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By: Beebe Nelson

January 19, 2017

Robert Gough has been a regular speaker at NSTC’s breakfast meetings, showing up early in the year to challenge his audience as he addresses the economic issues of the new year. Last year he told us that “The Trends for 2016 are Obvious; Our Responses are Not.”

He opened last year’s talk with a quote from Leo Tolstoy:  “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”  It was a great warning when speaking, in an election year, on a topic that regularly divides the electorate, and last year, with our bizarre collection of candidates, probably more than usual.

Gough was an advisor to President Regan.  That was enough to warn me that he just might be speaking directly to me when he asked us to set aside our preconceptions, and I did my best to comply. When he said that the global debt crisis was likely to push us to a crash I thought of the economist Picketty’s analysis of how our capitalist economy moves, and when he showed us that a huge percent of the US debt is due to the costs of social security, Medicare, etc. I was neither surprised nor annoyed.  When he put the blame on the current administration for the “weakest economic recovery in U.S. history” I could see his point. His data was simple and compelling – the population growth curve, the growth of debt, the fact that our share of the global debt (20%) plus China and Japan equals more than half of the total. Well done, Tolstoy.

Bob Gough

I am looking forward to his talk for this year titled, The Economic Opportunities We Have Never Seen Before. Bob is the featured speaker at the Business Breakfast Meeting, on Wednesday January 25 at the Peabody Marriott.  I need to listen to both sides — or is it “all sides” — as Trump’s term begins and I am at a loss to understand what he might do, and why, and for whom. I need to clear my brain of what I am already persuaded of in order to be able to think outside of my own perspectives. I need — we all need — to be able to talk “across the aisle” as we attempt to use these upcoming four years to recognize and to heal the enormous divide that has separated our country.  As Gough has said in his introduction to this year’s talk, “Trump is not the messenger.  Trump is the message.”

I hope to see many of you at the January Breakfast Meeting and I hope the meeting will spur a lasting and useful dialogue for us all.

Beebe Nelson’s firm, Working Forums LLC, provides consulting, training, and expert coaching in innovation and new product development focused on the implementation of effective processes and practices.