From time to time, I wrote speeches that were delivered by senior management to mostly internal, occasionally external, audiences. This is a speech that I wrote toward the end of 2008. It was delivered in early 2009. It certainly did the job, but I could have refined it further (hindsight is truly wondeful).

You are worried about the downturns in many of the world’s major economies, and you are right to be. We are all connected, after all. But we have survived difficult times before. We know how to survive difficult times. This is how: we survived because we outperformed our competitors, by listening more and learning more from our customers; we continued to enrich the world with tools that inspired positive transformations and with ideas that energized and enabled people to take control of their lives.

But let us not rest on our laurels. We have challenges today that are more pressing, more complex, and more impactful than many we have faced previously. But we face them – as we always have – with courage, competence, and confidence. We face them forthright in the knowledge that the products and services we offer improve the lives of millions around the world, enabling them to work better, work more sustainably, and work more creatively than ever before. Our customers value us and expect us to deliver, and we value them – not only because we both benefit from that relationship – but because we share the same world and strive for quality of life. As long as that mutuality lasts, we will deliver and we will prosper.

So for those of you here today who are worried about the recent economic difficulties around the world, I give you this message of encouragement: you are among the best people you could ever be with; you work at a company whose ambition is to improve the creativity and productivity of millions of people, whose customers look to us for inspiration and solutions; and if we cannot deliver on our promises to them, who can? I see before me professional, committed, talented, passionate, focussed experts: busy bees and wise owls. We enable our customers to overcome their challenges because we are able. Your work is their advantage. Enabled customers enable us to drive and to thrive, and succeed in new, exciting, and globally important ways. So let us not forget:

You, we, and our customers – together – are creating a new and improved world. You play your part and you will enjoy the satisfaction and rewards of your efforts. Go forward with your usual diligence, focus, and ambition, and you will succeed – because you have enabled our customers to succeed. And go forward not cowed or anxious, but with boldness and optimism: you are forging your future by building brighter, better futures for everyone.
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