Tag Archives: Financial Times

You Get What You Pay For: Broadsheet Newspaper Annihilates Circulation Records!


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Capital Flows: Beijing’s Economic Expansion Smashes All Records! #China

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All Aboard the Gravy Train: #HS2 ‘Channels Inner Fat Controller’!

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Postmodern Capital Flight: European Financial Institutions ‘Narrowing Exposure to Giant Question Mark’!

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Collateral Damage: New Credit Tsunami ‘Threatens Entire Economy’!

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Bad Vibrations: Why David Cameron Failed

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Historians will probably evaluate the contribution of David William Donald Cameron – the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 11th May 2010 to 13th July 2016 – almost solely in the light of the EU referendum. But this überpoll – which amounted to a career-ending defeat for the Witney MP – may only be a symptom of a bigger problem.

Notwithstanding Cameron’s auspicious entry into big-time politics – becoming leader of the opposition eight-and-a-half years into a Labour government headed by Tony Blair and just a little before the 2007- global financial crisis – he never managed to fulfil his potential. Cameron failed to gain an overall majority in a 2010 general election that seemed impossible for him to lose; when the 2015 election loosened the coalition shackles, he still felt insecure enough to push ahead with a referendum that was seemingly designed to shore up his own intra-party authority.

All this pronounced underperformance requires some explaining, but after some contemplation, we at Mediolana think that at least part of the reason behind it may lie in a very simple lacuna: a lack of personableness. According to a Financial Times source who is apparently a close colleague of the former Conservative icon, visiting David Cameron’s office was a basically unpleasant experience: ‘Nobody comes out of Dave’s office feeling better than when they went in.’

This matters, because it serves to highlight a key competitive advantage that organisations can harness: vibes. We live in a world where talent is mobile; moreover, in many highly-skilled sectors, structurally-unfilled vacancies are the norm. So unless (or increasingly, even if) organisations can offer a substantially higher salary to attract top talent – something which may not be financially and/or politically possible – they will have to offer something else to their (prospective) employee or contractor.

That intangible something is vibes. It goes far deeper than the oft-cited and undoubtedly important factors of first impressions and aesthetics: vibes concerns the very essence of the people and mission that constitute the corporation. It is practically impossible to fake, because it is a direct reflection of character; kindness, openness, generosity and thoughtfulness are very hard qualities to institutionalise in a mechanical fashion.

Good vibes enable buy-in and cooperation; bad vibes are scary and sinister. The latter may facilitate compliance, but it also encourages revenge. The demise of David Cameron merely exemplifies the importance of ensuring that those in your presence really, really want to be there.

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When Heroes Go Down: Tyler Brûle and the Fear of the Fictional Other

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It will be no secret to regular readers of this blog that our Creative Director & CSO was and remains a huge fan of Tyler Brûle – the editor-in-chief of what is possibly still the finest magazine in the English language, Monocle – and it was precisely because of this admiration that he was so surprised at the content of one of the iconic Canadian’s more recent Financial Times columns, On the migrant train to Munich (12th-13th September 2015), avidly caught up with over the Christmas and New Year break.

In this late summer piece, Brûle openly questions whether the people of Germany (estimated population: 81,083,600) are as enthused as certain parts of the global news media appeared to suggest by the arrival of a few hundred thousand refugees (a great proportion of whom are likely to be ultimately deported) fleeing the increasingly dystopian military conflict in Syria and Iraq. This could have been exemplary journalism – questioning a seemingly broadly-accepted narrative is rarely a Bad Thing – but then Brûle posited the following:

‘The juxtaposition of kiosks selling lederhosen adjacent to Syrian and Iraqi families boarding buses almost looked like this was part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fast-track programme to get people integrated into German life as quickly as possible. But I’m not sure Ali and Leila from Aleppo were quite ready for Oktoberfest, let alone knee-skimming deerskin shorts or dresses that magically push cleavage up under the chin. And therein lies one of the main issues that are being whispered by Germany’s middle and upper classes but which isn’t out in the open just yet: how much will a wave of largely Muslim refugees impact German society?’

It is genuinely difficult to know where to begin in analysing this excerpt. For one, Brûle’s choice of the fictional Ali and Leila’s city of origin betrays a basic lack of knowledge about Syria: Aleppo is a city which for most of its >7,000-year history has been a byword for innovation, cosmopolitanism and commerce; its denizens are certainly not known for their insularity and are unlikely to be existentially freaked out by a skirt, particularly given that ‘Eastern’ religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Taoism have traditionally embraced the erotic, notably within the context of mysticism.

But wider questions must be raised, not least about Brûle’s knowledge of contemporary German culture. Is he aware that immigrants from Southern Europe – many of them Muslims from countries such as Turkey, Albania and (ex-)Yugoslavia – are credited with making (West) Germany’s postwar economic miracle possible? Does he know that footballers from the Islamic religious community have been attending Oktoberfest with their wives and girlfriends for many years, sometimes drinking the same alcohol-free brews that constitute one of the few growth spots – 200% in the seven years to 2014 – in Germany’s declining beer industry? (Bottled water overtook beer as Germany’s most popular cold drink back in 2002.)

Perhaps most worryingly, is it not simply a little bit presumptuous to assume – purely from someone’s name, place of birth and stated (non-)religious identity, whether Christian, Atheist, Muslim or Shinto – what they think? Because if the genuinely amazingly amazing Tyler Brûle cannot grasp this point, then one of the great illusions of our strange postmodern times has been shattered: spending hundreds of days a year travelling the world on business is no guarantee against parochialism.

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