We spent a couple of years at Woolverstone, sailing across the N. Sea to Belgium and the Netherlands. We enjoyed our times in both those countries – the people are very friendly, and the food in Belgium was fantastic. But while we enjoyed the countryside, we missed the conveniences of cities, and so we returned to Brighton Marina. The people in the harbor office and the docks greeted us like long lost friends and even gave us the same berth. The commutes to our offices were shorter, and we enjoyed Brighton. When we were not sailing at the weekend, we’d walk from the Marina into the town center where there were some good shops and restaurants.
Editor’s Note: See Part 4 HERE
Kirk had stopped work by then, as he had a burning passion to write a book. This was before laptops, although there were “portable” computers – great heavy, clunking devices – but they worked, and he was able to work on his book on board. I was having some difficulties at work. I was the managing director of a division of a consulting organization, and I was passionate about strategy and strategic planning, but the leadership of the corporation had other ideas. In the end, Kirk and I did a management buyout so that I would be free to pursue the work and the clients we wanted; Kirk became the CFO, and all my division came with me. It was both hard work and great fun. Most of our work was strategic planning, and we used our social models to provide demand-led approaches, which became the hallmark of our strategic planning. But this buy-out and the responsibilities it created changed the direction of our future. Not only did we have less time to sail, but we had to give up, or at least postpone indefinitely, our plans for sailing around the world. That was too bad, but the fun and excitement we had with our colleagues and clients made up for it. We had some financial ups and downs as most people have with new business ventures, but it was rewarding to see our clients’ businesses thrive.
Then one day, and I have no real idea how it happened, I was contacted by some people at the Department of Defense. I did a lot of public speaking at conferences on strategy and futures, so that may be how they learned about me. I was asked to make two presentations at a major conference that the Joint Staff was holding on strategic planning. They wanted me to speak about scenario development for strategic planning, and on my social models. I came over to the U.S. to attend the conference, and that was the next major change of direction.
Shortly after returning to England, we had a call from the Chief of Naval Operations’ Strategic Studies Group, asking if they could come to visit us in London. Back in those days, they took a trip abroad to meet with different governments, policy institutes and more. Someone had heard my briefings at the National War College and thought we might have some interesting ideas. So, about a dozen people squashed into our tiny conference room for an afternoon. The director of the SSG asked whether we would be interested in running a futures workshop for them. Of course, we were! So a few months later, three of us went to Newport, RI to conduct the workshop. Gradually, I was invited to give more and more briefings and workshops to DOD. Then the big moment came when we were asked to conduct a major strategy project for one of the Services. Given all the time for preparation, the time to conduct the workshop, and the time to write up the report, all while working with the Service, we knew that I and my team of two would need to be in the U.S. for close to 3 months. We found an inexpensive, furnished apartment, and moved in. This was the first time I had been away from Kirk for more than a couple of days in our entire marriage, but he had to stay in London to keep the rest of the business going.
During this project, other people wanted to talk with me about projects. By the time our strategy project finished, I was fairly certain that another project was on the way. We had to make some decisions. I called Kirk and said that I would like to continue to rent the apartment for another 3 months at least. Our colleagues from England went back, with the understanding that they (and possibly others) would come out as needed. Kirk came out to see me and to discuss the situation and meet some of my new American colleagues, and we decided that he would go back to Brighton, pack up all our stuff and sell Kantele. I returned to England for a few days to visit my Mom and tell her the news, and to see Kantele for one last time. That was really the worst part. Kantele had been our home for almost 12 years, and unlike a house, she almost felt alive and a friend. I can still see myself in a business suit, raincoat and stockinged feet climbing over the rail and leaping to the finger pier, and then putting on my high heels, and patting Kantele on the bow before walking away down the pier with tears running down my cheeks.
Kirk packed up (he told me it was only 35 boxes, but when they arrived in Arlington, they had grown to 110!) He managed to sell Kantele, and we started our new life here, working for DOD. My British colleagues came over to work on projects – and they still do, 25 years on. We licensed our social models to them, and they have updated them, and we still use them. We have had and are continuing to have a fun and rewarding time here, and are still good friends with several members of that first SSG for which we worked.
But that’s not the end of the Kantele story…