In the past if you were to imagine a room filled with around 100 people with a combined net worth of $50 billion, you might imagine a pretty homogeneous group of staid, white-haired older men. Last week's Nexus Global Youth Summit was a rainbow of unique and enthusiastic Gen-X, Gen-Y and even Gen-Z (15-year-olds) wealth holders and passionate social entrepreneurs. Except for a few others like me, there were very few baby-boomers in sight!
This summit was convened by Jonah Wittkamper, director of Search for Common Ground-US, "We aimed at connecting young, wealth holders with social entrepreneurs. Instead of feeling isolated, today's wealthy youth can be inspired to change the paradigm of wealth away from materialism to philanthropy. We are convening to connect real wealth with real issues to formulate solutions within a safe collaborative environment."
This four-day conference included a one-day program at the United Nations where the Nexus group was addressed by Secretary General- Ban Ki Moon. He reminded the young wealthy audience that they were not only "giving it back (but) passing it on." Encouragingly he said, "The very fact that you are here means a great deal. It means that you lead by example."
John Kluge, Jr, age 28, was among those who addressed the United Nations General Assembly. John has conceived the notion that, " a billion person problem requires a billion person solution." He explained to the UN General Assembly (and his peer audience) that "...the new definition of billionaire is someone who is relentlessly taking on billion person problems -- water, sanitation, illiteracy, etc." John is an engaging, charismatic, driven to a purpose to succeed. He is a "Pied Piper" of sorts. Because I am fortunate enough to call John a special friend, I can personally say that he is infectious and engaging and filled with passion. At the same time, he is centered, focused and poised as a sharpshooter aimed at taking down the world's problems as he sees them. Imagine a 28 year old standing in front of the United Nationals General Assembly and making a vow to impact issues affecting no less than a billion people!
The Nexus Global Youth Summit was attended by such storied, monied names as Rockefeller, Bronfman, Kluge, Pew, Milstein and Roosevelt with a smattering of royalty delivered via Saudi princes and princesses. Today's wealth holders now are named: Wyatt Rockefeller, Benjamin Bronfman, John Kluge, Jr., Weston Pew, Michael Milstein and rounding it out with Ted Roosevelt, the great great grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. In some cases they represent the wealth but in most they have carved names for themselves in such diverse areas of philanthropy as revolutionary carbon capture eco-venture (Bronfman,) Kluge is excited about his new venture, Eirene, which will impact the base of pyramid structures of education, water and food. Ted Roosevelt is on the board of ecoAmerica and has led a Wall Street career.
Also, attending the Nexus Summit were progeny of first generation entrepreneurs whose parents have created and sold firms to large conglomerates and their family has become instantly wealthy by a single event. The progeny of these parents have found their lives dramatically changed with one single event. Many say that virtually overnight they were transported to large, cold homes where their parents were traveling and they felt lonely and isolated when taken from their more familiar environment. These wealthy next generation have found a satisfying calling to combine their wealth and the feel good power of socially responsible philanthropy.
Powerful, world-changing ideas were exchanged during the 2011 Nexus Global Youth Summit, simply from the "mash-up" of young and eager philanthropists and social entrepreneurs who want to change the world. A conference such as this links up potentially untapped significant resources in a way which overcomes traditional obstacles to the meeting of these two groups. Listening to other like-minded people and the ability to meet and discuss shared visions transcends in politics, religion and even physical boundaries. The energy was palpable during the panels and in-between informal networking.
There is so much more to say about this conference and its attendees, presenters and big ideas which were conceived over these four hot summer days at the end of July 2011. I can't wait to watch the novel social ventures which this exciting army of young wealthy and powerful soldiers will create as they march into the world and change it for good!