Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Party with Purpose

With Kweku Mandela

With Michael Jones

Everyone knows that advertising people are party animals. Well, maybe that was back in the Mad Men era. These days a 6pm cocktail event is usually about making the world a better place, and so it was last Thursday night on the 16th floor of Saatchi & Saatchi at 375 Hudson Street. Hosted by the New Zealand global talent network Kea and the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), the event was about “Growing Global Leaders”. AUT VC Derek McCormack announced an intern program giving students work and study experience in the USA. Hyperfactory co-founder Derek Handley talked about the persistence of vision in an entrepreneurial start-up company, his new book “Heart to Start” which is a roadmap for aspiring innovators, and his involvement in The B Team, a philanthropic group he has co-founded with Richard Branson. For my part I talked about winning with inspiration, edge, courage and speed.

One of the special people at the event was ‘The Iceman’ Michael Jones, one of the best rugby players to ever wear the #7 jersey. I knew Michael when he was a young All Black and have intersected with his life and career at various times since. Michael is a Samoan New Zealander and carries with him all the dignity, humility and gentle humor that such a combination creates. He still lives in the same Auckland community in which he was born and contributes to young people’s leadership and development. He is also a warrior and a chief, a man of mana and bearing. He spoke of his dream as a young child of becoming an All Black; and gave a message that leadership is delivered through service to others. There was a lively question-and-discussion session after which Kea global chairman Phil Veal issued apologies to everyone I managed to provoke and offend, especially the Australians. Signature of a great dialogue.

As always with a bunch of Kiwis the connections were fast and furious and the chatter loud and long. And being Saatchi & Saatchi, the eclectic nature and geography of the audience reflected the international nature of our network. A special guest was Kweku Mandela, grandson of the great Nelson Mandela, who was in New York for the Mandela Foundation and the launch of a new film project The Power of Words, in association with the Tribeca Film Festival which is underway in New York. The project is a new year-round initiative that engages five filmmakers to offer modern interpretations of Nelson Mandela’s inspirational words.

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