Larry Summers came to visit Senior House today. Yes, the former US Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton, the former President of Harvard University as featured in the Social Network, and the Director of some very important advisory council under President Obama. Basically, he’s probably one of the most known Senior House alums, ever.
Famous people are generally not super interesting. They give their talk on their experience, how they got there, the more insightful ones share some notable ideas or motto and the talk is over. Even when you stay after the talk, try to have a more focused conversation, it’s never intimate.
Larry came to talk to us. He looked comfortable in his chair, talking about the old days. He was the amazing uncle visiting over Christmas with once in a lifetime insights and the fanciest gifts. And of course, the kids sat around in circles. I was sorry that he had to put up with some uninformed folks in the room, not knowing who he was… that was awkward. I have to say, even after so many years away from MIT, he still speaks our language, the numbers and all, until he started talking about economics in a public-policy way.
Larry differ from a lot of MIT alums in that he went all the way to the other end of the spectrum, politics, that most people try so hard to avoid. We are geeky, we don’t exactly like human-politics, or company-politics. Real politics are fun to watch on the daily show, but unbearable to imagine as part of a career. But Larry seemed to have figured it all out. He clearly had the opportunity to learn from the leadership of President Clinton and President Obama. Through his stories, I, too, felt like I’m learning directly from the greatest leaders int he world! Not to quote him, but today I learned : President Clinton was politically smart that he had a lot of asset in people’s political-bank, and when he needed help, he was able to use these asset to accomplish very difficult things.
Lastly, another quote on “Technology, Politics, and Economics”…
“Things take a lot longer to happen than you expect, and when they do, they happen a lot fast than expected.” (Think Global Warming)