Gen Colin Powell at SLA2009

It was one of the best speeches I heard in a while. He had a great sense of humor, connected well with the InfoPro crowd, was charming and had great insights. I hope they put up the video of the keynote. I would like to watch it again and show it to my family and friends.

A few snippets from the notes I was taking furiously (while they may not truly convey the spirit of his talk, I hope to capture a bit of the wide ranging topics he talked about). He is a natural speaker. I need to dig up videos of all his past speeches and watch.

About the challenges in  bringing in new technology in to the state department:

“Bought over 440,000 new computers and completely wired them together. I could change the hardware and software but changing the brainware was a challenge.”

“We are in a transactional world not a lunar world where information updates are done weekly, monthly.  Periodic updates of information on the web sites (govt) is not enough. Information needs to be current with every new event (transaction).”

“We are in a new world of constant information explosion. Requires a different mindset to cope.”

About being pulled into new technologies by his 14 year old grandson.

“I am an analog. My 14 year old grandson is hardwired digital.”

“My grandchildren do not answer emails. If you want to talk to them you should be in IM or Twitter.”

“I am pedaling as fast as  I can, just to keep up with my grand children.”

Special Collections

Special collections are  essential for any modern organization (he introduced his team of librarians who managed special collections for him). Generic browsing and searching is not enough to keep up with the rapidly changing information.

Challenges to America now

“We are competing for everything in the world, including education business.”

He was talking about the decrease in the flow of foreign students. Mentioned that there are many options for education in the world like UK and Australia and US is no longer the preferred destination. He pointed out that how this will affect US in the long term.

About Leadership

“I had the privilege of commanding organizations from 40 people to 3 million”.

“As leader you have to give people a sense of purpose. You have to be passionate and it has to be infectious.”

He talked a lot about leadership qualities.

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