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After spending the week in New York City for the 2022 Concordia Annual Summit, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what it means to come together.

Concordia gathers heads of state, government officials, C-suite executives, and NGO leaders to address the significant issues of our time through the lens of cross-sector collaboration.

This year’s gathering marked the first return to an entirely in-person Annual Summit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; over the past two years, we have hosted a fully or partially digital event, with our speakers and attendees joining us from all over the world.

As great as a digital event can be, it doesn’t replicate the energy and excitement of an in-person convening. For three full days, I met with our Leadership Council Members, Advisors, Partners, Sponsors, and Members, shook hands with speakers, talked with attendees from every corner of the globe, and watched as members of our community met with one another—perhaps for the first time, but certainly for the first time in years. 

Let me tell you, the experience was extraordinary and needed. Coming together in person is simply far-and-away a greater experience than convening digitally.

In our daily lives, we are surrounded by technology. From our phones—capable of connecting to a world of information in a second—to our computers—capable of connecting us to each other all over the world—we take for granted how much connectivity we hold in our hands. And yet true connectivity, which can only take place when we come together in person, is something technology can’t recreate. The energy of a room full of people, the organic networking between sessions, and the clarity of communicating face-to-face are invaluable and unable to be reproduced. 

Only when we are face-to-face can we truly look each other in the eyes and say: I see you. I hear you. I understand you.

At Concordia, I talked about the one degree that separates us from everyone we know. By that, I mean you are only a single handshake away from opening your network to someone else’s. And those connections can create a lasting impact.

Last year, as we kicked off the 2021 Concordia Annual Summit, the SpaceX Inspiration4 flight was due to return to Earth after becoming the first commercial vehicle to send private citizens into space. The flight was scheduled to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, but all it would have taken to redirect it to another landing site, say the Gulf of Mexico, was to alter its course by one degree.

One single degree would have been all it took to alter the history of spaceflight. Similarly, in our own lives, one single degree of separation—the distance between you and me—is all it would take to alter our own histories. 

One handshake and a connection is made, a possibility opened, or a deal brokered. Closing that one degree of separation can make a tremendous impact on every facet of our lives. That’s the value of connecting.

We came together in New York City last month to chart a course forward through the post-pandemic world and to build on a spirit of international cooperation. I am proud to say that, across many single degrees of separation, we put forth a tremendous number of ideas and inspiration toward achieving that goal.

If we connected at Concordia, I am glad we closed our one degree of separation. If we didn’t, I look forward to seeing you in the future. 

Concordia will release key dates in its 2023 agenda over the coming days and weeks. To collaborate with us, please get in touch by emailing partnerships@concordia.net