Fordam University is located a few miles from Google NYC, a rising voice in applying computer science to business and finance. An undergraduate student contacted me on LinkedIn and wondered if I’d stop by and deliver a keynote on applying AI to the world of fintech.

Many years ago at MIT I remember calling an illustrious professor at a top university, hoping to get him to attend a conference I was organizing. I also wanted to collaborate on my expert system being built for my undergrad thesis. This guy was world class, a name among names, and quite busy with the explosion of interest in expert systems. He never answered me, just some kid up in Boston. I remember the sting of not breaking through, of seemingly being ignored. My first “no.” In work, you get used to that, that a “no” is just one step closer to a “yes.”

I answered. The room was full of bright-eyed students, the energy palpable. I contributed what I could and thoroughly enjoyed the sidebar conversations that went on and on, eventually being kicked out by the maintenance staff.

Business impact? Who knows. My hope is these undergraduates go on to do amazing things, remembering when they cracked through bureacuracy, landed a speaker, and got inspired by the same technology that inspires me every day. I probably got more out of this than they did! Our bright future is in very capable hands.