From the desk of Jayne Battey

My nephew, Matt Balassone, saved a man’s life this past week. Actually, he may have saved the lives of three men—the one unconscious in the water and the two who went in to try and rescue him in Charleston Harbor. If it weren’t for Matt’s decisive action and clear thinking, the outcome could have been very bad for everyone involved.

Since last year, Matt’s been a captain with the Charleston Water Taxi. Last weekend, in one of his first trips of the season, he responded to a Man-Overboard distress call. The video, taken by a passenger on the water taxi (and now viral on Facebook), tells the rest of the story. But as I watch this video, I can’t help but be struck by the strong and compassionate leadership qualities Matt displayed at every single moment of the crisis.

Here’s the thing: We talk a lot about compassionate management and leadership in the business world—particularly in Silicon Valley. We talk about wisdom, and compassion, and leadership and mindfulness. We talk about thinking from the perspective of “we” and of being a servant leader.

But I wonder how many of us go to work each day and think about our role in a community of people the way Matt does. Because what I see in Matt is the kind of compassionate and mindful leadership that comes from both great instinct, as well as great training. Watch the video of Captain Matt and you’ll see someone who is taking responsibility, being accountable, giving clear direction, asking for and accepting help, calmly and clearly staying focused on his goal, and at all times taking care of everyone around him (“Stay with him. Stay with him”).

Are you ready to lead like that? Are you training your people to lead like that? The world could use more of that kind of leadership, so I hope so.

Matt, nice job. Thanks for all you’ve done, and for the reminder of what compassionate leadership looks like in action. I can only hope we all meet your standard of excellence. With my respect, love and admiration. Aunt Jayne


Matt Balassone is 30 years old and lives in Charleston with his wife Ashley and 3 beautiful daughters. My sister and her husband, Nanci and Mike Balassone, are very proud parents who always, always believed their wild boy would grow into an amazing man. They were right.