At the university – decades after my graduation Dieter Zetsche | 29th June 2017

I am privileged to talk to many different and exciting people at various occasions throughout the year. And I really enjoy every opportunity I have to meet young people, the leaders of tomorrow.

Last week I visited the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin. And I had the experience again: Being among a group of inspired, ambitious and energetic young adults is a great way to recharge your own batteries.

My foremost takeaway was the inspiring culture of optimism that prevailed among these students. They have a clear focus on progress instead of problems … on finding innovative solutions rather than getting bogged down by old roadblocks. This isn’t something you can learn sitting in a lecture hall or poring over a textbook. It’s pretty much just in the air. And it’s contagious!

Think about it: The German term “Kulturpessimismus” (“cultural pessimism”) is much more common in our language than the word “Kulturoptimismus.” In fact, there isn’t even a Wikipedia entry on “Kulturoptimismus”. And we all know: If it is not on Wikipedia, it probably doesn’t exist.

Searching the German Wikipedia for cultural optimism directly ends up at the article on pessimism:

The German Wikipedia: No entry on “cultural optimism”, yet a direct link to the article on cultural pessimism.

From many years of personal observation, I can tell that some people tend to lose the optimism of their early days over the years of their careers. And no, I am not naive: You can always find reasons to dwell on the negative, if you just try hard enough. But what we need is a culture that brings back more of that optimistic attitude we all had during our high school days and university years.

Obviously, we cannot all return to university to live it up on campus. But it helps to go back and visit school every now and then. The spirit there is just contagious. Thanks for that, ESMT!

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