What failed Mitt Romney?

mitt romney



The story of how the presidential candidate, despite his decades-old expertise in business consulting and economic analysis, failed the election of 2012 against Barack Obama.

Hint: looking back at your past success was not always a guarantee you could win support among your voters.

Read the full article on Bloomberg Businessweek, originally published in November 2012.




By the time Romney left Harvard in 1975, a wave of entrepreneurialism was changing how businesses were run. Large but poorly performing companies, undervalued by a nervous market, saddled with expansive bureaucracies and expensive labor issues, struggled to compete, and became easy targets for mergers and consolidations. Panicked executives turned to firms like BCG for answers, and Wall Street opened up to new kinds of people.

“It was a time of great foment and thinking about strategy,” says William Sahlman, a classmate of Romney’s and now a Harvard Business School professor. “American business hadn’t really had to compete for a long period of time. That whole period was the origin of the shift in the economy toward knowledge workers and gave rise to a meritocracy where anybody who was really smart could get a job and do well.”

Romney had plenty of connections to the old pedigreed world. But his acumen, more than anything else, brought him success in the new one. Working with CEOs, strategic consultants guided businesses through corporate successions and transitions, focusing them on doing a few core things well. If a company was underperforming, a good consultant could figure out why and advise on which divisions to shed. If a new product was under consideration, he—and it was then almost entirely men—could study the market and the competition to determine how, when, and where to launch it.

To an almost unimaginable degree, given their age and experience, consultants still in their twenties and thirties reset the course of major American businesses (including Chrysler), helping many CEOs twice their age survive by forcing them to confront the realities of a new marketplace. A colleague of Romney’s from this period, seeking to convey the challenge consultants faced, says that Chrysler executives firmly believed people would continue to buy Chryslers because they had always bought Chryslers. Consultants found that this was a common tendency among executives: the belief that past success was a strategy for the future. Romney shone as someone possessed of both the analytical ability to find the right answer and a presence that inspired trust in more experienced executives.

What we fear about when we fear about 2012


Accept it or not, all of us have now officially abandoned 2011. There was much painting-the-town-red celebration held over thousands of cities and towns worldwide. We saw fireworks dazzling over the night sky. We heard sounds of triumph. Trumpets were played. Laser lights were set off, in accordance to countless patterns of iconic images we perceive in our daily lives. Vehicles, from motorcycles to private saloon cars, were all rushing in to the nearby city centers as the drivers were impatiently waiting for the momentum to take over. Unlike the previous 364 nights, we commemorated the last night in 2011 with glimpses of hope and anxiety, making up to the hotch-potch of feelings we stared with full awe when the fireworks were launched, step by step.



As usual, I and my family would solemnize it at our hearthstone, our very own home sweet home. We would order pizzas, salad with thousand island sauces, and fettuccinis, to be shared altogether. My dad sometimes bought some cans of beer as an additional bonus. We ate, and we drank, at the same time we were watching Hollywood movies in television. At the same time, I saw that some of my friends were celebrating it overseas. A Blackberry contact of mine even spent time in Singapore together with approximately a dozen of her classmates. Another one was in Orchard Road, together with her family. Meanwhile, some others had just been back home. Some also spent time broadcasting Pollyannaist messages of encouragement and inspiration for more success in the coming year of 2012. I did, too. But I don’t expect much success. It doesn’t matter whether a singleton would have achieved more success than failures or vice versa, as long as one can afford to truly understand and appreciate oneself and is happy with it, that’s all.

In a brief spasm, a thought flashed on my mind like a comet on its way to strike a planet.



While everyone’s on seventh heaven, deeply seduced in exhilaration as they were watching the pulchritudinous fireworks being set ablaze above the cities’ skyline, did they still keep it in their mind vividly about the so-called ‘end of the world in 2012’? You know, what you have eavesdropped from someone’s conversation, or read from someone’s blog, or seen from the disaster movie, that it is so cocksure, simon-pure, that the apocalypse will shatter us to bits? It must have been a terrifying experience for some people after they were shown Roland Emmerich’s spine-chilling vision of the Armageddon, whose box office revenues also raked in the cash in spine-chilling ways, as well. (As a matter of fact, the movie itself grossed almost 700 million US$ worldwide, far exceeding its astronomical budget which was rumored to be between 200 and 250 million US$) Los Angeles in less than an hour ended up like pieces of birthday cake being cut off. Las Vegas all in a sudden fell deep into the core of the Earth. Himalaya was flooded with tsunamis measuring out thousands of meters high. And, briefly a few seconds before the movie faded to black, if you noticed it in full details, Indonesia was no longer seen. So were most of the land swaths in India. While some thought this might be too formidable, especially for the youngsters (that’s why MUI, or as in Indonesian, Indonesian Council of Ulemas, issued a fatwa, declaring it verboten for everyone to watch such a ‘morally bent’ film), I just found it to be too adventurous, and in some cases, hilarious. The scenes of how the protagonists (sorry, I’ve forgotten all their names) tried to escape from the torn-apart Los Angeles, while skyscrapers were falling down and colliding against each other, reminded me of those I’d seen in Transformer movies. There was excessive maelstrom, exaggeratedly CGI-ed explosion and destruction and blow-your-head-off performances, and one more hilarious thing: protagonists, in 99% of all films I’ve ever watched, no matter how severe, how wounded, and how hopeless they have been, do always survive, albeit sometimes they do in illogical ways. After getting out of the cinema, I simply told my friends, “It’s not as frightening as the trailer has originally unfluxed. I even found it, much of the time, laughable.” Emmerich’s imagination works pretty much like that utilized in any of Michael Bay-directed films (trust me, most of his films often involve hyperbolic pictures, perhaps that’s also why most of his films often succeed with flying colors, with aggrandized box office income, and embroidered critic bombs.)

Human’s imagination seems to have never stopped exploring and exploiting the invisible borders of the apocalyptic vision itself. Roland Emmerich’s 2012, and many of his notable films, particularly Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day after Tomorrow, have demonstrated how apocalypse might look like, as a result of secret neutrinos getting entrapped deep in the Earth’s core ready to explode, or false miscommunication between humankind and an unknown alien civilization billions of light years away, or because of a top-secret military experiment gone wrong, or unjust changes in global climate. But, for sure, that’s not how apocalypse might exactly appear like. That’s how Emmerich envisions his own versions of apocalypse, and implements them through his on-Queer-street scenarios he penned often by himself. He’s an artist, and he needs money, anyway. But it doesn’t mean there’s absolute impossibility that these doomsdays might ever happen. They may ‘someday’ take place, but for sure, the probability rate is comparable to a rare asteroid which collides with a giant planet billions of times the size of Jupiter.



Throughout my own life, my almost 3-year equivalent spent in browsing the Web for information and information, I have read and copied so many nouvelle about how the world might possibly end, perhaps in 2012, or perhaps in November 2010 (forget that, if that were to happen, I might have never written this post anymore), or someday in the future. Someone in the Web wrote down like this: by the time 21st December 2012 has come (the day the Mayan calendar officially ends), a giant red planet named Nibiru will appear, whose visibility is as clear as the Sun, and the planet’s climactic equilibrium will soon experience massive changes. It is estimated that two-thirds of the global population, say the least, will have perished, and other two-thirds of the remainding survivors will have succumbed as a result of long-term consequences implicated by the arrival of Nibiru, and the gravitational chaos it causes to the Earth. Another scenario might be like this. When the Nibiru has arrived, still on the same date as of the former, an extraterrestrial life form, a very advanced civilization whose technological progress is no match with that of human, who themselves have been colonized by smartphones and Facebook and Twitter, named Anunnaki, will come to ‘enlighten’ us. During the ‘enlightenment’ process, it is estimated that as many as 90% of humanity will be obliterated, or to be more courteous, eliminated. But once the process is over, there will be a new epoch of spiritual transformation among human beings, where humankind may be able to interact with countless, inter-galactic civilizations with better spiritual understanding.

Before you end up gobsmacked and dumbfounded, there is at least something I need to clarify up here. Nibiru is a mythical homeworld for the gods of Sumerians, so-called Anunnaki. While the 21st December 2012 is the day the Mayan calendar officially ends. What kind of cultural co-operation is this? Sumerians lived in territories we now officially recognize as Iraq more than 4000 years ago, while Mayan civilization’s acme only achieved its apex as far as 1500 years ago. They only extended their political influence as far as Central America, and had no idea what Middle East really was. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible if, who knows, either the Sumerians or the Mayans had in secrecy co-operated with certain very advanced civilizations to invent time machines, so they could trade their stories with each other. Although the probability ratio, as I can suggest, is 1 to 100 billion trillion. (that’s a conceivable estimation of number of Earth-like planets, within the 13.5-billion-light-year radius of our universe)



Another scenario is like this: United Nations, known to be an evil superbody controlled by super-genius, and super-evil Jews (don’t compare me to John Galliano or Charlie Sheen for these anti-Semitic remarks, I’m just summarizing down what I’ve once read), is currently devising a secret program which is aimed to eradicate 90% of the population as far as 2012. Named Codex Alimentarius (Google it), and implemented by FAO and WHO, which has co-acted with thousands of multi-national corporations worldwide, namely Monsanto, they are distributing food which have been, unbeknownst, genetically manipulated, with aims to generate permanent genetic defects on humanity. By doing so, it is expected that human population will decrease as far as the target they have set. I tell you, if this effort were really made, it would have turned out to be a double-edged sword game for United Nations, and particularly, all these MNCs. Let me figure out the facts at first. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, as I list the world’s countries in alphabetical order, close to 100,000 multi-national corporations are executing their daily business operations. Excluding other 100,000 national corporations, but this time, omit the ‘multi’ word. If combined, all these 200,000 corporations employ more than 2 billion ranks and files. That’s already similar to more than one-third of the world’s population. If they were all eradicated with this way, tainted with secretly poisoned food you and I perhaps are right now eating, where and how will they discover their own source of income? By asking Harry Potter to convert banana leafs into money?

But, for sure, the probability is high that the world’s population may have exceeded 10 billion some time in 2050. That might sound like a piece of good news for economists, but not for environmentalists. (because of the carbon footprints they will inherit)



2012, as mellifluous as it sounds, turns out to be a catchphrase for many so-called ‘apocalyptists’. And the militant supporters of vegetarianism seem to have made a virtue of necessity from this number, as well. It is a-dime-to-a-dozen task to find out posters, with features including a blonde-haired Asian woman who seems to be a quinquagenarian, and multitudes of words erected beside her posture. There, it concludes: global warming becomes increasingly difficult to solve. Be a pure vegetarian. Help save the planet. By: Supreme Master. There, it is also written like this: unless governments take actions to halt the acceleration of global warming, all the ice caps of North and South Pole would have melted, commencing in … 2012. Be a vegetarian, eat plants, and save the planet. It is true that there is tendency that this rara avis is on its path towards acceleration. It is also true that, still, out there, many governments have failed reaching consensus upon the frameworks needed to initiate global actions to combat global warming as lately as 2020, as have been seen from the final conclusions of the latest UN Conference on Climate Change held in Durban, South Africa. (before that, it has repeatedly failed in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia and Cancun, Mexico) But it is, as for me, excessively rapid if the ice caps have to melt by the end of this year. No matter how deteriorating the situation is, we would still be able to see penguins strolling in the Arctic Circle or polar bears hunting in the Antarctica, until as late as 2030, after further analysis on how fast-paced the melting process will be was made by scientists (not Supreme Master).

Furthermore, what will happen to the whole world if the entire earthlings were commanded to be ‘full vegetarians’? Aren’t we taking other animals’ rights for granted that we grab their source of food, at the same time? (this inquiry can get you stoned by any pro-vegetarianism activists) Doesn’t this also mean that we will disrupt the global food chain system, in which we let all the chickens, ducks, swans, turkeys, pigs, cows, lambs, and many other kinds of poultry or any other domesticated animals to overpopulate the entire planet? Won’t we be overwhelmed by not only their omnipresence, but also abundance of faeces they produce, which in the end will release large amounts of ammonia, which will entrap more solar heat in the end, which means we are actually deteriorating the global warming itself, as an unintended consequence?



I found it even more frolicsome when our form teacher, while I was a student of Senior High School First Grade, showed us a PowerPoint presentation regarding to global warming. At first, we were shown pictures of recent disasters taking place throughout the first quarter in 2011. Floods claimed myriad lives in China, Pakistan, Brazil, and soak our beloved hometown, Medan. A 9.0-magnitued earthquake ravaged east Japan, which in the end instigated a deadly tsunami, which in the end caused a nuclear leakage. Earthquakes also took place in geologically active countries, like New Zealand and Haiti. Afterwards, we were shown that all these kinds of pandemonium had correlation with global warming, and 40% of CO2 emissions which cause global warming itself is caused by livestock-related activities. Then, it directly came into a conclusion: it’s all because we eat meat too much! What’s more, the author had even made his own prediction, which left me scientifically doubtful about the real authenticity: unless we begin to reduce our meat consumption, the total amount of ammonia gas released may contribute a drastic increase to the sea level as tall as 75 meters, which will be overwhelmed by CO2 and ammonia, that will convert the water into ‘seas of raging fire’. In the end of the presentation, we were promoted to watch Supreme Master TV. How Emmerich-esque, I concluded. Even if all of us decided to be full vegetarians, won’t it be the same thing that we will still contribute to the emissions of ammonia gas? Unless you believe it, try to loosen your bowels this night. I bet, the faeces won’t ever emit oxygen, even if the Sun all of a sudden rotated in reversed direction.

Vegetarianism might not be the only ultimate solution, as it turns out. Won’t it be a better crinkum-crankum if this is added with continuous and expansive process of converting the faeces into either fertilizer or biogas?



I recalled, 2 or 3 years backward, when I was skimming through a blog post, written by an Indonesian blogger whose website I had been oblivious with, about so-called New World Order (Novus Ordo Seclorum), which is scheduled to reach its acme, again, in this 2012. Google it, and you can equate the creator behind this story with John Galliano, or any anti-Semits else. Known to be a very top-secret project (the plot versions depend on which blog sites you pay a visit to), it is a clandestine project conducted by Freemasonry fellows – and super-genius Jews, as it turns out, again – to rule the whole world in Stygian darkness and enslave the entire mankind. One version relates it with secular service clubs like Lions International and Rotary International, which if combined, have a 2.5-million-strong membership structure. These organizations are often accused of spreading Freemasonry thoughts, which turn out to be subjective allegations by religious fanaticists or bigots. Another version informs that the world’s most powerful businesspeople, allegedly including Bill Gates, are funding the construction of a gigantic underground city in a top-secret location in Antarctica, to anticipate the Nibiru disaster. Another version again mentions that those suitable to populate this city are tantamount to members of Lions and Rotary clubs. Another variant calls for the destruction of Dajjal, a one-eyed beast scheduled to be born in Israel, who will one day be the ‘eternal dark leader of the whole world’, and the one who will lead the Freemasonry to achieve its glory. And all these scenarios are scheduled to take place in 2012.


Snopes.com needs to check whether this is simply a Photoshopped picture or not.


Hold on a second. Rumor has it that the whole world’s governments, incorporated into the United Nations, are currently constructing a gigantic starship, miles down the Area 51 (in which President Obama leads all the project), which can accommodate in maximum 1% of the world’s population (that is to say, 70 million human beings), at the same time the rest, the 99%, the abandoned – which is why it becomes the slogan for Occupy Wall Street demonstrators – will have to be crucified when the 2012 apocalypse has come. The starship itself reportedly costs the whole world, particularly United States and European Union, over tens of trillions of dollars in debts (because they are the main shareholders, together with all these corporate giants), which actually is the main contributing factor to the global recession that is taking place, aside of subprime mortgage and financial deregulation which turns out to be decrepit. I recognize this tattle-tale more as a piece of applesauce. Because I myself invent up this story. Just leave this paragraph. And I bet you (won’t) believe easily in it, as long as your logic remains working.

It turns out that the rapid outflow of information through the Web has accelerated the contagion of fear among human emotion. As things become increasingly accessible, especially after the introduction of smartphones (which in the end colonize our brains to keep holding on the trackballs), it becomes easier and more effortless to obtain knowledge and information, almost everywhere you are. But, often, more knowledge does not always indicate we become wiser than before. As the whole world becomes more complicating and more inter-connected, it also turns out increasingly difficult, often, to differentiate which information we should really believe as facts, and which we should really believe as hoaxes. Things are often subject to cognitive biases. Perhaps what Socrates has once said 2500 years prior is correct: true knowledge lies in the fact that we know nothing. Here we are, fellow beings, we have to recognize our main Achilles’ heel: we often think that we know we know it.




What about all those scenarios mentioned above? They may be correct, but the probability is very low. Psychologists have estimated that out of all sorts of fear we have envisioned in our own minds, only 10% do really come true. Meanwhile, the rest, the 90%, simply remain our own illusory stupefaction. Moreover, often those fears emerge in ways beyond our own ability as human beings to imagine how their occurrence might be. Perhaps the real apocalypse, as the universe has itself designed, might be numberless times much more terrifying than those previously written above. What will happen in 2012, nobody knows. Even if apocalypse were to take place, it does not always mean the end of the world; it might just simply be ‘the end of the mankind’. The world will still be out there, even if Earth has perished. True knowledge lies in the fact that we know nothing.

Just relish every single moment in your life, as long as you’re still alive. There are too many good things in life you can afford to do. That’s why we could still devour the pizzas voraciously throughout the New Year celebration, or watched the fireworks through the windows, with full fascination.

But still, always prepare yourself for the unprepared. Nothing is ever impossible.