Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about Vladimir Putin, Russian politics or media bias at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of this video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. So today we’re going to talk about Vladimir Putin, and the fact that Vladimir Putin is Russia’s Ronald Reagan. Obviously, Russia’s been in the news quite a bit recently with the conflict in Syria and now of course what’s happening in the Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin is a very interesting figure because obviously the Western media hates this guy and the Western political establishment hates this guy. We love to villainize Vladimir Putin and make him out to be the devil.
Well, let me tell you, there’s another side to this coin and that’s really what this video is about, is just kind of a little bit of awareness that in Russia they love Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is like a combination of Ronald Reagan and James Bond. They love that guy. Now, I’m not saying they love him unanimously. When he had his election there were protests, so there is a faction of the Russian population that does not like Vladimir Putin, but for the most part, across the country and even in the region, Vladimir Putin is quite a popular political figure. He’s a good communicator. He’s a very decisive leader, he’s very decisive in his leadership, he makes decisions quickly and very black and white – there’s not a lot of gray area for him, and he stands up to the USA. He stands up to America, which they love because they don’t like America.
Now, keep in mind, the Russian economy is like tiny by comparison to the US. It’s like one-tenth the size of the US. In fact, the Russian economy is about the same size as the California economy. It’s even a little bit smaller than the California economy, I think. So Russia’s economy is quite small, but the reason it has such a huge footprint in world politics is mainly for two reasons.
Number one, the kind of Eurasian continent, which is the single biggest land mass on the globe, is dominated by Russia. Russia is a huge, huge country. It’s almost twice the size of Canada, and Canada is the second largest country on the planet. So Russia is huge, which means they’re a raw material treasure trove. They’ve got tons of raw materials and a lot of oil and a lot of gas. In fact, if you look at oil-exporting countries, Russia is number one and they are almost twice as much oil, or not quite but close to twice as much, as Saudi Arabia, which is second. So Russia has a huge amount of oil and they export a lot of oil.
Now, there’s a distinction that we need to make her because it affects Vladimir Putin’s footprint within his country and also around the world. So when a country exports oil, most countries that do that, they have leases essentially on their own land. So the companies that are taking the oil out of the ground and refining it and shipping it out, well, they get some of the profits for sure— and these oil companies do make an awful lot of profit as we all know—but a lot of the money goes straight to the government because it’s their land. This is happening certainly in Saudi Arabia and a lot of the other countries in the Middle East, and other countries like Venezuela of course gets a lot of money directly from oil exports, and of course Russia. Russia exports a huge amount of oil and a lot of that money goes straight to the government.
Now, if you compare that to the United States, most of the United States government’s money just comes from tax revenues, so they have to tax the individuals and corporations in the country and then get that money from them. But meanwhile, Russia, they tax their people, they tax their corporations, but they have another cash injection, which is from these oil sales. So the government in Russia gets an awful lot of money from exporting this oil, which means that Vladimir Putin has a disproportionate power. Given the size of his economy, he has more power than you would expect because they get all this money right to the government, which is why Russia can spend so much of their money developing their own weapons. And the whole Cold War and everything, the only reason that was even possible, really, because the economy in Russia was much smaller than the economy in the United States, so why were they competitive? Well, of course we found out after the fact that they really weren’t nearly as competitive as we thought during the Cold War, but even still the illusion of being competitive was there because the government in Russia got all this money from exporting oil and they could take all that money and use it to develop their military, their army, all their weaponry. Russia’s got a lot of arms and they sell arms around the world and they manufacture an awful lot of arms, and they can do that because they have money going directly into the government.
So that props up Vladimir Putin. He’s a powerful guy. He’s got access to a lot of money and he’s got access to a lot of weapons. And look, he’s ex-KGB, which is like essentially the CIA except maybe even worse. So the guy lies through his teeth. They make these absurd comments like “the United States infiltrates all these situations around the world and tries to influence things and, oh, we’re Russia, we don’t do that.” That’s not true at all. Russia’s got its fingers into everything and they’ve got their own operatives. Both sides are doing that, and certainly Ukraine is the best example of both Russia and the United States getting their people, their feet on the ground, and trying to influence things and influence peddling inside of the Ukraine whether it leans Western towards Europe or Eastern towards Russia.
So Vladimir Putin lies through his teeth, but the point of this video is to say, look, he’s not the devil in everybody’s eyes. There is a part of the world that really looks up to that guy and there’s a media establishment in Russia that props him up and really uses him as a guidepost of what they should be doing. They think he’s making the right choices and they think that we’re making the wrong choices here in America.
So one of the things that I do just to kind of balance my view of the world—and I travel a lot for my work and I’m always going to different countries. I’ve been to the Middle East in particular a number of times, so it’s very important for me to have a general understanding of the different points of view. And let me tell you something: American media like CNN, you are not going to get a balanced point of view by watching America media. So what I do, I get almost all of my news, my understanding of the world, from a series of four apps which I have on my phone, and they are the CNN app; the BBC app, which is in the UK; RT, which is Russia, and that’s owned by the Russian government so it’s very biased and pro-Russia, but it’s good to know that point of view; and then Al Jazeera, which is out of Qatar, or as some people say, KUH-tar, which is focused largely on the Muslim world and has a very different perspective. So CNN, BBC, RT, and Al Jazeera, and I try to look at those apps almost every day, and many times they talk about the same news story but they have completely different points of view. And I think it’s really important, especially if you’re in international business, if you travel, if you have customers internationally or if you have ambitions or aspirations to grow your business beyond our borders or maybe in a different part of the world already, is to have an understanding of what’s going on in different parts of the world.
And Vladimir Putin is a perfect example of someone who is demonized here in the United States and really across Western Europe as well, but meanwhile, in Russia, he’s quite often hailed as a hero and his legacy will last. He is Ronald Reagan of Russia. Ronald Reagan was a huge political figure here in the United States and people constantly refer back to Ronald Reagan as an outstanding leader. Whether you agree with that or not, it’s a reality in America. A lot of people look up to the leadership that Ronald Reagan provided during his eight years in the White House. Well, let me tell you, in Russia Vladimir Putin holds that exact same position and his legacy will last, and it’s good for you as a businessperson or just as a citizen of the globe to see both sides of that debate.
Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.