Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Year in Review: 2016

There’s no doubt that 2016 will be a year that will be more remembered through history than most other years in recent times – yet we have to wait to see whether it will be remembered from a positive or negative perspective.
One thing that should be clear going into the future is that ‘opinion polls’ need to be rethought if they are going to accurately predict outcomes.
First the British public, according to the polls, were overwhelmingly going to vote to stay in Europe – and yet when the time came the British public voted to leave Europe – BREXIT, as it is now known. This referendum was meant to show the true power of democracy. A vote had taken place in the House of Commons agreeing to the referendum on Britain’s future in Europe – and yet, ever since the vote went to the leave camp, seemingly the wealthier members of the British population have been taking the Government to the English courts, challenging the process - at most trying to reverse the vote and at the very minimum trying to disrupt the process. I guess this is rich person’s view of democracy.
How this all ends, has still to be written. The media, in their infinite wisdom, have taken sides on the debate and are plying their own ‘fear and panic’ amongst the population, depending which side of the divide they reside.
The craziest protestations come from those that are demanding the British government make their strategy and negotiation stance public – before the negotiations with Europe take place. Yet anyone who’s negotiated in a business context knows that the last thing you do is show your hand prior to negotiations – unless you’re playing games and misdirecting your opponents with ‘false’ information – otherwise you are obviously going to be negotiating from a weakened position; it would be like playing poker where your opponents can see your hand.
Europe must be smiling to themselves – hoping the do-gooders get their way and the Prime Minster has to reveal the government’s strategy before the negotiations start. You don’t need to be a mind reader to guess how negotiations will go for Britain if this scenario plays out.
The second time the polls were continually wrong was with Donald Trump. He wasn’t even expected to become the Republican nominee – let alone the next President of the United States. How the polls got this one so wrong should be weighing on people’s minds – if they actually cared. The media love a drama – so news, isn’t news anymore – and news channels are more focused on entertainment than factual global information and insights.
Whether you like Trump or not – he’s clearly a brilliant marketer and strategist.
Talking with Americans – it seems a sad reflection on the country that no one particularly liked either candidate – and Trump was considered the better of the two evils. What that says for the US going forward – only time will tell. Though if you like to take the odd bet – it might be worth looking at the odds on Ivanka Trump becoming the first women President of the United States in the near future. Where the Trumps will take over the dynasties of the Bush’s and the Clinton’s.  
Lots of other events happened in 2016, but it will be remembered most going forward for these two above.
What does this mean for business? It simply means that businesses should be doing what we’ve been taught of years. Organisations need to be flexible and resilient, constantly looking at opportunities and being aware of the threats to their business. Hence they need excellent leadership that focuses on opportunities and who create a motivated and innovative workforce that thrives on positive ‘change’. What is definite is that, even though there will be some global chaos in 2017, this definitely means that there will be real business opportunities for those that are willing to look forward – and not get stuck in the present, sulking that ‘things are changing and aren’t going their way’.
We live in an ever changing world, where most governments and the main stream media seem to be so out of touch with citizens in their own countries, let alone on the international stage.
So my message for 2017 is to be brave, be true to yourself, stick to the basics, constantly look for opportunities and don’t listen to the ‘naysayers’ – where there are threats, there are always opportunities – so see you cup half full (not half empty); focus on the positive and enjoy the journey.
Finally, as in past years, let’s pause for a moment and remember those who have left us during 2016;
In January we lost David Bowie, just after releasing his 25th album; Alan Rickman, of Harry Potter fame and the first Die Hard movie; the Eagles frontman Glenn Frey; and Sir Terry Wogan, a broadcaster know by many in the UK.
In February we lost Harper Lee the author of To Kill a Mocking bird, which became standard reading for millions of young people.
In March we lost Beatles producer George Martin; Emmerson, Lake and Palmer founder and keyboard player Keith Emerson; and British comedian Ronnie Corbett.
In April we lost Prince due to an accidental overdose; UK comedian Victoria Wood and agony Aunt Denise Robertson.
In May we lost Burt Kwouk best known for playing alongside Peter Sellers as Clouseau’s manservant.
In June we lost Muhammad Ali, who was more than just a boxing legend, he was an inspirational man to many.
In July we lost Roscoe Brown who’d been one of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII and Jack Davis co funder of Mad magazine;
In August we lost comedy legend Gene Wilder and Kenny Baker who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise.
In September we lost golfing legend Arnold Palmer.
In October we lost Pete Burns, the Dead or Alive singer and Jean Alexander, better known as Hilda Ogden in the UK soap, Coronation Street.
In November we lost singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen; Andrew Sachs, better known as playing Manuel in Fawlty Towers with John Cleese; actor Robert Vaughn and Sir Jimmy Young.
And finally in December we lost singer-songwriter George Michael; actress Zsa Zsa Gabor; rock superstar Greg Lake; Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt; actress Carrie Fisher and then the day after her death, her mother Debbie Reynolds.
Life is short so focus on the things that matter to you!
Wishing all readers a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017.