Lady Gaga's Social Studies

When I was a little girl and my brothers or I were behaving badly, my mother used to warn us not to be little monsters.

Little did I know, years later, that I would proudly accept that title - and recommend it to as many others as possible.

Because now, if you're a "little monster" it means that you're part of Lady Gaga's fan base - which is the same as being part of a social movement.

Lady Gaga has no hesitation in using her celebrity to do good. Of course she does well. In fact, she does amazingly well with sales that keep setting records. Good for her. Because she uses her nearly 11 million Twitter followers and all her fans worldwide as a means of moving society in a more tolerant, caring direction.

I knew of Lady Gaga, simply, as a pop music icon who was so much a part of a different generation than mine that she was barely a blip on my radar. Right up until she used her celebrity to support the repeal of the "Don't Ask. Don't Tell" legislation that was then being reviewed by Congress.

Using her celebrity specifically to speak on behalf of an underserved and still actively discriminated against population - no matter what the cause - made her different from her colleagues and contemporaries. More courageous. More willing to use her success to do good.

More recently, with her record-breaking "Born This Way" song and album, she has escalated that philosophy by making sure that her "little monsters" all know that they are perfect. That they need not feel disenfranchised - because they're not a mistake.

That they can - and should - live their lives proudly.

In a world where bullying in schools has taken peer pressure to new heights, that's a message that neither can nor should be ignored.

Then, when Clarence Clemons, the 69-year old saxophonist from Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band who performed with Gaga on her new album, suffered a sudden - and ultimately fatal - stroke, she mobilized her troops to help in his recovery by making and sending get well videos.

Think about it. Here's a 25-year old superstar who is getting her worldwide fan base which start in their 'tweens, if not younger, to pay attention to and help a senior citizen. That's so good on so many different levels it almost defies description.

Lady Gaga gets a lot of grief for her supposed mimicry of Madonna. The pundits who keep putting that forward are wrong. Because what Lady Gaga has known from the first and Madonna never demonstrated is that there is a beauty in doing well and doing good simultaneously.

In these troubled economic times - particularly when investment in education is being severely reduced across the country - it's even more important that those who have celebrity recognize that they have a responsibility that comes with their success to support a greater good.

So, monster paws up, everybody, because we're all Little Monsters now.

(An earlier version of this article appeared on Technorati.)

A Cloud-Based Disaster for Small and Home-Based Businesses

I'm a great fan of David Pogue - mostly because, even though he's best known for his NY Times technology columns and Missing Manual book series, his first (and also) successful career was as a conductor and musician on Broadway.

(I know. One has nothing to do with the other - but there you have it. I come from a family of musicians - including on Broadway. Deal with it.)

On the tech side, one of the reasons why Pogue is so good is because he's willing to say the things that need to be said - whether it's about Cisco's decision to shut down the Flip Camera, taking on the cell phone carriers about their extra, unfair fees or, today, the future of the cloud.

Pogue didn't go there, but if you're a small business owner - particularly home-based - you were reading a real warning of problems and costs to come.

Because what Pogue wrote about is not how wonderful the cloud is and how you should move everything you do onto it - which is what we keep hearing from Apple, Google, HP and everyone else - but what it's going to cost us as the likes of Comcast, TimeWarner and other broadband providers start capping and controlling access and speed to the internet.  And the cloud.

If you're a member of any small business lobbying or support organization, the Rotary or even your local Chamber of Commerce, it's time to start getting your message ready to your internet service providers.

Left to their own devices, they'll keep increasing your costs while reducing your services. For them, you'll be a blip - at most - on their radar. Probably not even that.

For you, this is fair warning.  It's time to act.

(Originally published on Technorati.)


Goldman Sachs, Facebook and the IPO - 2012 It Is

It's official. Sort of.

According to a CNBC Report, Facebook is most likely having its IPO in the first quarter of 2012. And Goldman Sachs will be leading the way.

Not, necessarily, that Facebook particularly wants it to happen then. It's that it's going to have to - because of 'the 500 rule.'

You see, by law - the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act, to be specific - when a company has 500 investors, they can't be considered private any longer. By law, they're considered public. And that means an IPO.

Nice for Facebook, though, its valuation is coming in at over $100 billion.  Especially since, not that long ago, its valuation was only $75 billion.

Which brings us back to Goldman Sachs.  Because the game changed - and the Facebook valuation skyrocketed - when Goldman established a fund, first, of $375 million of its own and its clients' money to invest in Facebook and then an additional Facebook investment fund of $1.5 billion.  But that was for its foreign investment clients only.

Because of that pesky 500 rule...which they tried to get around by saying that with all the investors being foreign, the fund, itself, could be considered one investor!

You gotta love Goldman.   And Facebook.  They're quite the pair.

Too bad "friending" Facebook won't give you the inside track for "friends and family" share access for the IPO.  Now that would be a "Like" that everyone would want!

(Originally published on Technorati.)

Women and Walmart - What the Supreme Court Decision Really Means

There's a lot of confusion about the upcoming Walmart v Dukes Supreme Court decision.

The biggest confusion of all is that this is not a decision regarding whether there was or wasn't discrimination against the women of Walmart, when the case was first brought forward by six female Walmart employees.

And that's a very different subject.

Because now we're talking about big business.  Giant sized business.  The biggest businesses of them all.

Which is why twenty companies - all with the same size and scope issues as Walmart - have written in support of Walmart's position.  And why the US Chamber of Commerce is arguing on Walmart's side as well.

Part of Walmart's legal argument is that they have policies against discrimination and, because of that, the corporation can't be held responsible for decisions made at the store level.  Those are local decisions.  Not corporate.

After all, with over 4400 stores and over 1.4 million employees in the US, alone, how could they ensure that such actions would not exist or occur?

Which makes it worth noting that Walmart isn't saying that bad decisions haven't been made or that discrimination hasn't possibly occurred.  Just that it's out of their control.

On the other hand, you have the plaintiffs.  It started with one woman, Betty Dukes, who was then joined by five others - who have now grown to represent a class of women in the hundreds of thousands who claim that they have been discriminated against based on their gender.  Since 1998.

Their argument is that the company systemically pays women less than men, gives them smaller raises and offers fewer opportunities for promotion. Unfortunately for Walmart, their own numbers tend to support that argument as the proportion of women in management drops substantially the higher up in the organization one looks.

If the case goes forward, the costs to Walmart will be in the billions.  That's even if, as is usually the case in class actions, it is settled out of court.

It also almost inevitably opens the door to other like-sized class actions against other employers.

So, even though this is about a point of law, it's worth going back to where this began.

Walmart is, evidently, discriminating against its employees.  Whether systemically or not, the fact is, it's happening.  And, for a company that was founded on the principals of and prides itself on the world-class systems that other organizations worldwide have adopted, it's a bit difficult to argue that in this one arena, there are no monitoring or enforcement systems in place.

Whatever the ruling, it will be landmark.  More immediately, though, what are you doing in your organization to ensure that you have the doors open to all the talent available...no matter the gender? 

(Originally published on Technorati.)

KevJumba: Putting the Social in Social Media

Listen to the social media gurus - from Gary Vaynerchuk to Guy Kawasaki - and what you'll hear is that social media is all about building community.

That people are looking for connections. For purpose. To be heard. And seen. And acknowledged.

Why else would Facebook have grown to over 600 million users in such a short period? Or Hebbo at over 200 million, Bebo over 113 million - or China's QZone with over 480 million users?

Because in an online, disconnected world, people are looking for human connections.

Watch the social media space, however, and what you see is that - like any business model - it's all about converting those connections into money. Especially as LinkedIn set the tone for over-subscribed, high payout IPOs.

That's why, when a social media superstar like, KevJumba, answers the call from a socially conscious organization, like The Supply Education Group, you see the importance of how social can and should be social.

The Supply Education Group put out a YouTube challenge to KevJumba to teach a class in Nairobi, Kenya. Class 5, to be exact.

In this delightful video, you see the kids of Class 5 doing their best to charm KevJumba. And it worked.

Only KevJumba went one better. Not only did he do that visit - now, with his over 1.6 million YouTube followers in hand, KevJumba has committed to helping build a secondary school in Nairobi so that when Class 5 graduates from their K-8 school, they'll have a high school to attend.

Because at the moment they don't.

So, with that purpose - and making social truly social - KevJumba is asking his followers this weekend as he celebrates his 21st birthday to give $21 each to raise the $50,000 needed to build a school and create hope and opportunity for society's future worldwide.

KevJumba is giving back as part of The Supply Education Group's "Blessed to be a Blessing Campaign" and, in the process, showing just what social media can and should be doing for society.

So what is your social media strategy doing to help build society?  Think about it.

(An earlier version of this post was published on Technorati.)

How Warren Buffett Makes Goldman Sachs Look Good

When Goldman Sachs' reputation as 'honest brokers' started being shredded by their real and perceived actions leading up to, during and after the 2008 economic crash, they had to do something. Fast.

And they did. To show their commitment as citizens, they introduced 10,000 Small Businesses, a $500 million investment "to help create jobs and economic opportunity in the United States."

To be fair, this is a good thing.  Investment is always good - particularly in small businesses.

But don't mistake Goldman's largesse for pure-play money - either their own or others.  According to their materials, the "investment" includes:
  • Practical business and management curriculum
  • Access to capital
  • Critical support and consulting services.

And while that's good, too, they don't specify how much investment goes into each category.

But, they do bring Big Name guests.  Like Warren Buffett.

Buffett, you may recall, saved Goldman's bacon when the crash occurred by lending the firm $5 billion in 2008 when they needed a cash infusion.  That was one seriously good investment for Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Corporation as it netted Berkshire a $5.64 billion payback less than three years later.

Buffett took a lot of grief from that decision - not least at his annual shareholder meetings. Because Buffett, whose reputation he keeps sterling, was suddenly seen as complicit in helping the company that had become the poster child for greed.

Now, that's in the process of changing.

The 10,000 Small Businesses initiative has graduated its first class of 30 small business owners - and they come from New Orleans.

It's a PR move that can only bring good reactions.  After all, it's Goldman Sachs helping New Orleans which is still recovering from the Hurricane Katrina aftermath - all being fronted by Warren Buffett giving words of encouragement and advice.

That's no small thing.  Buffett is known for making his corporate purchases based as much on the target company's management - and particularly its senior executive team - as he is on the numbers they produce.  Because Buffett always keeps the management team intact.  After all, they created the success. 

Why would he want to get rid of them?

(Full disclosure: One of my client companies was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway.)

Whether Goldman Sachs will ever completely recover its reputation in the eyes of the wider public is still an open question.  But, for the moment, the feel-good factor is there and they're moving in the right direction.

At least as far as small businesses are concerned.

(Originally published on Technorati.)

Google, Social Media and Watching Larry Grow

Not long after Larry Page took over as Google's CEO, he made it excruciatingly clear that Google was - finally - going to crack the code and get good at social media.  Really good.


In great part by making sure that the multiplier used for bonus calculations for every Googler (the name Google employees give themselves) was directly impacted by the company's success in the social media space.

Nothing like putting everyone's money on the line.

But, give Google their due, under Page's guidance - and his commitment to creating a company-wide 'ecosystem' for social media - he's making sure the company makes the investments needed so that everyone can win.

That's why the announcement that Google has purchased PostRank means more than just the fact that the company has bought another social media-related enterprise.

Because PostRank is right up Google's alley. According to PC World, PostRank is an analytics firm that provides "real-time data on on the number of comments, tweets, bookmarks and other social responses that a particular piece of content or information has been able to generate on the social web."

That's necessary because social is moving directly toward monetary conversion pressures and expectations. It's a great fit, however, because there's nothing that Google likes more than numbers,
algorithms and mechanisms that help figure things out.

So, good decision Google - because you've made the right acquisition strategically and culturally. 


This move, among others, is a clear demonstration that Larry Page was ready for the CEO seat...contrary to many of the contrarians who were convinced that Eric Schmidt stepping out was the beginning of the end of the company.

They were wrong.

No one knows who will win the social media wars, but, whatever you do, don't figure Google for roadkill anytime soon.  Page is fighting to win - and now he's got a new tool to help.

(This article was originally published on Technorati.)

Google, Innovation and the Willingness to Walk Away

When the words “Google” and “innovation”are used together, the tendency is to immediately think of the famous 20%policy – that dedicated day that every engineer in the company has to work onwhatever captures their interest.

A lot of those project turn intosuccessful products.  Others don’t.  Which is why Google’s decision to walk away from its former commitment to digitize what seems to be the history ofevery newspaper everyplace is worthy of note.

Part of what makes successfulcompanies successful is their willingness to try, sometimes fail and definitelychange their minds.

Google has become the poster childof exactly that capability.  Infact, it’s what drives their culture.

In contrast, if you look atMicrosoft’s decision to start – and now stop – their three year old PioneerStudios skunkworks all-innovation all-the-time operation, the differences inculture become exquisitely clear.

Most particularly in the way thatdecisions are made.

Microsoft, as successful as it isand has been for years, built a bureaucracy.  As well known as it is for its Office suite, IE and more, itis also known to be a hierarchical, bureaucrat’s dream with quick decision makingand innovative nimbleness seemingly far down on its list of priorities.

In contrast, Google’s decision tomove Larry Page back into the CEO chair demonstrated just how concerned thecompany always has been and still is that it keep its challenging andentrepreneurial, fast moving culture.

The other thing to learn from Googleis that it looks for – and celebrates – innovation wherever it finds it.

If you take a look at the wonderful,award-winning Doodle 4 Google drawing that 7-year Matteo Lopez drew, you’ll seejust how far that thinking goes.

How could anyone resist a drawinginspired by Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon?  Or, even better, Matteo’s reason why:  Because he wishes “to meet other peoplein different planets and go to other planets I haven’t been to” because “I’veonly been to Earth.”

In case you weren’t sure, thatlittle boy you just met is Google’s future.

(Note: This article was originally published on Technorati.)

Women, Business and "Girl Games"

There’s a wonderful scene in the TomHanks film “A League of Their Own” where the baseball team manager (Hanks)berates the performance of one of the members of this all-women team and shestarts to cry.  He looks at her indisbelief and says, “You’re crying? There’s no crying in baseball!”

Welcome to the world of women,business and the reality and perception of “girl games.”

Even all these years after womenhave taken their place in the business firmament – building businesses of theirown, moving to the upper echelons of organizations around the world – there isstill a concern among many men that women’s behavior in organizations is aproblem.  It just doesn’t fit.  It makes them uncomfortable.

So, let’s take a look at this largerpicture to see where the concerns come from.  Then, in forthcoming posts, we’ll take a look at thebehaviors and what you need to know.

To be fair to the men – and at therisk of sounding terribly sexist to the women reading this – from a Westernsocialization perspective, organizations are male animals.

Men are focused and linear.  They tend to go in one direction and –unless forced to look at other ways of doing things – they keep going exactlythat way.  While there may be a‘team’ orientation, within that team is an individual level of competition andcredit-taking that supersedes any focus on a ‘greater good.’

Having said that, it’s not thatwomen bring “softer” skills to the organization (although some do).  It’s that we simply look at thingsdifferently.

We can be just as focused, but oursocialization is to be simultaneously looking at the context within which weare focusing.

We can be linear, but because we’resocialized to be inclusive, there is more give and take as well as ideageneration and sharing – not least because we tend not to take individualcredit for what is achieved.

As a result, women are more orientedtoward internal and external win-win outcomes than men – because, unlike in allthe sports metaphors where, underlying everything, there’s always a clearwinner and loser – women work to ensure that everyone feels part of the win.

In part, that’s why there’s evenresearch that shows that the profit margins of female-owned and run organizations are not as high as those run by men.

It’s not that the organizationsaren’t performing as well.  It’sthat they perform differently – because the women running them have a differentset of goals and a very different definition of “success” than their malecounterparts.

Yet, those “girl games” do stillexist.  In most cases not becauseof some malicious intent – but, again, because of the difference insocialization.

It’s not just about crying inbaseball.  Or anywhere else forthat matter.  (In fact, the worstperpetrator of crying with intent that I’ve ever known was a male seniorexecutive.)

It’s that women do behave differently thanmen (which we know) but when we do so inside an organization, a completelydifferent interpretation of those behaviors arise – which hurts the women nowin place as well as their successors.

Take a look at your organization tosee how “male” versus “female” its orientation.  Then, take a look at your own behaviors and assess theextent they are being used to define you and your prospects.

It may not be a pretty picture, butit certainly opens the door for a lot of new options for you to consider –whether in your current position or starting an organization of your own.

(This article was originally published on Technorati.)

Learning from LinkedIn

Immediately following the LinkedIn IPO all the excitement was about the share price. Granted, it's a good news story - on a lot of levels. The shares were priced at $45 and opened at $85. Now, as we move into the second month of LNKD being traded on the NYSE and at the time of this writing, the share price is still over $70 - far below its high of over $122, but still better than its initial pricing.

It's also good news for the IPO market  particularly, the Web 2.0 crowd. After all, Facebook and Groupon - among others - are expected to have their IPOs soon and the LinkedIn results augur well for their offerings, too.

The real story behind LinkedIn has more to do with a company that started eight years ago and hung on through thick and thin, building a business as well as an industry.

It's worth remembering that in 2003 there was no such thing as Facebook and job searches came from sites like Monster.com. LinkedIn changed the game, slowly but surely, by positioning itself in a specific niche until it grew from being an interesting idea to a hiring juggernaut that happens to be an excellent and interesting networking platform.

LinkedIn is profitable. With its over 100m users worldwide - with aggressive expansion planned in the near-term in Europe and slightly longer-term in Asia - the company will use the cash infusion to execute further and faster on its existing - and successful - business plan.

In the world of "imitation is the highest form of flattery," the fact that BranchOut recently raised $18m to compete with LinkedIn on the Facebook platform says more about the potential for the professional networking space than almost anything else could.

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's co-founder (with Jean-Luc Vaillant) and Executive Chairman, used a technology to build a business. Jeff Weiner, the CEO since 2008, took that technology and built a fast-growing, viable business.

LinkedIn is going to be the poster child for Web 2.0 IPOs. At least for the moment. For the really discerning executive and entrepreneur, the lessons aren't in the share price, but in how a successful business was built.

(Note: An earlier version of this article was published on Technorati.)


And Now for the Hedge Funds: More on Your Financial Strategy

In my post a few days ago about VCs versus Private Equity, I talked about what your strategy should be as you look for money based on the agenda that each investment type has to offer.

In very short, VCs are in with you for the longer term as you build your enterprise.  PEs are looking for the money they can make from your organization on a much faster flip.

It's not that one is good and the other bad.  It's that you go to them - or they look with interest at you - based on what they are trying to achieve for their investors.

Now enter the Hedge Funds.  In an interesting - and somewhat disturbing - article in the New York Times today, it turns out that Hedge Funds are starting to take the place of banks in lending money to mid-sized businesses.

After all, the banks aren't lending these companies the money - so someone has to.  And Hedge Funds are.  Even some of the PEs are getting into the act.

That's the good part.

The not so good part is that the Hedge Funds are charging comparatively usurious interest rates (12.5%) and bring the same orientation to your organization's future as a PE fund.

There's even concern that the Hedge Funds - a pretty much non-regulated player in the financial arena - may cause the next economic meltdown as they grow their (and your) debt to astronomical heights.

So, as you look at what you need, put the Hedge Funds into your thinking - but, as always, ask yourself:

How much does this money really cost?


VCs, PE and the Cash Infusion Question (OA)
Bank Said No? Hedge Funds Will Fill a Void in Lending (NYT)


Leadership and Lean

I have a new article out in Life Science Leader magazine on implementing Lean.  It started out as an article on leadership - but it sort of took a sideways turn and became something else.

Which isn't a bad thing.  It was just a surprise.

As will be how difficult you find it to access the article once you click onto the site.  So, here are the directions:

1. Click on this link.
2. Click "View Catalog of Issues"
3. Click "June 2011"
4. Scroll Down and then...
  a. For my article on Lean, click under Leadership Lessons
  b. For the opportunity to win a free copy of my new eGuide to Lean implementation, click on "Ask the Board."

Sorry about the complexity of all this.  It's well worth the read - no matter what industry you're in.


Why @thereformedbroker Never Sucks

Okay, so you may want to officially refer to this post as a Resource Alert - and it is - but it's more than that.  It's damned near a paean of praise - and about an investment advisor, for God's sake.

You may also wonder why I:

  • have such a different - shall we say snarky (at least for me) - style in this piece and/or
  • used such a strange title for this post.
Blame it on Josh Brown.  What can I say?  He brings out the snark in me...and I always enjoy it.

Mr. Brown (you see how I'm being polite again?) is an investment advisor who blogs - constantly - and never pulls his punches.  That being said, I don't always agree with his assessments - but I'm always challenged and informed by his writing.

Take his piece "June Swoon", for example, in which he refers to June being a "sucky month for stocks most of the time."  (You see?  My post title is an homage!)

On the face of it, that's a nice piece of information but wouldn't normally be given more than a passing mention.  Brown, on the other hand, takes an analytical, contextual look at it and, in so doing, provides you with better thinking material as you look at decisions you need to make.

His writing is extremely clear (even when he talks "gangsta"), in immediate and historical context, concise and always with workable information that assists in expanding his readers' thinking.  For that he's always great.

He's honest and courageous in his writing, too.  And while his blog is not designed to give specific investment advice, whether you're looking at your own portfolio or you want to have a better sense of where industries are going worldwide, he's your guy.

On the other hand (because this isn't a love fest and I have a need to take this one shot at him), in a recent post about Amazon's decision to establish a Kindle-based imprint publishing romance novels, he refers to the readership as "nitwits" before changing that reference to "buyers." 

Clearly, he hasn't read the domestic and international readership surveys that the competing publishing houses (which are not happy with Amazon's decision) have been taking for decades.  Had he, he would have known that those 'nitwits' are a highly educated, very accomplished population of men and women who read those babies.

(Don't get me going on this one - because I'll win.  I researched the business model when I was in graduate school and have kept up with the industry since then.)

Other than that, though, the aspect of the topic that he addresses (i.e., the distributor becoming a direct competitor of the content producer) was on target and does raise issues - in publishing and otherwise - regarding intermediation and disintermediation across industries.

It's not easy when your supply chain 'partner' suddenly becomes your worst nightmare come to life - and that's a future that Amazon's move brings to the present.

Josh is a really smart man and a really talented writer.  You want to follow him.  He's well worth your time.



Corporate Etiquette and Public Maulings, Part Two

A number of months ago, I wrote a piece describing how one of my clients, the most senior executive in a family owned firm, decimated his son publicly for his “bad” ideas.  At that time, I promised a Part Two.

The problem was, I needed some things to happen in the organization about which I was writing to happen first.  They have and now - while the organization will remain anonymous - the story gets to be told.
It’s about me and their CEO and how we both got publicly mauled - at different times and for different reasons - and how that systemically happens, is (hopefully unknowingly) supported, and what the consequences and losses are.

Then, it’s about you, your organization and the culture you may be unknowingly and inadvertently supporting.
A bit of background
I was a volunteer in a charitable organization.  I had been asked to sit on a senior level committee to look at both internal and global issues for how the organization operates.  The committee was made up of volunteers from around the world - but with a definite bias toward the home country.  My input was on the global side.
A meeting was scheduled to get the committee members together in the same room with senior staff.  It was supposed to be an opportunity to get quick updates on the work previously done, discuss next steps - including expansion building on those activities - and, most importantly, to do some visioning-to-execution work as we looked at the future of the organization and its services to the global society.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, the staff lost the plot.
From disconnects to downfall
The meeting did not go well - neither from my perspective nor from that of the local volunteer participants.  The problem was that the staff had a wholly different agenda than that of the people who were there to provide input.
The agenda they built - knowingly or not - was not designed to get our guidance and further commitment.  Whatever they thought (or said) they were doing, what they actually did was to justify themselves and their actions since the last meeting.
Evidently they thought that was necessary.  (It wasn’t.)
As a result, however, we were treated to one of the most intense dog-and-pony shows I’ve ever experienced (four hours!) and were as good as kept from providing any information or thoughts - let alone recommendations.  And when, finally, we were given a topic to discuss, the time was cut, the topic was too large and the information provided was clearly not of any great interest to the staff members anyway.
It gets worse
Then the CEO arrived.  This was for a special session to do with a governance issue which had arisen and a mistake he had made in handling it which needed correction.  Only some of us were allowed to stay.
Of note was that we all knew the issue and the mistake.  Frankly, I didn’t consider either of particularly great importance and, what’s more, because it was being dealt with proactively, it wouldn’t have any negative impact on the organization anyway.
It was, ultimately, just something to be addressed.  Nothing more.
Unfortunately, because of the sense of disempowerment and disengagement that had been previously created, what happened next was predictable - but horrible.
The CEO began this portion of the meeting by apologizing for the mistake he had made.  He went on to explain what his thinking had been and how, as a result, his mistake occurred.
He then told us about the emails, letters and phone calls he had been receiving since the mistaken decision was made that questioned (and attacked) everything from his capabilities to lead the organization to his sexual preferences.  The attacks had been bitter and ongoing.
He ended by apologizing again and assuring us that what he had learned about the process and the organization would ensure that he would not make that mistake again.
The meeting then opened up for discussion.
It was a bloodbath.  I’ve never seen anything like it - nor do I ever want to again.
The vast majority of these very smart, talented, capable and accomplished people sitting in that room turned on the CEO with a level of vitriol I would never have imagined.  And, while they didn’t attack his sexual preferences, I expect that they reiterated everything else that had been previously presented to him.
Those of us who were looking for rational discussion couldn’t get a word in so we stopped trying early on.  As for the rest, eventually they wound down and an acceptable solution was agreed.  Not everyone was happy, but at least the most vocal advocates on both sides of the argument were appeased.
As for me, I couldn’t wait to get out of the room. 
No good deed goes unpunished
Fast forward a couple of weeks and now it’s me on the phone with one of the senior staff members.  Also on the phone was one of the employees in her department.
The agenda of the call was, in part about that meeting and, in part about other issues which I wanted to bring to her attention.  In both cases, the purpose of the call was to give her information to assist her part of the charity in better serving its constituencies.
This time I was the one mauled.  In the presence of her subordinate.
To her way of thinking, the fact that I would take issue with anything that they did - anything at all - was not only unacceptable, it was a mark of a clear lack of intellect.  She was demeaning, belittling, patronizing and condescending.  She was rude and not only her comments but her language were uncalled for.
Two weeks later, I quit the committee.  I could, you see, because I was a volunteer.  They were the losers in the deal - most particularly because of my prior commitment to this organization’s good works and all of my outreach activities on their behalf.  They’ve lost that now.
The CEO is still there and, I hope, not experiencing anything like the kind of treatment he experienced before.  If he is, my recommendation is to find another job.  Unless he’s the one who created that culture.
Which gets us to you.
A culture of maulings
What kind of culture do you have - and promote - within your enterprise?
There’s a lot of talk about creating a culture of competition - where employees are actively working to do more and better than their colleagues.  Most particularly, employees are pitted against each other - rather than against the external competition.
Or, if you follow the GE way, each year those employees who rate lowest in their annual performance appraisals become part of the 5-10% employee churn rate.  After all, why would we want to keep our ‘worst’ performers?
Or, more deeply embedded, do you have managers or executives who are consistently disrespectful of their employees?  Who malign and abuse them verbally - whether through direct confrontation or the always popular inappropriate use of humor?  (The latter comes with the always famous, “Can’t they take a joke?  I was only kidding!”)
Respect invariably rates either one or two in employee surveys when they’re asked what’s most important to them in their jobs.  It’s not money.  It’s how they’re treated.
That’s on you - because what you allow, you tacitly support - even if it’s something you would never actually want.
Maulings - whether public or private - are a corporate culture issue.  That makes them a behavioral issue.  And that makes them part of the training and reward systems of your organization.
Now for the good news
The good news is, the behaviors not only makes the issue manageable, but it’s easy to identify and address.  Here’s the three step process:
  1. Take a step back and think about what you see and hear in meetings.  Is it collegial?  Positive?  Participatory?  Do people give their opinions - openly and honestly?  If there is “cut and thrust” is it personal or toward a greater good?  This is a good indication of what it looks, sounds and feels like in each executive’s and manager’s individual areas.
  2. Next, have a discussion with your HR Director to find out what the trends are in employee complaints, sick days and stress leaves.  You’ll very likely find a direct correlation between those managers who are treating their people with the value they deserve and those who are not.  And, if yours is a volunteer-based organization, look at the dropout rate.  As you saw from my example, this is how those losses occur.
  3. And, finally, be very, very clear about what you want and what you will accept.  For those managers and executives whose behavior is undermining employee participation and positive performance, stop rewarding them.  Ensure that they know - and are trained, if necessary - the behaviors that are accepted and acceptable in your organization.
Most important, always remember that your organization is a direct reflection of you.  Whatever your subordinates believe is okay with you is what they will do.  The moment they know that that behavior doesn’t have your support, they’ll change - or they’ll find an organization that does support those behaviors in which they can remain comfortable.
In either case, the win is all on your side.  Yours and your organization.  In profits, innovation, global opportunities and realized potential.
And, if you need any further motivation just think to yourself:  How would I feel if the one being mauled was me?