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The Miracle that is Greece….
November 25th, 2013

A week ago, I had the delightful opportunity of being the closing keynote speaker for a global conference of family wealth managers that was held at a resort outside Athens. It was a pretty fascinating group ….

Athens2013Needless to say, I don’t take on too many international keynotes; the travel can be gruelling, and to do a quality job, you need to ensure you’ve planned in enough time. And in this case, the trip was all the more wonderful because I was able to bring along my wife, Christa. We turned it into a bit of an extended adventure.

We spent 3 days in and around the Athens area (in addition to side trips to Italy and Germany.) And I must say, I came away pretty impressed with what I saw.

I think my expectations of Athens have, in large part, been shaped by international media coverage around the upheaval, protests, riots and political challenges that have occurred through the last several years. Certainly, it is a country that is in the midst of significant turmoil and challenge.

But here is what I saw — the people were genuinely friendly. There was a vibrancy in the tourist areas, the markets, the streets. There were no visible signs of unrest. I kind of liked the place. I was impressed; it did not fit with my expectations of something much worse after the political challenges of the last few years.

On the flight home, I read the slide deck of another presenter at the conference — George Pagoulatos, Professor of European Politics & Economy Athens University of Economics & College of Europe.

And I’m fascinated by what he has summarized, in terms of just how quickly has aligned itself to its new reality:

This has been the largest fiscal consolidation of any country in modern history

  • the primary budget deficit of 10.5% in 2009 is now 0.0% in 2013
  • the cyclically adjusted fiscal balance: ‐19.1% in 2009 and just +0.6% in 2013
  • the 2013 budget deficit 2013 at 4.1%  is lower than Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US!
  • the current account deficit is now close to zerom down from 14% GDP in 2008

It is estimated that the country will see the first signs of positive GDP growth in 2014.

These are truly staggering numbers, and a truly astonishing achievement. Granted, it has not come without significant pain to the Greek people. There is a lot of unrest bubbling beneath the surface, as well as political challenges and uncertainty. The rates of unemployment are simply staggering, particularly amongst the youth.

So how will things unfold for Greece from here? It’s hard to say, particularly given the unemployment situation. But what I saw myself, and what I see from George Pagoulatos, convince me that Greece has likely hit bottom, and there’s no where to go up but up.

Let’s hope so. It’s a wonderful country.

Many of the major associations that book me for a keynote run a pre-event interview or article to stir up interest in their event, or provide post-event coverage of my keynote. This is a wonderful way to build interest and attendance at the conference, as well as enhancing and re-enforcing the key message of the conference, and the role of my keynote in helping to hammer home that message.

Here are three good examples from recent events from the National Recreation and Parks Association, the PGA (Professional Golfer Association) of America, and the Produce Marketing Association.

All of the articles can be accessed below in PDF format.

Through the years I’ve developed a great reputation for working with my clients to do everything I can to help make the most out of my keynote, and for the conference or event itself.

Based on the email response and media coverage, my keynote at the SCTE in Tampa yesterday caused a bit of a buzz. There’s an article from MultiChannel News (see below) that takes a look at my remarks.

A key message seems to be sticking: cable companies should not go to war with their customers.

Recently, exectives in some cable companies have suggested that they should be able to put a speed cap on emerging Internet services such as VoIP. Dumb: those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. Look at what this strategy did for music companies.

No industry, including any company in telecom, entertainment, broadcast or tech, should choose to do battle with their customers. It’s a losing strategy. Plain and simple.

Read the MultiChannel report :

Futurist: Cable Needs ‘Agility’
MultiChannel News
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By Matt Stump 1/11/2006 5:27:00 PM, Tampa, Fla. —

Author and futurist Jim Carroll urged engineers at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ Emerging Technologies conference here to watch consumer behavior in order to determine the future direction of cable-technology implementation.

Whether telcos or cable will win market share in the future, he said, is the wrong question. Rather: How well will cable adapt and deliver platforms and services consumer want?

“You need to develop agility,” Carroll — author of What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation (Oblio Press, 2004) — told an audience. “Innovation and invention has moved from the labs to the collective,” he added, citing consumer usage of portable music, video players and digital cameras.

He urged cable companies not to make the mistake the music industry did and go to war with their own consumers over how they obtain content.

“Customers will be pushing you for more choice,” he said, adding that future generations will want access to their video and audio content on many different devices. “TV is not a single-source medium,” he said. “There are multiple ubiquitous devices.”

Cable can provide those connections and help consumers to move content from one device to another, he added. At the same time, “the complexity of what you’re dealing with is increasing. No one cable engineer can know everything,” he said.

Carroll urged cable companies to develop partners for new and different technologies, as several top operators have with their recent joint venture with Sprint Nextel Corp. for wireless services.

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