Private Sector Council 2004 Leadership Awards Dinner
May 6, 2004
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Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for those very generous words, and I think we also owe the Secretary a great round of applause for his service to the nation.
I was telling someone when I came in that there are many, many remarkable things about Secretary Tom Ridge, but one of them that I find the most remarkable is, here is a man who has taken on what many would describe as an impossible job - a job where he can't possibly please everyone; a job where you only know he's done the right thing if nothing happens, and yet despite this incredibly difficult challenge, this is a man who I have never seen be anything other than positive, upbeat, committed and focused on the possibilities. And that kind of spirit is as much a part of great leadership as anything else.
On behalf of the 142,000 HP employees in 176 countries around the world who really make everything possible, it is a great privilege for me to receive this award tonight.
Dave Packard has been mentioned many times tonight - certainly in both speeches, as well as outside in the hall, and it was Dave Packard who said that HP exists not just to make a profit, but to make a contribution, and who believed as well that the people of HP had both an opportunity and an obligation to make a contribution.
That has been the hallmark of HP people for more than six decades, and I hope always will be. The contribution to our communities and to our nation is part of what this company has always been about, and part of what I think this group is all about.
It was 22 years ago that President Reagan reached out to America's business community to find new ways to apply private sector know-how to the business of government, and Dave Packard was one of those who answered the call. He was a co-founder of this organization, and was the first recipient of this award, so for me, it is, I must say, a special privilege to stand here this evening.
I am also proud to say that in addition to all the great contributions that HP people make here in this country and around the world, that Dave's legacy on this council has also been upheld by our Chief Financial Officer, Bob Wayman, who has served as the Chairman of the Board of this association as well.
Now, when Dave Packard and Bill Onsted worked to build the Private Sector Council beginning 22 years ago, they were actually motivated by a very simple idea, which was that even though we come to this dinner as business leaders or as government leaders, that first and foremost we are all Americans. And as Americans, we should come together to solve the most challenging problems that our country faces. And of course, when I first thought about the challenge that Tom Ridge has before him - of integrating all those employees that he talked about, it seemed that this was the kind of problem that Dave and Bill had in mind.
But the partnership and collaboration that we come here to celebrate tonight - the partnership and the collaboration between the public and the private sector that this group has stood for and contributed to for over 22 years, actually - I think is more important in this century than ever before.
And I think it is more important in this century than ever before because of two fundamental changes that we face for the first time in this century. The first is that this century marks the first time truly in history that we have a single global economy; and the second is that this is a century now where literally every process - every physical process - will over time be transformed into a digital, mobile, virtual process. And while that transformation has of course great opportunity for all - the Internet is the greatest organizing tool ever - it also has a huge opportunity for benefits.
In fact, the Secretary mentioned that I didn't start out as a technologist - my engineers and innovators would remind me that I'm still not a technologist. I started out as an historian, but I was attracted to technology because of what technology can enable; because of the possibilities that technology can unlock. But I am still interested in history to this day because I think we can learn a lot from history. And so, you'll forgive me if I give you just a bit of history - and I know I stand between you and dinner.
It was about 50 years ago actually, that two social scientists named John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern looked back on the history of the human race and they came up with a new organizing principal that they called "game theory." And fundamentally central to this idea of game theory is there are actually two types of games that motivate people and nations and businesses: there are zero-sum games, and there are non-zero sum games. Zero-sum games are games in which for one to win, one must lose. And translated of course to economics or national policy, this is the theory that for one country to win, another country must lose.
But non-zero sum games is the belief that there are such opportunities, such moments, where there can be win/win games. For one country to move ahead, another does not necessarily have to fall behind. When our interests overlap, we both can win. When we work together to create a new opportunity - which is what this council is all about - we all can win.
Now, what these two social scientists argued, and actually, what Washington's very own Robert Wright argued, is that looking back on human history, there are moments when our world has made the greatest social progress and the greatest economic progress, and those moments in time came when new technologies came along that permitted or encouraged new, richer forms of non-zero sum games - of win/win games.
In other words, when they looked back on the achievements of human history - from the invention of the wheel, to the Silk Road, to the automobile, the airplane, and I would argue, to the transformation we are going through now enabled by technology - where new technology actually makes it possible for everyone to advance together, if everyone is willing to do their part.
And so, here we are now just four years into a brand new century, a new century characterized by the fact that every process will become digital, mobile, and virtual, and a century where we truly now are a single global economy.
When I say that every process will become digital, mobile, and virtual, all you have to think about photography. It used to be a physical process. It is now digital, mobile, and virtual. All you have to do is think about music. It used to be physical, now it's digital, mobile, and virtual. Think about entertainment; think about the challenge of national security that Secretary Tom Ridge has to deal with. Every process - health care, education, national security, entertainment, a business's supply chains - all of these processes will transform into digital, mobile, virtual. It creates great challenge and great opportunity.
And of course, also now we are for the first time truly in a single global economy. So as we think about those two forces, we should ask what does it take to lead in the 21st century as a nation?
First, I think as a nation, we know that our values and our fundamental ideals represent the foundation of our leadership. They have represented the foundation of our leadership for two-plus centuries, and they will represent the foundation of our leadership for many more. But our prosperity also is required for further leadership, and that requires economic leadership. And economic leadership which drives prosperity, which allows us to protect our security - economic leadership takes competitiveness.
Nations must be competitive just as companies are. And for this nation to lead in the 21st century, we must lead in the industries, in the language of the 21st century. And that means we must lead in industries like computer technology, bio-technology, alternate energy sources and the underlying technology that creates them, space technology; we have to have the skills of the 21st century - math, science, engineering. We must invest in R&D and innovation. And for the sake of our own security, we must bring more and more people into the global economy. 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 - choices like education, and investment in R&D, and innovation and leadership in the industries of the 21st century, then we should not fear or 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, and when we have a stake in their success, we all win. That is the definition of a non-zero sum game.
I actually do believe everything is possible. I don't believe everything is easy, I don't believe everything happens right away, and I certainly don't believe that things happen without a lot of hard work by a lot of people who are inspired and focused on a worthy and common goal. But I do believe we can create a future of non-zero sum games, and I think it will require what this council has always been about. I think this council has always been about partnership and collaboration - and I think we need more of it, not less.
And I think this council has always also been about the right combination of realism and optimism. We have to be realistic that this is a period in history of great challenge without a doubt. But we have to as well be optimistic, because this is also a period of unprecedented opportunity to change the world for the better, to include more people in more places around the world in what is possible. In other words, I truly believe that through the right kind of focus, and investment, and partnership and collaboration, that this is a time when we can make more things more possible for more people than ever before in history.
Thank you very much, and thank you as well for your service to our nation