Milken CEO Delivers Big Time

I was able to speak with Mike Klowden CEO of the Milken Institute regarding the 2017 Annual gathering that kicks off this Sunday May 30th at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills California.

I will be attending myself so stayed tuned for unique highlights from the event.

Mr. Klowden tells us about the Milken Institute, philanthropy, healthcare, his vision going forward and how Forbes readers will be able access to some insights on Facebook Live and LinkedIn. 

Here was our discussion:

Q1. What can you tell us about the Milken Institute and the Global Conference to update Forbes readers who don't know much about it?

The Global Conference brings leaders and innovators from around the world, some of the smartest people who represent a wide range of disciplines and expertise, together to hash out solutions to some of humanity’s toughest challenges. This year, more than 4,000 people from more than 50 countries will attend. And we’ll have 700-plus speakers addressing topics like climate change, terrorism, artificial intelligence, the refugee crisis and aging.

People who’ve attended in the past tend to say that what they value most about Global Conference is the opportunity to choose their own adventures. They enjoy stepping outside their comfort zones and thinking about problems in a different way.

In some ways, Global Conference represents the essence of who we are at the Milken Institute. We go beyond research and discussion to orchestrate actions that help solve seemingly intractable problems – particularly those which require innovative financing.

Q2. The event has grown significantly. Can you tell us about this?

This is our 20th Global Conference, and it just keeps growing in terms of in terms of the challenges that we take on and the areas of expertise we draw.

We believe a big reason for the continued demand lies in the fact that we welcome a diversity of perspectives. And we foster a spirit of respectful dialogue. We’ve all recognized what’s been lost with the erosion of civility and mutual respect — the willingness to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. Global Conference tries to reinforce and celebrate those traditional values, and I think people are encouraged by that.

But what’s the biggest reason for our growth? We believe it’s our focus on trying to find actionable solutions to the tough problems, not just to talk about them. People come because they know we won’t begin and end with a nice discussion. We’ll be seeking, and pushing for, tangible action.

Q3.  The event has been the catalyst for many philanthropic causes. Can you highlight some of these?

The ability to partner with talented, committed people to change lives for the better has been an enormous honor for us. We’ve had opportunity to make a difference in almost every corner of the world, on almost every issue. The founding of our Center for Strategic Philanthropy has greatly expanded our ability to do this. The center offers strategic counsel to help donors deliver the greatest possible impact from their giving.

Q4. The institute has been instrumental in research and funding for healthcare, medical and biotech. What can you share on this?

Of course, health – along with economics – is a major part of our DNA. One of our longest running Centers is FasterCures. Even though our role was mostly behind the scenes, providing research, information sharing and a forum for consensus building, we are proud of the support we gave to the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. We are firm believers that basic scientific research is a necessary foundation to medical breakthroughs.

Just to name a couple other examples: we incubated a nonprofit foundation that is now the largest private funder of melanoma research, and we’ve helped direct philanthropic investment in research areas like cancer immunotherapy and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Q5. For Forbes readers who can’t make it to the Global Conference, is there some information that is made available by the institute online?

We livestream many of the panels from our website, and several of our panels will be broadcast on media and internet channels. In addition, this year we’ve partnered with LinkedIn and Facebook Live as additional avenues to share content from the conference.

Q6. What is your vision for the event and the institute as we go forward?

I’m a big believer in the power of civil discourse — just the basic notion that we need to listen to each other, especially those we disagree with and try to understand their point of view. I’d like to see more people emulate our approach. Our hope is to inspire others to spend more time listening and less arguing.  And I’m always excited about what the discussions will bring: the spark of a connection, the start of an idea that leads to changed lives, even saved lives.