I have had a lot of faith in the Internet and belief in Cisco's position over the last 15 years. I think any individual organization, however, that doesn't balance confidence with a healthy paranoia, both during the good and bad times, isn't being realistic.

Any organization that thinks they are infallible, or cannot suffer the challenges that many of their peers have, is not dealing with the world realistically. So I have always believed that how well we do is dependent upon how well we execute, both during the good and the challenging times.

At this point, I'd give Cisco pretty high marks on both.

What needs to happen in the United States - and Silicon Valley, in particular - to ensure that good, well-paying jobs are available here? How do we stay competitive?
It's simple. It's education. It's infrastructure built on large-scale broadband deployment, and a government that supports and encourages innovation.

At the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, you spoke about the importance of productivity growth - both for companies and countries - to create prosperity. Can you explain how productivity is key to lifting people out of poverty?
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics, when productivity of a country increases at 1 percent per year, the standard of living doubles every 70 years.

If it is driven at 3 percent, the standard of living doubles every generation. This means that our children will have twice the standard of living that we do. If productivity is driven at 5 percent, which I believe is attainable for many countries around the world, the standard of living doubles every 14 years.

It has been proven that in the United States, there is a direct, one-to-one correlation between the percentage of capital expenditures on information technology (IT) and productivity increases. If you look at these correlations over time, they are occurring on a global basis.