#10: Everything is Connected with Cenk Sidar

by | Nov 2, 2020 | Podcast

Guest Intro

Cenk Sidar is an American-Turkish entrepreneur and global risk expert with extensive experience promoting democracy and consulting governments, top financial institutions, and multinational corporations. He’s based in Washington D.C, and he’s the founder of GlobalWonks, the world’s first real-time expert network. His platform lets companies from around the world ask questions and the most appropriate experts are recommended to answer them. Sometimes the companies pick the expert they like the most to do a follow-up call that could lead to a paid consulting gig.

What You Learn

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 2:57 – Pre-election Climate
  • 7:37 – Cenk’s Political Career & Moving to America
  • 11:20 – Sean in Asia
  • 13:28 – Pros and Cons of America
  • 17:18 – International Affairs
  • 30:14 – More Details About China
  • 36:03 – Everything is Connected
  • 40:25 – Cenk’s Advice

Episode Links

Transcript

Intro

Sean Weisbrot: Welcome back to another episode of the We Live to Build podcast. Before we begin, I want to warn you that this episode includes discussions of American politics, as well as global geopolitics. It’s normally something I avoid publishing because I try to remain apolitical in my professional life. However, our guest today has a strong background in this area, and I felt he was the right person to record and publish this with. It is also time-sensitive due to mentioning the upcoming election in the US, so I pushed it ahead of all the other guests to ensure it went live before the election on Tuesday. I do hope you continue to stay with us for the whole episode, because it’s really an interesting conversation about the past current and our opinions about the future situation of the world. So, let’s talk more about him. Our guest today is Cenk Sidar, an American Turkish entrepreneur and global risk expert with extensive experience promoting democracy and consulting governments, top financial institutions, and multinational corporations. He’s based in Washington DC, and he’s the founder of GlobalWonks, the world’s first real-time expert network. His platform lets companies from around the world ask questions and the most appropriate experts are recommended to answer them. Sometimes the companies pick the expert they liked the most to do a follow-up call that could lead to a paid consulting gig. I met Cenk when his team replied to a question, I posted online for entrepreneurs to respond to. Despite such a serious and professional introduction that I was given about him, when I spoke to him during our intro call, he was really laid back and happy to talk about whatever topics I threw at him. I got the feeling that he knew a lot about his product and his mission, and I know you’ll enjoy hearing from him. Today we honor his ability to work amongst many different cultures in a way that creates beneficial outcomes for everyone. So, let’s give Cenk a warm welcome.


Pre-election Climate (2:57)

Sean Weisbrot: Thanks for joining us. I know you’re in Washington, DC. What is the climate like with the election so close? Cenk Sidar: Sean, uh, is great to be on your show. Uh, yeah. Washington is hectic these days. Uh, only as we talking now, there are only four days left to the elections and there’s a lot of uncertainty and a little bit concerned about the stability in the city and in the country, of course, while we are been facing the COVID problem. So, we see how things going to turn out in a few days. I guess, if we are able to learn what’s who is winning, but most likely we will need a few more days if not, weeks to learn the result of the elections. Sean Weisbrot: Yeah, it’s interesting because since I’m in Vietnam, you’re a lot closer to what’s happening than I am. And what I’ve heard over here is that a lot of people that are going to be voting for Trump are going to vote in person, but a lot of people who are voting for Biden have already voted by mail. So, we could find out the evening of how many votes Trump got, but it could take several weeks to find out how many votes Biden. Cenk Sidar: Yes, and that’s the concerning point because it’s likely that Trump may announce victory the night of the elections, looking at the existing vote count, and that may trigger some sort of unrest in certain cities that are already mobilized with BLM movement and other concerns that they were on the streets. And unfortunately, I was walking on the street yesterday and I saw some stores start being boarded up again after BLM. So, they’re putting like this large boards to protect it. And I asked the store owner, hey, why are you doing this? They’re like, look, everyone is talking about potential civil unrest, social unrest, the night of the elections. And unfortunately, last time, even though I believe the whole moment was extremely right and legit, some people were just at this protest to lose stores. And the liquor stores were at the top of the target and many liquor stores were looted and I saw two liquor stores on the way, you know, walking to my office, being boarded up. That’s definitely a major concern for everybody, I guess. Sean Weisbrot: Yeah. It’s really concerning for me over here because I don’t know what’s going on. All I hear is there’s almost a 100,000 daily new cases and you know, you have these secret police in Portland, you have people being arrested at the protests being detained and then deported out of the country who are not citizens, all sorts of crazy things going on. And I just, I, I have to be thankful that I’m not there because I think I, I, I don’t know what I would do or if I was there, but I feel bad because my family is there and I don’t know what to do for them. I can’t really do much to be honest. Cenk Sidar: Yeah, Sean, I think it is smart choice to be in Vietnam these days. Uh, unfortunately US failed the COVID test big time because of the administration’s wrong politics is I believe the cases have been rising. I’m lucky I’m in DC and seems relatively better compared to other cities. But the Midwest and there are some new hotspots that is occurring in the US and it’s very difficult to fight pandemics with an administration that doesn’t take it seriously and playing it down. So, I’m worried about the direction of COVID no matter who wins, but especially if we have another term for Trump, I’m not sure, uh, how we are going to be really tackling this issue. I’m really concerned about this. Sean Weisbrot: I think we all are, and it’s kind of sad, but a lot of people I talked to that are based outside of America, we just kind of have to laugh at the whole situation about how horrible everything is over in the States right now. And a lot of people just kind of think that America is the laughingstock of the planet at this point. Cenk Sidar: It’s difficult to laugh at the situation when almost 250,000 people are dead, but I agree, unfortunately, this is, I mean, this is a global let’s, let’s be fair. Let’s a global concern. The Europe and especially France, Germany, Czech Republic have been facing another spike this week and they went to the lockdown. So, it’s a global concept, but at least you have tools to mitigate that. And those tools are not being wisely used at a federal level, uh, in the United States. Some States did a good job, but again, I think it’s very destabilized ecosystem in the US right now, politically, economically, and also socially due to all these concerns and issues that we’ve been facing. So, let’s see how things play out in next Tuesday in elections and, uh, hope, uh, we will be seeing the normalization in the country and also in the world.


Cenk’s Political Career & Moving to America (7:37)

Sean Weisbrot: Very diplomatic answer from a diplomatic person. I know you’ve had a lot of experience working with governments and you’ve given speeches to them. I think you spoke to Congress once I believe… Cenk Sidar: I was in Turkish politics for a long time, I was, uh, I was involved with, with the main opposition party, advising the leadership on foreign policy and, uh, economic issues. I also ran for a member of parliament in Turkey in 2015. So, I run a campaign in Istanbul talking to various organizations and individuals, of course, I was part of the social democratic party, which is not the current leadership in Turkey. I was working towards more democratic and free Turkey while the current leadership have not been pursuing goals, ideals, mostly taking the country towards more conservative and authoritarian path. But after 2015, I didn’t make it to the parliament, so I came back to the United States, focused on my private sector initiatives, but I always talk about social issues, political issues. I’m still a champion of democracy in Turkey and the region. I was able to share my vision for Turkey or think tanks in the US I delivered a speech at the British parliament about two years ago, about the direction of Turkey, but also, I’m a frequent talking head at different TV and the podcasts on Turkey as well. In addition to my entrepreneur and startup identity, I believe. Sean Weisbrot: I’m happy that there’s still people like you that are coming to America and trying to not only make America better but see how you can help your home countries still. And that’s really great. And I really appreciate that, but I want to take it back a little bit further and try to understand what interested you in coming to the US in the first place. And when did you come and what made you want to stay? Cenk Sidar: When I first came, I had zero intentions staying here beyond my education. So, I came to the United States, uh, as part of my second year of my graduate program, graduate school, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. So, if you get into the master’s program at SAIS, you do your first year in Bologna, Italy, and the second year you come to the Washington, DC., United States. And my goal was basically, okay, do one year in Europe, get European experience. Do my second year in the US get American experience in total, I get the transatlantic, uh, exposure learning about, uh, the European-American relationships, transatlantic security corporation. But, um, after my second year, it made sense to spend some time in the US learning more about private sector, how Washington and New York operate. So, I had decided to stay a few years in the United States after I finished my master’s program at Johns Hopkins. Staying here, I got a job at the American Turkish council, which still connected me to Turkey. That was great working with American private sector, doing business in Turkey and the region. But yeah, I had zero intentions staying longer, but I think what happened, the first job I got, and then I got married. I had kids, uh, so all those, uh, life events make me stay here. And now I’m here. I mean, I feel that I’m American-Turkish and also a global citizen. So, I don’t really believe in physical location that much, especially with what we’ve been experiencing last eight months, I believe.


Sean in Asia (11:20)

Sean Weisbrot: Well, it’s a really interesting story. I know for me, I went to China and I didn’t think I would stay there 10 years, but I did after I left, I came to Vietnam and I was supposed to only come for a month. I stayed for six, and then I left. I went to do some travel, came back, ended up staying another few months and then left. When I went back to the States to visit my family and my dad got sick. I had to stay for almost a year to take care of him. And then as soon as he was good, I said, all right, I’m going back to Asia. Oh, where are you going? I’m just going to go to Vietnam. And it’s been another year already that I’ve been in Vietnam or no, it’s been almost a year and a half actually. And I got engaged to a Vietnamese girl, so now I’m… Cenk Sidar: So now you’re stuck my friend! Sean Weisbrot: So, I think, I think life kind of just happens. You know, I was never expecting to stay in Vietnam. You know, I was, I was going to spend 12 months traveling to different countries and see the next country that I was interested in. And then Vietnam just kind of became that country. And, you know, life just kind of happened. So yeah, I totally get it. And the difference between our situations is that I’ll never be Vietnamese, and I’ll never feel Vietnamese. And I think that’s a problem with Asian culture in general because I spent a decade learning Mandarin. I can read, I can write. I’m one of the most fluent people in their culture, their language, their psychology that I know. And yet for all of my hard work, I will never be an American Chinese or a Chinese American. I will never have a Chinese citizenship. I will never be taken seriously as a person with intent towards China. And that was a bit hard to swallow, even though I kind of knew because they’re a very homogenous society like Korea and Japan, and a lot of Asian countries are very homogenous. And I think that’s why it’s so hard for someone to break into their culture, but it’s easy for them to leave and go to America and assimilate into American culture with obviously relative difficulty, but it can be done. You can become an American citizen. There’s no hope of becoming citizens in those countries and nobody would really want to, because their passports don’t really give you much of an advantage.


Pros and Cons of America (13:28)

Cenk Sidar: Well, this is what made America, America, right? I mean, people, immigrants going to America and building lives, building their habitats, and building companies made America, America. And this the greatest thing about the country. And unfortunately, we’ve been facing the risk of losing this with closing the borders and creating xenophobia, there’s limitations on a visa situations. You know, the Trump administration basically almost eliminated the H1B visa arrived to American system, which attracted a lot of smart engineers this STEM people and people who decided to move to the US after studying in the us and learning about the culture. Those things unfortunately will really challenge America’s leading position in the world in business and politics and in culture. Because as you said, it’s very difficult to be even Turkish. If you’ve moved to Turkey after a life in the UK or Europe, a us like you, that it’s almost impossible to be Israeli, you know, if you are not Jewish. It is impossible to be Turkish, if you are not really coming from the Turkish, uh, origins, and you can get the passport, but still, but America is unique in that front. And that’s the biggest strength of the country. And I hope that will be preserved. Sean Weisbrot: Yeah, I think America is a lot further along in the degradation of that system. And in terms of the brain drain that’s being created, because a lot of these people, they go to America either to study or to work because they have more political freedom, more religious freedom, more economic freedom, and they can send money back home and give their families a much better life. And it doesn’t really cost much out of their own salary to make that happen because these startup jobs and these high paying private sector jobs give them that opportunity. But the reason those jobs exist is because the American education system is so poor quality that the average person isn’t really learning the skills that they need to really survive in the 21st century, because the education system is still designed for teaching people to be zombies in factories It’s meant for industrialization, and we haven’t modernized the education system. We haven’t modernized how work happens. That’s a huge problem, but somehow a lot of the immigrants are coming and saying, hey, I can do it better. And they found these companies that become multi-billion-dollar companies and they’re creating more jobs and more opportunities. And they’re furthering a lot of the technology and what’s happening in the US now is basically saying, yeah, we don’t want you here, just go away. But what they don’t realize is Google wasn’t built by white men. It was built by Indians and Chinese, wherever people come from. But a lot of them are from Asia, really, uh, you know, Southeast Asia. Some of them are from Eastern Europe. I know a lot of companies that hire, uh, you know, people from Poland and other countries that are former Soviet bloc, you know, nations or satellites, they are the ones building American wealth, and yet America is turning its back on them. I just think it’s a really bad idea. I try not to be political. This is the most political I’ve been on air. It’s just so hard to keep silent… Cenk Sidar: Especially when things are crazy is impossible to be apolitical. We need to be political at times when the politics is a mess. And unfortunately, today everywhere politics is a mess. So, I think that will drive citizens to be more politically active and try to fix things while things are in the bad shape.


International Affairs (17:18)

Sean Weisbrot: Yeah, it’s a very interesting point. So, I’m curious to know, when did you become interested in International Relations, politics, and cross-cultural communications? Cenk Sidar: I remember myself being six years old and buying European newspapers in Istanbul and trying to read it without even knowing what it’s saying. So, I was always interested in international affairs. I was always interested in other cultures, understanding what they like, what they eat, what they consume. Growing up in Istanbul was a great experience because Istanbul is a very cosmopolitan city. I had neighbors from different parts of the world and different religions, different cultures. So, unlike many other Middle Eastern or European States is like Istanbul was kind of a microcosm of the world when I was growing up. So, I decided to study International Relations in Turkey. We have this centralized national examination. So, you basically choose what you’re interested in and then you take the exam and then the system matches you with highest program you met. So, you don’t know if you’re going to be a medical doctor or engineer or, uh, or computer scientist until you have your results coming. So, like it’s funny, uh, of course you can change certain things after you get it, but it’s not that easy. So, I got into the business, but then I added International Relations as my, as my second major. And I enjoyed International Relations because International Relations is such a multi-disciplinary formation. Basically, you learn about history, you learn about economics, you learn about politics, you learn about a psychology. It’s not even a discipline. It’s a mixture of disciplines. I loved International Relations and I did my Masters in International energy policy and European studies at Johns Hopkins. And then I found myself, uh, helping American companies dealing with Turkish government and Turkish companies in 2007 to 2010. That was kind of a diplomatic experience because I was sitting with ministers, I was sitting with CEOs, negotiating with brokers and ministers and the prime minister and president at that point. And then I did that on a regional and global level of running my own firm. After my experience at American Turkish council, I started researching consulting companies that are global advisors, and that helped me to understand the regional dynamics and the regional political risk and macroeconomic factors later on with my current venture GlobalWonks, now we are fully global. Uh, my International Relations experience went from Istanbul, Turkey region and the world right now. So, it’s interesting adventure. Sean Weisbrot: It is very interesting and it’s, it’s been a similar experience for myself. My own background is in psychology. I have a bachelor’s in that I had thought about studying International Relations for a masters I chose not to, but as I’ve gotten older, I have built my own kind of discipline for being very interested in history and economics and business at a global scale, but also at a micro scale, I’ve been to about 40 countries at this point. And when I say that I don’t mean I, you know, I hopped a border and hopped a border again. And I said, I’ve been in the country. Like when I go to a country, I try to spend about a month, at least in that country going to different places and learning about it and building a network, wherever I go. And as I’m there, I also learning about their economy and their society and a little bit about their language and the history and the politics. And a lot of those things are really fascinating because I’ve found that even if you don’t realize it, the tiniest thing that happens, like for example, there was a problem with oil. I think that was in Saudi Arabia a few years ago and OPEC and all of the production. And I live next to Malaysia and I go to Malaysia quite frequently, several times a year, uh, for about a week or two, each time. One time I went, and the exchange rate had collapsed. And I was like, I understand, because I know that Petronas is a massive oil producer in Malaysia. And so about 40 or 50% of the GDP for Malaysia comes from this company. They have thousands and thousands of employees and they contribute directly back to the government. And because the, uh, OPEC issue, the value of oil went down, so their GDP went down. And so, the value of their currency collapsed like overnight. Cenk Sidar: The amazing thing about international affairs. There’s a very interesting story about that. You know, the Syrian war, the real reason was climate change, pause that year, the drought in Syria. So, they didn’t have any harvest that year because of the increased skied compared to previous years, that was the first step in the whole revolt against the Bashar regime in Syria, because the farmers lost their income, they want to subsidies, and the administration didn’t take any steps to help those farmers. And that created a regional micro rule against the Bashar Assad in Syria. Then it’s slowly expanded beyond the small towns and went to other cities, and it became a national uprising. Uh, and they created the whole Arab Spring in middle East. So, the other countries there, many regimes got toppled like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, imagine like the increase in temperatures that causing drought in Syria created like a huge wave of, uh, political unrest in the whole region. I mean the same thing today with, uh, the social and political issues, the, the tragic death of George Floyd. 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, no one would even know about that with technology and social media and everything, things become like a flash reasons for revolt, uh, and instability. So, it’s really fascinating to see how everything in the world is now connected to each other. International Relations today is not on the politics or diplomacy or boring history. It’s about the size. You need to understand how climate change impacts economic development. You need to understand how a pandemic would drive social inequality in certain countries that may cause trouble in next 5, 10, 20 years. So those are issues that requires multi-disciplinary approach and no expert, no scientists, no international relations expert can explain those dynamic factors in today’s day and age. Sean Weisbrot: With all of your experience in International Relations, across multiple countries and multiple governments, what has been the weirdest experience that you’ve had? Cenk Sidar: So, I was in, uh, Ghana negotiating an infrastructure deal for an American Turkish company in 2010 or 11 or so, and you basically, you know, as American company, we are tied to like certain regulations, FCPA, you know, you need to be very careful in your conversations with the ministers. We are very strict on we having meetings with them, ministries in Ghana with the ministers, uh, and all the ministers were great. I mean, they were, there is nothing like that. They were talking about the issues and that, and the projects and the, we are about to sign MOU. I’m with the CEO of the company, I’m their global advisor, a lawyer, we waiting on the waiting hall of the ministry of roads and highways, I believe. And it was like close to Christmas time. I would say it was like early December or so. And we talking to be finalizing our proposal and we know our main competitors are Chinese companies because China’s infrastructure companies in Africa are very aggressive. They are getting these mining concessions. They say, look, we don’t want to charge you, just give us the mining concession in that gold mine and we will build your bridges, roads, highways, and ports for free. It’s a good short-term deal for African governments, but it’s an awful deal for the long-term because we’re basically giving long-term compensation and they’re building shitty infrastructure because they’re just doing it for the sake of building it, right? So, we’re sitting on a waiting hall. And then all of a sudden, I see like 40 Chinese people rating into the ministry with this huge Christmas gift baskets. It’s like $200 Christmas goodies, you know, like a nice whiskey and, you know, European chocolates, uh, all the expensive Christmas souvenirs and the 40 of them. And they’re so mission oriented. They even gave us one thinking that we work in the ministry or something, wow, this is how they operate. I mean, we are thinking about our substance. We are thinking about the technical details of our proposals. And now they are just giving every secretary, every junior associate, $200 worth of Christmas basket creating simply for Chinese companies. And we are there like as American Turkish joint venture. Our proposal is basically value add for the country, not for individuals. So, like, then I’m like, okay, do you cannot compete with these guys because this is what they do on the surface. Those Christmas baskets are illegal for FCPA because of they’re over a certain dollar value. I mean, this is what you can only see with your eyes. I’m sure. I was like, okay, a lot of things probably happening behind the scenes, but we were given the chance of bidding for the project, but we lost it because the competitor was building it for free. That was the most weird experience that I live at the intersection of global business diplomacy and negotiation spot. I’m happy now that I think many African countries are aware of the fact that the Chinese interest is very short-sighted in the country. So, they are working more and more with Western countries, the Europeans, Canadians, Americans, because even if they pay a little bit more upfront, they get higher quality, and their resources are not being exploited like the Asian counterparts. Sean Weisbrot: Yeah. Having lived in China for so long. I definitely saw that I have a really good friend who’s from Serbia. And he said that they went into Serbia and they built out a lot of infrastructure. There’s a lot of Chinese people living there now. And it basically the country’s falling apart because the Chinese built everything having lived there. I know they build a 30-storey building in a year, in five years, it’s ready to fall apart. It’s not good quality materials because they don’t care. They’re not building for long-term because their goal is to make money and get out. A lot of the deals that they do, especially in Africa and South America are designed to exploit the resources, as you said, because they end up owning those things. They end up putting these countries in economic debt that they can’t get out of. And guess what, they won, because America goes in and says, do what we want, or we’ll replace your government. And China says, yeah, we’ll build your stuff for free. So of course, China won because they’re not changing governments. They’re making everyone’s life better. So how could you hate the Chinese because you can’t see what they’re doing. America. You can see what they’re doing. You can see that CIA coming in and taking over your government. Like you could see this stuff. Cenk Sidar: Nobody is innocent. I mean, nobody’s innocent global system. We know that my example was totally around the business interests, but you’re right. I mean, unfortunately the world is a wild place, especially in politics and International Relations. One thing that I’m concerned is this, uh, this global rivalry between China and the US next 10, 25, 50 years, that may cause a significant political and military clash. I believe, I think people are too naive to think that’s not on the table, but not, I mean, the world history is full of nations fighting each other militarily. Why do we need to believe that it’s not going to happen this century that happened technically every single century last 2000 years? That’s why I think responsible leadership by these two countries is the key to global stability. And definitely we don’t have that in the US and hope it may change after Tuesday. And China has its own stability in terms of leadership. I hope things will be better after November 5th.


More Details About China (30:14)

Sean Weisbrot: The problem with China is that their goals don’t align with the goals of almost every other country. Okay. So economically their goals try to align because for the longest time that we can remember China was manufacturing everything for a lot of these other countries. Because of the trade war, for example, a lot of Chinese companies and Japanese companies, a lot of companies that were invested in manufacturing in China have actually moved their manufacturing to Vietnam. So, Vietnam is blooming economically. It’s about seven and a half to 8% right now every year because of not only just the trade war, but because it’s Southeast Asia and a lot of Southeast Asian countries are growing. I think Indonesia is also growing really fast as well. But going back to China, Xi Jinping is in a sense, a stable leader for internal mention externally his goal, and I say this because I lived there for five of the years that he was in charge, so I know the person I I’ve listened to him speak. I’ve listened to the things he said versus the things he’s done internally and publicly. And I know he doesn’t like the West. He doesn’t like the idea of his people having access to Western culture. He doesn’t want them learning or speaking English. He thinks China’s the best country in the world. And he expects everyone that wants to do business with China to learn Chinese. When you have the leader of the United States and the leader of China come to the table with such a very different view of what the world means and in collaboration and communication and these kinds of things, it’s almost impossible to have a deal because the culture and the mindset is so different from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep. And so, I fundamentally believe that there will, at some point be a clash with China, as you said, all I know is I’m well positioned because I speak Chinese. Cenk Sidar: I think it’s a fair point, uh, Sean, but also, I want to add one thing again, I’m not an expert in China or in Chinese politics, but, uh, I’m trying to learn a little bit about Asia in general. And I read a book about different, uh, characteristics of last five, six presidents and how the opening up policy works and how it doesn’t work, et cetera. But one thing that think we can give credit to China is in Chinese leadership in China’s political system, I mean, you are a statesman if you come to the point of presidency, you know, you learn, you learn about local politics. You’ve learned about global issues. You serve at a regional level; you serve in global level. So, there’s a like intense political training happening in the last 30 years of your life, because you’re part of the party. You know, you have certain alliances and rivalries between the party, but it’s a process and they produce similar type of leader at the end of that, uh, machine, right? So, at the end of this process, you are reasonable president for China. In the US, I mean, it’s amazing that everyone can be president, not like how someone has zero experience in politics and diplomacy in international affairs and looking at every single issue from like a business point of view and negotiation like Donald Trump becomes the President. So, I’m more worried about Donald Trump being the president of the United States than any person who can be the China’s president, because I know the Chinese system will not produce a crazy president. Uh, of course the combination of, uh, stable president, China and crazy president in US is the worst post potential combination because China is there to challenge the system. And what I’m worried is like 20 years I’ve been following global politics closely, US was always the reasonable actor, like focusing on certain human rights issues with Bill Clinton and, you know, like Barack Obama. Now, like the moral leadership of the world belong to for a long time, right or wrong, people thought if something happens bad in the world that US was involved in that somehow and like try to resolve it, maybe make things worse sometimes like Iraq or Middle East, but at least there was kind of more leadership. China had never claimed that they are a moral leader, but unfortunately, we need that in global system, we need someone taking responsible action for the benefit of humanity. And we seeing that lack of moral and responsible leadership in the COVID crisis because there is no international actor that is taken a step to take over the leadership of the fight against COVID. Everyone is for himself or herself in this whole war. Unfortunately, the only way that the world will have a global responsible leadership is when the United States will have that mentality. European Union tried that. And I love European Union idea. I believe long time that European Union could be the moral and effective global leader, but unfortunately, it’s far from reality and European is collapsing itself. It’s sad for me to see since I studied European Union and I know a lot about it, and I’ve learned a lot about it, but the only chance the world has now having a global responsible leadership by the United States, I don’t care about Republicans, Democrats, but unfortunately at this point is Joe Biden who is running from the reasonable front and hopefully, uh, things going to get more normal, otherwise I’m really, really worried, not only about the United States of America, but I’m worried about the world.


Everything is Connected (36:03)

Sean Weisbrot: There’s about 30 countries that I can count off my head that have specifically used the virus as a means to grab more power and control over their citizens. And it’s quite sickening to see this. I think that there’s this kind of unseen pendulum that swings about every hundred years from start to finish where during this swing you see going towards democracy and freedom, and we’re kind of at the end of that swing, where we’re heading away from that and back towards oppression and things like you saw when Hitler was around, where you see a lot of fascism, communism, and totalitarianism and fear and controlling and xenophobia. And it is quite scary because I, along with the rise of these uber powerful tech companies are worth trillions of dollars with hundreds of billions of dollars in cash to, you know, hundreds of thousands of employees, global reach, and control over what you’re seeing every day, on top of the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, and the loss of jobs and the virus and the power grabs. It’s hard for me to imagine what the rest of this century looks like, but I’m afraid it doesn’t look that good when you combine it with climate change. Cenk Sidar: It doesn’t look good. Everything is connected, and in order to survive in this world, I don’t know if you need to know Chinese because they will probably going to be like a real time, AI translator in five years, that you can communicate with everybody without even know the language. So, the technology, I mean, you know, taking, you know, I mean, going back to technology subject that, you know, it’s fascinating that everything’s connected, but also makes it extremely difficult for any organization and any human being to survive and being successful in the next 20 years. We were talking about the importance of coding, like software coding, right? And for example, like when I was giving speeches in Turkey about like, and I know it’s crazy now, like seven to eight, 10 years ago, I was saying, hey, this STEM is the most important factor. We need to educate more computer scientists. More people should be coding rather than, you know, working at textile factories. Uh, we need to open more like, uh, boots, boot camps for like coding hackathons and everything. Now what, guess what? Now we are, uh, talking about no code software. So, there is no need for coding to build software anymore. There’s a whole different ball game. You know, I was telling everybody to learn languages, I believe in personal inter personal communication, but you know what I mean, learning language may not be the most important thing for business and professional reasons because now they’re like real-time translations, even culture becomes extremely global and P in the past 20 years ago, we talk about how hold it became the norm, like the American culture going everywhere and people watching Hobbit movies. Now using Netflix, I can watch Indian or Nigerian or Latin American productions in the US. This is the real multi-directional globalization, let me put it that way. That’s why I was super encouraged. Like, okay. So, things are global. Things are interdisciplinary. Things are much faster than it is. That’s why I said, okay, so what is next? And I started my current company because basically GlobalWonks is bringing all different cultures, all different expertise. As if you’re talking about are up uprising, you can have a climate change scientist. Uh, you can bring a sociologist that covering Middle East. You can bring someone, a political scientist and you can bring like agricultural expert put down together and talk to them about how my, um, uh, F&B company will be impacted from that development in Syria, even if I’m running this company in Latin America or somewhere else, that will be impacted from that specific development. So, things are extremely confusing and challenging for business leaders and even anyone starting, not only leaders, where everybody like started their career. So, there’s why I think we are in a very interesting times. And that’s a Chinese proverb.


Cenk’s Advice (40:25)

Sean Weisbrot: It’s been a fun conversation. I’ve enjoyed talking with you. I had so many other questions that I wanted to talk to you about, but I feel like the conversation we had was already quite interesting, very political. So hopefully people are interested because this is an entrepreneur podcast, but at the same time, I think it’s important to discuss politics, because as we’ve said during this conversation, that politics is actually very important within the confines of business and where you’re doing your business and what business you’re in, what industry and things like that. So, I think no matter who’s listening, they will be effected by what we say because their country is going through the virus and their culture is experiencing it in their own way. And a lot of those things. So, the last thing I want to ask you is what’s the most important piece of advice that you can share with everyone listening based on just everything you’ve lived. Cenk Sidar: Is it cliche to say success in life depends on continuous self-improvement, that’s even more and more true today? Things move so fast and, you know, skills, obsolete, uh, new skills or new issues are dominating our agenda in business. And politics is almost impossible to catch up, especially with technology, feel it right. I mean, things are becoming easier maybe in terms of starting a company, having a plug-and-play systems, local software, and everything, but that makes things more competitive. More people can start companies. Now more people can build organizations that can disrupt existing industries. So, it’s really important for everybody that wants to be successful in building a multi-disciplinary automation. It’s no longer just enough to think about just to focus in narrowly specialized in one subject, there is a great book called range. So “Range,” uh, is written by Epstein, uh, is basically explains you the way that you to be successful. There is no way that you can just be successful, narrow the specializing in one factor, you need to understand a little bit about politics, uh, culture, religions, the magazine, you know, what’s happening in the world, all the stuff, and then digest all this information and come up with disruptive ideas. Because otherwise, if you don’t have 360-degree view of world, you’re not going to come up with competitive edges that will take you to the next level in business or in life and politics, wherever that you want to succeed. It’s important that to have holistic approach to the world. So, things are not just single-sided and stuff. Sean Weisbrot: Very important. I don’t think I can say it better myself. So how can the audience find you online? Cenk Sidar: Yeah, I’m on, I’m on all social media platforms, uh, LinkedIn Cenk Sidar, Twitter Cenk Sidar Facebook. I will recommend everyone to check the platform Globalwonks.com as well, if they have specific expertise and, uh, professional background. So, they can just sign up and monetize their expertise and insights directly on the platform. That’s a passion for me to help people in different countries, especially in developing countries, uh, to have sources of additional income and more competitive with the Western world. So, yeah, I’m available on most of these platforms. I’m easy to find. And my email is [email protected] Sean Weisbrot: Alright, great. Well, it’s been a fascinating conversation. I don’t normally get to speak with someone who understands the world, uh, at least as good as me, if not, probably better. And, uh, to have a civil conversation, because I know it’s not very easy to have civil conversations these days with people. So, and, uh, there’s one thing that I like to say at the end of every podcast that I do, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. So, take care of yourself every day. Thank you very much for your time. Cenk Sidar: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

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