Ross Rant: Being counted doesn't always count.

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"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." -- Albert Einstein

The world is inundated with data.

But yet Hollywood can't guarantee a hit.

The outcome of the Stanley Cup can't be confirmed.

The future UK PM officeholder can't be verified.

And the next chef to beat Bobby Flay can't be affirmed.

Still, we love data.

"Do a survey. Do a focus group. Do a study."

Do more data.

I don't think the magic is in more data.

Data should not be about trying to use the information to prove a theory, but to see what the numbers are actually telling us and to inform us what we might be missing - especially since the mind likes to trick us.

You see, our brains are wired to remember and overvalue the vivid and the shocking. Our brains are wired to remember events that actually happened and not events that could happen.

So often we comfort ourselves in data to gain a better understanding and some guidance, but the data often falls short.

In their book, Why Everything You Know About Soccer is Wrong, authors Chris Anderson and David Sally concluded that soccer is basically a 50/50 game. Half is luck, and half is skill.

With this conclusion, the authors determined there are two routes to soccer glory. One is being good. The other is being lucky. You need both to win a championship. But you only need one to win a game.

Disney CEO Bob Iger used a similar conclusion this week.

With the announcement of his company's over the top Disney+ streaming service, Iger is going where his customers are going. One where customers can customize their viewing experience and seamlessly view Mickey and Minnie on numerous devices.

No survey, no focus group, and no study needed to know this is a good move for Disney.

Disney has a customer experience that is visceral and multigenerational. A customer experience that is deep and broad. A customer experience forged with skill.

But Iger knows Disney needs more than skill to win the future.

As Iger told CNBC, if you measure the future against the present, the present doesn't stay the present for very long. Today's marketplace has never been more dynamic.

You can't measure what is happening today. You need to measure what you think will happen in the future - that and harness a little luck.

The reasons many of us don't innovate is the data and the information being used is shaped by a current business model and what has gotten us to our current status.

Data which is based on the present and data which is not of the future.

So be mindful of having too much data as a means to confirm what you want the outcome to be.

Plus don't be afraid of harnessing a little bit of luck.

- Marc

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader strategy for executives and entrepreneurs working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

Not knowing is powerful + Thought leader mindset - a quick fifteen

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Not knowing is powerful:

I don't really know why Brigadoon Sundance works, and frankly, I am glad I don't know.

All that matters is a diverse group of curious subject matter experts for the seventh time decided to attend, participate, and engage in the Utah mountains.

Brigadoon Sundance is the rare gathering comprised of a cross-section of pros where sharing our diverse talents, having a conversation or three, exchanging insights, and driving creativity are at the top of the agenda.

I will have some more thoughts on the most recent Brigadoon Sundance gathering in next week's weekly email. 

I need to take a few more days to identify the topics, disucssions, and sessions which made the biggest impact on me.

For those that attend this year and those who have participated in the past, thank you - the gathering has made a lot of progress since Brigadoon's modest start in 2013.

In addition to the Sundance gatherings, over the last twelve months, Brigadoon has added a higher level of engagement called Professional, increased consulting services, hosted salon dinners in Annapolis, Detroit, and Cincinnati, launched book and coffee clubs, as well as introduced Brigadoon Radio.

I am humbled by your support and commitment to this idea of creating a platform where entrepreneurs and thought leaders can discuss emerging issues shaping commerce and culture.

In the meantime, please continue to let me know how we can better serve this community and what tools you need to further propel your talents.

Thought leader mindset - a quick fifteen:

I really enjoyed presenting the thought leader mindset at the opening whiteboard session.

In fact, it was the first time I took an active speaking role at any Brigadoon Sundance gathering and it was the first time I executed a flashcard presentation format.

I appreciate Brigadoon Sundance's friendly environment to experiment and try a new presentation format made up of 100 flashcards.

I was pleasantly surprised by the response but would welcome any additional feedback or comments.

To keep the energy flowing about steps you can take to foster a thought leader mindset - here are a quick fifteen to get you going:

  1. Tell > Sell

  2. The audience knows - you can't fake it

  3. What if it works?

  4. Know the business model

  5. There is no perfect time to start

  6. Busy is a decision

  7. Start at the end

  8. Do you want to be a queen or a queen maker?

  9. Form a habit

  10. Be a professional

  11. Surprise yourself

  12. Rational behavior is rare

  13. Be an expert in being curious

  14. SNL is live at 11:30 pm regardless if it is ready or not

  15. Cause > Campaign

If you want - you can send me your response to any of the tidbits listed above and I am happy to critique your answer.

-Marc

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader communications and global public policy for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

Sure China is a competitor but it's also a marketplace

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Much of the press coverage on the current state of US-China commercial relations is focused on competition, and not enough on the market for American goods and services.

China as a competitor has been dominating press headlines for years. Candidates seeking high office in the United States have been informing voters that China is a competitor and the only solution is tough action. Political columnists use China to score easy points and advance one-sided protectionist remedies.

Years of one-sided opinion is having a negative impact on US-China commercial relations and is fostering a tit-for-tat retaliatory tariff environment.

In the United States, negative views of China have increased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. And American negativity towards China has been higher than Chinese negativity toward the United States in every year since 2014.

A January 2017 Pew Research survey of Americans found that 65 percent of respondents said China is either an adversary (22 percent) or a serious problem (43 percent), while only about a third (31 percent) said China is not an issue.

And in a separate Spring 2016 survey by Pew Research, a majority (55 percent) of Americans held an unfavorable opinion of what more and more Americans see as their largest Asian rival.

This hostile environment is the public affairs reality that American business is facing right now.

Many now see China, one of America's most significant and most promising markets, as a loser for US business. Unfortunately, this belief is fertile ground for politicians supporting protectionist policies and trade halting tariffs. Actions that if successfully passed would force Beijing to respond with retaliatory trade tactics including increased limits stifling full access to the growing Chinese consumer marketplace for American goods and services.

It is time for those that care about a productive and engaged US-China commercial relationship to take these polls seriously and engage Americans in Main Street coffee shops and at picnic tables for backyard BBQs.

For far too long American business has overly relied on a model dependent on high-level government relationships and support from the White House and corresponding federal agencies to manage the US-China relationship.

This model to manage the US-China relationship is exhausted and broken.

US companies exported $135 billion in goods to China in 2017, and it is still the third-largest US goods export market behind Canada and Mexico, our neighbors and NAFTA partners.

Thirty states experienced at least triple-digit goods export growth to China since 2006, and four states saw growth of more than 500 percent over the same period: Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, and South Carolina. Every US state had triple-digit services export growth to China since 2006, 16 states had export growth of more than 400 percent.

At a grassroots level, it is critical to remind Americans US goods and services exported to China come from a wide range of industries. Goods such as transportation equipment, agriculture products, computers and electronics, and chemicals. These exports also sustain logistics jobs in America’s ports and warehouses throughout the country.  Also, US services exports come from the travel, education, and transportation sectors as well as professional business and financial services.

Leaders of American business needs to play a decisive role in reversing this trend and ensuring American goods and services reach the ever-expanding Chinese marketplace. Sitting on the sidelines will be too detrimental for America's economic security. 

- Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps international business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and politics.

America’s CEOs need to do more to reverse US-China trend

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If negative views of a company increased by 26 percentage points over a decade, the chief executive officer of said company would have a major problem.

In fact, that CEO would probably be asked to leave.

Sadly, when it comes to US-China relations no one seems to care, and no one has been asked to leave.

In the United States, negative views of China have increased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. And American negativity toward China has been higher than Chinese negativity toward the United States in every year since 2014.

A January 2017 Pew Research survey of Americans found that 65 percent of respondents said China is either an adversary (22 percent) or a serious problem (43 percent), while only about a third (31 percent) said China is not an issue.

And in a separate Spring 2016 survey by Pew Research, a majority (55 percent) of Americans held an unfavorable opinion of what more and more Americans see as their largest Asian rival.

This is the public affairs reality that the CEO leadership of America’s blue-chip multinational companies are facing right now.

One of their largest and most promising markets is seen domestically as the home of an adversary power that allows fertile ground for politicians supporting protectionist policies and trade halting tariffs on Capitol Hill. Actions that if successfully passed would force Beijing to respond with retaliatory trade tactics from less investment here to increased limits stifling full access to the growing Chinese consumer marketplace for American farmers and exporters.

However, in the cozy and elite world of U.S.-China commercial relations where most of the work takes place in posh hotels and big chair summits, the deterioration of the way Americans see China seems to have escaped the captains of industry. Boardrooms across the nation continue to operate as if all is smooth and satisfactory.

It is time for those that care about a productive and engaged US-China commercial relationship to take these polls seriously and engage Americans in Main Street coffee shops and at picnic tables for backyard summer BBQs.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and entrepreneurial startups, Marc helps international business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and politics.

Managing globalization to meet your business destiny

“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent
that the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
– George Orwell


Globalization has significantly changed the nature of American politics forging a new generational paradigm. 

How business proceeds in this new public affairs environment is a challenge that few are ready to engage.

The election of Donald Trump has uniquely changed the Republican Party into something entirely different than it was just two years ago. Bernie Sanders, who forced Hillary Clinton to tack left in the primaries, has done the same to the Democratic Party.  

For Election 2018 and Election 2020, American politics will see a tremendous amount of shifting and movement between the two parties as they redefine themselves and or break into four rioting parties operating as two parties.

With an endless news cycle, a continuous flow of global commerce, politicians advancing protectionist laws globally, and committed geopolitical powers looking to reset the landscape, American politics is being shaped from many directions and far beyond America's shores. Decisions made in Beijing now impact events in Brussels which in turn compels policy in Washington, DC.

The ability to manage this dynamic, globalized political environment, particularly at the intersection of business and public policy, coupled with an underlying cultural phenomenon rejecting the establishment, this new environment is more challenging for American government officials, policymakers, voters, and companies.

The pace involved in addressing political challenges has increased as well as the scale of the problems due to a globally diverse network of stakeholders. American voters have spoken and demanded a more significant share of the profits. The traditional capitalist ideal of being responsible solely to shareholders in under threat and business going forward will involve numerous stakeholders, including governments, media, bloggers, consumers, non-governmental organizations, investors, employees, and citizens. For leaders, simply put, there are a lot more people that will hold you accountable and want a say in the process.

For global business leaders to be successful going forward, they must have the dispassionate skill to understand and engage global problems, foster economic development and opportunities, and manage a globally interconnected communications marketplace all influencing and disrupting American politics like never before.

Is your business prepared to handle and understand America's next generation and rendezvous with destiny?

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and entrepreneurial startups, Marc helps international business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and politics.