Let me start by admitting I'm not the most worldly person. I'm of average intelligence. I'm not extremely well read, nor am I in tune with all the problems facing the world. I do however try to expose myself to events and experiences I can learn and grow from mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I'm fortunate to have a job that allows me to get to do that and it’s only because of my job I got to attend Clinton Global Initiative University 2013 held at Washington University this past weekend.
For more on what CGIU is, check this out... http://www.cgiu.org/about/
Truth be told (perhaps embarrassingly so) I didn't even know CGIU was going on in St.Louis until I got to work Friday morning and reported on it for News 4 This Morning. It sounded really interesting, so I applied for a media credential. I was surprised to find out I was approved, especially on such short notice.
Though I was excited, I considered not going. I'll get to why in a minute. The main event Friday night was a discussion moderated by former President Bill Clinton and featured Twitter founder and St.Louis native Jack Dorsey, designer Kenneth Cole, inventor and writer William Kamkwamba, and Women for Women International founder Zainab Salbi.
I definitely wanted to hear what each person had to say, but by the time Friday at 6:30 PM rolls around I'm pretty much a zombie. The 2 AM alarms all week were starting to catch up with me and sitting through a two hour discussion on even the most interesting topics sounded like the perfect mixture for an ill timed snooze.
Anyway, I went and I'm so glad I did. To give you the blow by blow of the discussion, here are some of my Tweets in order of how things went. Fitting too, because Jack Dorsey was the one I was really interested in hearing from. Twitter has become such a big part of my professional and personal life. Here are the Tweets.
"75 countries, all 50 states represented here," -Wash U chancellor Mark Wrighton. @ClintonGlobal #CGIU 2013 #WashU
@jack on dealing with failure: "Every single day is a roller coaster, but that's why we do what we do," #cgiu
"I think we need to create a culture where failure is OK, as long as its not a product of laziness." -Bill Clinton #cgiu
"If you're broken by defeat, you're giving someone else the opportunity to define your worth," -Bill Clinton #cgiu
One word to define himself, @jack says why. "It's the thing that drives me. Easiest thing to ask, hardest thing to answer." #cgiu
As you might imagine, a lot more was said, but I guess what really resonated with me about the above comments was these wildly successful people talking about a topic we can all relate to: failure.
We might not be able to know what it's like to invent and profit from something like Twitter or be President of the United States, but we've all failed and will fail again. They have too, but it doesn't define them, it motivates and drives them.
I also attended Saturday's CGIU session with Comedy Central's Steven Colbert. It was more entertaining than enlightening, and I admit my attention was focused on the NCAA Tournament games that were getting ready to tip-off (see, I told you I wasn't very worldly). A portion of the Clinton/Colbert session will air Monday, April 8th on The Colbert Report.
To sum it all up, it was a great experience I'm happy I opened myself up to. It was a little intimidating knowing I was likely in the lowest IQ percentile in the entire gym, but if I don't go, I don't grow. It was a good reminder that everyone fails and sometimes you have to take a step back for every two forward as you climb the ladder in this world.
Thanks for reading. -Mike
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