About minterdial

President and founder of The Myndset Company, Minter Dial is an international professional speaker & consultant on Branding and Digital Strategy, working with top brands such as Samsung, Orange, Kering (Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Puma...), L'Oreal and Remy Cointreau around the globe. He is also International Media Director of Netexplo, an observatory of global new technology trends. Prior to the Myndset, Minter led a 16-year international career with the L'Oréal Group – including 9 different assignments in France, England, USA and Canada. Among his assignments at L'Oreal, Minter was MD worldwide of Redken. He ran the Professional Division for the Canadian subsidiary and in his final position at L'Oreal was a member of the Executive Committee worldwide, in charge of Business Development, eBusiness and Education. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993).

Brexited… Now What Should Europe Do?

Brexit Europe VisionAfter the surprising BREXIT vote by the people of the United Kingdom last Thursday, we have since certainly all been involved in heated debates regarding this topic. Amongst my Parisian friends, the conversation kept coming back to the English. And like in the “Journal du Dimanche”, the first two pages of a dedicated BREXIT segment were entirely focused on the UK.

The reactions on the continent have revolved around: the British are going to suffer; they are crazy; they do not understand the consequences; they are racist … But, I think, in these expressions, Europeans are mistaken in their conclusion. It would be better not to act as a jilted lover.

I personally feel more European than French (naturalized citizen). And, I think that Europe has a unique opportunity in this moment and must act resolutely.

Another friend opined that she was scared of what it meant. Here, I want to say that we need to move from fear into action.

In this context, I felt the urge to pen my point of view.

My advice to pro-Europeans: do not focus on the UK and the impact on them. Certainly, the reasons that motivated the vote are distressing; certainly, the UK may see the pound weakened and their economy struggle … but the real issue is:

 What to make of Europe?

brexit chinese-symbol-for-crisisAs the Chinese* would say: in any crisis, there is danger and opportunity. The requirement on the European side is not to draw up the best retribution possible against the Brits, but instead to focus its energies to find its own way and take care of itself. Angela Merkel rightly said: “Do not make fast conclusions about the British decision…”

Europe needs to understand – in a deeper way – why the Brexit vote happened. Sure, it was the 50+ year-old lesser educated English person who voted LEAVE in a bid to restore British sovereignty. But, in reality, the problem is that the British have not found enough reason to belong to Europe. Nicolas Sarkozy, for whatever he may be worth, is right in saying, “The British are gone: it’s their choice. We must now act fast and strong. “(JDD p6).

The risks

The three biggest risks BREXIT poses for Europe are:

  1. A wave of nationalism takes over Europe (e.g. France, Austria, the Netherlands…), driven by fear of immigration and a need to regain lost national pride. We should keep a beady eye on the presidential elections in France and Germany next year. And one should not forget the risk (and the need for a robust response by Europe and the US) of the resurgent near-despotic Russian nationalism.
  2. The European economy does not reboot, leaving an unhealthy level of unemployment, the younger generations in a precarious position and a stagnant intra-European movement of population. Note: the destabilizing effects of a non-harmonized tax system and uncoordinated state expenditures render the Euro currency totally flawed.
  3. That the people in European countries feel increasingly trapped in a Europe in which they do not recognize themselves; and, do not find a net benefit versus the apparent cost. So we’re bound to see other European countries embark on their own EXIT. We are already talking about similar votes in several countries. This all points to the fact that a strong anti-European sentiment existed well before the vote in the UK.

The stakes are high and the risks are real. But, it is important to stress that they existed before the BREXIT vote. In fact, these topics were fully discussed before; but, the 28 members at the table were nowhere near finding a solution, stuck in endemic bureaucracy and consensual decision-making. The problem is that nobody (in Brussels, in particular) has ever felt enough urgency. It’s like running a business with an over-populated Executive Committee. An ExCom of 28 27 people is just unmanageable.

The Opportunities

The opportunities for Europe – or even unintended consequences – are:

  1. To define the vision (aka its NORTH) of Europe, something that could be made easier without the presence and the nit-picky point of view of the English. Firstly, one would have to imagine a future in which Europe has a definite place in the world, and with which members can identify themselves. Secondly, we should agree on the de facto shared values. To date, neither the vision nor the common values are clear.

    brexit ideal europe

    The Ideal House by Claude Nicolas Ledoux, 1770

  2. To address how to mobilize the European economy from the inside – instead of focusing how to repulse or ensnare the new entrants (e.g. Google, Facebook and Alibaba); to encourage entrepreneurship and the free movement of people between countries; and to collaborate on strategic projects (not just Airbus). N.B. High taxation and bureaucracy are not favorable conditions for business.
  3. With a well-defined North, Brussels must be prepared and able to make tough decisions. For example: to clean Europe of members who do not play by the rules. Consensus – as a process – is not friendly with making difficult decisions.
  4. Not forgetting that if Europe acts appropriately, Scotland and Northern Ireland could decide to join the EU …

In the vision of the Europe of tomorrow, there is a need to identify one or more values that are held in common.* This must be an ideal and/or a behavioural trait that is shared de facto by the people living there. Europe needs to take decisive and joint action that demonstrates a clear ambition and that unites. One would need to streamline the decision-making in Brussels to become fleeter of foot. Will there ever be an alignment of tax policies and, even more complicated, over the role of the state (e.g., level of expenditures) within each country?


Although many repudiate the idea, Europe would perhaps need a real orchestral conductor. Is there an appetite on the part of citizens (and their governments) to give up more power and sovereignty to a meta-structure, with a European president? But, even imagining it were accepted, would there be a person up to the task? Angela Merkel would present the best (only?) option.

Many questions and concerns. But these issues should have been debated and resolved much earlier. Now, it’s time to take the bull by the horns.


Brexit or Breaks It

If, as a result of the UK’s decision, Europe undertakes radical changes that will ensure the future of Europe, BREXIT would have had a happy unexpected intention: Europe will have received the necessary kick in the butt to provoke the change. But, if Europe implodes, this would indicate that the UK had good reason to withdraw. Perhaps, the UK’s departure will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but, in my opinion, the proverbial camel was already heavily overloaded.

Either way, I maintain that Brexiting was the right decision, even if the reasoning that underpinned this vote were unfortunate.

As a first (small) act of the new Europe: At the time of Euro 2016, I would propose to create a European team for each sport (not just golf)!

Europe: Now’s the time for us to act together!

* Although the United States are far from exemplary on many points, there exists a common shared value – across the 50 states – a fundamental belief: every individual has the right to build his/her own future. This kind of shared value binds and transcends all the American people. May the EU find its own!


*My friend, Takuya san, pointed out that the ideogram I had originally posted was wrong (it meant “storm wind”). So, I have replaced it with the correct characters! Arigato Takuya san!

Is There A Win-Win Case In The Brexit Vote?

brexit euro 2016Isn’t it ironic that the BREXIT vote is happening in the midst of Euro 2016? With good fortune (or planning?), there are no matches on Thursday 23rd. I am not particularly fond of football, but I feel like such tournaments are the best way to get out our atavistic nationalistic tendencies. May they remain there.

I have lived two-thirds of my life in Europe. I love Europe. I love Europe for its diversity of food and language; for its culture and history; for its proximity; for having the Alps and the Mediterranean; and much more. And, yet for Europe, I believe a BREXIT Leave vote will be best. Here’s why.

BREXIT – Business Angle: Short or Long-Term?

Taking the viewpoint of businesses in the Brexit debate, I have to state that there is little incentive for the UK to bust out of Europe. Businesses in general, and the stock market, in particular, do not like uncertainty. However, those vying to Remain based on financial matters, are doing so with no better assurances than those clamouring to leave. The difference is that the Remain camp is focusing on the negative shorter-term impact, while the other (leave) camp is more concerned about the longer-term impact.

Brexit Euro 2016

Obviously, no one knows for sure what would happen if Brexit goes through, except to say that it will cause a distinct amount of chaos. We know that there will be a major impact with the mobilisation of resources to reorganise (adjusting the legal and constitutional framework, redefining European political and trade relationships…). Another major thorny issue: what to do with the 3 million EU nationals living, working and/or studying in the UK, or the 2 million UK nationals spread throughout the EU?

Remain = Status Quo

Yet, to remain is to accept the status quo. Things I personally appreciate about the EU include the ability to travel without having to change monies or get visas and/or my passport stamped every time I cross a border. As a French national, I have the opportunity to settle wherever I would wish in Europe. Last but not least: the general peace Europe has enjoyed, regardless of the gross misfortune of the radical Islamic terrorism.

The one thing of which we do have a better understanding is if Europe stays as is, i.e. the UK votes to remain. Pretty much everyone everywhere knows that Europe is sickly. Even on the Remain camp, there are many who agree. What does the future hold with Europe continuing with the status quo?

Europe is ill

Europe is suffering on many layers, not least of which is its economic health. The European economy is systemically handicapped. The list of illnesses range from the systemic to the temporary to the cultural. The list of problems includes (but not limited to):

  1. the lack of fiscal harmony
  2. the hideously bureaucratic (and consensual) decision-making process in Brussels
  3. the lack of a harmonised vision of Europe across the 28 member countries of the EU
  4. the legacy feelings of entitlement
  5. the continuing divisions within the countries (Catalonia in Spain, Flemish in Belgium, Scotland in Britain, and an enormous laundry list of other active separatist or autonomy movements in Europe courtesy of Wikipedia)
  6. the risk of further pollutive immigration from the IS ranks

A chief argument for the Remain camp is that it will be easier to change from within… But, change hasn’t exactly been easy to forge in the past (especially over the first sixteen years since the introduction of the Euro). The UK’s half-wedded status has perhaps not helped them or Europe in this regard. Why will remaining in the EU mean that change will come any faster or better considering the poor record?

Vote for Radical Change?

My personal opinion underlying my position on the Brexit vote is that Europe needs to find a way to heal, and to do so quickly. I don’t believe gradual change will be good enough. In a democratic and consensual process, any change has been laborious to push through. Europe needs a real wake-up call to understand that staying as is will be like the proverbial frog in the (gradually) boiling pot. If a Brexit Leave vote will be painful for Europe, it will certainly be more painful for the UK, at least shorter term. But short of a Brexit, I do not see how or why Europe will take the necessary and hard decisions that need to happen to fix it. For this reason,

It won’t be pretty, but it would provide the best chance of forcing Europe’s hand to bring about necessary radical reform. Staying “within” will mean that any such change will come only with major compromises that bring Europe down to its lowest common denominator. Given the obvious stresses that the immigration issue will continue to provoke, much less the continuing slide of the European continuing faced against much more competitive players, Europe in its current incarnation seems destined to hit the wall.

I thus support Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Your thoughts and reactions are welcome.

Can Good Parenting Skills Be Transferred To Management?

parenting skillsWhen I was first asked the question whether parenting skills were transferable to the work place (in terms of management skills), I shrugged off the idea. But, with some further reflection, I think it is entirely appropriate. Maybe it’s about letting the inner child within flourish? Maybe it’s about letting more emotion into the workplace?

Parenting Skills 101

Here are some of the good parenting skills that I believe are absolutely relevant at work:

  • Staying young at heart
  • Fostering curiosity
  • Learning to learn again
  • Encouraging creativity
  • Promoting the risk of experimentation (within defined limits!)
  • Learning to fail
  • Working on non-verbal communication skills
  • Dealing with the unexpected
  • Empathy and heightened emotional intelligence
  • Modeling the behavior you would like to see implemented (walk the talk)
  • Linking behavior to values
  • Putting the most important things first…

When I finally put the list together, I was floored by the depth of applicability. There are probably many more, but it’s a good start. What other ones would you have? Which is your favorite? Any you disagree with?

And, there may even be a strong benefit to the business if we can better relate to our children, as they are, after all, representative of our future employees and customers.

#ParisAttacks Aftershocks – And The Urge to Find Meaning

Paris Republique MeaningfulnessI think it is finally dawning on all of us that we are living in a radical new era. It seems that little by little, methodically interspersed with several months and country by country, we find a new date to mark on the calendar as a day of memorial, of grief and of spine-chilling angst. This Wikipedia entry — documenting all types of terrorist actions in 2015 alone — shows how frequent the acts of violence have become. In 2015, we may be living in times when there has never been more progress in medicine, technology and science. There may be great ambitions to send manned missions to Mars and the other side of the moon.There may not be a world war as history books tend to write about them. However, I am sure I am not alone in feeling that there is also good reason to review what we all doing, ponder why we are doing it and, pressingly, how we are spending our time and resources at work.

In contemplating November 13’s tragic events in Paris, I came away with three thoughts.

  1. It is evermore critical to do things that are meaningful. Did anyone else notice how hard it was to get any work done in the aftermath? Granted it was the weekend, but everything non essential seemed to be stripped away. Unless our activity has a deeper purpose, one can literally feel the reservoir of energy running out. I am sure that many people around the world who have trudged into work this Monday morning are scrubbing their brows.
  2. As much as we might now know that change is every day — evermore so recently than ever in the past — that doesn’t make the change any easier. If we all have to gear up for systematic perturbations, that heightens the need for a strong, shared and meaningful NORTH heading. This is true for us as individuals. It is true for us as entrepreneurs, business leaders and employees. And, of course, most emphatically for our society. With all these changing winds, we need a strong compass to help guide us in our professional and personal lives.
  3. Lastly, on a rather more banal level, I could not help but feel upset at the mundane tweets and messages that floated out on Friday evening and over the weekend thanks to a cue of pre-programmed communications using one or other marketing automation service (Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.). I thought I’d made sure all of mine were closed, but I still missed one tweet. Marketing automation is possibly a necessary evil for business, but when you pre-program all your communications, you lose the context and can end up with some awful mistakes – that come off as total callousness.

Your thoughts and reactions are welcome.


How to Become the Titan of the Industry – Buy Me To the Moon!

Over the last week, we have seen a host of announced mergers and acquisition. Taken together, in my opinion, these would harken some scary conclusions.

Buy me to the moon?

Merger titan of industryIn the last week alone, we saw three acquisitions announced that show how fiercely these companies want to be bigger. It all seems about becoming the titan of the industry. If NASA and Roscosmos (Russia’s space agency) are both looking to fly manned missions back to the moon, these different corporate management teams are looking to buy me to the moon.

  • Allergan and Pfizer merger would make a combined entity with over $300 billion in valuation (WSJ) – 29 October. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s acquisition of Hospira earlier this year (for $15 billion – Guardian)
  • Hyatt ($7 billion valuation) is apparently targeting the acquisition of Starwood Hotels (c $13.5 billion valuation) – 28 October via CNBC
  • Walgreen to buy Rite-Aid ($17.2 billion) – October 28 via USA Today

Earlier in the year, we had many other huge merger & acquisitions announced or completed: Continue reading

The Craft of Storytelling – Practice Makes Perfect, But It Can Also Drive Your Closest Allies Nuts

Storytelling ArpeggioWhat makes for a great storyteller? I have to believe it’s an alchemy between talent, content and practice. Like a musician doing repeated scales and arpeggios, it is true that for those who live in close proximity, the practice can also drive one a bit nuts. The craft of storytelling is as old as the ages. It is the human condition to need to share and listen to stories; stories that move us. Some people are more gifted storytellers than others; but practice can make up a lot of the difference.

Crafting Your Stories…

It struck me, the other day, that people who have lots of friends probably have a better chance to become great storytellers. At the very least, they will be able to practice a good deal more with a live audience. If you only had a few friends, you won’t be able to repeat the same story too many times. Someone who has many friends can practice the storytelling across his or her network.

Friends & Family

Friends and family are often indicated as the first round of seed financing. They also serve as your first (core) level of fans; if they don’t want to talk about you, then you’ve got a problem. Friends and family are, naturally, the first (and most important) audience for your own storytelling. In my case, I know that I am no comedian. My (few) jokes need a lot more work. 

But when it comes to being a storyteller, it is important to be able to tell them repeatedly and in different situations. When practicing them, you can’t abuse your intimate family and friends with the same story over and over (that’s what Grandpa will do at dinner, glass of Scotch at hand). Thus, it is useful to have a wider circle of friends to refine your story and the storytelling. People’s reactions are the best feedback. If they say too often, “Yeah, Minter, that was interesting”, more than likely I need to go back to the drawing board. 

Develop Your Strategy to Practice More

Even if one doesn’t have a large network of friends, one needs to find an appropriate strategy to practice more. For the introvert storytellers, who might have a smaller (but tighter) group of friends, one will need to find alternative avenues. Depending on the personality, one such strategy is to write up the stories or record them on a private link and have the web friends give feedback. 

Maslow’s pyramid of needs… as expressed by this photographer in Syria

I listened yesterday to a Western photographer, whose name has been kept secret out of concern for his safety and who has been working in the government-controlled part of Deir ez-Zor, Syria, give an interview on the BBC. In the ten-minute interview, the photographer talked about living in this city, with a population of some 200,000 people, that has been under siege by ISIS. He is obviously a brave man. The conditions seem appalling and the assignment perilous. Tough as it was, however, he stressed he was living in a privileged position. He then proceeded to list what he meant by privileged. He started off by citing food, water, +2 hours of electricity per day. In addition, he said that he had access to the sole Internet connection in the city. He finally added that he was also privileged because he had bodyguard protection. 

Maslow's Pyramid of Needs in Syria

I thought the order in which he talked about his privilege to be quite revealing, no? Despite living in the heartland of the most barbaric of terrorist groups, this cameraman puts internet connection above having bodyguards! A revisiting of Maslow’s pyramid of needs may be in order?

You can hear this BBC podcast here until 13 July 2015!

Three things you don’t know about Iceland

Having just spent a few days Iceland, I have reaffirmed the fantastic advantage of travelling to a country to open your mind. With no more than 24 hours on Iceland’s sunny (if cold) shores, I discovered three things I didn’t imagine about Iceland. Arriving just after midnight into Reykjavik, I was welcomed by a setting sun (see below the nightscape at 1am). And yes, Iceland is home to the famous mid-summer white nights. But, you knew that.

Iceland sunset

A whale of a time

The first thing I discovered about Iceland was that they serve whale. Since I had never eaten whale, it had not occurred to me that the whale dish would be a meat dish. How naive! Would you have thought it so? Here it is:

Iceland dish

Had I not told you, would have thought this image was whale meat? I might add that it was very tasty. If you are interested, here’s a fine address to check out in Reykjavik: 3 Frakkar — which means Three French (a propos!) or Three Coats in Icelandic.

Icelandic naming device

Secondly, unique to Iceland, no child carries the father’s last name. They don’t even carry the mother’s last name. In fact, children carry a last name composed of: Continue reading

Uber beautiful – is Uber creating value? I tend to believe so

Uber logo squareLast night, my Uber driver, Mohammed (from Somalia), was an absolute delight. As much as one can argue about some of the less salacious tactics of Uber, the underlying principle of Uber creates an environment for truly different experiences. I wrote about the same type of feeling when transacting on Craigslist. Wherever I bought or sold using Craigslist, the community experience was delightful.

Mohammed referred to us (Uber passengers) as beautiful people. While we’ll take the compliment, it was more interesting to hear how Mohammed, who has been an Uber driver for 8 months, described the relationship he has with Uber and his passengers. And he described the gulf between the way he felt treated by other limousine services for which he’d driven for 5 years prior and with Uber.

Since Uber takes care of us, we take care of the passengers. Uber gets that!”

It’s a case in point where employee engagement is critical in terms of customer experience.

Driver – passenger

As for the relationship with the passengers, Mohammed went on:

Perhaps, it’s because of the rating system, but I keep on meeting beautiful people.

uber beautiful two arrowsI suspect that there is also an element an early-adopter community of people who are on and using Uber. Having used Uber in five countries (out of the 58 where Uber now operates) and in over ten cities, I can say that I have had a consistently good experience. In some cities, where the taxi service is rather poor (e.g. Paris), Uber provides a radically superior service. In a city like London, where the Black Cab is exceptionally good, the premium service comes with premium conditions: in the street pickup, inside space (bigger), taxi lanes (faster) and the Knowledge (less reliance on a map).

The driver experience

As Mohammed noted above, he feels Uber treats him well. This is surely not true all around the world for Uber drivers. However, in most cities, Uber drivers talk about short waiting times and a generally good revenue. Another driver I had recently was a convert from being a bus driver. He spoke about his journey from bus driver to Uber driver and, to his great satisfaction, he is earning 3x more and working 1/2 less. Plus he knows London rather well. Another element I hear regularly cited is the benefit for drivers in not having to chase down payment… The automatic payment system avoids those times when a passenger will jump without paying or finagle on price. From a passenger standpoint, we are winners too (unless you’re among those who prefer not to pay!).

Overall, it is my belief that Uber is extending and expanding the market for personal transportation. As such it is, in all likelihood, helping de-emphasize the need for car ownership. In the big scheme of things, this is a bonus for the environment. Thanks to the suave Uber app, the user experience is superb (although the initial pin accuracy could still be improved). The communication fluidity between driver and passenger is easy and effective, doing much to create a favorably charged relationship. On top of the payment facilities, the option of identifying and rewarding great driver experiences (6th Star) reinforces the desire to go beyond the call of duty. If there remain legal questions, some questionable business tactics (against Lyft, etc) and issues with driver selection and insurance, overall, I believe Uber is creating value.

What’s been your experience with Uber (and Lyft etc)? Are you a fan or do you believe Uber is not for you?

British Airways First Class is more like Last in Class

This may seem like a First World problem, but my experience with British Airways is a great point in case about how visceral and personal a relationship can be with a brand.

Two months ago, I had a miserable experience, having been downgraded involuntarily on a 10 1/2 hour flight from London to Austin (Texas). You can read about the British Airways saga part 1 and part 2, here. You will literally be shocked by the treatment. It makes for a scary way of running a business.

First Class… really?

BA First_Class1On my most recent trans-Atlantic flight to San Francisco, travelling on British Airways in First Class, I was emphatically non-plussed by the service. Having had a disastrous experience with BA recently, I was hoping that the BA team might have put 2 and 2 together to make a little special effort. Nothing of the sort. It was a most standard experience. Their tagline is damningly wrong: Designed with you in mind. The only issue is that they didn’t know who you is!

Customer experience – the technology

Outside of one of the flight attendants (Kristie) who was absolutely charming and dedicated (and who had informed the purser about my plight), it was a strictly plain experience. Unlike a business class seat I had sat in recently, the BA 1st class seat does not come with any place to store papers, books, computer, etc. The audio-visual entertainment set didn’t work at least for the first hour and then broke down en route.

Customer experience – the service

to try to serve British Airways

To “try” to serve – British Airways

For the main meal, I foolishly chose Aberdeen Beef. I should have guessed when I was not asked how I would like it; but, it was drastically overcooked. When I went to sleep, to take advantage of the 180º bed, I was peeved to discover that there was was no pillow or cover. No one came to make my bed (unlike some other passengers). Talk about not feeling pampered. At the end of the flight, the well-meaning Purser came over apologetically to say how he had been occupied with the AV issues. Thus, he had not been able to “individually welcome” the passengers.

What is Luxury?

In a fast-paced world, where the experience is the brand, British Airways is an example of how NOT to deliver. BA’s executive team seems more interested in drumming up ideas, writing reports and managing budgets. To wit, BA was the first airline to have an app for the Apple Watch. Meanwhile, basic attention to details, pampering of customers and paleolithic style of communication are a testament to a company that has not morphed into the 21st century.

The galling part of the whole experience with BA is that each flight seems to operate in total isolation with anything that happened before or after. In today’s world, building brand affinity and loyalty is all about engaging in a lasting experience, where there is a before, during and after. Brands that learn to craft a seamless, customer-centric experience that is augmented with technology and imparted by an engaged staff will find ways to win. British Airways is definitively not among those that have bought in to that vision.