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  I was invited to do a panel at the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, Korea, which was held from Oct. 16 through 18th. It is the 8th of its kind with many distinguished key note speakers and parallel sessions.  This year’s theme was Wealth Management and Asia and the key note speaker on the first day was Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
   I had read an excerpt of Secretary Powell’s before and had heard him via various media while he served as the Secretary of State and in other distinguished positions.  I was very much looking forward to his key note speech, as it was the first time for me to see him or hear him in person.   

 His speech was one of the best I have heard recently.  (I have heard so many fine speeches made by a distinguished group of scholars, policymakers, and business executives in the past few weeks.)  He made it RELEVANT to the audience, by talking about his experience of serving in South Korea some 30 years ago, and his pleasure at seeing such a high level of economic growth in the country built an immediate rapport with the audience.  

  He then went on to talk about his strong conviction that wealth creation – the theme of the 8th WKF – or economic growth and prosperity, is critical for the region. He was convinced that once people enjoyed the fruits of economic growth and prosperity, they would NEVER go back to the old days under any circumstances.

 He shared with us his own UNIQUE experiences of working with President Gorbachev, President Reagan, etc. in telling his convincing story. It was so special and intimate, and yet his tone was so natural, as if he was telling his family about his job. That was his way of answering the concerns the audience had about the future of China, and of Russia.   

 His last remark expressed his belief and hope for new technology in making knowledge available to many people. His involvement with venture capital in ICT was one of his attempts to stay close to the battlefield. He ended his note with such an optimistic tone, though as a soldier he had seen so many miseries in wartime. 

 He referred to the ever-present optimism of President Reagan for whom he served as a national security advisor. It was quite obvious that he respected President Reagan tremendously. 

 Secretary Powell used NO notes during his 30-plus minute speech. He conveyed his conviction and hope by referring to his unique personal experiences in a way that the audience could relate to. He did it in such a nice, natural style, and not a typical “charismatic, eloquent” style. And yet, it made such an impression.  

 I felt so fortunate to have shared time and space with such an inspirational leader.   

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