Meetings No 24
Define Purpose
Long live the ‘both/and’ world in which purpose reigns.
Cover Story
Your Future is Now
Kevin Cottam on ancient wisdom meeting modern leadership.
2031 Vision, Brisbane
Encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more.
Paths of Progress
The Biggest Challenge Is a Lack of Awareness About Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan embarks on its journey into the business events sector.
Psychological Meetings
Cognitive Dysfunction (Brain Fog)
Hans Gordon about when we humans allow a lot to go wrong.
IBTM World 2019: The Importance of Mentoring In the Events Industry
Always be generous with your knowledge.
Why We Refuse to See the Bright Side, Even Though We Should
Steven Pinker on the subject of irrational pessimism.
White Blossom on Repeat
Flowering melancholy from Sweden.
Network to Share Its Expertise: Learn How Your City Can Become Future-Proof
The European Green Capital Network has launched its Future-proof Toolkit.
The Goal Is 300 Destinations by 2022
GDS-Index shares their audacious goal.
Fear Is a Liar
We all need to fortify our hope.
Dublin Has the World’s First Carbon-­Neutral Convention Centre
One of Europe’s most environmentally friendly venues.
Artificial Intelligence
Human Compatible AI and the Problem of Control
Success would be the biggest event in human history, and perhaps the last event.
IBTM World Should Include Not Exclude
Don’t be sorry. Change the rules!
Press stop!
ACTE, Corporate Travel Executives
has ceased operations and will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Re-opening time
Dubai hotel operators,
cautiously optimistic, as tourists begin to trickle in.
one step at the time
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
gets the green light to reopen.
330 million jobs worldwide
European Cities Marketing
call for an open and permanent dialogue between European institutions and local destinations.
More than 300 people
ICC Sydney
launches industry leading hybrid event solutions.

RAI Amsterdam
one of first European venues to reopen without visitor number restrictions.
Emirates airline refunds over $500m to passengers
Still over 500,000 refund requests.

Cologne ready for business events
trade fairs are indispensable as central business meeting points.
safety & Security
Ras Al Khaimah
becomes the first city in the world to be certified as safe by Bureau Veritas.
strong program
UFI, has announced that ICC Sydney is the winner
of the UFI Sustainable Development Award 2020.
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Cognitive Dysfunction (Brain Fog)

“Almost all the professionals who were now set to join him were coming face to face with the fact that it appeared he knew nothing. There was simply no subject, other than perhaps building construction, that he had substantially mastered. Everything with him was off the cuff. Whatever he knew he seemed to have learned an hour before – and that was mostly half-baked. But each member of the new Trump team was convincing him or herself otherwise, because what did they know, the man had been elected president. He offered something, obviously. Indeed, while everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance, Trump, the businessman, could not even read a balance sheet, and Trump, who had campaigned on his deal-making skills, was, with his inattention to details, a terrible negotiator – they yet found him somehow instinctive. That was the word. He was a force of personality. He could make you believe.”

From Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

Long-running TV series The West Wing, which aired its final episode in 2006, saw viewing figures shoot through the ceiling in just about every country in which it was screened. Allison Janney, who played the role of White House press secretary C. J. Cregg, was so convincing that when the series ended she was inundated with job offers. Similarly, actor, comedian and musician Volodymyr Zelenskyi managed to put himself across as a perfectly serious presidential candidate in Ukraine earlier this year. While Allison Janney had no inclination whatsoever to begin a new career as a press secretary, Volodymyr Zelenski jumped at the chance to play one of his acting roles in real life. Shamelessness pays. The Ukrainian surprisingly won enough votes to achieve his goal, proving in the process that you can in fact fool enough people enough of the time.

The most famous actor come president of all time was of course Ronald Reagan, a man widely regarded as a B actor who played lead roles in B movies. But Reagan was seriously into politics and was an active member of the Democratic Party before jumping ship to join the Republicans. He was also president of the Screen Actors Guild and later became governor of California, a seat he occupied for five years up until he won the 1980 presidential election with a landslide victory over incumbent president Jimmy Carter.

Talented actors can be so convincing in their portrayal of real-life characters that it is really no surprise that so many of us fall for the illusion that they are capable of flitting in and out of any profession at will. A young Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson or Robert de Niro would most certainly have stepped straight into a long and distinguished military career, Michael Douglas would have made a perfect smartass business executive and Meryl Streep’s sharp intellect would have seen her rubbing shoulders with the upper echelons of society, royalty included. We love to indulge in this sort of fiction to keep the cold light of day at bay. But not entirely as we like to saunter between the two as though in a dream; not just in a daydream but during nocturnal dreaming as well.

This applies to all things, large and small. In general, it also applies to politics and the people upon we so willingly pin our hopes. The business world and religion also deserve a mention here. They have after all produced plenty of leaders with a capital L to perform on the world’s soapboxes. They may go under the guise of director, entrepreneur, prophet, ayatollah, pope, rabbi, etcetera, but to get their message across they also have to create illusions for their followers. We want to believe when we have a strong need to believe, mostly when the world turns its back on us with a dose of reality. It should also be noted that leaders with a capital L will soon fall or be pushed off their soapbox if they fail to deliver that which they so vehemently promised. Up like a sun, down like a pancake is a saying that rings true in many contexts.

Most of us probably see ourselves as reasonably rational people. Reasonably rational in the sense of observing, assessing and evaluating the circles we move in without needing to produce scientific proof of doing the right thing. We thus act more intuitively, following an internal flow of data and information points that we quickly compare with our life experiences to arrive at conclusions we can feel satisfied with: “Yes, that must be it, and that is what I will act upon.” This type of process moves quickly without us being fully aware of all the parts involved. And, like the social beings that we are, we will jump hoops and cross hurdles not to deviate from the crowd because that always means taking the unnecessary risk of being frozen out. So, if you believe in it, I can also give it a try. Likewise, any leader you might recommend. This guarantees many hands to the fore to build for us our valuable community, our congregation, our safe haven resting securely on stable structures that we can also perceive to be expert, broad-shouldered human beings.

Of course, not everybody buys into something that is widely regarded as a culture of addiction. There will always be cross-border deviants driven by the need to find a new identity. They often take on the establishment. A risky venture, especially if law and order is under threat. It could be subject to severe punishment. Everything from alienation to crucifixion. Pluralism and equal rights for all are splendid ideals, but history, not least in our own time, points to walls, fences, gated communities, etcetera, in both political-ideological and concrete forms. Most everything circles around the complexities of building a society. Countries are governed by rule of law, which means that the doors to a hierarchal order are always left open in order to formalise and normalise. The struggle for positions of power has invariably led to conflict and aggression. Attempts to deal with social instability have ended in people forming groups or tribes or nations, with the largest leading the way and simply helping themselves to privileges as large landowners, or more symbolically in the shape of empires or kingdoms ruled by blue-blooded nobility answering only to some transcendental god on high. Once higher up on the hierarchal ladder, all focus was on retaining their position of power. For millennia this has been upheld by the claim that it is hereditary and handed down to the oldest child. Ordinary people need not bother applying.

That is the way it was in ancient Greece a few centuries BC. By then, the traditions of power were already embedded in the city-state foundation. Male nobility was top of the pile as the largest landowners, followed by other men then craftsmen and merchants. Women had no place in political life and thus no influence. At the bottom were the slaves, the manual workers. Something fundamentally enlightening took place in ancient Greece during the third and fourth centuries BC. Philosophers, teachers and intellectuals were allowed to take the stage and had their names immortalised in our history books: Socrates, Plato, Aristoteles, among others. One could describe it as a major and revolutionary cultural change. What actually happened that led up to it? Certainly a variety of events, including the great battle known as the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens in the early fourth century BC, but also the strong influence asserted by the merchants over the aristocracy and the group of officials called the strategists; they were no more than ten in number, seated in heavy political posts in the people’s and council assemblies, but primarily they were military commanders, the Commanders-in-Chief of the time.

The rather chaotic situation that Athens found itself in provided the perfect setting for the philosophers and teachers to step into the limelight. Plato, a student of Socrates, turned to the people with his criticism of Athenian politics through his great work The Republic in which he puts forward his ideal political order. In broad terms, he argues that a nation must be governed by enlightened and naturally gifted people, who possess the right conditions for philosophical paths to gain insight into the virtues, norms and principles of how a state must be constructed. Naturally, Plato most certainly saw himself as a pioneer in this respect. Aristoteles, one of Plato’s students, took up the baton and continued down the Platonic track. In his work Politics he strongly argued that those who wish to rule over others must also outmatch them in personal wealth. Only then can sufficient authority be won and established. But to avoid anyone being overcome by personal greed, you must conduct a well-planned educational campaign. It is not wealth itself that has to be tamed but the craving for wealth.

And the people listened. The majority followed the advice. They most certainly saw it as rational. And even if the future is littered with calls for rebellion, and even if revolutions have come and gone, and even if intellectual after intellectual has argued their proposals for political governance of nations, where -isms are replaced by other -isms, most of it is like tiny pieces of the earth’s crust floating around on relatively loose political visions. It is there under us, constantly floating, arrows pointing first this way and then the other. As we move around on the surface of all this, many of us still feel uncertain, despite being surrounded by endless new gurus and policymakers. Some of us are plagued by insecurity and claim to be mentally ill.

And in the big country across the pond sits a president who showed his hand, just like the ancient Greek philosophers advised, and won 61.2 million votes in the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton may have received a few million more individual votes, but a majority of the electorate determined that Trump was the best candidate. One could say that the support for Trump was based on what a sufficient number of individuals and the majority of the electorate saw as the most rational. Maybe, just maybe, some of these today, three years later, have pointed their rational assumptions in another direction.