“The key to being effective is to see things that other people don’t see,” Jamie told me during our conversation last month. This advice had been told to Jamie by a friend years ago, and it has defined some of the uniqueness behind Jamie’s success.
Jamie Metzl has an ability see the forest when most of society sees the trees; he can tease out the bigger-picture and find the underlying pattern through a series of events – which others see as unrelated incidents. Jamie is able to discern the pattern, and through the pattern — discern the answers.
Metzl, who served the Clinton administration as the Director for Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs for the National Security Council, and as the Executive Vice President of the Asia Society, has a long history of solving big and complex issues.
Prior to his work with the Asia Society (where he developed and led Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative, a Pan-Asia-Pacific leadership development program,) Metzl worked for the United States Department of State as Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, and Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relationships Committee — under Joe Biden (who was senator at the time.)
Reacting to a Crisis
“It’s not just about what you do in the crisis, but about who you are and who you train yourself to be before the crisis happens” Jamie Metzl told me.
When crisis strikes — there is often an opportunity provided, if the individual can anticipate and react to the new challenges placed by the crisis.
Jamie’s life was impacted significantly by the pandemic, but he managed to pivot. Many of his speaking engagements, for example, were cancelled — but he found success through his thought leadership and also through the creation of his non-profit: One Shared World.
Focusing on Impact
Jamie’s father and grandparents emigrated to Kansas city after World War II, which is where Jamie was born.
As a freshman at Brown, Jamie became friends with someone who was a survivor of genocide. This experience compelled Jamie to travel to a refugee camp in Thailand, where he volunteered to help the community. This initiated a life-long journey of advocating for human rights.
Jamie then attended Oxford University, where he received his PhD in Southeast Asian history, and began to seek answers as to why the world had failed to respond to the Cambodian genocide.
After Oxford, Jamie received his JD from Harvard Law School, where he got involved with the structural issues of human rights and governments.
Metzl’s interest in the Cambodia Genocide developed into an opportunity for him to serve the people of Cambodia when he became the Human Rights Officer for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia. In this role, Metzl successfully development a monitoring unit and human rights investigation in Cambodia. Metzl then joined the White House security counsel as a White House Fellow, where he lead a government initiative on conflict prevention and response.
The Importance of Developing Diverse Areas of Expertise
Metzl has written the novels Depths of the Sea, Genesis Code and Eternal Sonata, and also the non-fiction work Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity. Like many other industry leaders, Metzl demonstrates that diversifying your areas of expertise can have a multiplier effect and make you more adept at other skills.
Regarding the origins of coronavirus, Jamie was one of the first people to assert that we needed to do a more thorough investigation, prior to assuming knowledge of the source. He stresses the importance of being open minded, and of not adopting a mindset that is immutable.
Jamie Metzl has been able to highlight some sources of disinformation around the origins of COVID-19, and the causes of this disinformation.
In earliest days of covid it became clear to Jamie that many of our processes could and should be improved. He recognized that COVID-19 was fundamentally a global problem, and had to be solved as a global problem. The issue, however, is that the world isn’t necessarily organized effectively to solve global problems with unanimity. Thus, Jamie realized that in order to solve problems like these in the future — society would require an organization that was designed to facilitate different countries to address the issue collectively.
Metzl, who launched a Biology ETF earlier this month, stresses the importance of humility as a means of acquiring new knowledge. By constantly challenging yourself to learn more, and by facing obstacles and thresholds that you haven’t yet faced, humility can drive us to become better versions of ourselves.
How to Make Big Changes
Metzl seeks to make an impact, and has done so by combining vision, structural reform, and project execution; three ingredients which are essential in order to make big changes. Making an impact requires more than just inspiration; it requires the in-depth and long-term planning and broad outlook to predict the outcomes and figure out the most strategic way to allocate efforts.
One Shared World
Jamie Metzl, the Founder and Chair of One Shared World, has created an organization that is striving to bring the world together to solve global problems.
Around the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Metzl recognized a broader theme at play. He realized that many global threats and catastrophes, including COVID-19, are a direct result of society’s failure to act as a global organization – which he describes as “our inability to act in ways that recognize humanity’s deep interdependence. What affects one of us, eventually affects all of us. From pandemics, to climate change, to system poverty, our fates are bound together.”
The mission of One Shared World is to “harness the power of collective action to solve our greatest common challenges.” To do so, the organization mobilizes individuals, institutions, and governments to work together for global preservation.
Now 120 countries strong, One Shared World already has campaigns that help vulnerable populations and public health initiatives.
Metzl, an advisor to the World Health Organization, understands the importance of tackling global problems with a global task force. With a global reach, One Shared World might be equipped to face challenges that have long been insuperable.