Even though the past few days have included 4 July, my national holiday, it felt like a very British week to this American in London.
Rafael Nadal’s epic victory at Wimbledon showcased some of the best tennis ever. A Number 10 Downing Street reception and a Prince’s Trust Dinner at Windsor Castle capped off the week.
I will have been living for 10 years in the UK on the 24 of July, and I realise I love British traditions as much as I care about America.
Being British means understanding the world and having a sense of history, tradition, protocol and geopolitics. To travel as a Brit throughout the world, knowing how Britain shaped the world must be exhilarating.
But the idea of America – innovation, wealth-creation, personal triumph – resonates with individuals globally. Amazing stories abound of immigrants made good.
One that I find especially moving is that of Gurbaksch Chahal, who sold his $100m start-up to Yahoo at the tender age of 25 is one such tale.
The question we must now ask ourselves is: how do Brand America and Brand Britain situate themselves in the year 2008 globally?
Geopolitics will also go “network” just as business has. The firms which are winning today have models that work for their entire ecosystem (in other words, their entire community of interest). The countries which will win will build for the world ecosystem.
For Brand America and Britain to shine , they will have to communicate how their values are beneficial for all of the world. Everyone takes care of their own. The sign of true leadership is to worry about how the current paradigm includes all, not just our own. The former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar’s proposal to turn NATO into a community of democracies is worth considering.
Philanthropy also holds part of the key. Those who have made it, or who started with money, are giving phenomenally, and “sending the elevator down” to help others take a step up. The Fredericks Foundation, run by the British entrepreneur Paul Barry-Walsh, is the leading microfinance organisation in the UK.
Business on TV
But better PR is also required. The positive impact of business and entrepreneurship needs to radiate. We need more serious business programming on TV – and which celebrates success.
Remember Radio Free Europe and the power of the ideas which it transmitted?
Those who live without freedom in Burma, Zimbabwe or Iran find the courage from within themselves to fight for the liberty they see others enjoying on tv and on the internet.
All humanity, though not all governments, is connected by the ideas of freedom and individual empowerment. America and Britain are ahead here. Their brands will burn bright if they can radiate this to the world – and be its source of energy.
Julie Meyer is chief executive of Ariadne Capital and can be contacted at email@example.com