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Power Sheet – November 10, 2015

The astounding apparent results of the Myanmar elections are a dramatic chapter in one of the great leadership stories of the past 30 years, but only a chapter; this story is far from over. The story’s theme is that crafting the right message isn’t hard at all. What can be hard beyond most human endurance is conveying the message credibly, authentically – and that’s what makes all the difference.

The story is that of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy seems to have won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections Sunday; official results will have to wait for final tallies from remote rural districts. Her message was simple: Myanmar should have true democracy, not the phony kind set up by the military dictatorship that has run the country (formerly known as Burma) since 1962 and that has led the nation into poverty, drug trafficking, and corruption while neighbors like Vietnam have boomed. It’s an obvious message that anyone except a military dictator would support. Yet Suu Kyi has had to devote most of her life to fighting for it, peacefully, and only now at age 70 has she prevailed.

Suu Kyi’s father was the liberation hero of Burma. Her husband was British, and she could have lived a quiet life in Britain or elsewhere. Instead she returned to her home country in 1988 to oppose the military junta, co-founding the NLD and resolutely rejecting all violence while promoting her simple message. She was thus a direct threat to the junta, which placed her under house address, where she remained for almost 20 years, continuing to preach her message as best she could.

Her winning of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 alerted the world to her situation and began a steady and very slow trend of building global opposition to the junta. Over the years she became an almost mythical figure to the people of her nation. When the dictators finally felt compelled to allow Sunday’s genuine elections, many voters didn’t know or care about the NLD candidate in their local district. They just knew they were voting for the junta or for Suu Kyi. The New York Times quotes a resident in an outlying district saying, “It is unbelievable. Voters don’t even know who they voted for. They only know the Lady.”

An obvious lesson is that finding the message is simple because people everywhere want mostly the same things. What continues to amaze is the power of extraordinary personal sacrifice and the message of non-violence. Myanmar is a land of many conflicting ethnic minorities, and such countries are often held together only by dictators; in addition to Myanmar, think of Iraq under Saddam Hussein or Yugoslavia under Marshal Tito. Yet Suu Kyi’s party seems to have won most of Myanmar’s various minority-dominated districts. It’s one of several ways in which her story is Ghandi-like and Mandela-like.

Myanmar is celebrating today, but what happens next is far from clear. This isn’t the first time Suu Kyi’s NLD party has won a clear election victory. It did so in 1990, and at that time the military prevented parliament from assembling, arrested NLD members, and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest. This time, the military has said it accepts the election results, but counting on that assurance would be unwise. For now, we’re left with the lesson that authenticity—the willingness to live the right message at any cost—is the true power of leadership. For leaders, it’s a sobering message.

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What We’re Reading Today

British PM gives EU an ultimatum

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the European Union will need to change rules to protect Britain’s market and other non-euro countries, reduce red tape, exempt Britain from the EU’s “ever closer union” doctrine, and restrict migrants access to work benefits. If these demands aren’t met, then Britain could vote to leave the EU by the end of 2017. Cameron’s priorities provide a clear way for the EU to keep Britain within the fold, but the migrant issue is a highly political topic, one that could be the most difficult to support for many countries. BBC

Bank of America cuts off financial data…

…to startups and aggregators, like Mint.com. Brian Moynihan’s bank joins JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo in slowing or stopping financial data sharing to third-party companies. It’s a tricky spot for the banks. On the one hand, these aggregation sites provide financial detail for all consumers’ accounts in one place. On the other, it creates a security hole that disrupts or reduces the performance of the banks’ websites. WSJ

Jeb Bush’s team plans negative Marco Rubio blitz

The group providing funds for Jeb Bush‘s campaign for president is planning to unleash attacks against Marco Rubio, including highlighting his hard-line stance on abortion, his poor Senate attendance record, and his lack of experience. It’s an odd tactic for the struggling Bush campaign since Jeb used to mentor Rubio and has openly supported him in the past, including a 2012 TV spot where Bush said Rubio had “the intellectual acumen” to be a good president. NYT

Russia accused of state-sponsored doping program

In a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency, its former president Dick Pound says that Russian athletics had a “deeply rooted culture” of cheating that amounted to state-sponsored doping. The report found that there were 1,400 cases where drug test samples were “intentionally and maliciously” destroyed by a Russian lab. Russian Anti-Doping Agency Director Nikita Kamaev denied the findings.  CNN

Building a Better Leader

As consumer tastes change…

…even Campbell Soup’s iconic chicken-noodle gets a makeover. But it’s always risky to mess with a signature product. NYT

If you want to keep your best employees…

…make sure you respond to feedback. Fortune

Do what Google does…

…and let your employees design their own jobs. Inc.

Legal Troubles

Pimco shouts back at Bill Gross

Investment firm Pimco asked a California judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by Bill Gross last month that claims he was pushed out so his peers could grab a larger share of his bonus pool. Pimco called Gross’ allegations “legally groundless.” USA Today

Federal Court tells Obama ‘No’ on immigration plan

In a 2-to-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said that President Barack Obama did not have the power to provide up to 5 million immigrants with work permits and protect them from deportation. NYT

Luxury brands ask to move forward with Alibaba lawsuit

The brands, including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, have accused Alibaba of running a platform for counterfeiters. Reuters

Up or Out

Macy’s has added former chairman and CEO of Home Depot Frank Blake to its board of directors.  Cincinnati Business Courier

Joy Global has hired former Johnson Controls CIO Colin Boyd to the same position.  WSJ

Fortune Reads and Videos

Banana Republic has had some “product acceptance challenges”

Gap Inc. says Banana suffered its fourth double digit sales decline in a row. Fortune

The IEA says it will take five years for oil prices to recover

And reliance on Middle Eastern supplies will grow, especially in Asia. Fortune

Facebook holds the key for many online publishers

The more reliant a publication is on the social network, the more it saw its Facebook traffic numbers fall this year.  Fortune

Some Texas residents get free overnight electricity…

…due to a glut of wind energy. Fortune

Today’s Quote

“Please stop focusing on the fact of the Mizzou hunger strike itself…. Look at why did we have to get here in the first place. And why the struggle. And why we had to fight the way that we did.” – Jonathan Butler, a Missouri University graduate student and protest leader responding to the resignation of system President Tim Wolfe.  NBC News

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@ryanderous
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