Alibaba’s Jack Ma: Attitude is Everything (Best Motivational Speech)

Alibaba’s Jack Ma, China’s second-richest man, visits Obama at the White House

When it comes to solving really hard problems, Ma has a famous quote that I love: “Today is hard. Tomorrow will be worse. But the day after that will be beautiful. Most of your talent won’t make it past tomorrow.” But as a leader, you must inspire people through those hardest times: To stick with it, to move through it, and to see past it so they can make it to the day where things are beautiful. That’s when you’re really innovating. You have get your team there.

I’m a dropout of Harvard Business School, but I took a very helpful leadership class while I was there that really stuck with me. We discussed looking at problems from every angle, and looking at the person inside the puzzle. See their picture, their concern, their point of view, and understand that people feel passionately the way they do. Your job is to see the 360º and come up with the answers.

On the flip side, you have to balance this by pushing people to their boundaries. How do you get there, if most people don’t make it past Jack Ma’s tomorrow? You ache to get talent to do things they’ve never done before. And that’s hard.

Jack Ma: Attitude is Everything (Best Motivational Speech)

Transcript of the Video:

0:00
I think today people worry a lot about
0:06
the world about the economy China
0:09
economy in the world and I’m a very
0:12
optimistic when people start to worry
0:14
that that is the opportunity is but I
0:17
worry about the blood testing and she
0:19
created and good things and I think
0:22
great innovations great companies always
0:25
happening in the tough times lives like
0:28
the music you have a pivot down you’re
0:31
allowing of a shot notes and I like your
0:34
American movie life life is like a box
0:36
of chocolate you never know what you’re
0:37
going to get right so I’m pretty
0:40
optimistic the opportunity in the future
0:42
for equality is huge because indeed in
0:46
the last century the IT is for big
0:49
companies the globalization is for big
0:52
companies but now with the technology we
0:55
can serve those 80% of the companies
0:57
that never being served we can serve the
0:59
80% of young people that never served
1:01
technology for Internet is so cheap so
1:05
easy to use one of the reasons why we
1:08
grow in China ecommerce so fast much
1:11
faster than the US because our
1:12
infrastructure of Commerce in China was
1:15
too bad why it is too bad something
1:18
happening goes today we are working on
1:20
the rural areas of China I can never
1:22
imagine that
1:24
China about 800 million people still
1:27
live in the rural areas of farmers and
1:29
they’re about close to 200 million
1:33
people they are income less than one
1:36
dollar per day and before the internet
1:39
it’s impossible for these guys to reach
1:42
the PC because it’s so difficult even
1:44
people like me I don’t know how to use
1:45
it PC but now on 80% of the farmers
1:48
those will be using mobile phones when
1:50
have the mobile phones the internet the
1:53
data things changing a lot so I’m
1:55
excited about the future people always
1:57
worry
1:58
let’s do you know I love the young kids
2:00
sitting there and talking about the
2:02
dream their hopes because if they have
2:04
the hope we have the hope that’s what I
2:07
believe and let’s just play what you do
2:14
and I loved every description I’ve ever
2:18
heard about how you serve people and
2:21
your story about the bamboo farmers and
2:25
your wife and her friends of tackles but
2:27
where’s this going what are you going to
2:31
do what are your plans to maximize the
2:34
use that people in remote rural areas of
2:37
China can make of their cell phones
2:40
besides ordering your projects how are
2:43
you going to get it are you going to get
2:44
them in the banking system through cell
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phones
2:48
how well we we never know that we can’t
2:54
grow so fast the path to five miles we
2:57
covered 4500 villages and these people
3:03
not only they using very traditional way
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they take them like two of we went to a
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rural area took them the farmers two
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hours to work to the downtown in in the
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middle of the town and five things but
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today because the mobile phone and we
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deliver we can deliver things to their
3:22
home to their village within 72 hours I
3:26
remember there is a well last week I
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read a very interesting into business
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chant amazing there is a girl she told
3:32
me a story
3:33
she said her grandfather 92 years old
3:37
birthday and for his life he always
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wanted to try one western-style food he
3:45
lived in the rural areas there’s no such
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a restaurant food so she said I tried on
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the intent book a restaurant dinner for
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Western food delivered to that village
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and they finally immediately find the
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one restaurant there are three guys they
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took like a three days bus from the from
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Shanghai to that village made a italic
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spaghetti and a beef for them for the 92
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years old bursting and whole village was
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excited everybody says wow you can order
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food restaurant rest of style food so
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buy almost everything and also we are
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helping there a lot of farmers they
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plunder love apples great apples but 90%
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of the APIs routed because there’s
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nobody by Allah they normally buy by
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track you know if you sell via the
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apples they sell whole track and using
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the traditional way they can they can
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sell by whole basket of the apples but
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now because of the internet the sell by
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one by one each apple to sell $1 you
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know one and B or two I’m use for each
4:58
so the farmers of these using
5:00
Internet they can buy and the cell use
5:03
the mobile phone that changed their
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lives and I think it’s exciting and
5:09
people need examples when they see well
5:11
the other my neighbor maker made money
5:13
through online the selling things my
5:15
neighbor made you know by much
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interesting things online people step
5:19
alert and what more people started by
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the mobile phones we cannot have we
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cannot make all the factory the mobile
5:25
factories to sell phones to them only
5:28
they know the mobile phone really works
5:30
helping change their lives is to divide
5:32
mobile phones just one more question do
5:37
you think this will make the current
5:41
look at problems like a current problem
5:44
in China less likely that is if we’ll
5:46
have more market information in the
5:48
market will drive where the investment
5:50
goes instead of the government trying to
5:53
make judgments about I better build
5:54
another housing development or office
5:57
development here there yonder and you
5:59
wind up with a bubble well it comes from
6:01
the bottom up is it more likely that
6:03
fewer bad things will happen yeah they
6:06
know I think the last week I was in
6:09
Seattle discussing about the China
6:11
economy I think the you American people
6:13
worry too much about the China economy
6:18
well you see every turn where you start
6:23
to worry about the China China goes
6:25
better every time you think Chinese are
6:27
in problem you know we’re good you know
6:29
we’ll get better but we never say
6:31
however you have a high expected
6:32
shortage can always a problem
6:34
I got parents of the expectation of the
6:37
kids you know are the same but there’s a
6:41
big difference between the American
6:43
consumption because people say wow you
6:45
know the economy is bad so China
6:47
consumption will be good low
6:48
no it’ll be different you American love
6:51
to spend tomorrow’s money and the other
6:55
people’s money maybe all maybe the Kudus
6:58
money we Chinese love to save money we
7:02
are probably the largest country the
7:05
safe deposit in the whole world that
7:07
wouldn’t people will be poor for so many
7:10
years well we made money we’re put in
7:11
the banks because Sunday we know that
7:14
disaster is coming for we can spend the
7:16
money so when the economy’s bad we still
7:18
have the money to spend you guys
7:20
probably don’t you worried and the
7:24
second thing is the China being it
7:26
marketing China been focusing on
7:28
developing for past 30 years China
7:31
government so strong on investment so
7:35
strong on exporting but they are too
7:37
weak on the domestic consumption
7:40
domestic consumption is not driven by
7:42
governments driven by entrepreneurship
7:44
driven by the market not the government
7:47
so in the past few years past 20 years
7:50
government is so strong now they get a
7:53
week it’s our opportunity it’s our show
7:56
time to see the market economy
8:00
entrepreneurship how we can develop the
8:03
real consumption I think where if the
8:06
China developed a great consumption we
8:08
have a 300 million middle class in next
8:12
15 to 20 years we’re going to have been
8:15
a middle class we need to import a lot
8:18
so when we start to import that’s a
8:22
grave it’s going to I worry a lot when
8:25
we export you know when we export we got
8:27
a terrible sky we have a terrible water
8:29
we have a tear
8:30
environment when we started import we
8:33
got to be better so that’s all the great
8:35
opportunity guys be happy about that
8:38
I’m serious we were that I’m serious I’m
8:43
um we worry about yourself don’t worry
8:49
the reason some of us worry about China
8:51
is we depend on you to buy our debt
8:55
however I tried to be more Chinese when
8:58
I was president I’d saved a lot of money
8:59
so oh but I just wanted you to say that
9:05
because I really believe that I mean I
9:08
think you’re absolutely right did the
9:10
trend toward greater internal
9:13
consumption is I think will remain
9:17
unbroken
9:18
in spite of whatever the difficulties
9:20
are in the next few months I think it’s
9:22
important not to over react you can’t
9:23
break the trend you’ve got to clean up
9:27
the land from chemical contaminants
9:28
you’ve got to clean up the air you’re
9:30
going to do it and a lot of Chinese will
9:32
make a lot of money out of that will be
9:34
a lot of great new companies and
9:36
there’ll be opportunities to import from
9:38
other places yeah so can you discuss
9:44
your theory of what you’re doing and
9:47
other things in terms of whether it
9:50
advances equal opportunity and social
9:53
solidarity tell them what you think is
9:55
going to happen and what other kinds of
9:57
when your opening remarks you just said
10:01
technology is going to be active in this
10:04
way in other areas of the economy what
10:06
do you think the next big opportunities
10:07
are but first they tell them just in two
10:11
sentences what you’re doing because Jack
10:13
and I know and we haven’t been clear
10:15
enough explain it and explain how you
10:18
think that advances social solidarity
10:20
and equality of opportunity our work is
10:24
in the belief that access to health
10:29
information is a basic human right and
10:32
that lab information particularly
10:35
because lab data drives
10:38
percent of clinical decisions and needs
10:42
to be accessible to people before
10:45
they’re sick so if you look at the word
10:48
diagnosed in the dictionary today it
10:50
says to determine the presence of
10:52
disease from symptoms which means by
10:56
definition we’re determining that people
10:58
are sick once a disease has already
11:01
progressed and our work is in being able
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to make lab testing accessible to people
11:08
in time for therapy to be effected and
11:12
to do that in a way in which every
11:15
person irrespective of their insurance
11:18
status irrespective of where they live
11:19
can afford the ability to get a test
11:23
done so that means in our case we’ve
11:25
invested the last 12 years in now
11:28
developing hundreds of tests many of
11:31
which are less than ten dollars so in
11:34
two dollar tests in the United States
11:36
and I think one of the amazing things
11:39
about this country is that we have such
11:42
an incredible ecosystem for fueling
11:47
creativity and that creativity can
11:50
create new markets so it answered your
11:52
question about the market being able to
11:54
conform itself to social good I think
11:57
the creativity that goes into creating
11:59
these new technologies creates new
12:02
markets in and of themselves and and our
12:04
basic belief that is that those new
12:06
markets come from empowering individuals
12:08
and in franchising individuals and
12:11
trusting that individuals have the
12:13
capability to engage with information
12:16
and in accessing that information
12:19
beginning to take control of their own
12:21
outcomes and their own health outcomes
12:24
and in doing so changing the way our
12:27
healthcare system works
12:29
I think what this could mean
12:33
for rural China you know for rural India
12:37
for Native American reservations in
12:40
America for the Mississippi Delta for
12:43
the remote area to where all the jobs
12:45
were lost from culture all of a sudden
12:46
giving people information and one of
12:51
those important things I think we did in
12:53
my second term as president and the
12:56
health care front was developed as
12:58
diabetes self care program and all of a
13:01
sudden you could be Jack’s company could
13:04
be delivering the means to self care
13:06
based on your test I mean I think that
13:09
this is really this is a very big deal
13:12
we all want to live as long as well as
13:14
we can and Gregg Benner was here we were
13:17
talking about whether we’d make it to a
13:18
hundred but in the meanwhile do you want
13:21
to keep people healthy and if they’re
13:23
sick you want to intervene early not
13:24
wait yeah well and if you look at I mean
13:28
the ability to engage with this
13:30
information we have a four trillion
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dollar health care problem in this
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country 20% of it is type 2 diabetes
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which is reversible and we have 90
13:39
million Americans who do not know they
13:41
are pre-diabetic but access to
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information and the ability to engage
13:46
with that information is the foundation
13:49
for being able to change those outcomes
13:51
and and cost right one more factor than
13:54
I want to call exactly you founded this
13:56
company twelve years ago right tell them
13:58
how old we were I was 19 so
14:07
don’t worry about the future we’re in
14:09
good hands okay I always think of a 19-1
14:13
at where I am nine to have not the past
14:16
examination for university yet I filled
14:20
a free time spent I think it worked out
14:22
I’m not a good as schooling well yeah
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that’s why I give confidence to a lot of
14:28
young people in China if jag marking
14:29
success can be successful eighty percent
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of the people can be successful people
14:36
like her are jealous
14:37
well equality I I would like to make a
14:41
little bit cop technologies helping
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because yesterday I was joining the
14:45
United UN Women conference about gender
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equality and I think the first a
14:50
technology revolution happened 200 years
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ago in the UK release the human body
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they’re armed
14:56
stronger the second technology of losing
14:59
the youth in the USA for energy you can
15:01
last long but this technology of
15:04
revolution relief release the brain so
15:08
this century is not a competition who is
15:10
strong whose muscles are stronger is who
15:13
is a smarter who is up who can listen
15:16
you it’s the challenge of a wisdom so
15:19
man will not equal on the internet you
15:22
can never see he’s a woman a man and on
15:24
the Internet
15:25
women can serve much better than men on
15:28
the internet and a man talking about a
15:30
business talking about you know numbers
15:32
competition to make business very cold
15:35
women make business very cozy lifestyle
15:38
and interesting 50% more than 50% of our
15:42
shop owners want to have five million
15:45
shop owners of women and people looked
15:48
at me
15:48
this is this is a great thing I see that
15:51
this century we see more and more women
15:54
leaders on the state leaders the
15:57
presidents and in the future we’re going
16:00
to general sector of your nation should
16:01
be one a leader and this is the greatest
16:03
century for equality and I I feel
16:07
excited about that
16:10
when they ask you on we’re almost out of
16:15
time but I wonder things that we haven’t
16:17
talked enough about here and not just
16:20
here but generally is whether the leap
16:23
frogging we saw with cell phones which
16:29
was instrumental in your phenomenal
16:32
business success and which will make it
16:34
possible for you at the appropriate time
16:38
to do what you’ve done on a global scale
16:40
hitherto unimaginable in all of human
16:43
history for anybody to have any of their
16:45
own health data we haven’t we’ve seen
16:51
examples but not the kind of dramatic
16:54
penetration we need with energy and
16:58
clean energy and enough and in short
17:01
enough time to avoid the worst
17:03
consequences of climate change so do you
17:06
believe that I mean your country has
17:10
done more than anybody else to try to
17:12
put up solar panels and some of your
17:14
companies went broke because you overdid
17:16
it right beforehand and you got to work
17:19
out the phase-out of the coal the fades
17:21
into the Sun and all that meanwhile
17:24
Africa which is growing like crazy
17:26
because of the cellphone in no small
17:28
measure and as six of the
17:30
fastest-growing countries in the world
17:32
still has vast swathes of its land
17:36
totally dark at night do you believe
17:39
that it’s possible for us to scale up
17:43
with distributed solar power is rather
17:48
than centralized as quick as we did with
17:50
a cell phone and if so and if that were
17:52
your business if you had to quit what
17:54
you’re doing today and start there how
17:56
would you do it and how would you do
18:02
thirty-first I know that you know I’m
18:07
such a huge believer in technology and I
18:10
think especially right now we’re at an
18:12
incredible time in terms of new
18:14
technology and the ability to apply
18:16
technology in a scalable way towards
18:19
solving some of these problems so I
18:20
would look at it in the context of some
18:22
of the renewable solutions that we
18:24
already have and in the context of
18:26
empowering connecting individuals with
18:29
access to those solutions and the
18:30
context of creating markets around them
18:33
I think that there’s real opportunity to
18:36
actually create an ecosystem in which
18:38
people can financially benefit from
18:40
these solutions and I think that’s going
18:41
to drive an adoption I think in
18:43
developing economies there’s a revenue
18:45
stream associated with that and the more
18:47
we can turn even already some of the
18:50
technologies that we have into markets
18:52
the more that we can fuel I believe
18:54
local growth and individual engagement
18:56
in in beginning to adopt some of these
18:58
solutions just related it would be Jack
19:03
you answer it and then I’ll ask you one
19:04
final question yeah I must don’t believe
19:06
it the technology can make were much
19:08
better because people say China economy
19:10
is getting slower I’m happy about a 7%
19:13
even 5% even 5% of the GDP of the number
19:17
of China of the second large economy is
19:19
big enough but you don’t expect trying
19:22
to keep on growing 11% because like one
19:25
body won’t human body when you’re 1.8
19:27
meters tall you cannot keep on like a 10
19:30
percent growth every year you have to
19:32
grow the quality your mind the wisdom so
19:35
I think China needs new technology to
19:38
solve these problems and which today the
19:42
data the the clean technology all these
19:45
things that China is supposed to do if
19:48
you keep on the tradition that the other
19:49
ways will go nowhere but this is why I
19:53
feel excited because people ask me what
19:56
is your dream now because I never
19:57
thought I would be today I can sit here
20:00
talking to president I’m like a guy you
20:03
know on the street and like fill the
20:06
three times for university five times
20:08
for high schools I applied for ten times
20:11
in Harvard school or rejected
20:13
I never thought because of the
20:15
technology because the Internet give me
20:18
this opportunity so I think when I
20:20
retired I don’t want the Chinese people
20:23
have a terrible water to drink and a
20:25
safer food and people the money we make
20:28
or spend in the hospital
20:30
that’s disaster so how we can using the
20:34
technology to enable young people the
20:37
greater chance of this road don’t worry
20:39
about
20:39
we got 1.4 billion people who are born
20:43
in 1980s they are the people of the
20:46
internet times they are going to have
20:48
new ways to solve the world problems the
20:51
things you are worried about today they
20:53
can solve it and a human being have
20:55
these kind of worries for centuries and
20:58
young people can always solve it and
21:00
today we have a right direction clean
21:03
energy you know the climate change all
21:06
these issues they will be solved and
21:09
these are the great opportunities ahead
21:11
of us anything else I agree with that I
21:20
think the more the more we can the more
21:23
we can in franchise people the more we
21:25
can create ecosystems in which
21:26
individuals are empowered than where we
21:28
give rights to individuals to be able to
21:31
build businesses to be able to to pursue
21:34
the economic benefit of Technology it’s
21:36
the more you see these markets change
21:41
before they leave the stage I want you
21:45
to look at them and I want you to think
21:50
about the time we have had to spend here
21:54
dealing with the refugee problems in
21:58
Syria and Lebanon
22:01
stand up fellas
22:04
this is my friend Ellie exclusive here’s
22:07
the education mansion with mom he’s got
22:10
to educate all these kids and so he left
22:18
a miracle that very much reflects the
22:22
lives that Elizabeth and Jack have lived
22:27
he was in a very responsible position at
22:32
the American University of Dubai they
22:34
started bringing American scholars over
22:37
there to live in an Arabic culture he
22:43
did all these wonderful things
22:44
Lebanon got in trouble he went home to
22:45
save his country what is the difference
22:49
how much more could he and every smart
22:51
Lebanese person do if they could focus
22:54
on these things and why can he not
22:58
because the place is dominated by people
23:00
who think their differences are more
23:02
important than their common humanity and
23:04
their common challenges
23:05
you cannot imagine Jack miles proud of
23:14
being Chinese I like that he’d never hid
23:17
it he’s happy about it I’m a product to
23:19
be a global citizen
23:20
yeah yeah and I imagine Liz was proud to
23:27
be a bond haired blue-eyed American
23:30
techno whiz in Northern California yes
23:33
but they don’t not a word either one of
23:39
them has said has defined the meaning of
23:41
their lives or the direction of their
23:44
work with negative reference to someone
23:47
else
23:50
my friend Dikembe Mutombo stand up no
23:53
you don’t stand up it’ll hurts too much
23:55
you’re an old man
23:57
my seven foot towards fall friend was
24:00
just inducted into the National
24:02
Basketball Association Hall of Fame and
24:11
three of my family my whole family loved
24:17
him and I have seen how much he is given
24:22
back to his native country Congo which
24:24
has been so troubles I’ve known him a
24:29
long time we both went to Georgetown
24:31
University I did before he was born I
24:34
think I’ve never heard him say a
24:38
resentful thing about anybody I have
24:41
seen him give and give and give try to
24:44
give the people in his native land
24:46
opportunities why am I telling you this
24:52
he’s had a good life because he never
24:56
defined his life with negative reference
24:58
to anybody else
25:00
he never begrudged anybody else’s
25:03
success and he thought he had an
25:06
obligation to help other people I’m
25:08
telling you this is the we are back in a
25:11
time of collective global insecurity
25:16
where the main struggle is the oldest
25:20
one in human history just in modern
25:25
techno realities meaning if you were
25:31
trying to build the Middle East you
25:32
would think about our permanent sponsor
25:35
here the Ambassador from Oman who tried
25:38
to her government tried to help head off
25:41
the calamitous war in the Middle East
25:43
over the nuclear issue in Iran we all
25:46
pray to God that it’ll work out all
25:48
right
25:49
and the lychee make you look around all
25:52
these places wherever people are putting
25:59
aside their differences and working
26:02
together good things are happening we
26:04
cannot achieve economic or social
26:06
equality without living in the factional
26:09
realities of the world we face looking
26:12
at the obstacles looking at the
26:13
opportunities making the best decisions
26:16
and those of us who even feel good about
26:20
ourselves because we think we spent a
26:21
lot of time giving our whole goal should
26:24
be to work ourselves out of a job one of
26:28
the things that the bill and tani Austin
26:31
were sitting there with Starkey they
26:34
started giving away hearing aids and
26:36
then they decided what we better teach
26:39
these young people how to speak if they
26:41
get the gift of hearing they’ll have to
26:44
learn that so they got into the
26:45
education sunny Varkey got into the
26:49
education business and decided somebody
26:52
ought to do something really dramatic to
26:53
remind people if the only people that
26:55
really matter the teachers so he gave
26:57
the first global Teacher of the Year
26:59
award last year and an international
27:02
panel gave the prize to a teacher from
27:04
Maine who promptly gave the entire
27:06
million dollars to her school women
27:09
never made any money in their life she
27:10
gave all the money away immediately the
27:15
future is going to be forged by people
27:17
who think of how to use the modern tools
27:20
that we are given as Elizabeth and Jack
27:26
have to create opportunity through
27:30
empowerment and it will not be a
27:35
straight line it’s to too many moving
27:37
parts
27:40
and but I just want you to think about
27:43
that the reason you feel good looking at
27:44
them is that you identify with them even
27:48
though they’re different from you and
27:50
that’s basically where we are all over
27:53
again and we can’t slip back we can’t
27:56
give up that’s why we had the Prime
27:58
Minister of Italy and George Soros
28:00
talking about the future of Europe and
28:01
George said it was coming apart and the
28:03
Prime Minister said no it doesn’t have
28:06
to come apart if it’s about something
28:07
more than economics I thought doesn’t
28:10
have to come apart if you will it not to
28:13
and you put yourself on the line for it
28:16
there are no guaranteed outcomes today
28:19
but you can guarantee that the trend is
28:22
right to go ahead and we’re going to say
28:24
something which yeah I just wanted to
28:26
add we’re talking about the future and
28:28
and from my own experience and looking
28:30
at all the faces here I think a huge
28:32
part of the answer to your question is
28:34
also to raise our little girls with the
28:36
stereotype that they can be the best in
28:38
engineering and science and math because
28:41
when they do in all of these industries
28:43
it changes everything and we need to do
28:46
that in this country and we need to do
28:49
that as parents in other countries yeah
28:56
I was thinking about if what you say
29:01
I think about when you want when you
29:03
talk about problems anomalies like a
29:06
politician we talk about applicable
29:07
opportunities that the businesspeople I
29:10
was thinking about how we can using you
29:14
know this all the problems that change
29:17
the problem to come the opportunity and
29:19
I don’t know I just a feel excited when
29:24
people talk about problems I think
29:27
that’s think about if you can solve one
29:29
of them that’s the chance and today
29:33
nobody in live in this century has so
29:37
many opportunities and so many tools
29:41
they can use to change other people’s
29:42
lives
29:43
and I think in in the last a century
29:45
which I called IT time this century is
29:48
got a dt 10 data technology IT is to
29:52
empower yourself make yourself strong DT
29:55
is to empower the others when you pick
29:57
empower the others you empower your
29:59
future yourself so when I listen to you
30:04
talk I agree and I think that’s why we
30:08
were born in this century that’s why we
30:11
how we can use the internet to help more
30:13
people it’s given my hand thank you

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