Category: News

Burned Out on Your Personal Brand

Tom was recently interviewed by Emma Goldberg for her New York Times article on personal branding. Read the full article below:

Younger workers embraced the idea of a personal brand as a way to get ahead, and carve out some power and security in their careers. But posting through it has its drawbacks.

By Emma Goldberg
Oct. 20, 2022

Kahlil Greene’s father works as an accountant and his mother does something involving “administration,” though he doesn’t know the details. His parents rarely spoke about the goings-on of the office when he was growing up. His mother sat in a cubicle farm — he remembers this from “take your child to work day” — and then she or his father picked him up from the Boys & Girls Club and they talked about other topics, like “Judge Judy” or Serena Williams. Their work never bled into their personal lives.

That made it tricky for Mr. Greene, 22, to explain to his family why he had turned down a job offer from McKinsey to build his online brand as “the Gen Z historian.” He has drawn over 500,000 followers on TikTok, LinkedIn and Instagram to his posts about history and politics; his money comes from brand deals and public speaking. To Mr. Greene, it seems natural for his source of income to be something all consuming, something he thinks about while falling asleep and talks about nonstop with friends.

“There’s no clear delineation between my work life and my personal life,” he said. “Sometimes it can be exhausting.”

Mr. Greene, in other words, finds his job and self inextricable. Like many other millennial and Gen Z workers, he is his brand. This can feel freeing. It can also feel grueling.

In interviews with more than a dozen people who have built lucrative personal brands, they shared that nothing made the benefits and drawbacks of it clear like the pandemic did.

Since 2020, many workers have had the chance to redefine their expectations of employers. More than 40 million Americans quit their jobs last year; most hopped or swapped roles, seeking higher pay. Remote work helped some to prioritize their needs outside the office, while a tight labor market allowed many to assert bolder workplace demands. For many people, leverage meant the ability to create emotional distance from their employers, to draw stricter lines between who they are and what they do.

That also meant a new set of challenges for those who work for themselves: It’s tough to find boundaries when employed by “Me Inc.”

For the millions of people who monetize their online presence in some form, the downsides of this type of work are becoming more clear, especially in a moment when so many are rethinking their careers. Building a personal brand blurs the divide between an identity and a job. It puts pressure on families. It demands that every intimate experience is mined for professional content.

“It’s very hard to disconnect when you are building something that is personal and also a necessary component of your economic life,” said Katie Sullivan, associate professor of communications at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. “It’s ‘I will co-opt my own self in service of this labor.’”

Jesse Israel, for example, an entrepreneur in Los Angeles, has a mindfulness brand. Mr. Israel, 37, ran a record label for years, which took off with MGMT, before the stress drove him toward meditation. He realized he had a knack for leading guided sessions and he began to cultivate a public profile, drawing thousands of people to community meet-ups that he called the Big Quiet. His soothing, emotive persona landed him on tour with Oprah. Then personal life interrupted his personal brand: During the pandemic, Mr. Israel began to suffer from debilitating depression.

“I’m sitting at the dining room table with my mom, crying,” he recalled, describing a period of loneliness, illness and career instability. “I’m like, ‘Mom, people think of me as a mindfulness expert and I feel like I’ve lost my mind.”

Mr. Israel, whose mental health has now recovered, experienced a challenge unique to the upside-down working world of the 21st century: His work relied on his personality. When his sense of self lurched, his work went with it.

Unlike other professional phenomena, personal branding announced its formation loudly and clearly (on brand). Tom Peters, a management writer, popularized the term in a 1997 Fast Company article, later linking the idea of brand building to the all-American entrepreneurial spirit of Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“We are C.E.O.s of our own companies: Me Inc.,” Mr. Peters wrote 25 years ago. “To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Mr. Peters, in a recent interview, said he had realized that with organizational bureaucracies disappearing, workers could no longer trust the prospect of a steady career ascension. “Slowly climbing the ladder by sucking up and then sucking up some more wasn’t going to work,” he said. “You were as good as your ability to get your boss to think you were the second coming.”

For decades, heightening business competition had prompted corporate brands to distinguish themselves by selling not just a product or aesthetic but a story. Apple’s “1984” television advertisement, inspired by George Orwell’s book, was about the freeing futuristic powers of a Mac computer; Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign positioned the beverage as community glue. Mr. Peters remembered that his own 1997 article was published in Fast Company with a chic advertisement for Procter & Gamble soap.

Then, as brands that sold warm and fuzzy stories went through rounds of layoffs, and shareholder-focused policies erased worker trust in their employers, belief in the power of branding began to shift from the company to the employee. Management gospel, like Mr. Peters’s, urged workers to cement their professional reputations by developing their own brands.

Dan Lair, an associate dean at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, studies the troubles of personal branding. His interest in the subject came from his experience being laid off. Mr. Lair, at age 25, got a job in corporate marketing. It wasn’t the most thrilling work in the world, but it was a way to make rent in Missoula where, he noted, “you can’t eat the scenery.” Mr. Lair was hired in the summer of 1999. By the winter of 2000, after the company’s acquisition by an East Coast-based firm, he was fired.

“I felt dumb,” he recalled. “This was a company that very much branded itself as a family. It was built around two dynamic founders. A couple months before we’d had this big retreat at a summer camp that I had been to as a kid. There was this sense of shock that this could actually happen.”

But he was equally disillusioned by the notion that workers should have to steel themselves for economic uncertainty by building personal brands that would make them indispensable. It felt to him like what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman called an individualized solution to a social problem. And Mr. Lair did what many people do when they end up citing sociology to explain phenomena in their daily lives: He went to graduate school, and studied personal branding.

For some entrepreneurs, brand building at first is more dopamine than drudgery; there’s a thrill in the full exposure it demands.
Alexa Heller, a millennial who built a yoga teacher brand, used to feel it was important to be fully candid with her Instagram followers. She posted about making efforts to stay celibate, taking months off from sex and dating. She posted about insecurities bred by her acne. She attracted thousands of followers on Instagram, which she also used to boost her yoga classes, by treating her followers like close friends.

She felt the angst of compressing every strand of her personality, from the professional to the highly personal, into a single persona. Friends sometimes questioned whether various members of her online audience — relatives, business associates, potential suitors — might judge her ultra openness. “One of my girlfriends was like, ‘Well, if a guy reads your profile he’s going to be freaked out,’” she recalled.

When she switched career paths in 2020, from yoga to real estate, seeking more financial security, she realized that there was a different kind of rush in maintaining boundaries. She hid some of her old posts. She started to share online only about work. She still wrote down reflections on anxieties and ambitions — but now in her diary.

When everything is content

Modern interpretations of the “brand called you” present a trade-off of sorts. Workers are no longer reliant on the fecklessness of an employer that could at any moment pivot, downsize or cut wages. There are heaps of corporate data pointing to those possibilities: Over roughly the last four decades, typical hourly worker pay rose 17.5 percent while productivity rose by nearly 62 percent and C.E.O. compensation by 1,460 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

But with personal branding, the line between who people are and what they do disappears. Everything is content; every like, follow and comment is a professional boost.

“It sort of shifted the responsibility for those kinds of disruptions from particular companies to the person themselves,” Mr. Lair said. “It’s sort of, ‘Now you are the one who’s supposed to solve this problem.’”

And many of the workers whose careers were shaped by the rise of personal branding are feeling its growing pains.
Kanchan Koya, 43, has seen the pressures that her brand breeds for her family, for example. Ms. Koya’s brand, Chief Spice Mama, which has over 230,000 Instagram followers, offers nutritional tips that draw from her history of gastrointestinal illness. She knows that her followers engage excitedly with her more intimate captions, so she mines some of her own experiences for content.

But recently she has begun to bristle at the responses that evokes. She received direct messages asking her why she is taking photos of her baby daughter instead of focusing on mothering. Her husband has asked her not to include him on her Instagram; he’s part of her personal life, but doesn’t want to be part of the public brand.

“I’ll be super honest right now, where I’m at with social media — if my business wasn’t intertwined with my social media presence, I would be on it 90 percent less,” Ms. Koya said. “I just don’t feel like it’s natural for us as humans to have so many people in our business.”

Plenty feel that public exposure isn’t worth the toll. Sadhbh O’Sullivan, 29, a British-Irish journalist, stopped using her Twitter. The chance to boost her writings didn’t justify the revulsion of selling her personal life, Carrie Bradshaw style, and she’s made peace with the twinge of envy she feels for friends trumpeting their talents to land flashy new jobs.

Sarai Atchison, 25, built a comedy social media brand during the pandemic after finding herself addicted to watching YouTube personalities like the movie commentator “Dylan Is in Trouble.” But in March she decided to take a job doing promotions for the Colorado Rockies. She found an unexpected relief in work that doesn’t draw on the emotional ups and downs of her own life, from heartbreak to social anxiety. The coming-of-age aches stay in her journal, without prompting worries that discretion is undermining her ambitions.

“Putting yourself out there is cool, and at the same time, in the back of your head you don’t know how somebody is going to take your brand,” Ms. Atchison said. “It’s hard not to take it personally because it’s you.”

And some are tempering their exposure by sharing with social media followers more thoughtfully. Maybe not every breakup and depressive episode warrants public translation. Mr. Israel, for example, has embraced an approach that his mentor called “sharing from the scar, not the wound.” When Mr. Israel’s feelings are raw, he waits before conveying them to his audience of tens of thousands.

“When work was directly tied to my identity and sense of self-worth, I would ride these crazy waves,” Mr. Israel said. “I started to realize how important it was to build my sense of self, my self-worth and an identity around things that made me special as Jesse and not my work.”

Even Mr. Peters, the original brand evangelist, is dismayed by the extremes to which people have taken his message. “Use social media,” he said. “But you have to have something to talk about.”

He recognizes that his own brand is outdated — or as he put it: “I’m talking as an incredibly old fart.”

Managing Anxiety and Stress

Stay balanced in the face of stress and anxiety with our collection of tools and advice.

Original article.

McKinsey Final Thoughts

The Financial Times asked me to write about the $600 million settlement that McKinsey accepted as recompense for its disgraceful role, via Purdue Pharma, in potentially abetting the opioid crisis.

McKinsey’s work on opioid sales represents a new low:
My former consultancy demonstrates what is wrong with business school graduates

This month McKinsey agreed to pay nearly $600m to settle claims that its advice had exacerbated the deadly US opioid crisis.

Read the full article at Financial Times

One bit from my submitted draft, which I unequivocally approved, did not make the final cut. I suggested that I fervently believe that heads in a not small number should or should have rolled. I am a U.S. Navy (and Royal Navy) veteran, and believe the Captain and those in the direct chain of command should go down with the ship. I observed that in a case close at hand during my service in Vietnam in 1966-67.

I can present no hard evidence, but from a couple of conversations with people who are well informed, it is my understanding that headrolling has been minimal. Certainly the Managing Director should have been fired, one hopes with no accompanying benefits. Though I do not know modern McKinsey, the Office Manager and all those between him or her and the coal face should have been shown the door as well.

I am not a vindictive person, but this situation is so appalling that, I believe, the punishment should match the crime.

What is more worrying from my conversations is that the centerpiece of the internal response has apparently been to revise processes.

Sure, but ...

The issue is not a “process issue.” It is a culture and values and morals issue that runs to the core of the way McKinsey does business. It will in no way be solved with process change and a lecture or two. It requires deep reflection about “who we are and what we believe”—as human beings far more than “professionals.”. (In my angrier moments, of which there are many, I almost think McKinsey should consider shutting its doors and closing down.)

Such are my more pointed concerns largely not addressed in the original, far more analytic, article.

Respectfully,
Tom Peters

February Media Sightings

Check out these articles to keep up-to-date on all things Tom.

The Financial Times released Tom's op-ed on the McKinsey-Purdue Pharma affair today, February 15th. For Tom's thoughts on his former employers' role in Purdue Pharma rebates read his opinion piece now, Tom Peters: McKinsey’s work on opioid sales represents a new low.

Fast Company's February 3rd article, A Personal Branding Expert Shares What it Takes to Build a Successful Reputation by Wendy Marx, remind us of Tom's five keys to help sharpen your image:

  • Prioritize Continued Education
  • Seek Out Diverse Reading Material
  • Strive for Exceptional Performance
  • Network Broadly
  • Take on a Humanist Approach

In this Loop North article by Howard Tullman, How To Walk Around The Office - Even If There Isn't One, Tullman reminds us that Tom's idea of Managing by Walking Around (MBWA) is just as important when your employees are working from home.

Detroit

Sculpture of Joe Lewis Fist, Detroit

Did you see the recent article, "The Post-Post-Apocolyptic Detroit"? Before I met Tom Peters, I lived in Detroit. My husband had an idyllic, cookie-cutter suburban '60s upbringing there with a family full of auto workers. All his grandparents were immigrants, happy to see their children thrive in post-WWII Detroit. He spent the '80s in downtown Detroit, in college and working at the Stroh Brewery. Detroit was already in decline when I arrived in the '90s.

What I found was a population baffled by their misfortune. Why was manufacturing more cars not the solution to their economic woes? Assembling cars had created a healthy middle class and glamorous city. But the industry changed. This community of builders, in love with the cars they built, were no longer able to prosper. Ruin, on a massive scale, ensued.

For an overview of the desolation, take author James Howard Kunstler's Google Street Views tour of the Detroit cityscape.

Detroit's decline has lasted for so long that its reputation is rough, scarred, brutal. As a young, white woman in the '90s I was advised by many not to go downtown alone. Kunstler states while visiting Detroit he had to stay in another country for safety (Windsor, Ontario, across the river). That was not my experience. I found boundless creativity. In some of the most dangerous areas, there were community art fairs, neighborhood art projects (most notably the Heidelberg Project, shown below), and a vibrant music scene. That is not to say that Detroit is a safe place. It's not. But those who have stayed either don't have the ability to leave or have been brave enough to believe that things will improve. Knowing Detroiters as I do, I'd say they will not go down without a fight.

Detroit's Heidelberg Project

The "Post-Post-Apocolyptic Detroit" article features the stories of some of those who are brave enough to not only stay, but invest heavily in the future of this once-great city. Dan Gilbert, billionaire owner of Quicken Loans, seems to be investing the most.

Detroit is his mission; he has gone all-in. He has brought 12,500 employees with him to downtown, ... is funding the construction of a light-rail system ... formed a start-up incubator called Bizdom and a venture-capital firm ... He told me: "Here, man, oh, man, it's a dream. Anything can be created in Detroit."

Gilbert, a Detroiter by birth and an entrepreneur by nature, happened upon some very good advice early in his career:

After starting his first company, Rock Financial, he fell under the sway of the Thomas J. Peters business tome In Search of Excellence and became fixated on the idea of creating a positive corporate culture.*

Longtime readers of Tom's work recognize that profit isn't always the result of greed, his favorite equation being, "Kindness=Repeat Business=Profit." Dan Gilbert is trying to "enrich a city and himself at the same time," believing that you can "do well by doing good."

I, for one, hope that Dan and Tom are right. As the article points out,

If the scale of Detroit's failure is unprecedented, then so (the local reasoning goes) is the scale of its opportunity.

Whether the locals are right or not about the size of the opportunity and its likelihood of success, the more who act on Tom's equation, the better off Detroit will be.

*[Postscript: Upon reading Dan Gilbert's comment, Tom wrote, "I am flattered beyond measure and never cease to be amazed by commentary like this. Makes a dent in the cumulative weariness from millions of air miles."]

Shelley Dolley posted this on July 18, 2014, in News.
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Disruption! Disruption!
Dis-Rup-Tion!
New! New! New!
Phew! Phew! Phew!
Hold Onto Your Hat!
Katy Bar the Door!

I admire—and have learned from—Clay Christensen. He brought us news of a constant state of "disruption." We now live in a state of perpetual breathlessness. Every day brings news of a new disruption. Wow!

But something was nagging at the back of my mind, And I finally figured out what it is. Namely, constant disruption—at a fast clip—may not be new. What "big data analytics" did I use to figure this out? My Mom, Evelyn Snow Peters, was born in 1909 and died in the summer of 2005. Here, in a single paragraph, is a partial précis of the yawn-worthy, uneventful times she lived through:

The advent of mass market cars, commercial radio, routine long-distance phone calls, portable phones, cell phones, satellites, satellite phone call transmission, movies with sound, color movies, TV, TV dinners, microwave ovens, commercial use of aircraft, jets, extensive electrification, the Great Depression, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter, the West Coast Offense, the Civil Rights Movement, an African-American POTUS, Gay Pride, women win the right to vote, Gandhi, Churchill, WWI, WWII, the birth of the U.S. Navy Seabees, relativity, the A-bomb, the EEC, the EU, the Euro, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, 9/11, the 43-year Cold War, the disintegration of the USSR, the resurgence of China, the death and resurrection of Germany and Japan, Oklahoma & New Mexico & Arizona & Hawaii & Alaska become states, William Howard Taft* [*just missed Teddy Roosevelt], FDR, Ronald Reagan, Father Coughlin, Jim and Tammy Bakker, mainframe computers, PCs, hyperlinks, the iPod, DARPA-net, the Internet, air conditioning, weed whackers, Mickey Mouse, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, Madonna, the Model T, the Cadillac Escalade, Nancy Drew, the first four Harry Potter books, antibiotics, MRIs, polio vaccine, genetic mapping, WWII rockets, space flight, man-to-the-moon, more or less permanent space station.** [**But, to be sure, not long enough to see the Cubs win another World Series or to take a selfie.]

See, not much went down for her.

Whoops, gotta go, gotta deal with my DDD ... daily dose of disruption.

Order Should Not Be Taken For Granted …

This, from David Brooks in yesterday's New York Times, is, to my mind, brilliant beyond measure—especially the 1st of the two paragraphs I reproduce here:

"Yet it might be useful to consider one more filter. Consider it the World Order filter. The fact that we live our lives among order and not chaos is the great achievement of civilization. This order should not be taken for granted.

"This order is tenuously maintained by brave soldiers but also by talkative leaders and diplomats. Every second of every day, leaders and diplomats are engaged in a never-ending conversation. ... The quality of the conversation is damaged by exposure, just as our relationships with our neighbors would be damaged if every private assessment were brought to the light of day. We've seen what happens when such conversations deteriorate (look at the U.S. Congress), and it's ugly. The Wikileaks dump will probably damage the global conversation . ..."

Tom Peters posted this on December 1, 2010, in News.
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More Blame!
(This Time, I’m Really Pissed Off.)

Friday a week ago, I had the honor of giving the Olin lecture on alumni weekend at Cornell. It'd been a long time since I'd been back, and I was taken aback by the beauty, mostly unmarred by new construction, of the Ithaca NY campus.

But in a way that was the least of it. The powers that be (president David Skorton) arranged for me a lengthy tour of the engineering school by the Dean of Engineering and the Dean of Civil Engineering. (I am a Cornell civil engineering grad.) Not only was I taken aback by the extraordinary work going on, which was mostly beyond my comprehension, but by the discipline and tradition of engineering of which I am the smallest part. The experience bordered on the mystical; though I went on to get business degrees and make my name, such as it is, around management, I realized some odd genetic-like tug to my engineering roots—it in fact felt very good, a coming home of sorts.

But it also got me thinking about the Gulf oil spill. (It's hard to go more than a few minutes without that disaster intruding on one's thoughts.) There is more than enough blame to go around from BP and hapless Tony Hayward to Deepwater Horizon to Halliburton to the pathetic dis-incentivized federal regulators.

And I want to pile on.

In my recent book, The Little BIG Things, one item, #56, in the section on leadership was titled "Sacred Trust," and it began like this:

"As I see it, anyone who takes on any leadership job, minor or major, assumes no less than a ... Sacred Trust. I know that's extreme language. But I stand by it. This sacred trust is all about what organizations are all about: the professional (and, to some extent, personal) development of people. Sure, the boss's job is to 'get the job done,' and done effectively. But 'boss-hood' primarily entails an abiding responsibility for the people under your charge. ..."

Leadership is a sacred trust. As is the practice of law. And medicine. And any of the other recognized professions.

Including engineering.

Certified engineers, like certified docs and lawyers, mostly take oaths to live up to the responsibilities of their disciplines. Rights and responsibilities: These pros have the right to declaim with some degree of certitude about their discipline, and/but the responsibility to ensure that the boundaries of said certitude are not violated.

Well, in my newfound/renewed ardor for engineering, I also find myself beset with newfound anger-outrage at numerous engineers employed by BP, et al. (Many an "al." it would appear.)

Outrage not at "BP engineers," but outrage at Arthur N. Smith [fictitious name], certified and licensed engineer. And doubtless dozens and dozens, probably hundreds, of his cohorts.

BP seems to have gotten it wrong on a dozen dozen dozen engineering dimensions. In the name of cost control or whatever. I don't give a shit about the cost control issues, real as I know they are. I give a hundred shits about the fact that Arthur Engineer and Ralph Engineer and Mary Engineer, cross-pressures notwithstanding (that's life), abrogated their professional responsibilities as ... individuals. Arthur and Ralph and Mary are probably good parents—but professionally they screwed their fellow citizens to a fare-thee-well.

And I'm pisssed off.

Very pissed off.

Arthur and Ralph and Mary have bills to pay. And the economy is tough. And their bosses, responding to their bosses, doubtless did put merciless pressure on them.

Hence my empathy is high.

But in the end I am appalled. They have cost us lives and economic and environmental damage of epic proportion. Because they lacked the will and integrity to blow their professional whistles and stand up for the discipline to which they have sworn allegiance.

They are (individually) a disgrace to the great tradition of engineering of which I am the smallest part. So I'm taking this personally.

This disaster, regardless of certain companies' headquarters addresses, occurred in the United States. Among nations, we try to live to a higher standard of individual accountability than most. We are (properly, for the most part) known as an individualistic nation—it has been our strength among strengths. Back to: rights and responsibilities. Our individualism gives moral and other supports (effectively, "rights") to our peerless entrepreneurial behavior, for example. But along with those peerless rights of individualism come an equally profound set of responsibilities. If you are encouraging me to "do my thing," you are also making it clear that the practice thereof is, unequivocally, a form of "sacred responsibility."

Well, my beloved engineers-of-the-Gulf, it was not only HTH, Hapless Tony Hayward, who let us down. It was you engineers as well one at a time, name by name. In fact my fury at you is stronger than my fury at Hayward. After all, he was merely a corporate shill—you are professionals, the latest in a magnificent tradition that you have now sullied.

For shame.

NB: Am I exceedingly harsh in my judgment here? Perhaps. But, upon substantial reflection, I think not.

No Surprise!

We are speechless at the ability of China to use/exploit its bottomless labor pool. Well, guess what. Just like the U.S.A., the UK, Japan and the rest of the developed world, as Chinese workers prosper, they want what all who have come before them want. This quote from a worker in an FT (0601) article, "Chinese Workers Swap Angst for Anger":
"We're different from our parents' generation. Their wishes were simple—earn some money and return to their hometown. We want to stay in the cities and enjoy our lives here. But we demand respect."

Chapter & verse & punctuation marks, that's what our (USA) workers said in, perhaps, the 1930s, eh?

Half (Quarter) Baked

Rare clematis

What follows is not meant to be inclusive. It is meant to be what it is, reflections from a 40 mile round trip from Tinmouth to Manchester Center and back. Thoughts on Federal/Local policy flowing, as it were, from the BP fiasco:

D-Day2010 for Energy Independence/Conservation: A Few Ideas*

  • Return to '73. 55mph speed limit implemented within 60 days or less, save thousands of lives, huge amount of gas. EVERYBODY participates/sacrifices, easy-ish to do.
  • Return to '73. Winter double daylight savings.
  • Summer Jobs Service Corps, to be implemented immediately. 10K kids to Gulf of Mexico to fend off the spill. Pay for with temporary 25-cent gas tax or cigarette tax. (Kids Krusade is Kool.)
  • Campaign 60/75. Winter thermostats never higher than 60 degrees, summer A/C never lower than 75. Public ads/blog/tweet/support groups/local campaigns.
  • Extend Bush tax cuts, but balance half of lost tax $$ by raising gas tax $1.00 or some such per gallon.
  • States: Immediately double registration fees for gas guzzlers, quintuple within 5 years. (Remove when fleet MPG standards reach a specified point.)
  • 150-day 80% government-funded home energy efficiency payment (for specified activities); at end of 1 year begin penalties for those who have not taken certain steps.
  • Graduated penalties for building energy efficiency deficits, material/painful by year 3 or 4.
  • Water conservation rules/penalties/bill reductions. Effect on water but also energy use associated therewith.

(*Must have several implementable ASAP. Must induce shared pain-contribution by ALL.)

(ABOVE: Rare Clematis. BELOW: Serious work gloves.)

Serious work gloves

Carly!

Rupert Murdoch is taking dead aim at the New York Times with his new Saturday Wall Street Journal magazine, WSJ. Yesterday's inaugural issue had a feature on Carly Fiorina's run for the Republican nomination to oppose Senator Barbara Boxer. The article was reasonably positive, and homed in as usual on Fiorina's tenure at HP.

I am a lifelong Democrat, and if I were still a California voter, I would probably not vote for Ms. Fiorina. Nonetheless I am a staunch defender of her HP record. (I called her "CEO of the Year" at one point in this space.) After reading the WSJ piece, I sent her an email offering a public statement from me on her HP tour of duty.

To wit:

"HP, circa 2010, is the 600-lb gorilla astride the computer industry. Why? The Compaq acquisition. PERIOD. Carly Fiorina, without a lot of help at times, fought the Hewlett and Packard families in a bitter, protracted battle to do the deal. And won. In doing so she both saved and transformed one of America's greatest companies. And if that's not enough, she also took one of earth's least consumer-oriented companies and converted it into a consumer dynamo, almost single-handedly (again). The greatest criticism of Fiorina was that Dell, then the #1 PC manufacturer, outstripped HP in profitability. Or at least Dell did until, after Fiorina left, they were forced to 'restate' (erase) a huge share of those profits. Ms. Fiorina doubtless made missteps, but anyone who disses or discounts or dismisses the profound positive impact of her tenure at HP is blind or an idiot or both."—Tom Peters, co-author of In Search of Excellence (Peters lived in Silicon Valley for 30+ years, but did not consult to or work with or even meet Fiorina until after she had left HP.)