Global Presence


“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ― Heraclitus

With great change, the likes of which the world is and has been experiencing, comes great nostalgia for what was. It can be a sense of loss enough to trigger the grieving process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The grief is evident on a social scale. We see it in the rise of nationalism, isolationism and authoritarianism across countries, in the resistance to immigration and integration.

It’s too bad that change has come so quickly that many haven’t had the chance to catch their breath, to build the necessary resilience. I am more than hopeful that the change occurring is making us better. Younger generations sense this. Older generations want what was, and cannot fathom a world, that they seem also resistant to accept, they helped create.

To those who work with change, this is all standard protocol. Those who work in change management consistently struggle to bestow leaders with the understanding that bringing people along matters, and in this our national leadership, across the board, has failed. Yet, in the observation that the change has happened on a scale and at a speed never before encountered, how can anyone be to blame?

No. We must all take up our share of the responsibility for making the transition, or at least stay out of the way of those prepared to do so.

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No question, a business must maintain a profit to remain in business.  I question, however, the concept that making a profit is the purpose of business.  For me, the purpose of business is to serve its community, both internally – those who serve the purpose of the business – and externally –  whether local, national or global.   The sustainability of a business is dependent upon whether it continues to serve a purpose to that community.

In my own work experience, I have witnessed businesses lose balance and topple because they lose sight of their purpose, favoring investors (or the proverbial shareholder) over the internal and/or external community (otherwise known as stakeholders).  Likewise, I have seen businesses prosper because they keep sight of all stakeholders even in the face of investor scrutiny.

In this discussion hosted by American Public Media and the BBC – http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/marketplace-live/marketplace-live-what-difference-four-years-does-not-make – two themes arise:  1) We must return to living within our means and 2) the financial industry must return to a purpose of stewardship.  How have we lost the sense in too many cases that business be the steward of purpose and expertise, be  trusted advisers, in our communities?  And, how do we find that purpose once again?

The way I see it, our choices are between a candidate who is globally savvy and a candidate who is America-Centric. As a self-professed Air Force brat turned global citizen, I most identify with and support the views of our globally savvy candidate. I know from experience that globally reared “brats” of any kind are typically misunderstood and sometimes incomprehensible by our fellow citizens.

When I was in high school at Ramstein AFB, Germany, and even upon my return to work and live during the Summer between undergrad and graduate school as part of a German-American Business Exchange program, I recall conversations in which I expressed my view of America as being a spoiled, rich teenager, as in all kinds of power and money though lacking life experience. America is a powerful culture, yet one of the most isolationist in the world. Our general population is one of the least traveled, at least outside our borders, so “we, the people” as a collective have very little idea of what has gone and currently goes before us.  We are a truly independent civilization based on our heritage.  I will concede this may be a fundamental foundation for the valued and admirable creativity we bring the world.  As Winston Churchill described, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.” Very telling of a need to go it alone, figure it out on our own, because “our parents don’t know crap.”

So, when are we going to grow up and realize that those who have gone before us, some long before us, might have some wisdom to share?  It doesn’t mean we have to become any other country, we will always be America – the free, the brave, the creative.  We might just get farther faster, though, if we were to tap into pearls of wisdom out there that could fit our needs and trajectory.  There is also something to be said for graduating to interdependence, which I see as a natural maturation of our independence in which we appreciate who we are enough to appreciate that we do not and cannot bring it all and need our fellow man.

We have such an opportunity to mature into a respected – not by demand of others but by command of ourselves – effective partner in the world. What say you to taking that bull by the horns?

Sincerely,

~ Jacqueline