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Sunday, March 15, 2020

In Politics Thinking Makes All The Difference

This post is a part of the series about management and managing. To have the full picture I would recommend to read also at least these three:


In Management Thinking Makes All The Difference

Two guys walk on the street. They see something laying on a ground far away from them. The first guy says: “Hey look, there is a piece of chocolate over there at that spot on the ground”. The second guy says: “No, it doesn't look like chocolate to me, I'm gonna walk to it and check it out”. He walks to the  spot and gazes at it. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to smell it.” He bends over and smells it. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to taste it.” He gets on his knees, bends over as much as he can and licks it. “No, one lick does not help”, he says, takes a piece of it and puts in his mouth. “Oh, yes, that’s chocolate”.

The moral of this tale is simple.

The first guy was able to recognize the substance from the first glance from far away – he had vision.

The second guy does not have vision. He must to chew on things before he realizes what those things are.

The full version of this tale is at the very end of this post.

The second guy is the embodiment of the current American elitepolitical, financial, even intelligence services. And BTW: that is why America now is in such a dreadful state.
 All (meaning – way too many) people who comprise American elite have lost vision, have lost the ability to foresee future, they have to “put it in their mouth” before they will be able to start acting. Hence all they do is RE-acting, i.e. acting based solely on the events of the past.

Their ability to thinking ahead has not been developed because it has never been used, because it has never been in demand - for this generation of managers - of all fields and all levels (some insight on why is in this post).

For the last thirty years American elite existed for achieving one and only one goal – more and more money.

And for the last 30 years, in order to achieve that goal, they didn't have to do anything really knew. All they had to do was to follow the same recipes they used to use before, because those recipes worked just fine for them.

NOTE: those recipes worked just fine ONLY for them.

Of course, they had to be seen innovative – because that was a trend, a fad, that was fashionable and prestigious. So, thy pretended to be innovative.

They did things that looked innovative.

On the surface their actions looked pioneering, but in reality those “innovations” were mostly cosmetic.

It was like inventing a new paint for a car or a new shape of a rear-view mirror, or trying new rubber for tires or belts.

But keeping the engine and transmission exactly the same.

And today, American managers of all sorts and levels have forgotten how to really innovate, have forgotten what an innovation is and instead of actual innovations keep promotion fake innovations – when new products or new services aren’t really new, would only look new on the surface, but substantially would remain the same or even worse than before.

I have been collecting examples from different fields of practice and describing them in my posts:

Naturally, politicians, political pundits and analysts did not escape this loss of vision. The political history of the last four (well, it was actually at least twenty) years is a good demonstration of this fact. Since I have covered it in great details in multiple posts available on my Politics page I will mention here only a couple of things.

From The Boston Globe, 03/05/2020 (but all other papers have very similar pieces).

1. It does NOT matter at all what will Warren do. Her actions will NOT affect the outcome of the Democratic convention and the Presidential elections in any way. Her actions will not even affect much her own political future. Exactly because of the fact that her actions will not make any difference in the “big game”. Why no one writes about that? Because that requires a different type of analysis – multi-variable-long-term analysis. It is much simpler to just describe what possible actions Warren cold do: “she can quit today, no she can quit tomorrow, she can endorse Bernie, no she can endorse Biden” – because that is just a trivial recitation of obvious actions. It is no different from describing a man on a crossroads:

“He can go left, no he can go right. Or he can turn around and go back. Or he can stay until he starves to death. No, if he stays eventually he will have to walk somewhere because he does not want to die, if he wanted to die he would just already kill himself”.

2. First - “looks to be”? It looks like the author cannot count to two. Who else could go forward except Sanders and Biden? Realistically. Authors and editors cannot even analyze their own texts on the matter of logical consistency.

But more importantly, it is not going to be a “two-man race”.

Well, on the surface it may look like that, but in reality, it will not.

Because Sanders is over.

Bernie is burned.

Super-Tuesday results is a case when a tie is equal to a loss. 
This is why the original title for this post was 
Bye Bye, Bernie? Or How can you really make history?

The 538 model predicts that the convention most probably will be contested.

That means it will end up nominating Biden, who himself already has a hhigher chance to get 1991 delegates than Sanders.

Of course, there is still a scenario when Bernie Sanders will get the nomination. For example, if Joe Biden gets a coronavirus. But the probability for such a scenario is almost zero.

I have no doubt that Bernie Sanders will continue running till Biden will officially be elected as the Democratic presidential contender.

But for me this is simply not wise.

I would like to use an analogy that is very clear (a big plus), but only for people who play chess (a huge minus, since American establishment does not play gambits, or Chess).

Position #1.

Ask a chess master who will win in this position, and he or she will tell you – that depends on whose move is now.

But a novice will be playing until the very end by actually moving the pieces on the board.

Let’s say the whites have to make the first move. In that case soon the position would look like this (the fastest way to win):

Position #2.

In this position the next move is again to be done by the whites.

If the player playing the blacks would have had some experience, he/she would simply give up. But an inexperienced player would still keep playing until the white pawn would become the queen.

Position #3.

And even now some of the novice players playing for the blacks would still keep playing, maybe in the hope that the player playing the whites would make a huge mistake. But under normal circumstances no opponent playing the whites would do something completely stupid (unless – on purpose, to lose the game).

Whatever Sanders will be doing from this point forward will not get him the nomination. He now is in position #1, and position #3 is inevitable (no one will let Biden to lose the game).

However, Bernie Sanders still could make history.

A real political history.

He could quit his race for the nomination right NOW, register as an independent and immediately start running for the office of the President.

As I wrote many many times (using a polemic language): “Everyone who believes that the third-party candidate can become the President is an idiot. But everyone who believes that because of that the third political party is irrelevant is an even bigger idiot”.

So, Sanders would not be able to win THAT race. He would not become the President.


he could do much better!

He could prove that the two-party system is not impenetrable.

He could even quickly register his own party, and prove that the third party matters in politics – even in America.

This is what Bernie Sanders should tell his followers.

“If we keep running against Biden we have no chance to get the nomination. Unfortunately, that is the cold truth. Political forces behind Biden will not let me win the nomination. However, it does not mean we are over! On the contrary, we will bring the fight to our opponents! If we simply accept our faith we will not be able to push our progressive agenda. That is why we will have to leave the Democratic party and form our own movement. And that is why I will run for the office of the President of the United States as an independent (or the third-party candidate). In October we will assess our strength. I believe that our movement will have strong support all over the Country – so strong that Biden will not be able to win without our votes. Our ultimate goal is to defeat Donald Trump and to push our progressive agenda. And for that in October I will sit with Joe Biden and I will make him to accept our conditions, I will make him to promise that his cabinet will have our people, I will make him to promise that his agenda will include our plans. And he will promise us all we need, because otherwise on the election day we will stay home. If Biden is not able to understand how important progressive agenda is - he is worth than Trump! We will not allow corporate Democrats use our political force for their own good. We will make them to respect us and to propel our agenda.”

That would be the beginning of the new political era in America.

That would be a true political history in the making.

That would be the real political revolution Sanders has been talking about for so long.

That would be his political legacy.

Technically, he could start this path right after he will lose the nomination (and he will), but at least he would have to start preparing right now (and technically, it does not have to be him).

And as I wrote long time ago Democratic establishment should support this scenario, because in November that will bring voters who otherwise would just stay home.

However, I see zero chance for this to happen.

If Bernie Sanders would have been smarter than he is, and less arrogant than he is, he would not call himself a “socialist” in the first place (like I suggested). He would have invented a different term (there were and still are so many good options). If Sanders wants to look in an eye a person who is responsible for his defeat he needs to look in a mirror. Calling himself a “socialist” has cost him the nomination and the loss to Biden. Democratic voters expressed many many times that there was only one quality they were looking for in a future nominee – an ability to beat Trump. That is why on the Super-Tuesday they voted for the two most familiar faces. They did not want to take any risk with selecting someone relatively young – politically (even Warren, even in Massachusetts).

People who felt like “let’s be radical” voted for Sanders.

People who felt like “let’s be reasonable” voted for Biden.

If Sanders would not have called himself a “socialist” he could get votes of people who felt like “let’s be reasonably radical”. But now those votes went to Biden.

Plus, Sanders did not even try to find a different language to talk to African-American voters. He used for them the same “free college, Medicare for all” appeal he used for white voters. Instead, he should have been talking about racism, reparations, special interest of African-American population. And BTW: African-Americans should ask themselves - why do they keep electing mostly white politicians?

Hence, since neither Sanders nor his advisers were able to figure out such simple things, I do not believe they will be able to figure out a more complicated thing like “the third-party tactics”.

Thank you, World, for our existence!

It is fun.

Sad …

but fun.

Fun to watch.

Sad to exist.

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov

The full version of the tale.

Two guys walk on the street. They see something laying on a ground far away from them. 
The first guy says: “Hey look, there is a piece of chocolate over there at that spot on the ground”. 
The second guy says: How do you know?
1st.  “Well, it is brown, it looks solid, it looks like a part of a large rectangle, also it is shaped in many smaller rectangles, and there is a piece of a wrap around it.”
2nd. “No, it doesn't look like chocolate to me, I'm gonna walk to it and check it out”. 
He walks to the spot and gazes at it. 
2nd. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to smell it.”
He bends over and smells it. 
2nd. “No, I’m still not sure if that’s chocolate, I need to taste it.”
He gets on his knees, bends over as much as he can and licks it. 2nd. “No, one lick does not help”, he says, takes a piece of it and puts in his mouth. “Oh, yes, that’s chocolate”. 
1st. I told you.
2nd. And who are you? Why should I listen to a nobody?
1st. “Well, maybe not to put that thing you picked up from the ground in your mouth?”
2nd. I do whatever I want to do to make me feel good about myself”.
1st. OK, I guess we all want to feel good about themselves, but use different means for that”.

In this tale, the second guy is the embodiment of the current American elitepolitical, financial, even intelligence services; in terms of intelligence and arrogance. 

And BTW: the original version of this tale did not use chocolate, it used instead another brown substance.

But to illustrate the point chocolate works as well.


Excerpts from an interview of MARK GOULSTON, MD, the author of “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” and other influential books and an established management consultant. 

About Mr. Goulston:

The full interview is on

This is the Google Russian-English translation of some parts of the interview.
Aggressive negotiations, when one side is trying at all costs to “push” the other, is the last century. Now the most successful in business are those who have the talent to hear others. I’d guess that another era had begun ten years ago.

Here is a well-known example: Microsoft executives were very good at promoting their products, but they did not listen to the market. Steve Jobs attentively listened to the consumers themselves and better understood what they wanted. As a result, Apple won.

The future lies with the visionaries, and the most important quality of a visionary is to understand what others need. But the majority of company executives are “opportunists”: they see well the short-term opportunities that allow them to win the market niche from others but completely fail in the long run, because they do not feel the trends changing the market itself.

People think “crazy” of anyone who thinks differently from them. And in a world that is becoming more specialized, the number of “madmen” is growing every day. For example, when an IT specialist and a salesperson are talking to each other, both are sure that their counterpart is an idiot, because he focuses on details that seem insignificant to another, and thereby just infuriates. My definition of insanity is: a madman is a person who acts irrationally without perceiving constantly changing information from the world around him, however his actions may seem logical, especially for himself. This is a person who does not hear anyone else: he is unbearable as a partner and as a leader.

My hypothesis is that reluctance to understand the others is an irrational manifestation of the instinct of self-preservation. People like to talk about themselves, broadcast to others their picture of the world, because this is how they relieve stress. But from a business point of view, this is a very poor quality. This is a problem of many CEOs, which manifests itself, including in the management of the team.

I often say to the top managers of companies I work with: there are six words that your employees cannot stand, and only one word that you yourself really hate. Six words are “vision”, “mission”, “culture”, “strategy”, “values”, “goals”.

When you say, for example: “Our company has goals,” the employees smile and make a curious look, while in their own heads it runs: “Are they going to fire me in the next six months? There are rumors of cuts.” Most people do not perceive big words.

And what word do managers themselves hate? This is the word "people." Look, you have a great strategy, a great product, a clear vision of the future of the company, and people, employees and consumers spoil all this: they don’t understand, they don’t have passion, they nod to you, and they show you a finger in their pocket. If you want to be effective, you must motivate them to really hear you. And this is a lot of work on how and what you say.

For example, do not use the word “goals” - replace it with the word “needs”. Not everyone has goals, but everyone has needs. It is you who want to create a powerful company that will become part of the future, and people just want to survive, and they do not care about your goals. Therefore, monologues in the style of  “Shut up and do what I say!” will never work. It’s better to convey another thought to the team: “I need your help. If you help me make a lot of money, I can increase your salary and pay bonuses. ”

Now I often work with the founders of young companies who managed to attract large financing. The most interesting area of ​​work for me is the communication between investors and the founders of companies, which in most cases, surprisingly, is bad. Investors often romanticize founders because they need to invest in someone and they choose charismatic people who have an interesting product.

However, the bright founders of companies are very rarely good managers: they are passionate about their idea, but usually they are not at all able to make difficult decisions, for example, to dismiss their best co-founders when they begin to pull the company down. Having invested in a startup, the investor waits a year or two, and his expectations begin to diverge more and more from reality: distrust and aggression arise between him and the founder of the company, and then a serious gap arises, with accusations and slamming doors. But both sides themselves created the problem!

My task is to help the founder understand if he can be a good manager. I strive to make it clear, even before signing the agreement, what the investor’s expectations are, and together with him analyze what he needs to change in his approach so that the investor has confidence. Experience shows that after such work the friction between the investor and the founder becomes minimal: the founder is still not immune from various failures, but he no longer creates a false image, and this is important. People forget the mistakes you made, but they will never forgive you if they lied to them.

Co-founder of Dialexis (the largest training center in the US for training salespeople) David Hibbard once taught me a psychological trick, which he calls the “Question the impossible.” When a businessman comes to you and complains that his business is going badly, you ask him: “Is there something impossible that could radically improve your business?” After thinking, he says: yes, such and such an action could improve it. And you ask him: “How to make this not-impossible?” He begins to think and says: you need this and that. And so you gradually come to the conclusion that there is a very real solution consisting of concrete steps. For most companies, such solutions can always be found.

We, Americans, are trying to make the business more personal: we are interested in the emotional state of partners, we give gifts to their family members, we try to like them. And in this sense, we are more naive. Russians do not creep into the privacy of partners: for you, business is just a matter that needs to be done. When it is done, we will be able to get a glass together, but we are not best friends, but just partners. Because of this, Americans often consider Russians impolite, gloomy, but I like your more honest approach.

However, these differences are still not so deep-seated. In addition to advising companies, I also hold the position of chief mentor at China Foundations. This is an organization that is engaged in improving the quality of cooperation between Chinese company employees and American expats who work in China. One of the things that Americans who are a little acquainted with life in China do not get tired of wondering is that the Chinese do not say to their spouses: “I love you.” Does it mean that the Chinese are callous, selfish, devoid of love? Of course not. They also love their family, but instead of “I love you” they say: “What do we have for lunch?” Most of the differences are external.

In both Russia and the USA, managers often confuse self-confidence with rudeness. In my practice, there was a case when I told a manager: “I will not work with you for any money, because you offend people.” It's like looking at the children being beaten.

Moreover, this approach is also unproductive: employees of such managers are constantly stressed. If I get up in the morning and feel like I hate my job, will I work hard today? Companies do not need such managers. These are bad managers: people who cannot benefit from business opportunities try to extract it from other people.

In fact, companies need managers who are driven by their own mission, who know how to be strong, but in a non-aggressive form. Incidentally, I occasionally come across managers that look down on me: “I’ve been in this business for twenty years, and you’re some kind of psychiatrist. How can you give me anything valuable? ” I smile at them and ask: well, tell me about everything that you have achieved during your time. What did you build, what did you achieve? And here the majority becomes silent. I do not try to offend them, but this phrase makes the ill-mannered managers think.

Because there is a word that everyone is interested in – “results.” And everyone knows that in business everyone is judged by results. Leaders en masse are introspective: they look inside themselves, it seems to them that they are great people, a perfect version of a human. But, when they are reminded of the results, they recall that there is an impartial/independent way to evaluate them – from the outside. Am I giving better or worse results than I expected five years ago? What have I done over the past year to improve them? All this leads to a person’s reflection on himself.

What should a good manager be able to do? He must be able to inspire employees. Most people who do not seek to do anything in life are passive not because they are not confident in their abilities. They think differently: even if I’m lucky and I can achieve this and that, it won’t make me happy, so I won’t even try. That is why a good leader should be able to switch the right triggers in people: to be calm - to inspire confidence, modest - not to arouse envy, well-versed in his business - to enlighten.

Do you know the concept of “antagonistic game”? So-called games in which winning of one means losing for the other – no draws or compromises. Now, very many people perceive situations in which they find themselves like a game of heads and tails. In America, the topic of immigration makes people feel “either they are us, or we are them.” Company managers and political leaders look down at people and say: “I will do what I want, and I do not care.” My mission is to avoid such games in the world.

There are many good people in the world, but most of them are narrow-minded, they are stuck in their vision of the world. Why people in Russia do not like the United States, and we do not like Russian? We returned to the beginning of the conversation, to an IT specialist and a sales person, we simply do not understand each other, therefore we consider the counterpart to be an idiot. And in order to justify this, we customize examples from history, negative forecasts, etc.

One of my teachers, psychologist Wilfred Bion said: “The best communication is to listen without memory and desires.” Without memory - not to judge the counterpart for past mistakes. Without desire - not to make it into what it would be convenient for you. To teach people this kind of communication is my task.

This post is a part of the series about management and managing. To have the full picture I would recommend to read also at least these three:


In Management Thinking Makes All The Difference

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