Brackenbury on promoting growth

Car purchase does not include female model. From

“The best advice, though, may come from Nigel Brackenbury, the head of Ford’s operation in Moscow, a particularly hard market to crack: Plan ahead and then improvise. “When will the crisis end?” he asked in 1999, speaking of the unpredictability of doing business in a country that is still lurching clumsily from a centrally planned economy to an open market. “It won’t,” was his terse reply to his own question. “It’s the challenge for all of us in Russia to put together strategies to promote growth in the conditions we have.”

— From the New York Times Management Reader introduction of Chapter 4 entitled “Redrawing the Borders: Managing Globally”

Backseat driving

Among the many varieties of spectator sports — babe-watching, net-surfing, and working — nothing comes close to backseat driving.
Popular among spinster aunts, grandmothers, and mothers-in-law, this activity allows participants to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery while whining about the airconditioning, the music, and of course, the car’s speed.
Unfortunately, to the detriment of cabdrivers and friends who occasionally agree to drive me around, backseat driving is just one of the few skills I am good at, besides the inclination to develop athlete’s foot.
This skill — such as it is — was cultivated through years of plain old bad luck, pessimism, and the inability to distinguish my head from well, my other less-savory body parts.
But this never got in the way of my drive to drive.
Before I developed any serious interest in starlets, I was already weaving in and out of traffic, beating jeepney and truck drivers at their own game.
Unfortunately, all this changed shortly after I, the self-proclaimed Mario Andretti of Metro Manila, turned 17.
It was at that age when I almost ran over a little old lady who was crossing a deserted intersection.
This convinced my father, who was seated beside me
at that time, that I was a road hazard.
Immediately, he revoked my driving privileges.
This incident also taught me something I would never forget: third party liability coverage.
And since then, I have been relegated to the backseat, making snide commentary regarding the subtle and complex undercurrents involving the operation of what may well be humankind’s favorite mode of transportation.
My interest in backseat driving was renewed about a few weeks ago when my supervisor grudgingly agreed to become my friend.
After work, my new-found friend has offered me and another co-worker a daily lift to Quezon City, where all three of us live.
Recognizing the potential savings and convenience that this arrangement would give us, my co-worker and I decided to give the offer a try.
After all, if the boss has every right to drive me crazy at work (which he does every single day, including Sundays and holidays), why shouldn’t he be entitled to drive me home as well?
Happily, this question has been rendered moot and academic.
The complimentary limousine service has become a neat, structured arrangement.
As soon as work is over, we move out of the parking lot and head off to Quezon City, during which time I lounge about in the back seat, listening to jazz music, and admiring the unique landscape that make Manila’s port area not a very good tourist destination.
While the passengers are only too happy to forego transportation expenses, the boss, for his part, enjoys the support, camaraderie, and good cheer of two of his hardworking subordinates.
This experience only goes to show that the best things in life are, indeed, free.
I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
Except that sometimes, I’m thinking that it wouldn’t hurt if we could cut down on the waiting time while at the parking lot.
But then again, that might be pushing my luck.
After all, I wouldn’t want the car to leave without me.

From the And the Credit Goes To Dept. This piece was published in the Manila Times in August 2005. Picture, which has very little relevance to blog entry’s subject matter, is from

Cheap thrills

(This was written and posted in a separate blog way back in August 2007 during the release of the last (?) Harry Potter novel, the title of which I don’t even recall now, two years after the fact.)

Thanks to the Internet, cheap technologies, and of course, the Chinese — who have apparently thought of everything (but that’s another story) — films and television shows have emerged as the most inexpensive forms of entertainment.
Or at least in countries like the Philippines where piracy is rampant, copying licensed material is tolerated, and enforcement of intellectual property rights is, more or less, a joke. (And a bad one at that, primarily inflicted on the predominantly Muslim sellers of pirated DVDs.)
Although piracy has introduced many excellent foreign shows to local audiences (Battlestar Galactica, for one, which I highly recommend), there are still those who care enough about the written word to actually read, let alone, buy books, despite prohibitive prices.
Take the latest Harry Potter volume.
Only available in hardcover — at least as of this writing — the book costs a lot more than my weekly lunch allowance, beer money, and poker subsidy combined.
But this didn’t prevent many Filipinos from promptly purchasing their own copies. Which is a good thing I suppose.
However since I remain unwilling to risk ulcer, skip drinking, and auto-fold during Texas Hold ‘em night, I have deliberately foregone the experience of owning and reading the last of J. K. Rowling’s series. After all, by now, pretentious, irritating, and insufferable coño kids and their pretentious, irritating, and insufferable coño parents have told everyone that their favorite teenage magician is — warning: spoiler alert — alive.
So instead of spending more than a thousand pesos on a novel whose ending I already know about, I recently decided to indulge in an old habit: that of visiting stores which sell used books.
Financially-challenged Filipinos such as myself have always looked for finds in small establishments such as Book Sale and Limited Edition which put up shelves of books along malls’ empty spaces, hoping to get some business off visitors.
And just last week, while on the way to a meeting, I chanced upon Limited Edition’s two shelves on the third floor of SM Makati.
Located right by the entrance connecting the Metro Rail Transit and the mall, I scoured the bookstands thoroughly, primarily examining non-fiction titles and checking their publication dates to see whether the contents were outdated.
Not long after, I hit the jackpot and bought two books — Maria Bartiromo’s Use the News and an old but nevertheless serviceable issue of Granta’s issue 36 which dealt with Mario Vargas Llosa’s unsuccessful bid to become the president of Peru in the late eighties.
All in all, both books cost less than three hundred pesos and no one has yet told me how each would end.
Now that’s what I call a bargain.