Grit and Grace on the World Stage

Adnan Zai
5 min readDec 16, 2022

In a year that has seen many twists and turns, one unfortunate constant throughout most of the year has been the war in Ukraine. This David and Goliath story continues to fascinate the attention of the world, especially since Goliath refuses to capitulate to the Russian war machine. The reason? The indomitable spirit and unmistakable charisma of one man: Vlodoymyr Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy has held his country together with a dichotomy of grace and grit for nearly a year. As a result, Time Magazine has named Zelenskyy its coveted Person of the Year for 2022. Along with the man himself, Time also gave a nod to the courageous spirit of Ukrainians, both in the country and around the world.

A Man Moving in the Right Direction

For a country besieged by war, Zelenskyy’s invincible spirit is a beacon to his people, as well as Ukrainians and supporters around the world. “Whether one looks at this story of Ukraine with a sense of hope or a sense of fear, and the story is, of course, not fully written yet … Zelenskyy has really galvanized the world in a way we haven’t seen in decades,” Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal said when explaining why he was chosen this year for the honors.

The cover itself depicts Zelenskyy in his trademark army-green sweater, with a ring of individual figures and a throng of protestors surrounding him. Along with the people are a host of sunflowers, as well as Ukrainian flags. According to the editor, the decision was ““the most clear-cut in memory”.

“In a world that had come to be defined by its divisiveness, there was a coming together around this cause, around this country,” Felsenthal wrote. Time Magazine says that it was Zelenskyy’s clearcut refusal to evacuate when Russia invaded in February, as well as his willingness to visit the frontlines of his country, that have thrust him into the spotlight yet again as Person of the Year.

And in fact, being in the spotlight around the globe is one of his strategic plans when it comes to keeping his people safe. “If we fall out of focus, we are in danger,” Andiry Yermak, his chief of staff, said. To this end, Zelenskyy has been the voice of Ukraine to the rest of the world, begging NATO and countries such as the United States to come to their aid against Russia.

Adnan Zai

As an Advisor-In-Residence, Adnan particularly focuses on strategy, deal pipeline, and structuring.