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Frits van Paasschen's 'The Disruptors' Feast'

“Frits can speak to you from a place you may not have come from,” said Gwendolyn as she introduced her brother to those lucky enough invited into her elegant Georgetown home Friday evening to celebrate the launch of The Disruptors’ Feast, Frits van Paasschen’s new book.

Judith Beermann

The author recapped the exponential changes of the last quarter century, “The ability to store, share and manipulate information is hurtling forward, making it possible to connect billions of people to the global economic system, spreading information, disrupting industries and creating new necessities.”

Frits’ unique, multi-national perspective on the world’s ever changing economies was certainly honed from decades of international travels as CEO and global ambassador for branded companies including Starwood, Nike and Coors ... not to mention Dutch parentage and their Indonesian experience, and an all-American schooling.

The author expounded on some of the book’s core themes: urbanization, trend lines, digital networks, how to overcome cognitive bias, and live at the crossroads of all the change brought about by “software eating the world.” Most people and businesses are not prepared (and in many cases reluctant) to adapt to these trends, and in the book Frits suggests strategies to face the challenges ahead.

With anecdotes from his travels, Frits’ shared insights about staying ahead of customer needs, delivering personalization and developing a global mindset.

At the end of one Starwood trip to Shanghai for the purpose of better understanding cultural differences, the company’s president summed up their relocation in a parable: "He had once run a hotel with two chefs, one European and the other Chinese. One day, both chefs informed him that they were delighted to get the best part of the same large fish that had been brought to the kitchen—for the European chef, it was the filet, and for the Chinese chef, the cheek!"

The interesting thing about the Shanghai story is that it comes from the time Frits decided to relocate Starwood’s HQ for a month to China to help his team better understand the culture where there were a quickly growing number of hotels. He did the same when he moved the HQ to Dubai.

Believing the trend line of urbanization is here to stay because cities offer greater earning potential and encourage innovation, Frits points out, “Technology is encouraging people to trade in their idea of the perfect house for the perfect neighborhood.”

Judith Beermann

The second half of the book, while not exactly offering a blueprint for digital Darwinism, focuses on successful disruptors: Zara for its 30-day production cycle offering affordable fashion, Tesla for improving the car after the customer buys it, and Uber and Airbnb for brilliantly revolutionizing travel.

Every insight Frits so articulately shares can be applied to countries, corporations, start-ups and individuals. Take your pick. I devoured this brilliant book in one sitting.

Can’t wait for Frits van Paasschen's next feast.

Judith Beermann

Judith Beermann