Having time on my hands, I though I would dash off to Iowa to see how the Republican field is doing. To my surprise, I found Romney, whom I had written off as being too smart and competent to stand a chance with either the Limbaugh brainwashed base or the clandestine leadership, which favors congenial dimwits easily subject to manipulation, with a slim lead over the rest of the pack.
But the mood at Romney’s HQ in Des Moines was not one of jubilation. Rather, a profound gloom prevailed over his campaign team. The reason was not his competition, which he was confident he could defeat, but the less sanguine view of his chances in November.
“We’ve run the polls,” one of his organizers told me,”and if the economy stays on its current course, he looks tough to beat.”
I asked him if that meant that, contrary to the message Romney was putting out, Obama’s policies were, in fact, working.
“Oh, no,” he reassured me. “It’s not so much what he’s doing, but what he hasn’t done.”
“Well, he hasn’t attacked any other countries, borrowing a 6 trillion dollars to establish a new ally of our worst enemy in the middle east while giving Al Queda another toehold, which they didn’t have before. Nor has he deregulated Wall Street to the point where it can crash the global economy again, requiring another 4 trillion dollars of debt to repair the damage.”
“I see what you mean,” I said. “So what’s your plan?”
“I have an idea,” said Karl Rove, who had just joined us. “Since Romney can’t beat Obama, have him run against someone else.”
“Like who?” the organizer asked, skeptical.
“A made up candidate. For example, one who is a socialist and believes in the government controlling everything, and who hates America and believes that the fruits of those who work for a living should be redistributed to those who don’t.”
“Brilliant! And how about if we make him an African American, to boot!”
“He IS an African American,” someone in the back of the room noted.
The gloom resettled over the Romney team.
Suddenly, Rove smiled. “How about an African American who was born in Africa?”
My run of 12 five star and 2 four star reviews on Amazon US and UK was ended yesterday by a reviewer in the UK who gave me two stars and began his comments with “This is a worthy book” but followed up soon after with “I’ve read many, many business books and this was one of the worst I’ve read.” He goes on to say he found my anecdotes “dull and uninspiring” and my advice “mundane”.
Well, at least he said it was “one of the worst” and not “the worst.”
It took me back to when, fresh out of the Peace Corps, I audited a creative writing course at NYU, taught by L.J. Davis, a Brooklyn based novelist who had been compared by one critic to Mark Twain for his wild sense of humor. The class was comprised predominantly of professional trade journal writers who were frustrated novelists, whose manuscripts Davis would read aloud to the class and then invite the rest of the class’ praise or excoriation. It was several weeks before Davis got around to reading my manuscript, and I remember him saying “Aha” as I walked into the class. It was my first recognition by a professional writer and it helped sustain me through the next 30 years of disappointment until I finally got published.
Davis had his own disappointments. His first novel in 1971 had received good notices but achieved little commercial success. His next novel came out during our class, and got panned by the New York Times. I remember him walking into class the week after the review came out, looking like a condemned man facing the gallows. “She was just never going to like that kind of book,” he told us, lamenting the NYTs choice of reviewer.
L.J.’s career took a different turn after that, and he became a respected business journalist. I meant to get back in touch with him after my book came out, but in researching this blog I found his obituary: he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment last April. He had the last laugh, though. His first novel was recently republished to rave reviews. Among his other claims to fame was the fact he once decked a drunken George W. Bush at a Washington party for hitting on his girlfriend.
I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to get back in touch.
I will eventually learn that BlackBerry cameras are zeros when it comes to low-light environments — but they do produce some neat Special FX such as this one shot by our server at “Stan’s”, FINCA’s official after hours watering hole. The occasion was a rare get together of me and four of my Peace Corps mates, one of whom I had not seen since our group left Guatemala for the States, 38 years ago.
It was strange to wake up in my own bed this morning, after 6 weeks of being in more or less constant motion during the course of my 11 city tour. I’m grounding myself — except for a quick hop up to NYC for the Microfinance CEOs Working Group on Dec 19 — for the balance of the year.
Had a great book signing with the Brown Club of D.C. — thanks, you guys! My favorite moment was when, having explained my struggle to eschew the memoir form (my agent advised against it, arguing that it was a very “crowded shelf”), I was groping for the right word to explain that I had organized the book according to subject matter (HR, Fundraising, Governance, etc) as opposed to presenting the material in……in……what’s the word? A chorus of “Chronological!” came from my audience.
In the category of Mr.-Last-to-Read-the-writing-on-the-wall, I see Herman has called it quits, citing “false accusations” from his harem of ex GFs and harrassment victims.
Sorry, Herm. But if you’re going to serve politics instead of pizzas, you have to learn to lie better than that.
One thing to say for smog is it produces some really beautiful sunrises here in ‘The Valley’. This picture doesn’t do it justice as it was snapped with my low tech BlackBerry cam.
Doing my emails, checking in with the various Tribunes of my Empire to see how things are going. Big worry bead today is the election in the Congo. The challenger has already promised to not accept the results if he loses, and start a revolution to overthrow Kabila. In Kosovo we’re sweating the hoped for passage of a law that will allow us to transform into a bank.
The hostess at the restaurant saw my name and said ‘Oh, Paul Scofield. A Man for all Seasons’. Only in Hollywood.
Okay, looking forward to today’s gigs at UCLA Anderson School of Management and USC Marshall School of Business. Bring your twitterers, guys, because if you have the best answer to the question: “How can social entrepreneurship change the world?” you will win a copy of my book.
Had a good lunch with my old friend Harold Rosen, Founder and CEO of the Grassroots Business Fund, and his able team who operate in the tricky “Impact Investing” Space. This means they make fairly large loans to social enterprises and businesses in Developing Countries. Harold took the bold step of leaving a secure job at the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) several years ago to start up GBF, and just closed a deal with several investors to give him the capital he needs to expand his operation. I shared my experiences, summarized in my book, on how to take organizations to the “next level”. Good luck, Harold!
Meanwhile, back on the home front, I think Boise-Cascade has moved in next door, given the number of legacy oak trees that are being felled in the neighborhood. It seems that PEPCO, our energy company, has grown tired of repairing power lines felled during the numerous violent wind storms coursing through our heavily wooded community. Breaks my heart to see trees that were probably hatched from Civil War Era acorns fall to the chain saw, all because — are you listening, Rush? — we wont’ do anything about Global Warming. Trust me, we did not have these violent wind storms when I was a lad, growing up in Levittown, New York.
I know, I know, you think it’s all a Liberal hoax, Rush. Do me a favor: sit under an apple tree for a few hours in the fall and, after the 3rd or 4th Macintosh bounces off your fat head, repeat after me: “Gravity is real, Science is real….”
Contrary to my previous websayito, we do have things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:
We are alive
Iran does not have the bomb (yet)
Newt is not President (yet)
So come on! Smile!
Wow. I’m saying (thinking) that a lot lately. So it looks like the End Game many predicted, and which the EU has circled around for months, is finally goin’ down: a straight up cutting off of further Eurozone/IMF bailouts, followed by a full on sovreign default by Greece, and may pain fall where it may.
At the talk I gave tonight at Credit Suisse, one person asked me if I felt that out of chaos might be born a new order, a new Global Economic Model, based on Social Enterprise. I answered that, historically, all businesses were social enterprise, bring benefits to society like jobs, income, food, and other essential products and services society demanded. The difference today is that these benefits can’t be just local: every business needs a triple bottom line that delivers economic justice, social and environmental benefits. Otherwise as a species will will perish, slowly asphixiated or in Condi’s famous “Mushroom Cloud”.
This book tour is not as I had envisaged it, all play and no work. But it has brought one massive benefit, much like my career in microfinance: I’ve met so many great people, team mates, committed to make this world a better place.