Friday, February 28, 2014

My work here is almost done ...

Some wonderful person in Zambia is reading FlackOps. Bless you, my fine anonymous friend. You represent the 85 nation to read these posts, and the 24 letter of the alphabet. But I still need someone from an O and W country to step up to fill out the alphabetic dance card. Anybody got connections in Oman or Wallis and Futuna Islands?

(And I'm kidding about being almost done. I'm just warming up.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Your Mission: Make sure it's about them ... not you.

I love Dilbert. Scott Adams is often frighteningly spot-on about organizational dynamics. He did it again this morning with this strip. It reminded me of a passage from our new book, The TV Guide to Telling Your Organization’s Story.
There are relatively few organizations that are going to publicly advocate for the right to blow birds out of the sky. But a number of different groups— from environmental activists to bird-watching societies—would find the quest to preserve wetlands and waterfowl appealing and a natural fit with their organization.
That’s the magic of Ducks Unlimited—their quest attracts allies and inspires them to act. The sportsmen’s group boasts of being “the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation” … “[which] does more than any other organization to put ducks in the sky,” which is true. They also shoot more ducks out of the sky than any other organization.
You could say that making sure there are ducks to kill today and in the future is their true goal—their mission, if you will—given that about 90 percent of their members are hunters. But they (wisely) keep the focus on their quest of wetlands preservation (which just happens to further their goal).
Compare that to the American Dairy Association. Their stated mission is “to economically benefit dairy farmers by encouraging the consumption of milk and dairy products through advertising, education and promotion, to reach consumers with product benefits and advantages.”
"I just wanted you to know before you wrote them another check."
"I just wanted you to know before you wrote them another check."
A worthy endeavor if you’re a dairy farmer. But the quest of “economically benefitting dairy farmers” is not likely to convince people to buy more milk. So while the ADA is being candid about their perfectly legitimate mission, they are missing the opportunity to connect with their audience, who might otherwise be persuaded to offer assistance.
And they are not alone. Take a gander at your own mission statement. Is your mission about helping other people or helping yourself?
Was that helpful? There’s more where that came from. You can order your copy here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Culture Clash: Cossacks ain't got no swing…except for the ring of that truncheon thing.

Hit with the stark realization that beating 
unarmed women with bludgeons and truncheons 
is no longer an effective way to stifle free 
speech, Vladimir Sputum (left) breaks ranks 
and embraces his inner Chubby Checker.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dylan Tarnished

Bert G. Hornback
playing dress-up
When a twisted man shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary, not one person said “there are two sides to every story.” Clearly, some stories do not extend beyond the brutal facts. But all too often accounts of rape or child molestation stir up a chorus of “there are two sides to every story.” 

Sadly, we are there once again.

Just hours after Dylan Farrow published a detailed account of being molested as a child by her adoptive father, Woody Allen, her story was clumsily challenged by a Robert Weide, Allen’s friend and biographer.

The tragedy of this situation is that, unlike brutal cold-blooded murder, brutal cold-blooded rape and child molestation often does not leave enough blood stains and other physical evidence to eliminate all doubt that it occurred—which is no mere coincidence; rapists and molesters plan it that way.

So the victims—those brave enough to speak up—are the ones put on the defensive.

“She was only seven. How could she remember so much detail? Her vindictive mother must have planted those stories in her head. They were going through a nasty divorce you know.”

“Woody wouldn’t rape his daughter in the attic. He’s a well known claustrophobic.” (Read the article. Weide actually makes this argument.)

And the old standby, “What were you wearing when he attacked you?”

Sometimes, though, molesters get careless and hand evidence over to their victims … victims like me.

Bert G. Hornback--Charles Dickens scholar, former English professor at the University of Michigan, and best man at my parent’s wedding--molested me from the time I was 12 until I was 16 when I finally punched him in the mouth.

Like all child molesters, Bert was an expert at isolating me from my family so he could molest me. How expert? How about “A Birthday Trip to Europe with Just You and Your Uncle Jerry!” We called him Uncle Jerry then. I have different names now.

“Isn’t this wonderful, John? Jerry wants you to spend two weeks in England with him on a house boat travelling on the River Thames.”

“But I don’t want to go to England. I hate traveling.”

“You’re going, John. That’s final.” That was my dad. He was a pilot for TWA and couldn’t understand why any kid wouldn’t want to spend two weeks on a houseboat with his Uncle Jerry.

So I went.

I’ll save the details for another post. The short story is I woke up one night next to Bert in the boat’s “double bed” to find him molesting me. A little context: Bert was over six feet tall and weighed 240 easy. Even though I had just turned 16, I was a lot smaller. I hadn’t yet broken 100 pounds. But at this point I figured I had nothing to lose. So I made a fist with my right hand and smacked the bastard right in the chops. He harrumphed in shock then slowly rolled over and “went back to sleep,” or whatever. I raced out of there and spent the rest of the night sitting in the galley.

Now, if we were following social protocol, right about now some fair and balanced unmolested adult would challenge my account and remind me the “there are two sides to every story.” And without any evidence, it really would come down to his word against mine. And he was my GODfather, a respected author, former English professor at the University of Michigan, best man at my parent’s wedding, and blah, blah, blah.

But as I mentioned, I have proof and it’s time I shared it with you.

Following is a heavily redacted but very real email exchange with the guy who molested me when I was a kid, Bert G. Hornback. If you google him, don’t forget the “G.” There are other Bert’s out there.

THE MOLESTER: I'm sorry your memories of our friendship are so horrible. … We kissed, but innocently.  The first time we ever kissed a lot was the summer you and Michael and Mary Beth and I went to Notre Dame … The first day we were there we kissed a lot.  You were fourteen then?

The summer you and Michael and I went to London and Paris was very innocent.  The next summer you and I were in London.  We went boating on the Thames, and we stayed in London.  At night, in London, I would XXXXX.  Nothing more, nothing sexual.  One night I XXXXX … You said "Don't," and I removed my hand.

That's the closest I ever came to molesting you, John.  And I have never come that close to molesting anybody else. I am sorry that you are so angry. … Yes, I loved you--as I would have loved a son. … I tried to help and protect you. That's my honest understanding of our past, John.

ME: I am too enraged to refute your lies point by point, but surely you remember that I hit you in the face when I woke up to find you XXX. … And your "he was 14 defense" ain't gonna cut it, chum. I broke 100 pounds when I was 16. What did you weigh back then, chum? 240? …

MOLESTER: I have no idea where all this comes from, John.  I am sorry.  YOUR MEMORY AND MY MEMORY HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON. I'm very sorry to read what you allege.  IT ISN’T TRUE, WHATEVER YOU MAY BELIEVE. (Emphasis mine)

ME: Shove it, clown.

I’ll share the rest of the email later. But I am posting this much because I want people to understand that child molesters are cunning. And obviously deluded. So when a person, especially a young person, says that someone did ANYTHING suspicious to him or her, believe the kid. Every time.