The Executive Study Group (ESG) seminar 2016 – Leadership Strategy series named “How to Embrace Black Swans to Succeed Like Donald Trump” was held by the ESG, Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy Limited (APIFS) and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp (HKSTPC) on 12 Dec 2016. I would like to summarize the seminar for sharing below.
In the beginning, Dr. Mark Lee discussed “What is Black Swan?” It was traced back to 1967. Before it, teachers confidently that all swans were white until Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh landed in Australia and found dark feathered birds like swans “Black Swans”. It demonstrated human think logic that “unlikely” events seems “impossible” when they lie in the unknown or in the future. (That is pre-mature conclusion!)
Dr. Mark Lee showed the original Apple’s logo in which had a small statement “A Mind Forever Voyaging Through “Strange” Seas of Thought Alone.” 「永遠獨自航行在陌生之海中的思想家」
Then he explained the Knowledge Map. It separated into four combination of Known/Unknown Question (KQ / UQ) and Known/Unknown Answer (KA / UA).
i) Unawareness is UQ & KA.
ii) Knowledge is KQ & KA.
iii) Question is KQ & UA.
iv) Absolute Truth is UQ & UA
Since Black Swans located out of Knowledge, we usually blocked by the wall of our familiar knowledge / experience. So Black Swans had higher chance to happen out of our mind!
Dr. Mark Lee then discussed “Negative Black Swans” and he quoted Titanic as example that the Captain Smith’s ship sank in 1912 but he said that in all his experience, he had never been in any accident! He also quoted Prof. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book in 2007 “Black Swan” who stated that the financial ecology was swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks. When one falls, they all fall! It happened in 2008. It was because of “Lack of Diversification” and “Lack of Small Bank’s Failures which are Valuable Source for Learning”. So that it is less exposure to the area of Unknown Question and Unknown Answer.
After that Dr. Mark Lee quoted Prof. Taleb explanation on “Positive Black Swan” that some segments of publishing, scientific research and venture capital in which you lose small to make big! (Like free newspaper in Hong Kong) Moreover, he stated “Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like opportunity.” Exposure was the first step to increase your chance to Black Swans and did not discard opportunities too early.
Dr. Mark Lee entered the main theme that “How Donald Trump Get Ready for Positive Black Swans”. He quoted Trump statement that “You have to think anyway, so why not think big?”
Then Dr. Mark Lee extracted Trump’s three strategies toward to “Positive Black Swan”. They were “Basic Instinct”, “Creating Luck” and “Big Momentum”.
The first key strategy was “Basic Instinct”. Dr. Lee used Trump’s Apprentice Show as example. Donald Trump had unexpected meeting with a stranger who was Mark Burnett (Producer of Survivor) and then Mark Burnet had innovation suggestion about reality shows for Donald Trump. At that time, warning by biggest Hollywood Agent that no business show in the history of TV had ever made it in prime time, never once. But Donald Trump believed his Basic Instincts (Non-Expert Insights) to jump over the wall. So he said “Some things work because you “Do Not Know” they are impossible.”
The second key strategy was “Creating Luck”. Donald Trump said “You can create your own luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Then Dr. Mark Lee told us the story of US Recession Crisis in 1991. At that difficult time, Donald Trump had no mood to attend Bankers’ Convention. Because of his professional persistence, he attended the convention and the Brutal Killer was next to him in the table. As Ms. Oprah Winfrey said “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Donald Trump understood the banker’s pressure and built a trust with him, finally, they worked out a great deal.
The third key strategy was “Big Momentum”. He said like a sales without initial response but just kept doing. In the beginning, nobody knew you and lack of credentials. You needed to show persistence and silently building momentum. One day, Black Swans would appear. Donald Trump had self-made momentum because he focused on specific goal when he was studying finance at Wharton. He always challenged himself (Creating new challenges) and moved from Queens to Manhattan for his real estate development career.
Finally, Dr. Mark Lee summarized nine strategies to be prepared for Positive Black Swans as follows:
1) Basic Instincts:
i) You need really good instincts to make the best decisions
ii) With experience, you can learn to go with your gut
iii) Going with your instincts requires tuning in to everything around your decisions
2) Creating Luck
iv) You can create your own luck.
v) Be open to new information and ideas
vi) Always think positively and expect the best.
3) Big Momentum
vii) To get momentum, focus on a specific goal with passion and intensity.
viii) To keep momentum, keep challenging yourself.
ix) Remember to keep going; if you stop, your momentum will stop.
At the end, Dr. Mark Lee quoted Steve Jobs’ famous statement “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”, and Laozi (老子) statement “A man of great wisdom often appears slow-witted” (大智若愚).
Every time, many people attended Dr. Mark Lee’s seminar. Before the end, Dr. Lee asked us to do excise to select one of key strategies was the most difficult and one was the easiest for discussion.
HKSTP - www.hkstp.orgAsia Pacific Institute for Strategy Limited (亞太策略研究所有限公司) – www.apifs.org