After several months of interviews with some of the most fascinating people I have ever met in business for “Dynasties of the Sea”, I have an even greater appreciation for the industry. I have always been a big believer that the shipping industry is a forward-looking indicator on the economy. When I have said this in some past conversations, there would be one or two people looking at me as if I have two heads. Considering almost 95% of everything in your home has been on a ship, I think the industry is one of the most underappreciated industries in the world.
Today, when I was speaking with one of my very good contacts, Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans (who is also a successful entrepreneur), he agreed with me whole-heartedly on the industry’s importance to capitalism and free trade which has in turn created wealth for countries all around the world. His eyes lit up when discussing the importance of looking inside those cargo containers.
By gauging what is in those containers and how much is in there can help you see just how vibrant or sluggish an economy is. One of the shipping titans told me he saw China’s slowdown early on based analyzing the volume of product coming into their ports.
My conversations with the likes of the world’s largest ship owner John Fredriksen, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen to Kirstin Holth of DnB, the world’s largest shipping lender, about the tomorrow of shipping, the health of the world economy was both fascinating and actionable in terms of leadership strategies.
But what makes all those interviewed in Dynasties special and in some cases inspirational is despite the headwinds they discussed, they don’t sit on the sidelines. They move forward. I love how they define opportunity and execute their strategies. To quote Winston Churchill: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”