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The Clinton Global Initiative

This week, I got to attend an fantastic event — The Clinton Global Initiative being held in Chicago. As you likely know, CGI is the focus of President Clinton’s post presidential career. It is an amazing organization for many reasons, among which is that it seeks to solve some of the most pressing problems on the planet.

The focus this week of CGI America is the U.S. economy and how to put people back to work. As you might suspect, there was a great emphasis on entrepreneurship and small business. The president spoke, moderated a roundtable on the subject and generally shared his wealth of information in his smart, funny, folksy style. As my grandmother would say — he’s quite a character.

Later, I sat in on the entrepreneurship session, and it was pretty fascinating. All sorts of stakeholders were in the room – everyone from tech start-up founders to folks who run business incubators and accelerators, to VCs to government officials and more.

What I liked so much about the session was that it is not just talk. At so many of these types of events, people come up with and share great ideas — and then we all go home, feel good about how smart we are, and that’s about it. But at the Clinton Global Initiative, the ideas are boiled down to actions, and people make specific commitments to implement what they think they can do in support of their particular area of expertise.

These commitments are intense. You write yours down on a form about 7 pages long. You explain what it is you will do, when, what your benchmarks are, when you will get them done, and so on. Then the Clinton people review your commitment, post it online, and then follow up with you over the next year or more to see how you are doing in accomplishing your goals.

What I see is that it’s not called the Clinton Global Initiative for nothing – its all about taking the initiative. It’s a fantastic group — dynamic and action-oriented and I felt privileged to be part of it.

(photo courtesy CGI.)

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About Steve Strauss

Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible, Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.


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