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I'm opening a bottle of decent red, a normal thing one does here in Paris.
Especially after the day I just had…
The meeting with international energy financiers has broken up for dinner and down time. But sitting on a balcony overlooking Avenue Kléber and its late afternoon bustle, I find my mind wandering.
Something is approaching – something I've seen before. And it's causing to me to review earlier events in my life. These thoughts are not of the energy market – at least not directly. Rather, the path is back to a time when this city had a different feel.
The Most Valuable Lesson I've Ever Learned
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is to distinguish between invention and innovation. Invention is coming up with a completely new product, process, or explanation. In contrast, innovation is applying something already existing in a new way.
Actual inventions are rare. Most genuine human advancement has come from innovation. The way that emerges is almost always eclectic. You just never know from where the borrowing will come or where the resulting application will take you.
Innovation is still important in what I do. But in my "earlier life" in intelligence, pursuing that often-frustrating phantom called national security, it literally was a lifesaver.
I ran into some unusual people in those days. On occasion, they were downright unsavory. That just meant I had to hold my nose and dive in with whatever assets were available.
Leading me to the guy I am thinking about today…
"Jake the Snake" Had a Surprisingly Wise Saying
We called him Jake the Snake, and his base was a fake storefront in the commune of Nanterre. We ended up subsidizing its use in return for his services. Nanterre abuts Paris on the west, has some of the highest buildings in the city's environs, and is home to major international banks and corporations.
However, back then, Nanterre was still a working-class area concentrated around industries that moved there a century ago but had seen better times. The street politics decidedly leaned communist. It was often regarded as the buckle in the "red belt" surrounding Paris.
Now Jake wasn't his real name, of course, and what he did usually had him traveling elsewhere on the continent. We would pay for that as well, even though there would rarely be receipts provided (enraging bean counters back at the "office").
On the other hand, the "snake" label certainly did fit. He was slimy and frequented the underbelly of Europe. These were places I could not, should not, or would not go.
My base was London in those days. But that still resulted in frequent hydrofoil rides across the Channel. No "Chunnel" back then for a quick train ride to Calais.
Jake was blunt and often said things for the sheer joy of shocking people. Perhaps it was his way of maintaining control over the situation i…
About the Author
Dr. Kent Moors is an internationally recognized expert in oil and natural gas policy, risk assessment, and emerging market economic development. He serves as an advisor to many U.S. governors and foreign governments. Kent details his latest global travels in his free Oil & Energy Investor e-letter. He makes specific investment recommendations in his newsletter, the Energy Advantage. For more active investors, he issues shorter-term trades in his Energy Inner Circle.