Lessons For The Corporate World From The Animal Kingdom

On Monday October 6 the Youth Forum fellows at this year’s ITU Telecom World in Geneva didn’t only have the great honor to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to kick-off the “Connect a School, Connect a Community” initiative. We also had the great pleasure to enjoy a refreshing speech by Singapore’s Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) Lui Tuck Yew’s over our lunch.

Apparently, Minister Lui likes animals and thus stories form the animal kingdom. He certainly woke up some of the participants in the room after a long morning of speeches but most importantly still made a valid point. And most of the Youth Forum fellows probably won’t forget the lesson learned this day.

The story goes as follows:

It was a beautiful autumn day. At the top of the trees, a bird was enjoying itself thoroughly. The chirping was especially joyous, loud and captivating. A rabbit came along, gazed up at the bird and said it wished it too could take things easy. The bird suggested that the rabbit try. The rabbit rested at the bottom of the tree, but a fox came along and ate it.

The first lesson learned is that to sit around and do nothing, we must be very high up.

Then a turkey came along, and it also wanted to enjoy itself at the top of the tree. The turkey consulted a cow, which said that there was energy in cow dung, because the cow had previously seen the farmer use it for fire. So the turkey started munching on cow dung, felt stronger and, half-hopping and half-flying, made its way up the tree. It almost reached the bird, but was gobbling the dung so furiously that the sound alerted the farmer. The farmer thought that the turkey would make a wonderful meal for Thanksgiving and shot it.

Second lesson learned – bullsh** can get you near the top, but it takes more than bullsh** to keep you up there.

In late autumn, the bird fell to the ground and was half-frozen. The cow came along and, hoping to warm the bird up, deposited some of its fresh dung on the bird. The bird started chirping, disgusted that it was in a pile of dung. The bird’s din attracted the fox, who got the bird out of the dung, much to the bird’s delight. The fox cleaned the bird, then ate it.

Last lesson learned contains three points:

  1. not everyone who drops sh** on you is your enemy.
  2. not everyone who takes you out of sh** is your friend.
  3. sometimes, when you’re deep in sh**, it’s better to keep your mouth shut

As good as a read this might be, it was even better getting the story from Minister Lui that day. So I was looking around on the WWW and found a video where he addresses the Singapore Press Club and started his speech with the same story. I hope you enjoy those roughly 6 minutes.