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Introduction

Today the former mayor of New York and republican presidential runner for 2008 Rudolph Guiliani came to Mountain View in the Silicon Valley for a lunch with the members of the technology think tank Churchill Club. The former mayor became known to a larger audience – even outside the US – through his work as US Attorney, where he had an impressive account of prosecution against mafia, the reduction of crime as mayor in New York City and not least his leadership during the tragic events of September 11, 2001 where terrorists killed 2,751 people in the hijacking of passenger planes and the collapse of both towers of the World Trade Center.

With the ongoing war on terror, the change of the global climate and the implications for everybody on us in a global work environment, it was interesting (also for a European like me) to listen to Mr. Giuliani on his views and visions, especially in connection with the Silicon Valley and the very work we do, where ever we live.

Leadership

Having been leader in crisis and authored a book about Leadership and running for the office of the US president, Giuliani began his discussion with his thoughts and theories about leadership. He named the former British prime minister Winston Churchill and the former American president Ronald Reagan as lighthouses for his own leadership. He mentioned that a leader is a visionary who knows how to put the processes in place to get things done. That’s something that is important for any person in the technology industry, as inventions are not made successful by the inventor, but by the help of people who can facilitate innovation and set the right structures and processes in place, so that inventors can do what they can do best: invent.

Giuliani also mentioned that one way to go through crisis and difficulties is not to loose the humor (which he quoted from Winston Churchill) and that you can learn leadership from leaders that you work with. The challenges (for the US and many other countries) is on the one hand to ensure the national security, but on the other hand not to close the borders and lock out talent, communication and business.

Technology

After some comments and his point of view about the Iraq-war and other global and national political topics, the questions became more technology-oriented. Giuliani stated that the free world can win the war on terror through this very technology that e.g. the Silicon Valley created and creates. He mentioned as examples countries and regions that are “plugged-in” in this technology like in Europe, India and China, who compete and collaborate through the very internet and technologies in a peaceful way to the benefit of all nations. While the countries where terrorism is bred like Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran are not “plugged-in”. Being plugged-in means that you have to adapt morals and social norms. An example he mentioned as noteworthy is Dubai, which has no oil, but is a role model for other countries of how to change and become a peaceful player.

Green tech ventures

Audience members asked Giuliani for his opinion about the green technology ventures that are currently getting founded and who get a lot of push in the Silicon Valley. He believes very strongly in energy independence and diversity. What is missing today in his opinion is the impedus and the focus from the government. As example he pointed to the race to space in the 1950s/60s, where over several decades multiple US presidents gave the vision and focused the nation on exploring the space, with finally having the first man land on the moon in 1969.
All this needs a lot of help from the US government. He even went so far and stated energy independence and diversity as a question of (US) national security.

In another question about former US vice president Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, that draws a dramatic picture of the state of the global climate and the drastic changes that are threatening the way of life as we know it (and I highly recommend that documentary), he acknowledges that we cannot ignore these changes anymore. But what he was missing from this documentary were solutions to this problem.

Open media

In a last question about his opinion about the media revolution, which brings more importance to bloggers, he simply stated that whatever brings free speech is a good thing and since his times as mayor of New York, he is very familiar with that “phenomena”. Which brings me to my conclusion.

Conclusion

Whatever political viewpoint you have, after hearing the democratic presidential runner Barack Obama on TV and now the republican Rudolph Giuliani, it is a good choice to work in the technology industry. Whoever the next US president will be, the candidates seem to understand the increasing importance of technology industries and see the need to have the government back and encourage this industry. Only this way we all can face and solve the threats of our time, like terror, poverty and climate change, which affects all of us, independent of where we live.

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7 Comments

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  1. Scott Cairncross
    Hey Mario,

    This is a very interesting topic. Did he mention what types of innovation and/or backing of the technology industry he thinks that the government should play?

    Cheers,
    Scott

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    1. Mario Herger Post author
      No, he didn’t. Unfortunately, he didn’t spend too much time on technology issues and elaborate that. Most of his speech were first about leaderships (he wrote a book about that), spiced by anecdotes during his terms as mayor or attorney, and only during the Q&A we touched more the technology topics.
      I would have hoped more to hear about technologies and innovation, especially having read “The World is flat” from Thomas Friedman, knowing the challenges that the US faces.
      From what I read on the media, I have the impression that Obama or Gore have much more to say about those topics. Not sure about Clinton. Other strong republican candidates haven’t yet cristallized.

      I personally think that the technology agenda is so important in every aspect of the upcoming years (terrorism, climate change, energy crisis, globalization,…) – and not only for the US – that a future US president with a strong vision, and a vision that really motivates (young) people to go into science and technology (like John F. Kennedy did with the moon landing project) is crucial.

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      1. Mario Herger Post author
        Before I get into a flame war about politics:

        Of course the campaigns just start, so not all candidates have yet presented all their positions on the different topics. And I haven’t yet read much about Giuliani’s position on technology, but I am sure there will be more coming. There was also not enough time on the one hour (speech and Q&A) to discuss every topic in detail.

        I just happen to have read the comments from Barack Obama about technology and watched “An Inconvenient Truth” from Al Gore, which I – with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, having worked in that area) – found especially freightening.

        So for me this is an important aspect of a candidates profile. But anyways, I am not a US citizen, so my decisions don’t make a difference.

        It’s simply interesting to see such a much spoken person in real life and get a better picture in person than just through the media.

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        1. Scott Lawley
          On the contrary, regardless of your citizenship, your opinions DO matter, and they DO make a difference.  Each person influences the next by their thoughts, their actions, their comments, their friends, where they live, the car they drive, etc…  Everything you say and do communicates a message.  We should also remember that we are all granted the right to express our interests, as protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  To not express yourself is certainly your right, but we are all encouraged to be active citizens and residents of this country, just as we are active citizens of this SDN community.  Without participation we are nothing.
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  2. Anton Wenzelhuemer
    to me this man is known for his aggresive measures against the poorest on the streets of NY, often inhumane and humilitating to those affected.

    just one other view,
    anton

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    1. David Halitsky
      In the US, acts of charity and kindness are considered signs of weakness unless they are performed under the auspices of:

      1) some religious front organization, cf. Jeremiah’s admonition to take care of the widows and orphans, or His admonition that whatever we do to the least of us, we do to Him;

      or

      2) the auspices of the Bill and Melinda “Gee what do I do with all of this money I’ve scammed” Foundation

      This is very odd, because there are many bright young people in the US who go on to Harvard to become leaders of the US.

      And most, if not of all of these bright young people have learned in high-school that Bismarck was one of the the first governmental leaders to introduce “socialized” benefits in Europe.

      Not because he really cared about widows and orphans, of course.  He simply understood the obvious fact that a healthy population was necessary to support a healthy war-machine.

      I wish that US leaders would come to the same realization with respect to “socialized” benefits.

      And the really ironic thing is that any one who’s ever come into contact with the US Army (or any branch of the US military) understands that it’s one of the few working examples of pure socialism in the world.

      Regards
      djh

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