TALK | Ex-US President Barack Obama on Climate Change, Feminism, and the Breaking Up of Facebook and google

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Disclosure & Image Rights:  Bits & Pretzels allowed us to attend the conference for free. Image material was created with a smartphone made available free of charge by our sponsor Mobilcom Debitel, which we checked as part of the test until it was unusable.

Best of HR –®Former US President Barack Obama speaks at Bits & Pretzels about equality, climate change and the break-up of big tech companies like Facebook and google. An overview of his positions.

Barack Hussein Obama II was the 2009th President of the United States from 2017 to 44. He is a lawyer specializing in US constitutional law and has been a member of the Democratic Party since 1992, for which he became a member of the Illinois Senate in 1997. From 2005 to 2008 he was a Junior Senator. He became the first African American to move to the White House in 2009 and was confirmed in office in the 2012 presidential election. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here writes for you:


Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


There are currently many strong women in politics, including in the US Congress. What about equality between men and women?

Michelle has sensitized me to this topic for 26 years. As a manager, you have to recognize the problem and then make appropriate decisions. Men always think they know what they're talking about, even if they have no idea, but women are much more reserved, so you have to encourage them.

And how do the male employees think?

I told the men in the White House to be quiet and listen. But it always takes a while for them to learn. Diversity in business, politics and society is not an act of charity, but an engine for excellence. Companies are under high social pressure: if they want to win over excellent specialists to implement innovations, they have to focus on diversity.

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How do you tackle such changes?

You have to recognize the problem as a manager and then decide top down. Anything else will not work.

Why are changes so difficult?

The problem already begins with the education system: there is always complaint, women do not want to study STEM subjects. But that falls far too short. When my daughters chose math courses at school, I found that women learn very differently from men, they benefit much more from group work because they are much more team-oriented and communicative.

In order to get women excited about tech jobs in which they have so far been underrepresented, you have to start with changes in the education system. But I see that a new generation is growing up, which demands equality much more naturally than the previous generations.

Greta Thunberg is a young woman who is preparing to change the world. What can you say about them?

I met Greta Thunberg. It is exceptional. But it is very sad that such a burden lies on a sixteen-year-old. We must not make it so difficult for young people - especially old people like me. These are topics that we adults are responsible for. I admire your strength and persistence. She always speaks very clearly about the current climate crisis and is always aware of the problems. This is a clear message to all of us to do more.

For example, she asked me: Do politicians really understand the scientific aspects behind climate change? And I had to confess: 98 percent of the time they don't. The problem is that politicians don't always lead, they often just follow. In the fight against climate change, the importance of young entrepreneurs with expertise is growing.

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But the Fridays-for-Future movement should not be reduced to one person: Gretas are everywhere. I see courage and I see innovation and I see idealism. We are in a situation where we are asked to do something. This is also important: we need all hands on deck. The good thing is: we no longer have to convince these people, they have recognized that climate change is real.

What can entrepreneurs do specifically to bring about the necessary change?

We have to find technical ways to reduce our C02 emissions. Therefore, fields like clean energy and better water use hold great promise for start-ups. The corresponding startups also earn good money with it. The potential for green technology is there, but it is not enough just to find technical solutions; they also have to be accepted by politics and public opinion. To counter the global climate crisis, young companies, governments and society must work together.

There are also a variety of entrepreneurial innovations that will take our world further. I am thinking in particular of the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example in traffic and urban planning, in medicine or in living, which can provide valuable services to society.

Do companies take on the role of governments?

I learned that as President: Adaptation requires that the government and the public demand the introduction of these technologies. This also justifies subsidies for renewable energies: just like now the solar and wind industries, oil, gas and coal also benefited from strong government subsidies and influence at the beginning of electrification. We cannot expect such a big change to happen without government support.

Unfortunately, politicians often have to be made aware of the innovations that are necessary. You have to be persistent as an entrepreneur, in every respect. And in the end, what brings prosperity also benefits society. And change is sometimes easier than expected.

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How important is Silicon Valley for the development of innovation?

The Silicon Valley ecosystem is very easy to copy, even if too little is invested in startups outside of Silicon Valley and most of the venture capital only reaches a handful of young companies. Universities in particular are an important anchor to build a startup culture and invest in research. Without access to capital, all of this is useless.

And there have been fewer startups and IPOs in the US lately. One reason for this is the dominance of large corporations, especially from the Sillicon Valley, which leave less and less space for new companies.

Do tech companies like Google or Facebook be smashed?

At least you have to talk about how more competition could be possible. Managers need to understand that they need public trust - especially when it comes to future issues such as artificial intelligence. With change processes, you have to make sure that you take everyone with you. Innovative companies often have great ideas, but sometimes they don't think things through.

Digital changes in particular make many people afraid and this leads to conflicts that we cannot ignore. At the same time - on both sides of the Atlantic - it is time to think back to a healthy combination of community spirit and personal responsibility. Countries like Singapore, Norway or the US are successful at other times mainly because there is a combination of freedom and Sense for the common good.

Entrepreneurial thinking and community spirit - how do they go together?

Some companies are better at it than others; in fact, I have friends, or let's say people I know, among the top managers in Silicon Valley who adhere to liberal culture and don't want to pay taxes. That scares me. Because entrepreneurial culture begins with a society that invests in its children.

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Silicon Valley, in particular, was created by the good schools and top universities in California that were financed from tax revenues. I'm a little worried that we think all the great ideas will continue to spring up in the future without investing in our education system.

Should regulation interfere with entrepreneurial development?

Strong competition authorities are needed. It is like a forest that sometimes has to be balanced to make room for new trees. Without adequate regulation, the undesirable effects are in danger. Startup founders love this romantic idea of ​​being successful without being regulated. And you have to admit too early interventions in the development of young companies can be just as problematic.

However, if you want to see a country that is completely liberal, you should travel to failed states like Somalia without roads and police. This shows that complete regulation is not a good thing.

In the face of anti-democratic and nationalist developments, it is time to regain awareness of how well society is doing. The bottom line is that our societies have never been healthier, better educated, more prosperous, and more tolerant and diversified than they are today.

Where does optimism come from?

If your name is Barack Hussein Obama and you made it to the White House with that name, then you can only be optimistic. I would never have got there without optimism.

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What is the life of a US president like after the presidency?

In our society it is considered chic not to sleep: sleep is an absolutely undervalued thing - I only noticed that after the end of my presidency. And now I also spend more time with my wife and family. And I noticed that I can now deal more intensively with a problem. As a president, you often only react. Today I can pick certain topics that are close to my heart. Such as climate change and sustainability.

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  1. Simone Janson

    Hello victim,
    Well, I'm happy that I made you laugh!
    As you can see, I also have very little time, I can't even reply to comments.
    However, there is a new book that should speak to you from the soul: Lies with numbers by Gerd Bosbach. And next week there will also be an appointment:

    Just come over!
    Fittingly, I was on a counter appointment the day before and will then report on it. By the way, just a moment ago I also wrote a small rant on the subject:
    Much fun yet
    Simone Janson

  2. damaged

    Funny article. Unfortunately not so funny topic!

    Sorry Ninalein, you are two new rounds of news about engineers and a shortage of skilled workers. In the meantime, “it” has been established that there is no such thing as a shortage and that it NEVER WILL BE (keyword: the ridiculous number of 2 million missing, mainly engineers) and that there is a “shortage” of “suitable” engineers. A bit like that.

    What the “keyword” analysis in the link you have given me is not supposed to tell me. The VDI is an employer body whose sole aim is to lower wages.
    I have 3 jobs in the Projektwerk database - which I know a lot about! - clicked: 3 times “We are looking for a developer for our customer” = an engineer ”service provider” is looking for a “freelancer” for temporary employment. Is that supposed to be a joke? How about we switch grandma, grandpa, 3 banks, the EU, the Vatican, the post office, RTL and Greenland between the “customers” and the “freelancers”. That is massively dubious and ridiculous. I can imagine what that financially sticks with the “freelancer”, because the meat saleswoman earns well on the other hand.

    I said it before and I'll repeat it again: the engineering profession was killed, is dead. Those who torment themselves today among the mass of freshmen to graduate will not even end up as temporary workers ...

  3. Simone Janson

    Hello Ninalein, I know again about the study on the subject that says the opposite of your statement:

  4. ninalein

    Due to the shortage of skilled workers, engineers should now have a very good chance of getting adequate jobs, because they are desperately sought after - the resulting shortage of skilled workers can even act as a brake on economic growth. You can read why and why here:

  5. Appeals consulting

    Engineer looking for a creative and ironic job: Mashup as application? »By Simone Janson» Simone Janson

  6. Ramona Kramp

    Engineer looking for a creative and ironic job: Mashup as application? »By Simone Janson» Simone Janson

  7. In time - Good work

    Application in moving image format: creative top or rather a flop ?!

  8. Lack of engineers in comic form | Jobs4Automotive

    [...] Simone Janson's blog "Berufebilder" has this funny YouTube video on the subject of lack of engineers [...]

  9. Johannes Lenz

    RT @simonejanson: Engineer on a creative and ironic job search - mashup as an application? @wollmilchsau @SvenjaHofert @Robindro

  10. shonX Germany

    Engineer looking for a creative and ironic job: mashup as an application ...

  11. New Kids on the Blog | JOBlog - the job & career blog

    [...] Simone wonders whether this mashup is thawing as a creative application idea or whether it should be kept away from it. My conclusion -> well [...]


    Engineer on a creative, ironic job search: mashup as an application ?: Although a study deals with the shortage of skilled workers ...

  13. Why are some people just not successful? | Career blog by Svenja Hofert - the expert for new careers

    [...] Simone Janson tweeted the “creative” application from a desperate industrial engineer. Thank you Simone. However, I do not find his idea [...]

  14. wisoak professional

    Engineer looking for a creative and ironic job,

  15. Juliane Meyer

    Nice replica of @SvenjaHofert to my blog post What do you think: Are the people to blame or the system?

  16. Simone Janson

    Nice replica of @SvenjaHofert to my blog post What do you think: Are the people to blame or the system?

  17. Main education

    Everything MINT? RT @DerLarsHahn: Nice blog post from @SimoneJanson: Ironic replica of the hype about the lack of engineers.

  18. Alma Mater

    RT @SimoneJanson: Engineer looking for a creative and ironic job: Mashup as application? #Employment agency # skilled workers

  19. Competencepartner

    Engineer looking for a creative and ironic job: Mashup as an application ?: Although a study addresses the subject of F ...

  20. Lars Hahn

    Nice blog post from @SimoneJanson: Everything #MINT? Ironic replica of the hype about the #engineering shortage. #Labour market

  21. Simone Janson

    Engineer on a creative and ironic job search - mashup as an application? cc @wollmilchsau @johanneslenz @svenjahofert @robindro

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