Enlightened Conflict

the last stand of the old white men

November 13th, 2016




“The most successful businessman is the man who holds onto the old just as long as it is good, and grabs the new just as soon as it is better.”



Lee Iacocca





    Do you ever ‘wtf white people’ even though you are a white people.






I almost called this the “potential redemption of a generation” but that is my concluding thought.


trump-old-white-man-angry-cabinetThis is about a Trump presidency and his speculated band of merry old white men he is going to have as his “band of brothers” <his cabinet and advisors> to guide America to the next level of greatness.



Let me spend a minute on old white men <and I have the right to do so … because I am one> and business culture and business acumen.


While a generalization, because there are exceptions, old white men have hollowed out the business world in their quest for “winning at any cost” and “maximize win-to-cash” ratio.


Everyone should note that Trump is the poster child of this hollowness <and I will aggravatingly point it out over and over again>.




Capitalism is not inherently bad. In fact … it is an incredible engine for growth, innovation and increased wealth & standard of living for any and all.

But old white men hollowed capitalism. They took out all the good and added all the greed. I could partially defend old white men and suggest that they were simply participants in the arc of business history … but I will not. Peter Drucker pointed out the beginning of the arc in 1989 and we old white men could have eyed the arc and … well … stopped it. Instead old white men viewed the arc as an opportunity to not be burdened by morality & soul and an opportunity to build personal wealth.


That is Trump in a nutshell.





Brands are fabulous creatures and not inherently bad. They offer us every day schmucks a nice heuristic way to make decisions and isolate differentiation in which we can make true choices.

But old white men hollowed brands. The easiest way to point this out is that we stopped talking about brands and started talking about branding. Old white men started looking at brands as vehicles of wealth and not vehicles of differentiation. Brands should evolve and not be constructed or built like some building of cold steel and cheap Styrofoam ceiling tiles. The whole concept of ‘building a brand’ is one of the most insidious concepts to infiltrate good and meaningful marketing and communications.


That is Trump in a nutshell.





Profit is not inherently bad. Used wisely it contributes not only to personal, or individual wealth, but spurs on business growth in terms of innovation and employee development AND social involvement. But old white men hollowed the soul out of each dollar as they squeezed every cent of profit out of it. Profit is good only if it is not tainted by <a> greed and <b> at the expense of giving back <in terms of true societal salvation type things>. Businesses represent an important weave in the fabric of society and the moment a business ignores that weave and focuses solely on the profits of the entity itself … well … the opportunity arises to let the soul of each dollar made bleed out into the ether. And, yes, dollars can have a soul. Making money shouldn’t feed stock holders it should feed society … alas … it does not in an old white guy’s business acumen.



That is Trump in a nutshell.




Wealth dispersion


Making money and creating wealth is inherently a double positive: proof of the value for your efforts and increased standard of living <not just in materialistic comforts but in real living>.

Old white men hollowed out the middle. This is more a byproduct of their business acumen more than anything else because I cannot really point out any specific behavior they consciously took to do this … but … suffice it to say that more went to the old white men and less to the ones who actually made the money for them.


That is Trump in a nutshell.





Effective communication has been, and always will be, complex and complicated … and a good thing for society. Effective communication inevitably feeds into the minds and enlightenment of the listeners. If you dumb down communication inevitably you dumb down the listeners.

Old white men hollowed out communication. I imagine as they hollowed out everything else they found it inherently more productive to gain their objectives by hollowing out communication. Everything became soundbites, powerpoint bullet points and ‘elevator speeches.’ Effectively communicating complexity took on less importance than puncturing the mind with a quick sharp stab <and then walking away>. Old white men mastered the art of emptying communication to a point where businesses end up walking on the slippery surface of irrelevance <cloaked in a beautiful robe called “what is important for you to know.”>


That is Trump in a nutshell.



All that said.



Old white men can fix what they hath wrought.


Trump’s future administrative band of brothers <and, yeah, he will toss in some random woman to point out as the exception … but … do not be fooled> will be the old white men who make up the key positions in the Trump administration.

And Trump, as the leader of leaders <once again … he represents everything that hollowed out the good of capitalism, branding, profiting, communications … every aspect of that which is bad of this older generation’s business acumen> will be guiding this merry little band of money grubbers with questionable moral compasses.


Be clear.


I am right <and I rarely am so unequivocal on my thoughts>.

All of what I just outlined above is who they are, what they represent and is their legacy to Life and the world.




Until now.


They can seek redemption.



It begins with the baddest hombre of the lot – Trump himself.


And that will be a job for him of which I question whether he is up to the task.


Why do I say that?


Well … while I could point out a dozen examples … there is one above all … he is a hollow winner.

To him, as I have noted far too many times, how you win does not matter … again … does not matter … all that matters is the win.


Want some proof?


Interview on November 11 with WSJ:


“I want a country that loves each other,” Mr. Trump said. “I want to stress that.” He said the best way to ease tension would be to “bring in jobs.”


Asked whether he thought his rhetoric had gone too far in the campaign, the president-elect responded:


“No. I won.”


That is Trump in a nutshell.


He doesn’t care about the hateful things that he says, or who he hurts or how he won on any dimension or aspect … all Trump cares about is winning.



Trump could hollow out the United States as long as he wins.


And, I imagine, if he makes himself/his family richer in the process … he will declare himself a winner.


Redemption can only be found when he sees that wins are better when they are full rather than hollow.


This is going to not only be a challenge to him but to his merry band of soulless brothers because he, and they, will say anything, do anything, threaten anyone just to attain ‘the win.’


They inherently do not care about a ‘better America’ from a soul perspective nor do they care about any aspect of ‘being a better person’ but solely attach ‘better’ with wealth, importance and wins.


My concern?


Trump may be the most hollow presidential candidate in the history of the US but, more importantly, he is building an administration of hollow old white men.


I certainly understand that the ‘American Dream’ of equal opportunity, independence, and upward mobility seems like a false dream to many USA citizens.


I certainly understand that many Americans place the blame on an ineffective political system and government.


I certainly understand that it all feels like an overarching ‘stagnancy.’


But I do not believe ‘hollowness’ is the path to greatness. It certainly has not helped us reach greatness up to this point.

And, therefore, we do run a risk because we are now led by a hollow someone with a hollow platform, hollow plans, hollow skills, hollow dignity, hollow composure and no soul <that I have been able to identify>.




“9/11 never forget

11/9 always regret”

America’s new motto



white nonsense racismBut … redemption is at hand.


Old white men created the problems and … well … as so well said in the movie The Return of the Pink Panther … “you set a thief to catch a thief” … they can reverse the problem in one fell swoop.






Let’s be serious.

They aren’t seeking redemption … they will be seeking to actively propagate the belief they know more than anyone else and that their old white man way is the best way.


This administration will more likely than not remind us that old white men have no clue with regard to a greater future.




Because I do not want to be a complete pessimist.


Here is where all these old white men will get something right.




I said back in one of my past pieces that Trump is a doer.

And he wants tangible shit that he can point to as “mine.” traffic-hurry-disconnectd-going

Combine that with the fact politicians haggle over meaningless shit so much they would have half-assed a meaningful infrastructure initiative. And, yes, even Clinton wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to do it the way it should be done.


Trump and the old white men will do it and they will do it the right way.


It will be hard to swallow budgetwise.


It will be hard to swallow politically.


It will be hard to swallow in a number of ways.


But they will shove it down our throats like our mothers did with beets when we are young telling us it will be good for us … and it tasted horrible … but it was good for us.


It will be good for is economically, country esteem and … oddly <because I do not think “fair” fits anywhere in anything these old white men do> should feed into a general sense of ‘fairness.’


If there will be one thing good that comes from all of this, my guess is that it will be infrastructure.



In the end.


............ Trump and his Cabinet ...........

………… Trump and his Cabinet ………..

I will state, unequivocally, that this is the last stand of the old white men.


It can be Custer’s Last Stand or it can be like the founding fathers standing after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


Redemption can be found in finding independence from what hollow things got them to where they are today.


And before anyone unequivocally states I am completely loony that there is any hope — they have poster childs of their own.


Andrew Carnegie, Nelson Rockefeller, J. Paul Getty.


Relatively heinous business men of their own time … who sought redemption later on in Life.


This is a unique time in history in which business, country and politics have intersected.


This is a unique time for old white men to right the wrongs of all they have wrought up to this point.


Let us hope they see the opportunity of the moment and rise to it.


I certainly hope, as an old white man myself, that they seek redemption … for the sake of all of us old white men … if not the country itself.


===== addendum ====trump cabinet mostly men mostly white

2 months have passed since I posted this and posited Trump would lean heavily on old white men, because he is an old white man, to build his cabinet.

How right was I? As The Independent stated:  Donald Trump’s cabinet will have more white males than any other president since Ronald Reagan.


This is truly the last stand of the old white man. And we can only hope they are seeking redemption for a business generation they hollowed out.


the author is a later 50something white guy with a general disdain for how his generation of business people warped the good in business and how it has failed society, in general, and a huge advocate for winning the right way, positive capitalism and young people.

older experienced people and transformational hires

July 28th, 2010




In the past months I received two things that didn’t seem related but in my warped mind they did:



1.         Ralph Cutcher (a nice really smart guy) talked in his newsletter about helping companies hire more transformational people.

Here is what he said:



–          Transformational Players:

During the last year, most of our assignments have been for what I would term “transformational players”. Sounds like an impossible search assignment right? Not really. What these searches represent is an expectation of change and new possibilities, principally tied to establishing new capability, a new leadership approach or new business creation.

And they are always entwined with an expectation for revenue lift.

Our view may be skewed somewhat by the nature of how our practice has evolved, but I also see this when I talk with connections in every corner of the marketing and advertising world. A great replacement is not really considered a high value staffing move. More often than not these transformational player moves are accomplished by trading out another role(s) to fund this move, making an incremental FTE add or moving a star player into a transformational role. The result over time will be a version of the GE model… every year trade out the bottom 10% of your performers.

In this updated model, every person is intricately tied to a higher value role with a constant re-evaluation of the roles and how they fit in. This future view will put a premium on a person’s ability to influence and activate the organization regardless of their current role.



2.      I was forwarded an email suggesting about only 4% of employees in advertising (say marketing) agencies are over 50 … so where is the knowledge and experience coming from (and the editorial suggests how can agencies developing communications to boomers do so without boomers guiding the relevance)?


Here is the quote from EngageBoomers:




–          The PEW Center released a study at the end of last year suggesting that the current generation gap is the largest in the almost 50-year history of the study. Even larger than during the Vietnam war era. Today, an astounding 79% of Americans believe that there is a generation gap in the ways young and old think and believe.

And then there’s this … The average age of an advertising agency creative person is 28. The average age of a media planner is 24. And less than 4% of advertising agency personnel in America is over the age of 50. I know why all the ads look and sound the way they do. I know why none of them talk to the 50+ audience. A friend of mine offered up this paraphrased quote from the Greek philosopher Xenophanes: “If horses had gods, they would look like horses.” Thirty-five year old creative people are always going to create messages that look like them, sound like them and act like them. Why? Because they’re 35.






I have to tell you.



I think the market place needs more 50 year old+ employees than ever before (and I am gonna tell you why).





I am not suggesting all 50+ people are the same. And this generalization may be translatable to other age groups but let me suggest there are three groups of 50something business people:



–          Over 50 and all they know and believe in is what they were taught when they were in their 20’s.



–          Over 50 and they have all the knowledge they need to be on their own and like being on their own (I call these builders)



–          Over 50 and have accumulated iterative learning over the years and have a unique combination of old and new (and like renovating)



(note: I wrote a post about Builders versus Renovators if you want to check it out)



The first 50something group is lost in the past.



They will struggle because their thinking and ideas and even their vocabulary can be out of date.

They will suck at transformation or renovation.


Their hope is finding someone who needs to work on their internal construct of how to get shit done because … well … they know how to get shit done within a system.

But mostly these are the people when we were young we thought were ‘out-of-touch’ from the real world (or chuckled to ourselves because they would throw out up to date buzzwords acting like they knew what was going on).




The second group has accumulated enough knowledge and expertise and confidence where mentally they have flipped from ‘working for someone’ to ‘working for myself.’



They have recognized their ability to build. And they like building (which is different than transforming). They would suck at transforming because they want to run the place and not simply be an enabler for the organization to shift. (Ralph also talks about this within his newsletter as “fear of flying” and learning about yourself). They could possibly be out of touch or they could be leading edge entrepreneurs. But it doesn’t matter because they are now going forward as their own boss.



And then there is the third 50something group.


They are renovators (Ralph calls them Transformation people).



Companies should be fighting over these people.



They are old but not old. They are experienced but still learning. They have a solid thinking construct but flexible in application. They may have their quirks (because I believe all of us older people start feeling more comfortable in our own skin and therefore are a little less worried about ‘fitting in’) but also tend to be more interested in the result than worrying about step by step how they get there.

They can actually make the current buzzword understandable by using past functional learnings to explain them.


They clearly have one foot in the past (history & knowledge) and one foot in the future (restless & learning).

Great at transforming.

Great at bridging generation gaps.




When I say “fighting for these people” I don’t mean to suggest that companies should be stockpiling these people at the expense of young energetic fresh thinkers and doers. I am simply suggesting that companies need a good tier of these boomer types to transform themselves when, frankly, a lot of companies need to be ‘transforming.’ (and my definition of transformation is leveraging from solid good older characteristics an injecting some new characteristics).



I am also not going to suggest there should be a direct correlation between % of boomers in population and % of boomers in the makeup of business organizations.



That would seem kind of silly to me.



You don’t need a shitload of these people because they are catalysts (and I think if you have too many catalysts in a room it creates either a black hole or an implosion … I cannot remember which).



But the numbers are pretty compelling that organizations should seek that third group of over 50ers (let’s be nice and call them boomers … hey  … I am one … well … officially I think I am a Joneser).



In 2009 The PEW Center released a study outlining the current generation gap is the largest in the almost 50 year history of the study.




Today, an astounding 79% of Americans believe that there is a generation gap in the ways young and old think and believe. Truly the only way to bridge that gap within an organization and eliminate generational divisiveness is to have boomers who can effectively communicate with and motivate all age groups.





Just to make a point for all organizations.


I don’t know that I buy the dire extent of the issue the editorial in Media Post suggests with regard to boomers in advertising/communications agencies  (The average age of an advertising agency creative person is 28. The average age of a media planner is 24. And less than 4% of advertising agency personnel in America is over the age of 50).



To the facts just stated I frankly say “so what.”



I don’t believe only women have to work on female driven communications,

African Americans on African American focused communications or clowns to work on circus communications.



Talented communicators can create links with anyone they desire to communicate with.



This leads me back to the importance of that third group of boomers with the talent I outline.


That group will tend to be generalists.



They will have such a varied experience background that their value will be exponential in that they know how to transfer learnings to different situations. They will know how to take company vision (or ‘dream”) and give younger people purpose. And they will be flexible enough to do it in a variety of ways.



Organizations today should be absolutely climbing over each other to find those people.






Because no 25 or 30 year old can have that ability (that I guarantee).






Because there is no possible way they would have had time to accumulate the experience and learnings to be fully (they could be partially at that point) capable of what a good third group Boomer type can offer an organization.



But hey. I am biased. I am selling my own age group.






I will also say.



This is one of the few topics I feel pretty confident that I am right on.

Enlightened Conflict