Power of Connections: YPO GLC 2017 Concludes

The power of connections is often said to be the true power of YPO.

While members engaged with peers during two days of educational workshops at the 2017 Global Leadership Conference, the five stories shared on the final day during the second-annual YPO LAB (Leaders Across Borders) program was both motivating and moving.

Co-chaired by YPO members Frank Baer and Duane Zobrist, and with music provided by legendary deejay Richard Blade, YPO LAB utilizes inspired storytelling to advance peer-to-peer learning.

The program opened with journalist and author Sangitaa Advani who shared the story of her daughter who was born with down syndrome. While the initial diagnosis shook the family to the core, the family mantra of “no compromise” was in full force going forward. Over the past two decades, Advani’s daughter showed heroic strength as her love of education enabled her to not only graduate from high school but be accepted into college. And while all has not gone smoothly – and there are challenges the family is facing today – Advani believes that “ability isn’t as important as possibility. If you nurture possibility, then your seed will flower. There’s no such thing as disability when we cultivate learnability.”

“Hope is the first step toward meaningful change,” said Christopher Rolfe, Director at Christopher Rolfe Advisory. Rolfe has been heavily involved with developing mobile health care buses, which bring medical, dental and optometric services to students in rural communities in Africa. This innovative practice of bringing services to communities – instead of asking people to travel long distances when they are ill – is having a significant impact on thousands of people. Rolfe foresees using mobile buses to bring banking, retail services and entrepreneurial hubs to rural communities all over Africa.

Life came easily to Jana Koerner-Safrata. But in high school, she hit a roadblock and was diagnosed a “high-functioning anorexic,”, where everything was more important than her health. “Jana’s life was slipping away and I was powerless,” explained her father, Robert Safrata, CEO of Novex Courier. “In fact, any help we gave her only enabled her ability to stay sick.” Koerner-Safrata battled anorexia for years but it wasn’t until September 2014 that she found herself in a clinic at Lima, Peru, where she found her road to recovery. And by her side was her father who took a sabbatical from his work. “I flooded Lima with tears, went to counseling and went on many, many walks” remembered Safrata. “This experience taught me to trust the things I’m afraid of as they are life itself.”

“Persistence fueled by purpose is why I am standing here today,” said Yi Li, Founder and CEO of Renogy. Without these driving forces, the bigotry, hostility and dismissiveness that she encountered when working on her solar kit company while a doctoral student at Louisiana State University, could have stalled her in her track. Her passion took hold and her dream for a sustainable future helped her overcome the self-doubt. “Despite all obstacles, my passions and visions remained crystal clear. I was able to bring the clean-energy lifestyle to market the concept of solar power more relatable to the everyday person. Resistance and purpose are the two keywords for all of these who wish to have new start to guide into the unknown, to follow their passion and dreams.”

Although the 2017 Global Leadership Conference has come to an end, the learning experience continues tomorrow when more than 2,500 business leaders gather to sharpen their edge at the YPO EDGE.


For more than 30 years, Heather has been creating innovative content for a myriad of communities including business leaders, nonprofit, energy, health care, education and aviation. She has been with YPO since 2014, currently serving as Communications Director leading the member communications team.