September 20th, 2013
06:33 PM ET

Clinton: People yearning to make a difference

Fareed sat down earlier this week with former President Bill Clinton. Watch the full and exclusive interview on “Fareed Zakaria GPS” this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1p.m. ET on CNN.

Tell me about the Clinton Global Initiative. What's the thing that most surprised you about how much success you've been able to achieve with it?

I wouldn’t have believed that we would be able to document more than 400 million people whose lives have been helped in some way or another by this. I’ve been surprised by the sheer creativity and variety of the commitments, and the enduring appeal of going to a meeting where somebody actually asks you to do something, to make a commitment, and then helps you to keep it, and asks you to report it and to follow up.

Look, our model is not perfect. We’re still trying to get, you know, 100 percent of our people who make commitments to report on their progress.  We’re still trying to get people to 'fess up if they have trouble so we can help them, or maybe make a different commitment.

But it has been stunning. I mean, the idea that over these first eight years we’ve had thousands of commitments, operating in 180 countries.  And you can literally document more than 400 million people who have received some benefit as a result of this beehive of activity...

...[W]hat I think that speaks to is the yearning people have to make a difference and to make a commitment.  People are hungry for information, but they want to act on it.  They don't want to go to any more meetings where all they do is discuss what should be done or tell the politicians on the one hand, or the business leaders on the other what they should do.

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