Bill Clinton, George HW Bush, Donald Trump, Al Franken, Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Mark Halperin. That’s an off-the-top-of-my-head list of powerful and influential men accused of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior (like pinching butts during photo ops). Sadly, the list of men who have abused their positions of power in this way would be pages long if I were to do the research, and it will undoubtedly keep growing because men in power will continue to behave this way.
The video below about a company that has its employees work a 32-hour week has a graphic that says the average American worker is working 47 hours per week. Maybe, but more likely the average American spends 47 hours at work and only a certain percentage of that is actually doing something considered productive work. The rest of the time is spent on dealing with email, chit-chat with coworkers, Candy Crush, etc. If we all knew we only had 32 hours to get our jobs done I wonder how much more intensely we’d focus on our actual work?
At the day job I work for a trade association that represents the local apartment industry. The way we’re set up is pretty typical for a trade association, but it can be pretty difficult to explain to people who aren’t familiar with how these types of organizations work. So here are the basics:
- We have two types of members which is association speak for customers. Our primary members are owners and managers of apartment communities. Our other class of members are “affiliate” members who are basically vendors who sell products and services to our primary members.
- Our primary function is to provide education and advocacy services, plus networking opportunities for apartment owners and management companies. Our affiliate members are most interested in those networking opportunities because that’s where they can interact with the primary members and hopefully do some serious selling.
One of the questions we get all the time comes from companies that are interested in becoming affiliate members and it’s this: “When I join will I get a chance to speak in front of the members at the next event?” A lot of them are surprised when we say no and of course they want to know why. Here’s our answer:
We don’t allow new members to stand up and give their sales pitch because we have members who have been with us for years, decades even, who don’t get that opportunity at every meeting. We also have sponsors who pay extra to be recognized at our events. Why would we treat a new member better than a member who’s been with us and supported the industry for years on end, or give a new member the same exposure as sponsors who have paid for the privilege? What we can promise you is that when you become a member we’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re treated as well as every other member, that you have equal opportunity to build relationships with the primary members and that you have access to all the sponsorship and selling opportunities that every other affiliate member has.
There are many associations that disagree with this approach and do allow new members to get up and speak at their meetings. I’m sure it works for some folks, but at our place we just feel like it sends a terrible message to our long-time affiliate members who have supported the industry with their time and treasure if we treat the new kid on the block, who might be their competitor, better than we treat them. The analogy I use is this: how do you feel when you see that your cable company is offering a special deal to new subscribers, but when you call to see if you can get in on the action they tell you that you aren’t eligible? Pretty crappy I’ll bet, and the last thing I want is for our members to think of us like the cable company.
Anyone who knows anything about me will know why I'm writing about a Freakonomics blog post that uses basketball to help explain why meetings are long – I love hoops and hate long meetings. From the post:
On the surface, ball hogs and endless meetings might seem unrelated. Research, though, indicates that players chucking shots at a basket and people prolonging a meeting with endless comments may actually be a function of something similar. Specifically, how do we know someone is “competent”?..
A couple of years ago Cameron Anderson and Gavin J. Kilduff published a studyexamining how people in meetings evaluate each other. Obviously we would like people in meetings to think we are competent. And one might think, the best way to get people to think you are competent is to just be competent. But that is not what Anderson and Kilduff found. In a study of how people in a meeting – a meeting designed to answer math questions — were evaluated by their peers, these authors f0und (as Time reported) that actual competence wasn’t driving evaluations:
Repeatedly, the ones who emerged as leaders and were rated the highest in competence were not the ones who offered the greatest number of correct answers. Nor were they the ones whose SAT scores suggested they’d even be able to. What they did do was offer the most answers — period.
“Dominant individuals behaved in ways that made them appear competent,” the researchers write, “above and beyond their actual competence.” Troublingly, group members seemed only too willing to follow these underqualified bosses. An overwhelming 94% of the time, the teams used the first answer anyone shouted out — often giving only perfunctory consideration to others that were offered.
This makes so much sense to me. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've been on a team with superior talent, including the guy who's obviously the best player in the gym, only to lose handily. It happens because too many guys view themselves as the best shooters in the gym, so they make bad decisions about when to shoot because in their mind them shooting a bad shot is better than a less gifted player taking a good shot. Ask any basketball coach in the world and he'll tell you the good shot from an average player is better than a bad shot from a great player.
As far as meetings go, who among us hasn't been stuck in a meeting with a blow hard who thinks he knows everything and somehow convinces others in the room that he does? Anyone who wonders what's wrong with any company need only find the conference room and hang out for a while. It won't take long to identify the problem.
Ball hogs and blowhards – hate 'em both.
Mark Cuban's latest post, titled Why are we condemning Jeff Zucker & NBC over Leno, has this:
In today’s corporate world, if you don’t take the risks, you don’t get skewered on blogs, on cable news, in the newspaper. Public condemnation appears to be a far worse consequence than financial success is a reward. Thats a huge problem for our country.
In today’s world, we reward Patent Trolls with 8 and 9 figure settlements for ideas they never did a minute of work on or ever tried to monetize. The extent of their effort was hiring or selling out to patent lawyers. That’s a problem.
In today’s world, we reward companies that cut 10,000 jobs to benefit a few thousand shareholders. We lie to ourselves and say that the money will be re-invested in growth or passed on to shareholders. In reality, it will be used to buy back the stock that was awarded to corporate management under the guise of “avoiding dilution”
His post also contains a little nugget that is going to enter my lexicon of regularly used aphorisms: "No balls, no babies." Don't think I'll use that one when I'm coaching girls soccer though.