I love YPO – and this quarter’s YPO Global Pulse explains why.

YPO stands as the epitome of the kind of optimistic leadership we sorely need in the face of all our well-founded fears in our very uncertain world.

Before we get into the results of the survey, let us take a scan of recent headlines.

It’s scary bad out there.

Looking around the globe, Japan in the Far East might be an island of democratic stability. But neither China nor the United States are happy superpowers. As Yale historian Chris Miller describes so well in his recent book, “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology,” they are locked in a tech war that might, at worst, become a shooting war over Taiwan.

In the Middle East, tensions have flared up again. Since 7 October, Israel and Gaza have been in the news daily. In the wake of this, Iran and its proxies are striking American interests in Jordan, Syria and Iraq – while in Yemen, the U.S. and its allies strike back at the Houthis – who themselves threaten to choke off shipping and global trade in the Red Sea. All of this might set off an oil and energy spike the likes of which would make the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 look like a walk in the park.

Closer to my home in Switzerland, the headlines also paint a gloomy picture. Europe faces continued stagnation and increased immigration. Brexit continues to tear Britain apart, and the war between Russia and Ukraine casts a dark shadow beyond the continent.

Even in the United States, the very center of global capitalism and the “last great hope of mankind,” we have a looming gerontocracy. The average age of Biden and Trump – the two leading candidates to occupy the White House – is well beyond retirement age. Politically, the country is tearing itself apart. Can the center hold?

Noted historian Niall Ferguson worries that we are well into Cold War II – with the United States and its Western allies pitted against China and the global south.

As if these larger global concerns are not enough to terrify us, our fears extend into so many more mundane areas. For example, Huw Van Steenis, Vice Chairman of consulting firm Oliver Wyman, recently returned from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos voicing worries about the unintended consequences of increased minimum capital requirements for major banks. And beyond this, he is seriously concerned about achieving carbon neutrality.

Now, with all of this as a backdrop, let us turn back to the YPO Global Pulse. We could not find a starker contrast. The YPO Global Pulse offers an almost unequivocally optimistic outlook, with CEOs reporting higher sales, more CEOs optimistic about how their sales will unfold, and fewer CEOs worried about recession and inflation. This optimism is characteristic of YPO members and is hardly surprising. YPO members are rational optimists. They confront the world’s challenges head-on. Where other business leaders find despair, seeing only problems and difficulties, YPO members see these multiple crises as opportunities to figure out how business can help solve these problems, bring the world forward and deliver growth in the process.

Jeff Bezos once advised that in an uncertain world where everything is changing, we should focus on what is not changing. This is what YPO members do.

For instance, YPO member Yariv Cohen, reflecting on the WEF meeting in Davos, chose to emphasize the ongoing need to address climate change, highlighting Bill Gates’ discussion on the business opportunities enroute to achieving net zero: For a YPO entrepreneur CEO, a world full of problems creates enormous opportunities if you have the right mindset.

“Where other business leaders find despair, seeing only problems and difficulties, YPO members see these multiple crises as opportunities to figure out how business can help solve these problems, bring the world forward and deliver growth in the process. ”
— Guy Spier, CEO of Aquamarine Capital

And rather than dwelling on the challenges of aging populations in China and Europe, YPO member, Founder and CEO at Concierge Medicine Europe, Wolfram Schleuter sees the opportunity to meet the health care needs of an older demographic through his medical concierge business.

While many CEOs and politicians fret about the potential for artificial intelligence to displace jobs, YPO member, Founder and CEO at Quantum Networks Group, Charlene Li is optimistic about how businesses can integrate AI into their core business processes – fostering their ability to grow sales and employment by better serving their customers’ needs.

YPO members are also addressing the needs of those left behind by globalization and capitalism. In India, the Dakshana Foundation, led by YPO member Mohnish Pabrai, has enabled more than 3,000 underprivileged Indians to attend top colleges, significantly improving their economic prospects. Dakshana graduates are now founding businesses that will grow well into the future – lifting yet more Indians out of poverty. Similarly, YPO member Sunil Lalvani‘s Project Mali brings essential resources like running water to impoverished African communities.

And it’s not just the world’s poor who are the focus of YPO members’ attentions: Entrepreneurs in luxury goods, such as Neil Everitt, drive demand for brands like Brockmans Gin. And when it comes to cleaning up the environment, other YPO members, including Gene Browne, focus on environmental improvement through innovative companies like the City Bin Co.

As the world grows wealthier, savers create a huge flow of retirement funds that require thoughtful investment. Some YPO member companies like Pierre Somers‘ Walter Group and Anthony Ginsberg‘s GinsGlobal, emulate investment behemoths like Brookfield Asset Management and BlackRock and play a crucial role in directing retirement savings into suitable investments. Others – like YPO member and angel investors Daniel Gutenberg and Brigitte Baumann Gervais – excel at directing funds into the growth companies of the future.

It’s true, there are pockets of concern. Europe, for example. Similarly, chief executives in the hospitality and automotive sectors are unhappy about increased labor costs. And those in the aviation and the education sectors are worried about rising costs in general.

But this is hardly surprising. The markets climb a wall of worry. To paraphrase my investment hero, Warren Buffett: “If you wait for a cheery consensus, you’re likely to have to wait a long time – and pay a high price for it.”

Indeed, that cheery consensus might well never come.

By contrast, if you are a leader in the mold of the CEOs of YPO, you will see the world’s current difficulties as opportunities. YPO members don’t wait for the right conditions. They work to create them.

On a personal level, my journey in YPO has connected me on a deep personal level to a broad variety of people I otherwise would have never met – business leaders from China, from Syria, Lebanon, Albania, Saudi Arabia and beyond. These personal connections and relationships have helped me to see beyond the scary headlines, beyond the problems and difficulties, and see there is a world of growth and opportunity.

I hope this overview explains why the YPO Global Pulse is often such a contrast with the pessimistic economic outlook presented by the media and pundits. And that it also explains why YPO is key part of a better future – providing better leaders for our world.

And although it is important to heed the warnings, the Global Pulse offers a healthy balance. The optimism and dynamism of YPO-led businesses offer a more rounded perspective.

The original article can be found on YPO


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