Meeting Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson, author of the incredible book Three Cups of Tea, came to speak here at the University of Oklahoma about a week ago. The speech, which had originally been scheduled for a Thursday morning in a small auditorium, had moved to two different, larger venues before finally settling on the Lloyd Noble Center (our basketball arena) on a Wednesday evening to accommodate the large number of people that would be in attendance.

My friend Valerie and I got there about an hour early because I really wanted good seats (I’d been looking forward to this event since January). Since we were there so early, we got to sit very close to the front– close enough to be able to look at the real guy and not have to watch his face on the giant screen behind him.

Overall, the speech was great. My favorite part about Mortenson’s event is that he really isn’t all that great of a speaker.
In fact, he was rather endearing in the way he bumbled along through his slides. There wasn’t really a focus or driving force behind his presentation, and from what I could tell, he was merely taking us through the general outline of his book, highlighting the cool parts of his story. He did have some fascinating facts and quotes inserted in his speech that I hadn’t heard before though.
The best part is you can tell that this is a man who found something he was passionate about and went for it. Nothing more. He obviously never intended to become famous, nor does he love the limelight. In fact, I’m pretty sure he says in his book that he really dislikes public speaking. And yet he does this almost every day (he visited over 150 schools in the last year — one every other day), because he knows that in doing things like this, he is able to fund his work building schools.
I have an immense respect for the man, and while one couldn’t say that his speech (the exact words themselves) were particularly enlightening, I left feeling lighter and more full of hope and energy than when I came in. Something about meeting a man following his passion and living his dream is such an inspiration.

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