I made the decision 20 years ago that the Monday Morning Memo would rarely be about news or current events. I chose to leave the singing of fleeting facts to a chorus of professional reporters. It is a choir that does not need my voice.
But today I’m making an exception.
There are four things I’m betting you’ve noticed. Perhaps they’ve raised an eyebrow. I want you to know that you’re not alone.
- Social Media has become the new blackmail.*
Customers are using threats of negative online reviews to extort cash and free products from sincere and honest businesspeople. My office is being bombarded with stories and questions from clients in every business category. I believe we’ll ultimately see an expansion of our libel laws to help curtail this racketeering, but that sort of change requires several years of debate. In the meantime, we’ll likely see the emergence of a new web device that allows businesspeople to respond with their side of the story.
No, you’re not the only one being blackmailed by sociopaths.
- Businesses are struggling to find good employees.
Employee recruitment ads are a significant percentage of what my partners and I are writing these days. The upside of this trend is that it’s an indicator of a surging economy. Businesses everywhere need more employees and few people need a job.
No, you’re not the only one looking hard for good people to hire.
- The Witch Hunt has begun.**
In the second half of the upswing to the zenith of a “Me” generation (most recently 1973 to 1983,) we elevate heroes and create idols to worship, (Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan, among others.) But in the second half of the upswing to the zenith of a “We” generation (currently 2013 to 2023,) we subject our heroes to microscopic scrutiny and destroy every idol we can find. The zenith of a “We” is that time when the most innocent observation is likely to be misinterpreted as sexism, ageism, racism or religiosity. I am reminded of the tongue-in-cheek advice of Elbert Hubbard 120 years ago, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” It was his way of saying, “Don’t let the fear of criticism rob you of the courage of your convictions.”
(Uh-oh, was that sexism? Should I have said Amen and Awomen? What? You say it was religiosity? Can I just back up and start over?)
- Where did 2014 go?
In late October I began receiving emails from a lot of people who don’t know each other, yet each of them chose the same 4 words: “Where did 2014 go?” These emails have continued for about 3 weeks and this does not happen every year. 2014 seems to have somehow vanished before our eyes. Wasn’t it just last month that we were trying to figure out how to navigate Obamacare?
Nope. That was a year ago.
The problem with living in the future is that it never arrives and suddenly your life is over.
No, you’re not the only one looking for a quiet moment, a good friend and a desert island.
Roy H. Williams
* In September 2014, Erin Buckels, Paul Trapnell and Delroy Paulhus published a University of Manitoba study that scientifically documented that sociopaths spend far more time making online comments than the rest of us. Specifically, the study found that the heaviest online commenters had an astonishingly high incidence of Machiavellianism (a willingness to manipulate and deceive others), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others). Add to these traits the hope of financial gain and you begin to see the dark underbelly of social media. The stories of extortion I’m hearing from clients are staggering.
If you don’t do exactly as I say, the story I’ll tell about you online will cost you a lot more money than I’m asking you to give me.”
Sadly, in the court of public opinion, (1.) you’re guilty until proven innocent and (2.) you’re given no opportunity to tell your side of the story.
You don’t have to be Jewish to love Kosher food. Thousands of business owners from every nation converged on New Jersey recently to attend Menachem Lubinsky’s 26th Annual Kosherfest trade show, that famous world showcase for kosher foods and beverages. This week our roving reporter Rotbart asks Menachem Lubinsky why so many entrepreneurs are hopping aboard the Kosher bandwagon. And guess what he learned? Everyone – Jewish or not – can climb aboard that happy bandwagon. MondayMorningRadio.com
** A Witch Hunt at the zenith of the “We” has occurred every 80 years for the past 3 millennia. Michael Drew and I write about this extensively in chapter 16 of Pendulum as we chronicle the stuttering history of western society; that endless back-and-forth swinging between one excess and another. The hardest choices in life are the choices between 2 good things. And we always take good things too far.
NOTE to the Cognoscenti: during your time on campus, how often did you hear the wizard say, “We define ourselves most clearly when we explain what we are not. What you include is less revealing than what you exclude.” The opening paragraph of today’s memo is an example of that principle. – Indiana Beagle