Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Last weekend I wanted to continue work on the remaining functional design documents I needed to complete. I had brought my laptop home which I needed to bring back anyway due to the pandemic alert. Starting this month, all of us are instructed to bring home our laptops in case a pandemic occurs. I had completed the first half of the documentation last Friday for the other team to begin their review and I sent it out before the weekend. I had planned to complete the other half for the other team working on the project. Throughout the weekend, I had an idea on how I should proceed and I was actually itching to start. I had difficulty sleeping Friday night and even last night thinking about this topic. I am under pressure to complete this design fast because the project is already delayed. Fortunately, I am not the only one because IBM has committed to deliver the environment next year which is a delay of 2-3 months.
Unfortunately, the Asian procrastination pattern has repeated itself. Although my present home is a bit bigger where there is privacy in certain areas, I still could not proceed as planned. I set my laptop at the dining table on Sunday morning so I could have something done by the afternoon. We had planned to go shopping in the afternoon so I hopped to have a draft completed by then. By I was distracted by the book I was reading ‘Clinton in Exile.’ A good book that talked about the work he has done after his presidency. I was attracted by his work on the “Clinton Global Initiative’ so I searched the Internet. I found their website and watched the videos on 2008 Asian CGI meeting with Lee Kwan Yew and Filipino business man Fernando Zobel de Ayala.
I also watched the 2009 CGI meeting in New York with Barack Obama as keynote speaker. It was an interesting event and opened my eyes to the type of work that is being done now to address world wide issues. The book mentions that it’s a better model of working as compared to the annual Davos meeting. According to the book, CGI is a more productive initiative because it’s structured around commitments and follow-ups. I am amazed that Clinton is initiating this kind of forum and acting as host, facilitator and mover. I think this type of work is uniquely fitted to his type of skills. I guess he is trying to bury the ghost of his impeachment trial. From the book and what I could see, he is a man of extraordinary skill and energy.
Comparing him to Barack Obama and Lee Kwan Yew was interesting. He shared the stage with both of them and one could see the difference. I guess Lee is more a wise statesman and ruthless doer; someone I believe who is not prone to endless policy discussion like Clinton. Obama is more like a preacher and I don’t think he has the patience or the inclination to grasp the minute policy requirements and solutions needed to get things done. But he seems to be more disciplined and focused than Clinton. Despite his many faults, Clinton is a genius both as a political strategist and as a political leader delivering effective solutions. After all, he did reduce the deficit and resurrected the Democratic Party. His continuing work is a well structured and organized effort to help solve global issues which only he could provide in this sort of venue.
I agree with the books’ contention that the most effective and successful model for post-presidential work is Jimmy Carter and his Carter Center. He is more focused and he himself does provide certain services and solutions to specific problems like observing elections in places like Haiti or the Balkans, helping in peaceful solutions in the Middle East and so on. He has the moral authority and he is willing to speak out such on controversial subjects like racism and on apartheid in Israel. So it’s a more focused approach to help resolve issues in the world that earned him a Nobel Prize. Similarly, Albert Gore’s focus on the environment and climate change is a similar precise endeavor that also earned him the Nobel Prize.
What is interesting is that CGI seems to be a unique solution that combines elements of social networking (but not in the Internet sense), collaboration (again not an Internet model), facilitation plus unique ability to follow-up commitments. I think there are a lot of website out there who act as a market place to connect donors with people who need resources for certain problems. But these sites lack the ability and draw of Bill Clinton who can attract world leaders and billionaires and artists together. It is an inclusive and people based event that does not seem to have the elitist connotation of Davos or even any event sponsored by the Republicans. It is a unique forum that only Clinton can organize but lacks the limited focus of Carter or Gore in their efforts which maybe the reason for their success.
And so I was distracted and I could not focus on my work because I was attracted by this unique and interesting idea of CGI. It was a refreshing and eye opening endeavor that appealed to openness and urge to make a difference. I also liked the videos and to see people express their ideas and express themselves. I guess I could use their examples to emulate when I start working on my Toastmaster speeches. It seems that people here who express themselves well here have a clear sense of who they are and what they stand for. It is something like Stephen Covey’s ‘The 8th Habit’. I guess the only sincere expression of me is not to be like an American and blend in but to express myself as an Asian who has moved here and is trying to adapt. I guess it’s the most sincere and only credible story that I can express.