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Cal encourages change through teamwork, persistence at Clinton Global Initiative

Coach Cal’s speech starts at the 7:10 mark. Transcript is below.

Speaking at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, John Calipari delivered a motivating speech Sunday afternoon on how to turn inspiration into change.

Coach Cal told a breakout session of global leaders that in order to evoke change, we must do it together.

“If you want to gather people you have to do it from your heart,” Calipari said. “Then they all flock. Then you have support because every one of us in this room knows nothing of significance in our lives will be done by one person.”

Calipari, who spoke to a crowd of political leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, humanitarians and more, said change happens over time with persistence.

“I don’t like getting involved where there’s no scoreboard,” Calipari said. “We need to know that there’s a scoreboard. Now, if you don’t care about that what happens is, in my humble opinion, you’re investing to make yourself feel good. I’ve been told many times, do not go into a town for two days and leave and think you did something. It’s got to be ongoing. It’s got to be over and over and over.”

Coach Cal was invited to speak at the three-day conference by President Bill Clinton, who established the CGI in 2005 to bring global leaders together and confront the world’s most pressing problems. The CGI annual meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media.

The 2012 annual meeting, held in New York, is exploring  how the Clinton Global Initiative community can utilize our abundance of global capacity to invent better tools, build more effective interventions, and work creatively and collaboratively to design a future worth pursuing. According to CGI’s website, CGI members have made more than 2,100 Commitments to Action, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

Calipari was one of the featured speakers at a Sunday breakout sessions titled, “Turning Inspiration Into Action: Advancing the Individual.” The CGI guest speakers, who included Barbara Bush, co-founder and CEO of Global Health Corps, Charles Denson, president  of Nike Inc., Allyson Felix, an Olympic gold medalist, and Jason McLennan, chief executive officer of International Living Future Institute, discussed how CGI’s community of leaders bridge the gap between designing impactful solutions and motivating people to participate in these solutions.

If you prefer a transcript over the above video, Calipari’s full speech is below.

Calipari CGI transcript

Thank you, folks. Thank you very much. Let me thank President Clinton and his team for having me address this honored group here. It’s just a pleasure to be here.

Let me start by telling you they call me Coach. That’s on the door of my office. That’s the public perception of who I am. But I don’t view myself that way.

President Bill Clinton met with John Calipari’s 2012 national championship team this summer while Clinton was in town at a speaking engagement. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)

I see myself as a servant leader. What I do is try to lead and serve my staff, my team, our community. I don’t think I’m in the basketball business. I think I’m in the business of helping families break generational cycles whether that may be educational, it may be poverty, teaching them to fathers and men.

I think all of us in this room have been blessed to be able to reach and lift somebody, and as we lift, we create joy and hope. I think Mother Teresa said it best when she was asked, “How would you define poverty?” And she said, “The true definition is living without hope. That is poverty.” We have an opportunity to create hope in this room throughout the world, which is kind of overwhelming to me.

We’re here today talking about turning inspiration into action. Things happen in our lives that move us. On Jan. 12, 2010, do you remember when you saw the pictures from Haiti? It moved us all. I had a friend call me the next morning sobbing, and he said, “Cal, what are we going to do? We can’t just sit here. Are you watching these pictures?” We got together and he said, “Why don’t we do a telethon?”

But there needed to be immediate action. We had to do something now, and four days later, after making calls to television stations, having people who would match funds, having different promotional people step in and help us, we raised a million dollars in one day.

Applause

Thank you. And that was with my team manning the phones. But let me say this: Again, people were dying, and what we had to do was act now. I went to Haiti. I’ll be honest with you, we kept people alive with food, water, tents and medicine. But, you looked at it and said was there anything lasting about what we did. I’m not sure. And I think when we get involved, that’s one of the questions I always ask: Will it be lasting? Is there something that’s going to last out of this?

I’ll tell you we’re doing financial literacy in our state. Financial literacy because when I grew up, my dad got paid on Friday and the next Friday and the next Friday, and in between it got a little light. We didn’t really talk about compounding interest. I never knew about stocks and bonds and mutual funds.

Well, 200 schools now have this program in our state. Ten-thousand young people will be certified as financial literacy fit.

The other side of lasting is about having organizations that care and love to create hope: Streets Ministries in Memphis, Tenn. Ken Bennett started out of his van and was all about love and caring and creating hope.

The other thing you have to ask yourself as you move forward and get people to act is are you doing it for love? Is there compassion? You know, it’s funny, if you want to gather people you have to do it from your heart. Then they all flock. Then you have support. Because every one of us in this room knows nothing of significance in our lives will be done by one person. Won’t happen – ever. Really nothing meaningful will ever happen.

The other part of is what I try to teach my basketball team. I want them to play to their strengths. What do they do well? Well, you want to know how you can act? You do what you do. We have lawyers in this room where you can be involved that way. We have some unbelievable fundraisers in this room. We have leaders in this room. We have workers in this room. You can act with what your heart says.

My question all the time (is) can we move quickly. The people that know me, if we’re going to get involved, let’s act now, yesterday. How do we act? How do we move? Now here’s what happens when you do that. Occasionally you stub your toe. You’re going so fast, you’re doing some things. Well, that’s better than sitting behind your desk.

So, in the basketball realm, you evaluate and adjust. So yeah you’re out moving and you’re getting started, but you evaluate and then you adjust and then change as you go forward.

And lastly, the most important thing, is there a measure of the success? Can you measure it? I don’t like getting involved where there’s no scoreboard. We need to know that there’s a scoreboard. Now, if you don’t care about that what happens is, in my humble opinion, you’re investing to make yourself feel good.

I’ve been told many times, do not go into a town for two days and leave and think you did something. It’s got to be ongoing. It’s got to be over and over and over. How do you measure success? The challenge we have in our state of Kentucky right now and the next thing we will move on: childhood obesity and wellness and diet. It’s something that we are working on right now. We are one of the worst states with childhood obesity, and we’re going to try to get together and move on that.

You know, I look in this room, I’m in awe. And can I be honest? I’m jealous. Let me tell you why. You people in this room will leave here and start to create joy and hope around the globe in areas that I will never be able to touch.

And let me leave you with this: Some people climb the ladder of success and they turn around and they pick up the ladder. Special people, like you in this room, you will climb that same ladder and you will turn around and figure out ways of picking up the next person – you ready? – the next village – are you ready? – and some of you the next country.

God bless you, and I wish you well.