Tag Archive: Mother Teresa

“This (pedophile priest cover-up) scandal is putting us, the clergy and the church, where we belong — with the excluded ones. Jesus was painted with the same brush as the two thieves crucified with him.” – Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony somehow equating himself with J.C. in a recent blog

There was life for the Catholic Church after the “Great Schism” between Rome and Constantinople.

And yes, there was also a future for the church after Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg.

There was life after Bernard Law. There was life after the Da Vinci Code.

And finally, there will be plenty of life for the Catholic brand even in the aftermath of the church’s irritating pimple of a cleric, Roger Michael Mahony.


Guess they were surprised when yours truly walked into a recent conference to talk about social media.

They were expecting a Millennial or maybe, an X-Gen.

What’s this? A follicly challenged Baby Boomer approaching the 2x mark of his 29 birthday coming before them to evangelize about all things, digital self-publishing?

Maybe, just maybe, my gray locks provided me with a little more gravitas and a smidge more credibility as I spoke to communication types last week. The communicators were concerned among other topics with the never-ending pedophile-priest cover-up stories, the latest version courtesy of Cardinal Mahony (1.53 million Google mentions…and counting).

Considering the plight of the church, it already has a ton on its plate with a Papal conclave right around the corner, and now has to deal with Mahony’s above-the-fold headlines. With or without Mahony, there is the question whether social media is helping or hurting the church’s brand. Some are clearly uncomfortable with the notion that the Catholic Church as a brand. (Have you ever seen the cross, Jesus, Mary…?)

More importantly, will the church manage or will it be forced to watch others manage the Catholic brand by means of WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and all the other social media outlets. I sensed the church elders fear the answer to the question.

And yet there are good tidings to proclaim. The church with more than 1 billion “subscribers” has been around since about 33 A.D. It survived Martin Luther’s aforementioned 95 Theses (aided by Gutenberg’s printing press). It has co-existed with the Protestant Reformation. It outlasted the waves of other communications gadgets. It endured Cardinal Law. And yes, it will eventually outlast Mahony, even though he took to Twitter to announce that he will do his heavenly duty, voting behind the ecclesiastic doors of the Vatican for the next Pope.

Hopefully, there is zero chance that Mahony will be elected Pope…Talk about a public relations train wreck.

Years ago, I went to Tahoe with a fraternity brother or two to see the late comedian George Carlin. He did his gig about parochial school. The refugees of Catholic School, including this writer, were rolling in the aisles. Those who went to public school really couldn’t relate.

Think of it this way: To a non-Catholic, the image of a nun usually points to saintly Mother Teresa. To someone who endured the petty tyranny of the priests and nuns, the fearful vision is one of a woman in a habit with a steel ruler.

The Catholic Church in many ways invented arrogance. That’s why there was a Protestant Reformation and King Henry VIII created a new church so he could get his divorce and remarry. I would also humbly opine that arrogance/superiority is a primary reason there are so many fallen Catholics, including the writer of this humble blog.

Can a homily by a priest, monsignor, bishop, cardinal etc. be transformed into a thought leadership blog. The answer is affirmative provided the All Mighty accepts the theory of two-way symmetrical communication, the simple idea that members of the flock are entitled to critically respond.

There in a nut shell is the rub. Writing and delivering a sermon that is quietly received by the congregation and maybe saluted after the proceedings are done is not two-way communication. It is essentially a top-down talk from the mountain top.

Social media is a conversation, and a true two-way dialogue at that. The church or any other entity (e.g., corporation, non-profit, government agency, political figure) has to understand that its brand is in play in cyberspace by anyone at any time. Digital publishing enables an around-the-clock brand stock exchange with some rising and others falling…sometimes very quickly.

Didn’t St. Luke (14:11) write the following: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”?

Cardinal Mahony is cornering the market when it comes to exaltation. Maybe the rest of the church can be a little more humble in order to succeed as a brand in this 24/7/365 digital world.








Maybe the Heisman Trophy is not good enough for Matt Barkley?

Ditto for winning the National Championship and being the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft?

Considering his works and deeds on-and-off the field (are there holes in his hands and feet?), maybe he should be canonized as a saint?

You say that someone must be deceased before he or she can be canonized? Details, details.

My point here is that the slovenly and slobbering media coverage has been uniformly glowing to the point it is already way beyond the point of being over the top. Does Barkley walk on water? Does he change water into wine? Does he part the friggin’ Red Sea?

NCAA Football: San Jose State vs USC SEP 5

There are … count em … 2.38 million Google results about Matt Barkley. He is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Lindy’s chronicled Saint Matt leading 15 of his teammates heading off to Haiti last May to help the needy. He is a devout Christian. He passed up NFL riches this year to come back and save USC for one more year. Who needs Mother Teresa?

Playboy described him as the “Golden boy.” Mater Dei Matt would probably ask: “Playboy? What is Playboy?”… He really doesn’t want to know.

As I attempt to rationalize the 24/7/365 ESPN coverage of Matt Barkley with some sort of semblance of sanity, please understand that I actually graduated from USC with a degree in Broadcasting Journalism way back in the prior century, 1978. I have a very soft place in my heart for the Trojans, “Conquest,” the Song Girls and Traveler.

At the same time, I am free of the Southland’s polluted inversion layer which seems to cause people stuck on LA freeways to expect nothing less than annual national championships and Heisman Trophies.

As a public relations instructor, Master’s degree recipient and two-decade-plus football season ticket holder at the humbler University of Oregon, I have seen Barkley play live three times against the Ducks. Last year, Barkley torched Oregon for four touchdowns and one pick and 323-yards as the Trojans hung on 38-35 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

The previous year, Barkley’s stats were not so divine. He threw one touchdown and two picks (269 yards) against Oregon as the Ducks won 53-32, prompting Trojan fans to take early flight from the Los Angeles Mausoleum.

In Barkley’s first visit to Autzen in 2009, Barkley threw two touchdowns and one pick for 187 yards in a 47-20 frightening Halloween night loss to Oregon.

If you are scoring at home, these results translate into a career 1-2 record (7 TDs and 5 Picks) for Barkley vs. Oregon. He has the opportunity on November 3 back at the LA Mausoleum to even the score. And yet, there is this unprecedented Matt Barkley hyperventilation and histrionics emanating from the foaming-at-the-mouth sports media.

Let’s assume the awarding of the Heisman Trophy, the National Championship and the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft are all administrative acts as it applies to the over-celebrated Matt Barkley. What’s the logical next step?

Only one “person” has ever ascended into heaven and as the Good Book says; he was the son of God. Is Barkley the second son of God? That may be even too much for Matt Barkley.


How about the second Assumption? The Blessed Mary was assumed into heaven where she now hangs out with Ronald Reagan, Vince Lombardi and Steve Jobs. Why shouldn’t Barkley be the first male to be assumed into the heavens? He could get to know St. Peter on a first name basis.

Besides injecting some humor into Barkleymania, there is a reality here that he should remember: The media is the opposite of the Marine drill sergeant at Camp Pendleton. The Marines beat you down and then build you up as a Marine. The media can build you up as they have done Matt Barkley, but they would rather tear you down and spit you out.

Ask Tiger Woods, if you don’t believe me.

Always be on your guard, Mr. Barkley. Always be on your guard…even if you are assumed into heaven. There are critics everywhere, even there.







Whatever happened to Scott McNealy?

We know what happened to his company; Sun Microsystems was swallowed up by Oracle.

And Steve Ballmer? Well, he is the chief executive officer of Softwaremeister Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) with a market capitalization in excess of $200 billion.

And what about “Butthead?” Not MTV’s Beavis and Butthead, but the object of McNealy’s snide quip…His name is Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet and a philanthropist. You may have heard of him.


Sometimes reporters, editors, bloggers, analysts, investors bestow rock-star status on C-level executives. And in return, some of these very same executives earn their stripes in part by resorting to let’s say “provocative” activities or tactics. Are these antics, including old-fashioned name calling, in the best interest of shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and partners…the very same people for whom they have taken a vow of fiduciary responsibility?

“Ballmer and Butthead” is like catnip to the Fourth Estate Crowd, but is it really that funny when the company’s stock is in single digits and heading further south? How about concentrating on your business…a business that is now a part of Silicon Valley’s history.

Why even bring this matter up when Nasdaq: SUNW does not even exist anymore? That’s just the point. As difficult as it may be, C-level executives should be discouraged from engaging in sophomoric behavior and statements by their public relations counsel. The very people who you are denigrating today, you may be facing across a negotiating table tomorrow. Sun ultimately accepted $2 billion from Microsoft to end the protracted litigation between the companies. And Sun was desperate for the cash.

Certainly Scott is not the only former or present executive guilty of bombastic rhetoric, but boardroom deportment is even more important in these days in which literally trillions of dollars of aggregate personal wealth is being erased in just a matter of days, if not hours.

Personally, I would never offer investment advice to anyone and you would wise to not accept Wall Street counsel from me, except for one point: I never invest in companies in which I do not condone the behavior of the CEO. I am also very wary of companies in which the CEO and the company are synonymous terms…Hello Steve Jobs. What’s your blood pressure today?

There is no denying that McNealy is super bright with an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a MBA from Stanford…after all, Sun stands for Stanford University Network. Having said that, there is a difference between bright and smart: “Ballmer and Butthead” in hindsight was barely clever and not smart.


I stayed away from investing in Hewlett-Packard during the imperial reign of Carly Fiorina. Her efforts to bludgeon the HP culture into acquiring Compaq left permanent scars. Her fights with the media, particularly the San Jose Mercury News, were undertaken without the prospect of an upside. She was forced to resign three years later as HP’s CEO. Last year, she ran and lost in her attempt to wrest a Senate seat away from Barbara Boxer in California. And today… (she just won’t simply go away), she is working with the GOP Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Another stock that had the effect of a crucifix to a vampire for me was Advanced Micro Devices or AMD under the notorious direction of Jerry Sanders. Brash and colorful, Jerry was the ultimate loose cannon beyond any kind of reasonable control by his PR handlers (probably too strong of a word). Jerry was going to say what Jerry was going to say.

There was the night that he concluded an annual Semiconductor Industry Association dinner with “We have come a long way since the days we were fighting the Japs (over trade access).” He is (mis)credited for inventing the term that “Real men have fabs,” prompting semiconductor makers without their own factories…or fabs…to establish their own trade association, the Fabless Semiconductor Association, now the Global Semiconductor Alliance.

And of course my all time favorite from Jerry: “Money is life’s report card.” Guess that means Mother Teresa really sucked at life.

When it comes to corporate excess, no one does it better than Larry Ellison of Oracle…The planes, the yachts, the mansions, the divorces…And how many people are unemployed in this country? How many are underwater on their mortgages? How many are afraid to open up their investment portfolios? Larry doesn’t need my money, but I have made a vow to never invest in Oracle regardless of the company’s financial results as long as Larry is in charge.

The bottom line is that C-Level behavior does matter. Some are willing to look the other way just as long as the company is doing well. And what happens when the sun starts sinking against the horizon and the stock heads south? The “Ballmer and Butthead” quotes aren’t so funny. As John Madden once said: “When you are winning no one can hurt you; when you are losing, no one can help you.”











oxymoron  (ˌɒksɪˈmɔːrɒn)
n  , pl -mora
  rhetoric  an epigrammatic effect, by which contradictory terms are used in conjunction: living death ; fiend angelical
[C17: via New Latin from Greek oxumōron,  from oxus  sharp + mōros  stupid]

A colleague recently approached asking for your author’s humble opinion about a newly created senior manager of Corporate Affairs position for a publicly traded company in the data storage space. In short order while reading the position description, your author’s cerebral alarm bells were going off.

The main responsibility of the soon-to-be anointed senior manager of Corporate Affairs would be to “execute the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) responsibilities.” Hmmm …

Almost DailyBrett was left wondering how long it would take the company to “execute” the senior manager of Corporate Affairs responsible for CSR in the face of the next inevitable technology industry downturn. This position has all the sounds of classic SG&A (selling, general and administrative) or a corporate expense, which Finance departments will curtail if not outright eliminate.

Just as widely extolled video news releases (VNRs) of the 1990s made shameless PR firms gobs of cash while being round-filed or cut-up for “B-roll” by television station producers, the virtues of CSR are now part of every pitch made in agency reviews or RFP response cattle calls.

But is CSR in its purest form really an oxymoron? Do the words, “corporate” and “social responsibility” really belong in the same sentence? Please don’t giggle.


As Aneel Karnani of the University of Michigan Business School wrote in the Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com there are cases in which companies have done good things for society and the environment, including serving healthier foods at fast-food restaurants and offering more fuel-efficient cars. Yes, companies can be green while chasing green. http://www.bus.umich.edu/FacultyBios/FacultyBio.asp?id=000119664

But let’s keep in mind that the pursuit of profits and delivering shareholder value are the core missions of the executives in corporate boardrooms, not saving the world. In all due respect, Mother Teresa never had to lead quarterly earnings report conference calls or answer questions at annual meetings of shareholders. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa

“Very simply, in cases where private profits and public interests are aligned, the idea of corporate social responsibility is irrelevant: Companies that simply do everything they can to boost profits will end up increasing social welfare,” Karnani wrote. “In circumstances in which profits and social welfare are in direct opposition, an appeal to corporate social responsibility will almost always be ineffective, because executives are unlikely to act voluntarily in the public interest and against shareholder interests.”

And speaking about shareholder interests, there is this little notion called, fiduciary responsibility, that trumps corporate social responsibility each and every time. And that may not be such a bad thing.

“The movement for corporate social responsibility is in direct opposition, in such cases, to the movement for better corporate governance, which demands that managers fulfill their fiduciary duty to act in the shareholders’ interest or be relieved of their responsibilities,” said Karnani. “That’s one reason so many companies talk a great deal about social responsibility but do nothing—a tactic known as ‘greenwashing.’”

Certainly companies that act irresponsibly and end up hurting society and the environment (e.g. British Petroleum or BP “Deepwater Horizon oil spill) will be punished by vote-seeking politicians, marauding plaintiff’s attorneys, consumers, shareholders…just to name a few. It is good business to maintain a positive reputation and a strong brand…and that means also protecting that brand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill


Having said that, expecting companies to worship exclusively at the altar of Corporate Social Responsibility in the face of a potential double dip recession where mere survival maybe job #1 just simply doesn’t jive with reality.

As the late Ann Richards once said: “That old dog won’t hunt.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Richards

To Blog or Not to Blog?

. . . That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged blog readers, Or to take aim through social media against a perceived sea of troubles, And by commenting, end them? To die: or to employ conversational marketing, No more; and by a blog to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks . . . or merely to build personal brand . . .

Okay I will stop now and offer my apologies for butchering William Shakespeare in his posthumous state and his literary masterpiece, “Hamlet.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/385300.html

Seriously, should you start your own blog to build your personal brand, become a thought leader and develop a cadre of readers and colleagues? When I ask the question that way, the answer is an obvious, “yes.”

Here’s another way of posing the same question: Should you burn up valuable personal time on at least a weekly basis to become just another voice in the crowded blogosphere? How do you know that anyone will even care, let alone read your blog? And can you run afoul with your employer, leading to your quick demise in the face of the worst economic downturn in the modern era? If that is the standard then Mother Teresa (if she was still around) wouldn’t even attempt to post a blog on comforting the sick and the poor.

One of the key reasons to post a blog is that traditional means of getting out your messages are rapidly declining, particularly the pencil press. The invention of digital media, yes those ubiquitous ones and zeroes, are providing us all with the ability to self publish. We can now climb on top of our virtual soap box and speak to the masses.

Keep in mind that the trend is toward Facebook (400 million reported users), Twitter (75 million users), LinkedIn (60 million users) and MySpace (57 million users). Technorati www.technorati.com may track 70 million registered blogs, but the dirty little secret is that only 15 million or 21 percent of this total number can be considered to be active. Blogging may have peaked. http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2007/04/blogging_growth.html

There is no doubt that it is much easier to write quick little quips on Facebook, Twitter (only 140 characters), LinkedIn or MySpace then to come up with four or five paragraphs of copy for a blog. I found that most would-be thought leaders pass on starting a blog because of bandwidth concerns. They just don’t have the time (or don’t believe they have the time). Instead, they have suggested working on a contributed article, which probably eats up 8x as much time when you prepare and submit abstracts to editors and go through the same exercise on the actual article. Besides why do want to be the subject of the whims of external editors, when you can just self publish in a fraction of the time?

Another concern is what will you write about? That is a legitimate consideration. The answer lies with the famous quote by former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he was asked to define hard-core pornography, “. . . You will know it when you see it.”

The key is not panicking. There are so many things in your life and your work that are fascinating to you that may also be something that interests somebody else. So why not take the plunge? In a later blog, I will discuss the key steps in starting and maintaining a blog. The real question that you should answer in the interim is: To blog or not to blog?

%d bloggers like this: