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Global Business Corruption: Biggest Impediment to Sustainable Living

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2008 at 4:31 am

Corruption is not only the biggest obstacle to development and economic growth, but also a major risk to companies as recent stories have demonstrated. Many corporate leaders today have assumed responsibility and implemented effective programmes to address the issue within their own context and in collaboration with others. The joint publication of the four major global anti-corruption initiatives working with the private sector to effectively address the issue provides a “first-of its” kind summary on why companies must take a stance, and how they can do so.

This is an important and timely piece, because the implications are far reaching.  For example, in the United States, despite our laws, corruption tends to preclude young upstarts from winning government contracts because qualified firms often do not know the “right” people.  This is problematic because often times the firms winning are in fact unqualified and/or do not have the capacity to delivery.  This Global Business Corruption report, which is the first of it’s kind provides a helpful and relevant blue print for U.S. companies and government officials to review. 

Here is what honest, hard working business people are up against:

  • Estimates show that the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global GDP (US $2.6 trillion), with
    over US $1 trillion paid in bribes each year.
  • Corruption adds up to 10% to the total cost of doing business globally, and up to 25% to the cost of
    procurement contracts in developing countries.
  • Moving business from a country with a low level of corruption to a country with medium or high levels of corruption is found to be equivalent to a 20% tax on foreign business.

This is often what happens to small business owners in the United States because so-called community leaders want a cut of your deal or in the case of national figures like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, it is called the “shake down“.  So, while the global business corruption report is out, it would be interesting to calculate the impact and ultimate damage to business owners who have to pay for “access”.  This is why it is important to keep special interest money. 

Achieving Peace, Ending Hunger, Eliminate War

In Africa, mindset 3.0 on June 13, 2008 at 8:25 pm

How could we achieve piece in Iraq? Or end extreme hunger in African countries and here in the United States or eliminate war in Darfur? I was reminded of this during a phone call with my buddy Ralph. We both play golf together and enjoy each other’s company especially when he wins. I realized that if these global, geo-political problems are to be addressed there must be a truly common objective that both parties want badly.

Ralph could not make the early tee-time for this Saturday because something came up; however, he and I wanted desperately to play each other especially since he won last time and I was eager to redeem myself, especially since I give him 8 strokes. So, when he told me he could not make it, I adjusted the time to meet his schedule and realized that while it is the hottest time of day, we both compromised and the change was made. We were both ecstatic to know we would be having a rematch on tomorrow.

After the change was made, I said to Ralph, “why is it so hard to end the war in Iraq”. Of course, my buddy had a few choice words, but the real reason is that if we wanted to end the so-called war badly enough we could. This is the attitude and optimism Senator Obama brings and what people should focus on rather than recalcitrant thinking of staying the course. Just imagine if I said to Ralph: “I don’t want to play at 1:00, it’s too hot and I would prefer to keep our time at 10:00”. The whole dialogue would have been about ME, and it was about achieving an outcome that was beneficial to both and something we could feel good about, since I plan on beating him soundly tomorrow.

Would Senator McCain’s stance be any different in dealing with the Sunnis or Iran or North Korea? As basic as this might sound it is achievable if we open our minds to new thinking. Some might say this is naive, but when you really understand what are the motives and desires and you get the truth on the table we could achieve peace, end hunger and stop unnecessary violence.

Have a terrific weekend to my faithful readers!

Small is the New Big in Politics…

In economy, mindset 3.0, politicians on June 7, 2008 at 4:55 am

Clinton Donor Base Need Not Apply.

The country witnessed history Tuesday evening, with Senator Barack Obama winning the nomination to represent the Democrat’s in the fall.  It is obvious why this is such an historic moment.  But I want to take a short detour to highlight three articles written in the New York Times June 4, 2008 that are seemingly unrelated on the surface but how they support the small-donor approach of Obama to fundraising as opposed to the large donor route that Senator Clinton seems to favor.

The first article Start-Up Releases Smaller Version of Camcorder describes their new product called Mino that will sell for $179.  The Mino is a pocket size camcorder that is the first cousin of the Flip and Flip Ultra developed by Pure Digital.  I have the Ultra and use it all the time.   What is striking is the strategy behind the company’s products.  Small, simple to use with minimal features.  The result is an experience for a consumer that is easy to use, fun and the ability to share videos quickly across the Internet.

The second piece, G.M. Shifts Focus to Small Cars in Sign of Sport Utility Demise is about GM’s shuttering plants to shift to building smaller cars.  At first, my response was duh?  That’s a no-brainer with gas at $4 dollars a gallon.  Then I thought to myself, smaller cars, fuel-efficiency, less expensive.  GM’s CEO, Robert Waggoner “ said $4-a-gallon gas prices had forced a “structural shift” by American consumers away from large vehicles into more fuel-efficient cars”.  You think?

And finally, the article entitled, Clinton Donor Base Is Obama’s Next Prize describes how Obama may involve the big money fund-raising machine for which the Clinton campaign is famous.  Most notable for me is, if the existing base of donors gives an average of $200 the Obama campaign will have over $300 million dollars for the general election sans the Clinton donor base.  The small donors are the defacto reason why Senator Obama’s ascendency as the Presidential nominee is so extraordinary, and well, so special for all Americans.  While Clinton donors boast their deep, and well endowed wallets, it is virtually impossible to build the kind of support and “active donor base” established by the Obama campaign— 1.5 million strong and growing.  If these hard-working women and men, were supplemented with a bevy of 300-400 heavy hitters as the article suggests, this could well take an incorrigible turn against Obama’s bid for President in the fall.

See the theme here?  Small.  Yes, small is having a huge impact on how we live, drive, capture memories, listen to music, earn a living, and of course raise money in Presidential campaigns.  What’s important to keep in mind is how successful companies that keep it simple and small are thriving.  Apple’s iPod for example.  The Flip Ultra camcorder and of course we can’t’ forget the Toyota Prius and its legendary 40 plus MPGs of fuel economy compared to 13 MPGs for your average SUV.

So, the strategic question for Obama, and his campaign strategist David Axelrod is this: Should we continue the small donor strategy through the general election and forego the Hillary Clinton donor network?

If you believe in the success of Small, which sure seems to be working, not to mention GM’s shift in strategy to building smaller, more fuel efficient cars, then sticking with small just might be the way to go.  If you apply this thinking to the large donor approach, how much does it take to “feed” the large donors in terms of expectation?   It’s all about “their” collective egos and what “they” want?  As Eckhart Tolle writes in his book, A New Earth, “Recognize the ego for what it is: a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind.”

What would they want in return to feed this massive collective ego?  By contrast, small donors simply want a government that works, and does what politicians say they will do.  Small donors have no need to feed their ego, they are more concerned with feeding their families.  This is the conundrum for the Obama campaign?  The leadership of Pure Digital adamantly stays away from “feature creep” to give consumers what they want—a camcorder that fits in their vest pocket and works with the push of one button.  Again, small is good!

So, here’s what we have: big SUVs, hefty $800 camcorders, and large donors with the ability to write six-figure checks.  All are hard to work with, require lots of resources, have high expectations and simply consume more energy and thought that could be used for more prudent pursuits.

Senator Obama has shown that if you have a good story to tell and you stick to your principles, people will vote for you.  I would be willing to bet that Republicans and the big money Clinton fund raising network prefer fuel-efficient, smaller cars, easy to use camcorders that don’t cost much and they would love to have the machine that is Obama’s small donor network all giving in unison on average $200 dollars a pop for the general election.  So, here’s the deal.  The Obama campaign generates $300 million dollars for this fall and Mr. Obama “lives” the message that Senator McCain continues to promote by doing away with special interest money.  Therefore, Small equals winning products to stimulate the economy built by U.S. companies.  And, just as important as this moment in history, small donor amounts equal big things for the American people in November.   Now, that is a fund raising strategy we can all believe in.

World Economic Forum in Africa 2008 – Cast Your Vote Now

In Africa, Environment, Human Condition and Treatment, Third World Business on May 29, 2008 at 4:16 am

If you have a point of view or perspective on what is imporant for Africa’s future or what should be the focus, cast your vote on this exciting interactive feature.  More on this later… but cast your vote.

U.S. Education in a Global World is Not Adequate

In mindset 3.0, research, social networking on May 27, 2008 at 10:17 pm

For those of you who have ADD (can’t view anything longer than 2 minutes), this 8 minute video is arguably one of the most important points of view to illustrate why our global interactions and negotiations with our foreign neighbors is failing.  I work with clients and organizations that face the challenges described in the video with fact-based support, yet, the unwillingness to advance and move forward is crippling and thus contributes to the unpreparedness of young people to compete successfully. 

This video puts into perspective why our unemployment rate in the United States continues to increase; our young people are simply unprepared en masse to deliver to the world and be what we need for them to be in the year 2028.  Affirmative action will no longer be needed in 2028.

Gas Prices May Reach $5.00 per Gallon Sooner than We Think

In economy, marketing, mindset 3.0 on May 22, 2008 at 7:57 pm

The high cost of gas is likely to be a topic of discussion unless you ride a bike, been living in the “Enchanted Forest” or you earn over $1 million dollars per year. So, it’s safe to assume, this post is relevant to 95% of the people who may stumble across this blog. Because of the gas prices, I am looking for a new car or rather a more fuel efficient automobile. During my research, I came across the list you see below. If you live in Detroit, there should be good reason to worry.

And if you trade stocks, sell the US auto stocks short. This list is useful if you want to begin the search for a way to save gas. I didn’t stop there, I went a bit further and polled a few people on how much it costs to operate their automobile for a month.

You ready? People are paying between $550 and $800 per month for gas. So, assuming the average American car payment is $400 per month, the total cost is between $950 and $1,200 per month. Let’s take this a step further, what if you are married and have TWO car payments? You would approach $2,400 per month for the privilege of paying yourself to drive to work, sit in traffic and listen to the radio. If the Detroit automakers were playing Texas Hold’em Poker, and the Japanese said, “all-in” and Detroit “called”, they (Detroit automakers) would be wiped out.  Can you say: “government bail-out” again.

On the serious side of this discussion, is we are close to this scenario now. Just imagine the ripple effect? Nobody will purchase large SUVs and trucks. Thousand of Jobs will be lost. Bankruptcy for both GM and Ford. Government bail-out. And now gas is $6.00 per gallon and the special interest groups continue to lobby against more fuel efficient automobiles and commerce slows to a crawl. Can you say “Depression“?


Pain-Bodies in Action for Former Olympian Tim Montgomery

In mindset 3.0, narcissism, vanity on May 16, 2008 at 10:16 pm

I was terribly disappointed and saddened to read the news about Tim Montgomery’s recent sentencing to 46 months in jail. As I read this today, I could not help but think about the “pain-bodies” he is likely experiencing and “ego” associated behaviors that propelled him to criminal activity. The “pain-body” and being in the Present and how these concepts are explained by Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, highlights just how much pain our society experiences each day.

Both Montgomery and his former wife Marion Jones had it all in the eyes of most people. Olympic fame, money, endorsements and it is all now gone. Literally. In the book, Tolle describes how people carry a large amount of unnecessary baggage, both mental and emotional and throughout their lives. They limit themselves through grievance, regret, hostility, guilt. As Tolle further states, “Their emotional thinking has become their self, and so they hang on to the old emotion because it strengthens their identity.” In the case of Montgomery and Jones you can see that their identity and who they thought they were or rather, who they think they are is about financial resources and celebrity.

This is an important point, because it highlights the negativity in this world and how the so-called affluent struggle more than the poor. Quoting from the book: “Unhappiness or negativity is a disease on our planet. It is everywhere, not just in places where people don’t have enough, but even more so where they have more than enough. Is that suprising? No. The affluent world is even more deeply identified with form (possessions), more lost in content (things, feelings, perceptions) more trapped in ego.” Page 213

People are dependent on things, seven cars is not enough for the hip hop musician or rock star who has made it big financially. Yet, they struggle in their lives with drugs, self-identify, depression and they have more than enough.

What would a young person from a developing country think about these shenanigans if he had the material wealth of Montgomery and Jones. The deeper purpose that the affluent and super wealthy can gain from this is that all situations are fleeting because things change. Remember the rapper Easy-E who dies of AIDS? On top of the world one minute and sadly dying of a sexually transmitted disease the next. This is important because people of color especially are stuck in a way of thinking and behaving that is so fundamentally wrong that the pursuits of “bling” and “getting paid” will NOT advance their family and their community, ultimately.

Mr. Montgomery pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the bank fraud and money laundering plot. Prosecutors said he had a hand in depositing bogus checks worth $1.7 million. “I’ve had everything I ever wanted in life. I’ve stood on the top of the mountain,” Montgomery told the court. But now, “the gold medal, all those people cheering, that was part of another world. … In jail, my status is gone.”

The things Montgomery cited are the problem. Those things are not who he is. In his “mind” this is probably so and I am sure he will miss the niceties he has enjoyed.  So for the next 46 months, he should figure out who he is and who he is not and I will guarantee that he will be the type of person his children and family can be proud of sans the cheers and the gold. This is his opportunity to do something special and make himself proud.

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008May16/0,4670,TrackStarFraud,00.html

Eating Mud for Nourishment: In Our Backyard and Doing Nothing

In Human Condition and Treatment on April 17, 2008 at 10:59 pm

In Haiti, where three-quarters of the population earns less than $2 a day and one in five children is chronically malnourished, the one business booming amid all the gloom is the selling of patties made of mud, oil and sugar, typically only consumed by the most destitute.

“It’s salty and it has butter, and you don’t know you’re eating dirt,” said Olwich Louis Jeune, 24, who has taken to eating them more often in recent months. “It makes your stomach quiet down.” This is an excerpt from today’s International Herald Tribune. Click here to read full article.

I am guessing that most people who will read this post likely missed this article. For me, it was the poignant illustration to see what people will do to survive. Then I ask myself, why? Why does a 24 year old have to resort to eating “mud” literally.

Of course, problems exist on our home turf, but many have relatives from Haiti experiencing this madness and waste. Yet, we don’t hear much about it. What is compelling and interesting is that similar challenges are brewing right here at home in the United States. For example, real wages have not increased in over 10 years. Gasoline is now over $3.35 per gallon for regular unleaded. Food prices continue to increase. Student financial aid is in peril. Job loss continues to accelerate across all industries and regions of the country. Home foreclosures and the home mortgage fiasco remains to be a bitter reminder of economic greed, or our corporate titans who in many respects walk away in shame much like Robert Mugabi or Aristide and other dictators who are exiled only to retire in luxury and ultimately forgotton in short order.

Yet, the damage is done to be sure. So, when we think about that next 65 inch plasma “we think we must have”, or a fancy trip to Hawaii or a sale at the outlet mall, please stop and think and instead purchase a 42 inch if you must at all. Visit our national parks or Bandon Dunes Oregon if you must travel or get those pants altered for $10 dollars instead of buying four new pair for $50 dollars each, only to pay $12 additional dollars or more to get them altered, all in the name of a good deal.

Then donate the savings to a worthy cause, share your time or send money to a relative who really needs it. It is now time to THINK.

TED | Talks | Bill Strickland: Rebuilding America, one slide show at a time (video)

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Something for the weekend! Inspiration, exciting, motivating, powerful and something to make you think about what we can do and how we can help others who may not be as fortunate. Have a great weekend!

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.ted.com posted with vodpod

Poor People Have Poor Ways: Poverty Czar is NOT Answer

In Human Condition and Treatment, mindset 3.0, poverty, social networking, Uncategorized on April 4, 2008 at 8:12 pm

What is poverty? According to American Heritage Dictionary, it is “The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.” Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton spoke today about creating a cabinet level position in which the primary purpose would be to end poverty in the United States. Mrs. Clinton gave her support to an idea long advocated by the King family, a cabinet position that she said would be “solely and fully devoted to ending poverty as we know it, that will focus the attention of our nation on this issue and never let it go.”

I am not so sure that a cabinet level position would fundamentally change the condition of people who experience poverty and those that experience extreme poverty in this country. Let’s look at some facts and recent illustrations of what I refer to as “poor people having poor ways” which underscores the mindset and behavior of people who tend to experience poverty.

Currently roughly 12% of the U.S. population fall below the federal poverty threshold. There is however some controversy regarding the federal poverty line, arguing that it either understates or overstates the problem of poverty. According to the United Nations, which defines poverty among high-income OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ) countries as those earning less than 50% of the median, 17% of Americans lived in poverty between 1999 and 2002, the second highest percentage of any high-income OECD country.

human_poverty.png
Human Poverty

Poverty is not just a financial state. Being poor affects life in many ways. The human poverty index uses indicators that capture non-financial elements of poverty, such as life expectancy, adult literacy, water quality, and children that are underweight. The 30 territories of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development use a different index which includes income and long-term unemployment; and not water quality or underweight children. This implies that the poor in richer territories are materially better off. This is clearly not the case. Otherwise, we would not need to create a cabinet post for a poverty czar.

Nearly half the African-Americans in a recent study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study — human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite. Further, the United States still has the highest rates of teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion in the fully industrialized world.

We could cite many more illustrations to be fair. But not until we change our mental models about how we view people, getting away from being judgmental, helping others without compensation and doing so unconditionally is the way out of poverty. What I am afraid of is that some national figure will get nominated who is well connected, Congress would deliberate and ultimately approve the nominee, then a bunch of high-priced consultants who know little about poverty will be hired and create a national report on poverty with recommendations. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This issue has to be taken to the streets like presidential candidate Barack Obama has done. Use of social networking in a vigorous and relentless way. Providing tools like PCs (not old machines), for educational attainment, free high-speed Internet access, communicating with people via text messaging to remind of certain events and activities, creating “Meetups” weekly that engage, involve and excite people to change their mindset and their behaviors. Instead of going to the club, pool together talents of parents to conduct tutoring sessions. For example, if one parent is a math whiz, one is an english prodigy, and the like, have sessions in the home where it is safe and compelling to learn sans the television and side conversations. This the framework for the poverty czar to get things done because there are 196,000 search results for “poverty in america” so the work is already done. It is now time to execute much like what Obama has done to change the collective minds of people across America. It’s time for a different pace of action with fresh faces and relevant ideas and the willingness to change course.

 

 

 

More Than 1,000 in Iraq’s Forces Quit Basra Fight – Dr. King Could Save the Iraqi People

In George Bush, iraq, Iraq War on April 4, 2008 at 5:24 pm

In a time of financial crisis globally, public perception about the war in Iraq, here is a harsh reality that we should consider carefully. More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen either refused to fight or simply abandoned their posts during the inconclusive assault against Shiite militias in Basra last week, a senior Iraqi government official said Thursday. Iraqi military officials said the group included dozens of officers, including at least two senior field commanders in the battle.

My take on this has more to do with basic fear, anxiety and the future security of men who want to be with their families. In many respects, this reminds me of my suburban dad-friends taking up arms to go fight a war we know nothing about, not trained and completely under prepared. As my wife likes to say, the first kids to die in Iraq are the gung-ho suburban kids who tend to romanticize about what they will do in Iraq. Sadly, these suburban kids, typically from conservative backgrounds are the first young people to get killed.

So, does this manic war make YOU feel safer?I was asked this [do you feel safer] in an aggressive, violent tone of someone about a year and half ago? And my answer, I never felt in danger. When these young Iraqi husbands and sons abandoned their posts, I was not impacted in suburbia, the crime rate in the inner-city of Philadelphia did not go down. No! But, this further adds support for the notion of remaining in Iraq for even longer periods of time since the behaviors shown reflect the lack of confidence in obtaining victory–whatever that means?The desertions in the heat of a major battle cast fresh doubt on the effectiveness of the American-trained Iraqi security forces. The White House has conditioned further withdrawals of American troops on the readiness of the Iraqi military and police.

So what’s the White House to do? Will another surge help? The hearts, minds and the “will” of the Iraqi people is what is at stake here. If the collective will is to “run” and “quit” then what can the American troops and allies really do to stabilize the situation long-term? Real diplomacy is the answer in part and the current administration has not been as willing to try this in an earnest way. The Rambo tactics and shoot’em up policies do not reflect what we need here in the US, but rather an imperialist approach to protecting geo-political, economic interests.

On this day of memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, I got to thinking, who in Iraq has captured the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people? Of the more than 1.000 forces quitting it is clear that nobody has crafted a compelling enough message for which people are willing to sacrifice as did the men and women in the 1960s. So, does John Mcain have the answer? The Bush administration? Stay tuned. More Than 1,000 in Iraq’s Forces Quit Basra Fight – New York Times

Weighing the high cost of cancer care

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2008 at 4:55 am
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Take a moment to look at these pictures.  Now, ask yourself, does the woman on the left have the right to live a healthy life for medical treatment if she is unable to afford it?  Now, ask yourself the same question of the young boy receiving antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV from becoming full blown AIDS and ending his life before the age of 6?

The woman on the left is well-insured, but had to scramble to find the money to cover the high cost of her anti-cancer pills when her coverage was changed. Should she choose between personal financial ruin and homelessness potentially to cover the cost of paying for the medicine she needs?  Should the government intervene?  What would the Republicans think of this woman’s life?  Should living be the right of the few people in the United States or countries who are wealthy enough to afford to continue living rather than being a “burden” on the so-called system?

The young boy on the right has no say in the quality of his life because he was dealt a “bad” hand from birth.  His opportunities are limited because of the environmental and geo-political aspects of the region in Africa where he lives.  These pictures are worlds apart but both people face the same challenges, the same worries and concerns each day.  Their lives, to be sure, are both worth just as much to their families and to the world. 

Drug prices are a growing issue for every disease, especially for people who are uninsured. But cancer sticker shock is hitting hard now, as a list of more advanced biotech drugs have made treatment rounds costing $100,000, or even more, no longer a rarity. Also, patients are living longer, good news but meaning they need treatment for longer periods.

How would the Democrats attack this issue regarding healthcare?  How would the presumptive nominee of the Republican party who has experienced a personal battle with cancer address this pressing concern?  This is what the election should be about as well as other important issues.

Weighing the high cost of cancer care – Cancer- msnbc.com