Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A French Perspective

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Warning: you may find this raises your blood pressure!

1. Educated and successful French businessmen predominantly see Brexit as a disaster befalling the United Kingdom. Too small to influence geopolitics, too confused to carve out a strong and dynamic economy.

2. They largely adhere to a “Macron view” of a fully-integrated core (single budget, defence force, diplomatic group), embracing France, Germany, Netherlands and the Benelux countries. Outer circles embracing other existing members but not with the same benefits.

3. They react with horror to the Macron admission just as they do the actions of the Gilets Jaunes that if the French population was given a “Yes/No” referendum on EU membership now, they’d probably vote to leave.

4. The decades old culture of entitlement has created a customer service level in restaurants, bars and shops that is in the bottom quartile of G20 countries. Those exceptions are powerful reminders that endeavour and kindness are not “prisoners” of bureaucracy.

5. Commercial and lifestyle imperatives are discernibly relaxing Sunday closing hours.

6. The ability to buy and eat highly affordable, diverse and wonderful food and wine with the possible exception of Italy remains unrivalled in the Western world.

7. Thriving small and mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurs offer France the greatest hope for future prosperity so long as the State will get out of their way (taxes, labour regulation, incentives).

8. France would benefit from a more confident global marketing initiative to sustain its’ position as the top global tourism destination (think the “Great Britain” campaign). One that vividly told amazing stories of local culture, success and experiences alongside regional diversity.

9. France doesn’t lack amazing minds and hard workers, what it does lack is an environment, which truly celebrates entrepreneurialism and the creation of opportunities. Specifically, exemplars and organisations that are feted for distributing wealth, not just hoarding wealth.

10. You learn more about the real France today by what you see, not what you hear or you read. It is a beguiling country, immersed in a complex battle around the creation and distribution of wealth and accountability (individual vs State). The evolution of societal norms, its’ geopolitical relevance and the beliefs that underpin its’ past success and a brighter future.

Me, Me, Me

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Is there a more inconsiderate demonstration of self-serving human behaviour than the person with a streaming cold or sore throat, who insists on positioning themselves in close proximity to others when alternative seats exist minimising potential infection?

A Very French Protest

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

By day and night, the gilets jaunes tirelessly man the “barricades” on the edge of a main roundabout in Cannes. Their grievances with President Macron and his policies ever expanding. Reports this weekend are that just 66,000 took to the streets in protest across France. At what point does the symbolism lead to fatigue? It looks like very soon.

Entrepreneurial Wisdom

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Would you seek to cross the Atlantic without a substantial support system? Might bet is you’d loudly shout “no”. Yet there are daily, entrepreneurs, some having early success, who insist on taking even more perilous risks with their own business ventures and won’t take advice from anyone. They intuitively know better. That is fine until the seas get so rough that faced with imminent capsize, they scream “help”. Why be so churlish? Get the best qualified help you can afford, pay them on equitable terms and that them as a partner in your future success. 

Something For Nothing

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

If you are seriously confident about the prospects of your business growth, and the impact of our potential collaboration, why do you insist on asking me for “free” help and to assume the overwhelming risk? Is it that you are “cheap”, don’t trust me, fearful of the future or broke? Those are the only viable conclusions. 

Title

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

If you ever wanted to confuse someone’s title with talent and judgement take a look at Woody Johnson, US Ambassador to London. Watching a British fly-on-the-wall documentary “Inside the US Embassy”, the heridetary billionaire is pictured so far out of his depth on complex issues and surrounded by people of questionable ability. Who puts someone in this position?

Excuse Me

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

I am standing at a cocktail event in the Irish Embassy talking to various tech entrepreneurs and investors. To my right marches up “Alan”, a sixty year old silver haired man offering canapés on a silver salver. When we are done, he insists on scattering us when he marches between us to his next “prey”. I don’t presume at first there is anything untoward until he does the exact same thing four subsequent times during the night.

It is easy to presume in business someone is “damaged” when we experience a bad first impression. We are wrong to jump to conclusions about a single instance. How do I know he wasn’t tired, poorly trained or distracted momentarily? What we need to zero in on are patterns of reckless or bad behaviour and the probable cause.

To have the courage to confront it, if it is serious enough, and to let it go, if it is a minor irritant. Too often I witness people, who cannot remove the emotion from their judgement, screaming at ticket attendants or absolving slovenly behaviour when addressing their clients. Let’s move on.

Risk-Free Money

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

As many global fund managers, advisers and businesses are finding out this week with their Saudi ties, there is no such thing as “risk-free” money. No risk attached to accepting money is more parlous than your reputation. Your reputation is a function of the trust you place in others and they in you about “character” (wisdom, ethics, sociability, reciprocity and so on). Here is the irony, we have made quantum leaps in our ability to sift through huge amounts of data and processes that don’t require human judgement (artificial intelligence) and baby steps in our ability to assess human character and risks that do require human judgement. “Go figure”, as my American friends say. 

In Good Company

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

If you are an entrepreneur wanting to attract the highest quality investors,  people, business partners and so forth, think about the company you are keeping. Am I spending time with gatekeepers, window shoppers or real buyers/investors of my product, service and relationships? Does the event or platform put me in rarefied company or am I circling around with a largely undifferentiated crowd? Will my presence and affiliation with the audience dramatically build my brand or have a negligible impact?     

Where is the hard evidence or observed behaviour to validate my judgement?

It is myth that any “exposure” is a valuable use of our time. That is rubbish. If you are not in front of a high proportion of your target audience, decline the invite with a simple “No”. You don’t need to explain yourself, you do need to avoid wasting time talking to the wrong people.

Etiquette

Monday, October 8th, 2018

If you are a 50 year old man or woman and you cannot hold a knife and fork correctly, irrespective of culture, in polite company, why should you and your views be taken seriously? I don’t care about your wealth, your “past” or your approach to standard behavioural norms.