Going through my Rolodex. Guess who I found.

I’ve been collecting business cards for more than 20 years. While I have three full Rolodex files I also have cardboard boxes with hundreds, or thousands, of cards representing people who I’ve lost contact with. I keep these with hope that some researcher will want to do an analysis of the network I’ve been building to show how others might duplicate this effort. The people in my file represent just a fraction of those on my database who used to receive printed newsletters or in my email list who now get monthly email newsletters.

As I was going through the Rolodex this morning I came across this card, which I collected in the mid 1990s after a meeting with Michelle Obama when she was at the University of Chicago. Hmm. I wonder if this has any collectors value.

When I met the future First Lady I did not know who she was married to. In fact, when State Senator Barack Obama was a speaker at the 1999 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Confernece I did not know as much about him as our other speaker, Congressman Luis Guitierrez. I also did not make the association with him and Michelle Obama.

In this image from the Summer 1999 newsletter, you can see a photo of Barack Obama, who was a speaker at the May 1999 conference.

I wish I could say that these two connections, or the appearance of Congressman Guitierrez at the conference, had led to life long support for the ideas and strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, but that has not yet happened.

But it can happen tomorrow, or in the future because since 1999 I’ve put most of my ideas on web sites where anyone can find them and spend as much time as they want looking, reflecting, and thinking of ways to incorporate these into their own leadership.

Using Twitter, Facebook, Linked in, Google+, Mobile phones and other communications technologies we’re all only a few steps away from each other and the most powerful people in the world. In the Education Technology & Media #ETMOOC that started in January I’ve been exposed to more than 1600 people and a wide range of ideas for digital learning and story telling. One participant, Paul Signorelli, from San Francisco, has written a series of articles showing the value of the #ETMOOC. I encourage you to read them and visit http://www.etmooc.org and read more about this way of connecting and learning from others.

As President and Michelle Obama leave the White House in a few years they will still be young people and well able to lend their time, talent and fame to bringing people together on-line and face-to-face to support this effort and many like it taking shape all over the country. We have time for them to find their way here. However, we have an urgency that they get here quickly as we lose young people to poverty, violence and poor schooling every day.