Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States of America spoke in front of over 2,000 attendees at Pershing’s INSITE 2012.  The following are highlights of what he covered.

The William J. Clinton Foundation

Through his foundation, President Clinton and his staff work to improve lives through several initiatives, including developing sustainable economic growth in Africa and Latin America and fighting childhood obesity.

Clinton said sometimes the government can be too structured and have a narrow agenda.  For that reason, his foundation is able to move faster and get folks from varying sides of an issue to come together and make needed changes.  The President said, “We can get people together to do it faster, cheaper and better.”

The world today

“We live in the most interdependent time in history,” said President Clinton, as cross border sharing of money, information and culture are more prevalent now than they have ever been.  He added, “Borders are more nets than walls.”  On the downside that makes the United States more vulnerable. 

On the good side, that means there can be more cooperation, especially as we have moved to an information based society.  The President mentioned Greece’s problems and what is going on in Europe and said, “If this had happened 30 years ago, there wouldn’t be half of the conversations [going on to work things out].”

The President said, “There are pretty good things about the world today.”  Although some areas are doing well, other areas are still feeling the economic hit. 

Advancements

Looking at the bigger picture, he said, “10 planets have been identified outside our solar system.  Wish I was 20 again.  I’d like to know if we are alone in the universe.”

He was excited about technological advancements, especially in healthcare.  Because of nanotechnology’s impact on the future, the President stated, “Nobody will die of breast cancer anymore.”  He sees several other areas where medical advancements will be made.

Coming together

“Every single non-age difference [in humans] is rooted in one half of one percent,” said Clinton.  He explained, “We are all 99.5% the same.”  Yet, he found it interesting that we spend 99.5% of the time focusing on why we are different.  For example, that is partly what is going on in Europe.

The level of instability and prosperity

“If there was no instability, all of you would be out of a job,” President Clinton told Pershing’s INSITE attendees.  “There needs to be some risk taking.”  He explained this is how the markets work.  However, if there is too much risk taking, the free market system shuts down.

If things are too equal that is an issue.  However the President added, “Too much inequality is a huge containment on growth.  Poverty is an enormous constraint on us to grow.”

While folks in the US might think they have it bad, he encouraged the attendees to imagine if they had to worry about not being able to drink clean water.  On top of that, across the world, there are people that do not have enough to eat.  He reminded the attendees to not take things for granted.

The environment

The President highlighted issues with natural resources throughout the world, as they cannot keep up with what is projected for population growth.  The difference can’t continue, he said.

Soon we will be able to take a ship across the north pole in the summer time, said the President.  He explained that if the cold water comes down too quickly it can impact the flow of the Gulf stream.  Winter-like conditions might put some economies out of business for three to four months.

He noted other problems like the pine beetle attacking trees in the north.  “There are no natural resistances for it.  They are gobbling up the forest,” said the President.

China will have a huge problem with water supplies being strained and if it continues, diverting rivers in attempt to solve the problems might be disastrous for the environment and create border disputes.

World economies

President Clinton restated the need to build up poor countries, like many in Africa. 

The system in Greece is broken and needs to be fixed.  He highlighted issues with tax collection with its citizens. 

When it comes to Spain, he thinks their system is better.  It was more of a banking issue.

Looking at the United States

With U.S. he said, “There are plenty of problems, but they are fixable.”

On our currency, he said, “Our dollar is strong and people trust our currency.  People pay us because they trust us with their money.”

One of the problems we have had recently were big tax cuts while we fought two wars.  He said we basically borrowed the money from China and now are in a situation where we are not as strong as we should be.

When it comes to debt, the President made it clear that he is not a fan of it, but does not think we can pay if if off all at once.  We need to get above 2% growth and fix the mortgage issues.

On taxes, he said we should bring down the corporate tax, as our country needs to be completive.  He suggested going from 35% to 24 or 26%.  He also did not want to repeal research and development credits, as he believes they fuel innovation.

President Clinton touching on healthcare said, “There is $1 trillion we spend on healthcare, not to be healthier.”  He made a reference to other countries that are doing a better job than the United States in this area.  He suggested we further experiment with a paying for performance, not procedures.

“We have an energy problem,” stated the President.  We generate a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but only have 4% of the population.  Certain states are the worst culprits.

He explained we are falling short in other areas like education and gave computer download speeds as an example, where South Korea is four time faster.

With politics, he stated we have to find a way to get on the same page.  “Corporation works, conflict doesn’t,” shared President Clinton.  He wants a smarter government, not a bigger one.  He made it clear he was not happy with the press and how they handle things.  “We need to reestablish the trust in Washington,” said the President.

He gave an example of how he got school stakeholders together to lower total calories children were digesting by having healthier drinking options.  The companies can make money in a different way, if they all agree.  It is about problem solving, not a winner-take-all mentality.

Another cooperation example he shared was how he joined with former President George H.W. Bush to help raise money for recovery efforts.

When Frank La Salla, managing director at Pershing asked what he wanted to be remembered for, President Clinton hoped that he will be seen by historians for advancing peace, security and prosperity in the United States and abroad.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. Read more at www.byrnesconsulting.com.