Read & Recommended January 2019

Read & Recommended December 2018

Read & Recommended November 2018

Read & Recommended October 2018

Read & Recommended September 2018

Read & Recommended August 2018

My Little Linkedin Laboratory

Or how a certain Mark Z. envies me

Dear scapegoats, the articles I share on Linkedin, reveal it all. The social media representative for serious professionals is no more a posh version of “look at my picture perfect Facebook/Instagram life.” Want some proof? Just compare the number of views for the various articles I post on Linkedin.

The Dutch health care system, compared to the US,i is something nobody cares about, the link generated just 16 hits in two months. Remember, I worked for several years in health care finance and am connected to quite a few people from back then.ii

On the other hand, everybody seems to love the post about collecting football playing cards – and that story is in Dutch. So much for a global workforce. Perhaps it’s more my age than my professional friends, but people can’t seem to get enough of the story about how Panini, the Italian manufacturer of collectible cards withers the football 2018 championship, without Gli Azzurri (the Blue Ones), pretty well.

Me, I liked the article because it tells the story of a business that flourishes despite the odds. Guess I’m an old-school finance dinosaur. Cutting costs is easy but maintaining – or even better – growing sales, that’s what’s it all about. Besides if you cut cost when business is bad, all you are doing is help sink the Titanic faster.

From the day I joined, I disliked the hype that goes with anything people post on Linkedin. We all have these Aha moments. I call ‘m “look at me, the world’s greatest showman.” A favourite classic is that of a former co-worker who stated she was skilled in accounting. The lady worked as a controller. Despite that, the word debit meant look to the left (door). By design credit was synonymous with look to the right (window). No surprise here, but she struggled with both terms. Does it mean she was bad at her job? No, she was respected by management for digging deeper and getting the real story. Accounting just wasn’t for her.

If you cannot relate to the above, why not indulge yourself and browse your connections. While you do that, count the number of people who claim leadership skills, creative or forward looking. I can hear your growl: “if he ever becomes our boss, we’ll go bankrupt in under 24 hours.” Hey, there is a reason I write this on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We all recharge our batteries during the weekend and no better way than to have a good laugh.

So my advice is, don’t take Linkedin too seriously. You need it to prove you’ve actually worked in all those magical places you’ve listed in your bio. Other than that be smart about where you apply your bragging rights.


i The Dutch DBC classicification closely follows the ICD grouping for diseases.

ii If health care finance sounds boring, think again. Averaging about ten percent of GDP globally, it literally is big business. If you like a challenge – which 99 percent of Linkedin profiles say they do – the ever changing landscape of health care finance might be just your cup of tea. Want even more of a challenge? How about retroactive legislation that leaves you scrambling for the door.

The complexity of health care finance is ill understood. When I applied for a job at the investment arm of a major Dutch bank, my future boss knew all about it. It’s one reason he hired me over other candidates.

To the credit of my co-workers, I loved it. We were a dedicated team. Everybody was prepared to go the extra mile. We had a great time, so good in fact, that ten years after we all left, we still see each other once or twice a year for dinner and drinks. Now that I think of it, it’s time to send out another invite.

Read & Recommended July 2018

Kim-Trump Summit and the “Failing” Press

After German lost 0-1 to Mexico, in yesterday’s football world cup, my mind wandered back to the Kim-Trump summit. Hey, it was the Trump-Kim summit! No, it’s all about the alphabet, k before t, just like g before f. Anyway that surprise defeat/win took me back to about a week earlier.

The newsreader on the radio told me Trump and Kim had signed a piece of paper about denuclearizing. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Why would North Korea give up its nuclear weapons? Axis of evil or not, nobody gives up their hard-earned nukes post Libya. Clearly Gadaffi didn’t have what it takes to be a dictator. No tyrant worth his upper “t” gives up power in return for a signed piece of paper. Don’t worry, regret has no echoes and Mr. Gadaffi isn’t sulking. His decisions proved be fatal on a far more personal level.

Apparently the Iranian mullahs didn’t pay attention in oppression 101 class either, because they too signed a piece of paper which turned out to be useless. Never give away your adult candy store is the real lesson to be learned here. And no, the last dictator standing, didn’t. But guess who did: the Orange Mandarin did, putting his faith in that silly peace of paper.

Now that the dust has settled, the consensus is that the “historic” piece of paper means nothing. D’oh. On top of that the winner is Kim. Trump – and the North Korean people among others – lost. Double d’oh, told you so. It makes democracy an even harder sell.

When I heard the news on the radio, a few hours after the signing ceremony, I was baffled and wanted to know more. I’m such a fool. An endless array of screen real estate filled my monitor, wondering what next after this historic document. Very few news organizations were smart enough, or perhaps better, most lacked the gut to discuss the emperor’s new clothes.

Even worse, those early articles – thanks to the officially impartial Google search engine – came from the most prestigious English language newspapers, none of which mentioned the only thing the document said was that both countries solemnly promised to work towards a denuclearized Korean peninsula, some day. That’s rather essential, don’t you think? Despite the big words, basically nothing had changed. Because of it, June 12 is now [unofficially] National Spin Doctor Day in the United States, deservedly so.

Nothing changed? Of course not. Lacking dedication, courage and analytical skills, US newspaper didn’t seem to realize how Trump not only had lost the publicity battle, the Orange Mandarin also handed out freebies to both North Korea and China by unilaterally halting joint military exercises with the South. That is one reason why most of the articles read as an extension of some lame press communique provided by serious senior sources in the White House.

There is no such thing as impartial journalism. Not because reporters don’t want to, but because 99 percent of life is all about opinion. It’s just a matter of how your present it.

Let’s summarize the parties that loose from this kind of coverage. If your name is not mentioned, it doesn’t necessarily mean you among the winners. Let’s put it like this, if you’re a narcissist, you can’t loose because you don’t care about others. But you definitely don’t win.

Here we go. More than anyone else, the people of North Korea lost. Their Southern siblings also lost, double, but in a slightly less life-threatening way than their geographical siblings. Not only is a solution to the North-South divide of any kind, further away than it ever was, on top of that the Southerners also lost an ally.

The United States lost too, because of rock, paper, nukes. No matter what hand you’ve been dealt, rock, paper, scissors always looses out to the big, bad, atomic kaboomski, no matter the size of your red button. The danger is still looming large while a solution to the North Korea question seems more elusive than ever. Like their South Korean counterparts its people face double jeopardy. Their friends have lost trust in them and they are no safer than before the historic triumph of Kim the third. How’s that for the art of the deal? Just remember not all books are written by Americans.

Finally the people of the world lost. Not only an ally but also a chance for peace in a conflict that [for now] hardly matters to them. Above all, they lost because the United States showed how its principles are nothing but empty promises, pledges that if you are lucky, have a sell-by date of four years. Max.

Yes, that is pretty bad. Unfortunately thanks to the fourth estate, most of the world population is blissfully ignorant of the ramifications of that ego-trip last Tuesday. And that is the worst thing about it. Without informed citizens, democracy stops functioning. The fail with the longest tail is that of journalism. The Washington Post claims how “democracy dies in darkness.” Now guess who are the ultimate Jedi’s of light. Of course. But they don’t seem to care.

Technically speaking, Trump did not loose. Nobody ever looses when they float inside an impermeable orange bubble. The only other thing you need to live out your life in stasis, is money. Check and double check.

Journalism is a job for journalists, not for those who aspire to write the next great American novel. Budding writers, who until they drown in inspiration, with some time on their hands. Don’t worry, today’s press is not exclusively brought to you by frustrated novellists. Left-over copy writers and desperate ex-press secretaries, just to name a few also share the blame.

President Trump believes negotiations are a zero sum game. That’s true but only if you are unskilled in the art of ducking defeat. Tuesday’s only winner was the man with the small red button on his desk that won’t go anywhere soon: Kim Jong-un. Of all the scenario’s it’s the least desirable outcome. If only the press had done their job, who knows?