President Hollande – There’s a Hole in your Trustworthiness

The latest scandal in France with President Hollande, regarding his First Lady-cum-Second-Girlfriend-cum-Three’s a Party, has brought to the forefront the divide between personal and professional life. In France, the refrain is frequent: what’s personal is private. It’s considered the French touch, a cultural heritage. In an environment where trust is lacking and in a technologically enabled era where transparency is basically a conduit to trust, President Hollande’s secret tryst has made a mockery of the Office of the President.

Trustworthiness in leadership

In evaluating President Hollande’s management of his personal relationship, I think it absolutely matters in terms of gauging his trustworthiness. Not that ‘cheating’ is criminal, but it is certainly not encouraged at school, nor is it admirable or the basis for any solid long-term relationship. Moreover, for his team, it unquestionably has an impact on how they must view him and his sense of fidelity. In an ‘All Boy’s Club,’ maybe that type of behavior will be hammed up in the locker room. But, for a team including women, that has a sense of pride and from whom the leader is looking for total heart and soul commitment, this type of cheating will inevitably have a bearing. Even if it is not officially said to be important, the behavior speaks volumes.


I can only believe that this video above is not legitimate. Surely, with so few views, it’s a fake. But it certainly feels the part!

A Hole in Hollande’s Trustworthiness

I do make parallels between how Hollande managed this affair and what attitudes business leaders need to adopt in order to garner greater trust and to inspire and motivate the workers (or citizens) to follow the vision. In the army, if a soldier doesn’t trust his commander, he won’t feel good about taking the boss’ orders. I tend to believe the same is true of any leader. Sure, one might execute obediently, but the extra step, the extra energy will not be there. I would argue that the President of France has a gaping hole in his trustworthiness. It was there before the Gayet scandal erupted. Now, he has the trust of his very own team to recuperate before even thinking about the trust the population might have put in him.

Trust is intangible but relies on actions

Similarly, in business, engaged employees who live and work around their leader, for at least 8 up to 12 hours a day, need to feel that their leader is trustworthy. In such close quarters, I would also argue that employees will — at least subconsciously — also take note of his/her personal ethics. It’s not possible to separate the two, especially as it regards trustworthiness. If France has made a conscious decision to want to separate private and professional, it comes — at least in part — from its heritage of not wanting the King’s riches and decadence to be generally known by the masses. The French upper crust invoke the code “to live happily, it is better to live hidden.” This is just not a way to garner trust; especially in an era of widening transparency.

Voting for Whollande

For François Hollande, he has shown us throughout his career an inability to commit. What is true in his private life is also true in his public (political) life. Is it not obviously consistent? The natural extrapolation would be that if he treats his First Ladyfriend with such trickery and arctic coldness that he might operate the same way at times with his own team? And, for the electorate, it’s all very well “saying” you don’t care about his private life; then, why did Closer, the magazine that revealed the affair, sell out in the first day? Why has television been galavanting on about the ongoing tryst? Is it not because what is personal is the singular backbone of personality? Politicians, much like CEOs, are mediatic figures. They must accept to live in the limelight. I would argue that they must bring their whole person with them. And, it so happens in a world where digital media helps reveal and spread news, being transparent and demonstrating consistent integrity are the right way to go to build trust, a trust which in polls around the world is so lacking for politicians, business executives and marketers alike.

Ironically, now that Hollande is shifting from Socialist to Social Democrat, personally I am grateful for this latest switch; but will it last?

Daft Punk, The Myndset Digital Marketing & Brand StrategyBTW, is it not beautifully coincidental that the helmeted Daft Punk is a French band that just scooped the Grammy Award for its album? They clearly have the wind in the backs….

P.S. I participated in a “debate” on France 24 television following the press conference at which Hollande was grilled about the Closer revelations.  In case you are interested, here are the YouTube recordings (in two parts): Part 1 and Part 2.

Your thoughts?

Words are so revealing: Time says it all!

WIth my long-time love of words, especially when it comes to translation, I thought about how the French translate the word “timing.” The word the French use is “delai” or “delay.” How ironic!  Certain words can have such a way of explaining a culture.  And, since the way we view time is tantamount to the way we view life, anything dealing with TIME is of particular interest. {Click to Tweet this}

frog cool, The mYndset digital marketing and Brand StrategyWhen the Anglo-Saxon talks about the timing for delivery of a product or service, the French refer to the delay.  It’s almost as if we’re inviting the retard, non?

What does that make you think? Doesn’t it give a whole new meaning to the “Parisian 15 minutes,” where the cool Frenchman (aka the dude to the right) is welcome to be late?

Your thoughts, please!

The unfair weather knell of democratic politics

Water rain - The Myndset Brand StrategyWe are in changing times (once again) and I must say that the picture reminds me of the grey and rainy may day (ie. help!) we are having in London (au Secours #RadioLondres), on this Monday, May 7, 2012.

As of today, we now have:

  • Hollande in France, voted in by 51.7%
  • Samaris of the New Democracy party in Greece with 18.9% vote, introducing  a very new form of democracy
  • Putin of United Russia with 64% of the vote as the returning President in Russia, ushering back in an echo of Russian democracy
  • …not to mention the weekend’s local/regional elections in the UK, Germany and Italy, where the incumbents were regularly whipped or wiped out of office.

A major year for elections

These elections alone have been rather momentous.  And, ahead, there are many more parliamentary and presidential elections to which to look forward including Egypt in end of May, India (in July) and USA (in November)… [You can view the entire list of elections in the world in this Wikipedia entry.]

It was a busy week of voting for me, too.  I voted in the mayoral election in London as well as the Presidential election in France (via “procuration”).  I will also cast my vote in the US elections.

For what purpose?

But, with all these elections, it leads me to pose two questions:

  1. how much do people expect the world to change thanks to politicians?
  2. how much productivity is negatively impacted in a country during the year of elections?
On the first point, I have long been a proponent of the Ayn Rand determinist school of thought, so I would much rather take matters into my own hands, whenever possible.  If you are in business, then I think there is no better state of mind.  I am more likely to believe that democratically elected politicians can negatively impact business, rather than positively.
On the second question, if voters spent their time on constructive debate and pundits (and the media) provided more reasoned and well-researched arguments, perhaps an election would be grounds for real debate and progress.  But, between media airwaves that are spent on unsightly negative political (and personal) attacks, flaring emotions in bar rooms and pubs and vapid political debates, there seems to be too much wasted breath (and time) during political campaigns.

The political cycle

The problem with democratically elected officials is that, by definition, they must over promise to get elected.  Yet, with clockwork predictability, unexpected events occur and plans are derailed.  By mid term, the electorate systematically becomes impatient and sanctions their elected leader, making the last half of the term a lame duck.  The arc of democracy consists of high expectations and dashed hopes.  Would that we all got down to the business of taking responsibility for ourselves rather than waiting for Godot.

Review of Hugo Cabret, the film – 3 truths from my point of view

Not the film of all time

The_Invention_of_Hugo_Cabret, from the Myndset

Part biography, part novel, part compendium, part flip book!

To ring in the new year, we went to see the new Martin Scorsese film, Hugo, based on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick. This 2 hour+ film did not seduce me on the merits of the direction, plot or acting. I thought of it more like a nostalgic film for the film industry. At best, Hugo is a film about time, rather than a film of all time.  However, the “picture” — as in the cinematography — was at times delightful. Being in Paris and having been a student of film at university, I can appreciate the desire to recover and repurpose archival film and the wonderful creativity of Georges Méliès. The film does a good job of reinserting old film into a new context, which I am going to assume was one of Scorsese’s primary motivations for making the film.

Oh yes, there was one other thing: vocabulary.  The charming young Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) spent the entire film showing off her good English vocab.  I smiled, thinking that maybe some kids would pick up some words.  Only problem, there was no clickable link through to the dictionary to verify the meaning!

The collateral messages

Meanwhile, if I may not have been overly thrilled with the writing and some of the acting, I did have a few “moments” in the film, where my internal message center lit up.  Here are the three parts to the film that did ring true for me:

  1. Find your North.  I like to use the expression, “to find your North”, because we all need a compass to guide us, especially through these turbulent times.  As the film explicits for the film industry, we sometimes yearn for the nostalgia of the “good ‘ole days,” filled with tradition and, yet, synonym of rejecting change.  I particularly liked the passage when the small boy, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) says to his co-adventurer, Isabelle, that in machinery every piece has a purpose.  And, Hugo and Isabelle, being a part of the world’s machine, have their purpose, too.  The point is find one’s purpose, or one’s North.
  2. Storytelling.  A common theme these days for brand marketers — because brands need to learn how to tell a story to which its customers can relate — storytelling has long been monopolized by the cellulose film industry.  As was exposed in a delightful TEDx Marin speech by Robert Tercek, we as a culture have handed over the reigns to Hollywood to do the storytelling for us and that it is time for us to take storytelling or “personal narrative” back.  Dreams and storytelling are what films can bring to us.  But, we should all be allowed to have our individual dreams in real life (IRL) and to be able to tell our stories (blogs and more…).
  3. The French smile.  The Station Inspector of the brilliantly reconstructed Quai d’Orsay train station, is played by the ever surprising Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Borat and Ali G.  Not the nicest of Station Inspectors, but certainly up there with the quirkiest, the French Inspector is not good at smiling.  As the film goes on, he develops a repertoire of 3 smiles with which to seduce the flower girl.  I’m not sure how intentional this was, but it certainly made me think of the French lack of propensity to smile in a happy way (as opposed to a smirk), much less to laugh.
My daughter (12) thought the film was too juvenile for adults (based on the dialogue and plot), while my wife thought the film was too “old” for children because of the rather dour, nasty and somewhat depressive nature of some of the characters.  Appropriate confusion.

I’m not going to make you go out to see the film with this review.  The film has its moments and I enjoyed Christopher Lee as the librarian, Mr Labisse, and Ben Kingsley as Georges Melies.  Kingsley, whose birth name was Krishna Bhanji, typified a rather international crew.  Hugo is a touching tribute to old film with a couple of poignant moments, but not well enough written to have more than 2.5 out of 5 rating.

Wave that [French] flag!

Is France doing some media marketing?

It seems that this week, France has managed to capture the bulk of the headlines in the press in the international section.  And there is a captivating, if not liberating theme!

  1. The liberation of the two French France Television journalists, cameraman Stéphane Taponier and reporter Hervé Ghesquière, after 18 months (547 days) in captivity at the hands of the Taliban
  2. The captivation of the world’s media with DSK scandal in NYC and his potential incarceration
  3. The nomination of Mrs. Christine Lagarde (N.B. her name = The Keeper), current Minister of Economy, as the first woman at the head of the IMF {BRAVA!}
  4. And, finally, Tsonga’s cuffing of the Feds in SW19.  A brilliant come from behind.  Roger looks like a prisoner of ghost’s past!

Is it just because I live here in France that I think that the French marketing machine was on overdrive?  If France were a brand, is this a good way to be top of mind on the world’s stage?  Your thoughts?

France loves to strike where you least expect

Got to love this. Pôle Emploi, the agency in charge of dealing with the unemployed (currently riding at 9.7% in France) is going on strike. Not enough resources to go around they claim, and now they are planning job cuts for 2011. Pole Emploi will, in effect, add to the ranks of the unemployed; a little ironic. It reminds me when the unemployed in France went on strike (actually they just manifested) saying they wanted more benefits.

The Greying of the World – Enough to make you go grey!

Not that it is supposed to be ironic, but below is a grey newspaper clipping with dark grey text, shaded columns and a light grey contour on a white background… Lots of nuances in those greys! Take a look at the graphic below, which is taken from the Herald Tribune of October 16, 2010 (source is the UN Population Division, assuming medium fertility in each of the countries).  It is perhaps a concept with which we are all familiar; but, a picture can tell a thousand words, literally. Continue reading

Seth’s Blog: Heroes and mentors & role models…

« The book of the year | Blog Home | N-1 »

Heroes and mentors

Mentors provide bespoke guidance. They take a personal interest in you. It’s customized, rare and expensive.

Heroes live their lives in public, broadcasting their model to anyone who cares to look.

The internet has created a long tail of heroes. There are tens of thousands of musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, social leaders, politicians (okay, maybe not thousands of these), coders and colleagues to find and emulate. WWHD. What would my hero do? Continue reading

GEF 2009 Ipsos Study on Women in Business in France – 10 measure manifesto

I attended a GEF (Grandes Ecoles au Feminin [1]) conference yesterday, here in Paris, at which I listened to the results of an Ipsos study entitled, “How to improve the mix of women in management [in France].” You can read the French results here. This was the fourth time that a study had been commissioned in and around this topic, and apparently the results remained largely similar: all manner of managers in business recognize that having women in management is a good thing, but that little progress has been made and the road ahead is still long.

The study was made with individual interviews of top management from 16 major French companies (Dec 2009) as well as the answers of 5,431 respondents (questionnaire was self-administered on Internet) in May 2009.

Some highlights that I picked out:

o 82% of men and 87% of women are in favour of more women to change the style of management. This point strikes me as supremely important and recognizes implicitly the failings of current management practice (hierarchical, control & fear based…)

o 80% of men and 96% of women recognize it is rare to see women in top posts. The point here is that 20% of men actually believe it is not rare.

o 47% of men and 76% of women see an important or rather important difference in salaries between men and women. That’s a stunning 29% difference.

In a review of actions taken by companies to promote women in management, the study identified 25 measures that had been concretely taken by one or more of the 16 companies interviewed. The irony of the study was that 16 of the 25 measures were considered en masse to be easy to implement and effective in their results. And, yet, the net results remain basically imperceptible. The GEF team concluded that the reason for the lack of impact is that companies are satisfied to implement only a couple of the measures which, in practice, did not bear any fruit. Fully 1/4 of the respondents (21% for men and 29% for women) believed that it will take 50 years before seeing parity in France.

The net result of this GEF survey is a sort of manifesto of 10 specific measures that need to be taken, ensemble, in an effort to make real headway on this issue. I cite those 10 actions below, adding a few comments where I see fit.

GEF Plan: A Plan of Action in three areas, that needs to sponsored by top management

Actively promoting women
o For each open position in management, ensure the presence of female candidates and justify if there is no female candidate. The key is having someone who calls out and verifies when no female candidate is presented.
o Identify the high potential women to create a target group that is representative of the company’s mixity [2].
o Develop specific training for women.
Only 7% of women have ever received any special training.
o Promote networking
. I believe that women might benefit from some specific training relative to how men might network a little differently — at least to decode the ‘masculine’ ways of networking.

Changing the rules
o Change the criteria for performance evaluation. I believe that performance evaluations need to be adapted to the new world order, especially to promote collaborative behaviour.

o Break the linear career model and changing the criteria of geographical mobility. This applies not just to women, but to basically all Gen Yers. On average a woman has just under two kids in France and, therefore, spends 8 months out of a 40-year career on maternity leave.
o Educate management on the behavioral differences between men and women and on the interest in taking on a greater mix. The key here, for me, is bringing out/accepting feminine values of management in men as well.
o Develop a practice for a better
work-life balance. Personally, I struggle with the notion of balance on a daily basis, in that we are constantly out of balance. The key is to find a way to create a longer-term balance.

Operating and monitoring of measures implemented
o Establish quantitative targets at any level. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

As for quotas (as in Norway for Executive Boards), the GEF position is: there is no proof that we can do without quotas. They asked their pool of respondents the question to what extent they were opposed to a quota system. The “good” news was that they were less opposed than expected. However, that still left 45% — 56% of men and 32% of women — opposed (somewhat or totally) to a quota.

And, finally, I leave you with an article on a study which I have found extremely enlightening regarding how men and women can operate differently. The Harvard Business Working Knowledge article by Martha Legace
interview of Professor Boris Groysberg (Harvard Business School) is entitled, “How female stars succeed in new jobs.” The article (and study of 1,000 analysts) presents how female analysts (Wall Street) do a better job of creating a successful transition to a new company. As Groysberg said in an HBR article in Feb 2009, “[f]emale star analysts, it would seem, take their work environment more seriously yet rely on it less than male stars do. They look for a firm that will allow them to keep building their successful franchises their own way.”

North America if far from perfect in terms of parity, but there are surely some good examples to be had from over the pond.

——————–

(1) GEF is an assocation regrouping alumni from 9 major graduate schools in France: Centrale Paris, ENA, ENPC, ESCP-EAP, ESSEC, HEC, INSEAD, Les MINES et POLYTECHNIQUE

(2) Using the term “mixity” is perhaps a bit of a frenchism, but the important point is relating the percentage of women in top management positions compared to the overall employee population of that company. For example, it is highly irregular and suspect to see a company with 10% women on a board of directors in a company where over 60% of the employees are women.

Restaurant and Tarte Tropezienne of choice in St Tropez

Among the slew of restaurants that line the port of St Tropez, it is a roll of the dice to find the right address — to avoid the overly expensive tourist trap, with slow or snobbish service, etc.  Having entered and exited the smokey and hyper-touristic (if extremely well located) Sénéquier, we finally settled on L’Adresse. Run by Jerome and Faty (expatriated from the Parisian suburbs), this was a gem of a spot. Set to an ever present background lounge music, we enjoyed it so much we went twice.

The food was refined.  From the reasonably priced (14-16E) suggestions du jour, we enjoyed the Lamb and Veal Chops, as well as some tasty Gambas and Plaice fish.

L’Adresse, which you will, of course, find among the first references in any yellow pages thanks to its AD, is a top spot — not to be mixed up with the local L’Adresse real estate agent. Its address? Officially, it is 4 Quai de l’Epi (83990). But, you need to find l’Esplanade du Nouveau Port (on the far port [left hand] side of the port).

Nice touch: check the Adresse logo where the A and D combine for the jib and mainsail of a sailboat.

Telephone: +33.4.94.56.10.73.  Read here for the QYPE writeup or on their own MYSPACE site.

For deserts, however, given the fine 20-23C weather, we could not resist hitting the gelateria. Specifically, at the famed Sénéquier where the ice cream stand was run by a charmer. And, if the Tarte Tropézienne was invented in 1945 by the Pole, Alexandre Micka, (read in French the history of la Tarte Tropézienne), the Tarte Tropezienne offered by the Patisserie of Sénéquier is a far finer affair.  If you want to order the tart from them, you had better call the evening before (04.94.97.00.90).