The Lead: European Court of Justice Facebook Ruling, Tariffs on European Exports,Vice Media Acquires Refinery29

Welcome to The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights. This curated content will provide you with quick clarity into relevant headlines and provide straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.
European Court of Justice Facebook Ruling

With implications that span beyond the EU, the European Court of Justice said in a ruling last week that countries can order Facebook to take down content and restrict worldwide access to that material. The ruling places more responsibility on social media platforms and sets a precedent for regulating internet content and regulating it beyond a government’s borders. Facebook criticized the ruling in a public statement, but the court’s decision cannot be appealed.

Our View: Government leaders’ relationships and connections with business leaders must be founded on trust in order to create a reciprocal exchange. Businesses and governments interact in a variety of ways, and the three general categories of business responses to the public policy environment are reactive, interactive, and proactive. For most business leaders, the best approach is a combination of interactive and proactive approaches with government and other interest groups. Consider trying the exercise of searching the business press and Internet for recent examples of businesses responding to challenges from government policies or the media in confrontational, participatory, and anticipatory ways. Identify the benefits and problems associated with each approach. Write down what lessons from this exercise apply directly to your business and how they can be translated into near-term actions. Further Reading

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U.S. to Impose Tariffs on $7.5 Billion Worth of European Exports

The trade war may be headed from Asia to Europe, as the U.S. plans to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European exports by the middle of this month. The Trump administration is imposing tariffs on European-made Airbus planes, French wine, Scotch and Irish whiskies, and European cheese. The World Trade Organization gave approval for the tariffs, and the levies take effect October 18 with the exemptions of parts from an Airbus assembly plant in Alabama and parts used by U.S. aircraft maker Boeing. Europe is expected to retaliate.

Our View: The business lessons from the US China trade war can be translated into everyday leadership lessons. Every leader must adapt to constant change, innovate and expand their horizons, and watch out for new legislature. Amid the uncertainty are new opportunities. “China favors Sun Tzu’s Art of War: Leaders avoid the main power and penetrate the open spaces, looking to control empty spaces rather than directly attack its main rival. In line with its national interests, the country will continue to lure foreign technological startups, prioritize economic networking with emerging players in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and develop supply-chain redundancies. Foreign companies can tap into these tendencies and collaborate with China on its regional development strategies,” writes Bo Ji, founder and assistant dean of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. Further Reading

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Vice Media Acquires Refinery29

Vice Media LLC acquired female-focused digital media company Refinery29 Inc in an effort to add new revenue streams and bolster its global footprint. Refinery29 is valued at a minimum of $400 million and was co-founded in 2005 by Christene Barberich and Piera Gelardi to create and distribute video and other content focused on women. Vice Media plans to keep Refinery29 a distinct brand within its portfolio and is preparing for the deal to increase content production by 20% across all of its platforms.

Our View: The leadership factor in mergers and acquisitions should not be underestimated, and leadership strategies during these highly complex times should be carefully managed in order to seamlessly direct necessary adjustments and adaptations. This can be done by welcoming the new team and collectively celebrating milestones and early wins. Be a positive proponent for change in every encounter, including one-on-ones with your direct reports and all-company meetings. Data and digital protection should always be a priority, but give security extra attention during mergers and acquisitions where the transitions can make your organization especially vulnerable. Further Reading

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Human Rights in an AI, Social Media, and Big Data Era

As individuals, organizations, and governments around the world grapple with human rights, the discussion becomes even more daunting and important in light of digital developments that span social media, big data, and rapidly advancing artificial intelligence. At a recent symposium at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, organized by the Academies’ Committee on Human Rights, thought leaders came together to discuss and explore the topic of human rights and technology. Like many leaders, they strive to find ways to debunk pervasive myths, such as the societal presumption that data is always objective and reflects reality properly, in order to address the real harm (current and potential) from technology. “Human rights — its vocabulary, its framework, its vision — provides a basis for restraining the worst intrusions and violations of the digital world, and promoting its best,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur and clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine. Though the human rights framework isn’t perfect, it provides a good basis to reap the benefits of new technologies while upholding the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, right to privacy, equal protection, and non-discrimination.

Our View: Thought leader and historian Yuval Noah Harari says artificial intelligence is as threatening as climate change and nuclear war. He advocates for taking time to disconnect from rapidly expanding technologies and reflecting on what they mean for humanity. He explains “We need to make the most important decisions in the history of humankind in the next few years. We now have divine powers of creation and destruction. And its humans, not gods who need to decide what to do with them.” Further Reading

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Sneaker Stock Market

StockX is a Detroit startup with a billion-dollar valuation after it raised the largest round of venture capital funding in Michigan history. It is a sneaker trading platform that wants to build a “stock market of things.” StockX’s founder is a former IBM consultant and avid shoe collector who created the company after finding a way to track auction data for sneakers on eBay. After a failed attempt at monetizing a sneaker price guide, a collaboration was formed with Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans. StockX sees millions of dollars in activity on its platform each day and makes its money through transaction fees.

Our View: Old ideas leveraged in novel ways can fuel innovation. Tried-and-true processes and systems can give budding ideas fuel and provide a tactical advantage. There is inherent value to repurposing everything from systems and processes to ideas to content. For example, you can reinforce messaging and reach new audiences with repurposed content that leverages prior work in a new context. Innovate while keeping in mind wisdom from the old adage “don’t reinvent the wheel.” Further Reading

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