What has become clear to you since we last met?

November 12 - emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson was noted for greeting friends with the question, 'What has become clear to you since we last met?' His intent, say historians, was an invitation and a challenge to guests to assess the progress of their thinking.

I find the question profound in its simplicity and thought I'd share what's become clear to me of late:

1) Management by fear is alive and well. Despite countless studies, articles and books extolling the benefits of a great corporate culture, I continue to see our teams take a beating from misbehaving client managers. I also continue to see refugees from other agencies wash up on our shores with tales of shouting and screaming bosses. That said, I remain unclear how or why bullies survive.

2) President Obama is nearly as clueless as W. A great communicator prior to his election, the president has become hopelessly caught up in hundreds of issues that have clearly distracted him from accomplishing one or two truly important and critical goals: creating jobs, ending foreign wars and solving the healthcare mess. And, I don't see him rising above the abyss anytime soon.

3) Far too many businesspeople are jumping on the social media bandwagon without knowing why. The same holds true for 'consumers' who feel compelled to post each and every detail of their mundane daily lives on Facebook, Plaxo and LinkedIn. The latter two, in particular, have become the bane of my existence.

4) The quality of writing continues to devolve with each passing year. I'm now routinely receiving missives from people holding fairly senior positions that are rife with spelling and grammatical mistakes.

5) There's nothing quite as satisfying as the insights gleaned from a work of non-fiction. I've been on a Malcolm Gladwell tear of late and find many of his observations incredibly relevant to work and life in general.

6) My TV viewing is now limited to two comedies and one drama series. That's it. I no longer go to see movies, since the first-run flicks are absolutely pathetic.

I'd be interested in reading what's become clear to you since we last met. Feel free to post away.

23 thoughts on “What has become clear to you since we last met?

  1. Journalistic integrity continues to falter. I once felt that journalism was a noble calling, especially investigative journalism. Since the advent of banal, breathless and hysterical cable news and the accelerating death of print, I can say with some certainty that some honest bloggers can do a better job of delivering perspective on daily events.
    And I completely agree with you on points five and six.

  2. • There is no approval process for the programs we develop, only a disapproval process in which perceived weaknesses are identified.
    • Deadlines become increasingly arbitrary. This continues to make everything urgent.
    • In spite of everyone talking about strategic thinking for the long term, corporate America still lives quarter to quarter and rewards employees for their ability to execute tactics.
    • Constructive criticism is going the way of the dinosaur. We love to be mean spirited with each other, and especially love to see others fail. Instead of coaching or mentoring, we’re firing or “managing out”.

  3. Amen, Art. Especially Corporate America’s obsession with short-term results. We just parted ways with a client that had hired us 16 months ago to be their ‘long-term strategic partner.’ What a joke. All they cared about were one-off tactical executions to satisfy their quarter-to-quarter focused management.

  4. It’s clear to me that sadly, summer has gone and is quickly being replaced by my least favorite season of all, winter.
    There is a conspiracy between the oil companies and food stores. Is it too much to ask to be able to buy everything a family needs for a basic meal under one roof? Not even your friend Walmart can do that (oh, yes, but I can buy a coffin). Hence, I spend more time behind the wheel than my kitchen sink.
    That Charla Nash should have waited a little longer in the healing process to reveal herself. I hope Oprah is helping her with her medical bills. Like most people, I had to have a peek.
    That you are right on #3. Time to clean out the friend list.
    Lastly, it’s been too long since we last met.

  5. Hey thanks, Seery. Happily, I missed the reveal on Oprah, but I heard it was pretty gruesome. It has been too long. Let’s change that, ok?

  6. The decline of writing quality gets my attention every day, with every e-mail and text coming in. I do believe it’s a direct result of people reading less and reading less carefully. What’s also become clear to me is that people across hierarchies, across areas of expertise, use “Yup” in their written interaction. News alert: Yup is not a word. Yup never was a word. It’s not in the dictionary. It has no presence in any language of which I am aware. It takes no more or less time to write the expressive equivalent, which (I think) is “Yes.” Anyone reading blogs like this one is likely in a career that allows opportunities to set examples. So please help the rest of us achieve our linguistic potential and type “Yes.” And come to think of it, people who are truly appreciative type “Thanks” instead of “Thx.” Technology should be leveraged to improve grammar, not to destroy it.

  7. Michael, Rep, I hear you loud and clear about reading more and writing carefully, but to nitpick about the word “yup”? Was “e-mail” a word 20 years ago? Are people still using “fortnight?” Sheesh…life is too short to care so much about some things. Go high-five a friend, have a beer and remember to laugh! You’ll be glad you did…yup, you really will!

  8. Actually both ‘yup’ and it’s cousin ‘yep’ are in both The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition and Collins English Dictionary, 6th Edition . They are informal versions of ‘yes.’ So it could easily be “Yup we have no bananas.”

  9. I can confirm that we Brits do indeed still use the term “fortnight” eg. I just booked a fortnight in Benidorm, can’t wait!

  10. Benidorm is a Spanish resort where troubled Brits go to forget their troubles for a while..or get into more as the case may be.
    Not your type of town Repman!

  11. Yup I may be 2 uptight. Thx. LOL you are my BFFs 4ever Steve and Lunch. CUL8R. U still want me 2 relax? The people who spend their days writing in this style are going to accidentally slip one of those acronyms into a client communique. Or a press release. Or a blog. Wait – I’m wrong. It’s already happened – to my clients, from my staff, where I work today. And (though this next point is unproven) I am convinced there is a correlation if not causation between this trend and misspellings that permeate the business landscape. We chose a profession in which our credentials can be defined by the quality of our writing. Let’s own up to that and lead the improvement. Pleeze.

  12. Thanks Michael. You’re my BFF as well. Btw, Dandy did nail you on your ‘yup’ mistake. It is, indeed, a legitimate word.

  13. Yup is legitimate because it’s in a couple of dictionaries? The texts that publish yeah and uh huh? Ok. I hereby consider myself nailed. Federal documents said Oswald acted alone and Iraq spent a decade stockpiling WMDs, so they must be true. Dandy you know how much I admire you. But if we of all people are using “official” documents to justify poor grammar, something is amiss.

  14. I’d like to buy into a conspiracy as much as the next guy, Michael. But, all the evidence points to Oswald being the lone gunman. Speaking of which, what about a licensing gig for the Texas School Book Depository? Boo-tay might make sense.