I had an amazing time this weekend at the seventh triennial Morehead-Cain Forum Weekend. Over 400 Morehead Cain scholars and spouses got together for a nonstop weekend of wisdom, wine, and wonderment. I just had to sleep for 12 hours to recuperate. During the weekend, there wasn't much slumber.
The format is interesting and varied. In addition to food trucks, receptions, and a magical dinner on the floor of the UNC basketball arena, the Dean Dome, we had talks, panel discussions, a film or two shown, and afterparties till 2 or 3 AM. They had a a lot of the scholars give 7 minute talks, almost like mini Ted talks. The executive editor of Fortune talked about the role of humans in a world of technology. An accomplished man from the class of 1957 talked about how great things can come from small beginnings, and how at his final interview for the scholarship, he sold to one of his interviewers two bottles of a product his father had invented - Happy Jack Dog Tonic Mange Cure. In my own session, I later commented that the entire weekend was like an existential version of Happy Jack Dog Tonic Mange Cure For the Soul, and that I was certainly wagging.
A corporate attorney and professional boxer ranked in the top ten for his weight class talked about subtle forms of prejudice. A young British Morehead talked about reforming the banking system in London. Another young grad talked about 3-D Virtual Reality and how it will be able to give us soon an experience of being in a third world village, or on stage with a ballerina. There's hope for its helping as a new stimulus for empathy. Then there were panel discussions, on dealing with difficulties in life, entrepreneurial start ups, cancer research, our political challenges now, and on and on. Sallie Krawcheck, a former CEO of Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and US Trust who now runs Elevate Network for professional women talked about personal branding. Then I got to close it all with a talk called "Wisdom for the Journey."
I came away with many insights and reminders:
We should network with sages as much as possible, hang out with wise people, and talk about things that matter.
A great thing can indeed come from small beginnings. Passion starts it, persistence grows it, and patience allows it the time for full blossoming.
Have the courage to do what makes your heart sing. Whether as your profession, or as your joy. Or both.
Don't let the past define you. Just let it prepare you for what's next.
Political conversations can be productive when you're guided by empathy, goodwill, and a keen desire to listen and learn.
It's not so much what you do in life as how you do it.
If you can, travel, and talk to the world, but most of all listen.
I also got a chance during the weekend to sign 250 copies of my new book The Oasis Within for my fellow Morehead-Cain scholars. I look forward to hearing what they think as they read this first in my new multi-volume series of fictional and factual explorations into the world of wisdom. It's gratifying to be a current pioneer of what my friend, the pop culture philosophy guru Bill Irwin, has called Phi-Fi, Philosophical Fiction. It was an ongoing topic of conversation with my old and new friends throughout the weekend. I heartily recommend, wherever you are, and whatever you do, that you give yourself, at least now and then, the opportunity for conversations with smart friends about important things that really matter.
As the first person in the history of my family of origin to ever go to college, I'm grateful for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship that allowed that to happen, and just as much for the Foundation Staff and the community of Morehead Cain scholars around the world who keep me inspired and energized. The new Morehead-Cains call each other "cousin" and that's how it feels. As one of our tribe, the CEO of Ancestry.com put it in his dinner talk, we're all cousins in the end. But it's especially good to have family like this.