“Maybe we feel empty because we leave pieces of ourselves in everything we used to love.”
R. M. Drake
“… ’Tis not for the victory, though, that we shall weep: there is nothing altered in that but the soul looks upon things with another eye and represents them to itself with another kind of face; for everything has many faces and several aspects.”
Michel de Montaigne
The Trump administration’s 1st 100 days.
On the 94th day <today> of the Trump administration I am going to share my semi-unenlightened point of view on the first 100 days … mostly because I cannot envision any significant changes on the items I am judging the administration on in the next 6 days <and it seems like everyone else wants to judge them on other things>.
Suffice it to say that I see some fairly concerning hollowness. What I mean by that is after 100 days one could highlight a variety of empty spots which … well … will dog the administration from day 101 forward.
Before someone wants to suggest 100 days isn’t fair to judge or “how can you fairly assess someone and something in 100 days” I will state two things:
- Read my assessment below. I will judge based off of my own business experience and, yes, I have endured absorbing a $100 million plus piece of business into an organization, have been part of several significant sized company mergers <think two top 12 national banks merging> as well as a onboarding a variety of difference sized and complex businesses and seen what it takes from operations, skills ramp up, process, accounting and the basic transferal of knowledge and project lists to insure nothing gets dropped.
- Any time anyone ever pushes back on “100 days is not realistic” I refer to Napoleon.
Back in May 2013 I reminded everyone that 100 days is a lifetime, if used well, by pointing out Napoleon’s’ 100 day campaign.
Here is my basic view of 100 days <pulled from that post>:
– 100 days
A shitload can happen in 100 days if you know what you are doing, are a good leader and have a great support <management> team.
In fact you can gather almost 100,000 personnel and the materials needed to sustain them and move them hundreds of miles and get them to perform at the highest level if you really have your shit together.
100 days is a lifetime if you use it well.
Businesses can dither around and make excuses but if you cannot get something done in 100 days you should probably be looking for some other business to conduct.
If someone <Napoleon> can swing almost 100,000 men into action and in a span of three or four days of battle at the end of 100 days almost win a victory when outnumbered and out resourced it seems pretty logical that we in business can certainly make a widget in 100 days.
Of course … Trump would call Napoleon a loser.
That said. Trump administration and 100 days.
On a daily basis we get bludgeoned with so much shit from the Trump administration it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Suffice it to say there are so many things wrong it is a waste of time to point out any of the good. Most of the wrong things are larger structural issues which are … well … concerning.
So while Donald J Trump invests his energy trying to point out ‘things’ or, if I wanted to be generous, tactical activity, and signing a lot of documents … we should be more concerned about the structural activity, & inactivity, which just took place in the first 100 days.
As usual … I will not provide my judgement based on politics but rather through the lens of a business guy. Having endured a number of “first 100 days” I know what it takes and I know how if you get the 1st 100 days wrong it dogs you for … well … it dogs you. Suffice it to say you only make the “wow, I royally screwed up the first 100 days” once as a manager/leader.
You either get fired or you have learned the lesson so painfully you never permit it to happen again.
Here you go.
In my Napoleon post I make a point about his most famous loss … from a business perspective the key to the Waterloo loss <to me> was simple. Napoleon didn’t have his tried & true chief of staff, Marshal Berthier, on this campaign.
Napoleon sorely missed the legendary Marshal Berthier as chief of staff, and Marshal Soult <his replacement> was a good, but not as good, substitute.
And there was a domino effect on the entire management team as people shifted to assume slightly new roles.
Napoleon came within a whisker of winning at Waterloo … after only 100 days. One could argue that with his chief of staff the right little things would have happened and the wrong little things would have been minimized — and he would have won after 100 days.
One of the things you unequivocally know as a business leader is the best plans in the world aren’t worth a shit if you do not have the people to implement them. Yeah. Nothing kills a plan faster than no people to implement.
Trump has doubly failed on hiring … and this will dog him way beyond the 100 days it has already dogged him.
He first failed by not having the key people in place <as much as he could> on day one … to start running on day one. If you have a 100 day plan, and you actually plan on doing the plan in 100 days, you have to burst out of the starting gate … not amble … or stumble.
I would have identified the key people <not just Cabinet members but also midlevel & on-the-ground people> and had everyone all lined up to go. It’s your only chance to get a 100 day plan done.
That did not happen. Not even close. That is an F <and, to complete this point, Mattis and Kelly were excellent ‘hires’ … but Mattis still has something like 150 open posts under him>.
He secondly failed by not having the key people in place by the end of 100 days. This is not about cabinet members … this is about the people who keep the ship/shit running and who get the shit done. It is possible you can be forgiven for not being ready at the starting gate but if you are not … it is unforgivable to not have your main priority within your first 100 days to have a plan to have everyone in place by day 101.
That is business malpractice if not done.
He doesn’t need to hire all the open positions because I am fine with eliminating some unnecessary jobs … but … every sane business person in the world errs on the side of loading up on personnel upfront not only to insure all the shit gets done but not everyone is going to work out so the organization naturally thins out anyway.
This is an F. I would give lower if there was anything lower. This is going to dog him for … well … too long for the country’ sake.
“Ten times Trump asked her (Merkel) if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany,” the newspaper quoted a senior German politician as saying.
“Every time she replied, ‘You can’t do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU’,” the politician said. “On the eleventh refusal, Trump finally got the message, ‘Oh, we’ll do a deal with Europe then.'”
I would guess over 50% of everyday Americans would not know, because of the EU, that USA doesn’t negotiate one-on-one trade deals with European countries.
I would also guess over 95% of everyday Americans would have no clue whether Korea has ever been part of China.
I would also guess that over 75% of everyday Americans wouldn’t know that Korea is actually a peninsula and not an island.
I would actually guess that over 90% of Americans already knew that healthcare was really complicated.
But I would guess that 99.9% of Americans would like their president to know all this shit.
As a business person all of this ignorance is unacceptable. It is unacceptable because it is exactly like walking into a huge sales meeting without doing your homework.
And as for “learning & adapting”?
Sure. I give business people credit for that all the time … but not if it is something 99% of your peers already had learned and it was common knowledge.
You don’t get credit for simply catching up to what all of us already knew.
The majority of the time he is skating on the incredibly thin ice of the slippery surface of irrelevance. I am not sure how anyone could grade him higher than an F if I can point out that 90% of the entire country knew something he didn’t know … that this is all complicated.
So far his competence has skated on irrelevance & simple-minded. The Olympic skating judges would give him a 1.
The business judges would give him an F.
This is the sword of Damocles. Or maybe it is the Pit and the Pendulum.
I do not begrudge a business person hesitating to cut themselves off from what has most likely been their lifeblood & soul since they can remember starting to breathe … but this is crazy.
The Trump family and half of his Cabinet, let alone close friends, will most likely benefit from how he thinks & what he thinks should be done. It will reek of corruption as we try and disentangle what is truly just a good idea and what is an idea driven by what will benefit them <and even then someone will have to disentangle whether that is simply the outcome of what is best for everyone or simply a skewed-billionaire-warped-view of what is good for everyday schmucks like me>.
I am not smart enough to figure out how to create enough distance so we can assess ideas fairly, and corruption issues fairly, but what I do know is that I am smart enough to have resolved it within the first 100 days. Not just for the image of things but because it will dog every recommendation, every tactic, every decision and everything discussed from day 101 until … well … whenever.
This is like carrying a backpack filled with 100 pounds of rocks while you try and run a 100 yard dash. And then saying at yard 101 … “what the hell, let’s keep the back pack on, and full of rocks, and lets run the rest of the race.”
I give an F for not even dealing with it and an ‘incomplete’ on actual corruption because we need to see real policy to judge who benefits and who doesn’t.
It has almost become this alternative universe in which because my new boss has no filter and scatters random facts, lies and hyperbole like an autumn wind blows leaves in your gutters clogging them all up and rotting the house unseen.
In this alternative universe everyone who works for my new boss, even smart people and savvy politicians, can start saying stupid things under the guise of ‘being unfiltered truth tellers.’ Trump’s blunt high school discourse style is bleeding into the entire administration discourse.
In other words … the discourse has lowered to a place a snake could jump over it.
What do I mean?
When someone like Jeff Sessions, a seemingly heinous man but a savvy politician, barrels into a conversation referring to Hawaii <an actual state in the United States>, disdainfully, as “an island in the middle of the Pacific” that feels like a ripple affect empowerment of the boss standards/style than it does of someone who really knows better <that they are a role model>.
And then there is Spicey <Sean Spicer> who seems semi-qualified, experienced and not stupid and, yet, day after day he stands up in a press briefing room spewing … well … stupidity.
Okay. That was harsh
Let me say it better.
Donald J Trump is encouraging everyone in his administration to be a little bit lazier with how thoughtful they are in how they say things. I am sure they would argue I am tainted by the heinous ‘political correctness’ disease but I would suggest back to them that words matter, words can create some unintended beliefs on intentions <speaker’s and administration> and words can actually encourage some distinct behavior & attitudes.
If they were in a bar, I wouldn’t care. They are the leaders of 330 million people.
I would encourage them to embrace the good aspects of political correctness and embrace a civil discourse, respect & dignity for all 50 states/330 million people/all the countries around the world, and stop being lazy with thinking about what they say.
The only place we have seen solid discourse is the military cabinet members. Stellar communication. Mostly unseen by majority of Americans Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of Central Command, gave a press conference … in the midst of confusing communication from everyone else in the administration, the president included, was refreshingly clear & candid.
On discourse … I can’t even grade the administration because I want to drop them back several grades to elementary school and have some English teacher remind them of proper use of adjectives, adverbs and general punctuation.
I dream about the day Trump can put together a coherent paragraph.
Society cannot take another couple hundred days of this style of discourse let alone the first 100 days we have endured.
We are becoming worse as people through the type of communication & discourse taking place by this administration. That deserves an F.
Coordination, collusion or clueless.
This Russia thing. Whew. This thing just will not go away.
At minimum it just looks like coordination <not collusion>.
Someone, maybe someones, in the Trump campaign had access to some good juicy information and they handed it over to Trump, who would never in a million years think or ask whether he should use it <because (a) he does not care if something is true or not if it sounds good, and (b) all he cares about is making news and winning> and he used it.
Or someone whispered in Trump’s ear some juicy conspiracy theory and he jumped at the chance to sling it out there and that someone <or someones> mentioned to the juicy information providers Trump was jumping on something and they set their trolls out to make it seem like it was real & viable.
The difficulty is there may be nothing there … but they seem like they are hiding something by constantly denying … well … everything … only to be proven wrong and it certainly seems too coincidental in a variety of ways to be random.
The president’s issue is one of two things … he was either complicit or he was naïve. I cannot envision either of those two things being publicly spewed forth in the media, by the media, will be palatable to the narcissistic ‘I have a big brain’ Donald J Trump.
But … you know how to make the Russia thing go away? Someone should tell the president to stop tweeting crap and stand up and say “here is who met Russian people during the campaign, what they said, and from here on out no matter how much you dig there is no more.”
Just a side note to the silly people who say “no Russian made someone vote some way.” You really can’t believe that. Not if you have ever had a career in advertising & marketing. Effective communications can inspire people to think & do things. Effective propaganda can inspire people to think stupid things and do stupid things.
All that said.
Hanging over the administration neck is either coordination, collusion or cluelessness.
Pick your poison … you may not die from it but it is surely painful now and will remain painful.
Here is where they earn their business management F — any quasi-competent public relations person will say “stop ignoring this and kill it now … or it is going to dog you for the next foreseeable 100 day increments.” As long as this issue stays alive you may as well place another 25 pounds of rocks in the backpack you are already carrying <with rocks already in it>.
The plan: vision, roadmap, tactics & strategies
We are watching 100 day business malpractice on this item on the report card.
We have heard no vision.
We haven’t really been offered a tactical plan of action <and how the tactics would be implemented>.
And I certainly haven’t heard any strategies to meet any articulated objective.
Some of the things he does certainly sends an “American First” message … but they are verbally driven tactics <not tangible doing stuff>. As for the long game … well … there is no long game. It smells of a short term amateur leader saying to his people at the table “I need to do something, anything, tell me what my options are because I am going to do something.”
So far the only roadmap I have seen is “they have no coherent strategy and will act impulsively” combined with “a leader anxious to use his military to make a point.”
This is malpractice.
And I say that and I am not even a big “plan” guy.
But every 100 day scenario I have ever been part of has created a road map to get shit done and what objectives we were aiming for and an overall vision so that the people on the ground never lost the North Star. Everyone finds that the roadmap has changed a bit at the 100 day mark, and that some things are done and others are not … but … at day 101 everyone is still going north and all the troops know what battle they are preparing for and you gather up the wins as wins and the losses are usually simply shit you just couldn’t get to.
This is not malpractice … this is criminal.
This is the kind of shit every business leader can do in their sleep <not always well but can do>.
This is the kind of criminal activity that pisses other, more competent, business people off … because it is basic foundational “how to run a business” stuff.
I wouldn’t give an F … I would expel them from school — fire them.
I tossed this one in here because by America being a global leader, at the end of a 100 days, it’s nice to assess the world’s view of the country image. In addition … I know image is important to Donald J Trump <oh, I mean mostly his own image is important>.
There are two parts to this one – domestic image & global image.
- Domestic image
He is doing everything in his power to make himself look great <again and again>. He signs more pieces of paper under the spotlight than anyone has ever done before <bigly> as well as bolts on hyperbole to everything he says and about what he does do <biggest, greatest, only, no one else/before, etc> . Let me address the ‘doing’ image part first.
Here is the truth behind all those paper signing events:
Like most of Trump’s regulatory executive orders, Friday’s presidential actions will have little effect by themselves. Instead, Trump will instruct regulators to reexamine existing rules with an eye to rescinding them. But that process of deregulation can be as complicated as the original regulations, requiring the Treasury Department to ask for public comment and conduct a legal analysis.
And Mnuchin said the orders don’t give him any authority he doesn’t already have. “The purpose of the orders is to make clear what the administration’s and the president’s priorities are, and signal the importance of these issues to the American people,” he said.
The actions to be signed Friday include one executive order and two similar directives called presidential memoranda. In his first 92 days, Trump has now signed 25 executive orders and 15 presidential memoranda.
He is a paper signer and really not a doer. He is a transactional president seeking desperately for a transaction to own.
Dropping bombs? Transaction.
Travel ban? Attempted transaction.
Sending armada to intimidate? Faux transaction.
His domestic image is teetering on his hollow entertainment spotlight experiences. He teeters on the line of “wow, I am doing a lot of shit and meeting promises” and “incompetent bumbling.”
When others see his approval ratings they see good approval among minority & disapproval among majority. I do not. I see a population sitting on the sidelines watching the game with skepticism.
If you look behind the surface numbers you will see everyone expresses deep doubts & concerns <overall> but jump on semi-competent Trump behavior to express positive reinforcement … in other words … many people are actively seeking to find something positive to say <that is viewing the research through a people behavioral lens>.
The way to wrap your head around the contradictory information is to simply say that while people have some serious doubts they have not given up on him & the administration yet <that is a hollow win for Trump which he can take advantage of or lose as time progresses>.
The Republicans remain hopefully skeptical and the Democrats are in skeptically in despair that he has shown no improvement <but desperately want some improvement>.
I could argue that the Trump domestic image is in a huge world of hurt … but just as easily I could argue the Donald J Trump administration domestic image is positioned for huge success.
Every business person with half a brain knows that this is not sustainable. At some point the façade needs a house built behind it.
Skepticism is like a virus. Untreated it can kill you.
They deserve no grade on this because they are at home sick — let’s hope, for the country’s sake, they get well soon.
- Global image
Trump has a big issue … it is a … well … all country-by-country global image issue. While he sees unpredictability as a positive the rest of the world simply sees “making it up as he goes” and “he doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.”
While Trump talks about “getting along with Chinese leader Xi” the Chinese media is skewering him.
While Trump vocalizes positive thoughts about Marine Le Pen surveys continue to show the majority of France just think he is nuts.
While Trump talks about … well … everything … the Russian media swings back & forth on positive <anti typical American moralistic establishment> and negative <loose cannon who doesn’t have the consistent leadership skills of Putin>.
The EU countries mock him almost daily in their news and, most humorously a number of countries developed mocking videos asking if they could be second if America is first.
He has pissed off a number of countries either through ignorant talk <naivete> or less-than-diplomatic direct interactions. The rest of the world absolutely sees he loves playing with soldiers & gun & bombs but is less sure he loves knowing how the world actually works.
Every business person knows image isn’t everything … but it is part of the whole thing. Style AND substance matters. Right now I would grade the image as “incomplete.” It remains mostly hollow now but … given the right focus and effort … it can be filled in a way that builds a good solid image <but I am not holding my breath>.
That is my main report card … not so good for Donald J Trump through a business guy’s lens.
But I do have one more thing.
They will not judge themselves on this one but I sure as shit am.
Message to our young people
We have about 75 million young people under the age of 18. They watch, listen and discuss among themselves what is going on. They watch, listen and think as we adults discuss among ourselves what is being said and going on.
Because we have a combative, narcissistic, intellectual-curious-challenged president it seems like all communications are developed and communicated as if they are designed to one specific audience – it is almost like they think in a one-to-one communication tunnel <by the way … many politicians, in general, edge into this territory it is just the Trump administration has set up home in this territory>.
If it is supposed to be a message to the media it is a “you lie and are fake” message.
If it is supposed to be a message to the world it is “there is no we, only I matters.”
If it is supposed to be a message to Americans on why something was not done it is “someone else is to blame.”
<note: watch this last one arise to a crescendo this week … blaming democrats, establishment, unicorns, media, karma & any Republican he can point a finger at — but never himself>
It is so misguided with regard to how we want our youth to think it can make you sad if you think about it too much.
I was livid when scanning a moment in a press briefing the other day where Sean Spicer, obviously channeling Trump, aggressively stated “somehow the Democrats are trying to position the recent Georgia 6th district election as a win, it was a loss. They lost. There is no other way to look at it. They lost.”
<envision my head exploding here>
Listen up you assholes … what this tells children is that if 25 kids are in a race 1 is a winner, the other 24 are losers. This suggests that even if you weren’t even supposed to finish the race of 25 … and you finished 10th you shouldn’t celebrate … because you lost … and you are a loser.
Sorry Sean <and your sorry administration> … fuck you.
I know you want to send a direct message to Democrats, which in your pea-like brain are the only people who exist in this country you plan on making great again, but there are 330 million people and , maybe more importantly, maybe 75 million young people watching, listening & discussing the shit <words> you say.
Where is respect for competition & your competitors?
Where is dignity in the win?
Where is how you play, and how you win, is maybe more important than winning?
Where is the fact that, in times of despair, moral victories are what people use to get up again the next morning, to pick up their weapon and walk into another battle, to tell their child that they shouldn’t quit because maybe that had got one step farther … while still ending one step behind?
Where is that … you shitheads?
You may think you are communicating your asshat thoughts directly to one audience and one audience alone … but everything you say is communicating with 330 million people. Ponder that you assholes.
On this judgement I will not give them a grade … I will just say they are losers.
And they lose every time they pull this shit.
100 days performance.
Judging on 100 days is fair.
Judge the little shit if you want … how he is meeting “his promises” if you want <NPR did a nice job of listing all the promises out for you — see below>.
In my mind that is the wrong way to judge the 1st 100 days — although the politicians & pundits seem to be making it the way to develop the Trump report card. The promises, at best, are tactics. Mostly they were simply soundbites to energize listeners.
I could also argue that if a promise was stupid in the first place isn’t it just stupid to do it … let alone give someone credit for doing it?
If you judge Donald J Trump and his administration solely on promises made/promises, you simply join him skating on the incredibly thin ice of the slippery surface of irrelevance.
We should want to see the roadmap, the vision, the strategy, objectives and throw in some tactics if you want … and hire some frickin’ people to get it all done <not just some promises made & met>.
I want to see the organizational infrastructure necessary to lead, build & implement a plan <if a plan is ever developed>.
Overall they don’t deserve even an F.
It is a 100 days empty of what would make the following 100 day increments unfold effectively & efficiently. Strip away “promises met” and focus on the more important larger construct of “who” will make “what” happen and the Trump administration on day 101 looks an awful lot like what they did on day 1. This would suggest that not only should we expect the exact same
results for the next 100 days … but also the 100 days after that.
They deserve a frickin’ nothin’.
And he calls himself a business man.
He is a hollow man building a hollow administration all the while hollowing out the soul of America word by word.
He better start figuring this out soon or America runs the risk of being emptied, piece by piece, of all that matters.
What a wasted 100 days. If it were my 100 days, I would be embarrassed.
NPR did a nice job gathering up all Trump promises and outlined Here Is What Donald Trump Wants To Do In His First 100 Days.
In addition, on October 22, 2016, Trump appeared in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he unrolled a “Contract with the American Voter,” .The document, helpfully still posted on his website, lays out precisely the steps that Trump promised to take by the 100-day deadline.
Judge for yourself.