Bestselling business leadership author and philanthropic entrepreneur

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The Middle East then and now. The choice is simply one of lighting candles, or cursing the darkness, but it is a choice that the leaders there must make. We cannot do it for them.

On September 12th, 2012, I had just returned from the Middle East region on the day prior to the devastating Libyan terrorist act of September 11th, 2012. I was visiting Saudi Arabia, and experiencing a very positive engagement with business and political leaders in the region, as we launched an aspect of our empowerment work there. I had been invited to speak before the Young President's Organization (YPO), even the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce. I met with the Minister of Labor for Saudi Arabia, who was but one of the leaders in the audience during my Chamber speech, fully engaged around a new vision and plan for the region's youth. It was obvious to me, these leaders had made a clear choice to "light a candle" towards the future.

Libya on the other hand, and thereafter other trouble spots throughout the Middle East region, unfortunately chose to turn backwards, simply cursing the darkness. At the end of the day, I choose to stay focused on that which I saw with my own eyes and experienced personally; substantive, new era leaders who have decided to light candles and build a society for all. Candles towards a brighter future. The respectful opening up of society. A view towards helping the average person to achieve their own level of aspirational success. Not a western version of aspirational success, but one of their own making. One that respected, and in fact embedded their deep and rich cultural beliefs.

I traveled to Saudi Arabia with a simple message — in the MENA Region (Middle East and North Africa), according to the World Bank you have a population that will be 60% under the age of 25 by 2020, and in Saudi Arabia this is already the case.

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