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Scott McKain

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We Can't Even Talk? REALLY?

Discussing the Actions of a Political Figure, But NOT a Political Blog

As always, when I discuss the actions of a political figure, I begin with the disclaimer this is not a political blog — nor is it intended to suggest an affiliation on my part. I have one…it’s just my belief that you aren’t here for that type of commentary. I’m just using an example of an elected official in regard to a professional and personal point I’m suggesting we consider. OK?

Near Miami, Florida…Westin Diplomat Hotel…VERY significant conference of the Consumer Bankers Association…high-level executives in the audience…I’m on a panel and listening as another member is speaking. A top-tier leader from Deloitte asks the group, “How many of the top twenty banks in America will be in the top twenty in just fifteen years?”

Every person has an audience response device, and the answers average about fifteen of the twenty will still be on top. The moderator asks the Deloitte consultant if he agrees. “Not at all,” he says.

“Our prediction — based upon tracking historical data and an analysis of the industry is the answer is…TWO.”

The room is aghast! This heavyweight is saying eighteen of the largest banks in the U.S. won’t be in the top twenty in just a decade and a half. The conversation is intense…ideas accelerate…how do we make certain OUR bank is one of the two? (Even if we DON’T agree with his assessment!)

And, in fact, most in the audience think the forecast is total bull. Yet, by having the conversation with someone who challenged their thinking, the bankers in the audience find their intellect and understanding enhanced.

However, as reports this morning, President Barack Obama is quoted as telling Matt Lauer of “Today” that he has not even talked with BP CEO Tony Hayward about the Gulf oil spill since the disaster began.

As they say on “Saturday Night Live”…REALLY? You haven’t even talked? REALLY?

The President explained, “I have not spoken to him directly. Here’s the reason. Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he’s gonna say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words. I’m interested in actions.”

Well, Mr. President…don’t get me wrong…we are ALL interested in action. However, as the CBA conference clearly demonstrated, sometimes a provocative conversation is needed to precede extraordinary action.

Mr. Obama also said he is attempting to learn — and this is a quote — “whose ass to kick.” So…uh…how will you know if it is Mr. Hayward of BP who needs the can of whup-ass opened on him…if you aren’t TALKING to him? And by using that decidedly un-Presidential verbiage, aren’t you doing precisely what you said you were against? As in throwing around words without correlated action?

While at the CBA conference, I had a great conversation with a terrific young woman, Megan, who works for the speakers bureau/production company who staged this event. We were discussing her LDS mission — and how she found, to her surprise, when her faith was tested…instead of weakening her resolve…it strengthened her commitment. I was struck by her point — it was easier to be Mormon in Salt Lake City…than London England.

However, going to London made her a stronger Mormon. Often, we need to be confronted by divergent viewpoints to strengthen our purpose…and provoke sustained, positive action.

If I were BP’s Tony Hayward…I would be calling the White House on an hourly basis and saying, “Mr. President! We have a problem and we at BP are making a public commitment to make this right. You will punish us later, but right now we need to work together to solve this horrible situation. Now, you are saying we can’t even talk? REALLY?”

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Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers ( & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.