01/20/20

The Impeachment

We are on the verge of the first day of the impeachment trial of President Donald J Trump and, thus, I feel the necessity to say something of portent on the subject. I will try to be evenhanded, fair, and like Nancy Pelosi, wield a big hammer.

Fancy Nancy contemplating using her gavel on President Trump’s . . . . ?

This may be harder than I thought.

The Harlem Globetrotters and The Impeachment

The Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals in displays of athleticism, sport, and comedy, but the Harlem Globetrotters always, always, always win. When you go to a Globetrotters game, you know the outcome before the tip.

This is how I feel about The Impeachment. I know the outcome. The Washington Generals will not win. Again. Yawn.

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01/20/20

Persuasion

I read and listen to a lot of current events, news, sports, and I am interested in politics. There is a trend that I am concerned with — the total lack of persuasion in the message.

I see this in, of course, politics, but also such things as the climate debate and the discussion of world terrorism or Texas v North Carolina BBQ.

I found LSU’s thrashing of Clemson very persuasive.

Persuasion is that seductive, inveigling bit of cajoling that entices one to adopt a specific view of things, or a matter of policy, or an opinion. In its most pure form, it is the noble art of information. In is basest form it is a kissing cousin of propaganda.

I find persuasion to be a skill of smart people.

If you are a traditional Aristotelian devotee, you may be tempted to blurt out: ethos, logos, pathos. I am with you, brother and sister.

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01/14/20

Team Building

We often take it for granted in startups that a team will “emerge” when we get the right chemical combination, as if the primordial slime will simply make the right cocktail that will solve the problem, remove the pain point, build the better mousetrap.

A better approach would be — might be — to explore what it takes to develop an effective team and ask ourselves, “Are we doing anything even remotely like this?”

Understandably, there is a lot of emphasis on product, but is there enough on team?

There is a lot of research out there that suggests certain methodologies, but I think one of the best ways to approach the issue is along the lines of how the military forms, trains, evaluates, operates, and re-constitutes combat arms units.

How the military does it

I think it essentially mirrors many of the academic methodologies. To jump ahead, I am talking about team building processes like Drexler-Sibbet. Hold that thought.

First, allow me to say that most people in the Army who are involved with this are following a prescribed training methodology. They did not develop the methodology. They are unlikely to have spent a lot of time considering it. They may not intellectually embrace it. They may not really think about it (until they become a company commander) .They just follow the methodology.

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01/13/20

The Casper IPO IQ Test

After a blood bath with the failed WeWork, the IPO market is coming back for another IQ test — how stupid are you?

This is not a drill.

Comes hither our sleepy friends Casper, the mattress folks.

Casper isn’t spooked by IPO woes

Could investors ghost the Casper IPO?

Spooky.

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01/13/20

Listening Until The . . . . . End

I was with a pal of mine named Charlie — no, his name is not really Charlie — and I received a call from a former CEO coaching client who is a big deal these days. BIG DEAL.

I say to Charlie, “Let me talk to this guy.” We’re sitting under a grape arbor at a restaurant drinking expensive latte that Charlie insisted on rather than good, old fashioned black coffee. Charlie has forgotten more about the CEO business than I will ever know and I was at it for 33+ years.

I start listening to the guy, the CEO — giving off the vibe of his hair on fire. Burning hair has a distinctive odor you can smell if you have 5G cell service.

“Take your time and tell me exactly what the problem is,” says I. I listen for a long time with a few “got it” type comments thrown in.

When the CEO finishes, I ask, “What else?” He remembers a few other things.

During this convo, I have whipped out my notebook and pen and taken some notes. I am sipping on my latte under the grape arbor — a pergola. The sun is on my face, a slight breeze is cooling me, I am alive and well in Austin By God Texas. Life is good. My CEO, a former client, has called me with a problem and I think I can help him. Is this a great country or what?

“What else?” I ask. He adds one last thing.

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01/12/20

Tech Worker Unions

Further to the blog post I made the other day as it related to the tech worker union situation at Kickstarter and BuzzFeed, I had a couple of very informative emails from folks in the trenches and I’d like to expound on several things.

Kickstarter Union — Woke Or A Joke?

First, I stand by my assertion that the issue of tech worker unions is driven by the full employment economy we find ourselves in, but there are a myriad of other considerations. Here’s what I think is going on:

 1. No question that full employment is a driver. The power is shifting from employers to workers with full employment. We see this in the JOLTS report.

Thanks D Short and Advisor Perspectives. Thank you.

From a macro perspective — broader than just tech — we continue to have more job openings than we can fill (and we have filled a lot of jobs); we have a very flat number of layoffs and discharges, but the number of people quitting their jobs is rising and has been since 2010.

What this indicates is workers are quitting to take a better job. How do you define a better job — compensation, increased responsibility, better company, better working conditions, shorter commute?  Some of these these are things unions promise they can deliver.

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01/12/20

Power, Risk, Leverage

In global affairs, Power–Risk–Leverage are a three-legged stool whereby nations (both friend and foe) evaluate whether and how they should relate to and work with each other.

Countries do not have friends; they have alliances which are driven by changing relationships amongst Power–Risk–Leverage.

Power–Risk–Leverage

Consider the relationship between the United States and Iran as an example.

During the Obama administration:

 1. The nation of Iran believed it had little risk of the United States taking any kind of military action against it. They mocked the US and chanted, “Death to America!”

They seized US Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. They supported terrorists who targeted Americans. They impudently conducted their terror affairs in the open. They maimed and killed US soldiers with their EFPs (explosively formed penetrators), shaped charges that cast molten copper to destroy vehicles and to maim soldiers’ limbs.

EFPs are the size of a coffee can and can fire copper slugs at the speed of Mach 6 — 2000 meters per second — which can penetrate armor and cut soldiers’s arms, hands, legs, feet off.  The Iranians made them for deployment inside Iraq. More than 600 Americans were killed by EFPs and more than 1200 were wounded.

 2. Iran believed they had considerable leverage because they had been on the verge of nuclear breakout with a nuclear weapon and the world valued that capability as an enormous risk, thereby attaching considerable value to forestalling it.

 3. Iran had control of the Straits of Hormuz, and,

 4. Iran had closed the Iranian Crescent (the land bridge from Iran through Iraq, through Syria, to Lebanon and the West Bank thereby exerting leverage over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel).

The world fanned the Iranian self-assessment by entering into the infamous Iran Nuclear Deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We, the US, led the world in allowing Iran to think they punched way above their weight class.

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01/11/20

Kickstarter Union — Woke Or A Joke?

It was 79F yesterday in the ATX and 46F this morning. We’ll see 60F by the afternoon. Winter is brutal in Austin By God Texas, y’all. Brutal.

So, I have been reading up on efforts to create unions at tech firms — talking to you Kickstarter, Uber, Google. While I used “Kickstarter” as the click bait title, there has been a lot of such activity in the tech world.

I am a huge fan of Kickstarter and the entire crowdfunding industry. It was an industry that was invented from the whole cloth and I love it, but as a company, their ham handed response to an effort to unionize their 160 person workforce has been a study in how not to do things.

Buzzfeed is another example of a company who saw the writing on the wall, read it, translated it, and acted upon it.

This union formation effort happens and is happening for a number of reasons:

 1. First, we are at full employment. When you arrive at full employment, the power at the negotiating table swings to the employee side. READ THIS AGAIN

This is the most basic, fundamental change in the market. If you ignore this simple fact, then you are hopelessly lost. Anybody who is resisting the creation of unions has to face up to this reality.

 2. Unionized employees get higher pay, better benefits, and better understanding of the employee-employer relationship.

When companies like We Work — and a slew of other SoftBank funded goliaths — layoff thousands of employees in a single day, workers are going to look for a port in that storm. When they arrive, they will be wet and pissed off. That pissed offness will generate energy.

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