Enlightened Conflict

sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream

April 15th, 2017

 American Workers sweat hard hats

==============

 

‘In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream …’ It’s a ‘death trap,’ a ‘suicide rap.’

‘I want to guard your dreams and visions.’ ”

 

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

==============

 

“This man said that you can move to Greece, live in Greece, but you can’t become a Greek. You can move to Japan, live there, but you can’t become Japanese; or France and become a Frenchman; or German—or become a—all of these things.

But he said, everybody or anybody from any corner of the world can come to America and become an American.”

 

—————–

Ronald Reagan

 

=========

 

Ok.

 

I have a piece coming up on globalization but today it is about the American work flintstoneswork ethos and American workers and, I imagine, a view on any version of isolationism <extreme to practical>.

 

I admit.

I find very little appealing in an isolationist concept <any aspect of it> … even the common rhetoric of the day.

 

Simplistically I feel like it suggests we, America, cannot compete globally. In my pea like brain I view it like sports … sports in which almost every home team retains an advantage … despite the same rules, same number of players, same dimensions of the court & field. Mainly it comes down to coaching, ability and , I imagine, pride of home field … uhm … but I still get on a bus and go play away games.

 

I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone.”

 

Which reminds me of how much during American presidential campaign, and even now somewhat, I found it extremely aggravating how we had a bunch of people talking about American workers and American businesses.

work sheep wolf

They all seemed to forget that our ethos is “just do it.”

 

When set free to do the voodoo it does … American business is dynamic, energetic, innovative, can-do and actually gets out there and makes & sells shit.

 

We shouldn’t be impatient because the success is coming fast enough and in our impatience “change the rules” or “hide within our borders” but instead we should use our impatience to invite competition, sweat it out and beat the crap out of them.

 

My impatience? I sometimes get a bit impatient when I hear people moaning about the state of the world and the inevitable “the sky is falling” or “the world is unfair” <pick your poison>.

 

Given an opportunity every generation believes it is tougher for them and will create their own prognostications of doom & gloom and, yet, we are still here and still have the world’s largest economy <and best on a variety of measures>.

 

I am not suggesting there aren’t real business issues and I am not suggesting from a regulatory standpoint there are some tweaks to the system which would enable businesses to improve themselves to compete better <please notice I didn’t say “to constrict the competition” but rather to have us improve to compete>.

 

Isolation goes against every bone in our “just do it” American body & soul.

 

Nike trademarked it but the pilgrims brought it to America. From day one immigrants, with the help of Native Americans, went to work building America … stone by stone … seed by seed … idea by idea … sweat drop by sweat drop.

 

labor american workerAmerica First should never be America Alone.

 

America has never been an individual competition it has always been about a team competition.

 

America First should be earned on the playing field competing against the best of the best and winning <by the way … that defines ‘exceptionalism’>.

 

America should be about building a better engine, building a better race car and running a better race.

 

===============

”It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes.”

 

——–

Ronald Reagan

==========

 

It is aggravating to hear “close the borders” combined with “the world is going to shit” … which all leads to ‘disengage from the world <competition>.’

 

Really?

 

REALLY?

 

What kind of shit response is that?

What kind of “winner” doesn’t want to compete and compete against the best?

 

It seems like we should be investing not in building advantages for ourselves but rather in building a better team. That is where money and energy should be spent.

 

Hire better coaches.

Offer better training programs.

Buy better equipment.

Study better strategies.

Create better plan of attacks.

no substitute for hard work sweat edison

 

 

I wasn’t a huge Ronald Reagan fan but he got it … he hated changing the rules of the business game <tariffs & regulations> and only did so situationally, tactically and for short term ‘balancing out’ … as he says …  given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.

 

But … he understood the importance of the attitude of the American worker above all else … check out these words he said to Harley Davidson:

 

… you gave some folks in Washington an important lesson about how we go about buying and selling with other nations. You see, we’ve shaken hands on an agreement with most of the other nations of the world, an agreement that sets the rules for international trade. We have problems, of course, with some of those nations—the ones that don’t let us sell to their people as freely as they sell to ours. But the agreement, called the GATT agreement—that’s the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — gives us ways of dealing with those problems, and it also gives us ways of giving industries the kind of breathing room we gave you.

 

And if they’re as serious as you were about shaping up—now we’re about to begin worldwide talks on how to make this agreement even stronger.

 

Because of the GATT agreement, when you were ready to sell more bikes around the world, no one stopped you.

But now there are some in Congress who say, in effect, that the United States should break its word with the other countries.

They say American workers need to run and hide from foreign competition, even if that means other countries will strike back by not letting you sell your bikes to their people. Well, Harley-Davidson has shown how wrong that is and what the truth is. American workers don’t need to hide from anyone. America does best when America sticks by its word. And American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. No one is better than you are.

 

You may have heard that my temperature’s up about some trade legislation that’s before the Congress right now. On TV the other night, it was called one of the toughest trade bills of this century. I remember the last time we had a so-called tough trade bill. It was called Smoot-Hawley, and they said it would protect American jobs. Instead, after other nations were through retaliating, it helped us—or it helped give us, or at least deepened, the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I’m probably the only one here that’s old enough to remember that. I was looking for a job then. [Laughter] Twenty-five percent were unemployed, including me.

 

The Harley-Davidson example makes a very strong statement about how government, through the judicious application of our trade laws, can help the best and the brightest in American management and labor come together in ways that will create new jobs, new growth, and new prosperity. Government’s role, particularly on the trade front, should be one of creating the conditions where fair trade will flourish, and this is precisely what has been done here. Our trade laws should work to foster growth and trade, not shut it off. And that’s what’s at the heart of our fair trade policy: opening foreign markets, not closing ours. Where U.S. firms have suffered from temporary surges in foreign competition, we haven’t been shy about using our import laws to produce temporary relief. Now, there are those in Congress who say our trade policies haven’t worked, but you here at Harley-Davidson are living proof that our laws are working. The idea of going to mandatory retaliation and shutting down on Presidential discretion in enforcing our trade laws is moving toward a policy that invites, even encourages, trade wars. It’s time to work to expand the world market, not restrict it.

 

Today, as many as 10 million American jobs are tied to international trade, including many jobs right here at Harley. For more than a century, when America’s trade with the world has grown, America has created more jobs. When trade has declined, so have the number of jobs. So, when it comes to making new jobs, free and fair international trade is America’s big machine. It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes. Your chairman, Vaughn Beals, summed it up when he said, and I will quote him: “We’re sending a very strong message to our competitors and to the international industrial community that U.S. workers, given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.”

 

The best way to meet foreign competition is also the right way: by sticking to our agreements with other countries and not breaking our promises, by making sure other countries also stick to their agreements with us, and by being the best. As America prepares for the 21st century, you’ve shown us how to be the best. You’ve been leaders in new technology. You’ve stuck by the basic American values of hard work and fair play.

 

================

 

A danger we are currently meandering our way toward is one of attitude.

 

attitude foreign life adventureWe currently have a president who doesn’t foster attitude and belief in self but rather believes success is found solely in removing disadvantages, real or not, and removing “unfairness” <even if the other team were simply playing the game better or had better players>.

 

He is wrong in his approach.

 

Business is often more about attitude and fortitude then it is about whether “the pitch was mowed at 1 inch instead of an inch & a ½.”

 

It is a false narrative, and a dangerous narrative, to suggest success is based on ‘fairness’. Why? Because … well … more often than not we will always find that the world was unfair in some form or fashion … and you know what?

You still gotta compete, you still gotta play the game and you still gotta figure out a way to win.

 

America is at its best just doing it … sweating it out on the streets seeking the runaway American dream.

 

America is at its best when it ignores all the reason why we cannot do something and just go do it anyway.

 

America is at its best when we have a leader standing up in front of us not making excuses, not whining about unfairness and all the reasons why we haven’t been successful … but one who is instead saying “here is what we are gonna do and lets go do it.”

 

It was Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904, who said:

“We, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint, and of fair dealing between man and man.”

But he also reminded everyone of the importance of work ethic.

“They stood for the life of effort, not the life of ease.”

Freedom, Roosevelt warned, had to be earned by the exercise of restraint, and its bounty could only be harvested by diligent labor.

 

Anyway.

 

I am not an isolationist mostly because of all I have written today. I am a compete flower bloombusiness guy and as a business guy I want to compete … and I believe I can compete well and win often enough if I put in the smart thinking and the diligent labor.

 

While I may proudly wrap myself in an American flag I also proudly wrap myself in an attitude … ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone” … and I am an American worker.

 

We should never underestimate the American worker and American business ingenuity.

We shouldn’t hide from the world … we should be building the best team and sending them to the far corners of the world, wherever they may have an opportunity to compete, and win through hard work and fair play.

 

Isolation is the wrong path. It’s not American. We compete, work hard, play by the rules … and win more often than we lose.

 

American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

shifting gears professionally

March 8th, 2017

 

gears working elite blue collar people experience

=========

 

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong.

Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”

 

Denis Waitley

 

============

 

“You are always a student, never a master.

You have to keep moving forward. “

 

Conrad Hall

============

So.

 

This is about shifting gears professionally.

watch-your-step

What made me think about this?

 

I recently watched a professional acquaintance who shifted gears.

 

Oh.

 

To be clear.

He shifted up.

 

He had a good business, good business model and a good business sense. In my eyes he was cruising along in maybe 2nd or 3rd gear <good … not bad … and not great> … and then … well … he found another gear.

 

To be clear.

 

When I first saw his business he was maybe in 2nd gear … not really rocking the boat or rocking the world but steady consistent and moving forward and solid business.

 

Looking from the outside in I never saw spectacular but I saw steady. I saw … well … 2nd gear.

 

He didn’t know it but, behind the scenes, I would never hesitate to recommend him, maybe not typically for those who needed to shake the etch a sketch,  but 100% for those who just needed a good engine tune up. Over the years he steadily shifted up to maybe 3rd gear … always steady and solid <good, maybe very good, just not that extra little great>.

 

But then that changed.

formula success steps

One day I saw his business newsletter and … well … I sat up a little straighter and read it a little closer.

 

And read it again.

 

It felt like he had shifted gears.

It now felt like 5th gear stuff.

 

I got the next newsletter.

Definitely 5th gear.

 

He had shifted gears professionally.

 

I tend to believe this happens a lot as you get older.

 

We shift gears.

We reach a point professionally where you have it pretty good, you have some good experiences which have taught you a shitload of different things … and you sit back and scan it all <comparing it to what you have done>.

 

This is where the shift occurs.

 

Some decide to downshift.

 

Some decide to shift up.

 

shift up or downNow.

 

To be clear.

 

There is a huge swath of people in the business world who simply go in to earn a paycheck, their only gear is the one that does their job <mostly well or well enough> and their career progresses in that one and only gear.

I would note, just for the record, day to day business relies on these essential people and their steady gear attitude <so stop giving them shit or look down on them in any way>.

 

This is not about them.

 

This is about the business people who want more. They want to use another gear then other employees … and for the most part throughout their career … they do.

 

Inevitably these people reach a point, maybe some success, maybe a title, maybe it is just some more good experience where they … well … decide to shift gears.

 

up or down shift gearsAnd, yes, this is where some shift down.

 

These ‘shift downers’ have decided they have been working hard and they see the other relatively happy one gear people and say “I am going to slow down.”

 

Some people call it selling out.

Younger people look at these older people as ‘wasted space.’

 

I just call them people who believe they deserve to down shift <so stop giving them shit or look down on them and look to maximize their experience>.

 

This is not about them.

 

This is more about the business people who wanted more … and then see that maybe they could actually “be more.”

 

These are the business people who shift up.

 

And you know what? Shifting gear seems like the appropriate metaphor here because ‘the analogy of ‘shifting gears’ is used to identify and explain the key factors (agents) involved in driving career formation, and describe the level of interconnectedness between these drivers.’

 

To shift up … in order to respond to the pressure … the gears have to be in sync, work simultaneously and coordinate the rest of the body around them.

 

And that is what happens. You have accumulated a lot of knowledge, expertise and experiences <practical functional stuff> and then you decide to incorporate some personal clarity to the horsepower.

 

It is almost like you find some clarity … in yourself professionally which permits you to better identify the largest and most influential parts in the gear box.

And then … you shift gears.

 

I feel qualified to write about this because I did it. I shifted gears up.

And I have seen others in my generation shift up … and down.

 

expectations outcome disappointment 1I will admit that it has taken me awhile to not have disdain for people who down shift … mostly because it is so far out of my DNA I, frankly, couldn’t understand it.

 

But I do now.

I certainly see the value of ‘down shifters’ and believe any organization would benefit from having a mix of good, qualified, experienced, downshifters.

 

As for shifting gears up?

 

Whew.

Seeing someone in my business generation do it is … well … a joy.

Mostly because, in general, the shift is tied to a decision that our generation may have not always been the best for the business world and possibly injected some flawed thinking with regard to business acumen & principles. This means that most ‘shifting up’ is tied to trying to address those ‘wrongs’ or at least try and inject some ‘righter thinking.’

 

I get some shit from people because I am hard on my entire business generation … everyone.

 

Look.follow heart brain tupac

 

I think more of us should be.

To be clear.

 

I don’t expect everyone in my generation to decide to shift gears up but I would like more of my generation to at least understand some of the consequences of our behaviors & principles.

 

And for those who decide to shift gears upwards? I hope they get a chance to implement their new horsepower because today’s business world can make it pretty difficult for people in my generation, who truly have something to offer and are willing to not be attached to the old ways of doing things to actually get to do what they truly offer.

 

communications, advertising & the battle for truth

December 6th, 2016

 

everybody needs what i am selling deserve life

————————–

 

“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’

That will only confuse you.

 

Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”

 

=

David Ogilvy

 

———————

 

“If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.”

 

=

Mark Nepo

 

—————

 

“Seeking truth is a full time job.

Communicating truth is a purpose in Life.

Embrace that truth and your Life will be significantly more complicated, but significantly more rewarding.”

 

=

Bruce McTague

 

——————–

 

Well.

 

Communicating has always been a tough gig but in today’s world it has taken on liaran increased challenge.

 

I scan headlines in magazines and online and I cannot see one topic being discussed, one industry or any one group of influential type people that isn’t under attack by ‘lack of trust’ or, in other words, ‘liars.’

 

What that means is anything you are communicating isn’t starting from a commodity standpoint <all facts and truths are created equal> but rather you are already in a hole trying to climb out of ‘prove to me this is not a lie.’

 

Truth has never had a more difficult challenge than today. This may sound odd because common sense suggests truth is truth and, unvarnished, stands clear of any and all clutter as … well … truth.

Unfortunately that is not … well … true.

Truth, more often than not, is a wallflower and not the one breakdancing in the middle of the room. The schlub doing the crazy dance alone, being watched by everyone, is more likely a lie or a semi/partial truth. You have to coax truth to the dance floor. Someone has to bring it out into the audience and permit it to be seen.

 

Truth telling is hard work. It is not for the faint of heart. Seeking truth is a full time job <which most people, frankly, just do not have the time to do as they do their paid full time job>.

And communicating truth has to be a purpose in one’s life in order to meet the onslaught of untruths, purposeful ignorance, unintended ignorance, semi-truths and … well … cynicism.

 

To be clear.

 

I do not believe we are in some ‘post truth world.’

Nor do I believe what someone said “there are no facts anymore.”

 

Facts are facts and truth is truth.

There may be some confusion around this but … of all industries … advertising and marketing communications people had sure as shit better be fucking clear on this … or they are in deep shit.

 

Anyone in the professional communications business had better be absolutely fucking clear that communicating today ain’t like communicating yesterday … or they are in deep shit.

 

While I believe business, in general, benefits if they start on day one embracing the thought they are in the decommoditization business <rather than in the ‘uniqueness business’> I believe communications would benefit by embracing the thought they are in the ‘establishing truths’ business.

 

Look <part 1>.

 

Advertising, marketing and all of professional communications is in a challenging position. Challenging in that businesses spend money on marketing & advertising most typically to sell shit. Therefore its main goal is to … well … sell nothing in boxes business selling stuff capitalismshit.

 

This means that if I represent a product and its main buying audience is white, male & blue collar <or pick any demographically based segment> … I am going to use imagery and words that will appeal to them <sometimes to the detriment to other audiences who are less likely to buy your shit>.

 

Now.

 

Of course you want to do it with style and substance and some sense of responsibility <not be stupid>. So any advertising person with any chops <any good> will figure out a way of not doing the stupid shit to sell shit.

Even then … your audience is your audience and while we would like to suggest everything is made to be created with a larger purpose of ‘bettering the world’ … to a business who only has maybe $1000 to market something <or some finite budget amount> that $1000 is spent on selling shit and not ‘bettering the world.’

 

Simplistically … you sell to the people who will buy or have bought.

 

Simplistically … you sell to those people who will buy in the most effective way so that they will actually buy.

 

I say hat because someone on the outside looking in can take apart imagery & words and make some very valid points with regard to the kinds of messages they send … but marketing people & advertising people are under a lot of pressure to sell shit. And, remember, they are in the service business … they ultimately do not do anything but ‘strategically create persuasive creations’… and a business makes the decision on whether what they create will actually be produced and put in front of people.

 

And here is where the communications folk can get a little sideways. They focus on imagery & words & ‘attention’ with the intent to gain interest … not specifically sell shit. And they ignore truth as … well … too complicated & too complex. And it is quite possible we communications folk may have gotten away with that in the past, but in today’s world, sure as shit, you better be grounded in hard, clear truth or you are gonna get screwed.

 

Look <part 2>.

 

In the good ole days … truth was appreciated, but aspirational sold.

 

sell hope i canWell.

 

That was before we all got a good dose of cynicism and started drinking from the fountain of untruths.

Messages are everywhere and simply suggesting you were offering truth because “you’re too clever to fall for manipulation” gave people permission to at least think you were offering truth.

No more my friends.

While aspirational drives value, lack of truth suffocates value into nothingness.

This doesn’t mean there will not be a boatload of products and services who make a sale standing on the superficial surface of irrelevant, but appealing, value. But that will be the geography populated by the hacks.

This truth thing may not be a battle which some people want to fight. And that is okay. But someone has to or the entire industry will become … well … irrelevant. If no one tells the truth then why would I listen to anyone.

I, personally, am not suggesting ditching aspirational but I am suggesting that truth, communicating the truth in a away that people actually believe it is true, is the key to future success.

 

Look <part 3>

 

I have worked in and out of the marketing and advertising business for <yikes> over 30 years so I feel like I have some qualifications to comment on the industry.

 

Everyone on the outside of the advertising business looking in thinks those creating the advertising think about shit that … well … truthfully … advertising people actually never waste their time thinking about.

 

And everyone inside the advertising business thinks about more shit than people outside the advertising could ever imagine they think about.we all scream for the truth

 

Suffice it to say I could gather up examples of advertising using material over 20 years and make pretty much any point I want to make – good, bad, absurd, true, untrue, semitruthful, smart, insightful or blatantly uninsightful.

 

Anyway.

 

Here is a communications truth — perception is not reality.

 

The perception is that advertising makes shit up, makes stupid vapid shit and says nothing <as much as possible> and if they do say something it is a lie and, ultimately, they try and make people feel something <to sell>.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth <with the non hacks>.

 

The problem in advertising typically arises when the ad creators struggle to articulate the benefit <or convince themselves that it is ‘non differentiating’ and then seek to ‘differentiate’ in some form or fashion>.

 

It then can unravel from there because the ‘go-to’ phrase at this point in time is ‘do something brave’ … or ‘entertaining’ or ‘edgy’ <notice nowhere in there is “smart, insightful, thoughtful, truth”>.

 

Sure.

 

Great advertising messaging always is, and will be, imbued with some sense of courage.

 

Why?

 

Because if you want to be distinct you will not please everyone.

Because if you want to tell the truth you will not please everyone.

 

on-top-of-the-worldThe hack advertising people use the ‘do something brave’ phrase indiscriminately to justify bad advertising.

 

The good advertising people use this phrase to do something smart in order to not be different but stand ABOVE everyone else.

 

Yup.

 

Huge difference.

 

Hacks say ‘stand apart.’

 

Non hacks say ‘stand above.’

 

And this is where I imagine articles about advertising should focus their attention on.

 

Why doesn’t the advertising stand above <and not be below what is good & right & untrue>.

 

Advertising should be smart and not talk down to people but actually enable them to rise up to the occasion … and FEEL like they are rising up to engage with that brand or company.

 

Communications should be truthful, regardless whether it is simple or complex, and enable people to be able to FEEL truth in such a way that doubts about that brand or company are swept away.

few thinking and feeling

And it all has to be done with an eye toward ‘decommoditizing’ or being distinct in some meaningful way <because truth, in and of itself, is not a differentiator>.

 

Advertising cannot be dull and uninspired … and you cannot use a small budget as an excuse.

 

In fact … the truth is that a limited budget is typically what drives innovative advertising.

Yup.

Inspired smart creativity tends to make each dollar be more effective <hence you can live with a smaller budget>.

 

In other words … a smart, insightful, relevant, entertaining ad will be more memorable than a typical ‘category using sacred cow imagery’ ad therefore it needs to be seen less for the same effect.

 

Oh.

And if you add in ‘truth’ <in a way in which you aren’t just communicating it but people actually BELIEVE it>, your communications is more memorable, more believable, can be seen less for the same effect … and is, of course, of higher value.

 

By the way … smart means not any obvious photoshopping or any exaggerated ridiculous claims or just plain inaccurate information or anything fluffed up or untrue.

 

By the way … smart means avoiding stereotypes, typecasting and idiotic generalizations and lies.

 

Note to advertising people:

We can see through those slimy tactics. Realize consumers are people … people who are smart and informed.

Make me aware of a product.

Educate me.

Relate to me.

Tell me the Truth.

 

Regardless.

 

 ===

 

“A dull truth will not be looked at.

An exciting lie will.

 

That is what good, sincere people must understand. They must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 

——-

 

Truth is truth.

 

Lies are lies.

 

Responsibility is responsibility.

 

And if you do not accept your responsibility to tell the truth as excitingly and politics lies and truth and repeatingconvincingly as you possibly can … lies will win.

 

If you choose to vulgarize the society or brutalize it … or even ignore it <all under the guise of ‘understanding what the consumer wants’> … society will lose.

 

I honestly do not despair when I look at business in today’s world … or even marketing & advertising behavior.

 

I get aggravated.

 

No.

 

I get angry.

I get angry that we are not accepting the responsibility.

I get angry that we are not strong enough to accept the burden.

I get angry that many do not even presume the responsibility is within their purview.

 

Business, whether you like it or not, shapes society. Business, whether you like it or not, shapes truth.

 

What we do matters.

 

Selling stuff doesn’t matter.

It only matters as a means to an end.

 

What really matters is the shaping of attitudes <which ultimately shapes behavior>.

 

Far too often by simply focusing on ‘selling stuff’ the byproduct of our ignoring the larger responsibility is that we brutalizing society in some form or fashion – in this case and in this time and place … it would be truth we are brutalizing.

 

Am I suggesting that selling stuff or being profitable isn’t important? Of course not.

 

All I am suggesting is that HOW you sell stuff and be profitable matters.

And that you have a responsibility in HOW you do what you do.

 

Because HOW you do things impacts society.

It shapes society. It can vulgarize or brutalize … or invigorate or instill good.

 

HOW you do things has a power way beyond simply you or what you do in that moment.

 

HOW you do things is a pebble dropping into a pond.

 

In the end.

 

I will not argue that all advertising is good.

I will not argue that all professional communications is good.

A lot of it is shit.

 

But I will argue that good communications & advertising people, not hacks, are smart and tend to create smart insightful educating communication pieces that avoid the trite and stereotyping imagery and focus on telling the truth, if not A real truth, rather than lie or some semi truth.

 

I would also argue that good communications & advertising people, not hacks, have the opportunity to save truth in today’s society.

telling-truth-piss-you-off

I think many of the world’s institutions are embattled but the one that concerns me the most is Truth.

The institution of truth is under siege.

I can honestly say I don’t think most who are attacking truth are trying to facilitate its downfall … most are simply unclear what is truth and what is not. I believe anyone in any position of influence should be proactively assuming the burdensome responsibility of telling and protecting truth <that will come at an expense> but today … I think the professional communications industry should be at the forefront of the battle.

 

Why?

 

They get paid to communicate. If they cannot figure out how to effectively communicate truth, who can?

 

They must … must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead. Uhm. And lies will win.

seek_truth

===

About the author:

I am a 50something who believes my generation hollowed out Truth by simplistically suggesting truth was best told through simplicity.

Truth is neither simple nor hollow.

I have had one framed picture in my office since maybe 2000: Seek Truth.

 

friends and enemies and interests

August 29th, 2016

friends goofy unintended together

 

=====

“We have no permanent friends.

We have no permanent enemies.

We just have permanent interests.”

 

—-

Benjamin Disraeli

 

===

 

Well.

 

I admit.

murderers among enemy

I have always had a slightly contrarian view on relationships with competitors in the business environment.

 

I always met with them.

 

I always encouraged my people to meet, and interact, with them.

 

I always debated and discussed with them.

 

I have always had some friends at competitors … and certainly had some enemies at competitors.

 

Oh.

And I have always been quite willing to put them out of business if, competitively, I felt like my business was better than theirs.

 

Yeah.

I just said that. In fact. I said two things.

 

First.

 

Put them out of business. This doesn’t mean doing anything evil nor does it mean going behind anyone’s back in some slimy undercutting way. This is about confidently putting yourself alongside the enemy and beating the living daylights out of them. And doing so over and over again until you suffocate their business or they just quit.

 

Second.

 

Please note ‘my business was better than theirs.’

 

Well.

 

Yeah.company culture die trying

 

Sometimes you are actually not the best and sometimes you are actually not different in any real significant way.

Sometimes you are just a different alternative.

Sometimes you don’t compete exactly directly.

And sometimes your enemy actually is a better fit for someone then you are.

 

But.

 

If you are better, then beat them.

 

Now.

 

Beyond beating the crap out of some competitor … 90% of the time I find the ‘enemy’ quite the delight to rub elbows with.

This doesn’t mean I was flippant with regard to confidential information it is just that I believe ‘unique’ or ‘proprietary’ are more often than not … well … not. I also believe that my ‘enemy’ was simply a business competitor who had the same interests that I did <selling more shit at the highest price possible>.

 

But I have never understood some absurd ‘never talk with the competitor.” And I think it is absurd for a variety of reasons but let’s go through why business relationships are always tricky But no reason to not interact openly with a competitor>.

 

Your best employee may become the best employee at your competitor at some point.

 

Your favorite boss may leave and start a new company … competing against a portion of your offering.

 

You may leave, leaving behind a boatload of people you like & respect, to take a promotion at some competitor and … well … compete against those same people you like & respect who happen to be at a company you still like & respect.

 

And the trickiest?

 

Sometimes you actually decide to partner with a sometimes enemy because of mutual interest <and money of course>.

 

What business teaches you … well … what it should teach you is that there are no permanent allies, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies and, really, only permanent interests.

 

This shouldn’t be construed in any way as morally hollow or ethically challenged.

just keep trying flourish grow

It is a simple business truth that it is in the interest of a person and business to maximize behavior in a given situation. That means you give your best, you offer your best and be your best regardless of who is in the room or whomever you may be competing with.

 

I imagine the net translation on that thought is that through individual behavior the interests of a business are being best served and ultimately it is the interest of the business itself that is the only thing that truly remains constant.

 

The corollary?

 

Friends and enemies may keep changing depending on what suits the business interest best.

 

Sure.

 

There are potential costs … as well as potential benefits to rubbing elbows and being friendly, or at least conversationally cordial, to your competitors.

 

But that should not mean ignoring competition nor should it mean not maintaining some dialogue with them.

 

Some people will not agree with this.

 

What I have on my side is diplomatic history. The concept of ‘continuous dialogue’ originated in the 17th century with the French and Cardinal Richelieu.

It is a “belief in the utility of diplomatic representation and communication even between states that have reached a hostile relationship short of war.”

And you do so not to be friends, nor to seek to be allies, but to maintain the respect of two entities with different interests, but a similar interest to succeed, as a way to reduce the chances of war.

 

But let me point to what I believe is the truest of benefits.

 

People.

 

As long as your business is well defined, as long as your business has a strong culture, as long as your business fosters the attitude of ‘being the best’ without arrogance … I would suggest that nothing strengthens your people than interacting with the people of friends, enemies and those with different interests. Your people, through interaction with others who may be seeking things on their own self best interest, are the surest arbiters of what is right, wrong, true, false, lawful or ethically hollow.

 

And while I do not think this is solely an American trait it was Alexis de Tocqueville who said this about Americans in 1831:

 

[T]hey hold that public opinion is the surest arbiter of what is lawful or forbidden, true or false. … They hold that every man is born in possession of the right of self-government, and that no one has the right of constraining his fellow-creatures to be happy. They have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man; they are of opinion that the effects of the diffusion of knowledge must necessarily be advantageous, and the consequences of ignorance fatal; they all consider society as a body in a state of improvement, humanity as a changing scene, in which nothing is, or ought to be, permanent.

 

 

ignorance is their powerIt is the people who are the surest arbiter of true & false … therefore if you ever want someone to truly believe in your business that you must mentally believe “the consequences of ignorance fatal.”

 

And embrace that an industry, which is often a society within itself, is a body in a state of improvement.

Keeping yourself, or your employees, cocooned within just who and what you are endangers the livelihood of the business itself in that you miss the opportunity for potential change and run the danger of ‘permanent’ <or stagnant>.

 

I personally find nothing wrong with positioning yourself as close to your competitors as you possibly can. The benefits outweigh the possible negatives.

 

On a separate note.

 

I tend to believe this idea works just as well in non-business life.

 

I have friends & acquaintances who clearly have different political points of view, different views on religion as well as significantly different views on a spectrum of different things. I watch news programs and listen to news programs which clearly do not appeal to my sense of what is true or right.

enlightened conflict think

It doesn’t harden my point of view but it certainly makes me more self-aware with regard to how others think and why they do the things they do.

 

And it certainly reminds me that no matter how much I may disagree with someone the majority of the time they have the same interests that I do – a better country and a better way of doing things.

 

I don’t think this makes me any better than others but it may make me a little more enlightened and aware.

And I have to believe that isn’t a bad thing.

experience, enablers and innovators

July 1st, 2016

 data connecting-dots-stevejobs

 

“The human condition can almost be summed up in the observation that, whereas all experiences are of the past, all decisions are about the future.

 

It is the great task of human knowledge to bridge this gap and to find those patterns in the past which can be projected into the future as realistic images.”

 

====

Kenneth E. Boulding

——————————–

 

“Sureness will always elude you.

The detective will always circle around what he wants, never seeing it whole.

We do not go on despite this. We go on because of it.”

 

=====

Sara Gran

 

—————————-

 

Well.

 

We business folk talk a shitload about innovation. Shit. Even I have written innovation wackysome bullshit about ‘innovation being the lifeblood of any ongoing business’ <in my defense I may actually have anchored that thought by suggesting “restless thinking” itself is the lifeblood of any ongoing business>.

 

Innovation is one of those broadly defined words which people grab onto whenever they want to sound … well … like they are representing some fresh thinking <versus the old way of doing things>.

 

And while that may be so innovation is significantly different between an entrepreneur and an established company. Well. they may be the same in intent but they tend to have different challenges in order to reach the intent.

 

That said.

 

I have said t before and I will say it again <and again> that innovation whether you are an entrepreneur, a start up or an existing business is very very <very> rarely associated with anything ‘outside some box’ but rather assessing, evaluating, analyzing that which is WITHIN the box in an unconventional way.

 

It is mostly about looking at the patterns and things of the past and project out to some envisioned future state.

 

And, inevitably, while we blab about innovations and innovators we start creating some weird perception that innovators are some different people who live somewhere outside of whatever box the rest of us live in therefore can see shit we cannot see.

In this alternative business universe to be an innovator you must naturally be a disruptor.

 

Simplistically this suggests the business world naturally evolves into enablers disruptors enablers majority peopleand disruptors.

 

It’s crazy.

 

And … well … it is wrong.

 

Here is a business truth.

 

The great thinkers and innovators live right inside the same box as the rest of us. They see the same shit as we do. They do not necessarily take more risks than we do and they do not seem to embrace chaos very well.

 

In fact.

 

The best business problem solvers are not innovators nor do they invest a lot of energy discussing innovation.

 

Rather.

 

They understand the proper roles of experiences, they don’t make trite statements like “if we don’t look to the past we are doomed to make the same mistake” and they do their creative thinking inherently.

While it may not be popular to state … they are simply a different type of enabler.

 

They enable what could be to … well … be.

 

And while there is another weird perception that they are mad scientists who dream up insanely imaginative ideas …

 

  • They know what they’re doing.

 

  • They know how they’re doing it.

 

  • They know why they’re doing it.

 

hugh brainstorming box peopleIn other words.

 

They are not making shit up. They are not finding anything outside of any box.

They simply use what exists in a different way.

 

But they don’t necessarily call it innovation. In fact … many of these people get confused when it is called innovation. To them it is simply grasping the patterns of the past, recognizing the experiences that matter, and deciding that something that should be done that … well … matters.

 

The whole idea of being called some “Innovator” often confuses them because to them it is simply aligning information and ideas that matter. Innovation sometimes confuses them because they simply see it as enabling past learnings & patterns to come to Life <just in a different way to you & I>.

 

<You can typically uncover the ‘innovation posers’ by the fact they call themselves ‘out of the box thinkers’ and call the thinking they do ‘innovative>

 

 

They also have an innate ability to see outwards, to see what could be and, yet, question what is yet to be.

 

And the good ones?

 

Their ideas are never really in some clear ‘that’s impossible’ space … they all have at least a glimmer of ‘possible’ somewhere within. I imagine this is so because there is always something of ‘patterns of the past’ inherent in their so-called innovative idea. There is always a healthy aspect of enabling some aspect of the status quo or ‘what there is to work with.’

 

But you know what they all have in common?

 

Some good experience and an innate ability to make some decisions based off of some relatively disparate information <most of the information reflects what is existing>.

 

In other words … they are really really good at asking the inevitable and ‘oft-asked’ question in business … what must be true to make it work?”

 

—————————-

 

“Failing to strengthen an idea by throwing tough questions at it is a disservice to the idea itself. The key question is “what must be true for that to work?”

 

It’s a powerful question that quickly separates high-potential ideas from the blizzard of distracting ideas that can result in lost traction.

 

Ideas are not treated as precious pearls to be polished but as sparks born of friction.”

 

===

 

Mark Payne

enablers do themselves society can do should do

———-

“There are so many good ideas that get thrown out for being “too unrealistic” when, in reality, they might just need some tweaking and a little creative thinking to give them legs to stand on. If the idea is good enough and will deliver excellent ROI in the end, it might be worth a little extra time, effort and money up front.

 

So, sit down with that “too-big” or “we can’t do that” idea and give it a chance. Write down all the things that need to be true for it to work; then, tackle those things one at a time until you have a sound, realistic frame for your concept.”

 

===

The Garage Group

———————

 

Anyway.

 

I imagine one of my most important points today is that innovative ideas are more likely to come from people we may think of traditionally as ‘enablers’ rather than some disruptive jerks running around trying to set the world on fire.

 

And if you think about that <and maybe try and believe it> … well … think about the most basic enablers in your life.

 

  • Do you know the name of the person who picks up your trash?

 

  • Do you know the name of the person who stocks the shelves at the supermarket?

 

  • Do you know the name of the person who made the bowl you put your cheerios in this morning?

 

These are the semi silent majority of enablers in our world. And while we far <far> too often take for granted the labor which keeps the world running we absolutely ignore these people as possible ‘disruptors.’

 

Enablers play an important role in the ecosystem of … well … things. Just google enablers embedders engagers enhancersthis thought and you will get a bunch of semi-intellectual writings on the ecosystem of how things are done and created and the role of enablers <versus “Engagers, Enhancers, and Embedders”> in the world of things.

 

It is a little embarrassing to see how we so easily slot people into some space.

And while I do believe some people are inherently better at thinking and critical decision making I do not believe that there are ‘innovators’ and ‘enablers.’

 

Look.

 

We certainly need “maintainers” to keep the world going and stuff appearing on shelves for us to buy and to make shit for us to use … but that doesn’t mean they are not also capable of ‘innovating.’

To me … enablers, maintainers and disruptors are all 99% the same.

 

Not everyone wants to assume the innovator or a disruptor mantle but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of contributing.

 

And I also do not believe it is wrong to believe your Life “dream” is a steady typical hour workday, with a reasonable commute, making enough to afford a home, food, healthcare, education for their kids and a little more to have some small luxuries … in other words … okay with not being rich, but not okay with being poor. In other words … slotting yourself into some self accepted ‘enabler’ status.

 

In fact … I would suggest that those people are the engine that keeps the world running … they are “the enablers of all things” just as so-called ‘innovators’ are enablers workers doers society“the enablers of new things”.

 

Each plays their role to enable the world to actually work properly and enable ideas to flourish & leaders to do their gig successfully.

 

And you know what?

 

Each enabler, whatever their specific skill & experience is, will always circle around what he wants, never seeing it whole. We do not go on despite this. We go on because of it.

 

 

Sure.

The world is enamored by ‘leaders’ and ‘disruptors’ and whatever seemingly unconventional thing is out there.

But what if we stopped being enamored by ‘out of the box’ crap thinking and simply suggested all of those milling around inside the box will enable that which needs to be done and will create that which will be done <implementing & ideation>.

If we do that then … well … it kind of seems like we have the experience on hand to decide what makes the world work and ultimately reject the crappy things that just clog up the engine.

 

I admit.

I get tired of all the disruption and innovation talk.

And I can honestly say I have worked with maybe the best packaged goods innovation team in the world and have certainly worked with some of the best, most talented & smartest, ‘disruptive thinking’ people in the world.

 

Yes.

The world.

 

What I can unequivocally say is that the best forward thinking ideas, startups/entrepreneurs/large company portfolio thinking, has all come from experienced thinking and not amateurish pie-in-the-sky thinking. The ideas are grounded in some ‘new view’ of existing patterns and a pragmatic view of unconventional thinking.

 

While I love young people and their minds and thinking … the best idea come with experience. That doesn’t mean that everyone with experience actually does come up with ideas … just that experience enables the best ideas.experience

 

And it is quite possible that experience enables you to navigate the ‘unsureness’ and permits you to go on despite it.

 

Oh.

 

And everyone is an enabler. Don’t forget that thought. Mostly because the best of the best so-called innovators most typically see themselves not as innovators … just people who are enabling what could, and should, be.

Enlightened Conflict