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 is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in thought leader strategy and idea amplification for senior executives working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics

Thought leadership: Introverts wanted

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Thought leadership: Introverts wanted

Here's the big idea = Going forward, thought leadership and idea amplification is the process to shape globalization, disruption, and politics.

From my experience, most people over-index on tactics and vanity metrics and fail on strategy and organization.

From my experience, not engaging, not sharing, and not playing doesn't make the difference.

If you want to start a business, win a campaign, or change a culture, you can't do it from the sidelines.

Like the lottery, you got to be in it to win it.

Just this week, rising Democrat star and potential national candidate Stacey Abrams on The View told the audience, "I am an introvert. I don't like public stuff."

Imagine that.

An introvert.

A leader who has served as Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, was her party's nominee in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, and in February 2019, became the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address.

Imagine that.

An introvert.

Abrams went on to tell the audience she is self-aware, recognizes the fear, and take steps to "hack opportunity."

She closed powerfully by saying, "In politics, they will never elect you if they never hear from you. You can't secretly run for president, or governor, or school board."

A good reminder from even one of the most talented politicians amongst us.

You got to be in it to win it.

- Marc

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

It's important because it's getting the most attention....

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So 13 EU nations are supporting China's BRI, Britain can't sort out how to Brexit, and America is consumed with a scam where two C-list celebrities rigged the system to get their progeny into elite universities.

Seems right.

Currently, the US is all about personality trumping policy.

However, as a news story, this is Shakespearean.

This news demands we pay attention - it is simply hired-wired into the lizard brain cultural foundation of America.

It's no wonder the Feds led with Hollywood stars cheating the system and finding more support for children already given amazing support - this is the ultimate narrative and captures attention from the start.

For entrepreneurs and Hollywood stars who deal with sharks daily, the emotional ups and downs of performing, working, and living at the highest levels of America, they wanted a guaranteed process, they were taking no chances.

The pressure to buy academics and credentials in America is real. The idea that being in the right network and around the right alumni is reinforced daily in America.

So they turned to a college entrance professional with a secret sauce and “side door” process to help kids of the wealthy and powerful and connected into highly sought after universities.

This story will be with us for some time. This story is the ultimate narrative and will foster memes, pods, books, movies, and plays.

The charges will shake the high echelons of American academia.

Politicians on the campaign trail will weave this story into their campaign speeches reinforcing us vs. them and reminding voters of the advantages the ultra-rich enjoy in accessing the country’s best colleges.

Students will continue to feel intense competition where merit alone may not be enough to assure admission, even for students with perfect grade-point averages and stellar resumes, to the most sought after schools.

It's a heck of a story, but possibly not the most important story this week.

Your lizard brain is a heck of a news editor.

-- Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader strategy and management for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics. He is the founder of Brigadoon (thebrigadoon.com) and Caracal Global (caracal.global).

Thought leader mindset - a quick fifteen

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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.

Not knowing is powerful

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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.

-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.

Ross Rant: Think populism is slowing down? Check out how Ontario voted

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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.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

10 Trends Shaping Commerce + Culture

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1. Can we meet? Americans schedule approximately 25 million meetings per day. Apps and AI that reduce the friction of finding times and places to meet will be a winner.

2. Opioids: More than 200,000 people in the US have died from overdoses involving prescription opioids over the past two decades. Drugs that can't be crushed and snorted plus reduce pain will be a winner.

3. Drinking: People in their 20s and 30s are drinking less alcohol. One in 5 millennials doesn’t drink, and 66% say that alcohol isn’t important to their social lives, according to a survey by Demos. Companies that provide beverages that also have health benefits will be a winner.

4. No phone vaca: According to a survey of 2,000 US travelers from Asurion, a mobile device insurance company, and OnePoll, a UK-based marketing research company. More than 20 percent of respondents said they checked their smartphones once per hour during their most recent vacations while about 14 percent said they checked it twice per hour. Activities and holidays that require full attention and participation will be a winner.

5. Sensible shoes: Women's sneakers sales increased by 37 percent last year, while high heels fell 11 percent. Clothes that are flexible, less rigid, and provide performance benefits will be a winner.

6. Voice is the new thumbprint: Interpol is considering using software that identifies criminals using audio. Apps and AI that provide access to information as simple as a voice command will be a winner.

7. Better, stronger, faster: Adding a bionic vest to a work uniform will augment human abilities. Performace clothing that takes the strain off the arms and backs of people working on tasks that require specialized attention and repetitive actions will be a winner.

8. The plastic straw is losing status: California, New York City, and the EU are all looking to outlaw plastic straws. Restaurants and cafes replacing straws with paper, metal or providing no straw at all will be a winner.

9. Having your smartphone nearby takes a toll on your thinking: Recent research investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence cognitive abilities. In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity. The results were striking: individuals who completed these tasks while their phones were in another room performed the best, followed by those who left their phones in their pockets. In the last place were those whose phones were on their desks. Activities and business meetings that are smartphone free will be a winner.

10. The AI arms race: Algorithms trained on mountains of Chinese data may soon be making decisions that profoundly affect the lives of people in the US. The world's wealthiest companies are powerhouse data collectors and data users. Companies that capture the full value of their data will be a winner.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Does a Coach or CEO matter?

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When it comes to management, the answer is an unequivocal no.

Soccernomics, the beautiful book written by Financial Times Columnist Simon Kuper and University of Michigan Professor Stefan Szymanski, makes the convincing case that "it turns out that coaches and managers simply don't make that much difference."

When studying years of soccer matches, the authors conclude that "the vast bulk of managers appear to have almost no impact on their teams' performance and do not last very long in the job. They seem to add so little value that is tempting to think they could be replaced by their secretaries, or the chairman, or by stuffed teddy bears, without the club's league position changing. The importance of managers is vastly overestimated."

How can this be?

As a culture, we laud coaches and CEOs for their superior management skills. Give them deity-worth reverence. Put them on the covers of magazines, see them interviewed on television repeatedly, and even some nations elect them to the top government job. 

The Great Man Theory of History happening in real-time.

What really matters are the players and the employees. The market makes this clear.

Johan Cruyff, the famous Dutch international soccer player who went on coach FC Barcelona to four straight La Liga titles and a Champions League title, said simply, "If your players are better than your opponent, 90 percent of the time you will win."

Those that can perform a specific task repeatedly, with few flaws and consistent enthusiasm are treasured and well compensated by the market. Often there is a shortage of the best talent, and there is massive competition to secure their services. 

You see, soccer teams have perfect market information on thousands of players. It is clear who on the pitch can play and who can't. Either you can play soccer, or you can't play soccer. Either you can perform the task at hand, or you can't.

Soccer players more or less get the job they deserve.

However, when it comes to coaching this is not the case. The market for managers does not work well. Many of the best managers rarely get proper attention while numerous managers who add no real positive value continue to get promoted to better-paying jobs.

You see this off the pitch as well.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from MyLogIQ LLC and Institutional Shareholder Services, among S&P 500 CEOs who got raises last year, the 10% who received the most significant pay increases scored—as a group—in the middle of the pack in terms of total shareholder return.

Similarly, the 10% of companies posting the best total returns to shareholders scored in the middle of the pack in terms of CEO pay, the data show.

Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Herman Aguinis, a professor of management at George Washington University School of Business, reinforces this point, “Stars are often underpaid, while average performers are often overpaid.” 

The disparity between CEO compensation and performance appears to persist over more extended periods as well. Professor Aguinis analyzed the earnings of more than 4,000 CEOs over the course of their tenures against several performance metrics and found virtually no overlap between the top 1% of CEOs in terms of performance and the top 1% of highest earners. Among the top 10% of performers, only a fifth were in the top 10% in terms of pay.

On and off the field more coaches and CEOs are more sun god and head of public relations, less visionary executive. 

The forte of best-paid coaches and CEOs is often not winning matches or generating more revenue, something frankly they have little control over, but keeping all the various constituencies united behind them. Hence why as a culture we frequently prize charisma over competence.

Chris Tomlinson, a business columnist for the Houston Chronicle, penned recently, "There is also no shortage of CEO candidates and little competition for them. Few companies need CEOs with unique skills, and boards tend to buy charisma rather than skills anyway. The general economy and market forces within an industrial sector are far more accurate predictors of a company’s performance, regardless of how much the CEO earns."

All of that being said, I do think thought leadership and vision matter immensely, regardless of how it pays.

Leadership is different from management, but that's for a separate post.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.