Today was the private opening of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Visitors Center and in honor of this, they didn’t have the standard ribbon cutting attended by a a pile of beaurocrats, but rather they brought in a small, select group of individual innovators and the donors who fund them. I am very proud to say that I was among this group of about 75 people.
Our day began with a networking breakfast and then launched into an Innovator’s Forum with innovators – bothe local and global, to share with us about their journeys, how they chose their paths, or more often how their path seemed unavoidable for them. I resonated deeply with this. They also shared about their failures, learnings along the way and the difference their work is making in the world. I was inspired and challenged. One paradox that struck me was that we are moving more and more to a world of free information, and I am in support of this. And there is a breaking down of the walls, moving away from the guild of “experts”, finding greater power in the democratization of ideas. However, at the same time, how do you get your idea on the world’s radar if you do not present yourself as an “expert” that others will want to listen to, and thus be interested in taking up a solution that I have found? There was no simple answer, and this resonated deeply with others.
In the midst of our forum, President Jimmy Carter came through to personally greet us and share a few stories! This was fabulous and it gave me some insider information that I used during the evenings reception to tease Bill Gates Sr about.
The day ended with a private evening reception, this as a sneak peek into the new Bill & Melinda Gates Visitors Center. The evening was opened by Melinda Gates and shared in by all the foundation staff and those of us who were participants in the day’s Forum. HHI’s long time board member and advisor, Karol Brown, joined me as we indulged in a night of even more learning, sharing and networking.
Dear Gates Foundation team, Mr. & Mrs. Gates and President Carter – THANK YOU! You just gave me a day I will never forget!
See a few more pics from the evening – click here.