CGI2012 Panel: “Business by Design: Growth and Opportunity”

September 24, 2012 - 1 Comment

Today, at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers joined Goldman Sachs CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and Dow Chemical Company President, Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris on a panel discussion moderated by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.  The title of the panel was “Business by Design: Growth and Opportunity.”  (An edited portion of the panel will air on CNN soon…watch this space for the air date).

Zakaria said that he was an optimist overall when it came to the United States and our prospects for the future.  He spoke about the economic troubles the U.S. has had over the past decades and how we have consistently overcome them.  The trouble with this recovery and economy, he said, is that it is taking jobs a lot longer to come back than what has been historically ordinary.

All of the speakers agreed (generally) that there was optimism to be had in the United States economy, regardless of who is elected President in November.  All of them also agreed that government and business have to partner together to help solve our nation’s problems and take advantage of our many assets.  Blankfein said that many of our problems are self-inflicted and could easily be resolved, such as having a budget for the country.

From Left: Fareed Zakaria (CNN), Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and Cisco CEO John Chambers at CGI2012

John Chambers gave President Clinton a lot of credit for his approach to solving problems when he was President.  Chambers said that President Clinton asked us to “put our politics at the door and roll up our sleeves.”

Andrew Liveris said that business approaches problems differently than government, saying that businesses have to take risk to survive.  He also said the market is cruel and capital is a coward as it doesn’t like risk.

John Chambers ended the panel stating we have to get out of our comfort zone and dream what is possible.  “The exciting thing is that you haven’t seen anything yet” with where technology will go.  “If you look at what could happen if you connect the unconnected” and doing this not just with video, but with connecting thousands and billions of more IP-enabled devices, “we’re just getting started.”

Zakaria ended the discussion quoting Chambers: “‘You haven’t seen anything yet’…that’s a good optimistic note to end on.”

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  1. They current socio-political environment in the USA is indeed very pro-business. But pro-big business. This is an important diferentiation.

    I own a small online store. We get hit with every new piece of legislation, which cut deeply into our margins. Compliance is becoming more and more dificult for the small business. To add to the stress, small businesses are also seeing greater limitations in terms of supply and processing.

    I don’t blame the distributors or processing companies. We are very greatful for the business we do with them.

    But from a legislative perspective, it seems every new law, every new regulation is there to help big business and deter smaller businesses. This in turns hurts the economy, since small businesses are the ones who by far produce the most jobs in terms of revenue/jobs created.

    I’d like to see more serious initiatives to drive small business. And I’m not talking about a few conventions to promote entrepreneurs. I’m talking about real legislative changes that level the BUSINESSS playing field. Something where small businesses would have less red tape. I’m sure it won’t happen because the ones who pay for political campaigns are big businesses. Small business lobies are tiny and relatively insignificant.