What I Learned from President and Mrs. Carter

This was orignallly posted at my LinkedIn account on July 6, 2016 and posted on twitter. I inadevertantly did not post it on this blog first.

I attended President and Mrs. Carter’s 2016 Carter Center Weekend (June 22-26, 2016) in Annapolis, Maryland”.   The Carter Center is focused on waging peace, fighting disease and building hope.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was with what the Carter Center does related to developing interns, addressing various peace initiatives including the middle east, fighting diseases to eradicate some of the worst diseases in the world that others will not take on for fear of failure, promoting free and open elections, and giving hope.  It was absolutely amazing!

From the time I boarded the plane in Atlanta with the Carters and President Jimmy Carter (Jimmy) came down the aisle and greeted everyone personally I was made to feel welcome regardless of who I was.  Jimmy was able to greet most of the participants by name.  Most participants had been to the Carter Center weekend many times before.  Many of the participants were well connected and/or very well off.   I am a middle class person who was fortunate to be invited to attend this in demand initiative by the Carter Center.  This was my first trip.   Dress was business casual for the entire trip.  That included the celebration for the Carter’s 70th anniversary and the anniversary for Jimmy Carter’s 70th graduation with a dance and a special cake.  We also toured the Naval Academy with tour guides and a recently graduated midshipman.

On the flight there sitting in coach with an empty seat between attendees we were all served a first class meal by Delta Airlines.  When was the last time you had a first class meal in coach?  That set the tone for the rest of the trip too.  The Carter Center went above and beyond with everything they did.

I took so much away from this trip with lessons learned from the Carter’s town hall meetings, update on the Syrian Conflict and the Carter Center’s Peace Program, Update on River Blindness Elimination in the Americas, meeting with Jimmy Carter and tying these events into practical commentary related to dealing with difficult people, de-escalation, listening, and negotiations around conflict resolution and other topics.

Did you know that the Carter Center updates the maps of the Syrian crises daily from thousands of tweets, videos and texts and makes this available to all of the leaders in the crises?   Did you know that he was in contact with Putin, Assad and the White House?  Did you know that these are the most accurate maps in the world on where the various factions are in the Syrian crises?  Did you know that Putin indicated that if the Russian plan is not accepted that Putin recommended that the Carter Center plan asking that Assad to step down and essentially become a king similar to the royalty in Great Brittan so that he could still live in relative comfort and remain alive?   All sides believe they are right.  All sides believe they are on the moral high ground.  With 7,000 factions involved this is no small task.  The Carter Center is working with the parties to develop a framework for a cease fire and to work towards free and fair elections.   The Carter Center is not afraid of failure and is willing to walk the moral high ground to work towards peace.  The dedication and bravery of these dedicated individuals is inspirational.

Regarding health initiatives I wanted to share with you the outstanding work being done by Dr. Frank Richards associated with River Blindness.  He has dedicated his career to this effort.  In the Americas they are down to a relatively small, but geographically extremely challenging area at the headwaters of the Amazon on the border with Venezuela and Brazil.   The challenges are immense.  The stories were unbelievable and still these dedicated staffers persist addressing bureaucracies, the geographic challenges and working anthropologically with people that have not encountered western civilization before. 

He demonstrated that rather than giving one pill a year to prevent the disease if carriers of the disease take two pills a year, humans with the parasite no longer become transmitters of the disease.  Imagine eliminating the disease. This happened everywhere in the Americas with an exception to a relatively small but difficult area in the Americas.  However to do this takes twice as many pills ($1.50 each), but the impact on eradicating the disease is exponential in its application.  If they can eliminate the disease in the Americas they plan to bring this approach to Africa.  Again, truly amazing.

Besides this exceptional insight on just these two initiatives, you can learn far more on dozens of other initiatives related to peace and health at the Carter Center web page. 

Given the work of the Carter Center over 10 times as many interns apply to work at the Carter Center compared to those that are accepted.  It should be noted that these dedicated interns are not paid.  We heard from one former intern that has been a diplomat for 10 years in Africa and now heads up the counter terrorism unit for north east Africa after being stationed at four different embassies in Africa.  What an inspiration for the rest of us.

In addition, just to give you a taste of some of the historical and current civics lessons we heard from Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, key leaders of the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski and others with what they learned and what this may mean relative to current events.  The education and insights presented were exceptional. 

And finally, but not least, I want to share with you the lessons I learned from Rosalynn Carter and Vice President Fritz Mondale.  Rosalynn Carter transformed the role of first lady.  Prior to her tenure the first lady was not involved with policy.  During the Carter administration both the Vice President and the First Lady played key roles related to foreign policy and domestic issues.  I gained an additional respect for both of these highly talented individuals. 

Rosalyn Carter closed out the session with a seven minute video entitled “Love is the Answer”.   It cannot be said more succinctly and directly than that.   We can apply this in our daily lives with everyone.

Mike is a manager with over 25 years’ experience at all levels of management.  Mike provides services related to negotiation, mediation, and value added services (business valuation reviews, research credit advice, transfer pricing assistance, strategic planning and leadership development) to help clients and boards of directors on a wide variety of issues.  When not serving clients as a consultant or blogging, Mike is an avid writer, speaker and educator.  When not working Mike enjoys family, church, volunteering, and daily yoga, meditation and exercise.

 

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]