President Obama seems to be preparing for his post-presidential life unlike any president that came before him. The New York Times today uses a private February dinner at the White House to illustrate a key part of the process: At the dinner, Obama schmoozed into the wee hours with a who's who of big names in fields ranging from technology to entertainment, and the piece includes a nugget sure to please the makers of a certain vodka: "Guests say his drink of choice at the gatherings is an extra-dry Grey Goose martini." The president wasn't hitting the guests up for money—yet. But the big goal is to eventually create an endowment of up to $1 billion to fund not just a state-of-the-art library but a host of initiatives ranging from helping minority youths, health care, climate change, and income inequality.
Obama is using such informal sessions to sound out ideas and hear new ones, reports the Times. “He loves those sessions,” says one adviser. “They’re very nourishing to him.” Among the guests at the February dinner: LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, authors Toni Morrison and Malcolm Gladwell, hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, venture capitalist John Doerr, and actress Eva Longoria. (Read more President Obama stories.)