Jim Duffy: Salmond's enemies can offer him a lesson in how to win

The former First Minister likes to get stuck into Trump and Farage, but they both succeeded where he failed says Jim Duffy

Alex Salmond had the chance to achieve independence, but fell short.
Alex Salmond had the chance to achieve independence, but fell short.

Well, it’s Trump this and Trump that everywhere we look. I’ve kept my TV off for the last 24 hours as I know it’s going to give me brain freeze as everyone has an opinion or a perspective. The media is in frenzy mode and between now and his swearing in, it ain’t going to get any better. The American public are tearing themselves up and tearing each other apart while the world looks on.

The hashtag I see is #NotMyPresident on banners across the country. But, America is a big ol’ democracy, so they will have to like it and lump it. To the disappointment of many, there will be no re-run. You voted in your democracy and you have to live with the consequences. I do recall in 1977, they elected a peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, and that turned a few heads around the globe.

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But hey ho, it’s going to be President Trump. My question is: how is Alex Salmond feeling this week and what lessons are there for the SNP in achieving their dream? Right now, it kinda looks like a chimera on economic terms, but who knows what goes through people’s minds in a polling booth, right?

The long and short of it is that the two people that Mr Salmond – let’s call him Big Eck – has had a real good go at have now achieved the seismic breakthroughs that he did not. Nigel Farage has managed to steer us all into Brexit, while The Donald is fixing his combover for his inauguration. Big Eck gives it rotten to Trump on his LBC radio show - it’s pretty entertaining. You can say what you like about Big Eck – but he’s a wordsmith. And we all know what he thinks of Nigel. But, both of these characters won! Big Eck did not.

In my world, entrepreneurs talk about failure a lot. I’ve failed myself. It’s part of the game of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Curveballs come in from all angles. Events conspire to blindside us and you can do all the SWOT analysis or PESTLE research you want, but the locomotive comes out of nowhere all the same and bursts the business plan. Let’s face it, a business plan - probably like Hillary Clinton’s political strategy for election - is only as good as the day it was written. All the numbers and forecasts always look great on paper. But, it is when the business plan puts rubber to the road and has to become a reality that things start to go wrong. And I, like Hillary, did not predict a Trump win as I went to bed on Tuesday night.

Failure in the world of the entrepreneur is not a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s always nice not to fail. But, in my experience and many others, a failure is a fantastic opportunity to learn and become stronger. Failure, as long as it is not catastrophic, presents new ways of doing things and highlights the frailties of the original business plan. Interestingly, Trump also failed a few times and came back stronger. It allows an entrepreneur to start again, wiser and smarter as a result. It’s a leveler and it maketh the entrepreneur on many an occasion.

So, I believe that Big Eck and the SNP, if they think entrepreneurially and not simply politically, have an opportunity to learn from Trump and Farage. After all, both these guys also probably went into polling day thinking they had failed. And what is it that Big Eck could have done differently? Why could he not garner the votes and rally the troops to get Scottish independence over the line?

He was not disruptive enough. Plain and simple. Politicians, and he was First Minister of Scotland, have to work within certain parameters others do not. Look at what Trump said: he was going to build a wall between Mexico and the US to protect American jobs and stop illegal immigration. Rightly or wrongly, the wall came to symbolise what he stood for: jobs for Americans living legally in the US and paying taxes (not my words, his). How much would a wall like this cost? Millions of dollars no doubt. But, that’s not the point. He was clear and unequivocal on his position on how he wanted to change things and it was going to be bold and disruptive. Let’s see how many bricks get laid when he takes office.

But my point here is if Scotland has to be independent, then I want to know the opportunities that arise from this massive disruption. And I’m not sure Big Eck painted a picture that we could all hang our hats on. Joining Europe is not enough now. I want to know whom we are going to upset to get a better deal and what we are going to do differently. Grab me by the scruff of the neck and spin me round so I’m dizzy with great expectation. I’ll follow that. We’d need to see some colour and character. It’s obviously okay to upset people and say exactly what you think - it didn’t do Trump any harm. He’s about to be the most powerful man on earth soon.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing Eck. But, if I was sitting in the hot-seat in Bute House, I know what I’d be doing right now in preparation.

Agitator and disruptor Jim Duffy is Head of #GoDo at Entrepreneurial Spark.