Monday, January 17, 2011

Transformational change: Martin Luther King

My 2011 began with a big change. I started a new job as User Experience Designer at LinkedIn. During my first week, the Speaker Series kicked off with LinkedIn's CEO, Jeff Weiner, interviewing Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, the son and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Steve Cadigan wrote a beautiful post about the event on the LinkedIn blog, accompanied by video highlights.

Some of the insights that resonated with me most:

• "We lost a father, and the world gained a message." - Martin Luther King III

• Dr. King worked to eradicate what he defined as the 3 evils - poverty, racism and militarism. Today, his legacy is continued through The King Center, a living memorial dedicated to the advancement of his and Coretta's work.

• What are the practices that empower a person to make a difference in the world? Congruency between what you are trying to do and what you believe, discipline, focus, compassion and being prepared.

• It's not about you. It's about empowering the people around you. If Dr. King saw just 5% good in a person, he would focus on that and pull it out. He also created synergy between people with very different talents.

• Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. Dr. King worked to position things in a non-negative way - not an enemy, but an adversary.

• "Maintaining optimism is the essence of my being." - Martin Luther King III

After the interview I had the privilege to meet and thank Martin and Bernice. Martin is a genuinely sincere, joyful and funny man. Bernice is a brilliant speaker with a warm, succinct style. I am so deeply inspired by the both of them. Simply being in their presence is a gift that I'll always be grateful for.