Seeing America and the World through Mark Penn?s Eyes

Jeff Koopersmith reviews Mark Penn's new book, "Microtrends."

August 30, 2007 –Geneva ( – Many of you have no idea who Mark Penn is, or what he has accomplished during his lifetime, yet I can tell you candidly that he is one of America’s most accomplished thinkers, businessmen, societal geomancers, and both a political and corporate guru unmatched in our country or in any other. 

He advised and advises no fewer than 25 world leaders and scores of the world’s most powerful CEOs – and was the true architect of the best of the Clinton presidency despite what another might tell you. 

This month he finally brings us “Microtrends,” his new book unveiling a fresh way with which to look at ourselves and the world we live in. 

Buy it – no question.

I first met Mark in 1979, nearly thirty years ago.  We were both young – he younger – and fresh from Harvard and, unbelievably having already polled for then Mayor Ed Koch out Mark’s dorm room at Cambridge – voter research that catapulted Penn’s reputation to the top among political strategists from then on. 

A Geomancer (from the Latin geo, "Earth," mancer "prophet") is one who uses a method of divination to interpret markings on the ground or how handfuls of dirt land when you toss them.  In a sense that is what Penn has done with this book.  Rather than looking at the entire planet as some cohesive force, he has instead opened our eyes to those clumps of soil he calls Microtrends – those small sets of human activity that make our societies hum, or not.  The word ‘geomancer’ came to mind because I had dinner with a Chinese practitioner of geomancy six times over the course of a cruise between New York and Hamburg on the Queen Mary II just a week ago.  While Mr. Penn does not come to his conclusions merely by observing these clods of earth as does Mr. Ng, my sailing companion, he arrives at his focus on the small impacting the large using statistics and rifle-shot accurate interpretations thereof.

Penn has, for nearly three decades, been the go-to man for the serious corporate or political campaign director who chooses to base his or her strategic planning on fact, not “gut” feeling, as is all-too-often the case inside America’s advertising agencies and political thinkeries, which are more often than not nurseries for poorly produced propaganda and not reality.

I first met Mark when I directed a U.S. Senate campaign in Pennsylvania and was introduced to him by my much loved colleague and then partner – Elliott Curson, who was the media mastermind behind the winning Reagan campaign for the Republican nomination in 1979-80. 

When the police of Los Angeles hired my firm to plan and implement a campaign to change public attitudes about them from “Killer Cops” to uniformed and armed men and women that could be depended on 99.99% of the time to protect us and our families, Mark Penn was the first person I telephoned. 

“Mark,” I recall asking, “Can you help us to determine public attitudes toward police today and then track our efforts to deal properly with the general negativity surrounding over-zealous police brutality.”

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