Discover more from Jeff Hilimire's Begin the Begin Newsletter
Hanging out with a Senator
Pretty much one of the best days of my life
I hope everyone is doing well. I know some of you aren’t thrilled with the weather getting colder, but I love it. Maybe it’s my Chicago roots, or maybe it’s the dozen or so years I spent playing tennis in June and July in Atlanta, but I’m a huge fan of cold weather.
Quick update on writing
You’ve probably noticed, but I just haven’t felt like writing much lately.
I’m not exactly sure why. After keeping up a pretty consistent blogging/newsletter schedule for over ten years, and writing three books over the last three years, I finally took the pressure off of myself and said, you know what, it’s not the end of the world if I skip some weeks.
It’s not that I haven’t had ideas. It’s that I haven’t felt compelled to sit down and bring them to life. Again, not sure why. I just…haven’t.
But (surprise!) I do have a plan :)
I’ll spend January writing my 4th book, which will be called The Culture Turnaround. I’m actually about 10,000 words into this book already, having worked on it earlier in the year. And I’ll use December to more fully map out the story so that on January 1st I can hit the ground running. (Likely the book won’t come out until September or October, but my goal will be to have the first draft completed by end of January.)
It should be pretty obvious by the title what the focus of the book is (essentially, everything I know about building a great culture), and it should fit nicely into the current Turnaround Leadership Series I’ve been building. (If you’re keeping track, those books focused on leading and thinking like an entrepreneur, leading through a crisis, and building an unstoppable team.)
For the next two months, I hope to get back into a rhythm of writing more posts like this. But I’m good with not putting pressure on myself to do it.
Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock
I got to know Raphael during my Leadership Atlanta experience in 2012-2013. (Anyone that’s been through the program will tell you that our year was the best year ever.)
Back then, Raphael was just the head pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. You know, Dr. Martin Luther King’s church. No biggie.
If you’ve ever had a chance to meet Raphael or hear him speak (or preach!), you won’t be surprised to hear that I think he’s just about one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. Inspiring, genuine, thoughtful…all the things.
In fact, in 2019 I took our Dragon Army leadership team for our quarterly offsite to spend a day at Ebenezer, and midway through our day Raphael came and spoke with us for an hour about his views on leadership and social justice. It was as terrific as it sounds.
Earlier this year I was having lunch with two of my Leadership Atlanta classmates, wearing my ‘It’s a Warnock Life’ t-shirt, when we decided to try to FaceTime the senator. And wouldn’t you know it, he picked up.
After blowing the mind of our waiter - “say hi to Raphael Warnock!” - he shared with us that he was in fact in Georgia at the moment and would have loved to join us for lunch, but he was in another part of the state. And then he said, probably with zero expectations that we’d take him up on it, “But you guys should come and visit me in DC at some point!”
If he thought this group of over-achievers wasn’t going to jump on that chance, then he was sorely mistaken. Lauren Kiefer immediately started working with his team to set it up, and many months later, we were on our way to DC.
One of my favorite days of all time
And so it was that last Tuesday, myself and my two classmates flew to Washington, DC, to have dinner with Raphael and then shadow him at the Capitol the next day. We spent the day following him from meeting to meeting, and I now have a new appreciation for how stressful and important a senator’s role is.
I will let the pictures below tell the story, but I’ll share a few things that weren’t captured:
Randomly, I had a chance to meet Jon Ossoff, and he was really engaging and thoughtful in our conversation. Seems like a super nice guy.
We were able to eat in the “Senators Cafeteria”. You have to be with a Senator to get in, and while we ate there were probably ten other senators in there. Pretty cool.
We went to a hearing where Raphael asked some questions, and (unfortunately) Ted Cruz asked questions right before him 🤮
After our time with Raphael, we spent the rest of the trip visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian. Both were INCREDIBLE.
And a few videos:
Following Raphael to his next meeting: https://photos.app.goo.gl/smpAHrrYt1zeeKVh8
Riding on the underground subway system for members of Congress to get from building to building: https://photos.app.goo.gl/TksztoqC1aB5FiX76
The Rotunda (LOVED this room): https://photos.app.goo.gl/SZ9VusdZGniLpE34A
I hope you’re happy,
I produce a podcast called, Begin the Begin. I hope you'll consider subscribing. Here are the latest episodes: