I went to Leiden last week to go to a conference on fear. What am I afraid of? What do I fear? I started to think about it and I really didn’t know. Am I afraid to lose my job? Not really. I work most of the time form my own company that was not going to make things very different. Am I afraid of the future? Not really. Of course I’m afraid to lose my wife or my daughter. That would be the worst nightmare. But what else should I be afraid of: the changing economy? I think this whole crisis is one big opportunity. Should I be afraid of China? Come on. Russia? I’ve been there many times, nothing to be afraid of. Terrorism? That’s something to be afraid of. But are we really? Am I afraid of climate change? Maybe that third world war already started years ago and we don’t realize it.
I think it was Robert Kaplan who said in a speech that the next war big war would be a war typical for the 21st century. Not an industrial war, not a big war, no longer about trains, planes, ships and mass destruction. In the 21st century everything was going to be micro. Microbiology, viruses, little amounts of nuclear material, terrorism, poisons. Things can happen every day everywhere. It’s useless to be afraid of it.
So is this world, is Europe, is my country, or my city in a “State of Fear”? Maybe. Like it always has been. Many people are afraid of change. Change does not always make things better. But are we all in fear: not at all.
Talented people move and successful people travel. Where I’m interested in, what I’m trying to find out, is what makes cities attractive. What should a city do to attract talented people? Reality is, when there are winners there have to be losers. Talented people have always gone to the places where they will be able to fulfil their dreams. But others stay behind. Attractive cities are successful cities: they attract talent and they have the good universities. The most talented people are almost always the first to leave if they can’t fulfil their dreams where they live. I have seen and heard in everywhere: in Moscow, in Casablanca, in Milan. I’m curious to meet these 250 students. What are their dreams, what could it be that they are afraid of.