Orlando copy“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This weekend, a stain was left on the fabric of our nation with the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history happening in Orlando. I live and work in Orlando. My companies and teams are based out of this great city. When I learned of what happened early on Sunday morning, I could not understand or believe what had occurred; a feeling I believe I shared with millions.

As the moments of the day progressed, I thought of my family, friends and my work team. My assistant, a senior executive and I personally reached out to everyone to make sure they were safe.

A Moment of Pause

Inevitably, my mind wandered to Monday. The first business day after this tragedy in Orlando. I spent Sunday canceling meetings and events, including with people that were flying into Orlando from other places. This was a time to pause. I knew the first day back to work would be a time to gather my team and put the work to the side for a little bit and make sure we were together.

At the end of the day, we are all human. And this inhumane act of violence can only be conquered with humanity and compassion.

I know that after an event like this, it is important to try to keep as much routine as possible. As the CEO of my company, I struggled yesterday and even today with what I would say to my team members. What can a leader possibly say after a tragedy like this? What words can express the sorrow, and even anger, about this senseless violence?

There Are No Words

I barely slept as I struggled with how I would set the tone for who we are as a company and as people on the first day back to work. On this day, words fail me. But, as I have thought about it more, I think that’s okay.

I have been reminded that leaders do not have the “right” answers all of the time. And, even in moments of great sadness, sometimes the words that come out are not the stirring oratory of a Churchill or Martin Luther King, Jr. Sometimes the sentences are simple words strung together to express feelings that come from the heart. Words and sentences that quietly and honestly convey that we all share in a collective sorrow after this unspeakable crime.

I know members of my team knew people who were at Pulse early Sunday morning. And I think that this is how I would like to close this open letter to my team. I want to honor the people who were at Pulse that night. I want to honor their family and friends. I want to honor the LGBT community. Hate and intolerance do not ever win. Love, peace and acceptance win.

Barbara Poma, Pulse Owner

These are the words you’ll find today on the site of Pulse from the owner of the club, and with these words, I close this open letter to my team:

Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today. Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you. – Barbara Poma, Owner, Pulse

For peace, for love and acceptance.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)


© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.