At seven years old, Vera Pistrak crossed the Pyrenees on foot, fleeing Hitler's Nazis. After her family landed in the U.S., Pistrak started her political career by licking stamps for Robert Kennedy's 1968 Presidential campaign. She later was elected Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, and held that post for a record three terms.
Then as Portland's Mayor, Vera Katz (nee Pistrak) transformed her sleepy port and lumber town into a liberal bastion of visionary urban planning. She revitalized the Pearl District, established Portland's streetcar system, and pushed environmentalism, which attracted like-minded people and businesses. The city's mandate was "Keep Portland Weird" which contributed to it becoming one of America's most popular cities. Katz did it all with humor and working through consensus. She passed away last week at 84.
At times, we all take ourselves too seriously-- especially when it comes to public speaking. But without the persuasive qualities of joy, humor, and passion, we can lose our ability to connect. Like Vera, let's approach our presentations with high commitment, but always include what we enjoy about our subject. May we all be more weird and genuine in 2018.