Arrogance, Business Travel and Business Events

Yes, my posts are getting less frequent. Sorry for this, it’s just I don’t find many meaningful articles with the content that is worth summarizing (it’s not bad in itself, it’s just either too short or too cliche). Also, many authors I like are now switching to a shorter-format potpourri of thoughts and articles; it’s not bad, but the depth of the thought for a reader, unfortunately, suffers. But this is to be expected, because the more you learn, the more things look cliche to you.

Why Arrogance is Dangerously Contagious

Asking someone to rate themselves against an average in some area almost certainly will result in this person rating themselves at least average or higher. This leads to overconfidence in all areas: driving, medicine, law, business (leading to bankruptcy or fraud).

Overconfidence can be contagious, and a peer’s arrogant behaviour can lead to a similar behaviour in you. And this is not team dynamics companies should encourage.

In pair work the humble person starts feeling more confident/arrogant when their peer is arrogant (nothing else changes). Is it a good thing? Perhaps. Is it based on new knowledge and skills? No. To repeat: overconfidence only increases one’s perception of their relative standing against other people, nothing more.

The illusion of superiority can be transmitted to another person (and further, making it a “cascade”), and the higher the arrogance – the higher the impact on the bystanders. But this is a story of conformity when people get dominated by stronger peers.

[MK: No wonder we (generally speaking) are similar in behaviours, attitudes, judgements and often – even appearances - to the top 10 of our closest peers. Mimicking goes a long way in a human society.]

[MK: this also explains why there are assholes everywhere: traditional bosses’ insecurities reflected via their arrogance are contagious precisely on those people who can’t – due to their inexperience or inability to shut another person up – see the right from wrong. Also, in our company this is a punishable offence.]

source: BBC

Who Benefits from Less Travel? (The Diff and Alex Danco)

  • One of the features of consulting firms is frequent travel. And while in the past it was a rule to send consulting teams for discussions and high-bandwidth information exchange, it’s hard to stop this practice without appearing less committed and motivated.

  • United Airlines think business travel will return to the pre-COVID levels in 2024, my take is that it simply will never happen (at least, not in 2020s). There’s also a sizeable time gap between the time the vaccine is widely available and when people get confident enough to resume flying. On top of it, since most business travel is between business hubs, both hubs’ economies need to sufficiently recover to justify the return of high demand.

  • Jumping on a plane sacrificing one full work day for the sake of a 1-hour long meeting is a strong signal that people respect and appreciate. [MK: it can be considered a ritual sacrifice of time: I value you so highly that I’m eager to sacrifice a day of my life just to see you. It may sound ridiculous, but believe me it’s not.]

source, source

Just my thoughts

I’ve been invited to speak at an industry event that is supposed to be the largest one of the ones that haven’t been cancelled. I.e. it’s kinda a big deal. Everyone I know will speak there (or at least be 15-30 minute attendees). It’s a chance to show the world of travel executives that there are losers and there are losers. Welcome to 2020.

You might’ve figured out that I’m a cynical sceptic, and not because I like saying bad things about good people (I don’t). But I also hate positive thinking (it’s counterproductive) and status quo lovers. Let me explain.

My personal take is that 75% of offline conferences will disappear for good. There are many reasons why, but let me elaborate:

  • 90% of all business development interactions are not adding any meaningful value; they’re pretty much glorified status updates, which can, should and must be done via Zoom. The remaining 10%, however, will raise the status of the conversations, making them more meaningful and personal. Oh wait, haven’t I just written about the sacrifices?

  • I’m cynical about conferences after one instance when I was in a panel on stage and … we had more people on stage than in the audience. It’s a true story and it was an eye-opening experience for me. Needless to say, I want this kind of conferences to die a painful death (thanks to COVID it’s going to occur via a swift coup-de-grace). Long story short: if you’re a decision maker who’s been on the edge of sending your employees to a trade event or somewhere similar - now your answer will be “no way”. And I’m not talking about simplistic leisure trips disguised as business conferences; ITB Berlin, the largest global travel event with 150k+ visitors over the course of a week, is likely to die a painful death because exhibitors will finally understand that they can do better: a) talking to each other during the course of a year, even via Zoom, and not waiting for another 364 days to chat again; and b) finally understand that marketing budgets in 2020+ should be allocated towards anything BUT trade conferences. In the past 3-4 years we’ve had negative ROI from this particular trade event, while our business has been growing 35% YoY.

  • Conferences and trade events have been like waterholes where all animals came to drink without eating each other. The best example of it (again, in travel) is a PhoCusWright conference, which will charge you $3.5k for a ticket if you’re not a speaker and something between $10-20k if you’re a startup looking for attention from industry guys. It’s a fantastic event, I love it wholeheartedly, but… it doesn’t work online at all. Nothing can replace a chance to have gin tonics with the CEOs of your competitors (waterhole, again!), but what if we all start sticking to our wallets and also focus on repairing our businesses and not playing peacocks in front of each other? Maybe we will need a private event instead? To hell with startups (let our corporate guys sort this out), we will only need the suppliers and each others. Just a thought.