Congratulations, you've succeeded at the first third of your life. How are you going to succeed in the next third? - David Rubenstein
If you read any of my posts over the last week you may have noticed a few interesting checkins and comments from well know places and people. I was incredibly fortunate to be an invited delegate to the Academy of Achievement summit in Washington, DC. It was a singularly unique opportunity to dine with US Supreme Court Justices, a personal tour of the capitol building from members of congress, and generally inspired by intelligence, capability and surprising humility of the world's most accomplished people.
The Academy of Achievement is an organization celebrating its 50th anniversary connecting and recognizing individuals that have undoubtedly achieved renown. Nobel laureates, public heads of state, Pulitzer prize authors, and numerous other world changing leaders of our time. Once a year they gather to induct a new class of honorees who then share their experience and insights to the next generation of leaders and changers, or as they referred to us "troublemakers". The class ranged from well-respected leaders such as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Congressman Edward Markey, and Judge Sonia Sotomayor to innovative creators such as Sal Khan, Nobel Laureates Roger Tisen and Adam Riess.
There were extremely impressive colleagues in the delegates as well. You can read about Khaled's work providing communications to the rebels in the overthrow of Gaddafi. Bassem Bouguerra left his engineering job at Yahoo to rebuild Tunisia; Humairai Wakili built an NGO to incubate women-owned companies in Nablis, Palestine; and Josh Nesbit's use of mobile phones to dramatically alter access and capabilities for medical support around the world are just a few examples of the delegates who are so impressive they challenge you to evaluate what is worth working on.
Held this year in DC, the entire summit was shaped by the current US politics and pending elections. Regardless of the of the ideology of the speaker, nearly everyone shared their frustration and concern about the deep divide by the US leadership. Yet despite this current concern there is admiration of what "America" is - more than a country or set of single laws, but of an idea that is permeating more of the world each day and particularly by the people that are currently shaping their own countries.
The Academy of Achievement publishes the talks online through iTunesU and on their website. Over the four days of intense discussions I've had many new inspirations and reflections that I will be writing about more.
Any event that ends dancing with Aretha Franklin, Colin Powell and others is undoubtedly an amazing experience.