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Tuesday
Nov252014

Screw you, Ferguson

Screw you, Ferguson. I say it with love.

Screw you to everyone participating in this violent screaming match. You've embarrassed your community, the St. Louis Metropolitan area, the State of Missouri, and the nation.

Image from Wikipedia via Creative Commons license. Click image for credit.

Screw you to Ferguson citizen protesters. You've rioted, burned down buildings in your own community, and thrown bottles and rocks and whatever else at the police. And not just a screw you to the extraordinary small number of protesters engaged in violence, but screw you to all those calling for a predetermined resolution rather than justice, and those demanding Darren Wilson's arrest whether legally warranted or not. It's a modern day lynch mob.

Screw you to the police and government officials. After Michael Brown was shot, you left him lying in the street for hours, and then responded to initial unrest with tanks and armament that would be the envy of any 3rd world dictator. And not just a screw you to the small number of police officers who engage in illegal conduct that deprives people of their basic rights, but screw you to so many others who bully citizens the second they question your authority, and those of you who look the other direction or make excuses when you see it happen.

Watching both sides of the mess you've created for yourself is like watching one of those toxic couples we all encounter from time to time. Both parties are so dysfunctional that the relationship is a spiral of despair. Sometimes, one's reaction is to try to help them both see where they can change and make things better. Eventually, though, someone has to say, "You know what? Screw you both. I'm tired of watching you do this to each other, and I'm walking away."

Right now there are a lot of people cheering you on an encouraging you. "Let's try to make something positive out of this," they say. Maybe they're right, and I applaud them for being willing, on the surface at least, to join in and try to help facilitate the healing process.

Count me out. Kumbaya from Jay Nixon and Barack Obama is all well and good, but sitting Indian-style around a campfire isn't any fun when one side is throwing molotov cocktails and the other one throwing tear gas and flash grenades.

I have a life to live, Ferguson. I can't force you to love one another. You'll have to learn how to get along yourselves.

It's my sincerest hope that one day you can get it together and that maybe we could even become friends.

In the meantime, to both sides in this saga, all I can say is that you deserve each other.

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Monday
Sep012014

Twitter Analytics Tools Now Available for Everyone

If you're a stat geek, and you're on Twitter, be prepared for your mind to be blown. Twitter is now making account analytics available to everyone with an account.

As Media Bistro reports, the service had only previously been available to those with paid accounts or verified accounts.

Now you can see just how much influence your Tweets are having. You can find the analytic site at http://analytics.twitter.com.

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Monday
Aug182014

23 Things I Hate About the Ferguson Story

This Ferguson story is awful. Watching an American city turned into a warzone, night after night, takes its toll. Here are 23 things I hate about the Ferguson story, in no particular order.

  1. I hate that a young kid lost his life..

  2. I hate that his family is grieving.

  3. I hate that this is happening right down the road from me. 

  4. I hate that the Ferguson police department has refused to release information unless it makes the young man who lost his life look bad (don't say that you don't want to spoil witnesses but then make an attempt to spoil witnesses).

  5. I hate the fact that, although the timing of it's release is suspect, people want to try to pretend that the video showing the shooting victim robbing the store is irrelevant (goes directly to his state of mind and charachter).

  6. I hate the fact that the local police response to the resulting protests have sometimes been heavy handed without cause.

  7. I hate the fact that the police have sometimes been heavy handed, with cause, because they've been shot at.

  8. I hate that some are taking out their frustrations on all police officers.

  9. I hate the fact that the police officer's life is being threatened. 

  10. I hate the fact that people are blindly assuming that the police officer committed murder without knowing all of the facts.

  11. I hate the fact that people are blindly assuming that the police officer's actions were justified without knowing all of the facts.

  12. I hate the fact that people are protesting without knowing all of the facts.

  13. I hate the fact that we are slow to get all of the facts.

  14. I hate the fact that business owners are losing property and quite possibly their business.

  15. I hate the fact that innocent employees have feared for their lives while looting has taken place.

  16. I hate the fact that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are quick to come into town and make quick speeches, but are nowhere to be found after dark to try to calm down restless crowds.

  17. I hate the fact that there seems to be no calming down the restless crowds that appear after dark; maybe that's why Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson don't bother to show up.

  18. I hate the fact that journalists have been bullied by the police.

  19. I hate that journalists are in some ways just making the problem worse.

  20. I hate the fact that, "Let's find out the truth," has been replaced with, "We want an arrest right now."

  21. I hate that people will interrupt a press conference being held by the governor to demand an answer as to why he hasn't charged the cop with murder when, in fact, he can't charge anyone because he doesn't have that authority.

  22. I hate the fact that local authorities can't seem to figure out how to solve this crisis and allow peace to prevail.

  23. I hate the fact that I don't have an answer either.

This whole thing is a mess.

At some point, the good people of Ferguson need to realize that America will have to move on. Whatever point someone was able to make on whatever side will be inconsequential to the vast marjority of people paying who are giving Ferguson its 15 minutes of fame. Yet Ferguson will have to live with the consequences of whatever mess it's made for years to come.

I'm tired. It's time take a break from watching this and move on.

Ferguson, here's to hoping that your future looks brighter tomorrow.

Follow up: 3 Keys To Preventing Another Ferguson: Respecting Individuals, Their Rights and Truth. 

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Sunday
Jul202014

Have Fun Talking About Your Craft

Scene from Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee can be called a lot of things.

Entertaining - it's hilarious.

Groundbreaking - here's a guy producing a program everyone is talking about, and it's solely for the Internet.

Hip - what's more hip than people getting together for coffee in trendy urban environments?

How about adding this word to the list: inspiring.

The great thing about Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is that it's so much more than Jerry Seinfeld, a comedian, getting together with other comedians, and talking about careers and comedy. It's a passionate discussion about the craft, and you're along for the ride.

To say the show is funny is an understatement, but it often goes beyond funny and talks about funny, and that's where the inspiration comes in. When the conversations steer towards what makes good comedy and bad comedy, or what a perfect bit looks like, they are talked about with such passion and enthusiasm that it draws you in and makes you feel like an industry insider.

So often when you watch the show, there's nothing you would rather be doing than participating in that conversation with them, going to work in that industry yourself and striving to create something amazing.

The show is a great reminder of how much more fun business is when you are around people who are passionate about it. 

  • Car dealers that are the most fun to talk to are the ones that love cars
  • Graphic designers that are the most fun to talk to are the ones who love art
  • Accountants that are the most fun to talk to are the ones who love to talk about accounting

And those are the people you want to do business with.

Going beyond simply how employees perceive and talk about their specific company, it is a key responsibility of a business's leadership to set the tone for how passionate they are for their industry and craft as a whole. Starting, participating in and encouraging passionate, fun conversations about "the biz" are sure-fire ways to draw your employees in and get them engaged in the business in ways they've never been before.

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Wednesday
Jun252014

Are You Caring for the Person or Just Treating the Disease?

Today, we hear two wildly different stories of the same event. 

A man, suffering from chest pains, has his wife drive him to the ER. The way the patient and his wife perceived the event is entirely different from the medical staff that treated him. According to NPR, the perspecitve of him and his wife:

When the man arrives in the ER, he is told to take off his shirt. He lies in the hallway, in pain, naked from the waist up. Strangers surround him. They don't introduce themselves, and they talk over him, at each other.

Pagers ring and there's a lot of beeping. Someone else must be really sick, he thinks; that must be why no one is paying attention.

After a few minutes, he signs some forms and finds himself being wheeled into an elevator. Masked figures enter. He feels a cool liquid flowing into his veins. The lights go out.

He wakes up hooked up to machines, uncertain what has happened. It takes several hours for the staff to find his wife, who is still waiting in the ER lobby and has no idea why her husband is in intensive care.

They are both surprised when they find out, two days later, that he's had a heart attack. As soon as they get home, they file a complaint with the hospital about their terrible experience.

The hospital's point of view? Within 3 minutes of arrival he's been given an electrocardiogram that determines he's having a heart attack. An emergency heart team is immediately paged, and 22 minutes from arrival he's been given a catheter in his heart (that's 20 minutes ahead of the national average). He's back at work in two weeks, even excercising, and the medical team considers his medical treatment to be a resounding success.

Leana Wen, who wrote the story for NPR, is an emergency physician who also advocates for her patients. Her thoughts on what may have caused these two very different perspectives? She says that sometimes medical teams get so caught up in treating the disease that they forget to care for the person. The patient, in this case, was receiving excellent care; it just seems nobody took the time to really let him know what was going on.

We can all take a lesson from this story. In business, it's easy to get so caught up in the technical details of performing a scope of work that we forget we're doing it for real people with wants, desires, needs and insecurities that go beyond the simple performance of a task.

Think of the bad stereotype of the IT guy Jimmy Fallon played on Saturday Night Live that simply tells you to, "Move!" before fixing your computer. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of service, so it's important to never be the kind of person who provides that kind of service. 

That means listening when it's time to listen. 

That means walking people through things on their terms at their level when they aren't understanding.

People need to have buy-in. They need to know what's going on. They need to be cared for.

As people.

Do that and they'll think so much better of their experiences with you.

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