What We Learned at the Innovators Summit
With The Daily Beast Innovators Summit finished, Stanley McChrystal, Joseph Stiglitz, Spike Lee, and other panelists offered what they’re taking away from the discussions. Plus,
watch video highlights and read our
Summit Cheat Sheet with solutions.
“One of the things we have to do is inspire people that it’s OK to lead. It’s not just OK, it’s a responsibility. We’ve got to help them understand that they can do it, we’ve got to help create an environment that it’s OK to lead and it’s OK to fail, and it’s OK to pick up again and lead again, we look at history that’s what many good leaders have learned…
The best teachers learn by shutting up and listening. The kinds of things I learned today, are as you face the uncertainty of obstacles, of challenges to your leadership, if not everybody believes your course of action is exactly the perfect way, how do you balance respecting those perspectives at the same time having the strength to continue. It’s the balance between being obstinate and not hearing people and having the moral courage and the physical strength to continue on.”
“I’m pro-innovation. Who’s against innovation? It’s not like there’s an anti-innovation caucus out there!”
“A highlight of the meeting for me was not only the cross-sector opportunities for dialogue, but also the cross-generational ones. This very important bridge is a powerful alchemy that portends the power of diverse perspectives coming together to discuss solutions. While I talked often about the catalyzing force of the approximately 75 million millennials in this country, I don’t at all discount—and in fact applaud—the innovation chops of the 70-million-plus Baby Boomers who are as involved in rebooting America as their younger counterparts.”
"From Stan McChrystal: the importance of plywood leadership. Flexible, but strong enough to withstand an onslaught.”
“Give women confidence…tell them the most important relationship they have in life is the relationship they have with themselves. The more we can empower women the better we are.”
“I think people expected Obama to be like Jesus and walk on water. And it’s hard to be Jesus."
“There is a broad consensus that America faces a persistent lack of aggregate demand that will make it very difficult to get the unemployment rate down. It's clear that jobs have become the main focus of economics and politics. In addition with long term economic problems in education, technology, and more the concern is that there is a disconnect between politics and economics. What we must do and the likelihood that we'll be able to do it is what has cast a pall of pessimism over the discussion this conference.”
“Given the huge magnitude of the economic problem, we ask, 'should there be another stimulus?' I can understand a relatively small stimulus, focused on infrastructure. But we shouldn't use our preoccupation with short-term situation to lose our focus on the long term. The problems with the future debts and deficits are enormous.
To resolve these problems requires tough decisions in a number of areas. The requirements? Revenue increases...and yet the far-right fights every tax hike. We also need spending reductions. We can't avoid tackling the entitlements—social security and, particularly, health care.
These issues have strong political constituencies. The question is, will it take a major crisis to get a solution? Most people I talk to think so. Our debt problem isn't just a U.S. problem, it's a global problem. If we don't do anything about these problems, how will that global debt be funded, and at what rates? Are we risking a big spike in interest rates and a tremendous volatility in exchange rates?
My optimistic forecast: Slow growth for the next few years. I don't see any prospects of substantial growth rates. My gloomy forecast: A major crisis caused by a bursting of the debt bubble.”
“We need a greater sense of focus in the country on what we need to do over the next 5-10 years to (a) improve the quality of life of our citizens, and (b) improve the ability of the US to compete in the new global economic geography.
We need a clear idea on how to improve our educational system, our physical and telecommunications infrastructure, our use of clean energy domestically—and a national consensus on how we can bring our fiscal imbalances back into alignment. They don't need to be done all at once, but they need to be clear national priorities. We can't afford divisions over them.”
“The summit focused on an issue that is virtually undiscussed in American politics by either party—innovation.
Put simply, polling that I have done shows that the whole notion of promoting and facilitating innovation is one of the hidden issues in American politics. A large majority of the American people believe a set of taxing and spending policies which encourage innovation will stimulate the economy, create jobs, and promote economic growth.
Yet both parties have missed the boat. The Democrats have overreached and have focused on big government solutions which have almost entirely ignored growth of the economy and new ideas to stimulate new businesses to form and prosper.
Republicans pay lip service to limited government, but focus mostly on reducing taxes and repealing health care.
The Innovators Summit offers a third way for our political leaders, as well as ideas and approaches the American people overwhelmingly embrace."
“I remain pessimistic about what we're seeing for the short term in the economy, but am inspired by the willingness to make sacrifices and hard decisions that will position us better. To hear real and serious discussion going on about that brings me optimism for the long term.”