Why Global Leaders Should Have Their Own Brand of Vodka

Water of life. Little water. Little stream. Zhizennia voda. The names under which Russian vodka masquerades are many and varied, as one might expect with the libation at the heart of the Slavic cultural universe--and now Kremlin political marketing. 

For those of you who have spent significant time around a bottle of vodka, you may have experienced the spiritual connections and epistemological musings that it inspires. Much of Russian literature can be attributed to this innocently colored swill made from wheat chaff and potatoes. It's certainly advisable to limber up with a little Absolut or Grey Goose before sitting down with Gogol's Dead Souls.

Jumping on Russia's makeover as the new(ish) lion in the east, vodka producers have taken a cue from literature and are leveraging the marketing possibilities of vodka. Two brands have taken the lead adopting the cults of personality swirling around Vladimir Putin and Dimitri Medvedev. The latter's patronymic graces a bottle produced by TPG Kristall, while Putinaka outranks Medvedeff as Russia's second most favored vodka--a not insignificant distinction in the $11 billion Russian vodka market.

As if Russian's strongmen really needed more ego waxing. Putin has long been the darling of various feats of courage including Judo matches and tiger tranquilizing. He is still regarded as the most powerful man in Russia despite his departure from the presidency last May. Medvedev is not far behind him for political showmanship and even said, from a remote Siberian town, that Putin was on something of a watchlist these days—"the crisis is the best moment to get rid of ineffective managers, including state officials.”

If anything, the new politicking in Russian's favorite drink, shows the strong psychological pull vodka has on the masses. Alcoholism rates are still among the highest in the world--with 2.5 million dedicated alcholics--and there's even an artisanal moonshine boom underway in the hinterlands to offset the recession's dent on alcohol budgets. Russians concerned about their drinking may want to direct themselves to today's Wall Street Journal where Melinda Beck reports 14 drinks a week is still within the bounds of normalcy for healthy men.

As always, big thinkers and big drinkers are urged to weigh in on alcohol marketing, Russian politics, and home distilling.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less