I seem to do it every year. Write half the blog before I go on holiday and half as soon as I come back. This year it seemed to make extra sense to do that, given that our politicians could very easily have rendered anything I’d written at the end of July wholly irrelevant by the middle of August…
As you know I have two boys, Dan and Rory. They’re both teenagers now but we’ve never had any problems with them. They’re hard-working, dedicated and committed. Yep, even in the summer holidays. They broke up from school and immediately went straight to their bedrooms, completely focused on their future careers.
What was that? Doctor? Solicitor? Accountant?
Have a word with yourself. This is 2019 – and there’s only one possible career for a self-respecting teenager.
Professional Fortnite player. Call of Duty at a pinch…
I remember reading an article maybe ten years ago. ‘Video games will take the place of traditional sport’ it boldly prophesied. Right, I thought, as if anything could replace the experience of live sport. An afternoon at St James’s Park: England vs. Scotland at Murrayfield…
And at the end of July the future arrived, as US teenager Kyle Geirsdorf won $3m (£2.49m €2.68m) as he became world champion of the computer game Fortnite. And no, I’m not insulting your intelligence. I converted it to pounds and euros simply to help me get my head round the figures.
The total prize pool for the event was $30m – easily putting the Fortnite World Championship on a par with some of the biggest ‘traditional’ sports events.
If you want absolute proof that the world is changing – and changing in ways we barely contemplated a few years ago – look no further than your teenager’s bedroom.
Of course, you might well argue that the future arrived in more ways than one in that week as – to no-one’s surprise – Boris Johnson easily beat Jeremy Hunt and became our new Prime Minister.
Johnson undoubtedly epitomises something that has been a running theme of this blog from Day 1: the job of a leader is to lead. He’s unquestionably saying, ‘That’s the direction we’re going in. Follow me.’
As the Spectator put it, ‘His mission, as leader, is to project confidence and optimism from the top. After three years of Mrs Dithers we need a bit of courage and guts in Number 10, a sense of purpose and a relish for attack.’
But – and this is a very big ‘but’ – Johnson used to be the editor of the Spectator. The magazine has not changed its political stance since and broadly reflects his views.
I am rather less optimistic.
Both the UK and Europe now seem to accept that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the most likely outcome. Everyone who knows me is aware that I think that would be a disaster.
So while Boris Johnson may be demonstrating leadership, it is surely factional leadership. He may be consistent in his message, but that message has no hope of uniting the country.
Neither am I an expert on parliamentary law and precedent: but again, it seems that even democracy is going to play second fiddle to delivering an outcome whose sole concern is how it plays in a General Election.
Boris Johnson may well find himself spending Christmas in Downing Street with an increased majority, but the way that majority is achieved will, I think, do lasting damage to the political and social fabric of our country.
Some of you, I’m sure, will disagree with me. But a blog like this has to be a reflection of the writer’s personal views. And I think there are real business lessons to be drawn from these two seemingly unrelated stories.
What does the success of Fortnite tell us? That things are changing: they’re changing quickly and they’re changing in ways we never imagined even a few years ago. And because of that leadership is going to be more important than ever. But leadership is about more than gestures and personal popularity. It is about taking people with you and keeping the country – or your company – united in a common purpose.
So here I am back at my desk after a week in Portugal. We’re now less than 11 weeks away from October 31st and there’ll be 4½ months left of the year. We know only two things for certain: all of us running businesses are going to face unprecedented challenges – and you’re much better equipped to meet those challenges as a member of TAB UK.[One note of housekeeping: this post is late because of being in Portugal. I’ll be publishing the next one on August 30th, as I’m shortly off to the TAB conference in Denver. The normal fortnightly cycle will resume from September 6th.]