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A prominent captain of industry has advised young Swiss entrepreneurs to gain experience abroad to help them confront the future.

The chairman of the Logitech group Daniel Borel, was speaking on Thursday at the opening of the Swiss Economic Forum in Thun, the largest event for small and medium sized companies in Switzerland.

The founder of the computer peripherals company argued that it was only by gaining experience outside Switzerland that he had managed to achieve success.

Open to the world

He called on Swiss entrepreneurs to develop a strong vision, have the courage to strive for excellence and be open to the world.

“They should embrace the future and not be afraid of it,” he said.

Borel added that people had to accept that change was inevitable but that it opened up many opportunities. “If we embrace change, we can achieve a lot,” he said.

In a witty speech that brought the 1,000 participants alive to this year’s theme “Challenging Times – New Inspirations”, Borel encouraged entrepreneurs to accept that failure could also present opportunities for success.

The fight goes on

“Its better in life to try five things, succeed at four and fail at one than it is to not have tried anything at all. Success is never final, the fight goes on every day.”

As an example, Borel said that he was lucky to have survived in what he described as the “bloody, brutal, competitive PC market.”

“You learn much more from failure than you do from success. Success is your own worst enemy. When you’re successful you become blind…you start believing that you can walk on water.”

Borel argued that Switzerland had to assess today’s realities to face the future successfully. “We need new industries and high value added jobs that pay well. The country must move if it is to maintain its standard of living.”

Innovation – key success factor

Borel stressed that innovation was a key factor for success but that innovation for innovation’s sake was dangerous.

“Innovation is everything. But it must come with a product that is affordable, that offers value for money and that people want to go out and buy.”

He also encouraged Switzerland to invest in education and ongoing training to ensure that there was no great divide between skilled and unskilled people.

Borel, who gave his address in what he called the new national language of Switzerland, English, urged his audience to develop a positive frame of mind.

“You have to get up, move up, live up, wake up, shake up and keep it up,” he said which brought howls of laughter after the words “keep it up”.

by Robert Brookes and Karin Kamp in Thun

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR