Business is not child’s play, it’s WAR!

August 27, 2012

Today my enemies, the three oil mill barons came to pay me a visit. They brought along sweet meat cakes and rare pur er tea – this suggested this was a social visit. So I received them in my new bungalow in the plantation in my bush jacket and pipe. (I have found it strategic in many cases to project an older image.)

There is a 1/72 scaled model of an oil palm processing mill in the foyer. The three barons studied it as they entered the high ceiling house. Behind them younger men streamed forward and even crouched as they strained to make out the finer details of this model plant – “is that a flux condenser?”one of the younger men exclaimed excitedly – 

“Yes that is most perceptive of you, it is.” As I feigned impatience with the words,

“This way Gentlemen, coffee and tea awaits.”

Another asked, “but where would you get cool waters around here to run it?” He went on to add, “the nearest source is 100 miles away to the East and there are no roads.”

I replied, “Yes, you are right, there is no possible way to operate this mill, it’s really too high tech, it seems. But it’s a good diversion for me during the long evenings.” I feigned a laugh and again tried to lead the entourage to the drawing room.

Standing there, the three oil barons made the number OOO. They were all sweating. Transfixed by this model. Like rabbits quivering before a cobra. Each in his own thoughts. Each contemplating the inevitable.

I drew on my pipe and savored the moment. And after what can only be described as a very long time – when they looked at me and I at them with the eyes of a hunter who was once hunted. Each of them realized, the finality of the moment – it was game over.

Darkness 2012


“I grow palm trees that produce fruit. But I am not getting a good price for my fruit as the oil barons have a monopoly on the market. I need to negotiate from a position of power – I need a reliable way to show that they are optional, dispensable even – there are oil mills to the East. They will give me a better price.

Unfortunately there are no roads to the East.

During the dry season. I cycled through hundreds of plantation roads from West to East. I surveyed in total 130 miles. Networked along the way. Built relationships. Got agreements from the various landowners for my lorries to pass through their lands. This journey is possible. Not only that, we will deny my enemies the fruit bunches in the lands we transverse through as well. They are agreeable. We only need to make this journey ONCE to bring the oil barons to the negotiating table.

Four days ago. A convoy of lorries loaded with fresh fruit bunches made this treacherous journey with pathfinders armed by my new set of maps – it took them two days. But they arrived safely. Now my enemies are not stupid – they will be wondering where has all the fruits the Devil and his associates harvested gone too? They know it didn’t go to them this month – so where did it go too? 

Build a 1/72 scale model of an oil mill. Make sure you include a long water line marked in red. I want this model in my the foyer of my new bungalow in the plantation. This will lead my enemies to think that this plant will be build near the sea in the East. Make enquiries to buy a parcel of land in the East. Do it quietly. Again when they hear of this. They will put two and two together.

When the oil barons hear of this. They know that their days are numbered. The will not fight as they would have realized by now it will be a war of attrition. Even if they win, it will bankrupt them. They will negotiate instead for peace. 

This is how politics is conducted in business – there are never any true enemies or friends only merchants of convenience play this game. 

We only get one chance at this. If we fuck it up, its well and truly game over. We don’t have any money to build this super modern oil mill next to the sea. All we have is a few loose change in the biscuit tin. Even the trips we make across the plantations is not sustainable as the cost out weight the pay outs – all we can really do is create the illusion that we pose a clear and present threat to the business model of these oil barons.

When they come to the table to negotiate. We must go for the jugular. If we ask for less they will grow suspicious. We need want equity in the mills – tell them we will pay a fair and square price for a controlling share. In return we will guarantee that we will shelf our plans to build an oil mill to the East – to put it another way. Those who we cannot defeat. We embrace as brother. Either that or total war.

Business is war. Any businessman who tells you otherwise probably isn’t in business any longer.”

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