Thanks to an invitation from one of our early investors, I found myself spending Presidents Day at a round-table luncheon with former President Bill Clinton with a Sterling Silver Tesla Roadster Parked directly behind us. The round-table luncheon took place in Burbank, Calif., at the only LEED platinum-certified airplane hangar in the world.
The moderator was environmentalist, entrepreneur and best selling author Paul Hawken, who co-founded the Smith & Hawken garden supply company in the late 1970s, among other successful companies. Guests included state representatives, local mayors, green-tech business pioneers, environmentalists and journalists. Shangri La Industries hosted the event, whose purpose was to promote the idea that clean technology and “green collar” jobs could kick-start our sputtering economy.
President Clinton focused on what he’s been doing for nearly 30 years – encouraging politicians, business executives and consumers that green products and green public policy are good for the economy *and* the environment. "If the world decides tomorrow to change the way it uses energy, it would create more jobs in more places than anywhere in human history," he said.
He certainly didn’t have to persuade me. I joined Tesla precisely because the company is a pioneer in defining the new green economy. Tesla represents a crusade to shift the misguided yet ubiquitous mindset that "green" equals sacrifice. Anyone who has driven a Roadster knows that the car is miles ahead of comparably priced internal combustion cars – yet it burns no oil, produces no tailpipe emissions and is at least twice as efficient as a Toyota Prius hybrid.
President Clinton spoke eloquently of how responsible businesses must use technology to save both the economy and the environment. He even singled out Tesla – several times, in fact -- as a shining example of the green tech movement. Tesla, he said, enables people to upgrade their lifestyle but reduce their carbon footprint. I was very proud to say the least!
During lunch, President Clinton announced he was eager to take the Roadster for a ride around the block. After the event, while others crowded around to take photos, I handed the keys to America’s 42nd president and urged him to join other world leaders in test-driving the coolest car on the planet. Unfortunately, at that very moment the secret service told him he had to depart.
I do, however, have a feeling President Clinton will be taking us up on our open invitation!