Archive for the ‘Are You Thinking What I Was Thinking’ Category

Get A Room!

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

I am getting fed up with people, who insist on having loud private conversations in public spaces and zero respect for those in earshot.

There is a 55 year old Managing Partner of a London VC, who insists on having private conversations in public communal areas of my office. Interviews, HR issues, investment committee discussions and entrepreneur meet-ups, he ploughs on. “Peter Thiel knows me well, if he walked in here he’d be so impressed….” was a pearl!

When someone is so visibly insensitive to the world, I am staggered, who would work for, co-invest or welcome him as an investor. Yet clearly, over 25 businesses have sort his help, hundreds of HNWs are happy to have him spouting off and even, the British Business Bank apparently are soon to be in cahoots….

Perhaps he thinks no one is watching or commenting about the beliefs that in form his poverty mindset and indiscreet behaviour.

 

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Celebrity Confusion

Monday, May 21st, 2018

If you are a success, why wouldn’t you act like a success at a high profile occasion? Looking at countless celebrity male guests at the Royal Wedding (George Clooney, James Haskell and endless others), where your “dress” is a very clear mark of respect to your hosts, there wasn’t much respect on display to the Prince of Wales and Ms Markle’s mother. Why would you let down your spouse or partner, who has gone to a huge effort to earn respect? Which is it, “I conform to no one” (ego), “I am not familiar with local customs” (ignorant) or “the airline lost my bags” (unbelievable). If “manners maketh man”, many of us watching are in a state of confusion about some male celebrities’ beliefs that inform their behaviour, or perhaps, more likely we saw the less-appealing real man behind the PR-tinted lens.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Season Of Goodwill

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

 

To all of you reading this a merry Christmas and a flying start to 2018.

A single act of kindness is the most lasting memory. What are you going to commit to do to spread the goodwill amongst family, friends and the communities you live and work in? How will you reward yourself?

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

Hot Bitcoin

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

If the intent of bitcoin is to create a currency free of manipulation and central bankers connivance. One that is built on implicit trust. Am I alone in concluding after recent events that its’ sole purpose is to create a speculators paradise and a mortuary for mug investors? Well done to those, who have ridden the “wave” but to think serious investors and organisations will cash out of greenbacks, euros or yen in significant volumes anytime soon, is just ridiculous.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

Behavioural Lapses

Monday, October 9th, 2017

We express “shock” at the alleged infidelities of a powerful celebrity (Harvey Weinstein) and those who have kept quiet over decades in public life. Yet somehow calmly ignore the hundreds of “dark secrets”, we have personally witnessed in our own lives and workplaces that have trangressed ethical, and acceptable behaviour, where we have failed to speak up or confront it. To understand “why”, is to better understand how we can live in a more civilised world rather than waste energy judging others.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Brexit Backlash

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Close to 60 million people are daily waking up in the UK and countless millions in Europe are doing the same with the intent of improving they and their families lives. Their accomplishments are hugely impressive and yet we are swamped by a news media that insists on overlooking those achievements and fuelling fear about the consequences of Brexit. Why? Is it that a great many of those working in, and owning, media companies are themselves failing and using Brexit as a soft excuse for their own poor judgement and declining skills? Is it that their enthusiasm has morphed into blind zeal? As with all zealots they seek to convert everyone and find compromise impossible to accept? (OK, so Britain will stay in Europe on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday to satisfy them.)

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Nothing But The Truth

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Beware the tendency today to have opinions proferred by eminent people confused with facts by trusted media sources.

Today, the BBC’s Kamal Ahmed in a story about the growth of the UK’s gig economy, quotes Lord Adair Turner, a British economist and policy adviser, as “correct” in expressing his opinion that the failure to see a real rise in average UK wages since 2007 proves that the capitalist system is not living upto its’ promise to “raise all boats over a decade”.

The capitalist system promises to create an environment for maximising wealth creation. There is no better system at doing that. It doesn’t “promise” anything other than in fostering competition, there will be winners and losers.

A capitalist economy’s fault line comes in how it deals with both groups and how it distributes wealth fairly and equitably. Should a public company CEO earn 10x that of a brain or heart surgeon who saves lives or 300x their lowest paid employee? I happen to believe everyone, who is seriously intent on working, and contributing to society, should be able to have a job.

Where we are on unsafe ground as a society, is when prominent journalists with dominant global media platforms don’t self-check opinions expressed as facts. For who are we to believe?

© James Berkeley 2017.

 

Fake News: HR

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

A KPMG co-promoted piece, in an otherwise interesting London business magazine, The Informer, carries a sub-title, “Meet the game changers having real influence on business strategy”. It references the creation of the Chief Human Resource Officer title, and its’ rising importance “as the person who enables the business strategy alongside the other “C” roles.” It cites as hard evidence, two people in a Harvard Business Review article, Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors, lasted 18 months in HR part of a 25+ year career) and Anne Mulcahy (past CEO of Xerox, lead the HR function part of her early management development). Prizes, if you can name any others, who came close to that position or truly “enabled” business strategy in an organisation you worked for or advised? I can give you 500 CEO examples, who spent most of their career in sales, marketing, finance or operational management responsibilities.

Then it states that the proportion of HR functions in FTSE 100 businesses led today by a career HR person has risen from 69% to 80%, “demonstrating relevant experience is vital in the current climate”. Since when has deep experience in a silo function been critical in a complex and ambiguous environment? Shouldn’t critical people decisions and accountability be in the hands of the line mangers directly responsible for implementing an organisation’s strategy? I have met and advised hundreds of HR leaders in some of the world’s finest businesses. I can count on two hands the number of individuals, who were outstanding.

This sort of article does consultants a disfavour because a large, respected consulting brand doesn’t ask the tough questions about clients, who pay it billions of dollars. It trumpets weak evidence and it suggests an alternative that is largely without merit.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

Are You Thinking What I Was Thinking

Friday, February 17th, 2017
  • In all the nonsense about fake news, are we really saying the audience is permanently stuck second-guessing themselves or the decisions that they are making are not our preferred ones? (Brexit, Trump etc.)
  • Is there anything more unappealing than awards events, where people who have been successful in a singular profession and insulate themselves from the real world are suddenly “experts” on geopolitics, leadership, social issues and so on?
  • No one knows what the Trump presidency will have in store for us but the sun will rise and set each day, businesses around the world will trade with each other and culturally diverse communities will continue to interact. Perspective is more important than ever.
  • Watching the first 10 minutes of Bridget Jones’s Baby is a reminder that gratuitous use of swear words, displays a startling lack of intellect and a sign in neon lights to “move on”. The shame is the movie ending is worth watching but I wonder how many people stuck around.
  • Why do celebrities post naked or near-naked pictures of themselves on their social media accounts? If their objective is to protect their privacy, aren’t they throwing fuel on a fire that they have limited prospect of controlling?
  • Why are we “shocked” when a politician (Andy Puzder), a celebrity (David Beckham) or a business executive’s (Vice-Chair of Samsung) leaked private messages doesn’t caste them in a flattering light? They are normal human beings with the very same weaknesses and insecurities, prone to making dumb decisions.
  • The word “great” in business, science, sport, culture and so forth is so abused when describing individual performance that moments like Tom Brady’s Superbowl climax quickly become yesterday’s news.
  • If Americans needed reminding of why infrastructure spending is a priority take a walk through JFK, LAX or Miami airport and compare the experience with that in London Heathrow, Schipol, Dubai, Hong Kong or Shanghai.
  • Do CEO’s shop their own business on a sufficiently regular basis? Here in the UK, the major banks’ knee-jerk response to internet banking has been to slash the number of branches and make it exponentially more time-consuming for their customers to perform routine tasks (cashing a cheque). It is hard to see how that is in the customers best interest?
  • There is another high street presence, which is on a “life support machine” as societal mores change and the internet disrupts the sector. Thousands of bookies or sports betting shops solely exist on high-stakes fixed odds betting terminals preying on the most vulnerable members of society. In a town of 40,000 people there might be 3 or 4, thirty years ago, today in a deprived square mile of an inner city, there is probably 25 shops.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Uncommon Perspective

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

In just over a week we have experienced dramatic political and financial gyrations here in the United Kingdom.

  1. No one has died, sharp words have been exchanged amongst politicians, bankers, business and families.
  2. Many well meaning and educated “remain” supporters have taken their ire to the peaceful streets.
  3. The markets have plunged 8% and in the case of the FTSE 100 largely recovered while the pound remains subdued by a state of “post traumatic stress”, as the Bank of England’s Governor described the current situation.
  4. Political leaders have seen dramatic twists in their career trajectories, yet calm largely pervades in London and elsewhere.
  5. Annual rituals at Wimbledon and Henley precede with full attendances, save for outbreaks of rain.
  6. We stopped to reflect on real tragedy, the start of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago and the unthinkable bravery and despair of so many young people and their families.
  7. Businesses continued investing, hiring new teams and buying/selling others this week. Life is largely continuing as it did 9 days ago.
  8. For sure, there is heightened awareness of tough choices to come over the next 24 months but people are still keeping their holiday plans, discretionary spending and going about their daily business.
  9. Yet many in the media, dumbfounded that their agenda has been hijacked by an unusual consensus project a life of disarray and gloom. Resisting change and throwing barbs at the democratic majority in this country. Deal with it. You are the problem now. Don’t expect others to start handing out the hankies.
  10. Look for the new opportunities that might capture the hearts and minds of Britons and others who choose to invest their time, money and energy here.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.