Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the Reception for the 15th Anniversary of the American Chamber of Commerce

Minister Ahmetaj, President Crawford, Executive Director Gjoni, AmCham members, ladies and gentlemen,

Congratulations on your 15th birthday.

Being a teenager is hard work.  I have one at home and another one just three years away.  You have to grapple with dating, learning to drive, acne, peer pressure to drink alcohol, the right hair style, the right sports shoes, the right skirt length.  It’s a lot to take in.

Since the AmCham is like a teenager, let me offer three pieces of unsolicited advice:

1.  Young children are always focused on themselves.  It’s in the teen years that they discover that there is a world beyond themselves.  Mostly this involves discovering boys or girls for the first time.  That’s not what I’m suggesting you do!  I encourage all of you to use your time in the AmCham to explore opportunities, issues and policies beyond your narrow business sector.  The AmCham represents over 200 businesses working in every sector of this economy.  Use that to your advantage.  Become a more well-rounded and modern businessperson.

2.  Second.  Teenagers still have that sense of incredible optimism and think they are superhuman.  When I ask my son why he did so well at a football game or on a math test, he says, “It’s because I’m awesome.”  You all in the AmCham are equally awesome.  I sat down recently over lunch with representatives from the AmCham legal and insurance community.  I learned so much about how Albania works and what needs to get done to fix the business environment.  Please believe in your awesomeness and use that knowledge confidently to provide advice and constructive engagement to government, NGOs and other private sector partners.

3.  Finally, teenagers can be loners or they can travel in groups.  When they travel in groups, they are happier, healthier and better adjusted.  They can form gangs and get into trouble, but I assume you’re not going to do that.  I think the AmCham is big enough and powerful enough that it should be actively considering who it hangs out with.  Does it make sense to partner with other Chambers of Commerce in Albania?  Should the AmCham here partner with similar AmChams in the Balkans, Italy, Greece or Turkey?  Would it be productive to form long-term relationships with certain ministries?   I know you have discussed all these possibilities, but I encourage you to start building these bridges for the future.

Thank you very much for inviting me today.  I am delighted to share this birthday party with you.  Gezuar ditelindje!  Edhe nje qind!