Thursday, 15 February 2018

Substance v Celebrity

Who remembers Christopher Skase, Robert Holmes a Court, Bruce Judge, Laurie Connell and of course Alan Bond?

For better or worse, I am old enough to remember the high profile corporate careers of all these heroes of 1980’s Corporate Australia.

Between them, they seemed to own everything, or if they didn’t, were in the process of buying it.

From transport to media, brewing to banking, they were the high flying, high worth corporate superstars of the era.

The binged on freely available debt and a stock market that was on a bull run. They wined, dined and travelled in style and when they arrived at the travel destination, luxurious accommodation was normal.

Private jets and private yachts were complemented by art collections acquired at record prices and of course, some were players in the racing industries.

They were media stars too, happily appearing on TV, in glossy magazines always comfortable showing the lifestyle of the rich and seemingly famous.

They were celebrities, although less so Robert Holmes a Court.

Then it all unravelled and in more than one case, jail terms were served while another escaped legal scrutiny by fleeing overseas and then being deemed to sick to travel home.

It was very much a case of celebrity over substance and many retail investors lost a lot of money as a result of buying their shares.

This experience should be a reminder that substance is always more important than celebrity in all walks of life.

There are sporting example too with Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova being one of the best examples.  Her celebrity certainly out shone her ability as she achieved an extraordinarily high profile, despite never winning an open singles title (source Wikipedia).

The world of politics seems to be moving in the direction of celebrity too. The French and Canadian Presidents may well prove to have substance however there is much concentration on the appearance and personality as on their policy and political courage, something they embrace and encourage.

Boris Johnson appears to be pursuing his political ambitions more on celebrity than substance, although time may well prove otherwise.

When celebrity is embraced by a politician and where there personal and professional lives mould in to one, the fall in the event of an indiscretion is all the more rapid and all the more damaging.

And of course, America is the hoe of the Celebrity Politician. We have had a movie actor become President and another become a Governor and of course, we have the reality TV star in the White House at the moment.

Be it business, sport or politics, substance will always be the ultimate victor.

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