Lost in a Foreign Land

What Do the Beatles Have to Do with Any of This?

Imagine you are arriving in a new country where you do not know the language.  You wander around the airport for nearly an hour trying to find the best way to the central train station.  A nice person informs you there is a small train to the central station, but because you need cash you head to the nearest ATM.

“Why can’t I get cash out of the machine?”  A helpful stranger steps in and informs you the machine is out of order, directing you to one that works.  You decide to visit an out of the way destination.  You decipher the foreign schedule, make it to your new location, and “explore” this new exciting city.

Lockers are conveniently located relatively close to the station exit, but you need “change”, so you buy a drink at closest shop and store your luggage for the day.  After exploring the new locale, seeing new sights, meeting new people, taking pictures, and spending more than you expected, you head back to the station.  You reach the locker, insert the key and IT’S EMPTY!  (We’ll get back to this later)


There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play

The game

It’s easy

——  The Beatles    ——


Spending the last couple of days in Germany at our first (for my wife and myself) Rotary International Conference, we were reminded that the Beatles cut their teeth in the clubs of Hamburg before they ever cut their first album, and even before Ringo Starr joined the band.

The opening ceremony on Sunday was quite a show with young Rotoractors from around the world showing off the country flags, reminding us of the Olympics. Talented artists performed, and the Rotary community ushered in our new Rotary International president.

Personally, Jennifer and I were even more uplifted by the speakers on Monday morning.  With the theme of the day being Rotary Leadership around the world, we heard from the CEO of Deutche Telecom, Steve Farber, and others.  I gravitate toward these types of talks because they are inspiring, remind me what I need to be focused on, and if I learn one new thing, it just might make all the difference.

My top two takeaways from Rotary Leadership day were a renewed focus on Integrity and Love.

One of the early speakers of the day was Daniel Flynn.  If you are like me, you have probably never heard of him.  He is the co-founder of Thankyou™ , a company I personally have never heard of either.  So why was a 29 year-old Australian speaking to 20,000 plus business leaders from around the world?

He started this little company that sold bottled water approximately 10 years ago with his then girlfriend.  They called it Thankyou™.  While still in college, they had a mission to help the malnourished poor.  All profits from the company are used to provide safe access to clean water, health care, and sanitation programs around the world.

So how were they able to compete against the better staffed, better funded companies?  They were unable to get stores to stock their product without paying a kickback to the buying agent and didn’t want to compromise their values.  What did they do?  They ambushed the public and retailers with their message and mission to bring sanitation and health care to the world’s under-privileged, and the message went viral.


They were promoting an honorable mission with a radical, untested marketing plan and were making a difference, but their intentions came under attack.  Every little thing they did was scrutinized and tested.  Reporters came out of the woodwork trying to prove that they were only trying to take advantage of the public’s giving nature, but they stood by their mission and remained firm.


A person of integrity expects to be believed and when they are not, they let time prove them right. 


This is what Daniel’s father told him and he remained firm in spite of public scrutiny.  I’m sure all of us can remember a time when our integrity was called into question by people in authority, reporters or others we previously thought were on our side.  The answer again is to hold fast to your values.

The best way to adhere to your values is to know them by heart and internalize them like all Rotarians live by the Four Way Test:

Our Rotary Breakfast Club added an additional Fifth Test of “Is it Fun?” and I think it is a good one.


So, what about Love, the Beatles and our lost luggage?  I’ve been writing too long, and our Germany trip is not over yet.  Feel free to tune in next month.   By the way, in case you were wondering,  Daniel Flynn and his co-founder and former girlfriend are now happily married.

Joe D. Franklin, CFP is Founder and President of Franklin Wealth Management, and CEO of Innovative Advisory Partners, a registered investment advisory firm in Hixson, Tennessee. A 20+year industry veteran, he contributes guest articles for Money Magazine and authors the Franklin Backstage Pass blog.  Joe has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Magazine, USA Today and other publications.


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