Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bill Gates and all things Rotary

Bill Gates was greeted with a resounding cheer and a standing ovation as he entered the plenary session Tuesday at the Rotary International Convention.   I sat in the front section of the huge hall with approximately 17,000 Rotary family members as he described himself as an "impatient optimist." As he spoke of Rotary's "service above self" commitment to eradicating polio since 1985 Rotary,  leading the world community in stopping this horrible crippling disease that preys on children, he began to get visibly teary and his voice choked up.  I jotted down his words verbatim:
"I am 100% convinced that this fight is winnable."
"Failure in this fight is unacceptable."
"We have 99% success.  Why stop there?  We never have before!"
Leading with his pocketbook, his philanthropy to stop polio by investing in efforts of Rotarians speaks to his trust in the 1/2 million members worldwide to get the job done.   It also reinforces the repeated public message that while there are plenty of organizations that would truly benefit from the $355 Million matching grant, he and his wife Melinda have chosen Rotary and this cause to be their foundation's number one passion. 


Other great take-home quotes from the convention
On reflection of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: "We don't conquer mountains, we conquer ourselves." 

A mom after seeing her child's cleft palate repaired: "I always thought my child was beautiful, but now everyone else will see what I see."

Incoming President's Challenge:
Be flexible, Be firm to your values. You can be wrong--say I'm sorry.  Enjoy.  Take time to write personal letters.  (Mr. #1532 we have a personal interest in you"  HA)   Keep an attitude of gratitude.
Be humble...A fruit tree without fruit stand upright and strong and useless. 
A tree that bears fruit is bent over. 

It's not about who gets credit but what gets done.

"To achieve great things, you need two things:  1) a plan 2) not quite enough time."  (attributed to Leonard Bernstein)

"One day you may  need to borrow a helicopter...I did.  You don't know who you are sitting next to and how we may need each other someday. "   
--Rotary Peace Fellow

My take home message:
We may be ordinary individuals but we are called to do extraordinary things.