Robert S. Spich: Professor of management & International Business at UCLA, Anderson School of Management

My NativeAdVantage:


Robert S. Spich, recently retired professor of management and international business at UCLA, Anderson School of Management.  Taught courses in international management, leadership, negotiations and entrepreneurship field studies. Research interests in globalization issues, the political economy of development and culture. Faculty director of the Center for International Business Education and Research  (CIBER)for 12 years.  Co-founded  Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative with the Asia Society. Founding member of the Los Angeles Regional Export Council (LARExC). Lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Emilie Robertson.

What do you do best?

See problems and opportunities from a creative out-of-the-box perspective. Have been told by friends that I have a unique and different, if not entertaining and creative perspective on most issues. Do not accept what is told or presented without some scrutiny and friendly questions about assumptions, beliefs or theories behind ideas. I think a lot about a wide variety of issues, (economic, social , technological, political) and try to see patterns, integrate divergent perspectives, explain complexity with simple examples and useful theory without losing an appreciation for the complexity of modern life.

What makes you the best?....I know who I am! I know my values, beliefs, prejudices, sins and virtues, likes and dislikes and try to act consistently  and ethically with these in mind.  I am pragmatically flexible and adaptable, within limits. I prefer to give a benefit of the doubt to others but I ask them to make the effort to explain themselves well. I am fairly patient with those explanations.  Empathy for the situation of others helps create a balanced perspective. Sympathy is offered when the speaker is honest and deserving. High standards and expectations are held when matched with the task, resources and talents at hand.  Conflict is managed (never avoided), it’s energies are focused on clarifications, caveats and excuses. “Ego ergo sum!”….I am better, never best, because I believe in continual evolvement of the human being and the importance of thinking before doing!...Being best can be a trap!  Also, I very much love to laugh and make every effort to bring humor into the day!

How will you stay the best? 

I will stay the best because being less is not an attractive option!  There is little to brag about in being # 4 and nothing to trumpet about if you are # 7!  Best is a good goal! Better is what we realistically achieve. But apart from this ego boasting statement, I stay best by diverse and constant reading habits; active and probing conversations with interesting people;  intelligent and disciplined surfing of the web; pursuing the arts (classical music, museums, shows and daily poetry reading and writing) and wonderful bouts of daily daydreaming! Lastly I might add that physical work, active use of the body in the garden or in the gym is a critical activity to assure that body and mind are one and not separate perspectives on reality!

What are your aspirations?

Personal: Being recently retired but still working at UCLA part time, my aspirations are to continue to do good and be a respected and trusted person. Apart from that, a pursuit of the expressive arts, something that has been back burnered for years, is now an option.

Business: No real business aspirations for myself.  I will continue to work with community business groups focusing on economic development within urban environments.

What fascinates you?

People fascinate me. They are infinitely entertaining, puzzling, inspiring and frustrating at the same time. What they do and why they do it never ceases to amaze me, whether its in the mundane of the everyday or the exceptional, edgy of challenge.

Favorite Motto: 

Sapere Vedere! (Leonardo Da Vinci)

Favorite People:  

Honest and forthright folks in general; I often prefer the company of women for the quiet, thoughtful conversations; Men are for banter, challenge and competition; Hero types include: Richard Feynman, Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar, Colbert;  Great leaders like George Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelts…et al; Great scientists from Lucretius to Einstein

Favorite Places:

Natural Sites of all sorts- mountains, canyons, deserts, shorelines, islands;  interesting urban settings (eg. The Chelsea Boardwalk in N.Y.; LACMA in LA; the Venice Biennale)

Favorite Products:

Things that are thoughtful, intelligent, well designed and honestly made, sensibly priced, not hyped nor subject to the vagaries of fashion and taste making fascists, not designed or ruined by the skinflinty finance guys in the back room!

Current Passions:

Life in general.. Life IS good as one T-shirt continually advertises.  Learning about new things fascinates me.