Thursday, December 16, 2004

Arnold Schwarzenegger and the art of selling 

The Straits Times reports today that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, is planning to visit Asia, including Singapore, early next year. The trip is apparently to obtain more investment from Asia.

As part of the report, The Straits Times published the following quote from Schwarzenegger:

I have always believed that no matter what you do, you have to be able to sell it. You can have the best product in the world, but if the people don’t know about it, no sales. California produces incredible products and it is a beautiful state. The key is to make people aware of it.
The first sentence reflects Schwarzenegger well. Schwarzenegger, like most good political leaders, is a salesman. He uses his charm to sell ideas and policies. And his charisma is widely acknowledged.

As The Straits Times notes: “His appearance at the Republican Party National Convention in New York in September, when he backed the candidacy of President George W. Bush, was regarded by many as the highlight of that event.” I have no arguments there (see my post on his speech then).

In the Singapore context, as the country moves towards a more inclusive policy-making process, expect the government to increasingly choose leaders who make good salesmen rather than good technocrats. It needs to do so to placate increasingly demanding Singaporeans.

Singaporeans will then have to think about what it means to have salesmen as their leaders. And if they can’t figure it out for themselves, they can always ask the Americans.


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