While the Gateway Arch is taken for granted today, it would likely not have been there at all had it not been for Luther Ely Smith. Mr. Smith had the idea to do a monument to the westward expansion as a way to revitalize St. Louis. He chaired the civic committee to promote it for 15 years, oversaw the design competition and donated large sums of his own money to see the project become a reality. From the 1930s when he first had the idea until his death in 1951, Smith was a champion for a larger cause that he would never live to see.

His contribution was recently recognized by the naming of the new green space that leads up to the Arch as the Luther Ely Smith Square. I am glad that his efforts were not forgotten or his contributions lost over time.

Smith was a “self-proclaimed do-gooder.” What a great label to give yourself!

He left a legacy of improvements all throughout the city that have lived on for decades after his passing. How can you become a self-proclaimed do-gooder starting today? Even if your dreams aren’t as lofty as Smith’s the world can benefit from your efforts.

Luther Ely Smith Square
Luther Ely Smith Square


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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