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Gary Shapiro, Award Winning Global Top Innovating Thought Leader, Author and Executive, CEO Consumer Electronics Association

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Gary Shapiro.

Gary ShapiroGary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and owning and producing the world's largest annual innovation tradeshow, the International CES®.

Shapiro led the industry in its successful transition to HDTV. He co-founded and chaired the HDTV Model Station and served as a leader of the Advanced Television Test Center (ATTC). He is a charter inductee to the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers, and received its highest award as the industry leader most influential in advancing HDTV. He focused on the need for and led the effort to obtain the 2009 cut-off date of analog broadcasting.

As chairman of the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC), Shapiro led the manufacturers' battle to preserve the legality of recording technology, consumer fair use rights, and opposing legislation like PIPA and SOPA, harmful to a robust Internet.

Shapiro has held many exhibition industry leadership posts, and received the exhibition industry's highest honor, the IAEE Pinnacle Award.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Economic Club of Washington. He sits on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy. He has served as a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Commission on Information Technology and on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University. Shapiro also has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a "mastermind" for his initiative in helping to create the Industry Cooperative for Ozone Layer Protection (ICOLP).

Shapiro leads a staff of 150 employees and thousands of industry volunteers and has testified before Congress on technology and business issues more than 20 times. In 2012, and in prior years, Washington Life magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in Washington. Under Shapiro's leadership, CEA also annually wins many awards as a family friendly employer, one of the best places to work in Virginia and as a "green" tradeshow producer.

Shapiro authored CEA's New York Times bestsellers "Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses" (Harper Collins, 2013) and "The Comeback: How Innovation will Restore the American Dream" (Beaufort, 2011). Through these books and television appearances, and as a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Daily Caller and other publications, Shapiro has helped direct policymakers and business leaders on the importance of innovation in the U.S. economy.

Prior to joining the association, Shapiro was an associate at the law firm of Squire Sanders. He also has worked on Capitol Hill, as an assistant to a member of Congress. He received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate with a double major in economics and psychology from Binghamton University. He is married to Dr. Susan Malinowski, a retina surgeon.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:26: Gary, can you share highlights and useful lessons learned from your long successful history of leadership, setting standards and changing policy?
".... In my view, to be a successful leader you have to be able to relate to the people that work for you and that you are trying to reach, which means treating them as humans and not as indistinguishable parts....I believe that becoming a black belt in Taekwondo has helped me be disciplined, understand the importance of working with others, building a team, setting goals, having a strategy and being innovative...."

:01:26: As an internationally recognized top leader, what are your top leadership tips?
"....You have to be focused, you have to be disciplined, you have to set goals, you have to take your life experiences, and most of all learn from your failures because you don't learn from your successes, they may build your confidence, but they also give a false confidence....You have to be able to adapt, adjust, be willing to get out there and to be the best in your field and that takes a lot of thought and takes a strategy. When you have your team you have to be willing to think outside of the box and know yourself and get people who complement your weaknesses, rather than to just get people who are just like you...."

:03:21: What are your 3-year goals for the CEA and how will they be implemented?
"....I don't know about 3-year goals because we don't think that way. We think long term, medium term and short term. Our long term goals are to make sure that there's an environment that encourages innovation and there is a healthy US economy so we're very focused on that....Certainly in the shorter term we have to change some of the laws which are impeding innovation....Our mid-term to long term goals I would say for CEA are to make sure everyone in the world benefits from innovation...."

:07:14: Earlier you talked about the international CES and it's a premiere event in the world. Can you talk about some of your longer-term goals for that event?
"....We always try to set the bar higher and it's daunting because we've just come off a phenomenally successful event where over 3500 companies were exhibiting something, and we had over 150,000 people from around the world including actually over 40,000 people from outside the United States. We never rest on our laurels; we are always trying to improve the event, we're always surveying our customers and potential customers and getting input, and we want to make sure that we represent the entire consumer technology ecosystem and that means staying on top of technology trends...."

:08:53: What are your views on global challenges and their solutions?
"....A lot of the global challenges boil down to the fact that people (because of technology), see that there are people who are benefiting enormously because they are fairly wealthy and doing well, so there's a focus increasingly on wealth disparity. To me it's sometimes unfortunate because that focus gets determined as there are people who are too wealthy compared to people who are too poor, when in reality the causes of wealth and the causes of poverty are two totally different things....I think the biggest global challenge, whether it be disease, poverty, agriculture or water supply or things like that, is there are technological solutions coming about rapidly and it's the matter of making sure that governments don't stay in the way and in fact help provide access to them...."

:11:21: What are your top tips for innovation and entrepreneurship?
"....When you go to a place like Eureka Park and you spend four days getting input from people who are buyers and media, investors and potential partners, they will give you input and you have to have your ears open....You have to really know yourself really well and do some honest self-examination. Talk to some people with an objective view who are entrepreneurs that you trust. Get involved in different entrepreneurial organizations, see what's available in terms of resources like trade shows (like the CES), which are a phenomenally cost effective way of getting a tremendous amount of market response in a very short period of time, and go to other events and open your mind...."

:14:24: What areas continue to surprise you?
"....I'm a big passionate believer in Free Trade and also free movement of people around and free movement in education and things like that. But in terms of technology being able to solve problems — that is my personal passion and belief. I am happily surprised by all these new disciplines of Science which are merging different areas, of whether it's genetics or learning or education in biology and things like that, or mapping the genome and predictive sciences of what health risks we face and how to solve them...."

:16:44: You have already mentioned some innovations in prior questions. Are there any other disruptive innovations that you see coming up?
"....Today if you want to buy something or get something that you need you go to the store or order it online. Forty or fifty years ago you'd go to the store or you'd have someone knock on your door (a door to door salesman). Twenty years from or even ten years from now you might have three ways of getting it in your home. You could have it delivered by a drone, you could make it in your home with a 3-D printer or you could have a driverless car deliver it....The Internet of Things will obviously be big in terms of how our homes and appliances get smarter and they'll predict and will adjust to our daily routine to help us. And obviously wearables in so many different ways.....Of course there's a lot of things I don't know about, things that will be invented and no one is smart enough to predict the course of innovation which is a jagged course. My job is to make sure that course be allowed to exist and have ingredients in place where people can innovate and create...."

:19:29: What are the top growth regions internationally based on your experiences?
"....You said growth, I assume you mean economies which are growing quicker than others and the easy answer is the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Certainly if you look at the size of their population, the size of their economy, their absolute growth, those are pretty high and very significant. They are developing economies that are doing very well and they have great purchasing power. But in terms of innovation growth (having a couple books out about innovation and going around the world and the United States and talking in different places), I would not identify those countries as the top growth areas for innovation...."

:22:24: What kind of improvements would you like to see in policy in the next two years in your country and internationally?
"....I think the way to go is to encourage local innovation and let localities figure out what they are good at and develop their own plans to try to attract businesses and innovation investment....I think we need to first acknowledge innovation as important. It is not the job of government to protect existing businesses. Its job is to encourage competition and new things; we are a society of creative destruction...."

:24:30: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?
"....'Why aren't you running everything since you seem to have all the answers?'...."

:24:58: Gary, with your demanding schedule we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.