recentpopularlog in

jerryking : hand-to-mouth   3

The two faces of the 1 per cent
August 19, 2017 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.

On top of its book sales, film adaptation and third life as an opera, The Bonfire of the Vanities achieved a rare feat. It turned its author into a 56-year-old enfant terrible. Thirty years have passed since Tom Wolfe’s first novel imagined New York City as an opulent failed state, where millionaires are one wrong turn from barbarian mobs and race card-players on the make.
....Bonfire can be read as a book about two different kinds of elite. You might characterise them as the moneyed and the cultured. Or as private enterprise and public life.....there is a real split among urbanites, who are too often grouped together. It is one that has been lost in the negative obsession with the elite in recent years. Think of it as the difference between the two LSEs — the London Stock Exchange and the London School of Economics — or the stereotypical FT reader and the stereotypical FT writer.

When populists attack elites, they conflate people who work in the media, the arts, politics, academia and some areas of the law with entrepreneurs, investment bankers and internationally mobile corporate professionals. The Brexit campaign defined itself against high finance but also against human rights QCs and know-it-all actors — as if these fields were one.

I commit this elision in my own columns and I should know better. By dint of my job, I meet people in each world (plus a few supple characters who bestride both) and they are different. The public elite tend to the liberal left. The private elite are apolitical swing voters. Each side has little idea what the other lot does all day. They have different tastes, different idioms and they dominate different parts of their cities.

Even in London, a New York-Los Angeles-Washington hybrid in its centralisation of the public and the private, the two clans rub against each other (at the opera, at Arsenal’s stadium) without blending into one. Until Brexit put them on the same side, the cultural elite often viewed the moneyed as the enemy — mauling the skyline, pricing them out of Hampstead. Above all, each group has its own insecurity. The public elite nurse constant material worries. Despite their membership of the economic 1 per cent (something they will deny even as you show them the graphs) they fear for their foothold in expensive cities......The private elite worry that they are not very interesting. I have seen tycoons cringe in the presence of niche-interest authors. Some attempt late-career entries into public life, often through the publication of a political treatise or some involvement in the arts. Executives follow “thought leaders” who are less intelligent than they are. Politicians know the type: the loaded donor who fears to leave a campaign meeting in case a couple of young advisers, who do not earn a six-figure salary between them, mock his unoriginal contribution.

Other differences are surprising. The public elite talk a wonderful game about diversity and work in fields that have a better balance of women and men. But the private elite tend to work among more races and nationalities: some trading floors look like 1980s Benetton commercials. The same seems true of social background. I would advise a young graduate without relatives in high places to choose corporate life over the media....Creativity is more precious than wealth. There is a reason why the most fashionable members’ clubs admit freelance graphic designers, who live hand-to-mouth, and black ball superstar bankers. In a sense, Fallow’s total victory over McCoy is classic Wolfe: it lacks the nuance of great art, but it gets at a truth.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  Tom_Wolfe  fiction  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  the_One_Percent  elitism  Janan_Ganesh  insecurities  hand-to-mouth  LSE  superstars 
august 2017 by jerryking
I see history as my root and my illumination
5 August /6 August 2017 | Financial Times | by Kwame Nkrumah Cain.

Sir, I am a bit perplexed at how Henry Mance can assert that history is “rarely instructive” (“ ‘Dunkirk’ shows that the past is not an open book”, July 29). At Stanford University, I was particularly attracted to history because Dionysius of Halicarnassus praised it as “philosophy learnt by example” [ Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus.]. Even to this day, such study helps me heed the counsel of the dead and marshal the strength of my own mind.

I see history as a laboratory rich in a hundred thousand experiments in economics, religion, literature, science and government. I see history as my root and my illumination, as the road from whence I came and the only light that can clarify the present and guide me into the future.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated: “He who cannot draw on 3,000 years is living from hand to mouth.” (i.e. my take is that being able to draw on 3,000 yrs. of living is the definition of wisdom).
========================================

Comment:
Gene 4 days ago
History is the great uncontrolled experiment on human behavior. Lessons should be drawn from it with caution (as history shows).
letters_to_the_editor  history  quotes  tools  hand-to-mouth  Greek  lessons_learned  skepticism  experimentation  wisdom  human_behavior  the_counsel_of_the_dead  foresight  Kwame_Nkrumah 
august 2017 by jerryking
Ways to make excellence pay
October 17, 2007 | FT | By Alicia Clegg.

Bruce Hodgson, founder of Artichoke, a company that designs and makes bespoke fitted furniture for the very rich, has little ambition to be the biggest brand in his sector – but he would like to be the best. The same can be said of perfumer Linda Pilkington, creator of Ormonde Jayne, and Sean Dixon and Richard James, co-founders of Richard James, a Savile Row tailoring business whose turnover (something in “excess of £7m [$14.2m, €10m]”) is less stellar than its reputation and celebrity-gilded client base might suggest.

Serving the super-wealthy has never been the preserve of brands with super-sized sales. Quite the reverse. What the super-rich long for are not luxury labels but one-off, superbly crafted goods. Serving such customers allows talented artisans to work at the pinnacle of their craft. With this opportunity, however, comes a challenge: finding a business model that rewards exceptional skill.....The business model emboldening Mr Hodgson to raise his commercial sights grew from a partnership, in 1998, with the late David Telling, founder of the entrepreneurial business services company Mitie Group. Invited to pitch for a contract to make a boardroom table, Mr Hodgson produced a quote that Mr Telling dismissed as "too expensive". Something must have impressed him, however, as he personally invested £70,000 in Artichoke, donated land for a bigger workshop and became chairman.

Under Mr Telling'sstringent tutelage, Mr Hodgson swapped hand-to-mouth bookkeeping for management accounting. Artichoke learnt to break down the cost of complex projects and value work in pro-gress to a far higher degree of accuracy than most artisan businesses. Once certain of the numbers, Mr Hodgson developed a "contractually rigid approach" to payment. This gave him the confidence to tackle complicated proj-ects, in which deviations from the customer's original specifications can leave small contractors facing big losses.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  bespoke  brands  business_models  craftsmanship  furniture  high_net_worth  Savile_Row  mens'_clothing  fragrances  luxury  management_accounting  hand-to-mouth  one-of-a-kind  professionalization 
may 2012 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read