SAN FRANCISCO: Former US secretary of state Colin Powell addressed 19,000 Salesforce customers and developers yesterday at the company's annual Dreamforce event.
Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff introduced Powell as his "biggest inspiration", saying that he is a "great leader, a great person and should be an inspiration to us all".
Powell began by pointing to the development of the "brick" mobile phone through to PDAs and today's high-end smartphones.
"I have three smartphones in my briefcase. Don't ask me why. They keep giving them to me, but then I have to buy the service," he said.
Powell explained that he enjoyed being connected while on the move. "I just love seeing what is going on. I was born in the analogue age and now I have to be digital," he said.
The retired general then discussed the younger tech-savvy generation. "I have to work hard to keep up with my grandchildren. I used to always email my 14-year old grandson to keep up, as he knew everything about technology, but then he started not replying to my emails," he said.
The grandson had replied: "We don't send emails anymore, we tweet and text."
Powell also recalled his horror when he found that he was already on Facebook, even though he had planned never to join the site.
His first thought was to sue the site because he believed it to be an invasion of privacy for his profile to be included without his permission. But Powell had relaxed when he found that he had 17,000 followers.
Powell also discussed topics unrelated to technology, such as how it felt to step down from his position as secretary of state, what it was like to work with president Ronald Reagan and how he felt about getting old.
He also touched on subjects such as the high percentage of children dropping out of school, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and his views on Afghanistan, Iraq and America's values.
Powell spoke on the speed of technology innovation in recent years and how it had often left him unprepared.
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom also attended Dreamforce this year. His and Powell's presence followed that of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Oracle Open World last month.
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