Brokaw: Bring Back Big Ideas

‘Big ideas unite us, small ideas divide us,’ Brokaw tells GAC attendees.

February 26, 2013
KEYWORDS brokaw , credit , ideas , philosophy
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

When U.S. troops returned from Europe and the South Pacific in the wake of World War II, Congress made a decision that would transform the nation for generations: It passed the GI Bill, which provided free college tuition to those who served during the world’s most devastating war.

“This gave us new industry and science that never stopped advancing,” journalist and author Tom Brokaw told GAC attendees Monday.

And when President John F. Kennedy took office, he issued a bold challenge: Go to the moon within a decade. That unleashed a torrent of investment and advancement in technology.

It’s time for another big idea.

“Big ideas unite us, small ideas divide us,” the 73-year-old icon said. “We’ve had a long run of small ideas lately. We need grand goals, not small steps.”

Brokaw blamed this small mindedness—and the constant anonymous, partisan prattle from online channels—for the gridlock that has gripped Washington.

“I’ve never seen the political system in such a state of instability in terms of getting things done. Our government ‘kicks the can down the road.’ What kind of philosophy is that? It used to be, ‘give me liberty or give me death.’ ”

Brokaw embraces credit union philosophy. Before taking the stage, he told CUNA staff he was excited to talk to credit unions because they’re community leaders.

And he offered advice for those unable to visit Capitol Hill: “Just watch the Kardashians—it’s the same thing.”

Brokaw said the next big ideas will revolve around women’s growing influence and technological advancements.

“Watch women change the world,” Brokaw said. “That’s a big idea.”

Brokaw unveiled a “Hail Mary” plan he believes could unite the nation and revive the allure of public service: Establish public service colleges with different disciplines, and send graduates into underserved communities.

He believes this would appeal to many in the millennial generation who have grander ambitions than a big paycheck.

“We need to knit ourselves together once again.”

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive