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Dec27
Stand by Right
How do two giant egos from two different worlds collaborate and succeed?  A commitment to a cause and a willingness to put the cause before oneself.  Bono and Gates forge the model. There must be a lesson here.

Excerpts from Time magazine article on 2005 Persons of the Year as posted on the Philanthropy Workshop West shed some light on the partnership between Gates and Bono in ending poverty and offer insight on how to lead.

Stand for right. Don't be defined by perception or stereotypes.

"Rock stars are designed to be shiny, shallow creatures, furloughed from reality for all time. Billionaires are even more removed, nestled atop fantastic wealth where they never again have to place their own calls or defrost dinner or fly commercial.  It makes you think that if these guys can decide to make it their mission to save the world, partner with people they would never otherwise meet, care about causes that are not sexy or dignified in the ways that celebrities normally require, then no one really has a good excuse anymore for just staying on the sidelines and watching. "

Check ego at door.  Start with genuine sincerity.

"Such is the nature of Bono's fame that just about everyone in the world wants to meet him-except for the richest man in the world, who thought it would be a waste of time. "World health is immensely complicated," says Gates, recalling that first encounter in 2002. "It doesn't really boil down to a 'Let's be nice' analysis. So I thought a meeting wouldn't be all that valuable."

Find and focus on commonalities not differences.

It took about three minutes with Bono for Gates to change his mind. Bill and his wife Melinda, another computer nerd turned poverty warrior, love facts and data with a tenderness most people reserve for their children, and Bono was hurling metrics across the table as fast as they could keep up. "He was every bit the geek that we are," says Gates Foundation chief Patty Stonesifer, who helped broker that first summit. "He just happens to be a geek who is a fantastic musician."

Innovate and change the rules of engagement.

Gates' standards are shaping the charitable marketplace as he has the software universe. 'He wants to know where every penny goes,' says Bono, whose DATA got off the ground with a Gates Foundation grant. 'Not because those pennies mean so much to him, but because he's demanding efficiency.' His rigor has been a blessing to everyone-not least of all Bono, who was at particular risk of not being taken seriously, just another guilty white guy pestering people for more money without focusing on where it goes. 'When an Irish rock star starts talking about it, people go, yeah, you're paid to be indulged and have these ideas,' Bono says. 'But when Bill Gates says you can fix malaria in 10 years, they know he's done a few spreadsheets.'"
 
Forge partnerships whose value is more than the sum of its parts.

"And so another alliance was born: unlikely, unsentimental, hard nosed, clear eyed and dead set on driving poverty into history. The rocker's job is to be raucous, grab our attention. The engineers' job is to make things work. It would be easy to watch the alliance in action and imagine the division of labor: head and heart, business and culture; one side brings the money, the other side the buzz. But like many great teams, this one is more than the sum of its symbols. Apart from his music stardom, Bono is a busy capitalist (he's a named partner in a billion private equity firm), moves in political circles like a very charming shark, aptly named his organization DATA (debt, AIDS, trade, Africa) to capture both the breadth of his ambitions and the depth of his research. Meanwhile, you could watch Bill and Melinda coolly calculate how many lives will be saved by each billion they spend and miss how impassioned they are about the suffering they have seen. 'He's changing the world twice,' says Bono of Bill. 'And the second act for Bill Gates may be the one that history regards more.'"

Include rather than exclude and thereby build networks of support.

"Bono grasps that politicians don't much like being yelled at by activists who tell them no matter what they do, it's not enough. Bono knows it's never enough, but he also knows how to say so in a way that doesn't leave his audience feeling helpless. He invites everyone into the game, in a way that makes them think they are missing something if they hold back. "After so many years in Washington," says retired Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, whom Bono recruited to his cause, "I had met enough well-known people to quickly figure out who was genuine and who was there for show. I knew as soon as I met Bono that he was genuine. He has absolutely nothing to gain personally as a result of his work. In fact, he has  opened himself to criticism because he has been willing to work with anyone to find help for these children who have taken his heart."

As often is the case, Lincoln's words inspire and bring focus on the most important ideas of leadership.

"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."
                                                          -  Abraham Lincoln

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