Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Cool


I'm really trying to stay focused on the topic of Making a Difference and serving the public in these blog posts and I'm sure I could do that with this most recent experience. But really it's just cool.
Tonight, as part of the Clinton Public Speakers Series, I listened to Taylor Branch speak about his new book "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President". That was cool because the book is about private interviews and conversations between Mr. Branch and President Clinton that no one has record of except, Mr. Branch and President Clinton.
Also in the audience listening was none other than Kevin Johnson (standing to my left), former NBA star and current Mayor of Sacramento. After Mr. Branch's speech I got to meet the guy who I spent hours watching and loving to hate because he was so good at slicing thru the San Antonio Spurs defense. He was cool enough to take a picture with me and my classmates Ivan(ley) and Mahmoud.
Awesome night!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lance Armstrong was lucky

Until I can watch the video of the speech that I had the good fortune to see live a couple of days ago I won't be able to directly quote Doug Ulman, president and CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. However, I'm pretty sure at one point in one of the best speeches I've ever heard Mr. Ulman said Lance Armstrong was lucky to get cancer. Ulman went on to say that cancer gave Lance a purpose into which his good intentions could be focused. Lance has used his celebrity to benefit millions through cancer research and awareness.
As powerful as those statements were, the part I really want to listen to again is what came next in the speech. If I remember correctly (which if you know me is a really big IF), he said there are plenty of other celebrities who likewise want to use their status to do good, but don't know which issue to focus on. They have a lot of passion and desire to make a difference, but aren't sure where to start.
That sentiment hit home for me for two reasons:
One, it's true for me. I'm here at the Clinton School trying to decide how to use my gifts and talents for the benefit of all and I have no clear idea how to do that. I, and several of my classmates, are searching aimlessly through thousands of potential NGOs and non-profits as we try to decide where to conduct our International Public Service Projects. Lacking a clear direction, almost all of the organizations look very worthy and somehow not quite right simultaneously.
Two, more significantly, I believe it's true for most, if not all other people. People would use their energy to benefit others if they could just find a starting point they deeply believed in. How to help others find that starting point is a question that continually nags at me.

While I continue to ponder it, I'd strongly recommend we both go back and take a look at the speech will be posted here within a week.