Saturday, September 29, 2012

Who Is This Man?


I seldom read Obituaries especially of people whose names I don’t recognize. But flipping through the Economist I saw a full page Obituary of a man named Roger Fisher.  ( Who was he I wondered.  Why did he merit a full page and photo?

The subtitle of piece notes that he was a “lawyer, teach, peacemaker.”  OK.  But then it gets interesting as the article goes on to describe him as a “fixer” of disparate problems from plumbing (to relax)  and world issues.  He was an advisor to Presidents and leaders around the world. 

His advice on negotiating?   “Separate the people from the problem.  Focus on the underling interests of both sides, build a rapport, explore all options.”  Great advice or all of us as we strive to negotiate the challenges of working in our complicated world.  Build the rapport:  take time to talk, share a meal, get to know the other parties.  Then move on to solving the business issues.  It worked for Presidents Reagan and Carter it might work for each of us.  Learn more about his ideas in his book:  Getting to Yes:  Negotiating Agreement without Giving In. (

Now it’s clear to me why a page was dedicated Roger Fisher.   Teacher, lawyer, peacemaker and fixer.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Maps can Predict the Future

When you search in the book section of Amazon (  for books related to  Maps you find almost a quarter of million results - 240,105 to be exact.   This week one of them stands out.  A new release by Robert Kaplan titled The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate.

Kaplan’s point -  presented in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Geography Strikes Back" – is that to understand today's global conflicts, forget economics and technology and take a hard look at a map.


He argues that although we’d like to believe that the world is flat and connected - a place without barriers that it isn't entirely true.   Although we can all leap age old boundaries through Facebook, Linked In and a myriad of other social networks,  that groups of countries like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and GUTS (Germany, United States, Turkey and South Korea) can join together and overcome issue of distance, history and geography - there still are barriers and they matter.  Rivers, mountains,  and ocean divide us.   They shaped our history and will influence our future.  

How your country survives may depend on where it is in relation to the equator: hot or cold?  Is it landlocked or lucky enough to navigable waterways.  Oceans as barriers to attack?  

If you decide to take another look at our world through Mr. Kaplan's eyes and it might be a good idea to have the World Atlas of Geography, filled with colorful maps,  by your side.  What will you see that you never noticed before?  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Driving from one meeting to another I turned on the radio in time to hear National Public Radio ( air a segment about Ghost Bikes. My first thought was that they were talking about bikes that floated through the air like an imaginary ghost of children’s stories.  But the story wasn’t that light hearted.  Rather it was a piece about the installation of a bike as a memorial to a New York bicyclist who had been killed. ( ) 

What interested me most was that Ghost Bikes  ( aren’t just located in New York.  These bikes, painted white, locked to a sign near a crash site, can be found in 180 locations in 26 different countries.   Among the countries - Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Brazil, Ecuador, Turkey, Singapore and New Zealand. 

It’s another example of how ideas, that start in one locale, can spread around the world touching people in multiple places.   I wrote before about the June celebration -  Fete de la Musique. Started in Paris in 1982 it now takes place in over 100 countries .  (   

Other music may appear at any time.  One day you may discover a piano sitting unguarded in a public place ready for you.  Thanks to Play Me I’m Yours/Street Pianos ( and local artists there have been 600 pianos placed in cities on five continents including Sao Paulo, Belfast, New York  and Tilburg.  Going to Perth, Cambridge or Hangzhou in September or October ?  You'll find pianos there.

Happy or sad ideas and activities spread around the world.  If you know of something similar send it in to add our collection.  Special things to look for as we work and travel.