Heart Throb

23 Jun 2005|Christoper Ireland

OK, I admit it. I’m in love with another man. Despite the headache this may cause me at home, the adoration I have for Thomas Friedman is beginning to take on signs of true romance. Granted, he doesn’t know I exist, but he sends chills up my spine nonetheless.

His NY Times column is always my first read on Sunday. I loved The Lexus and the Olive Tree which gave great insights on globalization, and his latest book, The World is Flat, (a deadly accurate assessment of global competition and innovation in the coming decades), simply knocked me out.

This is not an adolescent infatuation. He’s a pleasant-looking guy, but his biceps have nothing on his brain. What really does it for me is how boldly he thinks–and that he has the courage to speak loudly and decisively. Like his June 17 NY Times column titled “As Toyota Goes”…

In his column, Friedman takes on the topic no one else is publicly asking “Is it better for the US if Toyota dominates General Motors?” He argues that GM’s strategy of “building gas-guzzling cars, including the idiot Hummer, scoffing at hybrid technology and fighting congressional efforts to impose higher mileage standards on U.S. automakers” has been detrimental to US economic and geopolitical interests.

He goes on with a statement that’s the equivalent of a full-mouth kiss in my world:

The Bush team has been MIA on energy since 9/11. Indeed, the utter indifference of the Bush team to developing a geo-green strategy–which would also strengthen the dollar, reduce our trade deficit, make America the world leader in combating climate change and stimulate U. S. companies to take the lead in producing the green technologies that the world will desperately need as China and India industrialize–is so irresponsible that it takes your breath away.

How can you not love this guy? He concludes his column with a call to action that asserts “the technologies we need for a stronger, more energy indepent America are already here. The only things we have a shortage of now are leaders with the imagination and will to move the country onto a geo-greaen path.” He’s talking about political leaders, but he’s also addressing busines leaders, particularly those in the US.

In our 2003 study of innovation practices and motivations, we interviewed about 500 of those business leaders. Surprisingly, “sustainability” – defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs – topped the list (31%) of trends that companies said they were most focused on today. If that’s true, then Friedman is not only my new heart throb, he’s also the lead voice of a formidable market shift that frankly can’t happen soon enough.

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