Former President Barack Obama stopped by the Qualtrics X4 Experience Management Summit in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, where he spoke for an hour about a variety of topics, including his concern about how social media is shaping kids.
“I am worried about what it is doing to our children, in making them so absorbed in thinking: ‘What is the world thinking about us?’ in a way we weren’t as kids,” Obama said during a fireside chat led by Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith, in front of a crowd of 11,000 ticket holders.
Obama said he doesn’t read his own press, the comments, or social media replies, which he said are “designed to feed possible anxiety.”
Even if the comments aren’t toxic, and someone has praise, the former president said it can make people think they’re doing everything right, when perhaps they aren’t.
The wide-ranging discussion, which was in front of a largely corporate audience, also included stories of Obama’s time in the White House, and how he approached building teams and problem solving.
“By the time we got to the White House, we had weeded out mercenaries or folks who were there because they wanted XYZ,” the former president said about building a mission-driven team. That approach, he said, led to a transparent team environment and fostered better decision-making.
“And it also means that you don’t have big scandals and indictments. That’s a bonus!” Obama added.
The three-day Qualtrics X4 Experience Summit is an annual gathering thrown by the survey data company, which was acquired by SAP last November for $8 billion, just days before the company was set for an IPO. Other speakers on the agenda this year include Sir Richard Branson, dance psychologist Dr. Peter Lovatt, Ashton Kutcher, and Oprah Winfrey.