As part of the first class of YGLs in 2005, I was honored to attend the 2011 YGL Annual Meeting as a YGL Alumni. The interesting thing is, I really didn’t “feel” like a former YGL, or a so-called Alumni; I just felt like family. This is the special chemistry that is unique to the YGL experience that Professor Klaus Schwab, YGL Director David Aikman and their team has created over the years.
Professor Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, put up $1 million from a leadership prize he won (and chose not to use the money for his own purposes) to launch the Forum of Young Global Leaders in 2004, nominating his first class of just under 300 YGLs in 2005 (my class). Our charge was to help to change the state of our world by 2030, and I believe that many YGLs are well on their way to doing precisely this.
A couple YGLs took up a special initiative they call “Table for Two,” which is now in corporate board rooms all around the world. Another group took on “Deworming the World,” which has helped to direct million of dollars into this fight in and for developing countries. The three “dignity brothers,” as we are called, HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland and myself, representing the United States, founded Global Dignity, designed to introduce a new language and a new way to lead the world. More than 50 YGLs signed up to lead Global Dignity Day 2011 sessions around the world, and several YGLs stepped up to become Global Dignity Country Chairs, around the world, including key countries such as Pakistan. To date, more than 450 YGLs and leaders from around the world have signed up to conduct Global Dignity Day 2011, in more than 50 countries. All of this started with, and is rooted in the YGL experience.
For me personally, I found myself in the same exact room that inspired me to write LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), which I wrote in 2009, with proceeds benefiting to Operation HOPE. Well, this week, in the same room, complete with the orange carpet, I was inspired once again. You just cannot make this stuff up.
YGL is much more than an organization, it is a family, an experience, and an opportunity — to make the world, our world better.
As we say within the YGL community, “you cannot call yourself a leader, unless you are prepared to serve.”
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc., author of Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and a Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.