Dr. V.E.”Bill” Haloulakos is an AIAA National Distinguished Lecturer and a contibutor to The Business Thinker

Americans are indeed exceptional people, i.e. they deviate from the “norm” and act quite differently from all other people in the world. They have a long tradition of doing so, from the early colonial days, through the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWII, and the Cold War and all the way to that fateful day of September 11, 2001. The fact that our President in Strasbourg, in April 2009, chose to answer a question about our “exceptionalism” by saying that “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism” does not alter the situation. In fact, he failed to take notice of the most recent “exceptional” American event, his election!


Whether Americans are indeed “exceptional” people, i.e. different from others, can be established by examining their actions and general behavior throughout their history, especially during its most critical periods.

From the very beginning of the colonial days settlers in the American Continent had to provide for themselves, conquer the wilderness, and also find ways to interface with the native inhabitants, sometimes peacefully and cordially and sometimes not. But in any event, without attempting here to analyze and discuss the morality of the situation, the settlers had to actively pursue their interests on their own and in the process they developed a work ethic and a sense of total personal responsibility for their own survival and advancement. If they did not do something, it simply did not happen!

Continue reading SOME THOUGHTS AND IDEAS ON “AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM” Are Americans Really Different?

A Vicious Cycle of Debt and Recession

Dr. Periklis Gogas is a frequent contributor to The Business Thinker magazine. He is an Assistant Professor of Economic Analysis and international Economics, Department of International Economics and Development, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece

“The Dire Straits of Scylla and Charybdis and the Magic Wand of the Drachma”

The problems in Greece are real but it becomes evident that the solutions provided through the “Memorandum of Understanding II” are unrealistic. Every economist knows that in order to cope with a recession one must use expansionary monetary and/or expansionary fiscal policy in an effort to stimulate economic activity. In Greece the situation is very bizarre and unique: monetary policy is implemented by the European Central Bank for the Eurozone as a whole and no one (especially Germany) is ready to tolerate a mild inflation that will help the troubled and heavy indebted peripheral economies of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and even Italy and Belgium. Expansionary fiscal policy is, on the other hand, impossible as Greece cannot borrow from the capital markets as long-term bond yields soar to almost 25%. On the contrary, the Memorandum implements an extremely harsh and never seen before in Europe austerity program that resulted in severe recession and a 4% decline in real GDP on average in the last three years. Never before in peaceful periods had Greece displayed such frustrating macroeconomic performance.

This difficult situation is dividing Greeks between those that are pro-memorandum (and pro-euro) and those that want to abolish it and return to the drachma along with a cross default. Like Homer’s Odysseus though the safe passage from the strait and the solution is between the Scylla (memorandum) and Charybdis (drachma) the two sea monsters.

Continue reading A Vicious Cycle of Debt and Recession

Help Your Employees Be Strategic Thinkers

Vanessa Merit Nornberg: In 2004, Vanessa opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. @vanessanornberg

Ongoing education is a core part of every great business. The investment is small, but the return can be a game change.

Education is easy to make part of any business. That does not have to mean bringing in outside experts or sending employees away to expensive courses. Drawing on in-house resources can be just as rich. At Metal Mafia, we used to have sales seminars on a regular basis, at which different staffers would present on everything from the pros and cons of new products, to techniques for communicating better with customers. As we got busier, the seminars were scheduled less frequently, and finally, not scheduled at all.

Two weeks ago, I asked my staff to tell me why a customer would want to spend money on a specific new product we now offer. I thought the answers could have been better, so I decided we all needed a refresher course in how to explain the value of our products in a meaningful way to our customers. I held an in-house tutorial this week, and the investment paid off.

Here’s what I think you’ll find most useful.

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