01 Mar 2014

Book Review: The Old West

Re: Bob McKersie (MBA 1956); Michael Ferrara (PMD 39); Phil Terry (MBA 1998); Bill Dunaway (MBA 1964); Ron Brown (MBA 1973)
by Maureen Harmon


The numbers don't look good for the West. The United States, Great Britain, and France have each seen their average GDP growth hover around 2 percent in recent years, while China's GDP has reached more than 10 percent, and India's more than 6. It won't be long, says Daniel Pinto (MBA 1993), cofounder and chief executive of Stanhope Capital, one of the largest independent investment firms in Europe, before the West falls to the East in the economic power struggle. In his new book, Capital Wars, Pinto calls on his experience as a financial advisor to governments, corporations, and entrepreneurs in the East and the West to explain why. It's not a result of globalization, he says, or even the 2008 economic implosion. Instead, Pinto offers a simple observation to account for the West's stagnation and the East's rapid climb: "Entrepreneurial capitalism has changed hands."

Although the West rose to the top of the economic ladder with its entrepreneurial spirit and collaboration among innovators, government, and markets, Pinto says, it seems to have left it all behind—and with it, growth—choosing instead to align with passive CEOs looking for short-term gains. What's more, the East is succeeding by using the very model the West forfeited, looking to men and women who seek to build empires with bold—and yes, occasionally risky—business strategies that focus on the long term rather than the quarterly bottom line. "In truth, whilst emerging countries continue their inexorable march towards economic supremacy, albeit with a few wobbles on the way, we in the West seem to be sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff," Pinto writes.

What's the West to do? Keep walking? Sit back in the number two (or three or four) economic power spot and get comfortable? Not so, says Pinto, who makes the case that the West still has a fighting chance to take back the top spot—it just needs to remember how it got there in the first place.  —Maureen Harmon


"We have to create the kind of crisis that Selma experienced….This business of orderly demonstrations is not going to do a blessed thing. We have to be ready to get hit over the head and to be jailed for our beliefs."
Civil rights organizer Al Raby, speaking in 1965 to a local civil rights group protesting segregation in the Chicago schools. A Decisive Decade: An Insider's View of the Chicago Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, by Robert B. McKersie (MBA 1956/DBA 1959)

"If there's no wind, row. Essentially, you focus on a company and you execute. You don't worry that much about competition, regulation, economics. You worry about the controllables. And you get everyone rowing at the same pace, with excellence and passion."
Mike Ferrara (PMD 39, 1980), CEO of variable-focus eyewear maker Adlens, discussing the last step—execution—of his four-part "Social IP" leadership formula, at TEDxOrangeCoast

"Pursuing disruption by itself is not sufficient to create a winning strategy. One could propose a dozen ways to disrupt any given industry—and launch a company or initiative to try out each one—but without some thought toward the impact on customers, all those disruptive ideas are likely to fail."
Mark Hurst and Phil Terry (MBA 1998) in Customers Included: How to Transform Products, Companies, and the World—with a Single Step

What I'm Reading

"He had a profound effect on me and my classmates. I wish I had known more about him back then. I appreciate him even more after reading this book."
Bill Dunaway (MBA 1964)
Ted Levitt: Writer, Teacher, Iconoclast by Julia Hanna


"I don't usually read two books (for pleasure) at a time, but short stories are perfect for that. I also like the contrast between the two books—fiction and nonfiction, North America and India—as well as the similarities: Both are, in some way, chronicles of changing times and lives, suggesting the universality of change and its impact on the human condition, more generally."
Associate Professor Mukti Khaire on Vintage Munro by Alice Munro and City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay by Naresh Fernandes


"As biography, it captures Simón Bolívar in the way [Cuban writer and activist] José Martí spoke of him: 'You can't speak with calm about a person who never knew calm; of Bolívar you can only speak from mountaintops, or amid thunder and lightning, or with a fistful of freedom in one hand and the corpse of tyranny at your feet.'"
Ron Brown (JD 1971/MBA 1973) on Bolívar: American Liberator by Marie Arana

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1993, Section C

Post a Comment