awards

Mr. Timotheus Hottges
Thank you. Your Excellency, dear Ambassador Negroponte, dear Rabbi Schneier, distinguished audience. Rabbi Schneier asked me to do this speech in his mother tongue in German. So, I hope you can stand the next 35 minutes the German speech. When I was told to the Appeal of Conscience Award, two things went through my head. The first, gratitude for ranking me alongside all these outstanding people here. Itís great that we celebrate together across the globe our shared values here together, and Iím very, very proud and very honored to be here tonight.

Second thought was, why the hell me? What meaningful can I say tonight? As a German, anyhow difficult to be funny. So Iím just an employee serving his company, Deutsche Telekom, and unlike some of you, I did not even have my hands in decisive moments of history. This is, by the way, how in 1927 the Austrian author, Stefan Zweig, called these moments when the world took a certain irreversible course.

So today Iíd like to share two thoughts with you, and for the first I quote Stefan Zweig again. He said something, which for me is some kind of an ethical imperative, an imperative on how Iím trying to run my business. He said, ďEvery faith that serves money or power damages its soul.Ē I think thatís true. The core of every religion, for example, is about respect, love and peace, and it is right that the Appeal of Conscience Foundation dedicates its work exactly to that idea.

But sometimes religion is just misused to put one group against another as a tool of power, and then it betrays its faith. When it comes to business, things are a little bit different. Putting one company against another might well serve today. Therivalries of the 20th and 21st century are famous. Mercedes against BMW, Microsoft against Apple, and now T-Mobile against AT&T and Verizon. We love that competition. We all know nothing unites better in the world than a common enemy, but I also believe we, as leaders must put more behind it.

If we do not look at the greater good of our business, if we do not offer a purpose of our business, if we do not follow our values, then we betray our entrepreneurial faith. Deutsche Telekomís purpose, for example, is to connect people, and by connecting people we never want to be exclusive. We are inclusive. We want everyone to have equal chances. We build networks for everybody in the society, and we connect not only the big cities, but we want to connect as well the rural areas, and this is, by the way, how Deutsche Telekom became the number one telecommunication operator in Europe.

In 13 markets we are the number one player, and that is the reason that we are in the U.S. trying to merge with our friend, Marcelo, and his company, Sprint (Laughter) to become the number one in the U.S. and to build a 5G network not only in the big cities but everywhere in this nation. This is what we believeis bringing people together and connecting the society, and this is prerequisite for exchange in the digital age.

Recently, ladies and gentlemen, somebody asked me, ďWhat do religion and business have in common?Ē And this answer was they both promise paradise for the future, the religion to its believers, the business to its investors which might be basically the same (Laughter) which leads me to my second thought. Entrepreneurship is based on ambitions for the future, but we must also focus on the responsibilities and possibilities to serve our society today.

This is something I also learned from my late mother. As a child she used to live in Thuringia and had to leave her home after the war, but for her home, her home was never a place. It was an idea of understanding and being understood. So, she worked on that and created a new home. In other words, my mother showed me that ďparadiseĒ has not to be a distant place. It can also be the connections between people that you build based on values like compassion, charity and human dignity. My mother created paradise for me, for my brother and for my sister, not as a hope for the future, not as a place somewhere, but as adaily life, as a right here and right now.

Of course, entrepreneurship is about visions. We place many hopes in future developments driven by digitization, for example. Data analytics will lead to more efficiencies and thereby reductions of resource consumptions. 5G will truly enable the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence might cure cancer someday. But last night, my friends, I watched TV, and I saw the rainforest burning right now, and it crossed my mind that maybe we are destroying many useful and undiscovered medical plants at this very moment. So, for me itís important to make some appeals of conscience here.

I conclude by coming back to Stefan Zweig. When we have our hands in the decisive moments of history, itís our duty not to betray faith, and itís our job to create good places not only tomorrow but today, and thatís why I dedicate this prize to what often feels like my ďparadiseĒ around me, to every single of my 215,000 colleagues at Deutsche Telekom who live up to our purpose of connecting people across the globe, to my mother who gave me love and taught me to take responsibility and action, my wife, Adriane, who is the love of my life and we just last week celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.

And to my sons, Jonathan and Balthazar, because I know that they would make the right decisions in each of those decisive moments of history not only for them but also for society. Thank you very much.
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