SHRM13 started with a keynote speaker that I have to admit I have never heard of. After learning more about him I am ashamed that I have not paid more attention to him. Fareed Zakaria is a journalist, editor and host of a CNN program and he delivered a message of optimism at SHRM13.
A feeling of optimism
Zakaria came to the United States from India as a student in the 1970’s during a period of turmoil in the U.S. The country was facing the fallout of a withdrawal from Vietnam and a divided country. We baby boomers trusted no one over 30 during that time and we did not trust a government run by Richard Nixon. Zakaria said that despite being in the midst of a deep recession (yes we had them then too) the economy started gathering steam. In just one year the malaise turned into a boom.
In the last several years Zakaria has noticed in his travels a gloominess that has pervaded every country. The Euro and European Union has been threatened. The power houses of the last decade China and Brazil have slowed their growth. As Zakaria put it “Everywhere, there is a feeling that something is not right.” But he feels that there is a growing reason to feel optimistic.
Connectivity is the reason
Zakaria says that “A great information convergence is coursing through our lives.” According to him the three economic forces of political stability; economic stability and technological connectivity “are having an extraordinary effect.” In the past where it was the big players that experienced growth today it is many more dozens of countries that are expanding. The technology and connectivity have allowed many more people to raise their living standard. To him that is the big story of our time. These emerging economies are providing the optimism and hope for the future.
The big story
For Zakaria the big story is “about the extraordinary transformation around the world… as the other 90% of humanity who were locked out for hundreds of years found a way to express themselves politically, economically and culturally.” I can think of the news stories of the Arab Spring, and how villagers in India have started businesses because of smart phone access, and how children are now getting education they had no access to before.
Yes, I can buy into Mr.Zakaria’s premise that there is a reason to be optimistic. What about you? I know as a result of hearing him I am going to start following his work.