I took the easy out. I simply wrote Monica a check to go with her card.

Which didn’t feel complete. So I looked into the meaning of the Bat Mitzvah. I thought more on both Monica’s big day, and on my grandson Brandon, who has just entered high school. Finally I decided to share with Monica, then with Brandon, a far more important “gift,” refined from my own long years and testing experiences…..



October 2006

Dear Monica:

You may not remember me. I’m one of those “old guys” your dad hangs with. Your parents were kind enough to include me in your special day.  Which is, for me, a privilege!

I have included a small gift for your Bat Mitzvah. That’s not really so important, unless it goes into your college fund…..then your dad won’t have to work quite so hard… :o). But you will learn that anyone can give material things.

The more important “gift” I want to share with you is what, at almost-70, I wish for you as you put away your childhood, and cross the uncertain threshold to becoming a young woman. Not that you’ve been waiting anxiously to hear this. Nor may it be of great interest to you today. If it is not, just tuck this away for another time, when “old guy” ideas will make more sense.

Monica, I also have daughters, both in their 40’s, and a son in his 20’s. If I could talk with them again, back when they were each age 13, there are three big things [other than matters of faith] that I would share with them:

1. Don’t waste your time “wanting” things. Nicer clothes. A cuter boyfriend. A cooler car. Even more money. “Wanting” takes your eyes off of now. And “now” is the only moment you have for sure. Yesterday is long gone, and tomorrow will not get here until tomorrow. The game you play right now is called “today!” Learning and getting better are both worth your best effort, especially about matters that have genuine meaning for you, and certainly about life itself. But don’t “want.” Figure out what is truly important, then “do.” Now! If you master that, you can start again tomorrow, from an even better place. Every tomorrow!

2. Honor the core values that build trust:

First, do what is right. Don’t waste anyone’s time claiming you didn’t know what was right. We know what is right. In our heart, in our gut, in our soul, we know right from wrong. So keep it simple. Just do what is right.

Second, do your best. Your very best. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If you aren’t willing to do it well, don’t take it on. That may upset some folks, but not as much as doing less than you promised.

Third, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Some people call this the “Golden Rule.” I also call it being smart. We depend on others our entire life, so having them “on our side” matters. A lot! It is also one of       those choices we make, solely because it is right.

3. Be everything you can be. Have you heard of Rabbi Zusya? In his new book, Rabbi Kushner tells us about Rabbi Zusya’s fear, as he faces death:

     In the Hassidic world of Eastern Europe, in the latter eighteenth century, there lived a sage by the name of Rabbi Zusya of Anipol. He was loved by all who knew him for his piety and his humility. As he grew old and             feeble, and realized that his death was near, he became agitated. His disciples said to him, “Master, you have lived such an exemplary life. Surely God will reward you for it. Why then do you tremble at the prospect of   death>”

     He answered them: “When I stand before God, He may say to me, ‘Zusya, why were you not another Moses?’ I will have an answer for Him. I will say to Him, ‘Master of the Universe, You did not grant me the greatness of soul that You granted to Moses.’”

     “Should God ask me, ‘Zusya, why were you not another King Solomon?’ I will say to Him, ‘Because You did not bless me with the great wisdom required to be another King Solomon.’”

     Zusya hesitated, then whispered, “But alas, what do I say to Him if He asks me, Zusya, why were you not Zusya? Why were you not the person I gave you the ability to be?'”

So, Monica, seize each today and make each today count. Do what is right, do it well, and do well by others. And set your dreams upon being all of the Monica that God gave you the ability to be. Doing these things will help Monica craft a very fine woman, indeed!

God bless you,

The “Old Guy”



Larry Cassidy has been a Chair with Vistage International (formerly TEC International) for the past 20 years and he currently works with some 80 executives every month, in three chief executive and two key executive groups. Larry has facilitated over 900 executive group meetings, and participated in 7500 face-to-face discussions with chief executives about all aspects of their businesses. In preparation for this journey, Larry attended Miami University (Ohio) and Northwestern (MBA); was a Marine Corps officer; worked with public companies (General Mills, Quaker Oats and PepsiCo), private,  family and foreign-owned firms; and, in the 1980s as General Manager and CEO of local companies. He does executive coaching and also serves on advisory boards. Larry can be reached at 714-424-9443 or


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