SAN FRANCISCO–The keynote speech given by former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) at the American Teleservices Association Conference here Monday sparked mixed responses from people in the direct marketing industry. Although the general consensus was that he didn’t address teleservices, some said his message on global business values could be applied to the industry.
“He was absolutely brilliant,” said Ian Murphy, vice president of IDB Northern Ireland. “When he was done, I got up and cheered.”
“I really didn't get it,” said an attendant from Holland who asked not to be named. “He just spoke about America. He told some funny stories, but I didn't get a lot out of it.”
“He was a typical politician,” said a listener from a teleservices agency in the United States. “He didn't say anything surprising, but I found him very entertaining.”
“There are now 2 billion people in the world,” said Bradley, who now is vice chairman of the International Council at J.P. Morgan and Co. “That means there is now 2 billion more potential customers and 2 million more competitors.”
He coined an acronym — TINA — There Is No Alternative, which emphasizes the responsibility that businesses have in a global community. “One person can make a difference, leadership comes from example,” he said. “The economy is in good shape, but the world needs a uniform standard of accounting and accountability.”
Bradley said that in the last 15 years the economy has been “great,” but it has benefited from a 35 percent growth in the upper class while 40 percent of the middle class has remained flat. There also has been a large increase in the lower class.
“The values of our children, who are the backbone of the next generation, must be kept in mind,” he said. “Because both parents are working — and in some cases, one is working two jobs — kids are learning values elsewhere.” Elsewhere for Bradley means afternoon television programs, the mall and the street corner, where it is “just dangerous.”
Bradley used the example of the epic home run chase between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa as a backdrop for the benefits of cooperation through competition. He said in this light, competition would have a positive effect on the American family if businesses and the government drove each other to higher goals.
“I am convinced McGuire would not have hit 70 home runs without Sosa, and Sosa would not have hit 66 home runs without McGuire,” said Bradley, who was on the 1976 MBA Championship team of the New York Knicks and the 1964 Gold Medal American Basketball team. “They needed each other to keep pushing them to do better. Imagine how good it would be if Republicans and Democrats did the same thing.”