"Use us more"
Electronic Industries Alliance Government and Industry Dinner
May 25, 2004
© Copyright 2004 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.
Thank you, Ron, for that most generous introduction, and it is really wonderful to be here this evening with many new friends, but I’ve also had a great opportunity to see so many old friends, as well.
I can remember sitting in kind of small, dark hotel rooms – they were board meetings really – TIA with Matt and with Pete and arguing about, I think in those days, we were arguing about divestiture. And it’s wonderful to see so many old friends, and I must say of all the things I’ve done in my career, I did not imagine that I would be the closing act for Arnold Schwarzenegger, either.
Speaking of our Governator, I do want to say before I begin that I had the honor of playing a quite small part in the Governor’s transition team, and I think the Governor has brought many gifts to his job, but one of his greatest gifts perhaps, has been the message that he has delivered over and over again, and that is let us not focus on the barriers to success, let us focus on the possibilities. And that philosophy I think has allowed him to achieve so much more than others would have dreamed possible. And I also believe that it is people who focus on the possibilities, who in the end always achieve more than people who focus on limitations.
Of course, we must understand the barriers and the limitations; we must be realistic about them, but we must focus on the possibilities. At, HP actually, we say “everything is possible,” and a cynic might assume that that’s just a marketing slogan, but I actually do believe that. I don’t think everything is easy; I don’t think everything happens right away; and I certainly don’t think everything happens exactly as you plan it, but I do think that when people work together, focused on a worthy goal, inspired by a common purpose, that everything is possible.
And that belief is something that I have tried to bring to the job every day. So, I want to first say on behalf of 142,000 – actually it’s 145,000 – HP employees today, in 178 countries around the world, it is a great privilege to receive this award. And I want to thank as well the 2,500 organizations represented by this outstanding organization, and also say my own special thanks and commendation to your president, Dave McCurdy. Thanks so much, Dave.
One of the things that I thought about for this speech was the fact that one of the people who stood and received an award was our cofounder, Dave Packard, who received this award 30 years ago. A lot of things have changed about HP since that day 30 years ago, but I think there are two things about HP that are as true today as they were then.
The first is a belief that as much as our capabilities matter, our character matters more. It was Dave Packard who first said that HP existed not just to make a profit, but to make a contribution, and believed as well that the people at HP had both an opportunity and an obligation to make a contribution. And this belief has been a hallmark of HP’s for more than six decades, and I believe it always will be.
The second is a profound belief that what we do as a company, what we all do as an industry, is essential not just for our country’s economic security, but for our country’s national security, as well. America has been called the indispensable nation, and I think now more than any time in our history, if America is the indispensable nation, then all of you represent the indispensable industry. And what we do together in the next ten years will be crucial, I believe, in America’s ability to succeed in its economic security and vitality as well as its national security.
Now, one of the great privileges of having the position that I do is that I get to spend a lot of time around the world. And I get to see first-hand in some ways, what this country and what our industry can mean to the rest of the world, and the difference that our industry can make to the rest of the world. So I’d like to tell you tonight actually about four encounters, if you will – four stories that I’ve had in the past year, because I think these stories are as instructive and informative about the choices this nation and this industry should make as any white paper or policy document that this city can produce.
First encounter I want to tell you about is with a group of young students that I was speaking to at Tsinghua University. For those of you who know China, you know that Tsinghua University is the university in Beijing, and it is where most of the government leaders have been educated over many decades.
And I had given a talk on the qualities that I thought defined leadership and success, and opened it up to these young people for questions. Now being China and Beijing in a time when headlines across the world suggest that our while our relationship is getting better, that we may not always think in the same way, I’m not quite sure what I was prepared for, but I was not prepared for what I got.
The first student got up and asked how I balanced work and family. The second student got up and asked if I had ever thought of starting my own business and if so, how she, by extension, should think about starting about her own business. A third student got up and said that he really didn’t like his major, that he had heard that I didn’t like mine either – I was a law school dropout – but his parents wouldn’t let him change, but perhaps I thought it was a good idea to change. And so I said, in other words, you would like to tell your parents that Carly Fiorina told you to change your major – at which point the audience did what you did, they laughed.
And the first thought I had when we finished this was that this is precisely the same conversation that I would have with students in the United States. The second thought I had was, this is where two decades of engagement with China has got us; this is where two decades of free trade, and exposure to free market capitalism, and ultimately, the work that we all did to bring China into the WTO and help them adhere to global norms has brought us. These students don’t hate America; they don’t want to destroy us, they don’t want to beat us. They actually want to be more like us, although they are proud of their own culture and their own country. They do not want to be our enemies; they want to be our partners.
And for the first time in history, a generation of Chinese students can believe for certain that their lives will be better than the lives their parents lived, because they are part of the global economy we all share.
The second encounter I’d like to tell you about came through some of the work that HP is doing in India, with two young women I heard about named Saraswati and Gowri. They live in a rural community called Kuppam, India, and it’s about 100 miles from Bangalore. It is a place where one in three citizens is illiterate, more than half of the households have no electricity, and most of the able-bodied adults are HIV-positive.
These young women were forced to leave school after the fifth and seventh grades respectively, because their families could not afford their schooling. Now, one of the questions we ask at HP is, how do we use technology to bring opportunity to places like Kuppam, India? And we had a number of our inventors in this village in India, and they came up with the idea in observing the village around them, of a solar-powered digital camera and a solar-powered printer, and this equipment fits into a backpack.
Saraswati and Gowri were among ten young women chosen to be trained as village photographers and given this digital, solar-powered camera and other equipment, and after two weeks of training, they were able to serve as official photographers for a launch event that we did that was overseen by the region’s Chief Minister. Now, seeing how people loved having their picture taken with their elected officials, these two young women seized on a business opportunity: they decided to follow the minister on his rounds selling inexpensive photo ops. In less than a week, they had earned the equivalent of a month’s income. For both of them it meant that they would be able to better educate their children, and finally bring tap water into their homes.
And today, not only do they photograph engagement ceremonies and many other important family occasions – occasions that in the past were not recorded because it was too expensive – they are now working to set up a fund that other young women in their village can use to start up their own businesses. And these two young women have become so successful in their village that now their husbands tag along with them. My husband doesn’t tag along by the way.
Now, let me ask you a question: do you think these young women believe that America is a great Satan? I don’t think so. I don’t think these young women want to destroy us; they don’t want to be our enemy. Any impulse they had to hate has been overcome by an impulse to hope, because they are no longer on the outside looking in, they are now part of the global economy we all share, perhaps in a small way to us, but in an incredibly significant way to them.
The third story came about a month ago at a conference in Ireland, just a week before the European Union expanded to include ten new member nations. I was asked to come and speak to the European Union economic ministers about competitiveness and innovation, and at one point, the conversation turned to the fact that there were still some very hard issues to work through in the continuing peace process in Northern Ireland. And someone asked one of the ministers if there was any chance that they would turn back to the troubles, as they call them in Ireland, that have defined the last 30 years. His answer was interesting. He said, “Why would we? We are finally getting our first taste of prosperity in the global economy. Why would we want to turn our backs on that?”
It is true. After a decade of peace, the economy of Northern Ireland has begun to turn around, in part because of the progress made in the Republic of Ireland the past ten years, and the example it has set for the entire Emerald Isle. Do you think any of the people benefiting from that change would be receptive to turning the clock back to the days of violence and bloodshed? They too are part of the global economy we all share.
And I think this is what the critics and the fear mongers miss in the debate over competitiveness and innovation that this organization has done so much to define. The more we engage the rest of the world, the more we can use the wealth and power of this country, and the enabling and empowering capabilities of this industry, to empower and enable people all over the world. The more we build a world in which we have fewer enemies and more friends, and in the process, we not only of course create a more prosperous world that can buy our products, we create a more secure world for us all.
I am not a technologist by training. I studied, believe it or not, medieval history and philosophy, and you already know I was a law school dropout. But what attracted me to technology was what technology enables, what it empowers people to do – the set of possibilities that our industries make possible for people. And here’s where the warning bell that EIA and others have worked so hard to ring the past five years comes into play.
Some say we should fear China and India and all the new members of the EEU, but what this association says is that as long as we do the things we need to do to lead in the industries and language of the 21st century just as we have always done, we have no reason to fear progress from others; we should welcome it. As long as we continue to do the things necessary to lead in industries like computer technology, and nanotechnology, and biotechnology and underlying alternative energy sources, and even space technology, we have no reason to fear. As long as we help our own people and invest our own energies to help our children master the skills of the 21st century; math, and science and engineering, we have no reason to fear. As long as we invest in R&D and innovation, and all of the great proposals in the EIA playbook, we have no reason to fear.
If we make the choices necessary to sustain our own competitiveness as a nation; if we make the choices necessary to sustain our own leadership as a nation, then we should not fear or have to protect ourselves against the employment of Indians, or Chinese or even Iraqis some day – we should welcome it. We should welcome it because when these nations have a stake in our success, as we have a stake in their success, we all win.
Frankly, our industry is one in which just 10 percent in the world today can afford to buy the products we make. For us, this is a fundamental issue of long-term growth, not just national competitiveness. If we want to remain successful well into the 21st century, as an industry we have to acknowledge that many of the ideas, the markets, the products and the employees of the future are going to come from the other 90 percent of the world that isn’t a full participant in the global economy today.
That’s the lesson I learned from the three encounters that I just told you about, but the lesson I learned from a fourth encounter I want to tell you about was even greater. It occurred at a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan last June. I was listening to a discussion on the political barriers in the Middle East today, and all of the challenges and issues that we are all so familiar with and yet somehow all feel so helpless to solve on some days. And as the discussion got more and more heated, I noticed a security guard standing off to the side of the stage who was listening very intently to this conversation.
So after the discussion, I walked up to him as I was walking backstage, and I asked him what he thought about what he was hearing. He told me that he was Egyptian, and he said, “You know, we talk a lot about politics here and rightly so, but if we are going to bring about the kind of change we must, it is not about politics, it is about economics.” This is from an Egyptian security guard.
If you look at the Arab world today, you see 200 million people – half of whom are under the age of 18, without nearly enough jobs or opportunity to go around. And we have all seen too clearly over the last several years, the kind of destruction that can result from this kind of despair. And as I reminded some people at a speech I gave at Minneapolis, when Ron and his lovely wife were together a couple of years ago, it is interesting to remember that during the Middle Ages when Islam was the center of the political and economic world, and Muslims were the centers of global trade, Islamic scholars preached tolerance and coexistence with Christians and Jews.
Iraq obviously is a big part of the opportunity, as well as the challenge that lies ahead. But if you look to the wider world at the first three examples that I cited, and then the last one with the security guard, what is the biggest difference between them? The biggest difference between the first three examples and the last one is the use of information technology. China, India, Ireland. It is no accident that in the last few years, China has gone from very few Internet users, to 80 million – and is expected to reach one billion Internet users by 2010. India has made investments in IT, and IT training is a priority. And Northern Ireland, where we now have over 4,000 people who have been attracted there by the policies of the Irish government, Northern Ireland ranks high among the number of science and engineering graduates in Europe.
And in the Middle East conversely, only one-half of one person of the Arab world is online – a rate lower than Sub-Sahara in Africa. And there are some leaders in the Middle East, like King Abdul of Jordan, who are working very hard to change that, and we are proud, as I know many of your companies are, to be working with them.
As we think about how to create a world with more hope and less despair, a world with more friends and fewer enemies, a world where our economic security can help bring about our national security, I think the message from this dinner tonight to policymakers in Washington, D.C. is a simple three word message: use us more.
Use us more – not only the business community, but particularly electronic and information technology to build these bridges. Use us more for three reasons: Use us first, because what we do is increasingly at the center of what every other industry does, because we are driving the change that is changing every industry and every economy in the world today. Use us because we are at the start of a new century, a new century in which for the first time in human history, every process – every process in the world will be transformed from physical and static and analog, to digital, mobile, virtual and ultimately, personal. And with that transformation every industry from healthcare, to education, to national security, to entertainment will be changed by it.
Use us because this is an industry that is truly engaged globally in every market, in every region on earth. We are actually at a very unique time in our human history – sorry, but remember I was a history major – it’s unique in the sense that for the first time, I believe, perhaps business leaders have as much first-hand experience in international affairs as our political leaders. Dare I say it? Perhaps more.
And even Congress felt that it wasn’t particularly an asset that only one-third of its members had passports as recently as the mid-1990s. Every time I come here to Washington, I’m struck by how much Washington’s leaders want to know about our experience with foreign leaders. All of us are here today to build partnerships in local communities around the world on the grounds that the long arm of government programs and investment have not yet reached, and this industry – you are an asset.
And third, use us because for years, it was easy to assume that just because some people didn’t have the same opportunities as everyone else, they didn’t have the same talent. And what this industry, I believe, is helping to prove is that those ugly assumptions and stigmas are wrong because not only does every single person have potential inside of them, but the right opportunity married to the right use of technology can help unlock that potential and take that person and this world to places we have never been before.
Now of course, all of this requires the right combination of realism and optimism. We have to be realistic, this stuff is very hard. None of this happens right away, and we as well have to be realistic about the fact that none of us can do this alone, which is why EIA is so important. And we also have to be realistic that sometimes, it is two steps forward and three steps back before it is two steps forward and one step back.
But I also think we have great reason to be optimistic. Indeed we must be optimistic, because optimism is required for progress of any kind. I do actually believe, as I said at the outset, that everything is possible. And I think the presence of so many of you here today and the fine mark of EIA over many years, and the history of the relationships we have built to advance security and prosperity in the past gives us great reason for optimism today and tomorrow. And I believe the great possibilities that we are so optimistic about will only come about if we focus on those possibilities, not simply on the barriers and the limitations. And those possibilities will only come about if we continue to work together.
Thank you very much for this very high honor this evening.