NOTE5: Leadership, Media, Separating Signal from Noise

These NOTE5 are random thoughts & bookmarks, roughly organized by topic, that I use for reference and conversation starters. I publish them for easy sharing, with hope there’s some hidden value for a wider audience. The format is more newsfeed than article.

A Good Primer for Leaders

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is banned as a training doctrine in the US Federal gov’t. The pushback will be noisy & distorted (and the ban may be overturned). CRT is the mother of white privilege, equity, diversity & inclusion, racial-sensitivity, anti-racism, anti-bias, and every other go-to-market branding that shares this singular tenet: “The question is not ‘did racism take place?’ but ‘how did racism manifest in that situation?'” (–quoting DiAngelo)

Here’s what this means for you. Waking up in the morning, your alarm clock is racist because time itself is racist and reliably showing up for your racist job is racist because you are being held to a racist schedule to support your racist family in all of their racist endeavors. This is true for all white, white-adjacent and white-acting people, including black people who disagree.

CRT being called out by name is crucially important because it brings awareness into the public realm. You’ll almost never see it referred to by its proper name, Critical Race Theory, in media because it CANNOT withstand scrutiny by any measure.

Eight Big Reasons Critical Race Theory Is Terrible for Dealing with Racism (New Discourses)

John McWhorter’s Takedown of Robin DiAngelo’s Doctrine

The Dehumanizing Condescension of White Fragility (The Atlantic)

John McWhorter is a Columbia University professor, prolific author and partner in crime with Glenn Loury. This interview is a good introduction to the man, his work, and his thinking. Trigger warning: this will sting no matter who you are. He’s a self-described “cranky liberal Democrat” and doesn’t fit neatly in boxes. If you want to hear what you already think, go to CNN or Fox.

Snuffing Out Objective Journalism

Glenn Greenwald is the latest resignation from a newsroom — one that he co-founded — that won’t uphold the most basic journalistic principles. Here’s the resignation letter, and the article Intercept editors refused to print. Greenwald follows James Bennett (NYTimes), Andrew Sullivan (New York Magazine), Bari Weiss (NYTimes), Ariana Pekary (MSNBC), and Matty Iglesias (Vox) in resigning on grounds related to free speech and lack of journalistic integrity.

The 1619 Project

Socialists-distancing themselves from this fraud, and capturing screenshots of the original texts, indicate everyone saw this public unraveling coming. Nikole Hannah-Jones’ social media antics, and subsequent mass-deletion of tweets, was also captured for posterity. Here’s just one welcoming the riots to be dubbed “1619 Riots.”

NHJ may withstand a credibility-drain of this magnitude. Most business leaders can not.

The New York Times and Nikole Hannah-Jones abandon key claims of the 1619 Project (World Socialist Website)

The 1619 Project is a Fraud (Washington Examiner)

Have You Ever Checked Credentials of Someone You Agree With?

Just saw someone comment “funny how nobody cares about your credentials until they disagree with you.” Turn that around and it reveals something far more troubling: as long as we agree with something, most will never check or validate any source, statement or data that tells us what we want to hear.

Free Speech For Me, Not For Thee: Twitter “Safety” Policy

After Jack Dorsey’s defense (to the US Senate) of blocking the NYPost, this remains on the “Official Twitter of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad | 4th & 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia” with 1.3 million followers. Unconscionable… This is the end game of appeasing endless sociopathic nonsense that masquerades as anti-racism in business and society around the world. The great opportunity of 2020 is that we finally see everything behind the curtain.

Here’s another take on the Twitter debacle. I disagree with Ben Thompson on a lot but he’s an interesting writer. That’s one of the reasons I read him when he publishes un-walled posts.

This is bound to tweak just about everyone, some more than others.

Twitter, Responsibility, and Accountability (Stratchery)

A Few Random Questions, Oct 2020
  • Why is NYPost’s Twitter acct. still locked (13 days) for a true story?
  • Why are center-left people/groups being silenced on SM?
  • Where are the C19 spikes from school openings & protests?
  • What happened to the riots??? (this was just before Philadelphia)
  • Why is Amazon refusing to stream “What Killed Michael Brown?”
  • Why are academic journals endorsing candidates?
  • Why don’t we understand that the phrase “believe science” is nonsensical?
  • Why are FB & Twitter censoring actual news but promoting “journalistic storytelling?” (e.g. the disgraced 1619 Project)
  • Why are private and public sector leaders silent on important questions but tripping over one another to virtue-signal support for illegitimate campaigns?
Psychological Safety vs. Thought Policing

“Think of it as the opposite of that speech cops give when they arrest someone, with an added “be nice” clause:

Psychological safety means nothing you say or do will be used against you—as long as you mean well. (And it means your teammates will assume you mean well until proven otherwise.)”

This article is worth a read for more clarity on distinguishing safety from comfort, and physical safety from ideological safety.

Mainstreaming Mental Health

It’s a trendy notion that “managers are on the front lines of mental health.” In a field of study where so much remains undiscovered and where trained professionals face enormous challenge with effective diagnosis & treatment, why do we insist on going down the road of unqualified self-diagnosis and armchair analysis?

Posting on social media and using the umbrella term “mental health” without context and suggesting it’s okay to saddle managers with this responsibility is ill-advised.

While some teams and companies (a minority, for sure) may be suited for this, it’s unwise to promote the idea that managers-as-a-class are a reliable resource for actual mental health issues. Our appetite for feel good nonsense is way over the line of common sense.

Someone having a hard time adapting to WFH, or even breaking down in tears, is not necessarily a mental health problem. That said, it’s probably not a call most managers are qualified to make.

CRT is Basically The Opposite of CBT

There’s a deafening silence in the realm of psychology / coaching / leadership. Time-tested, universally sound advice that dwelling in the past is unhealthy, simply evaporated overnight. Not only has digging for trauma in one’s own past been normalized, but mining the past of one’s ancestors and mining all of recorded & fictionalized history for grievances is encouraged.

Even more mind-blowing, white people are mining historical injustices of non-whites to signal their own outrage. The mental gymnastics are astonishing.

Any wise grandma could tell you this is a mental health disaster; it doesn’t take a PhD. So where are all of the “thought leaders” now? These guys are outliers:

On the Timelessness of Human Nature

“This conflict of standards has divided human masses, split up families, and ruined friendships throughout the world, as no conflict has done before. ‘If ever in human history there was a time,’ writes Tillich, ‘when human objectives supported by an infinite amount of good-will heaped catastrophe upon catastrophe upon mankind, it was the twentieth century…'”

Michael Polanyi, The Two Cultures, **1959**
This Is Not Leadership

It’s an American tragedy that just 44 years after the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Obama’s 2 terms in office are reduced to the former First Lady complaining about a line-jumper and lack of recognition at the ice cream shop.

Or American success-story Oprah Winfrey lamenting: “there are white people who are not as powerful as the system of white people — the caste system that’s been put in place — but they still, no matter where they are on the rung or the ladder of success, they still have their whiteness…

Powerful, rich, and famous people who made good choices and worked their way to the top of American society can do better. At the moment, however, the trend is to stoke victimhood and historical injustice.

Leaders can address this unfortunate trend with simple questions e.g. would you rather be a poor, rural, uneducated white barely making ends meet with payday loans, or mid/upper-class, educated, suburban black on track for ever-increasing opportunity? (h/t John McWhorter for this simple approach)

Information Overload is a Leadership Problem

Everyone is overloaded and humans are not designed to process modern information loads. Leaders ought to be thinking about ways to address and open it up to examination. Ask me how.

Thomas Irre is the founder of HK5, LLC and an advocate of analog transformation – a common sense approach to sustainable business transformation that emphasizes people & performance first, and arms them with a flexible technology arsenal that aligns to clear-cut business goals.