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Friday, 5 August 2011

Do you have to win no matter who suffers? Plus Bird's Last Hurrah

This is fair warning. In November I’m coming to Australia. Leave before it’s too late.

It is exactly 40 years since I first visited, in a desperate state after my business had gone down the pan. I spent six weeks trying and failing to sell swimming pool franchises and fake Chagall paintings. It wasn’t even summer.

I’ve been there many times since, and if I had to live anywhere else it would definitely be there.

I went back in 1986, with an additional trip to New Zealand. I made friends I have kept ever since

But here’s another warning. Never try to do one day seminars in 8 cities in three weeks all over Australasia. I damn near had a nervous breakdown.

Anyhow, I still have the notes for those seminars. They started with a story about Vince Lombardi, maybe the greatest U.S. football coach. An English reporter asked him the object of the game. ”The object of the game is to win,” he replied.

Well, I’ve been having an exchange on Facebook with Paul Reddick, also a bit of a coach it seems, about the growing inequality in income in the U.S. 90 years ago the richest 1% of Americans got roughly 18% of all income. Today, the top 1% get 24%, nearly doubling the gap since 1980. There is the same trend here, too.

Many of the people who benefit from this should not in my view. They get paid more despite bad performances. Every day you read about it. Ian Coucher who was running Network Rail here is a good example. He was a failure – but got a fat goodbye worth £1 million. This is all because of the “you scratch my back” atmosphere at the top.

Paul feels if you can get the money you deserve it. As he put it "$ controls everything....and if you want some money you can go get it...it's freedom nobody is trapped" and " they GET the income they earn it"

I then quoted Bernie Madoff.

He got the money. Did he deserve it? How did he earn it? Did the obnoxious Fred Goodwin who so delighted in firing people when he should have fired himself? Not to mention all the others whose greed did so much to create our present misery.

These people are – as others have pointed out – sociopaths. They care little or nothing for anything save themselves. They set a bad example.

This is exactly spirit of winning at all costs which leads sportsmen to rely on drugs. Win, but win fair.

Having got that off my chest, what about my Last Hurrah?

The Last Hurrah was an excellent book and film about a politician at the end of his career.

I am nearing the end of mine. I shall be 75 in a couple of weeks. I have a few more things scheduled – a speech at the big Scandinavian conference in Oslo on April 24th, the EADIM event in October and Australia, but not a lot.

But there is one that is very special, this fall (or autumn) at the Medill School of Journalism of North Western University in Illinois.

Thus is where one of my heroes, James Webb Young, lectured over 50 years ago. I have a copy of the lectures. This is the area where Claude Hopkins blazed trails. It is where Leo Burnett, one of my former employers set up shop.

I am really rather excited about it.

You can attend free, if you’re interested.


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