Fun to be back in the studio for the CBC News Network Weekend Business panel, alongside Jeanhy Shim and John Northcott. In a business week where stories ebbed and flowed, we landed on two stories that are well suited for looking forward and back:
- The 10th Anniversary of the Global Financial Crisis. Ten years after the stunning failure of Lehman Brothers, marking the start of the global financial crisis, what lessons have been learned? Could another crisis be on the horizon?
- NIKE’S New Ad Campaign. Despite an initial backlash to NIKE’s new endorsement deal with Colin Kaepernick, online sales quickly re-bounded, tracking an increase in excess of 30%. Is this trend here to stay? What could this endorsement mean for other brands?
There is so much that could be said on each of these stories, but here’s my quick take:
I remember the start of the global financial crisis like it was yesterday, characterized by the stock market falling and bleak corporate stories rising for days on end. As past crises have taught us, the business world is one where a relatively small segment of players find ways to make significant amounts of money on the fringe; residing out on the edge of acceptable conduct, finding gaps in the regulatory environment and acceptable norms. Too often, these people make their money by putting their own position ahead of others, resulting in considerable detriment to many, such as in the case of failures in the housing and corporate markets. This “rogue factor” makes the case for the importance of smart, focused regulation, enacted by those who have a good understanding of where the gaps are. Well intentioned guidelines too often miss the mark, and it’s important to recognize that more is not always better.
Having said that, what could the challenges of the future look like? As much as companies will continue to fail (a trend that isn’t going anywhere), expect the next crises to include some new factors, such as the impact of technology, demographics, trade issues, shifts in alliances, and uncertainties associated with areas such as cryptocurrency. With technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, self-driving vehicles, and a greater level of control at the consumer level, what will the impact of inevitable job losses have on the economy? What will be the first domino to fall and where will the chain of events that is triggered end? Recognize that the crisis that comes next could look very different than what we have seen in the past, a mere 10 years ago, which, in reality, represents a much longer developmental timeframe.
In the case of NIKE, many of us can recall when a little known NFL quarterback made headlines when he “took a knee” in protest of racial injustice. Whether in agreement or disagreement with Kaepernick’s actions, he clearly took a risk in expressing his point of view. This concept of risk is consistent with what NIKE did when launching its newest campaign, an interesting parallel to what inspired it all. Risk creates uncertainty, something that stock markets are known not to like; however, it also requires courage, faith, and knowing that much could be lost. While Kaepernick remains an unsigned free agent, NIKE’s initial losses have been replaced with gains, at least in the short term, with the future yet to be seen.
What could be fueling this response? Over the last couple of years, numerous people and groups have been standing up (or, perhaps, taking a knee) for causes they believe in, such as gender inequality, gun control, abuse, and yes, racial injustice. With what seems to be no end to the distasteful rhetoric coming from a range of extremist groups and even the White House, many people seem to have found their own voice, recognizing that this type of world isn’t what they want for themselves, their children, or their community. As it has been said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, it seems that many have been displaying this sentiment through their actions. Perhaps, this is what is fueling both understanding and support for those who are willing to go out on a limb for their beliefs and risk it all, in response to what is wrong, unjust, or unseemly.
Personally, I couldn’t agree more. If we are not willing to speak up when the chips are down, what are we left with as a society? Thanks for watching and see you next time!