“Dear Gerard,

It is clear that the West now faces a difficult period when it comes to the situation with Russia. To solve these problems will not be easy. It is admirable that your business, which operates in several countries in Eastern Europe and even in Ukraine, is performing well. The recent political turmoil caused by Russia will affect various branches of your company.

It is also remarkable that your experience of Russian people is positive overall. This attitude is in stark contrast to the image that many people have of Russians. Especially in countries such as Turkey and Spain, where an elite group of Russians is seen as greedy, ill-mannered and disrespectful people, who show little empathy for fellow tourists. In Monaco and London, you will also find many Russians with heaps of money, often with a young beautiful lady at their side, who ruin the real estate market there. Fortunately, you feel that the majority of the Russian people are friendly and ‘normal’.

Last month, Russia was in the news when it threatened Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The West condemns this aggression, but if you know your history (1954 and the early 1990s) and listen to the majority of the population, then this Russian act is not really so strange. If you look at the invasion of the U.S. after WWII, which we always considered normal, it is still questionable whether the annexation of the Crimea should be seen as an act that cannot be accepted.

With these kinds of issues, you need to have a nuanced view. Derk Sauer also believes that Russia’s annexation of the Crimea does not seem wrong. Sauer has built up an extensive media company in Russia, with over 4,000 employees. He is known to be very critical of the Russian government and is certainly not afraid to publish controversial views. His motivational demands and success factors are that his projects should be ‘fun and profitable’. Firstly, you need to have fun in everything you do. If work is not profitable and only costs money, the pleasure will soon disappear.

He had many setbacks in the past and has had surprisingly little or no experience of corruption. The lessons we can learn from this quintessential entrepreneurship is to look beyond borders and limits and to be prepared for setbacks and bureaucratic delays. Immerse yourself in the history and background of the people, then use your social skills to please people and to reach your goal. In addition, you should always have an escape plan in the event of unexpected events when things go really wrong. It seems that you are familiar with these ideas, so I expect a return of profits from your company in Ukraine and in Russia as soon as the turmoil dies down.


Jan Stam”

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