A Diplomat for Cleveland
An inspiring conversation with Ronn Richard for Inside Business magazine introduced a crop of resolutions for Cleveland.
Richard is president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation, the third largest community foundation in the country with more than $1.8 billion in assets. Before taking the helm at the foundation, he was a diplomat, a leader in research and development at Panasonic, and COO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital fund sponsored by the CIA. Richard’s track record as a leader, intellectual and change-maker positions him as an ideal quarterback for helping to push an innovation agenda for Cleveland. Want proof? Look no further than the wind turbines in front of the Science Center. You can expect to see more alternative approaches that capitalize off of Cleveland’s natural strengths.
Richard is just the person to pull off change. Perhaps this is because he is different – he thinks like a R&D guy, he conducts business like a diplomat.
For example, prior to our interview, we exchanged business cards. Richard presented his carefully with both hands; he studied mine for a second before placing it neatly on the conference table within view. He treated each wallet-sized rectangle of card stock like a gift. Such ceremonial exchanges are business etiquette in Japan. I was tutored on these practices before traveling there several years ago. Do not write on the back of the card. Do not stick the card in your pocket. Do not put the card away without reading it in front of the presenter. Accept the card, nod, read, and express silent thanks. Before taking the job at the Foundation, Richard was a diplomat in Japan. I was not surprised to learn this.
About Richard, I wrote: A conversation with Richard is an intellectual one. His words are gentle, but pronounced with a sense of urgency. Statements unfold gracefully as stories – always with a lesson for Cleveland..
I think we can learn a lot from Richard – we already are.