I was first introduced to Mr. George Shultz through a mutual friend and Eargo investor. Mr. Shultz was interested in what Eargo could do for him. Little did I know that this introduction would make a profound difference in my life, much in the way that Eargo, as he told me, made a difference in his.
Upon scheduling our first meeting doing my research as a new US resident, it began to quickly dawn on me who I was about to meet, the man who touched and changed the lives of everyone on this planet whether they knew it or not. A man who lived to one hundred years of age but accomplished so much that it would take any normal person a millennium to achieve. Thinking back now, I remember feeling the butterflies in my stomach just before we met. “I was about to meet a Titan,” I thought to myself. Luckily, Mr. Shultz’s wonderful demeanor put me at ease quickly. And thus began an important mentorship for me on how to guide Eargo forward.
George P. Shultz was born in New York City in 1920. He studied at Princeton and went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics at MIT before eventually teaching there. Prior to being the Dean of the University of Chicago Business School, he served on President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers. This would be an amazing career for any of us, but not for Mr. Shultz. He went on to be the Secretary of Labor under the Nixon administration where he was instrumental in implementing the Philadelphia plan which was the first time racial quotas were used by the federal government in support of visible minorities. He then moved on to become head of the White House Office of Management and Budget and then the Secretary of the Treasury, still under the Nixon administration, where he oversaw the end of Bretton Woods and the abolishment of the gold standard allowing international currencies to freely float on the open markets. Seven years in the business world as an executive at the Bechtel Corporation followed.
Mr. Shultz served as the Secretary of State in the Reagan administration where his contributions towards the furtherment of global peace were paramount including the establishment of formal relations with the Soviet Union resulting in peace treaties and armament reductions on both sides, a move once considered impossible by many. Under his tenure, the USA also negotiated peace agreements between Israel and Lebanon as well as China and Taiwan. All this in just six years. His post-government years saw him serve on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Economic Recovery Council, as a board member for Bechtel and the Charles Schwab Corporation and serve as an adviser to President George W. Bush. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.
So after learning all that, I’m sure you can appreciate why I was so nervous to meet him. When we did meet, he was eager to try Eargo. As an existing hearing aid user, he immediately embraced Eargo for its invisibility and practicality. Everyone he would meet would never know he was wearing a hearing aid. He also commented on how comfortable and easy to use Eargo was. But best of all, was his emotional reaction to wearing Eargo sharing with our mutual friend, “I can HEAR!” and he was hearing sounds he had been missing for a long time. Even more heart warming for me, he commented that Charlotte, his wife of 23 years, was delighted to be able to converse with him again…and have the television at a normal volume!
At the time, he also graciously offered his support to me as a foreigner building a business in the US – offering up his very extensive network for ideas and support to building a life changing business. He was always accessible and generous with feedback and ideas. He made Eargo a better company and taught me that making the world a better place requires passion, drive and leadership. It has been a very humbling and gratifying experience to work with such a visionary, and we will always strive to fulfill his vision of Americans living their best possible lives.
George Shultz opened the world through collaboration across countries, races, economies, enemies and friends. He set himself the highest of standards and ferociously achieved them. His life was characterized by Herculean accomplishments, but I’m sure, 100% positive that if asked he would have said his greatest accomplishments were his five children, 11 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren and the love of his wife Charlotte.
President Ronald Reagan once said, “Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” George Shultz, who served as a Marine in World War II, didn’t have that problem….his life made a difference to everyone in this world and he most definitely made a difference in mine.
Thank you Secretary Shultz.