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Published on Sep 15, 2008
Shaun Smith always has a sense of urgency about him. He speaks articulately, but breathlessly, as if the world might end at any moment. "Is the economy still collapsing?" he asked the London Business Forum at the beginning of this event. "I haven't had a chance to read a newspaper this morning." We were convened at the Lewis Media Centre on Millbank on Tuesday 9 September 2008. In the US, the government had just placed mortgage financing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under its conservatorship, and the investment bank Lehman Brothers was hurtling towards bankruptcy. When we told Smith the macroeconomic outlook was still dire, he seemed gratified, as if this meant his theories were being proved right, and that he really did have advice to impart that would stop us from being dragged over the precipice.
The essential problem for most companies is that they copy - or attempt to copy - their rivals, Smith argued. "But there is only one Disney, there is only one Southwest Airlines, there is only one Ritz-Carlton, and what makes them special... is their difference, and not their similarity"
London Business Forum offers a programme of fun and insightful events. Presented by some of the world’s most inspired and inspiring people, our events provide a burst of fresh thinking without taking you out of the office for too long.