Jul 02

What’s become of doing well by doing good?


July 2
What’s
more important, preventing brain cancer or selling more cell phones? You’d
think the answer is obvious, but not so for the telecommunications industry.
Allow me to explain.

A
recent Swedish study that followed young people who began using cell phones as
teenagers reported a whopping 400 percent increase in brain tumors! That
disturbing report, along with similar ones, has prompted San Francisco to become
the first city in America to pass legislation making cell phone retailers
display
radiation levels. That’s a biggie. Now, every Bay-area consumer will be able to
see how much radiation his or her cell phone emits
before making the
purchase. And, that does not sit well with telecommunications types.

According
to a Maureen Dowd column, different cell phone models emit anywhere from
0.2 watts per kilogram of body tissue to 1.6, which is the legal limit. That
may not seem like much, but consider this. Have you noticed how our nation’s
kids have their cell phones positively glued to their ears all day long? As a
result, they’re constantly bombarding their brains with radiation. In fact,
when one considers how many hours our nation’s kids collectively use their cell
phones each day, one can appreciate why the S.F. board acted the way it did.

Unless,
of course, one works for the telecommunications trade group, the CTIA.

Not
wanting to be painted as yet another big, uncaring industry a la Wall Street,
oil or tobacco, the CTIA warned San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom they’d invoke
‘the nuclear option’ and come down on him and his city ‘like a ton of bricks’
if the legislation were passed.  How? Months before the bill passed,
Newsom says he received a disturbing letter forwarded by the local Marriott
hotel that had been selected to host the CTIA convention in October. In the
note, the CTIA warned Marriott they would cancel the event if the legislation
was passed. Nice. They also told Marriott that they’d been in contact with
Apple, Cisco, Oracle and other big, SF-area companies who are involved with the
trade group, and urged them to yank their events from San Francisco as well.
Yikes! Since when did telecommunications companies start acting like the Mafia?

Sure
enough, once the legislation was passed, the CTIA said it would relocate all
future exhibitions to another venue. In one fell swoop, the City by the Bay
lost an event that annually attracted 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and generated
$80 million in business. Talk about
not doing good in order to do well.

The
big loser isn’t San Francisco, it’s America’s youth. The telecommunications
industry doesn’t want Americans to know about the radiation levels in its cell
phones, so it’s punishing anyone who tries to raise a caution flag.

I’m
amazed the CTIA’s heavy-handed scare tactics haven’t generated more adverse
publicity. To say their Tony Soprano-like strong-arming reflects poorly on the trade
group (and its member companies) is like saying the pedophilia scandals have
negatively impacted the Church’s reputation. It’s a no-brainer (sorry). So, how
come no one is speaking up and condemning the action?

Is
it just me or is big business becoming ever more ruthless in putting profits
before ethics. I just hope our kids’ addiction to cell phones doesn’t produce a
simultaneous rise in brain cancer. If it does, though, watch for the CTIA to
turn to the Big Tobacco play book for best practices in delaying, denying and
obfuscating. The industry has deep pockets and will spend what it must to
protect its profit margins. And, as the San Francisco fracas shows, the
industry is willing to hurt anyone who dares get in the way of profits.

What’s
become of doing good by doing well?

Oct 29

What a helluva way to find out

How’d you like to find out you didn’t win a new business pitch by reading about it the trade press? Nice,Rejection
eh?

That’s only happened a few times in 12 years of business: once with a major car maker, another time with a dotcom and, just now, with a telecommunications company.

We’d met with the telco two or three times in august and then submitted a written proposal. We repeatedly followed up, only to receive radio silence from them.

And, then, voila, there it was: another firm announcing the telco as its newest client.

So, I ask: is this sort of boorish behavior indicative of businesspeople who are just too busy to pick up the phone or hit the send button? Or, as is more likely the case, does it show they just lack the requisite social graces?

Either way, this reflects poorly on the telco and its image, and goes a long way towards building a negative impression. Life is too short and the business world too small to treat others in such a shabby way.