Presidential Inspirations

July 25, 2014, Bill Clinton was in Adelaide to open Torrens University Australia.

I had been volunteering from May of that year as part of their inaugural Global Project Management Advisory Panel, so amid tight security I was probably within one of the last groups of people to be invited, receiving my invite only a couple of days earlier.

At work I was proudly looking at the invite and with some disappointment staring at my very busy diary, realising I had a sprint planning session that morning.

Jabbering out loud about it, I stated I would not be able to attend the opening and my colleague next to me, looked puzzled and said, “really, why?”, followed by “of course you should go, how many times in your life will you get such an opportunity…the sprint planning will be fine without you”. Oh thank you James, how right you were and I attended the opening.

It was a memorable day and great to hear Clinton speak. The message has stayed with me, well how I interpreted his talk was two key takeaways and inspirations.

  1. Life long learning: the value of education for everyone, all the time and how the acquiring and sharing of knowledge is a life long endeavour and skill we should master;
  2. Collaboration: the importance of connecting and collaborating with others to solve complex problems and achieve the best outcomes.

Some of my Adelaide friends reading this may have also attended, what do you recall from that day?

I loved the simple example he gave around collaboration, diversity and teamwork. If you gave a complex issue to the smartest person in the room, the result would not surpass that achieved by a team.

Reflecting back, another key takeaway since then has been the rewards from volunteering and giving back to community, institutions and people all over the world, even in some small way, great things keep happening, opportunities I had never imagined are surfacing all the time through learning, relationships and connecting.

Francesco 🙏

Thanks to Torrens University and Laureate Australia for the invite and collaboration over the years as part of the advisory panel and consulting on course content.

James, so glad I listened to you…again!



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Francesco Vassallo

Francesco Vassallo

I live by the beach in Adelaide, South Australia with my wife, young lad and Jack Russell/Tenterfield Terrier. Passions include golf, food, humanity at work.