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A Sense of Belonging, the Cheers Bar and Momentum

“Sometimes you wanna go  

Where everybody knows your name  

And they're always glad you came  

You wanna be where you can see (ah-ah)  

Our troubles are all the same (ah-ah)  

You wanna be where everybody knows your name!”  


I am lucky to be in Boston at MIT Endicott House for the EMP (Entrepreneurial Master Program) this week. It’s a three-year program, and we are 60 business owners from all over the world who will go on this journey together. It’s exciting, there’s incredible learning to be had… but the biggest reason I decided to invest in this experience is the tribe.  


I have spoken to a few people who have done this program. And what I gathered from our conversations was that it was transformational in terms of business, but more importantly, that they made friends and connections that were on the next level. It really becomes your tribe, I gather. And that’s exciting, isn’t it?  


We all love to feel like we belong. It’s human nature to want to have a home, to want to feel like you belong, to feel like there are others who share your struggle and your wins and your shared history.   


It’s fitting that the program is set in Boston. Boston is also the setting for a show that carried me through high school - Cheers. This legendary sitcom had a simple premise: The people you spend the most time with become your family. The oddball family that were the barflies at Cheers became like an extended family for me and a generation of outsiders. Because they were odd. Woody was dumb but lovable, Sam was an incorrigible man-child, Cliff the insufferable know-it-all, Frazier the pompous intellectual, Carla the sarcastic but endearing everygirl… and Norm. Norm, the lovable, witty, popular everyman. The guy who walks into the bar and everyone shouts his name in affectionate greeting.   

And maybe that’s it. Like Friends who succeeded this show, everyone can see a little bit of themselves in each of the characters. And, I think, regardless of who we identify with (for me it’s probably Frazier or Cliff), we would all like to be a little more like Norm. If we ever managed to get over our own insecurity, ambition and discontent. Because for Norm, life is not too bothersome. He is happy with what he has, and doesn’t sweat what he hasn’t…  and he has a place where everyone knows his name, and they’re always glad he came.    


This week, in Boston, I’ll make a point of sneaking into the Cheers Bar, and relive a little bit of those memories.  


Speaking of which, voices from the past are often very cool, and useful. Here’s a little teaser of a possible ending to my new book, the Bomb Squad OS…  


The Coach took a moment to get his bearings. There had been so much going on, he didn’t quite know what to make of the rugby pitch and the alien landscape that surrounded it. The light was also strange, a dreamy combination of green and gold colours swirling in the sky.   


He heard a voice behind him.  


“I was also a bit taken aback the first time I came here,” said a voice he immediately recognized.  


He spun around and sputtered: “It’s you. But you’re… you’re…”  


“Long gone. I know,” smiled the tall, friendly man. “I had a good innings though. And that’s why I’m here. Back then, smart men that came before helped me. Now I’m here to return the favour.”  


The Coach took a deep breath and regained his composure. “What do I call you?”  


“Call me Rassie,” said the other man. “Now let’s take a walk.”  


The Coach fell into step next to the tall legend. After a moment of walking, their footsteps crunching on the dewy grass, The Coach said, “Well I’m glad you’re here. Things are a right mess.”  


Rassie smiled an encouraging smile. “Go on.”  


“The team has been terrible for years. We even lost to Georgia the other day, the first time in our history. And we haven’t been able to beat the English since… well, since before you passed.”  


The other man nodded. “Yes, it’s been hard to see. Funny how these days it is the English, not the All Blacks, that are on top.”  


“Oh, we lose against them too,” muttered The Coach. “But at least with them, it’s a level playing field in terms of resources. What we can’t do is compete with the money these rich countries have… they just buy all our players when they’re young, and we keep on playing catch-up.”  


“This was the same in my time,” said Rassie. “So what are you going to do, Coach?”  


“It’s a big job. We are bleeding sponsors, which means we lose more resources, which means we lose more players. It’s a vicious circle, and I don’t know how to stop it.”  


Rassie stopped dead in his tracks and turned to the Coach. “I’ve been there,” he said. “Do you want me to tell you what I did?”  


The Coach nodded. “Please. There’s so much to do, I don’t know where to start…”  


The legend had a simple answer. “You start at the beginning. They need to care about each other and care about the goal. Start with that.”  




Rassie looked into the distance. “The first thing you do is get everyone to focus on the #1 Thing…”  


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