Writing samples

Trade magazine article

This is a short article I wrote for a client for a trade magazine:

The other morning I was on the phone with one of our affiliates, and he said, “Customers consider quality a given, so why should we keep investing in it?”

That question sat at the back of my mind for the next couple hours. At lunch, I thought to myself, “That’s a good question. Why DO we keep investing in quality? In my own life, as many of you know, I run a moving and relocation services company, and I’m always going back to the Accounting Department, and saying things like “We need to make sure ABC got taken care of with that new supplier.” Why do I do that? 10 years ago, I wasn’t as worried about ABC.

Yes, customers consider quality a given. But the thing is, their quality expectations evolve over time. Years ago, when I was learning this business from my father, being a household goods mover was enough. We would pack and move the goods, and if we did that well, we could impress the customer and get his business again.

But these days, not only do we have to pack and move the goods, we have to protect data too. And it’s not enough to just protect data. It has to be done well. The customer expects us to do it well. If we do anything less, it makes us a commodity supplier, a supplier who does what everyone else does, and no more. Our reputation in the industry drops.

It’s a similar story for that affiliate I was talking to on the phone. He moves goods into and out of the USA. 20 years ago, it was enough for him to do just that — to pack and move. Now his customers expect him to protect his computer servers, too.

We’ve seen the FAIM requirements evolve over time to stay on the leading edge of this evolution. I remember when FIDI first started out with FAIM 1.0, we didn’t look at ABC or data protection. Now with 3.1, we do. Why? Because we started seeing our affiliate’s customers expecting ABC and data protection. And believe me, meeting these tighter expectations is not easy. I know from personal experience.

And this kind of evolution is going to continue for the foreseeable future. As affiliates’ clients’ expectations evolve, FAIM is going to evolve too. In 20 years, what will FAIM look like? That’s the million-dollar question. As a business owner, I wish I knew. What I can tell you as a member of FSC is that the FAIM we will see in 10 or 20 years will have evolved beyond the FAIM we see today.

Think back to your own business 20 years ago. If you were still doing the same thing today that you were doing 20 years ago, would you still be around? Probably not. So yes, it is true that customers consider quality a given. But it’s also true that their expectations evolve over time. FAIM needs to evolve with those expectations, and, for FIDI affiliates to be known as market leaders, FIDI affiliates need to stay ahead of the “commodity supplier” level of quality expectations. And that is why we need to keep investing in quality.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, London, and Madrid for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Letter to the editor (Financial Times)

This is a letter I wrote for an investment management client who wanted to send a letter to the editor of the Financial Times about robo-advisor software:

The companies at the forefront of developing robo-advisor software for pension schemes tend to focus on mature markets like US and UK. We understand that this is for an obvious reason: These markets have much larger pension AUMs to go after. Smaller developing markets like Turkey tend to get ignored.

However, these less developed markets tend to be more promising and flexible, and would therefore lead to faster product innovation. I urge some of the more prominent robo-advisor companies to look more closely at markets like Turkey. In Turkey they will find a rich vein of customers eager to make use of their services, and an opportunity to defray some of their development costs.

In fact, the need is so great here that even software development houses that don’t specialize in the business are getting in on the action. If outside companies wait too long, they may arrive in markets like Turkey and find the local players have become entrenched providers. Turkey has a dynamic, young population that is very fond of using internet services. Many of the auto enrollment challenges the UK is facing, like tighter margins and clients’ need for advice, Turkey is facing also.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, London, and Madrid for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Book excerpt

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote called “Heathen Pilgrim.” It available in full on Amazon.

Thursday, 11 October

The next morning I walked out of Gelendost in the rain, which let up a few kilometers later as I entered a small village of about 1,500 people. On my left was a school where a bunch of little kids were outside doing their morning jumping jacks. A wave of excitement spread through the crowd as the kids spied a foreigner with a backpack coming their way. Calls of “hello, hello” began in heavily accented English.

Two girls ran out to the fence to greet me and invite me to join them for their exercises. I looked around for a teacher, but the children seemed unsupervised. Maybe the teacher had gone inside for a minute or two and would be returning, I thought. I decided to enter the schoolyard and find the teacher to see if I might offer my assistance by joining them all in some exercises or helping out in the classroom for a while as a novelty for the students.

The two girls gasped and began giggling when they saw that I was turning toward the schoolyard. Their classmates, jumping jacks forgotten, stampeded to the fence and ran alongside it, screaming and cheering as I neared the gate.

When I walked through the gate into the schoolyard, an older man, who introduced himself as the principal, intercepted me. He had come out into the yard to see what the commotion was all about.

He greeted me and said, “Why don’t you come inside and we’ll have a cup of tea.” I knew he didn’t want me to get the kids any more riled up than they already were.

I accepted his invitation, happy to avoid the tidal wave of excitement building amongst the students. The principal walked me up a flight of stairs to his office in the administration building and gestured for me to sit in a chair across the desk from him. A massive portrait of Atatürk rose high like a shrine on the wall behind him. Next to the portrait hung several framed Atatürk quotes. I was not surprised, since nearly all public offices and most private offices contained such shrines to Atatürk. Atatürk is the icon for secularism in Turkey.

Also, Atatürk has a reputation for being open to the outside world and for being an open-minded leader. So I thought, If this principal worships Atatürk so much, then I’m probably on friendly ground here and he is probably fairly open-minded even though this is a smaller village.

The principal initiated the small talk: “Where are you going?”

“I am going to Van,” I answered, “but first I will go through Konya. Have you been to Konya?”

“It is a nice city, but there are too many religious fundamentalists there.”

He turned and pointed to the portrait of Atatürk. “Are you familiar with the works of Atatürk?” he asked.

“Yes, of course. He was a great man.”

“Yes, he was. Where are you from?”

“I am from the USA.”

“I don’t like Americans. They are killers.”

I hadn’t been called a killer before. I bit my lip and reminded myself to be patient.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, they kill Palestinians, they kill Iraqis, they kill each other.”

I didn’t want to make any more of an enemy than I already had, so I tried to steer the conversation to more neutral subjects.

“So how far is Konya from here?” I asked.

Disregarding my attempt to steer the conversation to more neutral subjects, he continued his tirade against all things American or foreign.

Then, without skipping a beat, he mentioned that things were kind of difficult at the school right now.

“And why is that?” I asked.

He told me that he’d just lost his English teacher.

Gee, I wonder why, I thought to myself. But instead I just nodded and looked concerned.

“I want to continue language education for the students,” he continued.

I did some quick mental calculations and thought Well, I have some flexibility in my schedule. I said, “Well, if you need a teacher I’d be happy to come back here and help out for a couple of weeks while you get a replacement.”

He said, “Thank you very much for the offer, but you are not welcome at this school. You are American, and you would be a bad influence on the children. Besides, the community would not be happy with me for hiring a killer.”

My offer of assistance refused, and having been told by this man that he did not like my kind, that we were haters and killers, I thanked him, wrapped up the conversation, and took my leave. Besides, it was starting to get noisy out in the hall, and a few of the children had started knocking on the door and trying to find excuses to come in. At that, the principal escorted me outside to the school gate and we said our goodbyes. I never got to play with the children.

I walked further into the village for about ten minutes and spotted a group of middle-aged men sitting at a teahouse across the street. They waved me over. I crossed the street, said hello, and pulled off my pack. The men were busy discussing the plight of the world. When I sat down, the conversation turned to which recent US presidents were Jews.

“George W. Bush, was he a Jew?” they asked me.

“I’m not sure,” I replied.

“Obama, he’s definitely a Jew.”

“Okay, if you say so,” I replied. “I didn’t know that.”

“Clinton, though, he wasn’t a Jew.”

“Okay, good to know.”

God, the people in this town are bigots, I thought to myself.

I had only been sitting for a few moments, but I was already finished with this conversation. I put down my tea, shook hands with the men, pulled on my pack, and walked toward the edge of the village. Man, bigotry does not have a profile, I thought to myself. Young, old, secular, religious, educated, not educated, I have no idea when I meet a person what their views of the world are. And if I ever think bigotry does have a profile, I’m probably the one being bigoted.

A few kilometers later, a farmer harvesting vegetables in his field called out to me. I walked over and shook his hand. He handed me a squash. I thanked him, walked back out to the road, and continued my walk, this time carrying a squash.

I didn’t have a knife or any utensils, and there weren’t any gas stations outside the villages in this area, so when I reached a bend in the road, I hid behind a tree and disposed of the squash.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, London, and Madrid for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Opinion piece

Following is a short opinion piece I wrote for a client who was asked her opinion on an industry-related quality program:

Standards have been discussed for the past few years, and now the quality manual is being prepared by a 3rd party (E&Y) that is well known in its field. Now members are being asked to vote on pilot audits to see if it works or not. The good thing is that we have prospects that are willing to pay the fee for the initial audit that ICEFAT applies to any applicant company.

Since the quality manual is prepared by E&Y, it is only logical to involve them in the test phase (pilot audits) to see how it works. And it has been guaranteed by the Steering Committee that it will not be binding to use them in the future.

Obviously a standard without an independent audit does not mean anything, and delaying this phase will only result in a loss for ICEFAT. We already paid the fee for E&Y to prepare the manual, and I don’t see any reason to hold now, especially since there is no extra cost for either ICEFAT or its members.

I hear the concerns of some members about not involving any contentious matters in the virtual AGM, but standards are not a new matter for discussion. To me it is the right call to strengthen our organization by creating audited standards so that we have a fair member acceptance system and our clients would see the proven quality that ICEFAT members have been acclaimed for. I personally believe audited standards will help ICEFAT members position themselves stronger than any other fine art mover they are competing with, and will eventually attract more applicants with the right fit as they will see the membership acceptance is being done transparently through a quality audit.

These are difficult times for all due to the pandemic and the uncertainty it brought to our lives. But I am not sure if it is the right time to hold and do nothing and wait until it is passed. I think it is best to use this time to improve our association, and carrying on the work we started with standards should be our priority.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, London, and Madrid for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Press release

This is a press release I wrote for a client in 2020:

A MANIFESTO TO THE BUSINESS WORLD, FROM THE AUTHORITY ON EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Engage & Grow, leading the employee engagement movement in over 80 countries, presented a human-focused manifesto to management teams and leaders. The manifesto, signed by over 100 employee engagement coaches in 80 countries, seeks a sustainable world which pays attention to human prosperity, security, consistency, transparency, and justice.

Melbourne October 2020/ Engage & Grow, working to further employee engagement with over 300 licensed coaches in 80 countries, published a manifesto so that decision makers would have a more sustainable point of view in the Covid-19 era. The manifesto, which recognizes that the central, underlying power in the “new normal” is the human, highlights the need for the business world to quickly construct a world of prosperity, safety, consistency, transparency, and justice.

A GLOBAL CALL

Richard Maloney, The Founder of Engage & Grow, emphasized that the Employee Engagement Manifesto is a global call to the world’s business leaders and management teams. Maloney says, “The center of power in the new normal is the human. As we saw so clearly in the pandemic, productivity, profitability, and business targets come only if people feel good about themselves. This was a big test for the world economy, and success was found in revolutionizing the way companies manage employees.”

Maloney, drawing attention to an increase in employee burnout and the difficulty of struggling with the crisis, adds, “For people, being healthy is a must for sustainable business and a sustainable future. If you take people out of business, only artificial intelligence and desks remain. We all know that’s not enough.”

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IS KEY TO ECONOMIC GROWTH

According to global research, problems with employee engagement raise companies’ human resource costs 34%, bring low performance, low profitability, rapid employee turnover and low customer satisfaction, and globally cost between 400 and 450 billion dollars. Maloney states, “This enormous global cost is too much for the world. We can only get rid of it by increasing employee engagement, and we can only do that by changing our point of view. If we take any austerity measures, they shouldn’t decrease employment, they should increase human and business productivity.”

RAPID CHANGES ARE POSSIBLE

Maloney, pointing to Gallup research that shows that raising employee engagement brings a 22% increase in profitability, a 21% increase in productivity, and a 10% increase in customer satisfaction, says, “Coming out of this global crisis requires global funding, and that can’t just be the governments’ responsibility. For business life to be sustainable, we need real change, right now.”

You can read the Employee Engagement Manifesto here:

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, London, and Madrid for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.