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February 5, 2013

Family businesses shouldn’t think they are more ethical because of their adherence to stewardship and long-term planning.
 

Should businesses be ethical beyond what is required by the law of the land? Does ethics make good business sense? It’s probably true to say that neither of these weighty questions are top of the agenda as boardrooms sit down to sign off budgets for 2013, or otherwise. But now is the time they should be.

January 31, 2013

An early contender for euphemism of the year has to be the statement from Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of energy company Chesapeake, who earlier this week said that he was standing down over “philosophical differences” with the board.

An early contender for euphemism of the year has to be the statement from Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of energy company Chesapeake, who earlier this week said that he was standing down over “philosophical differences” with the board.

January 29, 2013

Leadership today, as far as I can see, has much to do with openness. At Davos, it is not only the wine that makes people feel at ease and exited. 

I have been going to the World Economic Forum in Davos since I took over as chief executive of Ferd in 1998. As such I inherited the slot from my father who had been going to Davos since the late 1970s. At that time there was hardly any security concerns: skis were left in the cloakroom in the morning, then sessions until lunch, skiing was done in the afternoon, and fireside chats rounded off the day. The world and the WEF in Davos have both changed.

January 21, 2013

The most telling moment when Lance Armstrong gave his mea (sort of) culpa to Oprah Winfrey was his claim that he’d looked up the word “cheat” in the dictionary, saw that it said “to gain an advantage on a rival” and decided that it didn’t apply to him.

The most telling moment when Lance Armstrong gave his mea (sort of) culpa to Oprah Winfrey was his claim that he’d looked up the word “cheat” in the dictionary, saw that it said “to gain an advantage on a rival” and decided that it didn’t apply to him.

Everybody was blasted to the eyeballs on EPO, ergo he was just keeping up. It’s reminiscent of the philosophy of Hugh Laurie’s Doctor Gregory House, whose catchphrase is the self-serving: “Everyone lies.”

January 15, 2013

In years gone by, central banks were supposed to be the guardians of monetary discipline – vigilant in protecting citizens against inflation and currency debasement. They were rarely known to smile.

In years gone by, central banks were supposed to be the guardians of monetary discipline – vigilant in protecting citizens against inflation and currency debasement. They were rarely known to smile.

Bankers used to quake every time the governor of the Bank of England twitched an eyebrow. Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker developed a fearsome reputation for taming inflation in the early 1980s.

But the times are changing to suit economic circumstances, as anxious politicians bend central bankers to their will.

January 8, 2013

Whom do you trust out there? In the current climate of downturn and austere suspicion, the likelihood is fewer individuals and organisations than you did before 2007. But do you trust your family?

Whom do you trust out there? In the current climate of downturn and austere suspicion, the likelihood is fewer individuals and organisations than you did before 2007. 

December 20, 2012

Seventeenth century mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” And things haven’t changed much since. If anything, they’ve got worse. And things haven’t changed much since. If anything, they’ve got worse.

Seventeenth century mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” And things haven’t changed much since. If anything, they’ve got worse.

This is because, in this age of anxiety, investors can’t escape bad news. The global media is magnifying every problem in sight in a desperate bid to compete for our attention and advertising spend.

November 22, 2012

We are creatures of habit. We find it reassuring when day follows night, spring follows winter and lunch follows breakfast. But that doesn’t stop us worrying about the future because anxiety is at the core of our instinct for self-preservation. By not thinking how things go wrong, we put ourselves at risk.

We are creatures of habit. We find it reassuring when day follows night, spring follows winter and lunch follows breakfast.

Social progress has made our life ever more predictable. Rather than worrying about where to get our next meal, we know our local supermarket’s open seven days a week. Instead of foraging for wood to burn, we switch on the central heating.

Over the last 30 years, we have also been reassured by economic growth, punctured by occasional setbacks of up to three years, following overreach.

November 20, 2012

It’s an interesting word, “friends”. It suggests that doing business is a question of relationships, not fisticuffs. Most businesses probably recognise that far more than the idea of business as war.

There comes a moment in British prime ministers’ careers when they feel compelled to get all Churchillian. David Cameron had his at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference on 19 November when he – absurdly, insanely – claimed that the UK is “in the economic equivalent of war”.

With the air of a man about to snap on a pair of flying goggles and sprint across a field towards a Spitfire, he added that “in this global race you are either quick or you’re dead”.

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