Newsletter #460 – Malls and Mumbai

In the United States the last Friday in November (day after Thanksgiving) is the busiest shopping day of the year. Many stores open before dawn to welcome bargain shoppers to the sales. Then comes Cyber-Monday, the year’s busiest Internet shopping day. In contrast, half a world away, this weekend commemorates the November 26, 2008 terrorist attack on the posh Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai India.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a lot about sales and business but two recent articles also describe the Mumbai attacks. “Global criminals are now sophisticated managers of technology and talent,” begins an HBR commentary on terrorism and organized crime (November, 2011). The article shows how technology was used by terrorists in attacking the hotel. During the melee attackers “used their BlackBerrys, satellite phones, and handsets to get tactical direction from a command post far away and to monitor broadcast news and twitter posts sent by innocent bystanders who gave real time information including the activities of police and military. There are practical lessons from this and from the weekend mall frenzy in America. Social media may seem overwhelming, especially to people who are older, but this is a part of the world where we live. Terrorists, criminals, police, retail businesses and shoppers all use and are impacted by social media. We may have discomfort with the changing technology but we’re likely on a track to irrelevance and isolation if we  ignore technologies or use excuses to keep operating in the old ways. Social media can be harmful or helpful they are here to stay and we must keep learning to understand and use them.

Another HBR article. “Ordinary Heroes of the Taj” (December, 2011) describes employees working inside the hotel when terrorists attacked from the outside. The hotel recruits employees from smaller communities because that’s where traditional Indian values still persist. Then employees are rigorously trained to show respect for guests, cheerfulness, dedication to duty, honesty, and consideration for others. Values are even more important than skills, talents, competence, and profits. All of this was evident during the terrorist attack. In business and in times of crises, values and integrity are of prime importance, probably even more than knowing social media.

Do you agree? Please comment.


  1. Yes, values are absolutely more important than skills, talents, competence and profits. And yes, Asia perhaps vaues that more than others. But it is sad to think that that value concept is eroding fast in Asia with the replacement of the realistic western mind. May be it’s the expected reality of exchange mood of eastern and western culture. It is sad to see this particularly as an Asian.


    1. Hi Henry. I thought of your comment here when I was reading and preparing my post for this week on Crazy Like Us. Be sure to read this one. We export our fast food, movies, values, our ways of doing church, our foreign policy, and now our ways of diagnosing and treating mental illness. And too many of us fail to realize that what works in one place does not work in another. I am not sure if this attitude represents arrogance, ignorance, or both. I was in Russia this year and heard about a church from California who tried to start an American style megachurch in St. Petersburg and wondered why it did not work. Among other things there was no attempt to understand how their ways of doing missions (and mission trips) was irrelevant to the people that they were trying to reach.


  2. I see people around me who are not keeping up with social media, specifically, Baby Boomers. While many Boomers do incorporate social media into their lives, others find it annoying or just don’t feel it’s useful or necessary. As a life coach (and a Baby Boomer) it’s important for me to keep current with social media to market my business and stay connected with people.

    I agree with your statement that isolation or irrelevancy may await those who insist on staying in touch via past century technology. While this may not be evident to them yet, it soon will be. It’s important to consider how much time is spent in social media activity on a daily basis, but not knowing “how” to access Facebook, etc. will eventually shrink and close off the world of those who refuse to incorporate it into their lives at some level. They will lose the inter-generational connection.


    1. Sheryl, YOur comments are very good.

      I keep reading repeatedly that businesses need to understand and utilize social media if they are to thrive and survive. That applies to coaches but also to churches. Recently a friend told me about a church that wants to reach younger people in the community but their website is so bad and outdated that this advertises their irrelevance and insensitivity to the ways of communicating with the very people they want to reach. It is not easy to learn a new language but a whole generation communicates in a social media language that may not be comfortable to the rest of us. (I agree with what you said about Baby Boomers). Have you ever called a friend, especially somebody younger and left a message or sent an email? No response. Send a text message and the response is immediate. But these are people who expect us to respond back quickly too.

      I keep working on this. Did you notice how long I delayed in responding to the posts this week and last week – including yours? I need to do better and practice what I preach 🙂


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