Bill Clinton Keynotes Dell World 2012

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton took the stage during Dell World 2012 in Austin, Texas, at 12:12 pm on 12/12/12 to a standing ovation. I want to share the essence of some of his thoughts that were captured on Twitter during his presentation.

  • President Clinton sees the world improving due to what he coined as “networks of creative cooperation.” He sees these networks as helping the world realize solutions to its most daunting challenges much faster.
  • The “world is too unequal, not just in income but in access to education.” The implication of this inequality is there cannot be a true global marketplace with gross global inequalities. It is not possible to build a true global marketplace when billions of people do not have access to money, food, water and education.
  • The market economy needs some inequality and inefficiency to encourage risk-taking but too much shuts things down.
  • Poor countries need systems and to reward good conduct for positive results. Rich countries take too much for granted, e.g., electricity, toilets, education and roads. He mentioned that one place he visited in Africa required 1.5 days to travel 11 miles via the “road.”
  • The dilemma in rich societies: Systems become more interested in holding on to what they have got than creating the future.
  • Global political instability is a significant challenge the world faces and fosters economic instability.
  • If baby boomers consume healthcare dollars at the same rate as the prior generation, it will break the bank. Baby boomers need to be healthier than the prior generation.
  • Climate change debate needs to be focused around how to deal with the problem, not whether the problem exists.
  • If we want to help entrepreneurs and small businesses do more, we need to ensure that we have the fastest download speeds in the world. Technology infrastructure is key to being competitive in a global economy.
  • We should fix the tax code to allow for the repatriation of overseas corporate profits and use those tax funds for essential infrastructure investments which will create jobs.
  • We need to start lending to small businesses and help them with healthcare and environmental costs via the tax structure.
  • Healthcare costs have risen at a rate far greater than inflation and the impact has been that employees are not getting raises because of healthcare costs.
  • We have to live with differences and still feel good about ourselves. He strongly recommended a book The Big Sort: Why The Clustering Of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. Here is part of the book’s description from Amazon.com.: Over the past three decades, we have been choosing the neighborhood (and church and news show) compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. The result is a country that has become so polarized, so ideologically inbred that people do no’t know and cannot understand those who live a few miles away. How this came to be, and its dire implications for our country, is the subject of this ground-breaking work. In The Big Sort, Bishop has taken his analysis to a new level. He begins with stories about how we live today and then draws on history, economics and our changing political landscape to create one of the most compelling big picture accounts of America in recent memory.
  • The hardest thing to do is to get an old country like the U.S. to invest in tomorrow, e.g., education, research.
  • The greatest barrier to change: the future never has a lobby as strong as the status quo.
  • When Bill Clinton was inaugurated in January 1993 — 20 years ago — a cellular phone weighed 5 pounds and there were a total of 50 websites in the world.

I hope you will take a few minutes to ponder some of these thoughts. Is there anything in this for you and your team about how these realities might guide your thinking in the months and years ahead?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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