Last night I went to the Economic Club of Chicago’s dinner with Ex-President Obama. I took my daughter. We saw some people we knew and we met some new people. Dinners like that can be interesting if you take the time to try and meet people.
Some of my friends wondered why I even would go to a dinner honoring a President whose policies I almost universally disliked and thought could be done differently. As an out of the closet libertarian, conservative Republican in Chicago it’s sort of like a gay person going to an Anita Bryant convention.
The reason, if you are going to be any good at anything you have to expose yourself to diversity, diverse ideas and listen. If you are going to truly understand the other side you better truly know people on the other side so you know where they are coming from. In policy, it’s the only way to find something in common.
The hopelessness that the elites in the US woke up to, or should have woken up to, in the last election wasn’t news to me. I had been out in the rural areas of the country for the last ten years. I already knew. It wasn’t a surprise. I am an urban city dweller but I took the time to go out and didn’t have confirmation bias going in.
In business, exposing yourself to diversity might help you look at the world in a new way. It might cause you to see something you don’t see. It might cause you to question how you think about something and you might come up with a new answer. It always helps to learn something.
It’s not enough to do check the box diversity. Just interacting with gender or race isn’t enough. You have to make sure ideas will be different.
ECC President Mellody Hobson interviewed Obama in a far-ranging discussion. I found myself agreeing on some points with him and disagreeing with others. One thing is certain, President Obama is a great storyteller. He is able to connect with an audience and I certainly wish that I could hone that skill for myself. While I am glad he isn’t setting policy in the White House anymore, I am appreciative of the things I can learn from him outside of public policy.