Moving a Crowd

The ability to connect with an audience is a unique talent.  If you are a charismatic public speaker, whole landscapes of impact and potential open up to you.  I’m drawn to people with the ability to move a crowd and deliver a message because I’m a firm believer that words matter.

Prashant is one of those with a gift for public speaking and watching him engage a crowd reminds me so much of my brother.  I got to work with Prashant for over a month on alternative energy projects and right off the bat I got a sense that he and Josh were kindred souls.

I made that comparison early on when I saw Prashant speak at the PRA:

I was captivated by the way Prashant spoke to the crowd at the beginning of the PRA. I couldn’t understand a word he said, but I understood the feeling.  Listening really is a full body experience and whatever energy and excitement in that room flowed through me as well.  It was evident that Prashant was in his element after 10 years of community organizing.  Later, when Manasi roughly translated what Prashant had said, it became even more powerful.  Essentially, he had told the crowd that we were flying up in a helicopter to get a view of the village, and we weren’t coming down until we understood everything that we needed to understand.  He then would point at various people in the crowd - young and old, male and female - and ask them, “What do you see?” … I saw a lot of my brother in Prashant.

While a few things were lost in translation, it was clear that Prashant was engaging his audience with demonstrable pathos and ethos.  Josh has a similar talent and it’s been inspiring to see what he’s done with a stage over the years.  Earlier memories of Josh paint him with the monstrous physical frame of a Stanford goalkeeper. As his physical frame has shrunk to a more reasonable size, he has become larger than life with his ability to share his passion for global health care through mobile technology. I’m going to embarrass Josh with a few of his good ones:

2013 commencement address to UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s graduates (text)

2012 Seoul Digital Forum talk

2012 talk with our dad on storytelling at the Chautauqua Institution

2011 Make a Difference talk

2011 TEDxChapel Hill talk

2009 Poptech talk

Prashant also clearly had devoted himself to being an expert in his field.  He pursued multiple degrees in social work and is always striving to learn more about the community he seeks to serve.  Josh also shares that drive to be an expert: I always see him reaching for a new level of understanding in order to amplify his team’s impact.

In Wardha, Prashant felt like an older brother to me.  It made me feel that somehow, Josh had made it to India with me.  I carry my siblings with me always, but Prashant gave some more substance to my normally intangible connection with family.