A Way Forward

Say what you will about Bill Clinton (and there is much that can be said), the Clinton Global Initiative is bringing people and ideas together in ways that few other organizations are – or even attempting.

The theme for this year’s CGI gathering (September 30) was “Mobilizing for Impact.”  For the opening discussion of this theme, President Clinton convened an international panel of influential leaders from the business, political, and non-profit worlds: Bono (U2; ONE Campaign); Khalida Brohi (Sughar Empowerment Society); Mohamed Ibrahim (Mo Ibrahim Foundation); Christine Lagarde (International Monetary Fund); and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook).

I watched the live webcast of this panel discussion and was humbled by the scope and scale of the world’s problems being discussed; but I was also so very inspired by the  initiatives these intelligent, articulate, and courageous folks are launching against those problems.  All of them are mobilizing ordinary people and most definitely having an impact.

Sadly, in the days immediately following the panel’s broadcast, the discussion was overshadowed by Bono’s hilarious, impromptu impersonation of Bill Clinton prior to the discussion.  For months, that’s the only video of the panel I could find.  Yesterday, I finally found the actual panel buried in a YouTube upload from Laureate International Universities.  I’ve edited that video down from 2+ hours to just under 57 minutes and present it here in hopes that others might discover it.   Even if you just listen to the audio while you’re doing other things, I encourage you to listen (if not watch).  Here are a few of my favorite insights:

“Six thousand people dying every day of preventable disease isn’t a cause, it’s an emergency.” – Bono

“You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t give alms to the poor [with one hand] and have [your other hand] around their throats.” – Bono

“If you want people to be free of corruption, they have to have capacity.  If your government [national, local, or institutional] doesn’t have capacity, you’re a sitting duck for corruption.” – Bill Clinton

“We realized our approach was wrong. We were standing against people’s values, something they had believed for centuries. We had to change course and go to them in a way that promoted and respected what they believed – and in that tell them, ‘here are some things we need to talk about, some things we need to let go.’ ” – Khalida Brohi

“Across all cultures, boys are taught to be leaders and girls are not. Girls are criticized for being ‘bossy.’  Boys never are.  That has to change.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

“It’s mostly [about] people [not money].” – Christine Lagarde

What I’ve distilled from this lengthy and wide-ranging conversation is a basic roadmap for the way out of the machine – regardless of what the specific problems or circumstances might be at any given time: converge -> connect -> collaborate -> innovate.  It’s going to become my basic template for just about everything in the new year.

I am also coming away with a reaffirmed belief that, whether you’re talking about a church committee meeting or an international political conference, one of the essential ingredients for progress and justice is daylight. We must insist on transparency in governance.

I’d love to hear what you come away with.

Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Opening Panel Discussion: Mobilizing for Impact

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