Monday, October 10, 2011

Attending the Fortune MPW summit

Was an amazing experience. I met Joan after my mentoring program during this summit though we have been in touch throughout. I have no idea when I ll see her again but hanging out with her and meeting all the amazing ladies I did was super duper. 

One of the first ladies I met was Baroness Goudie, House of Lords. I guess I was slightly awed to meet her but she was so friendly. She said she had been to Chennai a few times. Also met Jami Miscik, now Vice Chairman, Kissinger Associates but was Deputy Director of Intelligence, CIA. Listening to her talk to my mentor and me over dinner was one of the best conversations I have even been part of in my life. And for all her accomplishments, she was simple and extremely humble. I would definitely expect someone of her rank back here to throw her weight around. Her simplicity humbled me. And she said in 2020 the things world leaders will be worried about would be water. Maybe like Shekhar Kapur says, if there is a world war, it would be for water. And it would be used a weapon to create social disparity. As if India is already equal. But the thought is scary.

This was the dinner before the summit where I also had a chance to listen to Rosanne Cash. Honestly, that was first time I had heard of her. The two days of the summit passed in a flurry of meeting people, amazing interviews and listening to some of the best opinions. Amongst the breakfast roundtables I attended, the one I liked the most was "Building a movement" by Catherine Coughlin of AT&T and Elizabeth Gore of the UN Foundation. Was amazing listening to the movements they started and the movements they have come across. 

Of all the speakers I heard in the summit I thought Indra Nooyi was extremely articulate and I loved the way she was so poised, the way she conveyed her thoughts with clarity and assertiveness. With a ring of honesty. No pish-toosh. No lah-di-dah. Met her after her speech and said hello. Took a picture. Perhaps the first time I went to someone I didn't know and ask for a picture.

Rosie O Donnell was a moderator for one of the discussions and she had the audience in splits throughout. I felt the audience visibly lighten up after her session. Loved listening to Glenn Close and there was a super short teaser of her upcoming film where she plays a man, was screened. She acted out how her character was afraid to look people in the eye, right there on stage. And it was amazing how she just transformed in that split second. 

I loved Chelsea Handler's attitude, the way she spoke about her team and her productions. Loved listening to Tyra Banks and about her journey from being a super model to studying at Harvard and creating Bankable. 

Somaly Lam, was successful in not breaking down on stage as she was being interviewed by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg. She got the first standing ovation of the summit. Read more about her extraordinary story and how she is saving girls from sexual slavery and human trafficking here. If you can donate to her foundation, even better. Her daughter was kidnapped by people who thought this would stop her from continuing on her mission. Her daughter came back to her, telling her to continue. She reminds me of Anuradha Koirala of Maithi Nepal. Women like these are beyond extraordinary and courageous. Shame on the those men for whom this industry runs. And the women who help run it killing girls and women emotionally and physically.

Listening to Regina Dugan the first woman chief of DARPA was superb too. The presentation she put together especially the ones across history who were the naysayers like Ken Olson "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home" or Sir William Preece "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys" or "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." was highlighted in her presentation. Throughout time there have been enough and more people who said "That is not possible" or "That cannot be done" and precisely as someone said, the person who says it cannot be done is interrupted by the person who is doing it.

Attending the summit once again gave me a new vision. Gave me new ideas. More than anything else, it seems like when women head an organization, there is so much more heart in the way they are run.

And before I forget, it was fun listening to Warren Buffet too. And to hear his thoughts on why it is fair that the rich in America should pay more taxes. 

Some other observations (some unconnected to the summit): 

1. LA, I hear is a very Vegan/vegetarian place. The food they served us during the summit was 90% vegetarian. I love the way the US (or at least the places/restaurants/offices I have visited in the US is sensitive to food preferences. No jeering no teasing as I have noticed all the time here. But then that insensitivity warrants a totally new blog post.

2. I have a feeling too much water is being wasted in bathrooms/restrooms in the US. Perhaps that can be better managed. On a different note, the Ritz Carlton and St Regis at Laguna Niguel are amazing places to stay. And no I am not being paid for this. I just loved the hotels. 

3. If I heard right, (correct me if this is not true) there was no rain water harvesting in LA. Which I thought was sad.

So much needs to be done in the world and for the world. But I think with the kind of women and men committed to change, the world might be a better place in the future.

And finally when I thanked Joan for the opportunity and said I have no idea how I can pay you back, she said one thing which I knew she would say - "Pay it forward" :)

21 comments:

vino said...

nice one chinmayi sis..

Anns said...

I am happy that I follow you on Twitter, where I follow very few movie celebrities and picked you. Your Experiences & Thoughts sure inspires a lot more than I get hooked on to ur songs.

mag said...

Nice your heart experinces, your mind expresses ! :)

My share of life said...

I am very proud and happy that you have had this opportunity to be at the summit. When i was reading through the names in the Speakers list of the Summit, i was thinking that that the summit is possibly the only roof where one can witness the great leaders of USA sharing their vision for the future generations and there would only be outpouring of optimism and enthusiasm in such a setting. I am very glad that you could be part of it.

Exciting Songs (ES) said...

This concept of mentoring, is interesting! Perhaps I need to find one for myself as well.

I don't think wars will be fought for water - People have pretty much mastered the reverse osmosis process of extracting pure water from the sea water. I think one such plant is operational in Chennai.

Oh, don't take Warren Buffet speeches on donating and paying taxes seriously - That guy is just damn clever, and his PR just damn good!

I guess individuals need to stand against social injustice/ wrong practices. Like the person whom you mentioned, fighting trafficking. Its very important for the well being of the society as a whole, irrespective of the individual losses one suffers. There is no point of giving in to blackmailers.

Nice post there - Very elaborate and interestingly written. Don't be surprised if you get a lot of traffic from search engines for this post! :)

priyaa iyer said...

Awesome experience for you. I would like to hear you near ideas you got from this summit. (Very eager).

Amazed that the summit served 90% vegan/vegterian foods.

Love to see someone observes things to make our earth a better place.

Love
priyaa
Twitter : @priyaamahadevan
Blog: priyaaiyer441.blogspot.com

Saranam Ayyappa said...

great to read your blog! Best wishes!

Saranam Ayyappa said...

Great to read your blog! best wishes!

Kapalee said...

Good account to read. While you enjoyed meeting others and learnt, One would also love to hear your contribution at this summit.

anutha said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience.getting lots of information through your tweets and blog.i had read about the water issues,which u mentioned in your tweets.whatever you said,that was so true.Here in Australia,people are bit concious about water conservation/management(especially elderly people).when i read 1of ur retweet, i ashamed myself,coz many people leave water running when brushing their teeth(i was also in that category untill then).Now i reduce water usage,this is not simple thing to me.i m happy that i can do a good thing for the (human) existence.Hope you had a great time with your mentor&other great women.Thank you for your motivation ,inspiration etc etc.

Sathiya said...

Thanks for sharing...nice to know! Regarding water, I'm amazed at how Singapore does to reduce the dependency on Malaysia for water. Don't know when India will do like that with such a vast land area.

Tisai said...

Thank you Sis for sharing the details. "Pay it forward" sticks in my mind.

praveen said...

thanks for sharing your experience...i wish u also become a most PW in future....

Poorna said...

Thanks for writing about the summit - especially about SMF and Somaly Mam. I read up on her afterwards - I think I've read about her earlier as well. But it's sad how soon I forgot her name.

It's impossible to forget the story of her daughter though :)

Shoba Shrinivasan said...

Hi Chin,

Amazing tat you are here for the Most Powderful Women Summit...at the orange county...do yu have time to look around? And the Ritz-Carlton! just imagine! Have a wonderful wonderful time here and that too at htis beautiful time of the year! Do not miss visiting the Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park and all the lovely attractions of this amazing city! Enjoy!

Shobha

Tulips said...

Hey chinmayi.. here is one of your blog's silent follower. Great blogging there & i love the flow of words in what you want to communiate with us, not to mention its your voice & your songs that ties me to your blog. Every time i listen to a song of yours, i get reminded to come check out your blog to get an update of things happening at your end.. Well having said that "the song i got addicted to lately, may be after a lustrum!'is 'sara sara saarakaathu'.. not sure if its vairamuthu sir's brilliant lyrics or your breezy voice or just the simple music by the musician which is fastening me tight to it. But i so crave to listen to it n # times.. i dont know what it reminds me of listening to it, though for sure something very light, soft, silky (whipped cream may be! lol.. im a baking freak too btw!) anyways, great job bud! way to go!..luv (dont freak out im a girly too:D)

Krishna said...

v.interesting read. Pay it forward is such an awesome concept - big fan of it. You'll be surprised at how much of everything gets wasted in the US.

Anonymous said...

Hi its very nice to read ur blog as ur songs. You are really amazing human being. May be ur true experiences contributed their part in it. I always use to listen ur songs but problem is i dont know tamil and i cant understand the lyrics. I always use to search for english translation of tamil songs. What ever it may be know am trying to learn tamil mozhi and am sure ur my inspiration you r really deivam tanta poo i always prey for you and ur amma as many people do. Thats what i can do for you chinmayi god wil listen for us and ur future is as ur wish keep on singing smiling take care chin


Neetha

Anonymous said...

Hi its very nice to read ur blog as ur songs. You are really amazing human being. May be ur true experiences contributed their part in it. I always use to listen ur songs but problem is i dont know tamil and i cant understand the lyrics. I always use to search for english translation of tamil songs. What ever it may be know am trying to learn tamil mozhi and am sure ur my inspiration you r really deivam tanta poo i always prey for you and ur amma as many people do. Thats what i can do for you chinmayi god wil listen for us and ur future is as ur wish keep on singing smiling take care chin


Neetha

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Thanks for your sharing...

Anonymous said...

Blog pannunga Chinmayi... It has been so long since you blogged...

-Janani