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?


Read & Recommended June 2018

Lethal Boredom Weaponized – Please Shoot Me

Clayne Crawford, who plays Martin Riggs on Lethal Weapon, the TV series, will be replaced for season three by Seann William Scott. Apparently Mr. Crawford did something silly (American silly that is) and got dumped. The surprise is not that the actor is being replaced, but that the show has made it into its third season, otherwise unchanged.

If there ever was a show that epitomizes formulaic “entertainment”, it is Lethal Weapon. Of course Mel Gibson’s shoes are hard to fill. When Warner Brothers launched Lethal Weapon on TV in 2016, Mr. Gibson’s butt was 60 years old. Who cares when chemistry between cop buddies is lacking decades later? The one thing you know for sure is that the show is in trouble. Add to it, sub-par dialogues which makes you scramble for that fast-forward button.

In itself, the show is not that bad. I loved one of the earlier episodes where the dynamic duo wrecked a car race in order to catch a thief. How many shows make you laugh out loud? Let’s call it Careless Cops 2K1. Similarly when Riggs is being sued by some homeless lady. At every turn, she outsmarts him. Boy, it made me smile. Added points for Riggs’ humanity and care. And no, he doesn’t look out for her because she is homeless, he personifies one of many good cops, a person who puts himself in the line of fire for the well-being of others.

Yes, big shoes to fill, but poor writing makes it so much harder. Basically there are three choices. First Riggs2.0 mimics the old Riggs. Under a different moon he finds a personality of his own. The new Riggs should not be a copy of the original one. Lines and character should always match. Rather than Riggs 2.0, the producers should have opted for Riggs 20.16. Regrettably, they didn’t. Because of that the show suffered as did one of its main characters. No matter how accomplished an actor, anyone would have wrestled with the choices, producers and writers made.

Unfortunately the moments Riggs is portrayed as a devoted human being, rather than the next laughing track are rare and in-between. There comes a time, when being a man means facing your past and asking yourself why and how you turned into the person you are today. Clearly, living in a trailer, sponsored by some cheap whiskey brand, doesn’t help. Everyone is angry, yet most of us in the real world have better reasons to be angry at life than our fictional – potential – hero Martin Riggs. A looser with a heart of gold is still a looser. Remember that one about “best intentions…” and so on?

A partnership requires two people. It doesn’t help that Murtaugh is bi-polair. Away from home, the man is a brilliant detective, much better than his partner. Yet at the same time the man acts like a full-blown idiot at home. His marriage feels as if a 14 year old high school student married a mature, highly successful lawyer, conflicts and clashes guaranteed. Above all, watching the show made me wonder why the Caucasian guy is the troubled one, while his African-American partner has to play the idiot.

Why not accept the fact that Murtaugh is an accomplished professional, one who is willing to risk it all for justice? And yes, that ain’t always the best choice for a father of three. But we all know, to keep you and me safe, someone has to plunge into the darkness. Murtaugh does so without hesitation. Doesn’t mean his wife shouldn’t get upset when she is faced with the prospect of being a single parent yet again. Who wouldn’t? Real life anyone?

The difference between the 1980s movies and the 2010s TV show is chemistry and intelligence versus repetitiveness and boredom. How low do you go to please the common denominator of zombies willing to watch almost anything? Just remember dear advertisers, zombies have very little money to spend.

One of TV’s greatest franchise potentials needs a make-over. Currently it is boring, predicable and repetitive. Two smart, caring cops end up in extreme, absurd and hilarious situations for reasons beyond their control. Fun meets action in an indestructible buddy bond, where the adopted son doesn’t blink to step into the arena to fight the hardest fight to keep his new-found family safe from harm.

Of course at first Riggs does so, because he knows his girl is looking down on him from the heavens above. Over time the suicidal detective heals and slowly starts to embrace the world he lives in. Put another way, he loves his new-found family and won’t hesitate to sacrifice his life to protect those people, any which wacky way he can. Just leave it to the [new] scriptwriters to explore that mindset.

If those creative minds were really dedicated to their craft – and the first two seasons suggest they are not – they would focus on the pater familias. Murtaugh is a man who stands up against injustice and at the same time protects his family. His definition of family is truly admirable, the man welcomes a self-destructive wandering idiot into the inner sanctum of all that matters to him.

Real heroes don’t have a gender. Neither does their race matter. Unfortunately as long as ratings are high, nothing will change. Except for me stop watching, but who cares?