Last night I had the privilege of hearing Andy Young in a conversation with alumni of Leadership Atlanta. It was during my drive home that I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessed life I have been fortunate to live. Needless to say, there have been some really hard times in my life personally involving family crisis, financial issues, and heath among others. But in the context of what many people have endured, it has been manageable through my faith and my family.
Some of the great blessings I thought about last night was the opportunity I have had to meet so many wonderful people. Many of them have had a great impact on my life including my father, father in-law, Bill Turner, Bill Bolling, Rob Johnson, Robert Campbell, Allan DeNiro, Charlie Paparelli, Bob Lasher, and Mike Adkinson all quickly come to mind although there are certainly others. Then there are those who I have met and spent time with over the last 30 years who I am more a fan than a friend. At the top of that list is Ambassador Andrew Young and President Jimmy Carter. I wrote about both of them in my book, The Heart of Networking.
Last night, I heard Andy Young speak for at least the 25th time. Every time I hear Andy, I know that I am in a room with greatness. If you have not had the privilege of hearing Andy speak, I suggest you read his books or watch the new PBS series, Andy Young Presents, winner of 3 Emmy Awards. Listening to Andy Young is like sitting in a live history lesson of the last 50 years in Atlanta, the civil rights movement, and his world view. I first met Andy Young on the night of his inauguration as Mayor of Atlanta in 1981. I bought my first tuxedo for the occasion. Over the next 30 years, I have crossed paths with Andy many times. I was fortunate to travel with Andy and a delegation of Atlanta leaders on Atlanta Convention and Bureau promotional trips to Washington, New York, Chicago, and London. The London trip will always be a special memory because a few of us celebrated Andy’s birthday at a beautiful restaurant on the River Thames along with Andy’s mother who also was on the trip. During that trip, we visited a night club and while Andy danced with my wife, Beth, I danced with his bodyguard who was a striking and tall Atlanta policewoman.
I can not do justice to the legacy of Ambassador Young in this blog. Research Andy’s life and legacy on Andy’s website or on Wikipedia. . Andy has been a minister, civil rights leader, congressman, ambassador, mayor, Olympic organizer, business leader, husband, father, and mentor to many. During Andy’s mayoral term in Atlanta, he facilitated over 70 billion dollars of new private investment in our city. As everyone knows, Billy Payne, was the great visionary leader of the 1996 Olympics in our city. Those in the know, know that without Andy’s network across Africa and the Middle East, the 1996 Olympics would have been held in Athens, Greece.
Needless to say, the impact Andy Young has had on society at large is vast and historical. Personally, he has had a tremendous impact on me and I am grateful that our paths crossed 30 years ago.
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