More than 800 donors and friends gathered to hear former Aspen Institute CEO, author and journalist Walter Isaacson speak at Lipscomb University’s Imagine 2019 in Allen Arena on Monday evening.

Isaacson, former chairman of CNN and editor of TIME magazine, examined the theme of leadership in innovation. Isaacson is also a renowned biographer. His most recent biography, Leonardo da Vinci (2017), offers new discoveries about Leonardo’s life and work, weaving a narrative that connects his art to his science. He is also the author of Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007),Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992).

Among Isaacson’s main points this evening were:

  • Isaacson discussed lessons learned through his research and writing about Leonardo da Vinci. The main lessons that Isaacson said he learned that he passes on to students and to others is to have obsessive playful curiosity and to be passionately observant
  • “When I look at what makes a creative city — and Nashville is one of the top in the country — I think that creativity and imagination is moving from Silicon Valley and the engineers into real spaces where people apply it to things like the life sciences, music or many other things.” — Walter Isaacson
  • “Cities that have great creativity have great universities. When we look at Nashville’s economy — we have the health sciences and all of that. But another huge industry is education. If you really want to make a town thrive, make its universities thrive. And Nashville has a large number of universities and it is thriving.” — Walter Isaacson
  • “This country is fractured, politics is polarized, Washington has become dysfunctional, the way media covers it is dysfunctional and polarized — after a period like that if we are going to rebuild the country on the values of a Ben Franklin — it has to come from the communities up. It’s not going to come from the Washington leadership down.” — Walter Isaacson  
  • “One of the most important things we do in life is balance tradition with innovation. An institution was made well before you came and will be there long after you leave. Being part of an institution is about connecting your passion with something bigger than yourself.” — Walter Isaacson

In 2016, Lipscomb launched its Imagine initiative to convene conversations of significance that bring leaders from around the world to Nashville to engage the community in topics of local and global importance and to share their stories and unique perspectives. Past speakers and topics:

  • President George W. Bush was the featured guest in February 2016 for the inaugural Imagine convening. The topic was  “Nashville: An Emerging City with Global Significance.”
  • Magic and Cookie Johnson led a discussion of “Nashville” Prosperity for All Corners of the City” in 2017 through which the Lipscomb community examined the ideas of faith, redemption, entrepreneurship and community transformation.
  • In 2018 author and journalist Tom Brokaw examined the power of telling Nashville’s story.

Also this evening ….

  • Musicians Natalie Grant and Wintley Phipps performed
  • The Lipscomb University men’s basketball team, that made it to the NIT championship game on April 4, was also recognized

Imagine 2019 is a by-invitation-only event for Lipscomb Associates, donors of $1,000 or more annually. In January, Lipscomb launched LipscombLEADS, a campaign to invest $250 million in the university in the next three years.

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