Thursday, December 11, 2014

Breathe Deep ...........

My father mentioned to me that the police was following us. 

The year was the early 80’s and he had just picked up his new Cadillac Fleetwood and we were driving back to my home in New Jersey.  My parents were in the back seat and my son who was a little boy at that time was sitting in the front with me.

Yes, I did notice that as soon as we passed he pulled out.  Minutes later we were pulled over.  He walked slowly to the car eyeing everyone in the car.  He pulled me over not because I was speeding but as he said “there were reports of stolen cars”.  I am like really “stolen cars with senior citizens sitting in the back seat”.  He wanted all documentation on this “nice car” as he put it.  I literally had to show him that yes my parents just bought this car with all the accompanying documentation.

After checking everything over numerous times, I knew, not to respond, make any “quick moves” etc. because in the blink of an eye, I could have become a statistic like these issues that are going on in the US today

A new generation but same effect

My son once he had driver’s license, drove my luxury car to the mall with friends.  He was followed for no reason and eventually pulled over.  He and all his friends had to get up against the car as they checked ID’s.  Numerous police cars surrounded them.  He knew how to respond because like my father, I told him what to do when and if he gets stopped by a policeman.  When they could not find anything wrong, they were “released”.  They were embarrassed but thank god they were still alive.  Because one false move and I would have been without a son.

My daughter who drove one of her white friend’s home late one night was pulled over and again it was the same deal. The officer wanted to know what she was doing in this neighborhood, she politely replied, I LIVE IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD.  Her friend was incredulous that this could happen.  My daughter replied “if you only knew”.  Meanwhile as she waited to be cleared, they were surrounded by other police cars

So sad: When will it stop

As I notice these killings/court decisions over the past few weeks in the US, I am so relieved to be living in the Middle East where in Dubai, the police in a lot of cases do not even carry guns.  Every race imaginable, every language imaginable and everyone is too busy with their lives to get caught up in this racial mindset. 

I will say this though, that we are the laughing stock of the world.  What people here can’t understand is how can people can just be killed while unarmed and nothing is done in every instance.  As someone remarked to me the other day, your police have become “judge, juror and executioner”.  Business leaders look at the US as being a world hypocrite.  Saying and lecturing to the world, but not living up to those ideals at home.

As I travel the world, I notice how all these countries are all on a growth trajectory.  Companies are moving in and focusing because this is where the world growth is coming from.  As a CEO colleague mentioned the other day “we are too busy doing business than to get caught up in this US kind of thing."

The vast majority of airports [Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Dubai, Cairo, Abu Dhabi] look like a high end luxury mall with airplanes parked out back.  Long layovers are no big deal.  New highways, excellent architecture, great universities and they are all preparing for the future.  Their students may go to the US for college, but they come back because this is the future.

New transportation system that are starting from scratch in Riyadh where the entire city will be connected.  Railway systems that will connect all major cities.    Jobs, jobs and more jobs, everyone is hiring.

To Busy focusing on growth and opportunity

There is just such a sense of positivity as you walk out of your home each morning.  Living in a neighborhood that could rival the UN.  Having dinner with new friends from countries that you never heard off.  Learning to pronounce new names,learning of the spices and dishes they make.  Leaning the customs and the holidays from other countries.

Traveling and getting exposed to other cultures is the best way for all people to break out of their little shells which they cling to.  I grew up in a small town in South Carolina where people have lived their entire lives.  Went away to college and returned like a yo-yo and never ventured out again. 

At a recent dinner party, I was teased about the low number of Americans that do not have a passport which is the only way that you can travel outside the US.  The number is 46%.  Mississippi was the lowest, with just 18%, followed by West Virginia (19%), Alabama (22%), Arkansas (22%) and Kentucky (23%).

The state with the highest percentage was New Jersey with 62%, followed by Massachusetts (57%), New York (57%), Alaska (56%) and Connecticut (55%).  I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.  At my prior role, I instructed all the recruiters if we interview someone in the US and they do not own a passport, pass the interview because they will have a problem adjusting to a “different environment.”

Interviewing from behind the screen

I wrote an article a few weeks back about this diversity thing in the US and how all these industries are “trying the best that they can” to have a more diverse workforce.  But I noticed countries in this region never have this issue.  They do not feel the need to hire someone that looks just like them.

There was a story I read a while back about a philharmonic orchestra that was having a problem hiring more women.  The vast majority of all orchestras at one time were all male.  So they devised a method that going forward, all interviews would be conducted from behind a screen. The panel could not see who was playing and immediately the mix of the orchestra changed. 

Get ready because here I come

So as I prepare to take my yearly 30 day vacation, I will be returning to the US around Mid-December.  I maybe a successful international business person, a CEO who is known throughout the world, a mentor to other CEO’s, business executives and students, international keynote speaker, Lecturer at various universities, author and columnist, but when I take off this suit and drive around I can still suffer the same indignities that my father before me suffered as well as my son and daughter. 

I just hope and pray that my 2 grandchildren, Peyton and Tyler do not have to witness any of this as they grow up.

But in the end they could move to the Middle East where they would be hired based on their talent and not have to worry about being stopped and afraid of what might happen next.


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