EVERYONE WANTS TECH innovation to drive their economies, according to former Intel chairman and CEO Craig Barrett. "It's the topic of every government on the face of the earth," Barrett recently told a crowd of entrepreneurs at the Global Technology Symposium at Stanford University. On the surface, it seems simple. You need smart people, R&D investment, and the right environment. Then why isn't everyone doing it? You won't find "the formula for success" from the wisest professors or business leaders, Barrett said. You'll find it in the humble Chinese fortune cookie:
FORTUNE NO. 1 (from Chef Chu's in Mountain View, California): "The world will always accept talent with open arms."
Talent is education, experience, capability and passion for what you do. Whether you're a poet or an engineer, the world will welcome you if you have those characteristics, Barrett said. The orginal business plan for Intel by co-founders Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore was only 160 words long. And all it said, according to Barrett, was they thought they had some talent, and they think there's a business in selling integrated circuits.
"Not much has changed," Barrett said. "Venture capitalists want to see a one-page business plan, and they're really interested more in the talent that they fund than the business that they fund."
FORTUNE NO. 2 (from the Golden Phoenix Chinese Restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona): "You can't win unless you choose to compete."
This is a message for individuals, for companies, and for countries, Barrett said. Individuals compete on the basis of talent, experience, capabilities. Companies compete with products and services. And countries compete by setting the right environment, by bringing together smart people and ideas.
Barrett said the planet is going through the biggest economic transformation ever, and "that means every country must change their business plans to accommodate all those new capitalists."
FORTUNE NO. 3 (from a hotel in Malaysia): "A small deed done is better than a great deed planned."
According to Barrett, this means that individuals and entrepreneurs are "so much more powerful than central governments" in accomplishing deeds and creating wealth. Whether it's a teacher helping a student, or a doctor helping a patient, it's the individual acomplishing results, he said. Individual researchers at universities created the greatest innovations of the Internet: Netscape's browser, Yahoo's directory, and Google's search engine. And those innovations, he said, posed great challenges to Microsoft, the most powerful corporation in the world.
"That is the power of the individual," Barrett said. "That's the power of the right environment."