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Thomas Friedman - Author

Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman shares his thoughts in a discussion with Sal. Created by Sal Khan.

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Video transcript

Sal: I thank everyone for coming. I think we should turn this speaker series into people who really don't need an introduction speaker series, but I will give a brief introduction regardless. This is Tom Friedman, famous writer, 3 Pulitzer Prizes, New York Time columnist. Many of you all might not have realized that we know each other and that every morning we coordinate our outfits which is now. Tom: What are you wearing today Sal? Sal: Yeah I know we're very careful about that. Tom: Should we do pink today? Sal: Yes, but it's a real honor to have you here and where I like to start is- I mean a lot of people know you as like the public person and I do this really for- Frankly a lot of people who just might be watching Khan Academy, young students or whatever and I'm always curious how a Tom Friedman becomes a Tom Friedman. I mean what brought you on this path? Tom: It's interesting. I was born in Minnesota. I grew up in St. Louis Park a small suburb of Minneapolis. I've always thought to be a successful columnist and rather I am or not someone else can judge, but it's really important to be from somewhere Sal. It's really important to be grounded in a worldview that you take around the world and you measure against other things you see and so the thing that you have to understand about my column is I'm always looking for Minnesota. So what does that mean? That means I grew up in Minneosta at a particular time when politics really sort of worked. So I graduated from high school in 1971 and that was the year that Walt, that our ... sorry, our governor- I forgot his last name now, Anderson, was on the cover of Time Magazine holding up a walleye under the headline- Sal: A what? Tom: A walleye fish. Sal: A walleye. I don't know what that is. Tom: A walleye fish. Yeah it's a sort of fish. Under the headline "Minnesota: The State that Works" So I grew up in a totally liberal district and my whole life my congressmen were 2 liberal Republicans not Democrats. My senators growing up were Walter Mondale, Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey. The companies I grew up with were Dayton-Hudson, Target, Honeywell, 3M who thought it was part of their responsibility to do- corporate social responsibility to build the symphony to fund education programs so it gave me- I now only realize in retrospect a very powerful sense that politics is something that can work that communities can come together and so when I later, you know, went to the Middle East or Beirut or whatever I carried that with me and a lot of what I saw was- I saw communities falling apart. Somebody else may have said something. My life changed in 10th grade. I had a great teacher. Her name was Hattie Steinberg and she taught journalism in room 313 at St. Louis Park High School and her class is still the only journalism course I've ever taken not because I'm that good, but because she was that good. It was the only one I ever needed and she really inspired me to want to be a journalist and a writer and in that same year my parents took me to Israel on a trip to visit my sister who was going to school there. I had never been out of the state of Minnesota. I was 15, except for a few brief forays into Wisconsin and I had never been on an airplane and so that was my first trip. I came to the Middle East came to Israel and I was just kind of blown away so I actually lived on a kibbutz all 3 summers of high school. I got totally fascinated with the Middle East. Dropped everything and was just totally absorbed with journalism and the Middle East. I then went to college. I started taking Arabic as a freshman. I eventually did a semester at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A semester at the American University in Cairo and I graduated in 1975 from Brandeis ultimately in Middle East studies and I had a Marshall Scholarship to study Arabic and Middle East history ultimately in England. I did my first year at the School of Oriental and African Studies and then I went to Oxford and sort of had a classic British Arab education at St Antony's, but while I was in London I met my then girlfriend, now wife, Ann Bucksbaum, who was a Stanford grad who had graduated a year early and kind of- She told her dad "You owe me a year of college." So she decided to go to LSC for a year and we met through mutual friends in London and my real journalism career started because- This was 1975 and we were walking down a street in London and, you know, the Evening Standard newstand they always have that blaring headline, you know, "Brad to Jen we're finished," you know, buy the Evening paper. And we were walking down a street in London and I saw the headline in the Evening Standard and it said "Carter to Jews: If elected I promise to fire Dr. K." And I stopped and looked at that and I said to my then girlfriend, now wife, "Isn't that interesting?" This guy is running for president, Jimmy Carter, he's trying to win Jewish votes by promising to fire Henry Kissinger the first-ever Jewish Secretary of State so how could that be? And that's sort of how my mind works and I have no idea what possessed me, but I went back to my dorm and I wrote a column about it. And my then girlfriend, now wife, really liked it. She is from Des Moines, Iowa. She took it home on spring or winter break, I don't remember now, and gave it to a family friend named Gilbert Cranberg who is editorial page editor of the Des Moines Register, a wonderful midwest paper at that time, and he liked it and he printed it under op-ed page, half the op-ed page under an Oust cartoon and they- Sal: Alf cartoon? Tom: Oust a cartoonist. Sal: Oh, oh, yeah, I though Alf. It was the wrong timeframe. Tom: Under an Oust cartoon and they paid me $50. Sal: Wow. Tom: And I thought that was the coolest thing in the whole world. I was walking down the street. I had an opinion. I went and wrote it. I gave it to someone and they paid me $50. Sal: People pay for this. Tom: And I just thought ... I was hooked ever after. So during my time at Oxford I wrote op-ed columns about the Middle East for the Minneapolis StarTribune my hometown paper where I also knew the editorial page editor and from my wife's, then girlfriend, wife's hometown paper. So I graduated from Oxford in '78 and I had a wonderful time there. I studied with Albert Hourani, a great Arab historian and wonderful man. So I went to apply for a job and I decided I was going to apply- because a friend of mine applied at AP once in London so I applied for a job at the Associated Press and the United Press International in London and the AP said "You've never covered a fire. "You've never covered a city hall meeting," but I had a dozen op-ed columns from the Middle East. UPI kind of being Avis and AP being Hertz said "Look the kids never covered a fire, "but if he can do this we could probably "teach him that and there's just been "a revolution in Iran "and I think they use the same kind of letters "as they do in the Arab world and a "bunch of squiggles and if he knew the Arabic stuff "maybe we could teach him to do that." And so they hired me for $200 a week on Fleet Street and I worked there for almost a year when the number 2 man in the Beirut bureau of UPI got shot in the ear by a man robbing a jewellery store on [Humbler] Street and he called the headquarters and said "I want to get out of here." I do not want to pass go. I do not want to collect $200. GET ME OUT OF HERE. Sal: Where was this? This was in where? Tom: In Beirut. Sal: In Beirut. Tom: Right. The Civil War started- Sal: He got shot in the ear? Tom: In the ear by a man robbing a jewellery store. Sal: At a jewellery store. Tom: And so UPI came to me and said "Do you want to go to Beirut?" Sal: And you are like 20? Tom: I'm 25. Sal: 25 years old. Tom: Yeah, and I'd never been to Beirut. I'd been to Egypt, but never been to Beirut. So I turned to my then wife and- Sal: There's a Civil War going on. Tom: Civil War it's the middle of the Civil War just started in '75 so this was now- It was well into its third year this was '79 fourth year actually and we just said "This is our moment and got to go." Sal: And your wife went. Tom: She signed up and so we went off to Beirut and my first night there at the Commodore Hotel I heard a gunshot fired and it was the first time I had ever heard a gunshot in my life. You didn't hear a lot of those in St. Louis Park. We were in Beirut for 2 years. The Civil War had a very profound searing experience on me because what is- And I don't mean this in a voyeuristic way, but when you're in one of those situations you see how molecules behave at very high temperatures so what you see is what people are capable of from both good and evil in a way you'll never see in any normal environment so the whole color spectrum goes out to here and you learn an enormous amount about people and about yourself. So I did that for 2 years and then the New York Times hired me. I went back to New York for about 11 months as a business correspondent covering oil and then they sent me back to Beirut in April 1982. And I realize that date doesn't mean anything to anyone in this room they weren't born then, but Israel invaded Lebanon 6 weeks later. And the Lebanon story became the biggest story in the world. And so I covered the Israeli invasion, the Marines coming, the Marines going, the US Embassy bombing, Sabra and Shatila, the massacres, all the journalists. I covered the Hama massacre in Syria which was the precursor to what's going on now. And maybe the most important experience of that because we're just at the 20th Anniversary, sorry 30th Anniversary of the US Embassy bombing and it's quite important and it's doubly important for what I'll share with you. On, I think it was April 18th, you can check the date 1983 I was sitting in my apartment in West Beirut and I had a transistor radio on my desk. That was something that was used back then in the dark ages to actually listen to the BBC. Sal: Yes-yes. Tom: And there was a blast so powerful that it actually knocked the radio off my desk like an earthquake almost and so I did what journalists do back then I just ran down to the street to do 2 things. One is the Israelis set off a lot of sonic booms by supersonic jets over Beirut so a sonic boom sounds a lot like a car bomb or anything. You don't know that- and so the first thing you listened for are sirens. If it's a sonic boom you won't hear sirens. If you hear sirens it's bad and I quickly saw a mushroom cloud curling up in the distance and a big one and so I just ran toward it and that's what you do. Sal: That's right, yeah, absolutely. Tom: And I got closer and closer and said "It couldn't be, no-no, it couldn't"- And I sort of rounded the turn at the American University in Beirut and there was the US Embassy which I used to live across the street from cut in half like a doll's house, bodies hanging out, you know, papers, desks, a smouldering smoking ruin and staggering around was a young political officer named Ryan Crocker who I actually spoke to today because Ryan later became Ambassador to Beirut, to Syria, to Afghanistan and Iraq. I don't remember if it was him or someone else, but I said "What happened?" and they said "A man drove a truck- You remember the US Embassy in those days had no parameter. Sal: Wow. Tom: You just walked up to the front door. Sal: Right. Tom: "A man drove a truck through the driveway, "up the front stairs into the lobby and blew it up." And I'll never forget what I said. "You mean he blew himself up. "You mean he committed suicide." Sal: Right. That was unheard of. Tom: That was un ... I mean I literally I could not get my mind around it and that was the beginning that was the first one. And that's really the way the phenomenon started. So anyways I did 2 more years in Beirut for the New York Times. It was remarkable in the sense to just see the human drama that played out. Sal: I have about 8 million questions in my brain, but I mean especially when you hear about war correspondents people who are in these war zones I mean did you- and your wife is there with you. Tom: Yeah. Sal: Did you fear for your life? I mean you could go back to wherever, New York, Minneapolis, hang out at the Target, whatever. Tom: That's right Mall of America it wasn't built then. So there were times that- I came to Beirut in April 1982. The war started in June and unfortunately in the first week of the war a massive number of refugees came up from the south mostly Palestinian. My driver in Beirut was a Palestinian and he had worked for the Times since the '50's. Actually he was a driver for Kim Philby. I mean Mohammed had seen like it all and he began to fear for my safety because refugees were taking over apartments any vacant apartment and this was summer so a lot of Beiruties had gone to, you know- Sal: A lot of people would just break-in. Tom: Break-in, empty apartment, move in. And so he chose ... he decided to move his wife and 2 daughters into my apartment and move me into the hotel. He thought it would be much safer for me. And tragically 2 groups of refugees got in a fight over my building and the one that lost blew it up. Sal: Wow. Tom: And so the building was completely destroyed and unfortunately my driver's wife and 2 daughters were killed in my apartment. Sal: Oh my God. Tom: And that was in the first week of the war. So, you know, that was obviously I could have been there. My wife hadn't come over yet. You know, people always ask you that and I honestly don't think about it. I remember once being out to interview Arafat when the Israelis bombed the neighborhood and I just remember that when a big concussion bomb hits how it sucked all the oxygen out of the air. I was once walking around Beirut airport with the Marines when a ricochet came over our heads and when a ricochet- Because a ricochet slows down a bullet you can actually hear it turning when it gets closer to you. So I remember those kind of things, but most of the time I tried to be prudent. People said "Do you have a bulletproof vest?" My motto is if you need a bulletproof vest you're somewhere you shouldn't be. Because there's no sense in getting yourself killed so I tried to be as prudent as I could. I still did some crazy ass things, but- I used to walk home at night after work at 11 which I still can't believe and I wrote about this. I wrote a book ultimately called "From Beirut to Jerusalem" and there was a time where I was walking home at night with my wife- Sal: I bought that as a teenager just so you know. Tom: After a movie and we were walking down the streets of Beirut and a man jumped out a window with a pistol in his hand and literally landed like right in front of us and I used to say Beirut was so dangerous at night you could walk home because even the criminals were afraid to be out, but he looked at us and we looked at him and he just went away. Sal: Just like that. Tom: Just like- But it was almost like Batman, you know, jumped out, but basically we tried to be prudent. We obviously saw many tragic scenes. As that kid from St. Louis Park who never had to help dig his driver's wife and 2 daughters out of the rubble of an apartment so it was a searing experience for me. You hold a lot of stuff in because I was there for the New York Times. It's my first assignment for the Times. The city was under siege they couldn't get more reporters in so they were stuck with me. But at the end of the summer my deal with the Times was that I'm gonna stay here- I was in the south when Israel invaded and I'm gonna stay here until the PLO leaves. That was the negotiation the PLO was going to leave, you know what-not because I wanted, you know- In your career at the New York Times if you write one 6 column headline story for the New York Times that's a big deal. Sal: Right. Tom: I probably had 8 that summer, you know, these were ... and I wanted to have "Israel Invades" and "The War Ends" You know what I mean? You know, I was going to stick it out. So the day finally came that the PLO left and I always give this as a lesson to young journalists. It was a Saturday. I went down to the port to watch them go in trucks get on these boats to Greece and Tunisia and what-not and actually I was with Peter Jennings, the late Peter Jennings from ABC, and I remember because we were standing there the Palestinians were all shooting in the air and we were covered in shell cases. That is one of my searing memories, but it was an amazing scene and I had been there all summer and it was just the combination of the whole thing and I went back to the Writers Bureau where I worked just one of those noisy, old time newsrooms which I love. By the way, those days you worked on something it was called a typewriter. Okay. And I worked on an Adler. I was so proud. I had a German typewriter. It actually got blown up, but I got another one and I'm in the Writers Bureau working on my typewriter. The way you wrote stories back then, the way you wrote your news story you had to write it 3 paragraphs at a time, hand it to a telex operator, they punched it into telex tape, and then it was telexed to the New York Times. It came out of this telex tape and they fed it into a computer and then it was edited. That's how it all worked. Try writing a story 3 paragraphs at a time. Sal: Yeah. Tom: So you have to write the whole thing through because you got to know where you're going then write it through again and then you kind of write it through and hand it in. So it's Saturday it's about 3 o'clock I'm doing this I'm writing this is my last- this is a combination of the whole summer and all the communications from Beirut to the rest of the world went down. Sal: Wow. Tom: Somebody basically either unplugged the PTT because they all went through 1 PTT line. Post telephone and telegraph. No cell phones then, no nothing, so the entire communications between Beirut and the rest of the world were cut down. I still today have the telex tape in a shoebox of my last story from Lebanon. I stayed by the telex all night to see if it would come on. It never did and that Sunday morning under a 6 column headline said "Palestinians Evacuate Beirut" Associated Press Sal: Wow. Tom: And why I always tell young journalists about that is that it's really my view of life which is that it's all about the journey not about the destination. I love the movie "Moneyball" because you just got to enjoy the show and sometimes you don't have the headlight, you don't have the thing- I don't mean enjoy a war, but you know what I'm saying you just got to- Sal: Well no, you took a real experience you're living. Tom: You just got to be satisfied by the experience because sometimes the PTT goes down, you know. Sal: And you never had an experience like that gentleman who got his ear shot where you're just like I've had enough, I'm out of here. Tom: Fortunately no, you know, I never- Yeah you do get and I'm not some super guy I mean I just ... you do get hardened to it though. You try to be prudent. I mean in "From Beirut to Jerusalem" I talked about a scene where I was with a colleague who they did get into Beirut at one point and he was very jittery and nervous about the whole thing and at one point I was working on my story on deadline and we were at the Writers Bureau and there was a man shooting at another person in the park across the street and he came over to me and he said "Did you see that guy there? "He had the gun in his gut and he was shooting "at him like this." I just looked up and I said "Bill, was he shooting at you?" Okay? Right? Sal: Mind your own business. Tom: Because if he wasn't shooting at you I am on deadline. Okay? Honestly it was not like something- but you're just really focused about what you do, you know, and I tried ... I was not- people did much crazier things than me. I just did not, you know, I tried to take care of myself, but obviously you're in a dangerous situation. Just by being in Beirut you're in a dangerous situation, but you know, I'll tell you Sal the people I went through that with- I go back to Lebanon pretty much once a year still because they are among my closest and dearest friends because we were all on the Titanic together, you know, and my friends I have who I went through Beirut with are like no friends I have. There's another story "From Beirut to Jerusalem" that I love to tell because we had a- our local reporter then at the New York Times was a guy named [unintelligible] Brilliant Palestinian reporter and a real teacher of mine and he tells a story in the book because the Israelis were bombing Beirut all the time then and at one point they were in their living room, you know, just waiting for the bombing to end and they had a candle going on and a mouse appeared and it was like he and his wife were up on the couch. You know what I mean? Like fear you can be afraid of funny things. Like the bombing is coming they can be obliterated at any moment, but that mouse scared the daylights out of them, you know, and so you get just really funny things like- You don't have experiences like that anywhere else where you learn so much about human nature. And so I was there for over the course of 5 years I was there for 4 years because I went back for the New York Times and the Times said "Hey do you want to go to Jerusalem?" So the New York times had never had a Jewish reporter in Israel. It was a rule of the paper. Sal: I see. Tom: They tried to change that rule with my predecessor [David Schipper] but they discovered after they appointed him that he just looked Jewish, but he wasn't actually Jewish. Okay? And so they didn't make that mistake with me and they said "You've already done Beirut. "Now do Jerusalem." And no-one had ever done that before so I thought that would be kind of interesting so I did that for 5 years and that was a very different experience. The boundaries were much narrower, you know, the color spectrum you didn't have and I did that and then I took a year off. I wrote "From Beirut to Jerusalem" Then when I got back to Washington they said "Whoever becomes the next president "you will be the Chief Diplomatic Correspondent." It turned out to be George Bush the Elder. He named Jim Baker, Secretary of State and so after my year off writing this book I became the Chief Diplomatic Correspondent and travelled with- Sal: You could be like secretary of state yourself at this point. Tom: No hardly. Actually not only should I not- It's not false modesty in the least I didn't know anything about anything other than the Middle East. Sal: Right. Tom: So I got a great education travelling with Baker. The first 9 months was really boring and I'm thinking I gave up covering a drama to covering a policy. Sal: Right. Tom: Than I gave up covering a street to covering a hall. Sal: Right. Tom: Like what did you do? And then this wall in Berlin came down. Sal: Yeah, I heard about that. Tom: And suddenly I found myself travelling 750,000 miles with Baker with a front row seat to the end of the Cold War. Sal: You're like in the plane? Tom: In the plane. He takes 10 reporters wih him. Sal: Wow. Tom: And it was just an amazing front row seat to the end of the Cold War. So I felt like I was really lucky twice because in this business if you're at the right place at the right time one time like you're lucky and I thought this was really lucky so I did that for 4 years. Great education. Then just very quickly I was Chief White House Correspondent for the first year of Bill Clinton. And that was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride I have to tell you. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. That was such a crazy-ass experience I got to tell you. Sal: What was the craziest thing that you saw? Tom: I don't know just the Clinton White House was just ... they were fun and he was fun. Thank God it was the end of the Cold War so it wasn't a serious time so nobody got hurt, you know. Sal: And this is just the stuff that you saw. Tom: That's right that I saw, but it was- Sal: I mean like you're the press it was ... yeah. Tom: I did that for a year. Covering the White House is an experience every journalist should have because it's a very interesting experience, but none there call it journalism, you know, it's sort of a cross between babysitting and stenography, you know, because you're there, but you know you got to go everywhere with the president. Sal: Who were you babysitting? Tom: You're babysitting the president. You go everywhere he goes, you know. Sal: Like a ball and chain. Oh wow. Tom: But you take turns flying in Air Force One because it's a pool, you know, so I was glad I did it for a year, but like I got the point after a year and said "I don't really want to do this" because one of the things about covering the White House and the State Department is back in those days, again, the prehistoric days, the Washington Post and the New York Times exchanged front pages at 10:30 every evening so we saw what they had and they saw what we had. Sal: Really? Is this some type of like- Tom: It was a little restrictive. Sal: Mafia bosses getting together and yeah. Tom: Mafia restrained the trade people don't realize and if you're sitting at home when you're covering the White House or the State Department there's just one thing you don't want a phone call at 10:35. Okay. Because when the phone rings at 10:35 only bad things are going to happen. Sal: What? The Washington Post is doing the same story? Tom: No, the editor says the Washington Post has a front page story that Jim Baker is about to announce this and you have to start to match it at 10:35 at night. You haven't lived until you've called a senior administration official at home at 10:35 at night. Okay? To match a Washington Post story. And so not only are you up until midnight matching their story, but you know when you come into the office the next morning everyone knows they've got the lead story that you missed. Okay. So anyway that's just part of the prehistoric age, you know, basically. No Twitter then. Sal: So you would coordinate not to be embarrassed? Tom: Exactly. Tom: We would give each other a chance to match each others story, but with the [unintelligible] that it said as reported in the Washington Post first, you know, so you had to kind of eat that crow, you know, before you matched it and so then they transferred me to be the Chief Economics Correspondent the Treasury Department and this was early '90's. Netscape had just been invented. This thing called the Internet. Remember when Bill Clinton was president like the president and no one had email. Okay. No one had heard of email and this thing called globalization was aborning and so I was at the Treasury Department just as we were kind of shifting from General Powell to General Electric, you know, in terms of our kind of concerns. Sal: You have a knack for words. Tom: Yeah, I don't know where it comes from. They tell me that. Sal: Yes, you should put that to work at some point. Tom: And so I did that for 3 years and then they made me the Foreign Affairs columnist and I've been doing that ever since and then I came here yesterday. Sal: You came here yesterday and I think this is destiny because you talk about these life moments, one, discovering the op-ed, how you could communicate and then all of these other experiences. You know there's this form-factor called the YouTube video. Tom: Yes. Sal: Which I think some organizations could get you making some videos. Tom: Absolutely. I know I should do that and I thought of doing a movie- It's funny my youngest daughter went to Williams College and Williams is on the 4-1-4 system and this is relevant now for Khan Academy I think which is that. So the 1 is a winter term which is kind of fun so you take wine making, trip to Morocco, but as a freshman you have to stay on campus. So in a shameless effort to be near my daughter I agreed ... because I had a friend there that was teaching a course on teaching actually. I agreed to teach a course on how to write a column. It was really fun for one reason. I realized that ... like I've learned about globalization and written about it. I've learned about the Middle East and I've written about it, but I know how to write a column and it was really fun to write about something you know really deeply and to teach it. So the way the course was constructed I created a little book for the class and you had to ... because I team taught it with a friend who is an educator so you had to teach a lesson, okay, on Tuesday and then you had to write a column off that lesson on Thursday and I would come to class and they would email their columns ahead of time and then I would de-construct them in front of them. So your 18th draft is really the lead. The lead is really the kicker, you know, I showed them, I'd kind of take it apart for them. So what I did though was I created a 6, a 7 chapter book I guess on how to write a column. I just did this mimeographed, you know, because my view is that there's actually just 6 kind of columns and if you write a column that gets any one of these 6 reactions you have a column. And then I give examples of all 6 and the last chapter was Tom Friedman is a big fat idiot, right wing pink or left wing bottom dwelling slug. I took a days or weeks blogs about me and I put them all in one chapter, you know, about what a flaming jerk I am and just to explain to people that being a columnist is not a friend growth industry and that you want my life. Are you ready for chapter 7? Okay? Because you better be ready for chapter 7 because I live with that Greek chorus everyday. Okay? So the 6 kind of columns are- So if you write a column that gets one of these 6 reactions you got a column. The first is someone reads it and says "I didn't know that." That's a column. You tell people something they didn't know from reporting, you know, you reported something. "Wow, I didn't know that." Second is "I never looked at it that way." You give people a new perspective. "Yeah, Sal, I never looked at it that way." Third, your favorite, you live for this. It happens half a dozen times a year if you're lucky. "You said exactly what I felt, "but I didn't know how to say it. "God bless you. (kiss-kiss) God bless you. "Thank you so much." The fourth is "I want to kill you dead "you and all your offspring." Okay? Sal: Yes. Tom: Because your column is defined as much by people who are against it as are for it. Sal: Have you had people actually write that to you? Tom: Oh yeah, that's nothing. I mean that's nothing. That's the nice stuff. Okay. "I'd like to dance on your grave," you know. Sal: Really? People have written that? Tom: You get everything, but you really need to- If you don't take chances ... if you don't, you know, so you got to be able to take people on and be taken on, you know. The fifth, very hard, do not try this trick at home kids. "You made me laugh, you made me cry." Very hard to do. When you do it well oh wow, it really works. When you do it badly, bad humor or bad sort of sentimentality is cringe-inducing so don't try that one unless you're really gonna pull it off and last is what I simply call "You challenged me." And that is when a columnist challenges his own readers which I believe in doing. I do a lot of that and I give examples of all 6. So if you write one of those kind of 6 columns you got a column. Sal: And you target one or you just go around and think about what you want to write. You write it and then you say "Oh, that's category 3 with a little bit of 4 in it." Tom: No, I'm not thinking about it now because I intuitively I know what it is so right now I've got actually 3 columns wrestling in my head. Before I came here I tracked down Ambassador Ryan Crocker in a plane at LaGuardia after I talked to you because I had a thought about Syria that was triggered by something he wrote in the Washington Post this morning. I'm thinking about some of the things you said because it melds well with the McKinsey Study that somebody sent me yesterday. And I did a column with a bunch of healthcare innovators last week at HHS I did research for it so I got that in my head. Sometime tomorrow I'll make a commitment for Sunday, but right now all 3 are wrestling and I'm carrying all 3 around in my head. To be a columnist you have to- I see columns everywhere like I do an hour here and I could easily get a column or 2 out of this. And if I didn't you'd kind of die because I do this twice a week, you know, it's like what am I gonna write for Wednesday. It's Sunday. I have no idea what I'm gonna write for Sunday. I really don't have any idea. All I know is I've got a 4-hour plane flight on Friday and I will write whatever I'm going to write for Sunday on that 4-hour plane ride. Okay? I will make a commitment then. So I never worry about the ideas. It's more which one to choose of the ideas I have. Sal: So we will try to convince you to get your course on Khan Academy. Tom: Yeah, I would love to. Sal: It will reach millions. Tom: No I really have thought about doing something for you guys because it would be fun. Sal: Your grandchildren will learn to write a column through you. Tom: It would be a great honor. Sal: And what ... I mean to write all of this. Once again, a million different things. I mean just going from the first question of how you got started I mean what's interesting about it is you just started doing your career and that's what led- nowhere in that did someone look at your resume and say- Tom: Well they did they saw that I went to Oxford I studied, you know, Arabic and all. Sal: That's fairly impressive. Tom: That was a door opener, but what really got me in was I wrote- I had a dozen columns to show. Sal: Right. Tom: So whenever young journalists come to me and say "I want to do what you do," you know, they say "What do I need to do to do what you do?" And I say well the first thing you need is be able to type fast. I can type really fast. Take good notes. You need to know English, obviously, good grammar, punctuate, the comma goes there. Good to know some economics, politics, history, all of those things, science, environment, but there's actually just one thing you need to be a good journalist I believe you have to like people. Sal: Right. Tom: You have to really enjoy sitting with them and listening to the crazy things they say and do and the incredible music of their lives and if you cannot hear the music you'll never be able to play the music. Now I really do like people. I love to interview them. I interview them wherever I go. I'm struck at how many journalists hate people and I've known several of them, but I really do like people and I enjoy hearing the music of their lives. Sal: I have an unnamed friend who is in residency, surgical residency, really brilliant guy and he got some negative feedback from one of the senior residents and the feedback was, it really just doesn't look like you care about the patients and he was really taking that to heart. Tom: Yeah. Sal: Then I asked him. Well do you care? And he's like no. Tom: That's right, that's right, that's right. It shows. I was in San Francisco yesterday and I went to Starbucks because I needed some free wireless because my wireless was out so I just was going in there and a woman and a guy came up and said "We have to buy you coffee." You know, big fans, yada yada. And so of course I immediately said well what do you do? Oh, you're in big data now. This is fascinating. Give me your card. By 4:30 I met with them again. I bought them a drink and interviewed them, so there's one good thing about notoriety people throw shit at you. Sal: People want to dance on your grave. Tom: That's right, they want to dance on your grave, but a lot of other people want to come up and tell you about their lives and what they do and they are just- I cannot tell you Sal how many column stories and ideas I've gotten from people who have just come up to me on the street, in an airport, in a Starbucks and tell you things about their lives. I'm really open to that. I'm still tickled when someone comes up to me and says something like that. I think that's pretty serious that someone stops you and says "I want to tell you how I feel "about what you're doing." You know what I mean? Sal: You invite that. I mean you're out there so if you see Tom Friedman in an airport. Tom: Yeah, people do it and by the way a lot of times people come up and say "You know I agree with about 90% of what you write." And I say hey, that's like a perfect number for me because it means you're always going to check. Death for a columnist is if people say "I now what he or she is going to write. Why should I read it?" Like I don't know what I'm going to write half the time because my column is very non-ideological and very reporting centric because I'm still a reporter I believe the best columnists are always reporters and I think it's actually true in every profession. I've had colleagues who say "I want to do what you do. I want to do analysis now." To which I say your analysis must not be very good because all my analysis grows out of my reporting. It's only when you're working with the clay that you see the patterns. You feel the texture and that's where the column comes from. Sal: Do you find it difficult to kind of maintain ground, you know, say you put an op-ed and you get a bunch of people on a message board just saying oh you're this that, this that. Does that affect you? Does it- Maybe I am wrong, maybe I do need to move more [unintelligible] Tom: It's a really complicated thing. I'm not on Twitter. I'm not on Facebook because I'd just be overwhelmed. The signal-to-noise ratio now is the noise is so high that you can't- No human being, you know, people tell you "I've got a thick skin. It doesn't bother me." I've never met that person. Certainly any time people are in large numbers saying bad things about you- by the way many people say the opposite. You understand so I don't want to exaggerate it. But here's what I find kind of about the comments section of the Times because we have comments under our columns so today there may be 400 comments. You always have to be careful because the Times Online which is were people comment has a little bit of a left bias who reads the New York Times then who reads it Online, you know, it's going to be a younger, more left to center audience, so you got to be aware of that for starters, but very often I confess I go to the closet. I put on my wetsuit. I fix the helmet to my head, you know, and I dive into the comments because you find a lot that are predictable. You're this, you're that, they're nasty, they're personal and whatever, but I'll tell you Sal invariably when I do it I come across 1, 2, or 3 that are brilliant. Sal: Yeah, yeah. Tom: And I literally cut and paste them in my notebook and say I got to remember this. This is brilliant and that's the beauty of crowdsourcing. Sal: Wow. Tom: It just comes with the territory. By the way you're out there dishing it out. You got to be able to take it so I'm a big believer in that. I'm not in the Internet wars. Like you'll never see me, you know, fighting with that because my attitude is I got my say, you got your say, and I'm not going to prove your right, you're not going to- 10 years ago I wrote "The World Is Flat" so since then people have written books, you know, the world is not flat. Sal: It's slightly curved. Tom: The world is curved, the world is spiky, lumpy, chunky, you know, and people always said what did you say about that book and my attitude is to everybody and this isn't arrogance. Look I'm either gonna be right or wrong, but we're not gonna know for 10 years. Okay? So come to me in 10 years and I'd say 10 years later yeah, I got one big thing wrong. It is so much flatter than I thought. Sal: Right. Tom: And this place is surfing on that. What happened, you know. Sal: You were just saying right before we were chatting about this I mean your most recent op-ed piece. Tell us about it because I think that will start to connect with what we're trying to do here. Tom: I'll start at just one 10,000 foot layer higher, you know which is ... because I really like to think of what I do as being a plumber that I'm always in somewhere the plumbing is so I spend a lot of time in Silicon Valley and I always have because I'm very interested in where the technology is going, what it's enabling, what it's empowering and what it's not and so that's really what produced "The World Is Flat." I mean may I just tell that story just for a second because it's relevant. After 9/11 I spent 3 years in the Arab Muslim world trying to understand the roots of 9/11. I wrote "From Beirut to Jerusalem" and then 10 years later I wrote maybe one of the first books about globalization called "The Lexus and the Olive Tree." Okay. That came out in the late '90's and then I put that subject down after 9/11 and really focused on trying to understand the roots of 9/11. I also started doing documentaries then for the Discovery Channel. The Discovery Channel and New York Times created a partnership. I did a documentary after 9/11 called the Roots of 9/11 which I was very proud of and I did one then on the Wall Israel had built in the West Bank and in February 2004 we were sitting around with our Discovery team what should we do our next documentary on and Kerry was running against Bush for president and at the time my idea was let's do a documentary about why everybody hates America. I thought that was a hot subject. Bush was president running for re-election. Why does everybody hate us? And so how should we do that? I had this crazy idea we should go to outsourcing centers all over the world and interview young people who spend their days imitating Americans on what they think of America. I thought it would make a fascinating double mirror. You know, Joel by day, John by night. You know Juan by day, Joe by night. And so we literally were budgeting that documentary. Where do we go? Guatamala, Mexico City, Philippines, Bangalore, and in the middle of that budget debate John Kerry came out with this blast against Benedict Arnold's CEO's who engage in outsourcing because we just had the Y2K thing, outsourcing was just becoming a big issue so I came to the Times I said "Timeout. Why don't we do a documentary "just call it the Other Side of Outsourcing "and explain this phenomenon to people. "And I know Nandan Nilekani at Infosys "and I could go to Bangalore." They liked that and said "Just go ahead." That was the days when people had money. And so we went to Bangalore and we spent 2 weeks there and I had just come up really 3 years covering 9/11 and I had written this book on globalization in the late 1990's. And I spent 2 weeks in Bangalore and I realized- I just kept walking around Sal saying I don't understand the platform that's allowing this. I met people ready to trace my lost luggage on Delta Airlines from Bangalore. Read my x-rays from Bangalore. Do my taxes from Bangalore. Now this all seems now normal, but back then it was like mind blowing so the last interview was with Nandan Nilekani, the C.E.O. of Infosys, the sort of Microsoft of India and he had been out of the country those 2 weeks and he had just come back. I went to his office at Electronics City in Infosys to see him we sat on the couch outside his office. I had my laptop on my lap and at one point he said "Tom I got to tell you the global economic "playing field is being levelled "and you Americans are not ready." Oh, I wrote that down in my little laptop. The global economic playing field being levelled- Sal: You have to be careful when you're typing. Tom: You Americans are not ready. It just really blew my mind. I mean it connected a lot of things. I got done with the interview. I got back in my Jeep to go back to my hotel and it's about an hour drive from Electronics City back to Bangalore and I'm thinking now the whole time about what Nandan said "The global economic playing field is being levelled." Wow, he's really saying the global economic playing field is being flattened. Wow. I think he just told me the world is flat. And so I wrote that in my notebook. The world is flat. I got back to my hotel room. I literally ran up to my room and I called my wife in Bethesda and said "Honey, I'm gonna write a book called "The World is Flat." She now says she thought that was a brilliant idea. That is not exactly how I recall the conversation. Sal: I'm looking at [unintelligible] Tom: I got so excited about it. It was Nandan's 50th birthday party. I'll never forget this and I was going back to his house for dinner. He had a Simon and Garfunkel imitation duo. He was so excited about the idea he had all his Bangalore tech pals. Sal: Was he Simon or Garfunkel? He was singing? Tom: No, no, no, he had just an imitation duo. Sal: I'll let that one pass. I'll let that pass, yeah. Tom: Nandan was so excited about it he wanted me to- I literally had sketched out on the back of an envelope kind of the just rough crude outline of a book and he wanted me to present it at his birthday party to his Bangalore ... he was so excited about it, but I got home, I called the Times. I said "I have to go and leave immediately. "My software is out of date. "I'm a basic engineer and it's a JavaWorld. "And if you don't give me a leave immediately "I'm gonna write something really stupid "in the New York Times because my software." Is a great way to get a leave. So my software was out of date and so they basically did. They said "Go as soon as you can." So I went out on leave in July and that July I was invited to the Allen Conference in Sun Valley. They had invited me a bunch and I just never could work it out to go. So then I had it really on the back of an envelope, but it was more flushed out and they asked me to make a presentation. Bill Gates was in the audience and he heard it and he came up afterwards. He had taken all these notes and he said "That was really interesting." And I said Sal: Yeah. No. Tom: "You're talking to me? I told you something "about this and you didn't know." And he said "Oh no, I knew all of that. "I just never put it together." Sal: Oh, it was like a class [unintelligible] Tom: He said "I never connected all those things." He said "You're 90% there and I'm gonna help you "with the last 10%." Sal: Wow. That is interesting because at that point [unintelligible] Tom: Mentor you mean to say. Sal: Oh yeah absolutely. He's obviously played a huge role here as well. I mean that was the outsourcing craze. People were scared. Everything is going to go to India and China and it seems like we're kind of that post fear phase right now and it's true a lot of stuff is still going to that part of the world, but if you look at the US the software engineer salaries continue to go through the roofs. Tom: That's right. Yeah. In here? Is everyone's salary going through the roof? Sal: In here yeah. Your salaries are going through the roof. They are. They legitimately are. You have more and more innovation that is actually being focused in 20 miles around here. We have a great American car, you know, the Tesla. I mean how do we compare these 2 things. This notion between the US is losing its edge. Everything is being outsourced and it looks like more innovation is being focused in the US now. Tom: So let's go to what happened between 2004 and today because I think that that's the story. Between 2004 and today something big happened called Flat World 2.0. I call it The Great Inflection, but there was a merger of globalization and the IT revolution. They kind of merged in a way that more IT drove more globalization. More globalization drove the expansion to more IT and they merged and so something really big happened, Sal, in my view. We went from a connected world to a hyper-connected world. And I believe it's changing everything and Khan Academy is now on that platform. So, you know, the story I tell on my sound byte is that when I wrote "The World is Flat"- so when I wrote my last book which is about America which in 2011 the first thing I did was go back and get the first edition of "The World Is Flat" off my bookshelf just to remind myself what I had written. I took it off the shelf. I opened up to the index looked under A, B, C, D, E, F, F, A, Facebook wasn't in it. So when I was running around the world saying "the world is flat, we're all connected" Facebook didn't exist, Twitter was still a sound, the Cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, applications were what you sent to college, Big data was a rap star and Skype was a typo. Okay. I mean all of that happened after I wrote "The World Is Flat," you know, so what does that tell you? It tells you we've gone from a connected world to a hyper-connected world. So what are the features of that? Well the features of that is that more people now can compete, connect, collaborate and invent with more other people in more different ways from more different places for less money than ever before. Sal: Right. Tom: And it reached a difference of degree that's a difference of kind that allows for Khan Academy. That for basically zero marginal cost you can now offer the greatest educational lessons to anyone, you know, in the world with a web enabled cell phone or an Internet enabled computer. Sal: What's you sense of why- I mean like the talent, you know, the offshoring fear was that all the software engineering jobs were going to go to India. What's your sense of why we see- We actually saw the opposite. Actually now we're seeing finally an inflection point where software engineers are starting to become competitive with bankers and consultants and other types of people in terms of income and I mean what do you think is allowing for that despite the globalization phenomenon? Tom: Well you know the way I always like to explain it is that there isn't something called a lump of labor. Sal: Right. Tom: We've got it and now India is going to get it. Bring the lump back. That's not how it works. Okay. So the best way I used to explain it when I talk about "The World Is Flat" is guess what? Not everything that needs to be invented has been invented. Sal: Right. Tom: And the example I always give is your daughter goes off to college. My daughter goes off to college. Your kid goes off to college and comes back after the first semester and you say "So honey what do you think "you're majoring in or "what do you think you're gonna do?" She says "Dad I want to be a search engine optimizer "when I grow up." I said "What? I sent you to college. "You couldn't be an ophthalmologist "or an accountant? "What the hell is a search engine optimizer?" So here's an industry that came from zero to multi-billion dollars. How do we optimize my website so if Sal is in the tennis shoe business and Tom is in the tennis shoe business when I put tennis shoes into Google Tom's tennis shoes comes up before Sal's tennis shoes. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry that's a mash-up by the way between math and Madison Avenue. So it brings together advertising people with mathematicians. A whole new field for people with software or math degrees never existed before and so Kahn Academy the software around distributed Online courses didn't exist 10 years ago. And so all these things keep getting invented, but there's one constant it seems to me Sal and that's every good job is either going out, up, or down faster than ever. That is, every good job either requires more education to do or it can be done by more people, computers, or software, or it's being outsourced to the past faster. So every job is going in all 3 directions. Sal: Maybe not more education in the formal sense. It could be more- Tom: Exactly. More competency. Sal: Competency. Whatever you might want to- Tom: Exactly. One thing we know about search engine optimizer you needed to know more than you did, you know, to be a computer repair person, you know, but what I think is exciting about this moment and again this is all being- I would argue enabled by the hyper-connected platform is that once it becomes a competency game I can acquire those competencies in any way and that's what people don't appreciate about globalization. I always say globalization giveth and globalization taketh. Globalization just made the qualifications for this job higher and it just brought you Kahn Academy where my daughter who is applying for graduate school can go to to get prepped for her GRE's for free. Sal: Well she did. Tom: She did. Sal: You told me. I hope she got her money's worth. Tom: She did. She got in. Sal: She got in. Tom: She's there right now and she visited here 2 weeks ago. So it's doing both at the same time and if you miss that if you think it's all bad or all good you don't get it. So the debate around globalization tends to be that. Oh my God, it's terrible, it's gonna kill us, it's gonna overwhelm us or it's wonderful, it's great. No, it's disruptive. It's creative destruction on steroids, but the opportunities it's unleashing for all different kinds of people and so my sort of overall summary of it is that we're moving into a 401k world where everyone will have to pass the bar exam and no one will be able to escape the most emailed list. Sal: So versus the pension world? Tom: Exactly so basically we're going from a world of defined benefits. Sal: Yes the pension world. Tom: To defined contributions. For 30 years I worked for the New York Times I had a defined benefit. Every year it didn't matter- it was obviously tied to my performance in general, but basically I got a defined benefit from the New York Times. Now I get a defined contribution. They'll give me x amount of money and I have to take responsibility for investing it wisely. So I think that's happening to the whole labor market. We're going from a world of defined benefits where you're kind of protected by walls and floors. Sal: You go to college you're fine, you're gonna get a job. Tom: Exactly. That 4-year degree is a proxy for a key in the door of a job. Sal: That's right. Tom: Okay. No, now we're in a world of defined contributions. The great thing for all the people in Kahn Academy is there's no ceiling anymore. It ain't gonna matter in 5 years whether you went to Stanford or you got those competencies on Kahn. The ceiling is gone, but what's really scary so are the floors and walls. Sal: Right. Tom: So we're going from a defined benefit world to a defined contribution world. That's what the hyper-connectivity does. Sal: Real global meritocracy. Tom: Absolutely. Sal: Because anyone will be able to compete. Tom: Anyone will be able to compete. Right. Second it's a world- and what will enable that is we're moving to a world where everyone will have to pass the bar. That is in the old days we said your 3 years at Stanford Law School- maybe 100 years we said going to law school was a proxy for knowing the law. At some point the legal profession said no-no you're going to go to law school, but then you have to take the bar that says you actually know what you know. That is coming I think to every industry. You want to get a job across the street at Google. I don't think [unintelligible] I have a BA in engineering, but they test so you actually know what you know. Because Tony Wagner always says the world doesn't really care what you know because the Google machine knows everything. Okay, the world only pays off on what you can do with what you know and we are now going to test that. Sal: Right. Tom: So my motto is everyone is going to have to pass the bar. Third, we all are gonna have our own most emailed machine. So the New York Times, go to NewYorkTimes.com any day you have the most emailed columns. It changes every 15 minutes. Any journalist who says they don't look at it is lying. Okay. You always want to see whether your story, your column, whatever, did it go up to the most emailed list? Human nature. I think what's coming is a most emailed list is coming to a job near you because with big data. So we had a story in the New York Times that Jamba Juice has technology- it's installed, it's in place where they can measure which employees sell the most juice on 5th Avenue and 63rd Street at 80 degrees between 8 and 10 in the morning. And because they also divide their workday in 15 minute increments the employees who do that get the most overtime. They've got their most emailed list now. If you go to SchoolLoop.com in your world you can track your kids school assignment, whether she turned it in on time. By the way whether he or she is tardy, you know, and the kids now have their most emailed list so these are all most emailed lists that will connect to your performance and display it in real time. Look it's all scary. It's scary to me, you know. Sal: I'm just wondering, some people would fear that, okay, this is going to become very automatic, okay, these things matter, how productive were you at the Jamba Juice? But what about the soft skills, the arts even, and the arts impact on society as a whole, participation and democracy. Some of these things that don't translate into dollars at Jumba Juice. Tom: So I think those are, again, more important than ever because what this world really enables if you are a self-motivated person and you're living in a world of Khan Academy if you're a self-motivated kid in Kaian, Afghanistan and there's Khan Academy and I've got an Internet connection you can suddenly ... you can go to the moon. You think of the walls and ceilings that person lived within and so that is just really exciting if you are self-motivated. If you are not self-motivated the walls and floors that protected you are gone and so I think the most important kind of leadership for a company and leadership for teachers and for parents and for coaches is education that inspires. Those soft skills, love of learning, motivation they are going to matter hugely in a world more than ever Sal because when everything is out there now for you for free if you access it, you know, and that's sort of one side of the soft skills, but also it's great to know math and physics and calculus and programming and you can be creative without them, but poetry, music, jazz, sports, collaboration all those things that inspire people to take the math and turn it into something of beauty, something that will make people's lives more productive, more healthy, more entertained, more caring, that all comes from the other stuff so I think the pendulum swung pretty far to this way in terms of rigorous, hard skills. I think we need to make sure we come back to the middle here and that we're blending- when we say blended model we don't just mean teacher as a tutor more and a coach and all the Online stuff taking care of the rest, but blending also all these other things. Sal: And if I read between the lines when you talked about these new industries the difference between the engineering jobs that are going to India and the ones that are the salaries are increasing here is that it's fundamentally right brained. It's totally creative. Madison Avenue. Tom: Absolutely. India got into this game by re-mediating Y2K computers. Sal: Right. Tom: Now what's cool to me about what's going on in India a decade later is we're seeing- so when I wrote about "The World Is Flat" in 2004 that was really based on India solving our problems. Sal: Yeah. Tom: Y2K. Now what's so exciting with this platform they're using these incredibly cheap tools of Khan activity and collaboration and the Cloud to solve their problems so if you look at what innovators in Mexico or India are doing it's an explosion of innovation. We've got a billion more brains that potentially can be applied against the biggest problems of humanity and if that doesn't float your boat then there's something wrong with you. Now at the same time I understand the challenge. Sal: We should get them to figure out how we can solve the outsourcing problem. Tom: They might do that in a certain way. Don't put it past them. I understand for a lot of people it's scary. If you're a 50-year-old guy or gal in a declining industry and somebody comes and says "No problem, you can thrive, "just go to Khan Academy and take their lessons." I have huge sympathy for that. That's just so out of their- they've been protected by a wall and a floor. They didn't do this, you know, you can use all my [unintelligible] you want to help those people and make a transition, but what we shouldn't do is block the change. You know if horses could vote there never would have been cars. All right. It's always important to remember that and so if you try to stand in the way of the change. Sal: That would be a fun party game. If horses could vote? Tom: What would there be? What would there not and what would there be? Sal: Interesting. Tom: I love the way your mind works. Because then you won't have the resources to take care of people, but I have a huge sympathy for people caught in that transition and no one should ever mistake- I get very excited talking about the things I discover. Just connections I make, but do not mistake my excitement for- I love the puzzle. You know what I mean? Wow, that explains that and this explains that and people should know that this is happening, but don't confuse it for un-sympathy or even that I'm not even worried about all of this. I see the up side and the down side, but it leaves me Net worried in many ways. Sal: Wow. I'm going to ask you one last question. Tom: Go ahead. Sal: Where are you going next? You hinted on it a little bit and I found that fascinating because you're doing 2 documentaries almost at the same time. Tom: It's the same documentary. It's called Climate Change In The Arab Spring. It's for the Showtime Channel. It's part of a 6-part climate series they're going to run next year. I'm going to Yemen on Sunday to look at Yemen the first country in the world that will probably run out of water. You could go around Sana'a you see water trucks all over the place. Unfortunately, the country has a big addiction to qat, this plant. Sal: To what? Tom: Qat, q-a-t, it's a drug. I mean it's a plant that is a mild narcotic, but it consumes a lot of water and somebody told me they were on a high level, you know, presidential visit or either the president of their country, the secretary of state of their country and they went with the president of Yemen somewhere and the pilot of the helicopter was chewing qat. Kind of leave me a little worried. Get on American Airlines and the pilot spits out a pile of qat on the floor. And then we're going to Syria because people don't realize Syria had a 10-year drought. The worst drought in their history on recorded history as the lead up to this. A million farmers and grazers had to leave the countryside and move to the cities put huge pressure on the infrastructure and it didn't cause the revolution there, but it was one of the stresses that really helped contribute to it. And we'll be going to Egypt because in 2010, in December 2010, there was a huge spike in global wheat prices because there was a drought in Australia, there was a drought in Russia and there was a drought in China or flood. Flooding in Australia, drought in China, drought in Russia and as a result global wheat prices spiked. In December 2010 the exact same time of the revolution. Sal: Arab spring. Tom: Arab spring exactly. Tunisia and Egypt then food prices hit a record high the month of the Tunisian revolution. Sal: Wow. Tom: And remember the guy who started the revolution in Tunisia was a fruit seller. He was a vegetable seller, excuse me, and so these didn't cause the Arab Spring, but they were huge stresses on the system. Sal: It accelerated Cadillacs. Tom: And it shows you why you should take climate change very seriously. Sal: Wow. Well on that note, fairly epic note, not quite positive, but this has been a huge honor I think for all of us at the team. Tom: Great fun for me. Sal: Thank you so much for coming. Tom: Real treat Sal. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Thank you. (applause) Tom: Thank you. Thank you. (applause)