Stop Listen and Learn (as seen on www.herrochester.com)
Last week I attended the Global Leadership Summit of the Young Presidents’ Organization in Denver, Colorado. I was in attendance both as an education resource and as a spouse to my husband, who while no longer young is still a member of the organization (he joined when he was actually young).The organization’s mission is better leaders through education and idea exchange. It was started 60 years ago here in Rochester, New York by Ray Hickock and now boasts over 17,000 members world-wide.
Each year the members gather together for a variety of events, locally and internationally, the largest of which is the Summit. In the past speakers have included Desmond TuTu, (then) Senator Barack Obama, and Wyclef Jean. This year the line-up included John Legend, an advocate for education reform, Julian Assange of Wiki-leaks (by satellite, under house arrest) and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
You may have heard in the news how George W. Bush was supposed to speak but decided not to once he learned of Assange’s presence. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/25/ap/business/main20036560.shtml Instead, as a last minute replacement (and frankly I think he was great), Tom Brokaw came and spoke with great clarity, perspective, and gravity about our world today and what is expected of each of us as citizens of the world.
Despite the high profile story of the Bush/Assange show down, the speakers that moved me and helped me gain perspective on the world in the way I never expected were speakers I’d never heard of before. Rose Mapendo, survived the Congolese death camps to come to America and tell her story and move us to tears and hopefully action. www.mapendonew horizons.org; Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey, PhD. is a brave explorer and anthropologist who may do for a generation of young women what Margaret Mead did – inspire them to the adventure of learning about the world around us. www.kahanapono.tripod.com.Three stories of young commercial and social entrepreneurs, including Brandon Beck who sold www.riotgrames.com, his gaming company for $400 million; Talia Leman who has raised 10’s of millions of dollars for charity through www.randomkid.org; and 9 year old Joshua Williams whose charity Josh’s Heart www.joshsheart.org has given away over 300,000 lbs of food to those in need. I was both fascinated and moved by Muslim writer Irshad Manji, who seeks to create peace through understanding www.irshadmanji.com. She surprised the crowd by donating her speaking fee to speaker RoseMapendo, and then she was equally surprised when she was offered an open-ended, non-reversible invitation to speak in Jordan by a YPO’er. Two incredibly spontaneous and true moments.
And finally, I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion with three of Glamour Magazine’s top college women to watch, including Michele Pomeroy, a women’s advocate, Mackenzie Lowry, an anti-tobacco activist, and Erica Fletcher, a socio-documentarian. Amazing young women who make a difference with great humility and heart.
These are inspirational speakers you’ve never heard of and yet they move the world every time they open their mouth to speak.It isn’t often that I take the time to let information wash over me, carry me away, and move me to tears. Too often I’m running around, working to create the information, or disseminating information through my writing or my training and consulting work. What a gift to stop, listen, and learn. I recommend it highly for everyone – at least once a year….for an hour, a day, and if you can swing it even longer. You’ll be glad you did – you never know how you will be inspired.