Ben & Jerry

I really don't want to be run out of the State of Vermont.

Your comments [in reaction to this blog] have been fabulous and stunningly thoughtful, and I will respond as the days go by. One person said he was surprised that I'd consider not speaking to B & J. I had to respond ... before I head down the driveway at my VT farm. Namely:

No! No! No!

I was simply trying to make the generic point about slippery slopes—and plastic definitions. If one is an avowed, vociferous champion for the "War on Childhood Obesity," could one in good faith speak to B & J about making the process of "marketing-megacalories-to-kids" more "excellent"?

At one level I have and will consider the nature of every institution I speak to, if for no other reason that time is in short supply and there is (praise be) an "oversupply" of opportunities. As to my examples of B & J, lawyers, and those whose service level pisses me off—the specifics were for illustrative purposes only!

(NB: I happen to be a fan of lawyers. Societies based on the Rule of Law tend to do a little better than others over time.)

Incidentally, I have had B & J problems—before they sold out to Unilever. E.g., the Holier-than Thou B & J founders bragged that no one was paid more than six (?) times as much as anybody else. "No one," that is, except Ben and Jerry and a few others who owned the company. (I don't care what their W-2s proclaimed.) Then there was the new CEO hunt based on applications submitted on ice cream container lids. How cool! Well, it didn't produce viable candidates, so B & J went to a headhunter, and after they had their man they had him fill out an ice cream lid. If you were looking for the one thing I most hate, and you said "hypocrisy"—you'd be spot on. (NB: As best I can determine, the Lid Tale is not Urban Legend.) (NB2: This case of hypocrisy would not have led me to turn down a speaking gig.)(NB3: I have not in fact, pre or post buyout, talked to B & J. "Why not?" you ask. Um ... they haven't invited me.)

Keep those comments coming!

(NB4: Why this discussion redux? Because I took a vacation pause and Susan happened to ask an "innocent" question that wasn't! It was, oddly, in reflection upon a novel she'd just finished. I think such Fundamental Noodling is imperative. I have a Catholic priest pal with a huge urban parish. I occasionally act as his de facto confessor—an apt role for a moderately lapsed Presbyterian. He often ... yes "often" ... at age 55+ ... as he puts it, "question my beliefs, and go through long troubled periods of wavering faith." He argues—and I wholeheartedly agree!—that you should never trust a religious leader who doesn't question his/her faith from time to somewhat frequent time. Among other things it leads him to greater empathy—and hence effectiveness as counselor—with the troubled among his parishioners. TP: So, too, "management gurus"!)

Tom Peters posted this on August 25, 2006, in Brand You.
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