"I am glad I don't know."

Marc Ross Weekly February.png

"I am glad I don't know."

Marc Ross Weekly
March 3, 2019
Curation and commentary from 
Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

Marc Ross Weekly  = Emerging issues shaping commerce + culture


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


In a spin: Brexit spells trouble for UK vinyl industry: DW reports, for vinyl lovers the act of placing the needle on a record and anticipating the crackle before the first bars ring out is a sensory and sensual thrill. A no-deal Brexit could nip that in the (ear)bud. http://bit.ly/2ExZxiH

The importance of letting go of so-called dirty pain: Virginia Heffernan (Brigadoon Sundance 2017 Keynote Speaker) writes, annoyance is a maddeningly complex topic. We all lay claim to being annoyed so often that conversation seems to exist entirely to let us register how bugged we are. The office is too cold. Too humid. My coworker’s flip-flops slap against her soles. It’s gross. In Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us, Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman propose that an experience of annoyance implicates the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. http://bit.ly/2EsfOWr

Vivienne Ming: ‘The professional class is about to be blindsided by AI’: Ming creates algorithms that help companies select people more effectively. She has developed bots that trawl the web looking for high-tech programmers who may not even have a degree yet are doing great work. She’s also used AI to tally the “tax on being different”, calculating, for example, that in the technology sector, a Latino worker needs about six years’ more education than a white worker to be considered for the same job — something, given the cost of US tertiary education, that can amount to $500,000 or more. https://on.ft.com/2NRxQoo

Twist and shout: the Rubik’s cube: The Economist reports, there are those who can, with patience, navigate the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible orientations to solve it. Then there are the professionals. They set speed records one-handed (6.88 seconds), or blindfolded (17.33), or only with their bare feet (20.57). The overall world record stands at just 4.22 seconds.http://bit.ly/2EwzgRQ

Ambidextrous: Seth Godin opines, anthropologists have found that we’re very motivated to divide into teams, and once on a team, we’ll work hard to degrade the other team. Over the smallest differences. For the smallest possible stakes. Even when we get no other benefit than thinking that we won something. We spend a lot of time sorting people into buckets. We label them in order to treat them differently and establish expectations for how they’ll respond. Mostly to figure out which team they’re on. http://bit.ly/2EsDDh5


Brigadoon Sundance 2020: February 23-25 | Sundance, Utah

Brigadoon is organizing its eighth gathering of entrepreneurs and thought leaders at Sundance Mountain Resort next winter. 

Participants will come from around the globe to exchange insights and drive creativity as well as discuss emerging issues shaping commerce and culture.

Brigadoon Sundance 2020 is moving to a formal invite-only model, but you may apply for an invitation today. 

Invites are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apply for access here.


Commercial drones are taking off: Rescue operations, mapping or parcel delivery – there are many applications for commercial drones. Analysts at Tractica are projecting that drones and multicopters will be used at increasing rates in the professional sector. For the current year, they estimate the market volume to be 392,000 drones worth US$1.6 billion. Sales and revenue are set to multiply by 2025. North America is by far the largest market for commercial drones, followed by Asia and Europe.


Tim Cook, Golden Boot, Xi Jinping, Election 2018, World’s Wealthiest Cities

Marc Ross Weekly June.png

Tim Cook, Golden Boot, Xi Jinping, Election 2018

Marc Ross Weekly
June 24, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

Marc Ross Weekly  = Commentary + Analysis at the Intersection of Global Politics + Policy + Profits

Subscribe here


1) Who will win the Golden Boot?

2) Michael Bloomberg plans to spend over $80 million on midterms and help Democratic House candidates, will it make a difference?

3) Gallup figures show most Americans work more than 40 hours a week (the average is 47) and 18 percent work more than 60 hours, how will this trend impact upcoming American elections?


Tim Cook - Tech's top US-China diplomat

As the US-China trade war smolders, Apple is concerned it will be caught in the middle between powerful interests in Washington and Beijing.

This public affairs environment has led Tim Cook to play diplomat and moved Apple to court China ever more closely. 

Cook's efforts to play diplomat haven't gone unnoticed. Even supply chain partner Foxconn now refers to the company as "Red Apple." 

The New York Times reports, Apple’s China business has grown far more significant than anyone on either side of the Pacific could have anticipated - even the optimists in Cupertino didn't expect this level of success. With 41 stores and hundreds of millions of iPhones sold in the country, there is arguably no American company in China as successful, as high-profile, and with as big a target on its back. 
This success in China is a core part of Tim Cook’s legacy. People close to him say his deep China supply chain experience was a massive help in managing China’s bureaucratic and nationalist government.

This business success and commitment to the Chinese marketplace has propelled Apple to be the top businesses diplomat and is the leading corporate to manage the US-China commercial relationship.

Apple realizes America's government wants big tech assembly plants for employment, and China's leaders want R&D investment in innovation. 

Last month Cook visited the Oval Office to warn President Trump that tough talk on China could threaten Apple’s position in the country. In March, at a major summit meeting in Beijing, he called for “calmer heads” to prevail between the world’s two most powerful nations.

The article reports, citing a source, Trump told Cook the US government would not impose tariffs on iPhones assembled in China.

Can "Red Apple" be the key to moving the US-China commercial relationship forward?


What global business needs to know about Xi

Earlier this year, Chinese Communist Party big boss Xi Jinping broke with a 25-year tradition by unveiling a new senior leadership group that includes no clear potential heirs, ensuring he will stay in office beyond 2022 and securing a lifetime appointment.

The consolidation of power in the hands of one man is a departure from the collective leadership that guided China through decades of historical and impressive economic growth and consumer stability. Today's top leadership reveal is a return to China's cultural code of imperial command.

What does it mean for global business? 

How will he use this power? 

Does the C-Suite commit or retreat?

As always, global business and the Davos crowd hopes a stronger Xi will now be able to push through bold economic and financial reforms.

I don't see it.

Xi is beholden to China and not the shareholders of the world's Western-based blue chip companies.

Xi's new leadership enhancement does little to change the ethos that to invest and manage a business in China you need fortitude, patience, and need to think in China for China. Capital controls and other investment barriers remain, while debt soars.  

If you sell a commodity and consumer packaged good and service, all is well, and there will be continued access and success in the Middle Kingdom.

If you are a bank, a tech company, an oil exploration concern, a biotech startup, a developer of new energy vehicles, you best buckle-up. 

Your business model is seen as a challenge to where Xi wants to take China, and the Great Wall just got higher.

@carlquintanilla: Percentage of revenue from China:

* Deere: 8%
* Caterpillar: 9%
* Boeing: 11%
* Nike: 12%
* 3M: 13%
* Tiffany: 13%
* Starbucks: 15%
* McDonalds: 15%

(via @TheDomino) @CNBC @SquawkStreet


US voters split on whether tariffs are good for America

When it comes to tariffs and trade - a few campaign rules apply:

1) Where you sit is where you stand

2) Good politics rarely makes good economics

3) China, Brazil, France, Germany, Canada et al. don't have a vote in US elections

4) House elections are more parochial and micro, while Senate elections are broad-minded and macro

Earlier this week, Morning Consult reported thirty-eight percent of registered voters surveyed in the poll said tariffs on Chinese imports would help the US economy, compared to 42 percent who think they’ll hurt the economy. 

In a change of Republican ideology, Republican voters now are more likely to say the tariffs are good for the economy, with 59 percent saying they think they help the United States compared to 36 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats.

Regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, trade and tariffs will be an issue on the campaign trail in 2018 and 2020.

The battle between helping some against maximizing for all is the friction point.

Berlin and Beijing know this Amerian political struggle. No doubt teams of political scientists around the world are reading Politico, The Hill, and the Cook Report to determine where tit for tat tariffs will inflict the most pain at the ballot box for Republicans and Trump.

Jamian Ronca Spadavecchia, managing director at the consulting firm Oxbow Advisory and an adjunct professor at Middlebury College, said that the political risks for the administration are likely to be higher if US tariffs contribute to widespread inflation of consumer prices. “The strategy from the other side, whether it’s China or another country, to focus on congressional districts or agricultural products — I don’t know if that’s going to be that effective,” Spadavecchia said in an interview on Tuesday. “China is a big market, but it’s not our only market.”

Sure the tariffs provide a feel-good and sterling campaign trail talking point, but what is the end game?

It is to change business behavior and global commerce imbalances, or is politics for the sake of politics? 

“This is not about a policy,” said Mickey Kantor, the former commerce secretary and a chief trade negotiator for the Clinton administration, in a New York Times article. “This is not about asserting US leadership. It’s about the president having an impulse that if he does this, he will strengthen his base, send a signal to China, and be able to say  he’s been strong and tough.”

The expansion of tit for tat tariffs and reduced international commerce will stunt economic growth. Industries that require global supply chains and cross-border intercompany assembly will be profoundly affected, and pain could be substantial. 

Economists say the tariffs will drive up prices for American consumers purchasing products at retail stores as well as for businesses that depend on China for parts used to make other goods in the United States.

This increase in costs and losing markets is generating local headlines, but the feel-good, standing strong policy (personality) of Team Trump will keep trade and tariffs on the campaign trail in 2018 and 2020.

Plan accordingly.

Turnover in a President's senior staff after one year:

Trump: 34%
Reagan: 17%
Clinton: 11%
Obama: 9%
Bush Snr: 7%
Bush Jnr: 6%

HT: Brookings

Global Conflicts, 9 to 5, Ontario Votes

Marc Ross Weekly June.png

Global Conflicts, 9 to 5, Ontario Votes

Marc Ross Weekly
June 10, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

Marc Ross Weekly  = Commentary + Analysis at the Intersection of Global Politics + Policy + Profits

Subscribe here


1) Does UK PM Theresa May rescind Trump's invite to the UK?

2) Does Trump send Pence to attend NATO summit?

3) Do Midwest governors rebuke Trump's behavior in Canada?


Global conflict continues to rise, index shows

Deutsche Welle, reports the world has become less peaceful over the last ten years, mostly due to conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. An international index paints a dark picture, although with some brighter spots. 

Europe was the most peaceful region in the world in 2017, while the Middle East and North Africa were the least quiet, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), said in its 12th annual report published in London on Wednesday.

"There is an ongoing deterioration in global peace," Steve Killelea, head of the Australia-based IEP, told DW. "It's gradual and it's been going on for the last decade."

The conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and the spillover effects into other areas have been the primary drivers in the decline of global peace, Killelea said.

The IEP's Global Peace Index (GPI) found that in 92 nations peacefulness fell in 2017, with improvements in only 71 countries. Killelea told DW this negative trend has continued for the fourth year in a row.

According to the GPI, the Middle East and North Africa region is the least peaceful region in the world. At the bottom of the 163-state ranking are Syria, with Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq and Somalia not far ahead.


The gig is 9 to 5 and is the employment is formal

On Thursday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found less than 4 percent of workers--5.9 million persons--held contingent jobs.

Contingent jobs are as those assignments which are temporary in nature.

In addition to contingent workers, the BLS survey also identified workers who have various alternative work arrangements or what many of us refer to as gigs. 

In May 2017 the BLS data found there were 10.6 million independent contractors (less than 7 percent of total employment), 2.6 million on-call workers (1.7 percent of total employment), 1.4 million temporary help agency workers (0.9 percent of total employment), and 933,000 workers provided by contract firms (0.6 percent of total employment).

So roughly 10 percent of American workers in 2017 were employed in some form of what the government calls “alternative work arrangements." 

This broad category includes Lyft drivers, freelance designers, and people employed through temporary-help agencies — essentially anyone whose primary source of work comes outside a traditional employment relationship. 

As reported by the New York Times, this far from a boom in gig work and goes against conventional wisdom when to comes to employment.

“I think everybody’s narrative got blown up,” said Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

The largest category of alternative workers, independent contractors, are disproportionately in their mid-40s or older and familiar in sectors like construction that have not been disrupted by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They earn about as much, on average, as standard employees, and are relatively happy with their arrangements: Nearly eight in 10 say they prefer being an independent contractor to being an employee.

Outside of plumbers, roofers, and general contractors, most Americans work  9 to 5 in a formal work environment.


Think populism is slowing down? Check out how Ontario voted

Populism establishes a beachhead in Canada's most prosperous and most important province of Ontario.

To understand what will happen with American politics and upcoming elections, I find exploring elections in other Western democracies to be an essential tool.

Last Thursday night, Doug Ford was elected as the next Premier of Ontario. A new expansion of populism now confronts Canada. Think Trump lands in Ontario.

CBC's Chris Hall wrote, "Doug Ford — the bombastic, blustering and populist former Toronto city councilor — is going to be the next premier of Canada's most populous province. His victory, convincing as it was, came with an exclamation mark. He put an end to 15 straight years of Liberal rule."

Toronto Star columnist Edward Keenan echoed the same scripting "Ford era promises a rocky road ahead for all of us."

He went onto say "the next four years under Premier Doug Ford: constant reasons to wonder about the malice vs. incompetence debate, with a loud portion of Ford’s supporters hoping and cheering for the former option. And many of the rest of us hoping instead for the latter, because perhaps if a problem is caused by incompetence, there is some hope it will be fixed, as those who caused it realize their mistake or grow more competent and capable."

@Richard_Florida tweeted: Ontario went from being a pro-urban province/ state like California or New York to joining the ranks of anti-urban Red states ... 

I don't see the expansion of populism around Great Lakes stopping any time. Until CEOs of multinational corporations, Governors, and Mayors show leadership and engage voters in the Midwest on the value of globalization, this will be the result at the ballot box.

Endless outrage by the coastal elites will do little to change election outcomes.

Cross the Hudson and be in Cleveland.

Cross the Potomac and be in Detroit.

This is the three-part question facing US voters in 2018 and 2020: Do we protect the jobs of the past or invest in the jobs of the future? Do we subsidize the grey hairs or invest in today's 8th graders? Do we want to be part of a global world or not?

Voters today want protection, subsidies, and unilateralism.

Plan accordingly.