INSIGHT: Memories of yesterday, or hopes for tomorrow? George Logothetis

Remarks by George M. Logothetis, Chairman and CEO of Libra Group at the 2013 Concordia Summit


At the core of human motivation is the idea that tomorrow can be better than today. People will fight oppressors, combat unending peril, unite through unparalleled adversity, all in the hope that tomorrow can be better than today.

There is an entire generation of young people in many parts of the world, including the Western world, who are living more off their memories of yesterday than their hopes for tomorrow. If an entire generation of young is robbed of hope, our collective future is placed in jeopardy. After all, 50% of the world’s seven billion population is under the age of 30.

In too many places and for too many young people, their daily experience is about dis-empowerment. It is over-controlling which imposes a ceiling on progress. Over-control also represses information and stifles education. It impedes responsibility – and even more it prevents people from thinking and doing for themselves.

The seeds of terrorism and extremism are far more easily sown in the minds of the disempowered, controlled and hopeless than those who can hope to be educated, hope to be able to provide for their families and hope for a better tomorrow. To he or she who feels they have nothing to lose, senseless acts can make sense.

The internet has democratized information. The threshold of expectation of happiness and contentment has increased. No longer do the great majority of people in the world live in an information vacuum. People see more of what they do not have.

At the Concordia Summit, which capped off U.N. week in New York, a global group of business and government leaders tackled the issues for youth: jobs, education, technology, financial inclusion and entrepreneurship.

While at Concordia, I shared how Libra Group has been built on empowerment – specifically of young people. We have always believed in giving people opportunities based on potential and personality, not just experience – what can you be, not what have you been.

We have people who were trained in shipping from London who are now building hotels in South America, others buying property in the USA and even building energy plants in Europe. Making people responsible and accountable pays dividends. When people are empowered the feeling of responsibility is much higher than if they are controlled.

Our internship programme helps young students from Greece and the United States see what is possible with a dynamic, global mind-set.

Our Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award has sparked hope and encouragement in Greece – a country starved of both.

We should never regard youth as a disadvantage. Instead we should treasure the idealism of youth. And tap into its creativity and energy. Young people’s energy is infectious – all we need to do is shower them with opportunity and accountability and get them to believe. In themselves most of all.

As someone who came from Europe to America I have seen how powerful real empowerment can be. The United States is the great example of empowerment and just look at the results.

The consequences of controlling our young are far more profound than one might think: how can they live tomorrow with wisdom and vision if they are controlled today by a ceiling of fear or impotence? How can confidence be developed if they have no opportunity to be made responsible?

Severing the cycle of cynicism that is prevalent in many places requires concrete effort – this is where public private partnerships come in through combining the agility of the private sector with the outreach and voice of the public sector.
We can all help. Starting by encouraging our children to believe in themselves.

We must be philanthropists, and I am talking about philanthropy in the most profound meaning of the word. The word was coined by the playwright Aeschylus, who used it to describe Prometheus when he gave two gifts to mankind: fire and hope.

Fire symbolizes culture, science and technology. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. Thus the real meaning of philanthropy is gifting people the tools to create a great civilization and then giving them the confidence to try to build one.

Equipping young people with what they need to do great things. And then giving them the belief to build a better tomorrow. That is the essence of empowerment. We have a responsibility to give back what we have been given. That makes a good day. And to do good is to feel good.

George M. Logothetis is the Chairman and CEO of Libra Group.

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