I am in San Jose, Calif., for the annual Cisco Systems analyst shindig talking all things networking. The event kicked off with a presentation from CEO John Chambers. If you've never seen John in person, you really should. His communications skills, style, and charisma are second to none in the industry.
Several audience members compare John's stage persona to former president Bill Clinton. Since it has been rumored that John would like to go into politics after Cisco, why shouldn't he go for the whole enchilada and run for president in 2012? Now I admit, I know nothing about many of John's views on things like the war in Iraq, gay marriage, and stem cell research. Heck, I don't even know his party affiliation. That said, John could be the first tech industry candidate, and he brings a number of attractive positions with regard to:
1. Innovation: John and Cisco are all about innovation and vision. My view is that we need a leader with Kennedyesque big goals. I could see John running on a platform like dedicating massive federal funds to clean renewable energy sources with a goal of reducing American oil consumption by more than 50 percent in 10 years. Ask not what your country can do for you...
2. Education: John is one of those tech CEOs who recognizes the need for radical changes to our education system. Again, the focus would be on creativity and innovation and not standardized testing. We need this kind of leadership to maintain and even bolster our position in a world that is growing smarter and more competitive each day.
3. Global development: Cisco looks for opportunities all over the world, and John is often on a plane or a TelePresence meeting as part of the sales process. If this behavior were applied to politics, John might be looking for cooperative opportunities for America. Invest a bit up front in other countries, build infrastructure, and then reap long term rewards. This seems like a better long-term bet to me than shock and awe.
Let me be extremely clear here. I am not endorsing a Chambers for president campaign but merely thinking out of the box a bit. It's interesting to ponder the agenda of a global business/high tech president but there are few who would have mass appeal or even want the job. John Chambers might be an intriguing choice. If anything, I know he'd stand out in the debates.