How do you see yourself as a leader? How do you get people to follow your ideas?
I only have to be smart enough to find people who are smarter than I am, and I've done that. Some of us don't like to accept that those people exist; I found they exist in droves. And I've happily found 30 or 40. And then you let them go, let them do what their gifts will allow them to do. And the other thing, too, is to create a culture of pride and of purpose. I don't really think of myself as a leader, but I do know from the people that I really respect and admire historically—the MLKs or Gandhis—that I have to accept the idea that what I do may not affect me in my time. And so my responsibility is greater than to myself. And there's great joy in that on a selfish level.
What role does your family play in your optimism?
I have an unbelievable wife who has absolutely refused to be the doting, suffering wife. She's just life as usual. And we have four kids—a son that's going into college next year, my youngest just started kindergarten, and two in middle school. So we have a snapshot of the entire experience of childhood. And that's precious beyond words. [My daughters] see me in the morning while I have a hard time getting the juice up to my mouth but not making an issue out of it, and I think that gives them a sort of resiliency and a sense that you take life on life's terms. And my son struggles with what college to go to. And my littlest one, she just met a boy in kindergarten and she wrote him a note and wants to know is that allowed. I mean that stuff just keeps you alive. You said that part of your drive is that you want to dance at your children's weddings.
It's embarrassing how blessed I am. When I was diagnosed in 1991, if you had told me in 2007 that I'd be playing tennis every day and golf and be writing a second book, I would have been amazed. So I know I'm going to be dancing at my daughters' bat mitzvahs. When I look to the future, I always look to the best version of it. If I meditate on the worst-case scenario, by the time it materializes, I'll have experienced it twice. So I find there's no point in that.