Succession Strategies: Facing My Assumptions.

As a student of African politics, I love to read about leaders on the continent (I’m a student of US politics too). Statements credited to leaders on the continent are my favourite. In 2006, during an interview conducted by journalists with Guinéenews, President Lansana Conté (the President of the Republic of Guinea) announced that he intended to stay as President until 2010, while still looking for a successor who “loves the country and will protect it against its enemies.” The statement stayed with me as I pondered how successful succession can be planned. President Lassana died in 2008 without that successor or putting a succession plan in place.

A few companies come to mind as I think about great successions.

  • Tim Cook taking over from Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple.
  • Sundar Pichai succeeding Larry Page, who had succeeded Eric Smidt as CEO of Google.
  • Satya Nadella taking over from Steve Ballmer, who took over from Bill Gates as CEO of Microsoft.

How did they do it at Apple?

It had always intrigued me how Steve Jobs made such a great decision with Tim Cook. It fascinated me so much I decided to start some research to understand how they did it. Today, I am sharing what I learnt. I found one of the last emails he wrote to the company board mentioning Tim.

Photo by Alisina Elyasi

On Monday, January 17, 2011, the then CEO (Steve Jobs) sent the following email to the employees at Apple:

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
Source: Apple Inc.

Steve speaks about his great confidence in Tim and the rest of the management at Apple. A few months later the big decision was made as he had to step down due to health concerns. He had a succession plan which he activated. Find below his resignation letter:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
Source: Apple Inc.

Corporate Stakes Could be Higher.

Sometimes, we make-believe that there is less at stake when corporations are considering successors (that is, when compared to a nation). Corporate stakes can sometimes be bigger than national politics. As of August 2011, when Tim Cook finally took over as CEO, Apple had $108b in revenue (trailing 12 months). Apple would have ranked as the 35th biggest state economy in America, the 7th biggest economy in Africa and 102nd global economy (current GDP vs 2011 revenue numbers). With stakes so high, politics, coercion and manipulation would be rampant as humans hustle for power.

Across Africa, there’s a struggle to find qualified successors in both politics and business. Lessons may have to be learnt from those who played this game at such high levels and achieved distinctions. I think the best way to look at these lessons is to examine a few assumptions I learnt along the way about succession.

Assumption 1: Most Successors were first Mentees.

It is assumed that most successors were first great mentees. In the case of Tim, that was far from the truth. Tim was well respected in the industry and it appears Steve did everything to recruit him. Tim had been Director of North African Fulfilment at Compaq and was establishing himself as a maverick in operations management. He was skilled at optimizing operations to make them leaner and better.

As soon as he took over, Tim closed Apple-owned factories and warehouses. He outsourced them, replacing them with contract manufacturers. The board of Apple saw what Steve had seen before hiring him. In his words, Tim spoke about first meeting Steve…

“…five minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple. My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company.”
Read full speech here:

The more you read the more you see that the respect was mutual between these two. In Tim, Steve saw the future of Apple. With Tim, they would increase production significantly and guarantee profits.

Assumption 2: Many Successors were early adopters.

On joining Apple in 1998 (22yrs after the company was established), Tim was first appointed Senior Vice President for worldwide operations. He wasn’t employee number 2 or 3 as you would often expect when doing succession planning. Many of the founding staff had left or were forced out when the board first Steve and hired new management but many were still at Apple. Tim was an outsider with a massive understanding of what it takes to value engineer tech. Trained as an Industrial Engineer + Fuqua Scholar (Duke University) with a mind for operations optimization. Before he was appointed to that position at Apple, he was first Director at IBM and then Vice President at Compaq. During his Auburn University Commencement Speech in 2010, he shared how his friends and family tried to convince him not to make the move to Apple and instead stay at Compaq.

Tim was joining Apple at a critical point. Steve Jobs had just returned to the company after being fired a few years back. In 1996, we heard he was back and ready to recreate the buzz around Apple. He was recruiting some of the best minds he could find to support his vision for the company. Tim was one of such people, joining the all-star cast. Two years after Steve’s great return was the recruitment of Tim who would later turn out to be his successor.

So Steve Found Him.

In hindsight, Tim made a great decision moving to Apple. On the flip side, Steve was spot-on with his choice to hire Tim. Tim had led himself to this point, identifying a niche and created a career out of operational improvement. Steve would have lost out if he didn’t hire Tim at the time and together plan the future of the company (alongside other management personnel).

Tim shared in that same commencement address how he had been advised by many not to leave Compaq at that time. At the same time, there may have been many who thought Steve was making a bad decision by hiring him but it turned out to be a perfect pairing. Think about what the staff MAY have heard:

I will like to introduce my successor, who I just hired a few months ago. Give him your full support.

Always Delicate.

I also wonder how Steve managed the old guard and those who were ambitiously gunning for that position. How do you explain to them that they were never in contention for the role? People like Chris Espinosa, popularly referred to as Apple’s longest-serving employee, have been there from the beginning. Chris is only being mentioned here for serving long (22yrs at the time Tim took over) and not for wanting the role. Leadership isn’t something for the faint-hearted.

Passenger on Trial.

Don’t we all hate to be delayed on a flight by one looney passenger refusing to cooperate with the crew? Getting increasingly impatient, we act as calm as we can, waiting for that passenger (or group of passengers) to behave themselves. At moments like these, you wish that law was applied quickly and that we would be spared any extra waiting. As United Airlines found out, while handling this kind of situation, every issue has its context. Leadership is about assessing each event for context and applying relevant action. Every staff member a client engages with on behalf of the company shows some level of leadership (or lack of). With every one of those outcomes, the image of the brand/ company is changed, sometimes forever.

Photo by Hanson Lu

Leading through any crisis is first a matter of observation, analysis of the nuances of that situation before a decision. Executives are too quick to make “a statement” by how they handle a situation. Don’t be too quick to show strength to preserve your influence; there’s no shame in “being vulnerable”.

My Rule must be Obeyed.

In April 2017, the CEO of United Airlines had to respond to the fallout of a passenger being dragged off the plane by security for failing to comply with the flight crew. The crew had asked him to vacate his seat for a staff of the airline to board. I know how subordinates are placed in impossible situations and “forced” to act decisively because the boss has given firm demands. This staff was needed for some company project in the next city so he had to board. That passenger (who happened to be a medical doctor rushing for a hospital appointment) needed to be dropped.

Boss, there’s a problem, the flight is fully booked, and “Jude” can’t make it for the project. Response? Fix it! Now!! No excuses! A few scuffs later, that passenger was yanked out of his seat and pulled out of the plane like a thief. Smartphones did their duty, and minutes later, it was trending in the media. The CEO had to react. At this point, he had a few options before him, respond with empathy or with strength. I don’t know why it appears easier to portray strength as the first and (most often) only response. Most of those press releases typically contain the text “we are following policy and observing industry standards”, forgetting that this situation may call for some “out of the box thinking based on its unique circumstance.

In the statement released by the CEO, he explained it was deeply “regrettable” but “necessary”. He added that the security officials had to take that forceful action because they “were unable to gain his (the passenger’s) cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist”.

The reactions (from other passengers, the public and the media) was obviously negative. Shortly after, the CEO was forced to step down with his ego bruised.

All Personality or Policy.

Too often, we lead with ourselves. By that I mean, your leadership reveals your personality. If all you have is your ego, then that’s what you will lead with. There’s a danger with leading with your ego; it’s contagious. Soon teams are beginning to carry out actions without context, completely detached from the uniqueness of the present situation. However, in this case, they said they were following policy. “Policy” is usually a cover for structures, systems and processes without “heart”. If you interpret every policy like LAW, then you will only have robots as staff and enemies as clients. Robots, like the bunch who decided to treat this passenger as a criminal. He paid for his flight, he arrived on time, he followed the rules and was seated in his seat, yet he was wrong based on company policy.

If you interpret every company policy like the law then you will only have robots as staff and enemies as clients.

Empathy, context and perspective are required in handling similar situations. This is mostly because no two events are the same. In the case of this passenger being removed, it was United’s error and not his. He had boarded the flight rightly and wasn’t in error. On the other hand, United had overbooked the flight and now had the difficult job of managing previous instructions from “leadership” to get the “staff” on that flight without fail. Under a different leadership and working environment, the extra staff could have waited for any other flight, or the company could have offered an incentive for anyone willing to un-board on their own free will.

Was overbooking the plane a failure of policy? Very likely. However, these things can happen, and hopefully, they don’t happen too often. The response to the overbooking is the test of the “heart” of the policy and the quality of leadership.

Plenty policy documents don’t make great companies.

Ego: The Other Non-Functional Requirement.

As a startup founder, you should expect situations like these, though different. Let’s take the process of developing products that solve problems for clients. Under great leadership, development processes are enjoyable and energetic. However, that comes from understanding what MVPs (minimum viable products) are minimal but viable. When you tell an ego-filled boss that the best way to deliver this product is piecemeal, beginning with a bare-function MVP, you better prepare to explain for days, weeks or more. In such organizations, the product isn’t just about the problem it hopes to solve; more importantly, it has to meet the bosses ego-goals. Building up with iterations may be interpreted as “reputational losses” (code for I won’t be able to brag about this). To such a leader, the product must be complete, and it must make a splash.

Many bosses don’t like the idea of such approaches because of non-functional ego-centric goals, which place thrills over functionality. Look at the MVP products of Facebook and Twitter to see how uninspiring these products were back when released to the public. They were barely functional but functional enough to solve that basic need. If they were all about their egos, they would have waited to release these products to the market. On several projects, I have seen egos lead development projects into the ground, delay project delivery and abort market leadership.

You don’t build a great product or company around your ego. #EasyFail

My Ego is My Responsibility.

I am responsible for checking my ego. No one is responsible for pointing it out to me. Staff aren’t there to risk their jobs telling you who you are and what environment you are creating. You owe yourself that self-assessment, regularly and objectively.

Rarely have others, who are seemingly beneath us, been able to help us see us.

Often, only the near failure or complete failure of the project can help an egocentric leader look into the “mirror” and fix what they see and how they lead.

Quibi Lessons: Researching the Market and Each Other.

Who invested in Quibi? Investments came in from Alibaba, Walt Disney, Sony, Disney, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Warner Bros and others totalling $1.7b. Why was Quibi so exciting? It was a company developing short-form media content designed for smartphones. It was paraded as the next Netflix and in some cases the Netflix-killer. As a backdrop, I signed up for Quibi but never bothered to return to the app; there wasn’t any compelling reason to.

The Driver: Jeffery Katzenberg.

When three great minds agreed to work together few doubted that Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, and Steven Spielberg would achieve record-breaking feats. Together they achieved hit after hit. Their studio delivered Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon. These movies remain my sons’ best movies of all-time.  When they launched 26 years ago, the fears were the same. Could these heavyweights work together? Could these mega-minds put aside their differences to build a great company together?

Fast forward to 2018, Meg Whitman was approached by Jeffrey Katzenberg to lead the efforts to create mini-videos as CEO. Meg is corporate royalty. She is a former politician but way more famous for her successful leadership role at eBay and HP. Teeing-off Quibi, these were a power corporate-couple but achieved mega failure and this wasn’t because they lacked funding. While other streaming services saw sales acceleration during the lockdown, they didn’t.

One Sign too Many.

In June 2020, The Wall Street Journal published an article about the partnership titled “Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Struggle With Their Startup—and Each Other”. The subtitle was “Two veteran executives with contrasting styles are launching Quibi, an on-the-go streaming service, during a pandemic.” That article told the world what had been obvious for a while. These two couldn’t work together. The frostiness of their working relationship began on day one and never got better despite several interventions. The fights threatened the company at the beginning and proved to be a significant factor in the company’s failure.

Meg had moved to an iconic home in Los Angeles for this project. In August, She tried to sell that house privately. When the news of her house sale became public, everyone knew she was leaving Los Angeles and, by extension, the company. Everyone knew the company was over. Meg wasn’t ready to fight for this company’s survival; she was done.

A Flaw in their Competition Analysis.

Quibi branded itself as a mobile Netflix, providing custom videos for people on the go but they weren’t competing against Netflix. I never understood why they took this position. I believe their competition was very different. Their true competitors were the likes of TikTok and Youtube. They failed to see that the mini-movie market isn’t really about movies (with actors and directors) but more about entertainment. How can you invest millions to create one 10min movie to compete with those very entertaining Tiktok clips costing less than $20 to produce? They were in the bit-size entertainment video market which includes Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media players who have more to offer in this category for a lot less (in cost per video).

For me, if I want to watch a movie then I expected to be long and engaging with a plot and all the thrills. If I want something short then all I want is a distraction, random and interesting. Are others like me? Do viewers want compressed movies? The answer can be seen in this $1.7b (that b is for billion) experiment. When you put the management issues aside, the core problem they faced was a wrongly assessed market.

Who is the Customer?

One of the struggles I have had in my role as a Business Analyst is how to ensure value is thoroughly assessed. This achieved through the hard work of understanding the customer. However, the Business Analyst is often not engaged with the clients on a day-to-day and has to rely on the sales team to provide context into the mind of the clients. Often time, the sales agents miss out on tell-signs which should have been picked up on. In this case, the sales team appeared to have a total disconnect with the audience they hoped to win over. Media campaigns by Quibi were lacklustre and impassionate. Maybe the sales and value issues were inherited from the top.

That Was Regrettable.

What if I told you that the world has suffered in equal measure from those with noble intentions as it has from those who had evil intentions. In fact, some of the worst things were done by people with “good intentions”. They meant well but the outcomes were terribly wrong.

The Manhattan Mistake.

Albert Einstein’s noble intention of stopping Hitler from being the first to produce a nuclear bomb created what he would later call a “Monster”. History has it that Leo Szilard explained to Einstein about the potential of what they had discovered and got him to endorse the project to the President of the United States at the time. By reason of that endorsement from the great Einstein, President Roosevelt would proceed with the Manhattan Project (a code name for the American-led effort to create a functional hydrogen/ atomic bomb). When the bombs were used in Japan at the end of the Second World War Einstein knew that he had made a grave mistake. 200,000 Japanese were dead as a result of his recommendation. Worse still, the Americans had pushed this Manhattan Project in vein as the Germans never developed the bomb they were afraid of. Einstein would always explain it as a “well-intended” mistake.  Every noble person, including myself, makes excuses for our “well-intended” actions which may have caused someone else hurt. We say, “that person must understand that I meant well”. In the world of politics, this happens far too often.

We judge others by their actions, while judging ourselves by our intentions. -Anonymous

Take a Bow.

My thoughts swing to Zimbabwe as I am compelled to celebrate the enormous role Robert Gabriel Mugabe played in the emancipation of his people. He was imprisoned and suffered for the freedom the Zims now enjoy. Revered as a leader and acknowledged for his efforts, he was given a role as National Leader and President to complete what he had begun. This forms the backdrop of today’s Zimbabwe.

However, things appears to be very different as we look at the facts before us and as we are compelled to re-examine his legacy. Today he (Mugabe) is seen by many (rightly or wrongly) as a Tyrant, Bully and Powermonger. This perception was cultivated, fed and enhanced, becoming more than mere opinion. Perception is powerful and in the eyes of many he is seen as the enemy of the nation even though he laboured so heartily for many years to build modern-day Zimbabwe (granted, he didn’t work alone but his personal contribution was immense and significant). Nobody looking into the eyes of the future from Westminster House on 18 April 1980, as he took the Oaths as President, would have perceived today’s reconsideration. Once a nobleman, standing tall as a symbol of liberation, today the same man is remembered by many as a symbol of oppression. In his argument, he felt there was no one better to lead the nation until he was forced out. It all came to a holt when a large portion of the people started protests and was soon overrun by the army.

Quit when the ovation is loudest… that’s what Mandela did.

Going Too Far.

Another great example is George W. Bush. I firmly believe that George W. Bush in an effort to preserve the security and safety of America after 9/11 went several steps too far with his war on terror. The effects of those actions still linger in Iraq, Syria and others. Is the middle-east safer? Is terror defeated? Were those the best set of actions he could have taken? No, No and No.

We will all be fools to believe that nobility of purpose results only in positives. Far too often we get carried away with old actions in new situations.

We often forget to be empathetic with all current and future stakeholders when making begin decisions as long as it seems good to us.

Modern-day problems require new thinking and new approaches that some of the most well-intended leaders lack. At such a point, that leader must step aside for those who have the competence for those new challenges. Leaders often rush into things (well-intendedly), only to cause more harm than good. If you do not have the skills to handle matters arising, then maybe step aside for those who do. Or at least be honest that you are out of depth. You aren’t God and have a limited set of skills. It is okay to be limited to handle the next wave of challenges facing your organisation or nation. My Advice to these noblemen is to take a bow early and to let GO… it’s always better that way.

A ”No” Won’t Kill.

Let me take a break from only political examples and analogies. Take a look at the many examples of “over-loved” or “over-indulged” children: great intentions, noble motives but devastating results. To say no to such a child sometimes is to help them balance out.

It’s a waiting game.

When the pandemic hit, businesses didn’t know how to respond. Many adopted a wait and see approach hoping it will blow over. Others started planning to downsize, expecting the worst. Yet others pivoted from their current business models to models that would support the change. Gyms and yoga classes created digital versions with Zoom calls for clients requiring some activity while at home.

In the crises, I would always share stories with friends about companies clearly benefiting from (or benefitting in) the crisis. There are always winners in every game even though some games technically end in a draw. In a draw, one side needed the win more and so technically they lost the match even though they achieved a draw. So while I will be discussing the winners of the pandemic season at a later date, I want to speak to a general thread linking many of these winners: waiting.  

It’s all about the ability to wait or the inability to.

How do we wait in business?

It begins with cash reserves. How deep are your pockets when a crisis hits? That depth will enable you to be dynamic in your response. Waiting is the ability to delay rushing any decision because you do not have to. Waiting is to remain calculative when others are despondent and frantic. Waiting is what allows some to wait for the right moment to pull the trigger while others would have had to react to immediate pressures.

Photo by Adeolu Eletu

An Example from Row Vigor.

Founded by Fola Awosika, Moses McCall and Kevin Allen in February 2016, Row Vigor had a lot of promise but for 4 years they struggled with securing investments from Venture Capitalists. Finally, their break came in 2020.

Just as the pandemic hit, their indoor fitness app was in demand and it was growing. However, there was a problem. Moses McCall, their developer, had moved on. He had struggled with family issues and needed to start a regular job to survive. Fola and Kevin had run out of funds and couldn’t hire another developer to continue from where Moses had left off. They also couldn’t sustain the company through this season of opportunity. They couldn’t wait! They just couldn’t. They watched the opportunity brought by the pandemic pass them by because they couldn’t innovate when they needed to.

There will always be some other recession triggers. This economic crisis was brought on by a pandemic, the next may be brought on by something else. Businesses and individuals will find themselves in similar situations in the future and their ability to wait will be called into question.

How long can you wait in the heat of a crisis while thinking straight and objectively?

To wait you will need some emotional stability but that won’t be enough if your pockets are dry. You need both.

Exclusivity is the new Bubble

Getting ready for Bubble 2.0. Those who can afford to will inoculate themselves from the crowd through amplified exclusivity. What this pandemic has revealed is that people can and are willing to pay a premium for exclusivity. Everyone who can (sort off) afford to buy or rent exclusivity will do so. This will include contactless business interactions with less chance of any infections. This is the new normal for those who can afford to. With the World Health Organization convinced that the world will not return to the way things where, most pundits agree that we have to embrace the changes that have come as a result of this pandemic.

Ride-Sharing may be Dead.

Enterprises not offering exclusivity may suffer long term. Every ride-sharing tech company will have to rethink their future as people buckle down into their bubble. Crowd sharing may be impossible to reduce in developing countries, but it may be over in the West. Even in developing countries the young working class will most certainly be investing in cars of their own rather than carpool or attempt public transport.

The NBA Bubble in Orlando.

As a response to the pandemic, the National Basketball Association (NBA) agreed to move the remainder of the season and playoffs to Orlando. All the players live in a secure bubble, no one comes in without thorough checks and probes. Literally, no one comes in, no family, no no-one. Is this an example of the way those who can afford to will live? Major corporations looking to resume operations at physical locations may borrow from this playbook.

Other Implications

Single-Use Items: On a mass level, single-use items may become the rave. Single-use salt and pepper in restaurants rather than those little sprinkle bottles we “share”. No sharing on the plane any more. No sharing of juice or water being poured into cups to serve on economy class. Few people want to touch anything they think many people have touched before them. The sharing economy is under threat and may never recover. Religious events are no different, no more sharing of anything or breaking bread together.

Yachts replacing Cruise Ships: Do we see a mass movement from cruise ships to yachts? More likely than not. I am guessing the same rule may apply to airlines as more people may be tempted to move to the front of the plane (more people aiming for business and first-class seats). Those who can’t afford to will be forced to curtail their urge to fly anywhere in the short term.

Amplifying exclusivity on a budget is the new business trend.

In a Pandemic, there are no True Experts.

When faced with a pandemic, the type of which we have never experienced before, there are really no experts. Everyone is either under-reacting or overreacting to the situation. The resulting chaos makes for limited progress for almost everyone. Beginning with the rush on medical services, people with regular coughs and colds thought they might be dying and in need of urgent medical attention. At many other hospitals, the medical professionals played down the threat and told those with flu symptoms to go back home, unaware that those patients were carriers of “the virus” being sent forth to spread it. In the panic, a few public policymakers in Africa panicked, shutting down everything down including food markets. If people don’t die from the virus, why not die from hunger?

As the dust settled (somewhat), some experts were more committed to justifying their previous actions than in acknowledging the fact that their initial actions weren’t made as experts but based on panic. The moment a pandemic of this magnitude breaks, few people (if any) know what they are doing. The few who had great ideas of what to do were burdened by the obstacles brought on by those who were reacting in panic.

Think about the example of a room full of people when the fire alarm goes off, people run in every direction and no one cares about your PhD or knowledge of the building. Panic first, think later! Trying to stop people from panicking and creating more chaos may be costly to you. A bloody nose later you, you will realize that irrationality is enshrined in our human psyche. Chances are, if we had this all to do again, we would do it all the same random way.

The Future of Capitalist Greed

Every major corporation in the world has been targeted in anti-trust probes for unfair market practices. Many of the same corporations have had to pay out huge amounts in settlements to governments around the world. The growth of enterprise appears to come with a fair amount of greed and desperate attempts at crushing of all seeming competitors.

These trends popularize greed and its outcomes. They lay waste to our model of doing all things with a good conscience. A young entrepreneur would ask:

· What use is a conscience outside of religion?

· What use does it offer in the market place?

· Why does capital require greed to grow?

· Will greed destroy the world or has it destroyed the world already?

· Do we prioritise other people’s needs or do we exploit those needs?

Photo by Maria Oswalt

What is Capitalism without Greed?

Social capitalism or moral capitalism was intended as the remedy to unregulated capital. According to Marcus Marktanner (Economics Professor at Kennesaw State University), social capitalism (or the social market economy) refers to the provision of equal opportunity and the protection of those unable to enter the free market labour force because of limitations. This includes those limited by old-age, disability, or current unemployment. Beginning in Germany just after World War 2, policymakers thought of a way to ensure that the vulnerable had a chance at a decent life while enabling a free market economy. This model is supported by high taxes and tariffs which governments make available to the needy.

Some will argue that it can survive on its own.

In an ideal capitalistic economy, there will also be a re-balancing when resources are running low. Capitalists must invent a way to keep the party going. It is in the interest of the powerful to ensure that they regulate their greed when it is most critical. A classic example is the Corsair Compact, a negotiated settlement to ensure that major railroad competitors slow down expansion before they destroy the industry. The capitalist greed of a few industrialists was leading to a less sustainable rail industry and they needed to pause. They gathered to negotiate the terms of such a settlement under the leadership of J. P. Morgan in 1885 and it remains an example of how capitalists will fix things when they need to. They agreed to reduce their greed to preserve a sector.

A self-regulated capitalist world may just save itself. Just maybe.

Can the Corsair Compact agreement of 1885 be relied on as a pattern for future self-regulated practices by “greedy” capitalists? Can it be repeated by today’s greedy corporations? Can we rely on a robust free market to save itself from itself? What if capitalists fail to pull the breaks when most needed? What if the capitalist, while chasing their greed, just let the earth burn.

Photo by Edward Howell

If innovation thrives in capitalism then maybe Capitalism will always have a chance to reinvent itself and repair any issue it has create. Proponents believe that the cycle of reinvention by capitalism will always usher-in another season of recovery and an opportunity for new greed to thrive. To trust or not to trust?

Can we trust the greedy to think and plan for the good of all?

Adapt, we must!

Unprecedented times are upon us. The events of 2020 have reshaped many of our lives, and I dare say we are just beginning to see the full impact. The results of what we are witnessing will linger long for many but maybe shorter for others. While most know what to do about the changes which have occurred, others have no clue. In 2018 when I wrote this book, little did I know it was literally speaking into the future. As you plan to navigate the “new normal” and sometimes tricky terrain, this book will be there to guide you. It follows a similar journey I had to take a few years ago, redefining myself.

Questions: Where do we start? What are the next steps? What steps go after the first steps?

Regrets: If I had known, if only I had planned better or if only I had saved more.

A Workbook for Your Redefinition.

Like I was at the time, regrets and questions have overwhelmed many, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When I put together the second edition of my book, I added a workbook. The workbook is designed to provide a winning framework for those battling the bleakness of a lost future. It begins with asking tough questions directed to lead you towards new possibilities. I hope the answers to these questions help you see what is a possible future. Many of us planned for a different future, and then all this happened, making that future is no longer feasible. The art of re-invention is one of the most important skills to have when responding to similar life-altering events.

You may need a new future when the old one is challenged.

Get this book on Amazon:

Deaf, Blind and Dull Enough to Dive.

Often, success comes down to how blind or dull you were when you launched out to achieve that objective. To succeed at a thing, you need to be selectively deaf to what will extinguish that flame of pursuit. You will have to be blind to the evidence presented against your cause. You will have to be dull enough to think that all of the naysayers have no sense, and you alone have what it takes to make it happen.

Success is often synonymous with paying no attention to or knowing very little about how hard succeeding at that thing is. Depending on how blind you are to the facts, you will (blindly) plough yourself wholeheartedly into the project with the full conviction of a successful outcome. Some of us are too quick to give up when presented with the “facts” showing what can’t be done. We dive in, technically drowning but refusing every attempt at being rescued.

Some may call it naivety, a dullness (or naivety) to apparent facts and limitations. This behaviour (or misbehaviour) has birthed great results. There are things we will never be able to achieve if we knew exactly what it would cost to complete. The only way to achieve those kinds of goals is if our minds deceive us into believing that it will cost less (or nothing). Some projects only started because someone refused to research and understand what it would cost to complete.

But all these are half-truths!

Here are the whole truths:

1. The reality is that for those who used the steps above to reach their place of success, it had little to do with their deafness, blindness or dullness but more to do with the fire they had in them. True vision is like a fire that will never be quenched regardless of the seeming opposition.

2. It is that fire in them that makes them act mad, blind and unresponsive to the facts facing them.

3. You can’t fake the fire or co-opt your mind to acting oblivious to the facts stacked against your pursuit. No real fire = no genuine blindness to apparent resistance.

Can you create the fire?

This is the big question. Do we acquire these fires that fuel us through the storms of life towards our goals or do we discover them?

Which flame provides more power: Acquired or Discovered?

I will commit the time to dissect this in a future post.

Till we chat again.