As I stand in an office high above the streets, looking out the window on a beautiful sunlit day, I listen to a news story about another major jewel theft in Cannes, France. The story is mind-boggling, and really caused me to think about the way I do business.
Cannes is the home of an incredible film festival every year that brings anyone who is anyone and all of the “glitterati” together for a few days. They can admire each other, and flex their cinematic muscles. The amazing beaches and great weather, with beautiful and rich people all around, make it THE place for the moneyed people from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to have their vacations. They bring their goods, their money and their jewels. Its seafront street, called the “Boulevard de la Croisette,” boasts more high-dollar stores that any other street in the world. By the way, the police and security guards in the city are prohibited by law from carrying firearms.
In July of 2013, two spectacular robberies took place in which millions of dollars worth of jewelry were stolen. Media stories didn’t list any injuries or deaths. The thieves appear to have known what they were looking for, and how to carry out the robberies. In one, which took place at the Carlton Hotel, three unarmed security guards and three exhibition staff were forced to the floor by a single gunman. He then made off with seventy-two pieces of high value jewelry. A few days later, another robbery took more than one hundred high dollar watches from a store very near the site of the famous film festival. Again, no one was reported injured. No shots were fired in either incident.
As I listened to the story, I had to laugh at the silliness of the security arrangements. I could list in my mind any number of actions that could have been taken to reduce the risk of robbery or other criminal activity. But then I asked myself if I really could have done much differently than the security managers for the companies that sell some of the most expensive goods in the world. What are their constraints? We know they can’t carry firearms. But what other steps that I see as quite basic are they not allowed to take? The companies don’t want to offend anyone and scare people away, so they restrict what the security forces can do.
So this raised questions in my mind about our own work. But more than the knowledge of security processes and procedures, the stories about the robberies challenged me to think about how I learn. So this story, to me, is really more about education and professional development than stolen watches. I realized that I often don’t pay attention to more than the headlines of news stories, and that I paid little attention to major stories from around the world. We may or may not be required to conduct “continuing professional education” by some regulatory commission, but that doesn’t mean that we should not work every day to learn about our craft and profession. I suggest that a review of news stories from around the world will help keep us sharp and will improve our work standards. I suggest that this will lead to higher performance by us and our staff, and a better return on investment for our companies and clients. I suggest this, then, will provide a return on investment that makes such effort a “good deal.”
By reading media accounts of relevant events around the world, and then examining them with a very critical and open mind, we will improve our own work. We, and our clients, must grow our businesses. We look for ways to set ourselves apart from the “herd” and be the “go-to-guys” for clients. By staying current on events around the world, and using them to learn and improve ourselves, and to evolve the way we do business, we can accomplish those goals.