Let Me Be Frank With You
By Frank Breeden, President of the Gospel Music Association, GMA Today Fall 2000 Issue

In 1956, a film entitled The Silent World premiered in New York City starring Frederic Duman, Albert Falco and Jacques-Yves Cousteau. This documentary account of an expedition below the sea's surface by Captain Cousteau won an Academy award. More importantly, it opened up a whole new undersea world to a 10-year-old David Doubilet (DOO-bill-ay) who was in attendance with his uncle and cousin that evening. Doubilet watched with bulging eyes as he discovered the undersea world through Cousteau's cameras that night in 1956.

When Cousteau died on June 25, 1997, at the age of 87, National Public Radio's All Things Considered interviewed Doubilet for some comments on his lifelong hero(1). That 1956 premiere proved to have a profound impact upon young David Doubilet's life. Upon Cousteau's death some forty years later, NPR wanted the world to hear why.

After the 1956 film premiere was over, the 10-year-old David found his way to Jacques Cousteau and with knees knocking, exclaimed, "Oh, Captain Cousteau, I want to be an underwater photographer!" In the 1997 All Things Considered interview, Doubilet recounts that the famous French-speaking captain looked down at him and simply said, "Why not?"

What certainly must have seemed like an inconsequential statement in Cousteau's mind would, according to Doubilet, "basically set the course for my life." Over the next forty years, Doubilet spent three hours a day, one hundred days a year under the surface of the sea and worked with the National Geographic Society on more than 50 undersea documentaries. He, himself became one of the world's premiere underwater photographers-all because of a two-word response from Captain Cousteau.

Much talk has surfaced lately about the future of our industry - in all sectors - as it relates to leadership. Many of the names that dominated our industry's headlines even ten years ago are, for one reason or another, no longer active among us. Their absence stands as a testimony that time is marching on and that the only constant here on earth is change.

Like never before, GMA is seeking ways to reach out to develop tomorrow's leaders. The acquisition of Seminar in the Rockies was a strategic move to help increase our efforts to develop new talent. Our new full-time college student membership is an effort to enfold younger leaders into the life of our community. Our Academy on Campus launch this year will seek to strengthen our partnership with Christian higher education. Plans are being made for some type of GMA-sponsored "Job Fair," perhaps at GM Week 2001.

As valuable as these efforts will be, they cannot replace the personal influence each of us has on the young people in our lives. Of all the things we are to be good stewards of, nothing is as important as being a steward of our influence. As we enter another "back-to-school" season, let's be on the lookout for tomorrow's leaders who can lead our efforts in ministry, artistry and industry.

Most importantly, we should all take great care in how we respond to ten-year-olds when they talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Our response could change the course of history!


(1)To listen to the All Things Considered interview with David Doubilet, visit npr.org on the Internet. In the "Select A Program" toolbar, choose "All Things Considered". Then click on "archives" and choose June 1997 and select the 25th in the new window. Scroll down until you see "Cousteau Obit". You'll need RealPlayer to hear the 4-minute interview. Direct Link

Reprinted from GMA Today, courtesy of Frank Breeden and the Gospel Music Association