Procopius and Anekdota

The Byzantine official Procopius wrote three historical works in Greek. In the first two, he dealt with wars and public works projects, but the third was something of a departure from this kind of history. Referred to as “Anekdota,” from the Greek a-meaning “not,” and ekdidonai, meaning “to publish,” it contained bitter attacks on the emperor Justinian, his wife, and other notables of contemporary Constantinople.

Bill Clinton. Aretha Franklin.

From Merriam-Webster: a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident. Synonyms: story, tale.

The artful placement of an anecdote is key to being persuasive in the American culture. Stories are convincing. They speak to our experience. Storytelling. Great leaders in business, politics, culture know how to speak to the imagination of their audience. Listen to former President Bill Clinton speak at the funeral service for Aretha Franklin:

Steve Ballmer going crazy

Former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, was famous for displaying his emotions and energy at conferences. The video below from the early 2000s is typical for his exuberance

Ballmer is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association in the U.S. Here is on an American late-night talk show:

Walter Cronkite

Older Americans know the names Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. They were the most famous news anchormen of the historically dominant television news broadcasters ABC, CBS and NBC. For generations they informed the American people at six o’clock in the evenings about national and world events.

Sunday morning political talkshows are also linked to household names such as Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Schieffer. In style and tone these news shows were tailored to those respective individuals. It was, and still is, a question of branding, with the networks seeking to establish an almost personal relationship between news moderator and the audience, with the hope that viewers would trust the moderator with supplying them with critical news in precise, objective and investigative way.

And it’s no different in American politics, where it is often less about substance and more about personality, character and values, such as marriage, family, love of country and faith. Question marks in those areas mean questionable credibility. Americans first size up the candidate as a person, then they consider his or her politics.


A persuasive curriculum vitae (resumé) in the American context stresses achievements, awards and areas of special competence. It is not an official document produced by a neutral party such as a government agency or an educational institution, but rather a testament to how what was learned has been applied in the real world.

Resumés in the U.S. are in a way (self-)marketing documents. Americans highlight not only their subject area expertise, but also their character strengths, such as persistence, discipline, teamwork and, of course, leadership. Every American reader of an American resumé knows that they are carefully written subjective statements aimed at a specific effect.

Party and Platform First

German political conventions demonstrate clearly that in Germany, substance is more important than form. For decades the podium was set to the side, with the stage dominated by up to fifty party leaders sitting in three or four extended rows.

And although in recent years the podium has been moved front and center, the stage continues to be dominated by party leaders. The message is clear. The party and its political platform remain front and center.

German political parties also do their best to keep hidden their internal power struggles. Instead they are presented as debates over substance which should be resolved internally and speedily. The politicians involved are quick to state that the battle is not about themselves or political office, but about important issues of substance.

In public space

Because Germans separate strictly between their work and private spheres, they are very reserved in public. Just as they would never ask their boss about her hobbies or family, Germans very seldom initiate a conversation with a stranger in a public place like a bus, train, store or restaurant. Nor would they talk about aspects of their private life. Both would be inappropriate and make the other person feel uncomfortable.

Germans feel comfortable with periods of silence. They use quiet time to work, read, reflect, listen to music. Deutsche Bahn – German Rail – is modern, fast, affordable, and for the most part on-time. The routes offer beautiful views of the countryside, especially along the Rhine River from Koblenz to Mainz, one castle after the other sitting atop a hill.

Some train cars have rows of seats, two on each side separated by the aisle. Other cars have cabins seating six. It’s not at all unusual to enter the cabin, say “Guten Tag”, sit down, read, reflect, work on a laptop, or sleep and not exchange another word except perhaps “schöne Weiterreise” (literally “have a nice further-trip”), and this over several hours.

Colleagues aren’t best friends

In 2010,, a web-portal on the subject of professions sponsored by the publications, conducted an interview with Simone Janson, an expert on career advice.

The interview was titled Kollegen sind nicht die besten Freunde – colleagues do not make the best of friends, in which she extensively discusses interactions and relations between colleagues. Her statements demonstrate in the German work environment the importance of having a clear boundary between one’s career and private life.

Bei der Arbeit ist zu enger privater Kontakt nicht immer von Vorteil. – Too close of personal contact at work is not always of benefit.

“One can choose one’s friends, but not one’s colleagues […] presumably everyone has had the experience of having a colleague share a lot of private information about themselves, and discussing their private concerns which they did not know how to handle at least once. Or they themselves have shared something private which they then realized was making their sympathetic colleague uncomfortable.”

“There also exist the long-term professional contacts, which eventually evolve into true friendships. Even I can’t succeed in maintaining a strict separation between the two areas. That would be synthetic and non-authentic. After all, no one can forcefully avoid conflict between fellow humans. These are part of cooperating, both at work and at home. Nevertheless, I still advise maintaining a certain professional distance wherever it is necessary.”

Why Every NBA Team Needs an Australian


The safest way to win an NBA championship is to land one of the league’s few unstoppable players. But even superstars require the right surrounding parts. They are the Australians. And every team in the NBA could use one.

Australian players tend to be the opposites of most American players. They don’t seek superstardom. They actively avoid attention. They excel in the egoless roles that most players reject.

Aussies can be so obsessed with their teams, in fact, that individual awards make them uncomfortable. They want to win more than anything else. “The kids in the U.S. are told from the time they’re 12 years old that they’re the next Michael Jordan.”