Wednesday. 8/4/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Daniel Bach

Your questions, answered

Every week for the past two years I have written new episodes of The Entrepreneurs, which airs every Wednesday at 20.00 London time, and its sister programme Eureka – Fridays at 22.00 – for Monocle 24. These are shows that aim to deliver inspiring stories from business leaders of all stripes (a recurring theme: it’s never easy). We work hard to make those interviews warm, engaging and, we hope, entertaining. In some cases, we hope to help spark your next business idea or ignite your entrepreneurial spirit. Over the past few weeks, that mission has seemed more important than ever.

In a time when many business owners are wondering how to ensure that their companies survive, we’ve relaunched The Entrepreneurs and introduced a new Q&A feature to enable some of the brightest minds in business to respond to your queries on resilience, working through a crisis and finding your next opportunity. I prefer to invite CEOs into the warm surroundings of studio one at Midori House but, just like many of you, I’m making do within the restrictions of our current situation. With cushions standing in for the studio’s padded walls and, sometimes, a blanket over my head to reduce echo, the programmes are now made at my kitchen table (with my partner, a lawyer, perched at the other end behind a barrier of house plants we’ve used to divide our respective workspaces).

While there has been a lot of trial and error, Monocle 24 is still able to deliver its guidance and entertainment direct to wherever you are. Last week we called Pip Jamieson (pictured), founder of The Dots, on her houseboat in London to take questions from listeners in countries including Italy and Ireland. Today we hear from Headspace CEO Rich Pierson on dealing with uncertainty while our panel takes questions about shoring up your finances. Have a question for our expert panel? Send it to: question@monocle.com.

Diplomacy / China

Out the other side

Wuhan’s 76 days in isolation officially come to an end today as travel restrictions are lifted in the city of 11 million. Reopening the capital of Hubei province, where coronavirus originated, will provide a much-needed boost for cities around the world – as well as a propaganda win for the Chinese Communist party. “China has shown the world how to handle a major pandemic,” says Kishore Mahbubani, a veteran Singaporean diplomat-turned-author, whose recent book, Has China Won?, examines the geopolitical contest between Washington and Beijing. According to Mahbubani, China has yet to displace American primacy but the single-party state is teaching the US a thing or two about good governance during this crisis. “The US so far has been remarkably incompetent,” says the Singaporean. It’s worth remembering that China (and Trump) initially sought to deny a virus outbreak was taking place. But in showing the world how to solve a problem exacerbated by its slow response, China is beating Donald Trump at his own game.

Politics / Scandinavia

Matter of trust

This week is shaping up to be a significant one in Scandinavia. On Monday, Denmark’s prime minister Mette Frederiksen (pictured) unveiled plans to reopen nurseries and primary schools on 15 April, while Norway is expected to scale down restrictions today. Sweden, by contrast, hasn’t even felt the need to implement a full lockdown (though one could yet be required). The Nordic nations have taken different approaches to implementing and maintaining quarantine measures during the pandemic but their success in minimising its impact could, in part, be the result of a common trait: a strong social fabric.

“The levels of interpersonal trust and trust in institutions in Denmark are among the top in the world,” Monocle’s Copenhagen correspondent Michael Booth told The Globalist. Indeed, according to the latest European Social Survey, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are all among the five nations with the highest level of trust in their governments and fellow citizens. The Nordic model suggests that it’s easier to be lenient when your population has faith in its institutions.

Media / Brazil

Spreading the word

Buobooks, which launches today, is the first global online bookshop dedicated to Portuguese-language titles. Its Brazilian founder, Rodrigo Alvarez, says that he’s exploiting a gap in the market for the more than three million Brazilians who are living abroad, as well as citizens of other Lusophone countries, including Portugal and Angola. “Buobooks is not just another e-book store; we value print,” Alvarez told The Monocle Minute. “And I think that many Brazilians abroad enjoy buying physical books in their own language, which are so hard to find outside Brazil.” Buobooks will also act as a representative for publishers, printing books where their biggest potential markets are likely to be rather than importing copies from Brazil. Alvarez anticipates a high demand for children’s books and some interest from foreigners. The timing of the launch couldn’t be better: who doesn’t need an extra book to while away the days at home?

Society / Global

Feed dating

Video chats are being embraced by employers seeking to boost team morale and friends mimicking Friday-night drinks. Will the format prove as effective among singletons? Hinge, one of the world’s most popular dating apps and owned by Match Group (the Texan romance titan that also owns Tinder and OkCupid), has this week launched a “date from home” option. The feature enables users to seamlessly move from a text chat to a video call and has been introduced after 70 per cent of Hinge users said that they would like to have virtual dates. Of course, it’s no substitute for physical intimacy but numerous recent reports have said that video chats, more so than phone calls, can help to alleviate loneliness. At a time when millions are living in isolation, seeing other faces – even on a screen – is uplifting. Call it love in the time of corona.

M24 / Monocle on Culture

Craig Brown

Robert Bound speaks to writer Craig Brown about his new biography of the Beatles, called One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time. How do you say something fresh about one of the most written-about bands in history?

Monocle Films / Japan

The bold business owner: Takeshi Yamanaka

In 1928 Maruni Wood Industry was born out of a fascination with the masterful carpentry in ancient shrines. Today its furniture is found in the Californian headquarters of Apple as well as airport lounges, galleries and restaurants around the world. We meet the company’s president to talk about the challenges of managing a family-run business.

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