I woke up this morning to the tweetering of Lucy Kellaway, not always my fav person on the BBC airways, with her somewhat exaggerated Home County accent.
But what she said made sense this time, so I googled her broadcast only to discover that it’s really a re-broadcast of an earlier presentation made in August 2010.
No matter when she had made that broadcast, it still makes perfect sense to me. She poked fun at a memo written by the hedge fund chief Tom Barrack to his underlings at Colony Capital. Mr Barrack has been described by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the biggest real-estate deal-makers in the world”.
For the original incredibly badly written memo that she took to task, here it is:
July 02, 2010
The last few weeks have been an incredible adventure. Thanks to you, Colony is on fire across the globe and we are conquering new frontiers and new themes on a daily basis in almost every venue in which we conduct our business. You are the A Team and I am deeply grateful and proud of what all of you have “teamed” to our reality.
As you know, I have been caught in a vortex of meteoric movement in every aspect of life and that has intensified on a cosmic scale the last few weeks. My personal goal has always been to feel the wind blow through my hair when standing on the ledge. Well, I certainly found the ledge, if not the hair. It is where I thankfully and excitedly anticipate the scent of excitement and fulfillment the most. I seem to love the edge.
My real job is to act as the Senior Information Officer for all of you and share my points of view, newfound information, instincts, and reactions so that you can incorporate them into a plan of action, which, through sweat and alchemy, becomes profit for our investors as well as ourselves. Today the volatility and uncertainty in the world is at epic proportions and perhaps the most valuable tool that I can share with you is the ability to adapt to, and analyze other points of views. Especially, to understand those points of view which you find truly frightening, disturbing, or life threatening. We all find comfort in crawling into our own “content” of life and with death defying stubbornness refuse to look outside to the “context” in which other people view our “content”. The wars of the world since the beginning of time have been fought over diverging points of view. There is no price too great to defend it. Unfortunately, that inflexibility does not work well for global traders or businessmen. Adaptability and understanding of strange bedfellows becomes a competitive edge.
I am going to share with you a personal breakthrough, which does not relate directly to our business but does reflect upon how we all look at all the “stuff” that drives us on a daily basis. Many of you will think that I have lost my mind or have finally experienced a mystical intervention of “my feminine side”. I promise you, it is neither.
I have had an agonizingly tough couple of weeks and have survived on pure adrenaline in the midst of tumult, controversy, tough negotiations with business counterparts, and a grueling travel itinerary that was challenging even for me. One of the recent meetings was in Turkey with our Mars partners. I made arrangements to have a bit of yacht time with them. When the meeting got cancelled I did the unthinkable for me, have a little down time all to myself. I boarded the gorgeous but stark Turkish Gulet right as the sun was setting. As I made my way into the main cabin I saw something so frightening it left me speechless. There, staring up at me from the ebony coffee table was a book. On the cover was a gorgeous red apple nestled between two soft and caring hands. Between the hands were written the words that strike terror in the hearts of every macho, red-blooded male…TWILIGHT. AAAARRRGGGGHHHH!! Alone, on a boat, with no wifi, no satellite, no magazines, no newspapers, just me and this book. This piece of chick lit, teeny bopper heartthrob stuff. Terror on the high seas! I wanted nothing to do with any of it. Not relevant, not interesting.
As I sat there with nothing to do the book kept taunting me. I began to think that there must be something I don’t understand. What could it be? What is it all about? Women don’t just read these books, they live them. They become each paragraph. I picked it up, but then immediately dropped it like a hot coal. What if someone saw me reading this? My macho reputation would be finished! I would be kicked out of the bench press section of the gym. My polo compadres would send me packing to the pony rides and my surfing buddies would exile me to the kiddie pool.
But it was a long night and there was absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING else to do. Long story short – not only did I read Twilight, I read the other two as well!! I was fascinated, captivated even. However, what intrigued me was not the same thing that hooked the millions of women whose lives and had been changed by this series, but something else entirely.
For you male Colonists, here is a brief synopsis. Stubborn teenage girl meets a handsome but moody vampire and against all odds they fall in love.
Here is my macho take – Stephanie Meyer is a total genius. As I flipped through the pages I was startled by the lack of detailed description of Bella and the surgical and illuminating development of Edward. As hard as I tried I could not really picture Bella, but I was grabbed by Edward’s character – gorgeous, super human, super strong, super fast and most importantly encompassing the wisdom of a 109-year-old man in the guise of a 17-year-old boy.
The description of Bella on the other hand, was not moving, or compelling. What I realized is the genius of Stephanie was that she knew that by keeping the character generic, any and every woman could climb inside and picture herself in Bella’s shoes. Thus the fascination and deep emotional reactions to what many (including myself) thought was a foolish teenage trashy novel.
I definitely got that the “anticipation” was much more romantic and sexy than the “consummation” to the woman. Slow, patient, caring, tender…. (guys have you heard those words before?) I found him incredibly appealing as he was taking care of Bella, putting her first, distancing himself from her to protect her and yet never being able to get her out of his mind. The relationship stood the test of time through many years, other men, family challenges and misconceptions of valiant and loving acts. A human relationship with a vampire is challenging on many levels, the least of which being you get older as your partner remain timeless. It was enticing, captivating, alluring…and dangerous. Through it all she believed that she could do it…. change her life… change his life…make it different…in spite of what conventional wisdom dictated.
Every woman longs for the anticipation, the romance, the journey, the taboo, the patience, and the attentiveness. Men, however, are all about the destination, the result, the speed and the outcome. The journey is merely penance to get to the destination. Which is why despite the vampires and werewolves, this book is kryptonite to most men.
In a world of technology these books are unique. There is so little imagination left in most of forms of entertainment today. See it, Google it, play it, do it…there is very little old fashioned make believe anymore. I could go on and on, but I know by now many of you are saying, “what happened to our leader?”… “Maybe Lebanese really is a sexual preference rather than a nationality”. I promise none of the above. [Mr. Barrack is of Lebanese descent.]
Here is my point. The idea of devoting half a day to reading these books was something that never, NEVER, entered my mind as something I would ever, EVER do. I hated them. I mocked them. It made no difference to me that over 20 million books were sold, movies made, and Team Edward and Team Jacob pandemonium had engulfed the world. I was simply stuck in my point of view.
Once I ventured into the books I learned something. I now understand why some women are emotionally altered from merely reading a book. I have also gained a deeper realization that understanding the circumstances and points of views of those with whom we are negotiating, working, living, loving or fighting is the key determinant factor in an enduring relationship.
In every day business, we think we know it all. We are the captains of our industry and we possess all the global knowledge. That which we don’t understand we push a button and it appears before us. We are lacking creativity…. it is hard for us to dream… harder for us to change our lives… hard to live in a situation that other people view as unconventional. And for sure, we all have no idea on how to be satisfied with the status quo.
It is time for all of us to become more creative, spend more time outside of the strict arithmetic cadence of our business, and understand foreign points of view. Most importantly we must really find the “moment”. Anticipation is everything. The process of getting to a destination is the objective and the more illumination, color, and vitality we give to the “road” the less important the final destination becomes. It will be what it will be!!!
On this 4th of July, slow down, take a breath, rediscover your imagination and create some excitement in your life. Take a few days to expand on the qualities of the character you would really like to become. Then live it, do it, become it! The better you are as an individual, the better we will be as a team.
I feel renewed and refreshed, having gotten out of my comfort zone and experiencing something so totally out of my normal realm. I don’t get it…. but I feel it. Taking the agenda-less time to absorb a point of view that I had ignored while loved ones around me relished in it, was an oasis for my soul. Having been unwilling to investigate the cause of such a startling movement until now was ignorant. Move your cheese!!!! Break through the comfort barriers, you can handle it whatever it is. The earth is turning on its axis. Planets and moons and suns are in orbit. Gravity is pulling and tugging, and molecules and quarks are warring inside of us. We need movement to live…
Do it Now!
Mr Barrack, Nike would be so grateful to you! But perhaps you should get a better ghost writer?