Published on: March 1, 2022
by Michael Sansolo
If anyone harbored doubts that at MNB we can find business lessons everywhere here, just revisit Kevin’s Monday video about a pro-Ukraine demonstration in Las Vegas. It makes a wonderful point and demonstrates that lessons these days come in endless ways and forms.
To be honest, I don’t have any special insights on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I know nothing beyond what I see on television and Twitter. But from just those two places, I’m seeing clearly how the world has changed in a way that impacts us all.
A few nights back I was watching a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the topic of the invasion and I was overwhelmed by a speech by the beset Ukrainian ambassador.
It wasn't just his moving words: "There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell."
What got me was when he said to his Russian counterpart that he’d be happy to show him Russian President Putin’s just concluded speech, and he offered his iPhone to play the video. I’m too young to remember any UN debate over the Cuban missile crisis or the Berlin airlift, but I’m betting no one had a smartphone video to show back then.
(It should be noted that the US ambassador to the UN at the time, Adlai Stevenson, was pretty good with words, too. He started a speech there, addressing the Soviet delegate, Valerian Zorin, by saying, "I want to say to you, Mr. Zorin, that I do not have your talent for obfuscation, for distortion, for confusing language, and for doubletalk. And I must confess to you that I am glad that I do not!>. And later on, Stevenson memorably said, "Let me ask you one simple question: Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Yes or no - don't wait for the translation - yes or no?")
Last week's UN debate made me think about a couple of things. First, it seems that Apple (or maybe it was Samsung) successfully invaded Ukraine and everywhere else, in ways Putin could only envy, and secondly that the world endlessly demonstrates how much technology has changed everything.
For a more informed view of this, consider what NY Times Columnist Thomas Friedman wrote this weekend:
"This is the first war that will be covered on TikTok by super-empowered individuals armed only with smartphones, so acts of brutality will be documented and broadcast worldwide without any editors or filters. On the first day of the war, we saw invading Russian tank units unexpectedly being exposed by Google maps, because Google wanted to alert drivers that the Russian armor was causing traffic jams."
I’d argue the lesson in all of this is that we clearly live in a new world. Today, as shown by the footage from Ukraine, everyone is carrying a camera all the time. More than ever, any incident no matter how small or large can be recorded and possibly shared thousands if not millions of time with minimal effort. You need not be a photojournalist from the NY Times or CBS to have your shots gets worldwide attention.
Customer facing businesses need to absorb and share that lesson throughout their teams. No one ever wants a customer to have a bad experience, but in today’s world a nasty exchange between a deli clerk and a shopper will travel halfway around the world before anyone considers what actually happened or whether they should care.
Today, like it or not, we’re all in the public eye and need to behave that way (or at least try a little.)
One of my favorite chapters in "The Big Picture," the book Kevin and I co-authored about business lessons from the movies, is When Harry Met Sally and the famous scene in a New York City deli. (Are we allowed to say "simulated orgasm scene" on MNB?). If such an event ever happened in real life today, every smartphone in that restaurant would capture Meg Ryan’s histrionics and within days thousands of customers would be banging down the doors saying, “I’ll have what she’s having.” (If you don’t get that, watch the movie!)
Just remember, in today’s world someone is always watching (a line, by the way from Ocean’s 11) and everyone in every store, warehouse and office has to remember that.
Bravely or not, we are living in a new world.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com.
His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.
And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.