Last night I had dinner in Red Square – at a sidewalk café directly across from Lenin’s tomb. It was a perfect summer night and the view of the Kremlin and that iconic Greek Orthodox church made for a sublime experience.
Growing up in the Cold War as I did, with all the talk of evil empires, the Iron Curtain, and mutually assured destruction, it still gives me goose bumps just walking through the square.
I’ve just spent two days presenting to people from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. This must be my 25th or so trip to the region and here’s what I can tell you about the people here:
They’re just like you and me. Yes the language sounds rough, and they’re a hardy people used to long winters and difficult circumstances, but at their core, they’re just like everyone else…
They dream of a better future, want to provide for their children, and are excited by the promise of free enterprise. If anything, you’d have to say they’re even more motivated than many in the West. In fact, that’s a topic I explore in my new book.
Countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Latvia (where I was two days ago), and Lithuania are all in a similar situation. Citizens of nations in countries where free enterprise was forbidden or held back by Socialist or Communist rule for decades are now unleashing the pent-up demand for success they’ve had for decades. The level of passion, intensity, and urgency with which they attack opportunities is simply amazing to witness.
Books – and the authors who write them – are revered in these places, and seminars are considered life-changing experiences. People in some of these countries are so eager to get a photo or have a book signed that I need six bodyguards to get me out the backstage door and into the car safely.
The hunger they demonstrate is simply not apparent in most Western countries today. Offer a success seminar in London and you’ll likely hear, “Too bad it’s near Heathrow. Just can’t fight that traffic. Let me know if you do one close to Gatwick.” People in Miami think the 20 miles to Fort Lauderdale is too far to drive; people in Manhattan don’t go to Queens, and Brooklynites won’t take the ferry to Staten Island.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m blessed to have a lot of people who follow my work in the West, and they’re very passionate about success and willing to do what’s required for it. But if you take populations as a whole – those in Western countries versus former Soviet Bloc countries – you see a big ambition gap.
And it’s widening…
The former Soviet Bloc countries (not to mention Asia) are embracing free enterprise with zeal, while the West is getting lazy. Too many people in the West take for granted the opportunities that free markets offer.
Are we headed for a new world order? Maybe. What do you think?