What inspires you?

Question: What inspires you?

Tom Stewart: I think a couple of things actually inspire me.  … of course.  One is the opportunity and the continuing regeneration of people in their career.  You know, when Bismarck set the retirement age and the social security age in Germany at 65, it was because everybody would be dead at 65 and you would never have to pay anything off.  And has life expectancies have … have … have lengthened, it’s not that old age has lengthened.  I think old age and debility are still the last 10 years of your life, which may start when you’re six.  Who knows?  But … but it’s the … middle age … .  And so people are middle-aged until they’re 70, 75.  Some people are middle-aged 80.  And so there’s this whole second half of middle age.  And I see an awful lot of people in really good health making sort of radical changes are full of … of interesting ideas.  You see … One movement you see, certainly in the United States, is you see a lot of people going into not-for-profit organizations and saying, “Okay.  I’ve made my pile.  I wanna go off and do this.”  You know, there are consulting firms, there are head-hunting firms all oriented around this group of people.  So I’m kind of inspired by, and excited – maybe because it’s my …, too – by … by the amount of . . . of firmament and optimism and sense of a future and, “Gee, there’s more stuff that I can do” that I see in that group.  There … I’m really excited by the amount of similar excitement and sense of opportunity that I see in the people I met from emerging markets – India and China in particular.  I get … I’ve had a fair amount of opportunity to meet people through some of the editions that we publish there, and also just through … through life.  And related to them are the … when I talked about these middle-aged social entrepreneurs, there are these social entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s who are off doing astounding things.  I think I’m excited by the idea also that … to get back to the top of leadership that we were talking about … that the leaders of tomorrow or the day after tomorrow seem to be being formed in new and interesting places.  If you go back to, you know … If you ask, “Where do you look for leaders now?”  Or, “Where are leaders built now?” you might say the military and PepsiCo or General Electric and McKenzie and Proctor & Gamble.  And you’d come up with a few places like this.  But you wouldn’t come up with Soweto, and not-for-profit organizations, or failed .com companies or … or …  There’s sort of an interesting set of new crucibles of leadership.  And I find that … find that very exciting. 

Recorded on: 6/22/07

Tom Stewart is inspired by the new age of leadership.

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