The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference

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Sergio Marchionne
Sergio Marchionne
Chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC
Chief Executive Officer, Fiat S.p.A
Sergio Marchionne  

Excerpts from speech delivered to the Conference:

I am not here to preach doom and gloom. In fact, I don't subscribe to the more pessimistic scenarios. With regards to the United States, we often underestimate its amazing capacity to fall and to get back up. To rally in times of crisis and to commit to courageous structural change. A change that will ultimately require thinking about capitalism itself, the re-establishment of markets as being the governing framework for economies, but not for society. This is a subtle but not inconsequential distinction. Markets cannot be the determining factors of a just and equitable society. They have no conscience and they have no moral understanding. Left as the operating mechanism of society at large, they will treat human life itself as a commodity. And this cannot be allowed....

I do believe that the future is not just the responsibility of governments. It's an individual and collective responsibility. It's a challenge that calls for a concerted and shared commitment. Closing our eyes, or thinking that finding a solution is someone else's role, makes us part of the problem. I'm raising this issue because those responsible for running a global enterprise, also have the duty to open their minds and look beyond the walls of their offices. I'm speaking to you because, as future leaders your commitment goes beyond a simple professional obligation. And the essence of leadership is this; it is to personally assume the moral duty to act and to commit yourself to building a better future. Embracing your personal responsibility, to give future generations hope for a better future. This is what makes leadership a privilege and a noble calling ...

In our personal and our professional lives we often set up mental boundaries that take the form of reassuring habits and routines, that become a type of prison that we construct around ourselves. And that prison is the first thing that needs to be knocked down because it is the most dangerous. I constantly encourage my coworkers at Fiat and Chrysler to go beyond the cliché and the conventional, to try new approaches and change perspectives each and every day. I exhort them not to repeat the same things, but instead, to embrace a mentality that is truly free. And being truly free, means knowing that at any time you can change course, and that you can set new goals....

There are many doors along each of our paths, and behind each of those doors are things that can change us and our lives. But only those who have learned to appreciate every experience, whose minds are open to change, who have a desire to learn, and to prove themselves, are capable of seeing those doors. One of the most enjoyable books I've read, the book that also made me think about how to approach life was "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. There's a passage where the old Benjamin, who has become a baby, says “For what it's worth, it's never too late, or in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit. Stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best, or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you, and I hope you feel things that you've never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you're proud of and, if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

And this is the message of hope that I would like to leave with you today. Always have the courage to change yourselves, to change your ideas, to change your approach and your point of view because this is the only way to change what's wrong, and make your life and the life of others a better life.

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