The reason that I have been slow to post over the past week is because since last Wednesday I have been working with the Northwestern University Global Engagement Summit. There I had the pleasure of seeing the One Economy Corporation's Alec Ross deliver the opening keynote address. At the end of the week, I was doubly treated by seeing Christine Arnold of the Prevent Human Trafficking deliver the closing address. In their speeches, they offered plenty of advice by way of discussing the merits of embracing audacity, tenacity, and failure.
Ross, a graduate of Northwestern, went on to work for Teach For America in the mid-90s and would afterward start One Economy Corporation with the goal of bridging technological divisions that stand between the developed and developing world. Since then, the company has grown exponentially and millions of global citizens have benefited from their work. Similarly inspiring, Arnold, against many, many odds, started Prevent Human Trafficking and has worked effortlessly to bring attention to this issue.
As for the wisdom he had to share with the young audience, Ross claimed to have learned two things since graduating from the school almost a decade and a half ago. He first encouraged the delegates to hold onto the sense of audacity that comes with the electrified experience of being a college student. Then Ross encouraged the audience to be unafraid of failure. We learn from our failure, so it is best to not be repelled by it. And since there's not a whole lot to lose when we're around college age, we might as well just do it.
Arnold encouraged the importance of looking beyond the odds, asking for things believed to be out of reach, and looking into the darkness for occasional reminders that things aren't that bad. Mysterious gifts--sometimes in the form of the kindness of strangers and others as the donation of yachts--often await us when things seem like they're at their darkest.
Their words were excellent and tangible forms of inspiration for a young audience who had come from nearly 40 different countries to this one place to exchange ideas, ask thoughtful questions, and plan on how they would best put into action their plans to make their world a better place.