We met Dr. Greg last night! I was so excited to meet him, that my very patient husband and I waited in line for over an hour to have our copy of his new book signed. It was worth the wait! Our local bookstore, Warwicks, along with several other local groups organized an evening with the best selling author of Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson. His latest book, Stones Into Schools, was released on December 1, 2009. After reading Three Cups of Tea this past summer, I was eager to read Greg’s new book. Stones Into Schools picks up where Three Cups of Tea left off in his journey to promote peace.
There are several things that I took away from the presentation and book signing event yesterday evening. First of all, hearing Greg speak and meeting him in person reinforced his message for me. Change is not created by addressing the negative, it is inspired by hope. And in this case, the hope for peace specifically.
He spoke specifically about the subtitle of his first book. And talked about why the subtitle reads “one man’s mission to promote peace…” and not “one man’s mission to fight terrorism…”. What I also appreciated about meeting Greg in person is that I got to fully experience his brand. Let me explain. If you have read the books you know that Greg is a modest and often quiet person. He is not one to place emphasis on the material things in life and he does not particularly take pleasure from the sales aspect of his profession. Hearing him speak last night I took note of his mannerisms and appearance. He was dressed nicely but he did not dress the part of a well polished business person in a well tailored suit. That just isn’t part of the Greg Mortenson brand. Nor should it be, after all this is a man who gives tirelessly and selflessly to a higher cause. His work has been so influential that his books are now required reading for many military personnel and he has even recently been nominated for a Noble Peace Prize.
But appearances aside, the biggest illustration of the Greg Mortenson brand is the smile that he is always wearing and his strong bond with children. At last night’s event there was a group of school children in the front row. The children had raised over $2,500 for Greg’s Pennies for Peace organization. You could tell by the way that he spoke to and involved the children in his presentation that he truly does draw strength and inspiration from working with kids.
I also appreciated his message that we all can make a difference in our communities, and that there has been a bigger movement in recent years to make our communities a better place. One such example that he gave was about an 11 year old boy from Florida who created a non-profit called The Little Red Wagon Foundation. He raised thousands dollars to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness among kids in his city. Next year he plans to walk across the country to raise a million dollars to bring awareness to the issue across the country. He sounds like a truly remarkable kid.
When I finally got to meet Greg at the book signing, it was well worth the wait. I shared with him that as someone from Montana, I also appreciated hearing about his time in Montana as well. Even though it was almost 10pm and the line was still hours long behind us, he took the time to shake our hands and make us feel important. I think that is the charm of Dr. Greg, he has a calmness to him and an ability to connect with people on a very basic level. And in these days where we are all rushing from place to place and communicating mostly in digital worlds, Dr. Greg reminds us of the importance to actually spend time with people in person and build relationships. Thanks Dr. Greg, for all that you do.
Oh, and my apologies to the Warwicks crew, we told them we wanted to have my husband take a non-posed picture of Greg signing my book for me (posed pictures were not allowed), and somehow it turned into a posed photo. My face turned so red, I felt like I was breaking the rules! Sorry Warwicks! But while we are on that note, I have to say that Susan McBeth and her team that helped organize last night’s event are owed a huge round of thank yous for a fantastic evening. Here are the links to buy the books from Warwicks, as of last night they still had some signed copies of the children’s book Listen to the Wind, you may want to contact them to see what signed copies they might have left:
Stones Into Schools (hardcover)
Three Cups of Tea (paperback)
Three Cups of Tea- Young Readers Version (paperback)
Listen to the Wind (children’s edition of Three Cups of Tea)