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  • To make your dreams come true

  • sometimes seems impossible.

  • Henry Ford knew a few things about that.

  • This shed you see behind me is actually where

  • Henry Ford started about 100 years ago.

  • So obviously, Ford hasn't always been

  • a huge global international car company.

  • When he started, he obviously didn't invent the car.

  • Karl Benz did.

  • But he had the idea of bringing the automobile to everybody.

  • And he had the idea of creating the assembly line.

  • Something that was unheard of at that point in time.

  • And when he did it,

  • he actually changed the car industry forever.

  • Those types of things can still happen today.

  • Even though today we, of course, have brands

  • that are so iconic, that are so giant, so overwhelming.

  • If you think about these brands behind me,

  • they have amazing reach all over the world.

  • Coca-Cola distribution, marketing budgets, huge facilities.

  • And I'm sure if you go in a plane and take a trip over Africa,

  • and jump out the plane, the parachute lands somewhere in Africa,

  • there may not be any electricity,

  • no food, no water,

  • but within 5 miles you can probably buy a Coca-Cola.

  • That's how powerful they are.

  • So, when a guy suddenly had the idea

  • to start another soft drink,

  • which were not just about tasting good,

  • but about getting energy.

  • He was about delivering something different.

  • That was Chaleo that started Red Bull.

  • People told him that was insane,

  • he'll never going to be able to make it.

  • He knew, or probably thought, it was nearly impossible.

  • But he still took the risk, he still did it.

  • He believed in his dream, he had a gut [feeling]

  • and he went out and did it.

  • Richard Branson, Virgin Airlines.

  • When he had the idea about starting a new airline,

  • that's not so many years ago.

  • Just think about what it cost to buy planes, to get the licenses.

  • Everyting else is involved.

  • Now he got one license and one plane.

  • And the reason he did it was because

  • when he flew he felt there might be

  • something else we can do for the customer,

  • we could change it, we could make it more fun.

  • Maybe we could make a bar inside the plane where we can get a drink.

  • Maybe get a haircut at the lounge,

  • things that were never done before.

  • And, actually, you can get those things.

  • And he started Virgin Airlines.

  • And today, that's probably one of the most famous airlines in the world.

  • And the last one: Dyson.

  • Now he invented a new vacuum cleaner

  • because he thought all the current ones sucked. (Laughter)

  • Which they kind of do.

  • But he invented, of course, the one without the bag.

  • And he went around and presented this dream, this invention,

  • to all the makers of vacuum cleaners.

  • And they all rejected him and laughed at him.

  • And said: "This is never going to work."

  • So what he did was he obviously started it himself.

  • And years later he became the leading seller of vacuums,

  • here in the US and in many other markets in the world.

  • And the same people that rejected him are today copying him.

  • So it shows that it is possible to go out,

  • even today and make the dream reality.

  • It is possible if you take the risk.

  • Now, when I was 8 years old, I was sitting in the backseat

  • of my father's Saab 96, back in Denmark.

  • And suddenly, I saw that silver Maseratti passing me

  • and I got butterflies in my stomach.

  • And you have to think about it.

  • Denmark is a small socialist country,

  • where seeing something like a Maseratti

  • is like seeing a UFO or Big Foot.

  • It's very rare. (Laughter)

  • So, that was a huge event and at that point

  • I knew I wanted to do something with cars.

  • I didn't know if I was going to be an engineer,

  • I didn't know if I was going to wash cars,

  • build cars, sell cars.

  • I just knew I wanted to do something

  • with that fascinating thing called a car.

  • So what I did was I kept on drawing cars,

  • way beyond my age, so to speak.

  • So in school, instead of taking notes, I kept on drawing cars,

  • just like that notebook you see there.

  • And eventually I had a meeting with a counsellor,

  • when I was about 12-13 years old.

  • And I remember she said,

  • "What you want to be when you grow up?"

  • I said: "I want to be a car designer" and she said,

  • "There's nothing called a car designer. You can be an engineer."

  • So it was very discouraging, but I kept the dream alive.

  • I kept on sneaking my drawings here and there.

  • And even through college I did that.

  • Which meant I didn't do very good in school.

  • But after college I got a job,

  • the closest I could find, a technical draftsman.

  • And even at that job I started drawing cars.

  • And eventually my dad said, "Well,

  • why don't you write a letter to a car company?"

  • So I did, I wrote a letter to Volvo saying,

  • "I would like to be a car designer."

  • Because in Denmark, there is no car industry.

  • And Volvo wrote back saying:

  • "Well, look, you don't have an education,

  • but we can recommend a school in California

  • called Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena."

  • And they have another branch in Europe,

  • in Switzerland, which is the same school.

  • So I took all my drawings,

  • threw them in my old, rusty Alfa Romeo,

  • which is sort of a European Honda,

  • for those of you who don't know the car.

  • It's a little bit better.

  • And I drove down to Switzerland,

  • and got accepted at that school.

  • A few years later, I started at BMW,

  • in Germany, in Munich.

  • And that was really when I started

  • to learn about the car industry,

  • and how complicated it is.

  • And the dream I had about creating my own car company,

  • sort of faded quickly away as I realized

  • it's hundreds of millions of dollars,

  • it's very complicated.

  • And I had a very exciting time.

  • I got to desgin BMW Z8, a sports car,

  • which eventually got into a James Bond movie,

  • which was way beyond my dreams.

  • until I saw the film and they cut it in half.

  • (Laughter)

  • But then I migrated to Aston Martin and did a couple of things there.

  • But the point is that I did learn about the industry.

  • And I got to do some fantastic stuff,

  • but I still thought that there must be something more.

  • I realized that the passion I had as a kid,

  • with those exciting cars,

  • looking at the cars I saw in last 20-25 years,

  • little of that passion has kind of disappeared.

  • And you look at some of the three best selling cars today --

  • I am a car designer and I can barely say which ones they are.

  • So what happened in the last 20 years is

  • cars have become more of an appliance.

  • They used to be all about emotion and fun.

  • And they used to be fairly cheap to run.

  • And now they've become an appliance.

  • Gasoline is expensive.

  • In some countries you get taxed on them.

  • And on top of that, we start feeling a bit guilty

  • about driving a car.

  • Because it pollutes.

  • They use a lot of gasoline.

  • So I thought to myself, "What if you could create a car,

  • that took all of the environmental aspects,

  • that we know it's possible and basically

  • unite that with the emotional side of a vehicle.

  • Why [do] electric cars, or small,

  • fuel-efficient cars always have to look dorky?" (Laughter)

  • "Why can't we make a beautiful, gorgeous car?"

  • So the what-if was really saying,

  • instead of a normal roof,

  • what about putting a solar panel on the car

  • that can help charge a car.

  • You know, when I was working at Aston Martin,

  • like all car manufacturers we would go to Brazil

  • and pick up the wood in Brazil,

  • and bring it back, go over it with a flame thrower,

  • sand it down and put it in the car after it was lacquered.

  • And I said, "What if we got wood from the California fires,

  • we don't need the flame throwers, it's already done." (Laughter)

  • And it sounded funny at that time, but it can be done.

  • So, that was something I thought about.

  • And I also thought about,

  • If you think about how the car is designed,

  • it hasn't really changed in the last hundred years.

  • When we first developed a car,

  • you saw a car in the single road in the middle of nowhere.

  • And its still how the advertising looks today.

  • You jump in the car and drive around on a free open road.

  • But the reality of course is we sit in traffic,

  • like here, like you see behind me.

  • That's reality.

  • That's how a lot of us drive to work every day.

  • So I thought, "What if you could create a car where,

  • when you sit in traffic and you listen to music,

  • your air condition on, you need power.

  • What if it's just electric?

  • And what if, because you want the freedom,

  • that if you want to drive from LA to Las Vegas

  • or New York or San Francisco,

  • after maybe about 50 miles the gasoline engine turns on

  • and you create electricity while you drive."

  • Why can't we do that?

  • So I thought there must be a way we can do that.

  • A lot of people, of course, as you talk about this type of ideas

  • start telling you, "Can't be done, it's impossible."

  • There is doubters. But I still said, "What if?"

  • I decided I was going to take that risk.

  • Now one of the two things that inspired me was,

  • first of all, everybody saying it couldn't be done.

  • That gave me sort of extra fuel and power.

  • And the second thing was that I thought

  • even the biggest car companies in the world,

  • they still are only run by humans.

  • In fact, any giant companies in the world. (Laughter)

  • They might look giant,

  • but behind them is a human being.

  • And I am a human being and these guys,

  • they need to sleep, eat, and do everything else that we do.

  • And they have the same problems.

  • So I thought, "Why couldn't I then do it?"

  • That was part of my feeling of being able to take that risk.

  • Now, when you stand on that cliff,

  • and you are ready to jump off into the ocean --

  • And when I did that, I did see an island out there

  • and I felt I could swim there.

  • And as soon as I jumped in the ocean,

  • suddenly that island kept on moving. (Laughter)

  • So it's pretty clear that it isn't as easy as it sounds.

  • And "new" is never that easy.

  • But, for those of us who take the risk,

  • and jump in the ocean,

  • I think that doesn't matter.

  • We still feel that it's worth to pursue the dream,

  • it's worth to do it.

  • And one of the reasons for me is because

  • the doubters that are out there

  • they're rarely the builders.

  • And those who are the skeptics

  • are never really the inventors.

  • And I feel there is a possibility

  • to go against the nay-sayers,

  • take the risk, go out there,

  • and follow your dream and get people behind you.

  • Because there is a lot of us out there

  • that believe that dreams are possible.

  • So with that --Thank you very much.

  • I appreciate it. (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

To make your dreams come true