Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fareed Zakaria @ Xerox-Park Global Lecture Series

I was down in Kansas City on Tuesday in support of a long-time customer's event that my company had sponsored as part of the Xerox Global Lecture Series. I've been working with the customer, Park University for the past seven years and I've known their staff for a long time (including Sarah Freeman, their CIO, who left, but still worships the ground I walk on and reads my blog faithfully).

The speaker for the event was Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International and host of the show GPS on CNN. He only did three gig's in the US, so it's rather cool that Park was able to get him for the event. He was promoting his book The Post American World as part of the whole shin-dig. I'd read part of the book and didn't have high expectations for the meeting. The portion of the book I read had Fareed come across as somewhat French - the kind of guy who really kind of despises America and what it does everywhere in the world.

Since we sponsored the event, myself and the Senior VP of my organization, Doug Helmink had the chance to have dinner with Fareed (Rich - believe it or not, your name actually came up in the conversation as we talked about your classmate Gary - go figure). Fareed ended up being a great guy - very interesting and engaging. He had some pretty amazing stories about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and others. Over dinner, the conversation of Twitter and Facebook came up. Fareed asked me what the deal was with it and how it would benefit him. I talked to him about how he could use it, and how companies were making money off it. I gave him examples of how John McCain, Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly (my brother Jon's man-crush) use it on their shows, along with and amazon using it to make money. He asked me later how to get it setup and if you check here, you'll see that he's now setup with all of them in his following list. Maddie told me to tell him that he was "super", which I did. He was impressed, since his 10 year old demographic is slightly lower than the Jonas Brothers. He explained that his own daughters Maddie's age aren't nearly that impressed with him.

The presentation was at the Folley theatre in Kansas City, to a sold out crowd of 1,100. His talk was about 90 minutes - about 60 minutes of his presentation followed by some great Q&A. His talk started in 1979 with the end of the cold war and looked at the global impact from an economic and war-time perspective. What I liked is that he talked from the view of someone who doesn't have someone in the game. I know we all have our own biases, but it seems that lately the left are so busy trying to justify every move Obama makes, and the right is so busy trying to discredit Obama, that you dont' get much of a middle of the road view. Even more impressive was the fact that he referenced our Twitter conversation at dinner.

It was a very cool event, and very intersting to me. I'm now a huge fan, and following him on Twitter. He shared that he had run into my corporate-crush-Anne Mulcahy earlier in the day as she was at Newsweek for an interview and that he was going to have her on his show later on. Small world. Cool day.


jim said...

I have seen Fareed on TV and always enjoyed his interviews. Like your beard!

Mark B said...

I read all his stuff in newsweek. I am a fan of his writing. Cool that you met him