It was my privilege this week to attend the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference. WattzOn made a featured presentation at the closing session — a real once in a lifetime moment! Thanks to all at CGI and at WattzOn who made this possible!

Here are some of my highlights:

* It gets you thinking. Often I go to conferences that are about my special area of expertise in energy. I learn more and meet people in my space. But CGI was a unique opportunity to hear first-hand about other issues. For example, Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia) spoke with passion about how the opiod crisis is affecting his state. Existing government services are working at cross purposes because this crisis sprang up so quickly. President Clinton cut to the human aspect, the lack of hope, that is spurring this tragedy across rural America. It got me thinking, and tugged at my heart. There’s an America that I don’t see in my day job.

* Awesome competency. What an amazing group! Attendees were not only impassioned, but deeply knowledgable, and very competent. They get things done. The CGI staff matched them, step by step. The challenges were made crisp and the detailed knowledge to provide insights and innovations was present. Solutions are hard. First steps are realistic. CGI has figured this out and enables 1000s of competent people to take first and second steps. I have simply never seen this before, it’s a conference on a whole new level.

*A conversation between two presidents. On the last day and shortly after our featured presentation, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had a wide-ranging conversation on stage. Unscripted, authentic, with the usual ramblings and byways of conversations between friends. What a privilege to listen in. President Carter spoke about being surprised at the sheer smarts and capabilities of some the most poor people he has served post-presidency. He stated, they are just as smart and willing as those who were born to richer circumstances. He went back to that point several times, gently highlighting how we often project low expectations, but when doors open, watch out!. The conversation went in several policy directions, and as it unfolded, it was a rare window into the connection between personal values, mastery of policy detail, love for our country and the sheer force of will it takes to be elected president. We had front-row seats for a real conversation. I’m sure no one left that room unmoved. (You can watch the session here.)

Thank you CGI!