The Livingston Family just returned from a great week in Istanbul, Turkey. This ancient super-city on the Bosphorus is home to 14 million people. The history of Istanbul is almost unbelievable. The place just oozes old world charm. Yet, Istanbul and the entire country of Turkey have become economic dynamos in this modern era. The country is blessed with a young population. Industry is absolutely booming.
Known as the unofficial connection between Europe and Asia, the city was prized for its trade route status. The architecture is stunning. The cobblestone streets are full of character. I saw less of the city than I would have liked, but Debbie, the kids, and Mrs. Schieffer did some nice exploring while I was busy.
We were drawn to Istanbul by the YPO Global Leadership Conference (GLC) and Global Leadership Summit (GLS). We have been fortunate to see some wonderful places with our YPO friends. The business networking, leadership development, and education were fantastic. I had loads of meetings, but it was well worth it. YPO is an organization driven my member volunteers and the GLC is always our largest gathering.
More than 120 countries were represented by nearly 300 chapters and 2,500 members/spouses/partners. One highlight was the launch of the YPO-WPO Global Family Business Network. I am a past chair of GFBN and remain on the committee. Family business education is a passion of mine, and it is great to be part of GFBN’s growth.
Debbie and I got to see some neat places, including Topkapi Palace and Çırağan Palace. We also squeezed in several early morning runs, and one long run, a three-hour jaunt. Last Sunday, we ran 15 miles all over Istanbul and got to really connect with about a million people and thousands of cars. It was crazy. The traffic in this city is unreal. Debbie describes it as “a dance” between the pedestrians and the motorists. I call it insanity.
Running was difficult with so much congestion, but it worked out. I love seeing a new city on my feet. There is no better way. While I was in meetings, Debbie, the kids, and Mrs. Schieffer also visited the Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, New Mosque, a Turkish Bath, the Hippodrome, Galata Tower, a Turkish rug factory, and some Cisterns. They really took in the sights of the city.
They used all modes of transportation. They rode the funicular, the gondola, the tram, and the nostalgic tram. Of course, they walked a lot too. In many ways, using your feet is the most efficient way to navigate this crowded metropolis.
Another highlight of the conference was my short stint on CNBC to discuss the impact of the sequester on Horst Engineeering and the aerospace supply chain. We have a few customers in Turkey, where the aerospace business is strong. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time on this trip to leave the city, but I hope to return and see more of the country in the future.
We are happy to be home and even happier that it is March. Quite a bit of snow still remains in our yard in Bolton, Connecticut, but we went for a walk this afternoon and saw some new birds. That is a good sign. The YPO GLC is usually a turning point. We know that when we return from our annual trip, that there isn’t much winter left. Of course, last year, we came back from the trip to Singapore and Indonesia with suntan’s!
Now that swimming/biking/running season is around the corner, it is time to get in shape. The season kicks off, appropriately, in town next week at the Bolton Road Race. A week in Istanbul wasn’t the best preparation, but there we still have 10 months to go in 2013.