What is your outlook?

Question: Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about the way the world is headed?
Tom Stewart:    I’ve … I’ve got lots of things that … that alarm me and … and … and worry me and concern me.  And I’m a rabid optimist.  I … I just keep seeing so many people doing cool things.  So many … I mean, I met a guy – no idea about whether this technology is gonna prove out – but I met a guy last summer who was working on a kind of concrete cement.  You know, Portland cement is the basic cement.  Portland cement is a real greenhouse gas emitter.  I mean, construction …  So, you know … I don’t know.  These numbers are gonna be wrong, but construction is 25% of greenhouse gases and cement is 40% of construction.  Something like that.  So it’s a big deal.  And he has invented this cement that he says – I think he’s called it “California cement” – that has, you know, one-tenth of the … the greenhouse gas emissions …  Wow.  I mean that’s cool.  And then you hear Bono speak.  And I’ve heard Bono speak to 10,000 people at my daughter’s college graduation.  And I’ve heard Bono speak to a group of 50 thirty-something managers in a small room.  And you think, “This is the most charismatic man I have ever met.”  And you think, “This is … he’s a rock star,” you know?  I mean you know?  And he knows … And he’s so smart and full of energy.  And then you meet people involved in … in healthcare who are not getting involved in sort of sterile debates about – well, they’re not sterile but – highly politicized debates about the healthcare policy in the United States, but are saying, “If we go and apply the principles of the Toyota production system to the management of hospitals, we can reduce by 90% the amount … the number of infections from introducing essential …  And we can improve by 50% the outcomes for people who have … who come into the emergency rooms with heart attacks.  If we just do this, we …” and they do it.  When you see this kind of activity, you can’t help but think, “This is really cool.”  You can’t help but be optimistic.  It’s really exciting.

Recorded on: 6/22/07

Tom Stewart is excited by innovation and confronting problems.

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