Posts Tagged ‘Embarrassing’

What Donald Sterling can Teach us about Words

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

As the NBA reaches the end of its season, the news headlines center around a scandal far from the court, a recording allegedly of an argument between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his former girlfriend. The ignorant and small-minded comments about race have players, coaches and owners calling for the league to remove Sterling.

The comments—whether they end up confirmed as Sterling’s or not—are unacceptable, and the entire episode casts a poor light on the sport, where other owners, coaches and players were some of the original trailblazers and boundary-breakers in the civil rights movement. As the story continues to evolve, I hope it will generate productive discussion about racism, privacy, and business ethics. But, with the information we have now (which is not much), here’s a few things to think about:

  1. Words are powerful—One of the main thrusts of my book, Sticks & Stones Exposed, is the idea that our words can do more damage to others and ourselves that we’ve ever realized. Whether spoken, emailed, Tweeted, or texted these little black scribbles can wreak havoc in an instant. In the age of “friends and followers”, it’s wise to be even more aware of how far-reaching our words can be. The words spoken in the recording have hurt plenty of the people in Sterling’s life and many that he doesn’t even know.
  2. Words have consequences—So often we blurt out something without considering the consequences. Or, without considering that our words even have consequences. This is a HUGE mistake! Our careless and thoughtless words can wreck relationships, poison corporate cultures, and sink innovative ideas and projects. It does not matter if you are in public or private, “in the heat of the moment” or “just joking around.” You may not stand to lose an entire NBA team, but your damaging words might put your relationships with employees, clients and family on the line—and isn’t that really the most important?
  3. Words create collateral damage—Maybe you know that sometimes in the heat of the moment, you tend to say some colorful things that might hurt others. Get over it, you think. What you don’t realize is that you’re also hurting yourself. Similar to a boomerang, the hurtful things you say DO come back to you—in the form of a bitter spouse, resentful and unmotivated coworkers, fed up customers that finally disappear, and friends that begin to avoid your phone calls. When your words hurt other people (even unintentionally!), their opinion of you, and consequently their treatment of you will change as well. Your life is the collateral damage.

Bullies: Their Message Hasn’t Changed

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

BullyingAn article in The Atlantic called “How To Stop Bullies” caught my attention this week with a MIT professor’s insight on cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying, has been described as a “new” kind of bullying using technology and including things like hurtful emails, texts, and embarrassing pictures or fake profiles. While the medium that bullies are using to spread messages of hurt and hate may be new, the messages are not, explains Henry Liberman. Using software designed to filter negative and offensive content by looking for key words in postings, he and his team discovered that 95% of bullying comments fall into 6 categories, post after post. Ready for them?

  1. Appearance
  2. Intelligence
  3. Race
  4. Ethnicity
  5. Sexuality
  6. Perceived acceptance or rejection

Humans have essentially been using the same kinds of insults since we came up with cave paintings.  In fact, in the past few years archaeologists have discovered that the ancient city of Pompeii is covered in graffiti.  Call it the Twitter of antiquity. And our austere Roman forbearers weren’t all debating the merits of democracy and coming up with epigraphs. Here’s a few of my favorite messages (and their English translations).

“PHILIROS SPADO.”

“Phileros is a eunuch.”

“OPPI, EMBOLIARI, FUR, FURUNCLE.”

“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”

EPAPHRA, GLABER ES.”

“Epaphra, you are bald.”

Look around the web and you’ll find even more examples that would put a modern-day truck stop bathroom to shame. Amazingly, long after Pompeii was buried beneath lava, the Roman Empire was decimated by Huns and the original Latin ceased to be used, these words have been discovered, translated and analyzed. I wonder—if your tweets, posts and blogs were discovered 500 or even 50 years from now–what future researchers would say about you. Would your online persona reflect a more modern, enlightened being or a tech-savvy caveman, trading in his chisel for a keyboard?

Looking at the lasting effect of words, whether they are carved into a wall or posted in a digital space, I hope we can join together in a conscious evolutionary leap forward.  Can we begin to litter social media with positivity, encouragement and kindness? Imagine what would happen if we did.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

Did you see the recent Dateline NBC special about kids who have been so bullied for their appearances that they are seeking free plastic surgery from a nonprofit?

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of children and plastic surgery, the special gave a heart-wrenching look into the lives of several children and teens who were being tormented by their classmates. I am not ashamed to say that tears were rolling down my face as the cameras were there to capture the moment each child learned whether or not they would receive the surgery.

However, I thought the most profound moment of the special came in an exchange between 15-year-old Renata—who wants a nose job–and one of her friends.

“What does it feel like to be beautiful?” Renata asked.

After attempting to dodge the question, her friend replied, “You really want to know? It’s not that great.” She continued, “People will always find something to make fun of you for. If it’s not the way you look it will be something else.”

This preteen girl has realized something that many people never understand:

We cannot stop others from throwing sticks and stones our way.

If you don’t believe me, just search for the names of the most beautiful, successful, charitable and athletic on Twitter, and you will be amazed at the hurtful things that people have to say about them. You would think that the people our society holds up as the pinnacles of achievement in their various pursuits would experience less criticism from others—right? Oftentimes just the opposite is true.

In a social culture that seems increasingly engulfed in a tidal wave of snarky, hurtful and cruel words, it’s impossible to live, work and play without getting at least splashed with the criticism of others. Don’t let it surprise you. But never forget, that we can always take responsibility for our own words and actions. Your kind, caring, uplifting, and encouraging words may be just what the doctor ordered from someone else.

140 Characters

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Dave Weber - CEO/President

How would your tweets change if you thought 140 characters had the power to alter your future?

A few weeks ago, I read the most fascinating article in the New York Times. With the explosion of social networking, more college admissions view applicants’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as a part—officially or unofficially–of their review, which is causing some students to lose the opportunity of attending the college of their dreams. While this may be new to the world of college admissions, businesses have been screening job applicants’ social media usage for years. I’ve been amazed at the capacity for decent, polite, and respectful people to log on to the Internet and spew negative, hateful, and just plain mean speech.  I shudder to think what my 18-year-old self might have said if I had that kind of social platform in my formative years.

Social media is a great way to stay abreast of current events, keep in touch, and find links to thought-provoking articles and blogs (cough, cough). But even 140 characters can be wielded to tear down someone else’s reputation, and as this article observes, unintentionally damage your own image.

In my book Sticks and Stones Exposed, I talk a lot about the power of positive uplifting words. After reading the Times piece, I wonder what would have happened if the admissions officers had seen positive words on the applicant’s social media feed—encouragement to a fellow student, excitement for a campus visit, gratitude to a coach or a teacher. Likewise, if a hiring manager searched for an applicant’s blog and discovered insightful business posts or Facebook shout-outs thanking colleagues for their contributions to a big project. You see, in addition to inspiring others around us, positive words reveal what we can contribute to a group—be it a professional organization or a college campus. Positive words are the hallmark of the inquisitive mind, the team player, and the great collaborator. Which are exactly the kind of students universities want to accept, and later, the kind of professionals companies are clamoring to hire.

You may not be a “leader” in you business, school, or community, but you can be a leader to others in the way you conduct yourself online. Instead of tearing people down, laugh at yourself. Rather than complaining, share something that you’re thankful for. Your influence and attitude online has the ability to move you closer to achieving your goals or abandoning them—140 characters at a time.

Commentary on NYT Article “They Loved Your GPA then they Saw Your Tweets” and the power of words.

Remembering Not To Forget in 2010 – Part 2

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Referring back to my last post about missing an appointment…what should I have done better? What can you do to prevent yourself from being in the same, awful position?

First, no matter what, write it down! Whether you have your calendar with you or not, write it on something. A napkin, a receipt, even your hand – anything! And if you have to, write it more than once! If you can put it in your date book or type it in your cell phone or blackberry, the act of writing it or typing it anywhere, on anything, will create a deeper memory of the experience. Your brain has to process not only the information, but the physical act of logging that thought somewhere outside of your head. The more you commit the information to more areas (locations) of your memory, the better the chance that you won’t forget it.

Second, tell somebody! I should have told my wife and kids what the new time for my appointment was and asked them to remind me to write it down when we get home. Create a chorus of people who can reinforce the new piece of information. Could you just imagine us driving home with my kids repeatedly singing a jingle to the beat of their latest pop or rap idle, “dad’s new appoint is at noon not at 3 – oh yea!”. Avail yourself of more memory capacity by having other people help you remember stuff.

Candidly, I’ve heard other people refer to their memory lapses as “sometimers disease”, or “intellectual interludes”, or even call them “brain farts”. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Lastly, send yourself a voice message, an email or text message. Use the technologies available to all of us and protect yourself. You may find this a little desperate or over the top, but we’re talking about preserving precious opportunities here! Regardless of our profession, we’re in very competitive businesses, and missing an appointment can be a deal-breaker.

Think about it – what feels more ridiculous? Sending yourself a text message so you won’t forget something important or getting that phone call that says you missed your really important appointment? Texting yourself may be embarrassing, but missing the appointment is exponentially more embarrassing and potentially very expensive! If you can’t use either of the two previous suggestions, protect yourself and use all of your memory aid devices and tools to help you be more efficient.

Though we’re all human and will never be perfect, we must do everything possible to keep ourselves at the top of our game, for our business partners and customers we serve, as well as, for the family we protect and provide for.