Today we are mourning the death of Colin Powell, a man who embodied the qualities of great leadership: confidence, courage, experience, expertise and calmness under fire.

“Mr. Powell was a path breaker serving as the country’s first African American national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state,” wrote Eric Schmitt in today’s edition of The New York Times. “Born in Harlem of Jamaican parents, Mr. Powell grew up in the South Bronx and graduated from City College of New York, joining the Army through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. From a young second lieutenant commissioned in the dawn of a newly desegregated Army, Mr. Powell served two decorated combat tours in Vietnam. He later (served as) national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan at the end of the Cold War, helping to negotiate arms treaties and an era of cooperation with the Soviet president, Mikhail S. Gorbachev.”

From my perspective, Colin Powell was an ideal role model for modern executive leadership. He played his cards close to the vest, yet he wasn’t afraid to show empathy and genuine display affection. He inspired both loyalty and admiration, even under the most stressful circumstances.

As technology executives and leaders, there are many valuable lessons we can learn from his life and his achievements. First and foremost is never give up, even when the odds are formidable. I think that Colin Powell’s enduring legacy will be his indomitable presence and sense of purpose. In other words, he was much more than a strong executive – he was a trusted and courageous leader who elevated and inspired the people around him. He radiated a sense of stillness that comes from deep confidence and true experience. His calm demeanor was certainly one of his greatest traits. He was a patriot, a public servant and a beacon of hope for many Americans. We will miss him deeply.

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