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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.

This week I had the opportunity to moderate the NACS International Forum in Las Vegas, and heard a series of thought-provoking presentations that pointed to one inescapable truth - the convenience store industry is going through a process of self-examination that is likely to lead to a kind of accelerated evolution in this segment of the business. What they are doing is very smart - they are looking not just at critical issues, but are working to help attendees connect the dots among them.

For example, the Forum I moderated essentially looked at two subjects that would be on any retail agenda - store design and customer knowledge - and used the concept of developing a global mindset as a kind of prism through which they should be seen.

I don’t think it can be argued that we give and work in a more global environment than ever. There may be people out there who think that they have only a homogeneous group of suppliers and/or customers to deal with, but they’d be wrong. Or at least ignorant. Even people who look alike and sound alike reflect a more varied and global experience simply because they are exposed to more because of the Internet and the media. And whether you agree with his policies and politics or not, the election just a year ago of Barack Obama can be seen as proof positive that many young people do not have the biases and prejudices of their elders. (To be fair, there will be those who would argue they also lack the good sense of their elders, but that is a discussion for another place and time.)

The world may be flat, said Dr. David Bowen of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, but it also is bumpy...because for many people developing a global mindset can be a painful experience...though also, when successful, a transformational one.

But here’s one of the more sobering pieces of news delivered by Dr. Bowen. It seems that they’ve actually done research on people to see when they are best able to develop a more global view of the world. It is easier for people to do so up to the age of 40, very difficult between the ages of 40 and 65, and easier again after 65. Which makes sense, because in general people tend to be more open minded when they are younger, get more conservative at a certain age when they think they have more to protect, and it seems entirely logical that at a certain point they might get to a kind of “what the hell” phase of life.

Here’s what’s scary about that. As Dr. Bowen pointed out, most business leaders and managers are between the ages of 40 and 65.

In other words, at the very time that they are responsible for developing strategies and tactics that will propel their companies into the coming decades, they actually are least likely to have the mindset necessary to do so.

Is this impossible to overcome? Of course not. But in today’s world, which seems both small and interconnected while at the same time being more complex and confusing than ever before, we cannot afford to ignore these tendencies. Smart people - people who are leaders - do battle with their own prejudices and biases every day. Before leaders challenge anyone else to do better, they challenge themselves.

It is, in fact, one of the differences between leaders and mere managers. We just have to decide which we want to be, and then go after it. Every day.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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