I had the great fortune of attending the recent, first-ever Forbes Under 30 Summit here in Philadelphia the past couple days. If you don’t know, every year Forbes publishes a list of some of the most brilliant minds under 30 in 15 different categories, ranging from music to law to food and beyond. If one made the list or has been on the list in a prior year, an invite was extended to attend the conference. If you’ve never been on the list, the remainder of the limited seats available were by invitation only. I was extremely fortunate to be extended an invitation to attend. The speakers included a wide array of public figures, including Peter Thiel (co-founder Paypal), Monica Lewinsky, Petra Nemcova, Neil Blumenthal (Warby Parker), Danny Meyer (Shake Shake, Union Square Restaurants), Steve Case (AOL), Malala, Dr. Raj Panjabi, Afrojack, Sean Rad (Tinder), Kat Cole (Cinnabon), Sara Blakely (SPANX), Palmer Luckey (Oculus Rift) and many more.
Day one started with a speech by Monica Lewinsky about how one’s reputation can be affected by the internet and her recent work to combat cyber-bullying. This was her first public statement in 13 years. She started by saying she was a 22-year old that fell in love with her boss, but her boss happened to be the President of the United States. The FBI threatened her and her family with decades of imprisonment and her entire life was picked apart and dissected by the special prosecutor, Ken Starr. After Starr’s report was published online, the entire world suddenly knew every intimate detail of her life. Critics attacked her looks, her character, her family and every part of her being. She became the subject of jokes and ridicule around the world. It became impossible for her to move on. As she described it, she was “patient zero:” the first person to have her reputation shredded by the internet.
As anyone who reads recent news knows, cyber bullying has become a big issue. Kids are bullied, harassed and ganged up on online and in some cases, it has led to children committing suicide. Lewinsky’s new mission is to combat cyber bullying and attempt to bring a level of compassion back to every day behavior, especially online. It was a brave speech and she received a standing ovation. If you’d like to read the text of her speech in its entirety, you can do so here.
Up next: part II: panel of successful women leaders, women in tech, Tinder, and more