Say No to 'Say No to Drugs': Facebook is Better Than Propaganda at Changing Behavior

Doctor & Non-Profit Executive
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sees Twitter and Facebook as tremendous tools for encouraging communities to make healthier choices. "As a physician, so often an impediment to getting things done is human behavior. We're trying to change human behavior all the time. Stop smoking. Exercise more. Get your children vaccinated. Human behavior is a powerful positive, and some human behaviors can be a powerful negative in really advancing health worldwide and accomplish the things that we're trying to accomplish here." But when communities are connected, either through the web or just in a neighborhood, the flaws of human behavior can be overcome.
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TRANSCRIPT

Sue Desmond-Hellmann: My first year at The Gates Foundation has been terrific. I feel like every day is a gift. I have enormous respect and pride in my colleagues and every day I meet somebody who amazes me. I think my self-awareness as a leader comes from the energy I get from colleagues. One of my favorite things to do is to ask for feedback or to learn from colleagues. And the self-awareness I have it really comes from a place of deep respect for what other people know and contribute.

As a leader in 2015, I've grown to be fond of social media. And so I'm one of those people who's on Twitter and on Facebook. And I think that the social network has enormous power to bring people together and to connect people in meaningful ways. As a physician, so often an impediment to getting things done is human behavior. We're trying to change human behavior all the time. Stop smoking. Exercise more. Get your children vaccinated. Human behavior is a powerful positive, and some human behaviors can be a powerful negative in really advancing health worldwide and accomplishing the things that we're trying to accomplish here. So I'm intrigued by the power of connecting people, of some of the facts that are well-known in medicine about if your neighborhood is healthy, you tend to be healthy. If your social circle, whether it's real or virtual is unhealthy and has unhealthy habits, so do you. So I think in the causes we care about in advancing both education in the U.S. and global health and global development worldwide, I feel like we've only scratched the surface of how we use human connection. Whatever technology allows for that human connection in meaningful ways to help us with what we're trying to do.

I think I've enjoyed my first year here especially because we have so many talented passionate people who I learn from every day.