When I shook Mikhail Gorbachev's hand, my heart was pounding. We get a fair number of prominent visitors at Google, but none have thrilled me more than my former President, the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his efforts to free the Soviet bloc. Gorbachev has been my hero and inspiration for most of my life. A lot of Russians have mixed feelings about his presidency, but I always felt he was the only Russian leader who wasn't seeking power for its own sake, but because he wanted to make the world a better place for everyone.

He still does. Speaking to a hall full of rapt Googlers, Gorbachev, now a spry 73, talked about how since 1992 he has been President of Green Cross International (its American affiliate is Global Green USA) which advocates for an environmentally sustainable global community. "We cannot go on with our business-as-usual attitude" toward the environment, he warned. "Young people should be watchful. Don't forget this is your world, and you have to search for solutions."

What struck me most is the way, after all he's seen and experienced, Gorbachev insists on maintaining the sort of focused positive thinking that, say, a young tech company could learn from. Green Cross's quarterly magazine, for instance, is called The Optimist. And its slogan? "Looking beyond the horizon."

Lydia Shtarkman
Corporate Development
(Former USSR citizen)