Archive |

Duke Ellington, My Dad and YouTube

23 Apr

images1My dad is 72 years old and full of life. He is a self-described “character” who enjoys hunting, relic collecting and sitting in his recliner drinking beer. He is a man’s man and often calls himself “The Old Ranger,” which I think of as his personal superhero signature. After all, he is my dad, and in only that way a daughter can look up to her father, I most certainly do.

Dad and I have had our challenges over the years. We are both “hard-headed” and can outdo one another in our stubbornness. We also are both somewhat intellectual and possibly passive-aggressive at times, preferring to hunker down and outlast the opponent with fortitude in situations of conflict, rather than waste energy and lose face in an all-out fight. We both appreciate a good sense of humor, as well as an entertaining story, true or not.

Recently I discovered something about my dad that I never knew: He likes to dance.

He and I were having a conversation about big band music—his favorites are Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Artie Shaw. He made a comment about “Cotton Club” being one of the best songs to dance to. What’s that? DANCE? My dad, with the big hands and construction worker build? Nahhhhh.

Much to my surprise, it’s true. We discovered together probably the only reason that he would EVER consider buying a computer: YouTube.

I told him that we could probably find some video of actual Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday performances, and we did. He was amazed. He then started calling out requests for particular bands, singers, songs and dates, and away we went, all the while with him declaring, “Well, I’ll be darned….”

We even found some footage of his favorite show to watch in the 1940s, “Captain Video.” This is hilarious…an amazingly low-tech variety of “special effects” strung together by an even less sophisticated plot. Their prop budget was $25/week. Now, spending limits like that force creativity.

Now back to the dancing. I could imagine it for my mom, but not for my dad. Why is it so surprising, as you get older, that you have MORE similarities than differences with your parents?

Alsop’s Law Five: Be a Model Citizen

23 Apr

img_0164Every day before my son goes to school, I tell him, “Be a model citizen today, okay?”

My son especially needs this because he will try to do what we call “the fancy stuff.” This means that, in order to impress his friends, he has the tendency to show off a little bit. This behavior may involve stretching the truth, lies of omission or temporarily ignoring the rules that apply to everyone else.

Just like my son, all of us have days when we are tempted to not be model citizens. Alsop’s point is that for companies, being a model citizen is not something to be done when the mood strikes. The behavior has got to be consistent and ongoing, and supportable with solid evidence.

Here’s a question to consider:

If a company gives money to a community, including support to charity, but decides to leave town and eliminate jobs after receiving significant tax incentives from area government, are they a model citizen?

Depends on whom you ask.

Do companies owe anything to their employees and area citizens? Or is it all about the bottom line?

I have been pondering the issue of corporate social responsibility lately. These are tough questions. Businesses are in business to make a profit. If they can no longer make a profit and must make decisions that negatively impact employees and area citizens, do those left in the wake have a right to complain?

My sense is that there’s a right way to handle tough decisions and a wrong way. Any reasonable person knows that business leaders are in positions of authority because at least once in a while they must make hard decisions. When tough decisions are communicated to stakeholders openly and honestly, people can be disappointed but having had some sense of the decision-making process, typically they will understand the outcome. They will believe that the company has strived to be a model citizen. Despite the outcome, the company made every effort to keep people informed and treat them with respect, retaining the company’s status as a model citizen. The company made no fancy moves and wasted no time in covering up the process behind a difficult choice.

On the other hand, if a company chooses to make every public relations move based upon the need to save face, without clearly explaining the underlying reasons for their decisions and not involving the stakeholders as active and thinking participants in the outcome, then people will have more questions than answers. People will not believe that the company is a model citizen.

This is the essence of Alsop’s Law Five.