Refleting on a Remarkable Life

Larry joins Randy Antik on stage for a fireside chat reflecting on his remarkable life and his extraordinary experiences as a doctor, innovator, philanthropist, and cultural revolutionary.

he's an epidemiologist he is a doctor he is a really special person he's really defines the word polymath he's done a lot across a lot of fields he's won all kinds of accolades let's meet Larry brilliant spends his days seeking solutions to the world's worst problems like climate change nuclear proliferation and pandemics let me show you a simulation of what a pandemic looks like the disease will spread from country to country so fast that you won't know what hit you on day one there were two people and then four and then 16 in three months it's a billion that's where we're headed brilliant was the senior technical advisor on contagion ironically it was another movie from the 60s that propelled him on a lifelong journey to
make the world a better place I became the doctor in an absolutely awful movie called medicine ball caravan now you know from the 60s you read around the bus you're off the bus I was on the bus and he stayed on the bus after the movie ended traveling with his wife Girija best friend wavy gravy and a busload of hippies across the Khyber Pass and into Nepal one of the Sherpas carried wave his toys the other carried my medicine and the doctor and the clown and our wives walked for 30 days everybody who was sick would come out so that you know we'd arrive in would be people waiting to see Larry and Larry would hold clinic but we wound up in India and then like everyone else in our generation we went to live in a Himalayan monastery after two and a half
years brilliant guru told him to put on a suit join the world's health organization and go help eradicate smallpox we printed 2 billion copies of this photograph and we took them hand to hand door-to-door to show people and ask them if there was smallpox in their house because that was our surveillance systems and as we did that the number of reported cases in the world dropped to zero and in 1980 we declared the globe free of smallpox that experience made brilliant an optimist he has since taken on the fight to eradicate polio founded the Seva Foundation which has restored sight to more than three million blind people created one of the first online social networks and now he's attempting his most ambitious project I want to make it part of our culture that there is a community of people who are watching out
for the worst nightmares of humanity his goal nothing short of saving the world as we know it [Music] ladies and gentlemen Larry brilliant and to engage him in conversation the CEO of imagine solutions randy anak befores yours you're gonna see three slides that are simple about larry and you also just saw video and as you can tell there's a huge amount to know about larry and what he can share with this audience and the last slide that starts us off is a slide that is a quote from jeff skoll who's a good friend of Larry's and gave us the way to try to have a conversation with Larry and that is simply he will take us through midnight with his stories so what I have done is
created a bell to kind of go from one subject to another and Larry's trying to take the Bell off the thing but we can't do that otherwise we won't start so let me start with the beginning Larry we're gonna put the big elephant in the room coronavirus your neural knowledge thoughts well thank you very much Randy thanks everybody for coming it's a wonderful event it's a great day Randy's been asking me to come and speak for many years and each year there was some schedule conflict I called him this year there was nothing going on epidemiologically so there was no problem and then came coronavirus so let me first I'll tell you what it's not this is not the zombie apocalypse this is not as we heard earlier today a mass extinction event of humanity but it's also not nothing it's a serious outbreak
we can parse words about pandemic or not it is a pandemic but w-h-o is reluctant to use that word in a specific sense as it triggers a lot of legal follow-ups right now it's in 30 countries roughly 80,000 cases death rate of about two percent and it is a novel virus in other words it's a virus that seven point eight or eight billion people are not immune to and all we have to deal with it our 15th and 16th century tools of isolation quarantine personal hygiene social distancing that's the dilemma that we face right now great thank you very much let me take you to questions number two I didn't have to do this question number two you've positively impacted millions of people specifically I know you've saved five million lives
with the Seva foundation like blind can you tell us a little bit about that so after we eradicated smallpox there the group of us who had been part of that voyage wanted to do it again something like that and I was a professor at the University of Michigan my wife was getting her PhD and we gathered some people from our rolodex to think of what we could do but as you've seen from that film our rolodex was a little bit weird so we had a clown wavy gravy it's a lot easier to get an epidemiologist than it is to get a clown we had a lot of w-h-o people a lot of CDC a lot of faculty members but also a lot of very spiritual people from every religion you could think of and I wanted to create a follow-on to smallpox which was to get rid of childhood diarrhea it was and still is one of the major causes of death and children my friend wavy gravy who was the master of ceremony at Woodstock he immediately said I'll put
on a rock and roll benefit concert for diarrhea we will call it no shit and that's the way the same a foundation began and since then we've had about almost a hundred benefit concerts you cannot think of a musician that hasn't done part of that benefit we've raised over 200 million dollars just from those benefit concerts and our projects and our programs and our grantees not us have given back sight to more than five million blind people and we're really pretty proud of that Thank You Larry you talked about with me earlier three people in philanthropy flannery that you think the world of three people that this audience ought to know a little bit more about so I'm a lucky beneficiary of capitalism I would be disingenuous not to say that at the
beginning I worked at Google I've I've run some startups along the way I've been privileged to work with Jeff scull who was the first president of eBay I ran the Skull global threats fund I'm on the board of the skull foundation Jeff's amazing ability to bring together all the organs of society to help a hundred and eight social entrepreneurs each with a 1.5 million dollar grant and all the work the Skoll Foundation does is inspiring to me Marc Benioff Marc is the founder of Salesforce he also created Salesforce org which was the nonprofit branch of it I was on that board for 16 years and I just love what Marc Benioff was able to do in the public sphere to question our assumptions about policies he now owns Time magazine and is changing it over he's another one of my inspirations and perhaps most of all Lorraine Lorraine Jobs today is Steve
Jobs birthday Laureen has taken what Steve did and left her these resources and has turned it into something called the Emerson collective she's been working on immigration policy on homelessness and most of all an education which I think most of us would agree that public school education is the thing that can bring us back together again those are three people among many others that I admire so much in the field of philanthropy great tell us why you can do anything even save the world you know when I when I came to India and my wife and I came to India and these funny colored buses these psychedelic painted buses I mean and we went to little villages all throughout we lived in Afghanistan Iraq Pakistan Muslim villages Hindu villages
Buddhist villages Christian villages when we would ride into town we must have looked like Martians can you imagine and we would go into these villages and they would treat us so kindly as weird and as strange as we must have looked and I got to go from that to being part of this program to eradicate the worst disease in history smallpox killed half a billion people 500 million people in the 20th century when I first got to India a quarter of a million children died that year of smallpox and then I met the last little girl Rehema Banu who had that killer disease and that was the end of a chain of transmission they went back to Pharaoh Ramses the third if you were me and you had gone through that voyage you'd seen that amount of death I've been in villages with thousands and thousands of children dying held them in my arms and then I saw the last case how could you not be optimistic how could
you not feel that anything is possible I work with people of every religion every color every race we all work together we can do that again I remain optimistic about that and I will until I die that's great thank you we have an audience of 600 plus or minus what would you like them to know about think about or do something about about coronavirus your buddy hoping things that are on your mind well life is short you know I see every day engineers who've had exits in Silicon Valley made a lot of money in their their bitterly despondent and depressed about the state of the world they want to be able to go back to their kids and say what they're working on and that makes a difference they don't care about the money they've done that or they even if they haven't done that they want to be able to construct a narrative of
their life that has room for God that has room for love and compassion and for purpose and if you don't have that in your life you're not going to be able to explain what you've done to your children and your grandchildren and you're not gonna be able to explain it to yourself so it's not what I would like you to do it's what I want to do for me and I invite you to do the same thing for you because it makes me feel much better as a human being not a spectacular thank you very much Larry on compassion I've seen you talk about it at I've seen you use that as examples of what you need to talk to young people about talk a little bit about that the Dalai Lama says that kindness and compassion are his religion it's not Buddhism it's certainly part of every religion isn't that all of ours what what greater calling is there than to
try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and understand what you can do for them and again we don't do it for other people we do it for us we do it because whether it's the endorphins that it creates whatever it does it makes us feel more connected to the mystery of life why did we take birth where do we go after death I'm confident that all of those questions will have a better answer if we live a life of love and compassion that's great thank you you have done a great job on time your we were actually running ahead of time if you can believe that so I'm going to take you to a different place tell us a story or two about you and the Grateful Dead so because of I was this rock doc on the
movie you saw and because when we started the saver foundation the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane and crosby Stills and Nash and Joan Baez have all done benefit concerts for us so sometimes the parties at our house get a little strange so I'll tell you a story about Jerry Garcia when George and I were living in Ann Arbor my wife and I were living in Ann Arbor and I was a professor of Epidemiology the Grateful Dead were playing in Detroit and we invited them to stay at our house we also had the save a Foundation Board of Directors meeting at that time also at our house and Baba Ram Dass and I were playing paddle ball with Bobby we're and wavy gravy in a paddle ball court on our lawn and we saw Jerry Garcia who was sitting off watching the river go by wearing his
trademark black t-shirt black shoes black bent and I think it was Bobby where said let's go get Jerry and get him to play paddle ball with us so I went down I got Jerry and I said Jerry come on up here quit you know Ram Dass wants to say something to you wave 'yes got a gift for you and so Bobby and so Jerry Garcia came up and wavy came up he said here's a gift it's a paddle ball racket go play paddle ball and Jerry Garcia said F no you're just trying to get me and cheap me into exercising and he went back and we continued that game that's really cool once again you are ahead of time you're doing a great job talk to us about anything you'd like to think about out loud with this group so there is a movement on the west coast in philanthropy in we joke and we say in
San Francisco are billionaires are not like other billionaires Marc Benioff I'm the cover of the San Francisco magazine said if you don't give back you're not meeting the table stakes of doing business in the Bay Area and so we have lots of different foundations and many of them are just starters people who are getting there you know just beginning to understand philanthropy and usually that means they're going to build a hospital and named it after their grandfather or endow a school or give something to the engineering college that they went to and over time they get deeper and deeper into a problem that resonates with them blindness maybe because their grandmother was blind cancer maybe because their father or their mother died from cancer something that means something for them and to see these great business minds that have conquered a world of cash flow and eBay da apply
their minds to solving philanthropic problems I think is one of the things that's going to help us the most I don't think it's cheap I don't think it's silly I don't think it's window dressing or green washing I invite everybody who has the opportunity to engage in philanthropy to find something that you are passionate about and put all of your resources but especially this one to work in trying to solve that problem whether you've done a great job and you know I'm not you're ahead of schedule we have two things one we present you with this belt or today as you've kept us on schedule and second of all ladies and gentlemen Larry brilliant