Before John Adams became President of these United States (at the time, the job didn’t exist!), he was a lawyer. One of his more notable cases was a defense of some soldiers who participated in The Boston Massacre. During the trial, he uttered one of my favorite quotes, and one of which I want to remind us all today. Maybe it’s all the rhetoric ramping up as we enter the heart of the political season or maybe it’s a discussion I was having with someone about a business point. Either way, it’s a thought all of us need to keep in mind:
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
I’m sure you’ve seen deleted tweets or Facebook photos that have come back to haunt people – facts rearing their ugly heads. Maybe you’ve seen a piece of videotape that directly contradicts some politician’s assertion of a statement they made (or didn’t make). Maybe you’ve also taken the time to check out the “facts” in a news piece, sales presentation, or a co-worker’s excuse for sub-par performance. I wish more of us did and I wish the noise level wasn’t so high as to drown out the credible sources of information. They’re out there – it’s on us to find them.
President Reagan tried to quote Adams in 1988 and said “facts are stupid things” – he may have been more right than he knew in that it seems to have set a tone for much of the world that’s come after. Nevertheless, I think the single most important thing we as businesspeople can do (and as good citizens, frankly) is to be relentless in our pursuit of them. Be as stubborn as they are!
Let’s play a little marketing game this morning. I’ll throw out a series of facts and you put on your marketing hat and decide if the facts make you want to target this group. The point I’m going to make is that the answers may surprise you, not because you will find them unbelievable but because I’m betting that you have some preconceptions which will skew your thinking. As we’ve discussed before, I think that is a huge problem in business (and in life and political thought as well!).
Ready? Let’s play! Continue reading
Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday’s rant was on the need to check out facts before finalizing opinions. A great example of this is in today’s NY Times piece on last night’s debate – it simply states what the candidate said and what multiple sources say on the same subjects to back up or question what was said. Hopefully the paper and many others will continue to do this right through the election next year.
But what happens when you do try to verify facts and find that there are multiple, conflicting data points? Could it be because some of them are fake? Continue reading
Image via Wikipedia
We’ve had this chat before, folks. Sometimes I make oblique political references as I make the point I’m about to repeat; sometimes I just throw it up there as a friendly reminder. Today, I’d like to have your full attention because the more I think about it, this one issue is at the root of so much of what’s going on around us these days.
I’m begging you: don’t believe everything you read or hear without doing some fact checking if the point being made is important to you. Here’s another example of why. Continue reading
Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved in a lot of press releases. I’ve also spoken with quite a few reporters. Most of the time, I worked with the internal PR folks at my place of business. Most of them were very focused on telling the best story while staying on the right side of the truth. They and I never knowingly gave out false information. Sure, we put the best face on whatever information we gave out and maybe we didn’t highlight (OK, or even mention) the not so good stuff. But that’s it. No lies. Nothing made up.
Maybe I’m naive, but I’m surprised how often I read something that clearly has come from a press person, or from an executive who generally works with a press person, and something says to me “check it out.” Like most folks these days, I have a pretty good grasp on what the “search” bar is for and it generally doesn’t take more than a bit of looking to figure out if there is a disconnect with the facts and the story. Sometimes I even know someone who does know the real story and, frankly, I’m sad when I find out someone I know and/or respect is outright lying.
There are a number of sites that do this in the political world but not that many in business. In fact, the New York Times was embarrassed not too long ago by their failures to check out information they’d been fed. Is the amount of information we get every day making us lazy? Are we expecting to be spoon-fed everything? Or are we just overwhelmed and the demands on media to publish RIGHT NOW make careful analysis and commentary impossible?
Next time you hear some fantastic numbers or a great business story, do some checking. Let’s see if someone didn’t let the facts get in the way of their story.