I’m not sure if you were one of the 250,000 or so folks who went to Jon Stewart‘s rally over the weekend or if you, like me, watched any of it on TV. For the most part, I thought it was great satire and I mean that in the purest sense of holding up a mirror to individuals or society as a whole so we can see the ridiculous nature of some of what goes on.
As you guys know, we don’t do politics here, but since Election Day is upon us, I think we can take a few of Stewart’s points, which he intended for politicians and the media, and apply them to business.
What struck me, besides the size of the crowd and how hysterically funny most of the signs were, was that someone had to plead for us to calm down, look for facts, and act civilly as we live our lives. One thing he said was that the image we all have of what’s going on today isn’t real – “It is instead the false image of Americans being pushed by the cable news-driven media.” Now, blaming the media is kind of the easy way out. Maybe he should, instead, have blamed those of us who can’t or won’t get beyond what we’re told while lying on the couch watching TV. It’s the same in business – we read a trade publication and never question how the story got there, who the sources were or their agendas, and may act based on wrong information.
Another quote that resonated – “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” With so much information coming to us each day, it’s easy to get angry or afraid or both, especially when the information or demands were get based on that data conflict. We need to listen calmly, sort things out, and seek confirmation of what we think we now know, in business or elsewhere.
“We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done,” he said. “But the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day.
If our offices resembled the political world, nothing would get done. He’s right – we all work with folks who believe things we don’t, vote differently, like music we hate, and really do care about those folks on reality shows (sorry – my own little pet peeve). But we get past all that to get stuff done. When we let the office bully with the big mouth set the agenda, the whole enterprise suffers.
To me it’s all pretty simple: focus your efforts and then work your butt off to accomplish what needs to be done to achieve the greatest good for your customers, partners, and employees. I think what Stewart was asking was for politicians to do the same and the media to report their progress calmly and factually. Government as a business – what a concept.
To close – some fun.