This past week has been unfortunate. There have been violent, racially charged protests, attacks and murder. All committed in the name of one cause or another. As an American I am ashamed. As a human I am saddened.
I never thought I would need to publicly state that I am against Nazi rhetoric or white supremacist views, but I am.
As a white male I find the fact that this thought still exists to be abhorrent and disgusting.
The thing that bothers me most about this is not that it exists; there will always be people that think a certain way. It’s the fact that the reaction of some leaders was to place blame on all, including the victims.
I never feel comfortable wading into race relations dialogue. I typically feel inadequate and too uniformed to truly understand the challenges that minorities feel. As a result I seek to learn and absorb.
However, in the case of Charlotte, Virginia the stance is clear. If you are an individual who claims that your so called purity as a white man/woman means you have more value than those of different colors, you’re absolutely wrong. Science does not support you, nor does history.
I failed to mention the train wreck that is Google right now.
One engineer writes a manifesto claiming women are emotion-driven and as a result are not as capable at STEM careers as men are. Google fires him, there is a major uproar and everyone now has an opinion.
One article I read showed how Google is acting as thought police preventing any idea that is not approved from being made public. Other articles I read show how, if we appease intolerant viewpoints, we risk allowing intolerance to abound and have extreme cases, such as Nazi Germany.
What does all of this say for society? I believe it shows that we are now on the margins of culture.
Only the extreme survive.
If you have an easy going and inclusive view on society then you are not to be trusted. However, if you take a hard stand on either the left or right, you are to be championed.
When did this culture of extremes become the norm?
I’m assuming you’ve read the anti-diversity manifesto, or articles about it, from the Google engineer decrying his company’s diversity efforts and harking back to the ancient reasoning that women are biologically incapable of being good coders, cops and firemen, among other incapables.
(It’s always sad to see this level of scientific ignorance in a technical person. Of course, it’s not easier in a (supposedly) educated politician.)
There are dozens of responses, but Yonatan Zunger’s is the best I’ve seen (hat tip to KG for sending it).
Zunger is a 14 year Google veteran, who left last week to join a startup. He not only refutes it, but analyzes why the damage goes well beyond the obvious. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth the few minutes it will take to read.
Women also have a brain therefore they write code too.
There, I fixed your #GoogleManifesto.
The one thing in the manifesto I do agree with is that freedom of speech should mean that anyone can speak their mind without fear of shaming or harassment.
However, the tactics he describes that are commonly used in liberal bastions on those espousing right and alt-right attitudes are exactly the same tactics used on progressives and liberals in conservative strongholds.
It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.
Golden Oldies is a collection of some of the best posts during that time.
I always find it strange that a post this old (2006) doesn’t need updating to be relevant — but it doesn’t. Nothing has changed. You are still the closest thing to a silver bullet that you’re going to find and it’s still all in your mind.
These days (especially these days) managers spend time, energy and money (their company’s and their own) in an effort to move from manager to ‘leader’. They study examples and best practices, read books, attend seminars and classes, take advanced degrees, check out software, turn to the spiritual (if so inclined)—you name it, someone’s tried it.
Everywhere you turn you hear/read about how you need to be a ‘leader’ to get ahead, otherwise you’ll end up a <gasp> follower.
You probably won’t believe me if I say that the basic premise is bunk.
The dream is to find a silver bullet—all you need to do is say/do THIS—but it ain’t gonna happen.
But here’s the well kept secret—you already possess the closest thing to a silver bullet that exists and it’s all in your mind.
That’s right, it’s your MAP and, like a snowflake, it’s totally unique—yours, and yours alone.
And the magic that turns the bullet from lead to silver is your ability to consciously choose to change your MAP through your own awareness.
How cool is that? The very thing that frees you to soar and it’s not only yours, but also within your control.
The company provided what has come to be a boilerplate apology.
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post,” the company said in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
Within days it was Pepsi on the social media hot seat for an incredibly insensitive, incredibly white ad focusing on the Black Lives Matter protests.
The ad was pulled in hours, although, as you can see, nothing posted is ever truly deleted; here is Pepsi’s gussied up version of the boilerplate apology.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
Nivea’s story was from an agency, while Pepsi’s was developed in-house.
While I’m no fan of social media in general and its penchant for spreading fake news, in this case the lightening reactions actually did some good.
Heineken is another story (pun intended) entirely and has the awards to prove it, so it isn’t surprising that it was Heineken that successfully created the story the others screwed up so badly.
The take-away is that stories are a two-edged sword, so be sure to do them outside the echo chamber or don’t do them.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here.
Way back in 2009 I wrote Leaders Should NOT Be Cowboys. While the advice was accurate at the time, it made the basic assumption that founders were adults.
I suppose it was naïve to assume that anybody starting a company, let alone being handed millions of dollars to do it, would have a certain level of mental and emotional maturity — or at least know when to shut up.
But the world has changed drastically.
It’s now a world where nothing is private and letting it all hang out has been take to extremes; where sharing all aspects of your life is expected and the resulting personally identifiable data packaged and sold; where sex/sexism in one form or another is prevalent; where anybody can freely and anonymously critique/shame/bully/insult whomever they please; where frat boy culture/attitude/thinking is the new norm, where etc., etc., etc.
Take a look at Uber, Thinx, Tanium, or the US president; the list goes on even when the actions are well camouflaged, as they are at Google and Facebook.
These new CEOs aren’t necessarily cowboys in the previous sense.
They have moved past that and are more aligned with the back end of their horses.
Only this time it’s Tesla and she still works there; not only works, but loves her company.
“Until somebody stands up, nothing is going to change,” she said in a recent interview, her first comments about a discrimination lawsuit she filed last year. “I’m an advocate of Tesla. I really do believe they are doing great things. That said, I can’t turn a blind eye if there’s something fundamentally wrong going on.”
Tesla’s response was hilarious, in as much as it parroted almost word-for-word the Valley mantra.
“As with any company with more than 30,000 employees, it is inevitable that there will be a small number of individuals who make claims against the company, but that does not mean those claims have merit”
Whoo hoo. Doesn’t that just give you a warm, fuzzy, confident feeling of trust?
Things were better for women 30-40 years ago. What happened?
When Silicon Valley was emerging, after World War II, software programming was considered rote and unglamorous, somewhat secretarial—and therefore suitable for women. The glittering future, it was thought, lay in hardware. But once software revealed its potential—and profitability—the guys flooded in and coding became a male realm.
Now look a bit further and think about the industries notorious for their bad treatment of women.
Wall Street/financial services. Law. Doctors. University-level teaching. Architecture. Chefs. Construction and journeyman crafts. I can keep going.
What do they have in common?
Follow the money.
White and blue collar = high pay.
Pink collar = low pay.
Money means freedom. Freedom to choose. Freedom to walk — from a job or from a relationship.
Put another way, money means control.
The more money you have the more control you have over your world — whether for good or for evil.
So maybe control is the real root cause.
Men (some, not all) need to control women, AKA, mom…
Poor, insecure, little guys.
Trying to change their past by taking revenge on the present and, in doing so, damaging the future.
Folks. I am about a week behind on recognizing International Women’s Day, but wanted to speak about it today.
There is always an element of folks out there who cry that we are dividing each other more by recognizing every different group of people, but I disagree.
At this point we have roughly 7 billion people in the world and they are each unique. That’s pretty cool if you ask me and I find that recognizing the differences that make us unique can be a unifier.
One reason I want to address this holiday is because I have been personally affected in a profound way by strong female leaders, both in life and work.
These women were mothers, wives, bosses, employees and, in some cases, warriors. I call that out because throughout history there was not always the option for women to follow their own path — it was chosen for them.
I am the father of two beautiful girls, they are identical twins and they light up my life. My wife and I are blessed (and challenged) by them daily. In June I get to experience it again with the addition of our third girl.
If I am being completely transparent, I was never a feminist. I didn’t think men were the superior sex, but I didn’t think the status quo was an issue either. While having girls has helped to change my thinking, the journey began many years ago.
I served five years as a United States Marine and enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of something greater. Now, the Marine Corps has around 200,000 active Marines and about 7% who are female. It’s a male dominated world where recent news has uncovered that misogyny is alive and well unfortunately. I don’t bring this up to shame the institution but to call out the opportunity for improvement.
Within this environment though I had the pleasure to serve under a female Marine officer by the name of Meredith Brown. At the time she was a Major and retired as a Lt. Col.
She was a no-nonsense person who expected results and demanded excellence. I recall how I used to write reports for her and she would pull out a red pen and begin striking things out. As she did that though, she took the time to show why the corrections needed to be made and expected that I wouldn’t repeat the errors.
Now you may be thinking, this lady sounds rough! I will tell you though, she knew what she was doing. I was a young man who needed guidance and she also saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t see myself. As a Marine she was tough but also fair to a fault. She was the first strong woman in my professional career and I valued our time greatly. We still speak to this day and she continues to give sound advice.
How does this fit into culture? Because as a society we have determined that sex, color, background, race or other factors that could be discriminated against are not how we should be judged.
We have deemed actions to be our judgment. Does this always happen? Absolutely not, but we strive for it.
If I had been an older man in a different Marine Corps, I would have never had the opportunity for a female Marine to lead me. I would have operated in a bubble and be unable to see another point of view without great difficulty.
So next time we have a day that celebrates a unique quality about a specific group of people I suggest we take the time to embrace it.
See something from a different perspective, walk in another person’s shoes, so to speak, and learn.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here.
Most of the tech/business/news-consuming world has been hearing about Uber’s latest, but doubtfully its last, scandal.
Uber showcases a culture where anything goes: sexual harassment; managerial threats, including physical violence.
A culture based on the overweening arrogance and MAP of CEO Travis Kalanick and fully supported by his top management and a subservient/ineffective/actively resistant HR.
So Kalanick did what all CEOs (and politicians) do when someone shines a light in their rat hole — he announced an internal investigation led by external, high profile lawyers and made promises at an all-hands meeting.
“What I can promise you is that I will get better every day.I can tell you that I am authentically and fully dedicated to getting to the bottom of this.”
This from the guy who two short years ago called his company “Boob-er” in GQ, because it was a chick magnet.
There’s an old joke that you should never trust anyone who says “trust me.”
The same can be said about the person who proclaims their authenticity.
Whether you were alive in 1984 or not, you’ve probably seen Apple’s Super bowl ad. It’s reshown almost every year and has been consistently voted the top-rated Super Bowl ad ever made, which is saying a lot.
When the ad was made women were on an upward trend and were respected members of the tech community — unlike now.
Watching the ad again last week I got to wondering.
If that ad were made today would the person throwing the hammer be a woman?
Or would it be the proverbial “twenty-something guy in a hoodie?”