#ParisAttacks Aftershocks – And The Urge to Find Meaning

Paris Republique MeaningfulnessI think it is finally dawning on all of us that we are living in a radical new era. It seems that little by little, methodically interspersed with several months and country by country, we find a new date to mark on the calendar as a day of memorial, of grief and of spine-chilling angst. This Wikipedia entry — documenting all types of terrorist actions in 2015 alone — shows how frequent the acts of violence have become. In 2015, we may be living in times when there has never been more progress in medicine, technology and science. There may be great ambitions to send manned missions to Mars and the other side of the moon.There may not be a world war as history books tend to write about them. However, I am sure I am not alone in feeling that there is also good reason to review what we all doing, ponder why we are doing it and, pressingly, how we are spending our time and resources at work.

In contemplating November 13’s tragic events in Paris, I came away with three thoughts.

  1. It is evermore critical to do things that are meaningful. Did anyone else notice how hard it was to get any work done in the aftermath? Granted it was the weekend, but everything non essential seemed to be stripped away. Unless our activity has a deeper purpose, one can literally feel the reservoir of energy running out. I am sure that many people around the world who have trudged into work this Monday morning are scrubbing their brows.
  2. As much as we might now know that change is every day — evermore so recently than ever in the past — that doesn’t make the change any easier. If we all have to gear up for systematic perturbations, that heightens the need for a strong, shared and meaningful NORTH heading. This is true for us as individuals. It is true for us as entrepreneurs, business leaders and employees. And, of course, most emphatically for our society. With all these changing winds, we need a strong compass to help guide us in our professional and personal lives.
  3. Lastly, on a rather more banal level, I could not help but feel upset at the mundane tweets and messages that floated out on Friday evening and over the weekend thanks to a cue of pre-programmed communications using one or other marketing automation service (Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.). I thought I’d made sure all of mine were closed, but I still missed one tweet. Marketing automation is possibly a necessary evil for business, but when you pre-program all your communications, you lose the context and can end up with some awful mistakes – that come off as total callousness.

Your thoughts and reactions are welcome.

 

Long-term vision with bold actions – is it your mantra?

Bringing sense to business

At the Freedom & Solidarity Forum, taking inspiration from Operation Overlord and the D-Day Landings, Brian Gallagher, President and CEO at United Way, said:

“We need a long-term vision with bold actions. Our endeavors must be values (or purpose-) based”

This phrase resonates with me, even more so as an entrepreneur. However, I think it’s an issue for most people in many companies, where the purpose is either non-existant or it may be published but not lived. Companies suffer from an oversized need to cater to short-term pressures. Finally, without the entrepreneur/founder at the helm, too often businesses lack boldness. And, I might add that actions speak louder than words…

In search of purpose

Mr Gallagher said that Operation Overlord was a success in large part because it embodied that phrase. As an NGO, United Way is inhabited by purpose. It is normal. In business, however, purpose is too often reduced to creating shareholder value. Interestingly, Mr Georges Plassat, CEO and Chairman of Carrefour, the second biggest retailer in the world, said the same thing about bringing “meaning” to his business and resisting the short-term ratrace (my term, not his). I wonder to what extent his comments resonated with the Carrefour employees? Mr Philippe Wahl, CEO of LaPoste France, echoed Mr Plassat, talking about the need to create products (and service) that are “useful” for society. Mr Wahl talked about the need to have “meaning” in business, which he translated as the need to contribute to society in each country in which one is operating, invoking the need to pay taxes in each country (a lightly veiled attack on Google and Amazon, etc.).

The big question I have is: how much does “purpose” fulfill shareholder value over time?

What do you think?

Old sayings that have new meaning!

quote_GANDHI, old sayings, The Myndset digital marketingIn a world of quotations and sayings, it occured to me recently that many of these old dictums have taken on new meaning in this fast-changing world.  Whether because a noun has been co-opted or distorted, or the content of the saying now has a new reference, there are many old sayings that, at the very least, could raise an eyebrow.

Just saying…

Herewith some of my favorites.  I’m sure there are many more, so will be happy to hear about them from you!

  • “A house without books is like a room without windows” (by Heinrich Mann)
  • “All Greek to Me” MD: not anymore with Google Translate?
  • “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes” MD: and then some! (by Charles Spurgeon)
  • “Apple of my eye”
  • “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining”
  • “I always trust my gut reaction; it’s always right.” (by Kiana Tom) MD: Try big data.
  • “Information is power”
  • “On the Same Page” MD: top 10 results?
  • “Nothing is free”
  • “Quick and Dirty” MD: ePorn
  • “Read a book by its cover” MD: Kindle’s?
  • “Six degrees of separation” MD: check out Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation if you haven’t already
  • “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” (by Abraham Lincoln)  MD: a second at a time…
  • “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” (by Ayn Rand)
  • “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” (by Sydney J. Harris)
  • “The world is your oyster”
  • “The pen is mightier than the sword”

Would love to hear your favorites in the same vein!