This speech was given by Chris Schroeder at last month’s Endeavor Summit in San Francisco. Schroeder is a leading entrepreneur and investor in interactive technologies and social communications, ranging from news and media, education, social networks and marketing. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of HealthCentral, the highest quality collection of condition and wellness specific interactive sites. A veteran of online media, Schroeder has also served as CEO and Publisher of Washingtonpost, Newsweek Interactive and LEGI-SLATE, INC.
Watch the video here:
It is not only an honor, but electrifying to be with you all.
I find nothing more inspirational than spending time with people who have made their life mission to create that which was not there before – directly with the entrepreneurs themselves and all of you who are part of the worlds they are creating.
I especially salute our friends at Endeavor, long supporting, befriending and even building entrepreneurial environments in what we once called the “developing world” at a time when much conventional thinking suggested they were crazy – or, at least, that there were much greener pastures to claim or mow down elsewhere.
It is, in fact, conventional thinking – or a gravitational force that compounds it — that will be at the essence of my brief talk. But allow me to digress for a moment.
It is no hubris or flight of fancy to acknowledge, that we are living in historic times.
I suppose all times have their impact in history, at least in hindsight, but one need no PhD in global studies to know that we all in the earliest moments of times that will define generations to come.
Most of you are too young to conceive of your own children, but I can assure you your grandchildren will be talking about these days – and about your remarkable impact upon them.
In this spirit, allow me to share three stories of my experiences with, literally, the best experts of their fields from a different world than that which brings us all to Silicon Valley today. I think they are very instructive.
Some years ago – and as a brief break from my business activities — I worked in the Department of State during times of great uncertainty and change. At the highest levels, we were wrestling unprecedented times and how to engage with the leadership bringing this change. I sat in a briefing hosted by some of the best experts available – women and men who had lived in and studied and had close relationships in these countries. Their conclusion was that we should not be fooled by the leadership, that they were putting a new face on fundamentally similar policies. Real change, if any, may happen but likely over a decade.
Perhaps a year later, I sat in on a similar briefing, led by similar experts but on another part of the world discussing the pace of change in another crucial nation. Their conclusion: that this change, if it happened quickly, would be unprecedently bloody; that existing power would never give up power willingly. Hence change, if any, would be a decade in the making.
Play the clock forward nearly two decades. I sat at a dinner with experts from government and the private sector, representing collectively a century of experience in their country, all taking in utterly stunning and fast-paced change in their region. They concluded, “Something big is happening, but won’t happen quickly here. You don’t know how it works here.” Change, if any, may happen but likely over a decade.