Plannerben’s Foreign Policy

Last fall, John Chipman, the director-general and chief executive of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, advanced the notion that in our globalized world, “every company needs a foreign policy.”

The New York Times, 31 January 2017

I can’t say that as the owner of a very small business–as small as you can get before you cease to exist–that I’d ever considered the need to have a foreign policy before.  However, executive orders issued by our nation’s President have inspired me to think about the global nature of my business and to respond accordingly.

If it seems ludicrous that a consultant should have a foreign policy, consider this: most of my clients are multi-national and global companies.  Over the past 27 months, I’ve worked with one ad agency that’s part of a Paris-based holding company and another agency based in London.  Those agencies’ clients, in turn, include a global bank accused of bribery in China and a UK-based company with businesses across the globe.  I helped a mid-sized US agency pitch a bank holding company based in Japan.  I’ve even worked for two companies based in that most foreign of locales, New Jersey.

So, while I don’t jet-set around the globe, I do recognize that my work depends in a large part on working with people from anywhere and everywhere.  These people include foreign nationals, naturalized Americans, undocumented residents and people with countless political and religious beliefs not to mention gender identities and sexual preferences.  I can’t count ’em because it’s none of my damn business so I don’t keep a record.

As such, I commit Plannerben | Anecdata to support and work with people and companies in any nation as long as they believe that our differences are strengths and not weaknesses.  I will work with people of any political stripe, with any belief system as long as they recognize that what connects us as humans outweighs what separates us.

I strongly reject President Trump’s attempt to wall off America from the world.

Like my daughter, I support international diplomacy

I recognize that I’m not Apple.  I’m not Hard Rock Hotels for that matter.  And it’s not like Kim Jong Un is burning up the phone lines trying to hire me.  I do not anticipate any substantial negative or positive reactions to our policy.  However, I accept John Chipman’s challenge above as an opportunity to think about my business and how I conduct it.  Even in New Jersey.

Absolutely, Ridiculously, Gratuitously Off-Topic

I’m just going to dive right into this one: I’ve thought more than any sane person should about what car I’d want to drive in a post-apocalyptic world.

I can’t help it.  My condition stems from the double whammy of a 1980s adolescence replete with nuclear hysteria (Mad Max, The Day After, Ronald Reagan) and an incurable itch to own a cool extra car.  If I could monetize wasting time on eBay Motors looking at old junkers, I’d scoff at the people who won a billion in Powerball.

Of course, not all apocalypses are created equal.  Oh, no.  Of course not!  If you had planned for an environmental catastrophe and found instead that you had awoken to a zombie outbreak, you wouldn’t be caught dead, so to speak, in a vehicle that could cross lakes but couldn’t mow down a passel of the formerly living.

So let’s dive right in.

Scenario: Unspecified chemical catastrophe blotting out the sun and denuding the Earth of all living things

As seen in: The Road

Preferred vehicle: VW Beetle (type 1) Continue reading

Yogi Berra, my Personal Ancient Greek Tutor

I’m going off-topic today (well, not very off-topic considering how frequently I write about baseball).  I couldn’t let the passing of Yogi Berra go by without discussing how he helped me make it through my ancient Greek minor in college.

The scene begins 2500 years ago, when Herodotus wrote his history of the wars between Persia and the Greeks.

IMG_20150923_140745

My 28-year-old copy of a 2500-year-old book

 As the first widely-published Western writer of history, Herodotus earned himself the honorific “Father of History.”  However, his approach to truth did not always stop at the credible.  For instance, he claimed that Ukraine was full of werewolves and that Egyptian women pee standing up.  Of course, he wasn’t an idiot, either.  He often used language to indicate that he had heard a particular tale but that he neither endorsed nor gainsaid it.

In a Greek class I took as part of my minor, I wrote a paper about one of his his most famous apocryphal tales, a dinner between Croesus (the “rich as Croesus” Croesus) and Solon, the author of Athens’s first legal code.  Croesus, you may recall, held the world record for most poorly-interpreted military intelligence until George Bush came along.  An oracle told Croesus that if he crossed the River Halys, a great empire would be destroyed.  Unfortunately, the oracle meant Croesus’s Lydia, not the Persian Empire across the river.

Before the disastrous invasion, the emperor and lawgiver enjoyed a chatty meal.  Croesus asked Solon what made people happy.  Solon famously answered “call no man happy until he be dead.”  At first, this reply sounds incredibly gloomy.  However, Solon went on to explain that people who had ordinary lives but who somehow sacrificed themselves for a higher purpose achieved the highest level of happiness.

In my paper, I made sure to note this nuanced meaning of Solon’s assertion.  To hammer the point home, I employed the greatest footnote of my academic career:

c.f. Berra, Lawrence Peter (Yogi): “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Thank you, Yogi, for helping me achieve what modest academic success that I did.  Should you meet Herodotus in the afterlife, I hope Red Smith is on hand to record the conversation.