This past November, Rogue’s senior leadership was invited to attend an exclusive geopolitical summit called the Autumn Dialogues. Taking place annually at different locations globally that have included San Francisco, Shanghai, and most recently Paris, the Dialogues bring together 100 applicants from around the world and represent a crash course on the state of the world featuring global leaders of industry, culture, and politics. This year’s conference had some incredible attendees scheduled, including James Forese, the President of Citigroup, General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, Aliko Dangote, President and CEO of the largest conglomerate in West Africa, and many more.
The dialogues opened with some interesting insights into the future of Europe with a panel discussion between Lord William Hague, former head of the Conservative Party in the UK, Joschka Fischer, former German Vice Chancellor, and Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Minister of Finance. The trio of political leaders had been quite active in discussions regarding the state of the European Union, and shed some clarity on the issues faced by the continent. Mr. Fischer noted that “the traditional parties of center left to center right are failing” and that Germany will need a strong political leader after Angela Merkel to navigate the treacherous waters of keeping the union together. Mr. Varoufakis stated that “Europe presents a clear and present danger to the rest of the world”, and that several policy failures have led to where we are today. That said, Lord Hague stated that he “is not worried about a formal disintegration of the union”, however he believes decision making will become less effective, which could present an even worse scenario.
When discussions turned to Brexit and a potential EU break-up, the disagreements between the three leaders became starkly visible. While Mr. Varoufakis believed that many Germans were unhappy providing monetary support to many other countries, Mr. Fischer stated that “only three states in Germany are net contributors to the economy”, while the rest receive a monetary gain, and that Germans are used to this and need the union to work. However, when asked if the UK should complete another referendum on Brexit, the leaders agreed that this would not be an appropriate path forward. They stated that this chosen path needs to be respected, and that one “cannot ask the British people to keep voting until they get it right”.
During the Dialogues, Rogue’s CEO Suraj Gupta, had the chance to meet privately with Lord Hague, where they discussed Canadian and UK politics. “Lord Hague has some incredible insights on how these commonwealth systems work” said Suraj after the conference. “As the youngest political leader in the UK in 200 years, he truly showed the world how to galvanize a population into change.”
Later that day, Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan performed a mesmerizing keynote speech on immigration, humanity’s moral duties, and the importance of education. Due to humanitarian issues in various countries in the Middle East, Jordan has seen a huge influx of refugees, with one in seven Jordanians currently holding refugee status. Queen Rania stated that Jordan faced a difficult decision in the debate on allowing these people into the country and remarked that “human compassion and moral duty take priority” when countries face these issues. She also stated that the only true way to fight extremism is through better education throughout the region. “A lack of education is our natural disaster, and if extremism is bad now, a lack of education will only make it worse in the future.”
Suraj was later able to chat with Katty Kay, a BBC anchor and the event moderator, who painted a picture on what to expect over the next two years out of the USA before the 2020 election. She stated that a Democratic House of Representatives would lead to many probes and investigations, and that an indictment on Donald Trump Jr. followed by a presidential pardon is a path she could see being taken. However, Ms. Kay told Suraj she does not believe the Democrats will attempt to impeach Trump. “The top three Republican candidates are aged 48 on average, whereas the top three Democrats are aged 76.” She said the Democrats need to get their own house and leadership in order, and it would prove unlikely that they attempt to get an impeachment through the Republican controlled Senate.
After the geopolitical sessions were completed, the Autumn Dialogues concluded by welcoming many titans of industry from around the world, including Global Heads from Citibank, Albiera Antinori, the CEO of the 633 year old Antinori Winery, and Christian Louboutin, the iconic designer and founder of his namesake fashion company. Mr. Louboutin spoke about his inspiration for design, and the anecdotal story behind why his shoes have red soles. “With our first design, I could not quite understand why the shoe, which was all black, looked different than my drawings and how I visualized it. Someone in our studio had some red nail polish, so I asked her to paint the bottom of the sole to see the contrast, and that’s how it all began.” Before the conference concluded, Rogue’s co-founders met with Mr. Louboutin and chatted about the company he founded. Reetu Gupta, Rogue’s Chief Strategy Officer asked Mr. Louboutin how he had managed to build a fashion empire that stayed relevant and strong in a very difficult and cyclical industry. Mr. Louboutin responded with the importance of talent and passion in building a strong brand. “I have always been surrounded by truly amazing people who have executed on our vision. When you are truly passionate about something, you will be able to do it, and do it well. I have always loved what I do and I feel that has helped me succeed.”
Overall, the conference proved to be a tremendous success, and an incredible experience for the Rogue founders. “It is extremely rare to bring some of the most influential people from around the globe into the same room for a few days to share their thoughts on the past, present, and future”, said Suraj after the summit. “The discussions were incredibly thought-provoking, and I am grateful we had this opportunity. These dialogues will definitely affect how we do business going forward.”