Go to the 7:00 mark to see John Calipari’s speech …
Thank you folks, thank you very much. Let me thank President Clinton and his team for having me address this honored group here. It’s just a pleasure to be here.
Let me start by telling you they call me “Coach.” That’s on the door of my office. That’s the public perception of who I am. But I don’t view myself that way. I see myself as a servant leader. What I do is try to lead and serve my staff, my team, our community.
I don’t think I’m in the basketball business, I think I’m in the business of helping families break generational cycles. Whether that may be educational, it may be poverty, teaching them to be fathers and men. I think all of us in this room have been blessed to be able to reach out and lift somebody and as we lift we create joy and hope.
And I think Mother Theresa said it best when she was asked, “How would you define poverty?” And she said the true definition is, “Living without hope. That is poverty.” We have an opportunity to create hope in this room throughout the world which is kind of overwhelming to me.
You know we’re here today talking about turning inspiration into action. Things happen in our lives that move us. On January 12, 2010, do you remember when you saw the pictures from Haiti? It moved us all. I had a friend call me the next morning sobbing, and he said, “Cal, what are we going to do? We can’t just sit here. Are you watching these pictures?”
We got together and he said, “Why don’t we do a telethon?” But there needed to be immediate action. We had to do something now, and four days later, after making calls to television stations, having people who would match funds, having different promotional people step in and help us, we raised a million dollars in one day.
Now, let me … (applause) … Thank you. That, and that was with my team manning the phones, but let me say this. Again, people were dying, and what we had to do was act now. I went to Haiti, I’ll be honest with you, we kept people alive with food, water, tents and medicine.
But, you looked at it and said, “Was there anything lasting about what we did?” I’m not sure. And I think when we get involved, that’s one of the question I always ask. “Will it be lasting? Is there something that’s going to last out of this?”
I’ll tell you, were doing financial literacy in our state. Financial literacy because when I grew up my father got paid on Friday and the next Friday and the next Friday and in between it got a little light. We didn’t really talk about compounding interest. I never knew about stocks and bonds and mutual funds. Well, 200 schools now have this program in our state. 10,000 young people will be certified as financially … financial literacy fit.
You know the other side of that is lasting. It’s about having organizations that care and love to create hope. Streets Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee. Ken (Bennett) started out of his van and it was all about love and caring and creating hope.
You know the other thing you have to ask yourself as you move forward and get people to act is, “Are you doing it from love? Is there compassion?” You know it’s funny, if you want to gather people, you have to do it from your heart. Then they all flock, then you have support. Because every one of us in this room knows nothing of significance in our lives will be done by one person. Won’t happen ever. Really, nothing meaningful will happen.
The other part of that is what I try to teach my basketball team. I want them to play to their strengths. What do they do well? Well, you want to know how you can act? You’re doing what you do. We have lawyers in this room, you can be involved that way. We have some unbelievable fundraisers in this room. We have leaders in this room. We have workers in this room. You can act with what you heart says.
My question all the time, “Can we move quickly? The people that know me.” If we’re going to get involved, lets act now. Yesterday. How do we act? How do we move? Now here’s what happens when you do that, occasionally you stub your toe. You’re going so fast, you’re doing some things. Well, that’s better than sitting behind your desk.
In the basketball realm, you evaluate and adjust. So yeah, you’re out moving and you’re getting started but you evaluate and then you and adjust and make changes as you go forward.
And lastly, the most important thing. Is there a measure of the success? Can you measure it? I don’t like getting involved where there’s no scoreboard. We need to know that there’s a scoreboard. Now, if you don’t care about that, what happens is, my humble opinion, you’re investing to make yourself feel good.
I’ve been told many times, do not go into a town or an area for two days and leave and think you did something. Its gotta be ongoing, its got to be over and over and over. How do you measure success?
The challenge we have in our state of Kentucky right now, and the next thing we will move on?
Childhood obesity and wellness in … wellness in diet. It’s something that we are working on right now. We are one of the worst states with childhood obesity, and we’re going to try to get together and move on that.
You know I look in this room, I’m in awe. And can I be honest? I’m jealous. Let me tell you why. You people in this room will leave here and start to create joy and hope around the globe. In areas that I will never be able to touch.
And let me leave you with this. Some people climb the ladder of success and they turn around and they pick up the ladder. Special people, like you in this room, you will climb that same ladder, and you have, and you turn around and figure out ways of picking up the next person. Are you ready? The next village. Are you ready? And, some of you, the next country.
God bless you. And I wish you well. Thank you.
Special thanks to Chip Miller for the transcription.