Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

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My Take On 230

By on Jan 21, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

A good friend on social media asked for my opinion on why Donald Trump would be so adamantly opposed to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. For years it is precisely Section 230 that has allowed him to expand his unedited voice and create his vast following. Now he’s banned on most of these platforms including Twitter and Facebook, which some would argue are at long last exerting a form of editorial oversight. Rather than hide behind their legal ability to allow him to rant, they have essentially silenced him. Ironic, huh? Not exactly what he wanted in limiting this broad permission. Has something good or bad happened? I think the answer is neither, but something evolutionary is unfolding, and depending on where that takes us, we can decide later like most history if it was good or bad. Confusing stuff, no question. Let me try to unpack some of it as someone who has been working in this space almost since day one of the commercial internet. While personally I would say my life has improved without the constant noise of Trump tweets, I’m afraid the world is not that simple. The resolution of this exercise may have frightening connotations in the abstract. Many are worried about free speech and arbitrary limits on the power of a single individual to curtail the public expression of another, which is something that matters dearly to all of us. I’m not a legal professional by any stretch, but I don’t think a specific defense of ex-President Trump is what matters here. Trump no more understands Section 230 than he understands global trade and tariffs. He wants his speech free and speech against him controlled, like any dangerous autocrat. Let’s set him aside (doesn’t that feel great?) and think about the real risks and privileges waltzing into the arena of public discourse. For reference, the historic 26 words that constitute Section 230 read: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” As simply stated as possible, that means the technology platforms are not liable for what they publish. They don’t want...

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Managing Through Absurdity

By on Dec 22, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

I began 2020 by asking the question: Can Business Be Philosophical? Little did I know it was going to be a test. As this very difficult year comes to an end, I’ve been mulling over any learning I can carry forward. I’ve been pondering the fundamental notion of quarantine, a strategy I’ve never before considered as a defense against an invisible assailant. I’ve even taken to religious texts for clues on interpreting the darkness. I’m not finding many answers to my perhaps impossible questions, but I do find myself zeroing in on a direction in thought that has guided me as a coping strategy in traversing shaky ground. What are we supposed to learn from the year of pandemic? If there is no learning in crisis, then a repeat of the same crisis is inevitable. I don’t believe that because it ends the contest between fatalism and free will. We can’t throw in the towel that easily. Understand the Malady Might I suggest we have been living through a period of absurdity? Covid-19 thus far taking the lives of more than a million and a half people globally and 300,000 Americans is absurdity. The failure of our government to be in a state of readiness for this crisis is absurdity. Conflicting policies between federal, state, and municipal restrictions is absurdity. Misaligned interstate regulations in a nation where we travel freely is absurdity. Hospitals with ICU wards beyond capacity is absurdity. Categorical rejection by millions of a protective vaccine is absurdity. Systemic racism is absurdity. Failure to acknowledge and address systemic racism is absurdity. Police brutality directed at people of color is absurdity. Suffering wildfires and hurricanes while rejecting climate science is absurdity. A president who lies endlessly for convenience as an alternative matter of style is absurdity. A soundly defeated political candidate and his followers denying the legitimacy of validated democratic process is absurdity. That’s a lot of absurdity. It can’t be tucked away in a vault. It can’t be explained away by any retroactive framework. Our ability to move on confidently hangs in the balance. Maintain Integrity I wonder, have we arrived exhausted at a place and time where all opinions are due equal consideration? If I say...

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Life After Trump

By on Nov 20, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

I am hopeful this is the last time I write about Donald Trump. To the extent that he obeys the law and vacates his position on January 20, 2021, and doesn’t run again for the presidency, I do have more interesting subjects to pursue. I’ve tried ignoring him the best I could these past several years, but it would have been irresponsible not to call him out on his malfeasance. I attempted to look for interesting angles where I could in attempts not to repeat the obvious, but as a writer I had to be on the record as part of the resistance. I don’t care if he starts TrumpTV or his loyal followers continue to listen to his divisive lies to the last day he broadcasts. I want him out of legal power. As the nation heals, so will I, although I suspect I will heal more slowly than most. His representation of an America so diametrically opposed to my ideal has taken a toll on my immune system. More than half the nation didn’t sign up for this American carnage. A monster dumped it on us. Now we’ve dumped him. Am I relieved? Only inasmuch as a cataclysmic disease goes into remission. You know it’s still there. The cancer is his belief set. Too many Americans still subscribe to that indefensible set of lies. I’ve been thinking about the arc of our generation, the arc of the moral universe, as Dr. King reminds us: “no lie can live forever.” Our struggle for civil rights wasn’t expected to be without setbacks, but it also wasn’t meant to be bluntly derailed. Trump tried to hijack fifty years of progress in four years of devolution. I’m going to take a flier and say he failed, but now with broad restraints removed from the dialogue that would have us surrender too many of the hard-won social norms that edged us closer to justice, how will we choose to revive our spirits? I think the ultimate legacy of this cynical presidency will be the accelerated deterioration in the public’s ability to discern fact from fiction. This president didn’t create the notion of fake news; he simply used his unyielding platform to make...

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More Than a Diversion

More Than a Diversion

By on Oct 28, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

Psst, pass it on: After a 32-year intermission, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series! After winning the National League West the previous seven years—this year will be the team’s eighth consecutive division title—and exiting the playoffs without the Commissioner’s Trophy, the 2020 postseason finally brought a championship banner back to Chavez Ravine. The Tampa Bay Rays played with heart through the entire postseason. It takes untold athletic ability, strategy, and grit for any team to make it to the World Series, and while this year’s final prize went to the Dodgers, there is little question we will see the Rays again soon in October baseball. Both teams filled Globe Life Field with players of unquestionable excellence, and the six-game series came with all the unpredictability that makes baseball relentlessly nail-biting no matter your expectations. The Dodgers simply had to get this done. After so many failed attempts to full triumph over more than three decades, losing becomes an all-too-familiar feeling. It’s astonishing how quickly that feeling can be replaced by sheer glee. At this moment, I am experiencing glee. Devoted Dodger fans everywhere are experiencing glee. I’m finding it a different form of glee than it might have been any other year. This particular form of glee is a much-needed gulp of surely lasting but highly compartmentalized glee. Let me try to share that qualified celebration, limited in practical application, boundless in idealistic resurgence. So much that matters is going on in our world. We are approaching the end of one of the most difficult and painful years in our nation’s history. The year ahead of us is filled with anxiety and uncertainty no matter who is elected to lead the nation. It is only reasonable to ask ourselves why something as inconsequential as professional sports matters. If you’re not on the team, employed by the team, or an owner of the team, does it really matter who wins the MLB World Series? Does being a fan of any team matter? I think it does, but only in a well-rounded, emotional context where we hold our priorities in balance. Is the drama and endurance of a championship delivered by your home team a matter of life and...

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When a Mess Is Not a Mess

By on Sep 14, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

True story: When I sat down to write this blog post, immediately after typing the title, I spilled a glass of iced tea on my desk. How appropriate, pointedly ironic, I thought. I am about to write an article saying that a mess is not always a mess, and then I make a mess. Or did I? It’s probably not lost on you that the next thing I did after spilling my iced tea was to clean my desk. Save for the few papers that were soaked and had to be tossed (ah, well!) it gave me the long procrastinated opportunity to eradicate some clutter. Where there was long-ignored dust between books and computer cords, there are visible patches of polished wood. Who knows when I would have gotten to those desktop dust bunnies? And so a modest mess immediately became an opportunity, precisely the story I wanted to tell. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Hot Mess is a contemporary descriptor gaining momentum. I’m not sure I understand its full colloquial application, but it does seem to roll off the tongue. Has the global pandemic complicated by contradictory expressions of strategy and uncertain leadership left us of late in a hot mess? It would be hard to argue the contrary. Facts and opinions are muddled. Too many hospital intensive care wards are filled. Families are losing loved ones. Jobs have been wiped out in record numbers. Businesses are told they can reopen only to be told to close again. No one is quite sure whether schools should be attended in person. We’re even arguing with each other about whether mandated mask safety constitutes some violation of personal liberty. Yes, that is some hot mess. It lacks leadership and accountability. It’s chaos that has been largely disowned rather than harnessed for cohesive transformation. What’s the difference? When can we throw our hands in the air with rage and declare a hot mess, and when is it an opportunity? Better asked: Aren’t we always better off trying to convert a mess into an opportunity? Having faced a lot of business messes in my years—and largely knowing that every time I have been able to do something I believed mattered...

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Desperately Needed Now

By on Aug 24, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

Last month I wrote about the value to be found in breaking through the noise all around us. For many readers the question remains: What do we need to better focus on actions that matter? At the same time so many of the prior norms we may have taken for granted have deteriorated, I’ve had the joy of watching several business teams succeed. I continue to study closely how they are doing it, how they are staying focused, how they are transforming adversity into moments of triumph. There are commonalities in these observations that I hope become more accessible as we make our way through our national election and look forward to recovery from this awful pandemic. What I am suggesting may sound like getting back to basics, but when those basics escape us, it can only help us to recognize the kind of leadership that allows us to traverse hurdles rather than be consumed by them. Here are three basic rebuilding blocks I think are helping the people I see emerging from crisis stronger—three basics I believe are desperately needed now. We Need Confidence We have to believe our concerted actions will get us somewhere. If we are asked to sacrifice we need a reason. If we are asked to embrace a plan, we need to understand the components of that plan. If we are told certain tactics will help us achieve a strategic goal, we need facts that support the premise of the actions we are asked to take. When we are given specific examples of the kinds of masks that will protect us, we hear in those specifics a well-reasoned recommendation that is worth following. When we hear from historians that mail-in ballots have been used without measurable distortion since the Civil War, we know we can trust the results of an election with their expanded use in a time where location-based polling places are difficult to staff. These are simple examples where demonstrated expertise reinforces our confidence. Curiously enough, it is precisely the twisting of confidence that lets a con artist win the day. The root of every “con” is the abuse of confidence. When we put our trust in leaders to help us navigate...

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