Should Globalisation Get Pulled Over for Speeding?

September 9, 2016 § 1 Comment


If you’re reading this, your life is probably better because of globalization.

Consider the device on which you are reading this post. For the first time in human history, most of us on this planet are touched by people, ideas, work and products from everywhere. The miracle of cheap airfare takes us to the remotest corners of the earth. We know more and are more interested about people who are different from us.

For both of us – father and daughter – our careers, friendships and hopes depend on an open world. A globalized world.  Both of us still believe this is where our future opportunities will be found. We think this is true for everyone on the planet.

We are worried that this system is crashing.

Globalization is crashing into old ideas and ugly prejudices. More than that, it is crashing into politicians without the creativity to govern the new transnational spaces where globalization happens.

Don’t get us wrong. The problems are real, too. The Great Recession of 2008 was thanks to over clever avarice of unregulated financiers. BREXIT, sold with false information and emotional cheap shots, is a now reality. The country that dominated the planet for centuries lost its patience for a few decades of regional cooperation. Seriously? The World War of Terror has ruined millions of lives and is invading the western psyche (in case you are worried about being a victim of terror, please note that a total of 32,675 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014).


Fear has come unstuck from real danger.

These characters bidding to shape our future, like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders and Marine La Penn want to drive ships of state their eyes firmly fixed on the rear view mirror. Their ideas come from the bottom of the brain stem where the fight or flight instinct lives. To make things worse, today’s evil supervillain, the self-appointed Caliph al Baghdadi and his so-called Islamic state are trying and succeeding to scare us out of our wits.

If they win, walls are going up. Opportunities that you may take for granted – like global backpacking and international consulting – these may start to disappear.

Globally, divisions the size of mountain ranges are rising between those who gain from globalization and those that are left behind – or hurt. But globalization shouldn’t and needn’t be a zero sum game.

We need globalisation to move at a speed we can understand and talk about.  We think that it is time to talk about the attitudes we need to protect the promise of globalization and its potential to build a better future for everyone from freelance programmers to prairie farmers to Himalayan Sherpas.

In our next post we will talk about these attitudes: putting our democracies to work; better accountability for global business; calling out racism and religious intolerance and; giving peace a chance.

Final Post in the Series Six Things I Learned after Thirty Years in the Foreign Service: People Remember you more by how you say Goodbye than how you said Hello

November 14, 2014 § 1 Comment

We are so often told – and it is true – that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. It is equally true that last impressions are those that endure in the memory of others when we are absent. In our rotational lives as diplomats, the way we take our leave is how we truly convey that we will continue to care about our friends, even after we have left.

In 1996 I was preparing to leave from my second posting which was in Addis Ababa. It was an exhilarating and exhausting assignment.  As a junior diplomat I was responsible for Canada’s political, trade and consular affairs in Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti. It had been a rewarding three years, but it was time for me and my family to start a new chapter. I had been diligent in my professional and official work. However, it wasn’t until I was in the airport ready to depart the country that I was able to recognize an error I committed on the human side.  A man I had worked with saw me at the airport and asked me a question that I was unable to properly answer.

“Why didn’t you say good-bye to me?”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had insulted him by failing to pay him the courtesy of a respectful farewell. In my mind, I had been a responsible bureaucrat, focusing on the work I did for my country instead of myself as an individual. I thought it was better to stick to my work right to the end and avoid the expense and effort of a good-bye reception.  My behaviour sent the signal that I placed a low value on my relationships.

The final thing I learned after 30 years is that people remember you more by how you said goodbye, than how you said hello.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the leadership category at Diplomatic Counsel.