Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Jacqueline B. Brandwynne, a business strategist who has more than 35 years of experience working with many of America’s major companies, including Citicorp, where she was the Global Business Strategist from the early seventies to the eighties. Among other clients she advised were American Cyanamid, Bristol Myers/Clairol, National Liberty Life, Seagram & Sons and Neutrogena. Her own company, Brandwynne Associates, specialized in setting the strategy and then turning around unsuccessful brands and divisions of Fortune 500 companies. Ms. Brandwynne also served as an Advisor to the Council of Economic Advisors. She chaired an Economic Summit at the White House in which President Reagan participated, and served as a trade advisor and negotiator for several American presidents, both Democrats and Republicans. She emigrated to the United States from Switzerland in her very early twenties to pursue the American Dream.
FP: Jacqueline B. Brandwynne, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with your decision during your youth to leave Switzerland and to come to the United States. What inspired you to move here?
Brandwynne: Thanks Jamie.
Switzerland is a wonderful country that I love. It is stable, it is safe, it is beautiful. But it is quite small and rather conservative. Opportunities for women back in the sixties were extremely limited as in all European countries. My interests and natural curiosity always made me look outwards at the bigger world beyond.
In my teens I hung a map of the world over my bed and stuck push pins in every place on the map I was going to visit. Every Monday I listened to a radio program emitted directly from America. I hung on every word, learned about the US way of life, the vibrant free market system, the stories of entrepreneurs taking advantage of all the opportunities to be contributory and chart a successful career – I could literally feel that the US offered a promise of a life with unlimited possibilities! From that time on I knew instinctively, this is where I wanted to be, this was the country where I could realize my own dreams. At eighteen and a half years of age I went to the US consulate and applied for a visa. Shortly after I became of age, at twenty, I received the coveted immigration visa.
FP: Tell us about your impressions of the U.S. when you came here. Share with us how and why you were able to become such a successful person – because of the person that you are and because of the environment that you found yourself in.
Brandwynne: I arrived in New York with $640 in my pocket and a contract to report from the UN for a Swiss newspaper for six months. I rented a tiny room at the Swiss Town House, a sort of club for Swiss girls and roamed the neighborhoods of New York when I wasn’t at the UN, taking in the excitement, the energy of this Mecca of business, meeting lots of people striving to make it.
The pulses of the city, the spirit of the country were electrifying. You could feel the thrust of innovation. You could watch success happening. You could witness ideas become reality.
Businesses were springing up like mushrooms after the rain. Opportunities were everywhere for all to grab, to energize and to reach success. People pulled in the same direction. We admired the ones that made it and said: If they can do it – so can we.
We encouraged the ones that failed the first time and helped them get up and try again. There was no class distinction; the cancer that brought many European countries to its knees did not exist in this country. We all believed in a better future and a better life for our children. We were one, the ones that were born here, and the immigrants who came to this new world. Our differences became America’s strength. Our love for this country and our belief in its rightness of principles became America’s gain. We cared about each other and cared about the family of nations and assumed the leadership that the world around us admired.
There was no envy of the rich. We understood that it was up to us to achieve our goals, financial and otherwise. We were willing to give it what it takes, work, vision and sometimes sacrifice to get there.
My first break was a baby sitter job at the home of a well known publisher. When I got to know him, he asked me to read foreign books in Italian, German or French, then write a summary and critique for $10. a read. Being on shaky financial grounds I grabbed the opportunity. Staying at his home to watch the baby, I had access to a television which didn’t exist in Europe at the time. I was totally mesmerized by the ads I saw, describing products and how they could transform one’s life. I knew intuitively that I could write these stories. My strong, inner sense of confidence and my lifelong drive to learn, to explore, to take risks started shaping my career path. In time, I became a communicator, a marketer, a business owner, a strategist for major corporations, and a fervent contributor to the US government policy and strategy but, most importantly, an American citizen.
FP: Your thoughts on what you see happening to the United States under Barack Obam?
Brandwynne: I can only comment about the decisions and policies he enacted during the last four years of his presidency versus what he promised. As to the next four years, President Obama’s plan unfortunately is but a blank sheet of paper. If he does have an agenda, we haven’t heard it beyond his allegations that he plans to stimulate manufacturing, education, reducing the deficit, building energies of the future and increase taxes on the rich. What is sadly lacking are concrete ideas, content beyond headlines, in essence a real plan. Two weeks before the election we are left with lofty guarantees, like last time. Yet what we know for a fact is this: his promises which we believed , such as immigration reform, never happened. His message of “hope and change we need” turned into misery for millions of families and a continuous stagnant economy for the entire country. Why should we trust him this time?
Let’s examine the actions he has taken and the results we know:
His overriding strategy is to redistribute the wealth in this country at the private and business level. The rhetoric he espoused with the most fervent ardor, the passionate attacks he repeated from the beginning, in speech after speech, was the message of class warfare.
It is obvious that he believes and follows an old destructive strategy, “divide and conquer”, pitting one Americans against Americans, along several lines of attack; religious, economic, and other issues. By creating this wedge, he is looking to sway a majority of voters to achieve his goals. Think about it.
By giving him our voices, we become the means to his unacceptable goal; to turn this country in a more or less socialized state where government reigns supremely and citizens are threatened to lose more liberties and choices. Obama care is a clear example of this strategy. Could he not, as he promised, reach across the aisle and create a plan, a solution that the majority of the country would have welcomed instead of pushing through his version at all cost. How sad! How depressing!
I grew up in Europe. I witness what happened there, and we can all read and see the miserable outcomes the policies of government control produced. There was no way of deterring these nations from pursuing socialist and some similar class warfare strategies, resulting in devastating economic results; massive unemployment, insurmountable deficits and the destruction of the lives of millions of people.
What I have witnessed over the last four years, what I have learned by listening to the many well crafted and incendiary speeches from our President – leads me to a frightening conclusion: we are sliding down that same slippery slope that led to the destruction of these European economies and their ill conceived strategies.
FP: What do you say to those who point to Bush leaving Obama with a debt?
Brandwynne: It is true that President Bush left us with a serious deficit, but President Obama quadrupled it. While he controlled Congress and the Senate, he pushed through Obama care with complete disregard for the majority of Americans who wanted no part of government controlled healthcare. It will take us years and years to bring the current deficits down. Unfortunately I don’t believe that under President Obama’s strategy, we’re heading in the right direction. He doesn’t seem to have a real understanding how serious this economic situation is or how to solve it.
During the last four years an avalanche of regulations and taxes were pushed through that have stymied and damaged both small and big business. Just last week I got a letter from the FDA informing my company that from now on we have to pay an additional $2,500 fee, just another tax in disguise, heaped on small businesses. Many of us small business owners are wondering if and how we can survive. The mass of ill advised regulations that have come down during this administration are so onerous, no wonder companies are deferring making investments or hiring.
The latest statistics claiming 7.8% unemployment are completely misleading. This number does not include all the thousands of job seekers who have simply given up and are therefore not counted anymore in the unemployment numbers.
FP: What are your recommendations?
Brandwynne: We don’t need more government, more interference, more restriction of our personal freedom. We need serious tax reform including limiting loopholes for individuals and corporations to make the US economy more competitive . We need spending cuts and revenue growth to tackle the federal deficit. We spend millions of dollars educating foreign students and then deny them to stay in this country and contribute to our economy, as used to be the case. Global communication and serious cyber space issues require more attention and more investments. We need to protect our positions of strength and stay at the edge of innovation in medical research. In essence, we need to pull together and rebuild a healthy, pulsating, pro growth and free market economy. We need to create the opportunities for all to contribute and realize their dreams. And, of course, we must take care of the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged when they cannot take care of themselves.
The American spirit to achieve is not dead. It is not a thing of the past. It is simply muffled because people don’t know where to turn and what to expect. Many have lost all or a large part of their nest egg. They lost their homes, their security and most devastating, they lost their hope. Nobody can tell me that 47% of the people would rather live on hand-outs than be engaged in building constructive lives for themselves and their children, given the opportunity. The idea is to pull together, to demand from our representatives in Washington to work for a common goal not just their own self-interest. We deserve a leader who has proven experience and knows how to turn this economy around so that all of us can once again experience the joy, the energy and the pride to share in rebuilding a strong, unified and thriving America.
FP: Jacqueline B. Brandwynne, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview. And thank you for sharing your incredible story and all of your priceless and profound insights. You are a treasure to this country.