“May you live in interesting times,” runs the old saying, often regarded as a curse. These are certainly interesting times. The world seems to be faced by an endless series of historically defining issues and turning points. Only two years ago, we thought that the struggling Greek economy was the biggest challenge facing Europe, but last year’s Brexit vote put that into perspective. Since when, some developments have been so surprising that even Hollywood scriptwriters wouldn’t get away with them.
Who would have thought 2017 would find China’s President Xi Jinping in Davos publicly lecturing the US President-Elect Donald Trump on the importance of free trade and collaboration? Now, there is a big difference between saying something and doing it. And genuine collaboration needs to benefit more than one party. The Chinese have a long way to go before their markets will be as free as the US has been for decades. Even so, in today’s world of sound-bite media, such words can have a significant impact and drive public perceptions – especially for those people who do not follow world politics that closely, which tends to be the majority of people voting in most democratic elections. People can form their whole world view based on small bits and pieces of information and fleeting visual impressions.
Talking about visual impressions, when getting back into the hotel late last night, I noticed the increased security and felt sorry for all the police officers standing outside in the creeping cold to protect all corners of the building. Later, when I found that I couldn’t sleep, I glanced out of the window and saw that at 3am the hotel was still being protected at the same level. Dozens of people braving -15°C just for this one hotel, so probably a couple of hundred around Davos for the whole night. One recurring question still kept me from sleeping – will my children ever live in a world where this type of security precaution is unnecessary, like the world in which I grew up? I have to admit I am not very optimistic. We will need far more collaboration, more inclusiveness and much less confrontation.
To translate that into the world of business, we need a world where companies live up to their responsibilities towards all their stakeholders. A world built on strong foundations of transparency and fairness. A world where winning and being competitive is always framed in the context of creating value for all parties. JLL’s roots go back more than 250 years. We strongly value our culture and embed it deep into our business processes, to the benefit of our clients, our employees, our shareholders and the communities we live in. We care about the world we live in and we try every day to live up to our responsibility to build a better tomorrow.