Friday musings: How to Spend It edition

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Like many of my World Bank colleagues, I begin each day by quickly flipping through the pages of the Financial Times. Many of the ideas I come up with for the blog can be traced back to events and ideas I come across in the FT. However, there is one section that consistently fails to inspire my work, until now...

Whenever How to Spend It is included in Friday's paper, Ryan and I jest about the curious idea of a publication offering advice to its readers on how to purchase things they probably cannot afford. (I recall an issue published during the worst of the financial crisis entitled "Yachts that Rock". Today, we are given advice on how Alpine chalet owners can profit from changing trends in ski-tourism.) In the end, the magazine seems more like a fantasy guide for the aspiring rich than a spending manual for the global oligarchy, and has little to offer in terms of Private Sector Development.

Alas, there is a silver lining to everything, and today I discovered a section that is quite useful.

The Captain's Table is a brief column that asks political and business leaders to muse over their personal strategies and philosophies, in the context of a meal. Think Charlie Rose crossed with the Michelin Guide. A recent interview with a prominent auctioneer captures the spirit of the column:

There are few better ways to create a personal connection than over a meal.

Sharing a meal creates a bond that hundreds of hours of meetings cannot match, partly because it allows for spontaneity. As an auctioneer, you learn the importance of improvisation, of reading a mood and reacting to the moment, and often the greatest business happens almost by accident. So I see meals as an opportunity to create situations where such accidents can happen, and as often as possible

Rather than giving us tips on which helicopters or private islands to put on our holiday wish lists, the Financial Times should shift its focus to columns that are in the spirit of coming together and sharing experiences with our friends, family and colleagues. Otherwise, How to Spend it will remain the first item to hit the recycling bin on Friday mornings.  

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