Tag Archive: 9/11

“If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs, and blaming it on you.” — Poet Rudyard Kipling’s, “If” (1865-1936)

One thing is certain when it comes to any crisis — earthquake, floods, fires, pandemics — the media will hyperventilate and will be totally out of control.

Another is that no good deed goes unpunished.

And an absolute truth in politics: You have a finite number of friends and the same is true for your enemies. Your enemies will never change; your friends can change.

Finally, the public wants and needs to see its president, governor, mayor, CEO … whoever is the elected/designated leader … that individual must be there repeatedly, visible on the front lines.

The images of President George W. Bush with the bullhorn at Ground Zero, Rudy Giuliani being designated as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in response to the brutal attacks on 9/11 are illustrative of leaders immediately present and active in response.

President George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina is less of a text book example. The failure of Exxon Valdez CEO Lawrence Rawl to visit the 1989 Prince William Sound spill site for three weeks or maybe worse, BP’s former chief executive Tony Hayward lamenting about the impact of his company’s 2010 Gulf Spill … on his personal life.

“I’m sorry. We’re sorry for the massive disruption its (Gulf Spill) caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”

Sorry to say Tony, this song was not about you.

Crises present opportunities and perils. Some succeed in the face of unprecedented challenges, others fail miserably. There are few who just for lack of better words, screw up.

When asked at an emergency site to characterize what he was seeing with his very eyes, former California Governor Pat Brown didn’t realize what he was saying until he said it: “This is the worse disaster since my election.”

During the course of any political lifetime, there will be crises. You are not judged when all is well, but defined when all are losing their heads.

And besides keeping your head, a public sector team should always operate under the philosophy that good government always takes precedence over good politics.

Almost DailyBrett believes for any incumbent, regardless of whether it’s an election year (it is) or not, the “What is the good government response?” question should always be answered first.

If the answer is good government, then the question of good politics should address itself.

Invoking The Wrath Of The NRA

“There’s no logical reason for anybody to own an assault weapon.” — California Governor George Deukmejian (1928-2018)

As a Republican governor in a blue state, Governor Deukmejian recognized immediately the political landscape changed when troubled Vietnam vet Patrick Purdy took an AK-47 onto a Stockton schoolyard, filled with happy playing Korean children, in 1989.

The good government response immediately following this senseless massacre intended for the protection of innocent children and the public at large was to ban assault weapons in California. This responsible action predictably triggered (pardon the pun) an immediate vitriolic response from the NRA.

Good government, won. Good politics came along for the ride.

As President Donald Trump directs the nation’s emergency response to the global Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic, he and his team must be mindful that anything and everything will be viewed in terms of the electoral season.

No action taken by the administration (i.e., blocking flights from China and Europe, teaming with private sector on mobile testing, relaxing and suspending burdensome federal regulations) will meet with universal approval, not this year in particular. There are those who cannot and will not be positive. So be it.

The nation needs to see its leader. The leader of the free world cannot be perfect (impossible standard to uphold), but he must be confident. Some have said we need more teleprompter Trump and less tweeting Trump. Politics needs to be left to others, particularly those out of power.

Instead, good government must rule … good government must take precedence. This is a time for message and political discipline. Can Trump and his team do it?

Let’s give them a chance.





When is it ever time to put a six-figure salary and the financial well-being of your loved ones in jeopardy?

Considering the state of the economy, the short answer is never … but life is never that easy and clean.

What happens in those rare instances in which your employer is in the process of making a decision that you just can’t live with, maybe one that is immoral, unethical or even illegal? It’s easy in the abstract to say that you would take the honorable course of action and resign, but that is much easier said than done.

History has shown that meekly clicking heels and being complicit in improper activity is a non-starter. If you need further amplification just ponder the literally hundreds of Nuremberg defendants, who piously justified their atrocities by reciting: “I was just following orders.” They all hung just the same.

Fortunately in my three decades in public relations, I have only been faced with this dilemma once, and yes I was ready to resign if necessary. It concerned a planned layoff of 600 employees or 8 percent of our workforce at LSI Logic, a Silicon Valley semiconductor company.


What is immoral, unethical or illegal about a layoff? Certainly they are gut-wrenching, but most will conclude that sometimes they are absolutely imperative for companies to survive. And that was certainly the case shortly after the Internet Bubble burst circa 2000-2001.

Bloomberg reported the story accurately when it stated:

“LSI Logic Corp., the largest maker of custom semiconductors, said it will fire 600 workers, or about 8% of its worldwide work force, as it consolidates plants to cope with declining sales. The job reductions will be made mainly in Colorado Springs, Colo., where an aging plant will be closed by the end of October. A smaller facility in Santa Clara, Calif., also will be closed.”

The key is the report ran in newspapers and online September 20, 2001, the day after the actual layoff and LSI Logic’s corresponding announcement to Wall Street investors that revenues would be 10-15 percent lower than anticipated.

The real story is that the layoff was planned for September 12, 2001, the day after…

…September 11, 2001.


Can you imagine the reaction both internally and externally if LSI Logic had the audacity to lay off 600 workers literally hours after the hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

Would you want to work for a company that didn’t have the decency to wait before shedding 8 percent of its workforce only 24 hours after the country was attacked?

And yet that is what the leadership of the company Human Resources Department wanted to do, and they were arguing this point passionately to corporate executives.

Almost DailyBrett literally sat in horror as the then-vice president of Human Resources (a good person overall) described how the impacted would be informed, how HR reps were in place all over the country, and that all the final checks had been cut.

When your author was finally presented with an opportunity to weigh in as the director of Corporate Public Relations, I decided to hold off with my suggestion to be personally added to the layoff list. Instead, I diplomatically acknowledged the efforts of Human Resources, referenced the breaking September 11 news reports and suggested that the best course of action was to postpone this action until we knew more about the severity of the attacks. The decision was made to postpone until Friday…whew.

When we met again the following day, September 12, HR was still committed to proceeding that Friday, the National Day of Mourning for the victims of September 11. The nation’s flags were at half mast. The planes were not flying. The stock exchanges were closed. The baseball and football games were cancelled. It clearly was not business as usual in America, and yet the Human Resources leadership was bound and determined to prevail.

Even though the layoff was postponed once,your author was still prepared to tender my resignation if the company was going forward with the layoff that Friday. Once again, I put that proclamation in my back pocket (at least for the time being) and respectfully argued that there was a “stigma” associated with the work week of Sept. 10-14, and urged postponement until the following week.

Almost DailyBrett made absolutely no friends in Human Resources that week, and caused a lot of additional work on their part. But I could not in good conscience allow the company to permanently impugn its reputation and brand for both external and internal audiences.

Besides, who would want to work for a company that would lay off nearly 10 percent of its workforce just hours after hijacked planes brought down the Wall Trade Center?

I certainly didn’t want to.

Editor’s Note: Normally, Almost DailyBrett does not comment on the inner workings of the organizations in which I have served. In this case, the incident was a decade ago, names have been withheld and the company leadership has completely changed. More importantly, what should be a no-brainer decision is sometimes not a slam dunk. And what would you do if confronted with the same dilemma?






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