Imagine you’re about to go on a first date. You usually have a routine. You met at an event or via a friend. After the first meeting, you skim their social media profiles for clues. You text one another for a few days, trying to impress the other person with your wit. Finally, you set a day and time to go on that first date. You take your date to the same classy restaurant as the last five people you took out on dates, then go out to that one “special” place for dessert or a drink. You think you make them feel special, but you hardly ever go on a second date. Why? Because the strategy is bad. Anyone who dates successfully will tell you that you should tailor the dates to the person you’re courting, not try to get every person you date to enjoy your “classic” and uninspired plan. Seems pretty simple, right?
Lots of people will keep trying and failing, but they’ll always assume they haven’t found the right person, not that the problem is their bad first date strategy. This issue is especially prevalent in the business world. Rather than tailoring a strategy to the market a company is trying to enter, the company tries to use the same “proven” strategy for every market entry plan. But just as every date is different, so is every country, region, and city. What works in one could be ineffective, or even illegal, in another. Stricter cultural norms, widely derided symbols, etc., could make a market entry campaign crash and burn. But instead of seeking the advice of a good geopolitical risk consultant, many businesses will keep trying and failing. The unique characteristics of various markets, at the local, state, and national levels, as well as the transnational level constitute both opportunities and risks. Talented geopolitical risk consultants, who possess the knowledge to help businesses (whether they produce heavy machinery, drill for oil, or try to sell music) navigate that complicated landscape. Without the insight that geopolitical risk consultants can provide, many businesses will keep making costly errors.
This is why Uber keeps having trouble abroad. And why many bands’ concerts in China get cancelled. And why supermodels that don’t understand the significance of politically charged hand gestures keep getting in trouble. All of these mistakes hurt bottom lines, reputations, and future prospects. Yet many people still don’t understand why having a geopolitical risk consultant is vital. They figure that a good tax specialist, a famous attorney and a swanky PR firm constitute the requisite triumvirate for solving any problem. All of those are important for solving problems, true. But a geopolitical risk consultant can help you avoid the problems, instead of just lending another hand in cleaning up the mess. This is why I’m writing a book- to explain what geopolitical risk consulting is, why it’s important, and what we can do to help it meet its potential. I’m having great conversations with people interested in the field, and those who have great stories to share about their experiences with geopolitical risk. If you have a tale to share, please get in touch!
Before I go, a piece of first date advice: always have a list of interesting questions in mind in case the conversation hits a bump. The three questions you can always count on to revive it: 1) What did you want to be as a kid? 2) Are you Team Summer or Team Winter, and why? 3) What’s your most flattering Instagram filter? (Just kidding with that last one. Instead, ask which historical figure they’d most love to take a selfie with and why.)