The flight was delayed due to bad weather in Washington, and I found myself bumped to standby. Boarding the shuttle flight late out of Logan, coach looked full. A stewardess saw me floundering and gestured toward first class. “There’s an open seat up there,” she whispered. “Consider this your lucky day!”
By Anne Sawyer for The Center for Effective Philanthropy
Ambling up to the third row, I immediately recognized the profile of the man sitting by the empty seat that was now mine. We struck up a conversation, and 30 minutes into sharing snapshots of our professional lives, I said, “You seem to have a lot of touchpoints with Harvard University. Were you an adjunct there or something?”
He paused, smiled slowly and then asked, “Would it mean anything to you if I told you my name was Larry Summers?”
I wanted the airplane to swallow me up. Yes, I’d guessed that. I just didn’t quite believe it.
We continued talking, and as he learned that I was canvassing the “character landscape” to give philanthropists guidance around what they should give to, he said, “Interesting. Well, your task is obvious. You’ll just need to find the McDonald’s of Character and evangelize it.”