The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Selective Intelligence.
March 15, 2011, 6:19 am
Filed under: Comment

Not that long ago, I was in a meeting with an American client who was taking exception to my pro-China views on business.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things that annoy and frustrate me – however by the same token, I have great respect for the ability to get things done both interms of deviousness and effectiveness.

Anyway, mid-way through our chat, he said:

“Remember China is only the 2nd largest economy in the World, the US is still #1”.

To be honest, I was quite taken aback at just how aggressive he was being so to add some petrol to the flames, I replied:

“Given China currently owns 1.7 trillion dollars of US debt, I would argue they are already bigger than your nation”.

I won’t go into what happened next, but suffice to say is involved a bit of silence, a bit of swearing and a very forlorn look – and not from me.

The purpose of this post is not to show I’m a bastard, but that we often say/discuss/believe things that come from only one perspective of reality … so if we want to be able to actually change behaviour or opinion, we need to make sure we understand more than just the areas we feel comfortable in, but the areas that our audience base their ‘truth’ on.

Remember it’s not just about depth, it’s also about breadth.

37 Comments so far
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Girls keep mentioning this

Comment by tom

mentioning this?

what? this blog, this post. oh you mean me. that happens, i have to beat them off with a shitty stick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t tell me, they’re only human!

Comment by Rob

you dont have to show youre a bastard, weve all known that for fucking years but well done for kicking some pushy yank down. even if youre talking shit, its still good to kick arrogant fucks down a peg or 7 though how he could feel fucking superior when his country is on its fucking knees is beyond me. i blame antony robbins, mr smile the fuck through anything.

and if you think you succeeded in sneaking some planning bollocks lesson in there, you didnt. people wont remember your breadth bollocks, just that its good to knock down an arrogant fucker by raising the arrogant fucker stakes right back at them.

Comment by andy@cynic

I hadn’t actually thought of that but you’re right, my response was just as arrogant as his initial reply. Except I was right so it doesn’t really count. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

so why the fuck do you get pain the big bucks and i get nothing but headaches, pain and fuckwit “friends”?

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Billy Whizz

living your jock dream billy? sad twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

I would like to second that view.

Comment by Rob

I’m constantly astonished that the American people don’t understand that Chinese Dollars are propping up the Pentagon(TM). It’s a marriage of convenience while their economies are mutually dependent but anyone who thinks that China isn’t looking at other currency alignments is deluded.

Comment by Charles

the american people dont understand football (the real shit, not that over padded kids game) so what fucking hope have they getting international debt and currency control?

maybe if justin bieber sang about it thered be hope but even then theyd put it on pay per fucking view.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re not being devils advocate at all Lauren – it’s a fair point – and I’m not actually suggesting they should know more about the economy or politics than things such as art, language or science … however given the way economy and politics impacts the conversations of so many people, it might be good if they had a little more appreciation of how they contributed to their situation rather than just act like passive observers.

Everyone has played a part and whilst some are more ‘guilty’ than others, this ability to relinquish responsibility does alarm me, even though I shouldn’t be that surprised.

Comment by Rob

Do you think America is any worse than any other nation interms of it’s people truly understanding it’s economic position? I think the issue is more than America has got used to being #1 and despite all the problems going on there, cannot appreciate how their downturn has been worse than others because in their myopic view [or should I say, in some people’s myopic view] everything looks and behaves pretty much the same as it always has.

The sad part is it would appear a huge proportion of the people have disassociated themselves with politics and issues and as such, just take what happens and complains about it.

Makes a mockery of democracy.

Comment by Rob

‘Do you think America is any worse than any other nation in terms of it’s people truly understanding it’s economic position?’

I think this bit is bang on Rob, and that such a lack of understanding of where your country really stands economically is shameful. Worrisome even.

I’ve seen it first hand with Algeria that’s your typical wealthy yet piss poor country. A big fan-fare was made when they cleared the national debt a couple of years back, and recently when they announced a $150B liquidity surplus or whatever. It lures everybody into a false sense of security – despite the fact the country genuinely wouldn’t sustain a year if oil dropped below $60 a barrel.

That’s a rather extreme example, but the average Canadian couldn’t tell you much either, other than “our dollar is on par with the americans’, so like, um, we must be doing great, right?”.

Anyway, I think it’d be interesting if banks decided to fill the educational gap and took it upon themselves to educate the population about these things. Maybe I’m being naive since it would compete with their “we’re busy counting our money” time but if one of them decided to play nice, they may end up reaping the rewards.

Sorry about the tedious tangent btw, and I’d like to know what happened with the client after the swear words if possible. Or is it an ‘à suivre…’ type of thing? 🙂

Comment by Rafik

i’m going to be a total devil’s advocate here and ask why citizens should know about more economy than they do politics, art, language or science?

there actually has been a crazy trend of ordinary peeps knowing a whole lots more about the fiscal nature of their countries than ever before (just enough to be worried about how much extra in their purse they might deserve), but nought much else that influences life in fundamental ways.

or maybe that’s just us ignorant australians :/

Comment by lauren

I wasn’t suggesting they should know more about economy than any other subjects Lauren. Please don’t get me wrong.

People should be free to explore and specialise in whatever they like, without making any one subject or field more valid than the other. Which I think was your point.

However I still think it’s dangerous to be making misinformed decisions, as Rob’s friend seems to be. And as many people who thought their jobs were safe and decided to take on an additional mortgage did. Realising how fucked up things really were may’ve helped them avoid a nasty situation. Then again, maybe not.

Comment by Rafik

rafik, sorry, i wasn’t intending to single you out as suggesting that economics should come before all else – it was just a more appropriate place to interject.

i agree and think misinformed decisions are dangerous.
full. stop.

but we make dangerous, misinformed decisions all the time about chemicals, climate, our children, god vs no god, the tories, gadaffi, etc. but it seems to me that bad economic decisions are deemed as the worst offence at the moment.

what if that wasn’t the focus?

my point is more that (as i said to young charles earlier) what if we knew more about (or gave greater credence to), say, quantum mechanics than we did about economics? would the world be in better shape?

rob, i realise i’m taking your post on a wild and esoteric tangent here. sorry. 🙂

Comment by lauren

Can I point out the person in question was not my friend. God no. I suppose the difference with politics/economy compared to some of the other issues is that in theory, we’re more involved in how they develop than – for instance – scientific research and or art, hence we should be more aware of our situation rather than simply talk without any substance.

God, I sound like a miserable old fuck.

Comment by Rob

Can brands handle the truth?

Comment by john

can anyone? but they should be able to handle a mild fucking cajoling but theyre more sensitive than paris fucking hilton these days.

where the fuck is lee? has he jumped fucking shit fearing the natives are getting restless and demanding blood. too fucking right he should but if he gets me 2 return upper class, all will be fucking forgiven.

Comment by andy@cynic

2 free tickets and all is forgiven? You’re more American than George W.

Comment by Billy Whizz

all my fucking money is going into the woodworm palace, how else am i going to have a fucking holiday?

Comment by andy@cynic

I know what you’re saying John, but for me the bigger question is can brands ‘not’ handle the truth given that on occasion, what they will learn will have a positive effect on their longer-term well being.

No one likes to know what’s wrong with them, mainly because they often already know and just want to deny it – but putting your head in the sand isn’t going to work long-term, but then maybe they’re hoping by the time it all comes out, they’ll be well away with their golden handshake vested.

Comment by Rob

oh fuck, this is going to go serious again.

Comment by andy@cynic

That was my point.

Comment by john


Comment by Rob

Nice post and nice put down. It’s disappointing that you even have to talk about the importance of breadth of knowledge, but if you look at how the advertising industry behaves, it’s understandable why. It’s the eneralists and specialist debate again.

Comment by Pete

why dont you just divorce sarah and marry campbell. you know you fucking want to.

Comment by andy@cynic

It is disappointing Pete, but no more than hearing adland go on about wanting to solve clients business problems with commercially sound ideas than always proposing an ad.

Comment by Rob

Read Lucy Kellaway in today’s FT.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

Are you being culturally high-brow again Ciaran?

Comment by Rob

Oh Rob, Rob, Rob, this way lies madness. This is exactly how I ended up an unemployable hack. I’m proud of you.

Comment by simon billing

Are you saying you’re proud of me because I was a shit? Because if you like that, you’re going to love this one:

Comment by Rob

People who say what they really feel in our “service” business are all too rare. So I always like to hear of those that do.

Of course I work in Canada where merely having an opinion is considered arrogant and where needless to say, I’m seen as a bit of a didactic bastard.

Comment by simon billing

canada is ruining my fucking life. everyone pretends to be so fucking nice and considerate but you tell one builder to move his fucking lazy ass and the whole of the moose fucking country treats you like a leper. kill them simon or just dont say “bless you” after youve sneezed and watch the bastards have a heart attack with shock. and you married one campbell. traitor.

Comment by andy@cynic

Depth without breadth is half a job.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

careful mortimer, youre in danger of slipping into planner twat bollocks where you state the fucking obvious in a really fucking shit way. you should thank me, im saving you from public floggings in later fucking life and im only doing that because you has to endure campbell which is the worst sort of cruelty fucking imaginable.

Comment by andy@cynic

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