Tag Archive: Schadenfreude


I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?

 

 

Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-many-failures-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2017-05-24

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fascinating-life-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2016-04-13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bojY5N2Ns3k

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/a-man-in-the-arena/

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static

https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2013/09/09/john-sculley-just-gave-his-most-detailed-account-ever-of-how-steve-jobs-got-fired-from-apple/#38def8d4c655

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can’t foment. You can’t create an impression a stock is down. You do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” – Former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

“Apple is very important to spread the rumor that both Verizon and AT&T have decided they don’t like the phone (iPhone). It’s very easy to do. It’s also easy to spread the rumor the phone is not ready for Macworld.”  — Cramer explaining how shorting hedge-fund managers drive down a company’s stock price through rumor mongering

“I want the Jim Cramer of CNBC (Mad Money host) to protect me from that Jim Cramer (Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager) – Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

Many of us watched Jon Stewart take apart Jim Cramer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The legendary 2009 interview went viral, including Cramer’s bragging about short selling, even among those who do not subscribe to the notion of buying low and selling high.

Here’s a predictable sports metaphor that brings into question the morality of short selling.

Every sports fan knows there are teams that far-too-many of us love to hate (i.e. New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Todgers …). We will happily pop open a cold one and sit in front of the Hi-Def and root against these teams and many others. We want them to lose, and lose big.

Having acknowledged this indisputable fact of life, will we spend our hard-earned money to travel to their respective stadia or watch them on our home team fields, courts, ice rinks solely to indulge in an exercise of Schadenfreude, delighting in their misery when they lose? You are rooting against them and not necessarily for your team.

Don’t we have better things to do with our money and time than negative rooting?

Moving from metaphor to reality, should the cunning few take their discretionary investment dollars and place a trade – a short sell – with the intent of cashing-out based not upon a publicly traded company’s stock rising, but instead losing value for the vast majority of investors and their employees?

Before going any further, Almost DailyBrett must acknowledge that short selling is perfectly legal (it shouldn’t be), but the question remains: Is it moral? Yes, some may be wondering how morality and Wall Street work in tandem. Believe it or not, there is synergy when it comes to investing and morality.

For example, each of America’s 5,900 publicly traded companies on the NYSE or NASDAQ is legally required to practice fiduciary responsibility (don’t glaze over). Translated: Every company is obligated to do the best job possible to drive the top line (revenues) and raise the bottom line (net income or loss).

The beneficiaries of fiduciary responsibility are America’s Investor Class, the 55 percent of our nation that invests in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. When “Wall Street” is attacked, the hopes and dreams of literally millions for a comfortable retirement, their children’s college education, their donations to worthy charities, their once-in-a-lifetime vacations, are under siege as well.

The Big Short

“Stormy weather in Shortville … “— Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweet mocking short sellers

The literally millions of short trades fly directly in the face of the aspirations of middle-class and lower-upper class investors, who realize you can’t finance dreams through negligible bank interest rates and ping-ponging real estate. That’s why they turn En-masse to equities, bonds and mutual funds (e.g., IRAs and 401Ks).

For example, there are those (including the author of Almost DailyBrett) who invest in Elon Musk and Tesla. They are supporting the development of electric cars, ion lithium batteries and solar power, all intended to transport millions and provide energy – all without contributing to climate change.

And yet 31 million of Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) 163.1 million shares are sold short or about $8.46 billion in market capitalization or value that these traders are hoping will simply plunge big time to their greedy benefit.

Alas for them and hooray for the rest of us the Tesla short sellers are taking it in the shorts.

As we saw in the Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, The Big Short, there were cunning and callous short sellers who bet big time – and won – against the U.S. real estate market and thousands of underwater and underperforming mortgages.

They won, while literally hundreds of thousands lost their homes or were trapped in properties they could not afford, thus triggering the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Almost DailyBrett believes the government regulates enough thank you very much. But should the feds (e.g., SEC, DOJ, FTC) take a long-and-hard look at short selling?

If the goal of the shorts is pure unmitigated greed, while literally hundreds of thousands suffer and see their hopes and dreams dashed, then short selling is not only wrong morally, but it should be frickin’ illegal as well.

http://www.goldmansachs.com/

http://www.biography.com/people/jon-stewart-16242282

http://www.cnbc.com/jim-cramer/

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/gliow5/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–3

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/movies/review-in-the-big-short-economic-collapse-for-fun-and-profit.html?_r=0

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-stocks-idUSKBN17522H

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/TSLA/key-statistics?p=TSLA

“With best wishes to Kevin who understands what this is all about” – Jody Powell

“When the news seemed to me then and now, to be wrong, unsupportable, and unfair.” – President Jimmy Carter’s press secretary Jody Powellpowellsignature

One of my most cherished possessions is a personally signed copy of Jody Powell’s 1984 book about presidential public relations and the media, “The Other Side of the Story.”

Powell passed way-too-young (65) of an apparent heart attack seven years ago, making my copy of this hardbound book irreplaceable.

Today, the author of Almost DailyBrett assigns new PR students Powell’s remembrances of his brain-fart disclosure to the media of Jimmy Carter smacking a “the killer rabbit” with a canoe oar, “A Grave Mistake,” and more importantly do PR pros in extreme circumstances have “The Right to Lie”?powellbriefing

Powell is seen through the lens of history as one of the very best to serve as the chief spokesman and communications strategist for the leader of the free world. Without a doubt that will be Jody’s lasting legacy. Alas, he served a president who was besieged with 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, out-of-control inflation and economic malaise.

Despite Powell’s best efforts, Carter was excused from the presidency in 1980, winning only six states + DC or 49 electoral votes. Powell eventually shook off the loss, and provided wisdom to all PR pros with his “The Other Side of the Story.”

This simple title also should serve as a reminder to us all that with all issues, there is indeed another side to the story.

To my horror, your author remembers being told there is no other side of the story when it comes to a major criminal justice issue. My training as a political/business public relations professional is there are indeed two sides to every story, and you are simply not doing your job if you don’t comprehend the opposing argument.

How can you fashion a winning rebuttal?

Getting Out of Our Filter Bubbles

One of the tenets of public relations theory (don’t glaze over) is Cognitive Dissonance or the practice of re-examining a hard-felt position upon the presence of compelling new information. John F. Kennedy through his charm and conviction was able to gain support from Republicans despite setbacks (e.g., Bay of Pigs). Conversely, Ronald Reagan’s success and communication skills led to the formation of a new-at-the-time political force, The Reagan Democrats.

Does Cognitive Dissonance still apply today in our woefully divided, gridlocked society?

Looking into my crystal ball, will President Hillary Clinton be “primaried” (new verb) in 2020 by Bernie-Sanders-progressives, if she works with Speaker Paul Ryan? There is zero doubt that Clinton and Ryan see the world differently, but at the same time it is their job to work together for the benefit of the country.powellbook

 

In order to do just that, both sides need to appreciate there is indeed The Other Side of the Story. Even more germane, is this notion is at the heart of the Marketplace of Ideas.

For example, many decry the fact that an estimated 2 million are incarcerated in American jails and prisons, a disproportionate number hail from minority communities. Is that the only side of the story that matters?

As press secretary to former California Governor George Deukmejian, our administration doubled the size of the state’s prison system, which was a godsend considering the massive overcrowding issue the Golden State faces to this day.

Were we being mean, hateful and vindictive or were we responding to the public who did not want criminals in their neighborhoods and in the streets?

Are there indeed two sides (mass incarceration and public safety) to this criminal justice issue?

In a more intense sense, there is a reason why ISIS is so evil, so angry and so violent? Is there a side to their story we should try to comprehend? Yes. At the same time, we need to respond to their attacks on soft targets in the United States, Western Europe and the Middle East. We have our side of the story as well.

Almost DailyBrett knows instinctively that Donald Trump will soon and thankfully fade from the airwaves and digital screens. The ensuring period of global Schadenfreude will pass as well.

Will we reach a point in which we respect there really are two sides to virtually every story? When and if we do, we will become a much more civil society.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/us/politics/15powell.html?_r=0

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/14/AR2009091402738.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-right-to-lie/

 

 

“I cannot imagine ever voting for him (Donald Trump).” – Conservative Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer

“What I think about Hillary Clinton is — I imagine to be a bright woman without the courage of her convictions because I’m not sure what they are.” — Comedian and Late-Night Host Jon Stewart

“(Trump’s attack against an Hispanic judge) The textbook definition of a racist comment.” – House Speaker Paul Ryan

“All I’m saying is that the idea that there’s one set of rules for us (The Clintons) and another set for everybody else is true.” – Former President William Jefferson Clinton

Choosing between Hillary and The Donald is akin to either burning at the stake or drowning (not to be confused with “Berning” at the stake).hillarytrump

Is this “choice” posed to the American people the absolute best the most powerful country on earth can do at this critical point in the nation’s history?

Can Hillary seriously be compared in the same vein to Democratic forerunners Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy?

We all know the answer to that question.

Ditto for weighing out-of-control Donald Trump against Honest Abraham Lincoln, Progressive Teddy Roosevelt, Commander-in-Chief Dwight Eisenhower and The Gipper, Ronald Reagan. All of these presidents were the epitome of political discipline. That is very last word that applies to Trump.

There is a nationwide pile-on against The Donald for a litany of good reasons, which could lead to the ultimate Schadenfreude moment: We are so happy The Donald is so sad … and humbled.oligarchy

The most likely net side-effect: The Clintons are back in the White House. There will be the predictable celebration of the first woman president. Keep in mind, we will not be electing the American equivalent of Kanzerlin Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher or Fed Chief Janet Yellen, but yet another member of the Clintonian Oligarchy.

Maybe we should simply elect the right person for the right time (e.g., Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Ronald Reagan in 1980) or is that too much to ask?

Is there a third way?

Is there a third option?

Throwing Away My Vote?

“I’m sorry this happened (Trump nomination), but we’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point I just can’t do it (endorse The Donald).” – Ohio Governor John Kasichkasich

Last month, yours truly cast his first State of Washington primary ballot for Kasich. Even though Ohio’s chief executive easily fits my definition of a Ronald Reagan-vintage Republican, everyone knew that Kasich could not win. Did the author of Almost DailyBrett throw his vote away?

By voting for Kasich, your author opted for a good guy and better yet did not jump on the Trump bandwagon as it heads towards the electoral cliff. Proud to NOT vote for Trump and akin to Charles Krauthammer, can’t imagine ever checking the box for Trump even though he is the party nominee.

The list of prominent Republicans not yet (or never) endorsing The Donald is deep and prominent: Former President George H.W. Bush, Former President George W. Bush, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina among others.

Even more important to your author as a former Golden State press secretary is that all three living California Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pete Wilson and of course my former boss, George Deukmejian, are not endorsing Donald Trump … and hopefully never will.

Bull Moose in 2016?

Former President Teddy Roosevelt was less than enamored with his successor Howard Taft in 1912 and ran as “progressive” third-party “Bull Moose” campaign for president, splitting the Republican Party and electing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to the White House.teddyroosevelt

As an eternal optimist Almost DailyBrett must ask: Is there a common sense, free-enterprise, strong-fiscal discipline and hawkish on national defense type who can run “Bull Moose” this year?

Whattyathink Mitt Romney? How about it, John Kasich? Do you really want to be speaker, Paul Ryan?

Yes, Almost DailyBrett understands that running a “Bull Moose” candidate this year (former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson does not fit the bill) will most likely result in Bill Clinton measuring the new drapes for the Lincoln Bedroom, but one can be spared from having to decide between Hillary and The Donald.

University of Virginia Professor of Political Science Larry Sabato pointed to 1964 (e.g., Goldwater) as the year the Republicans “went off the rails” followed by a similar exercise in political masochism by the Democrats in 1972 (e.g., McGovern). Now it is the GOP’s turn again. The more-than-likely Republican train wreck will not be pretty, but it may be cleansing.

It will be onward to 2020. Hopefully, we will not be looking up to the heavens for a third choice, a third way once again.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-matter-of-paul-ryan/2016/06/09/e2d7734a-2e71-11e6-9de3-6e6e7a14000c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/06/07/ryan-says-trumps-attacks-on-judge-fit-the-textbook-definition-of-a-racist-comment/?tid=a_inl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/06/15/time-for-panic-or-for-nevertrump/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/06/16/good-for-kasich-now-will-he-help-dump-trump/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Way

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/13/this-new-poll-utah-poll-is-amazingly-bad-for-donald-trump/

http://www.eonline.com/news/671706/arnold-schwarzenegger-reacts-to-donald-trump-s-run-for-president-some-candidates-will-make-a-lot-of-noise

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/donald-trump-vice-president-224488

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/november-is-fast-becoming-what-the-gop-fears-a-referendum-on-trump/2016/06/18/f942ddd2-34dd-11e6-8758-d58e76e11b12_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/12/jon-stewart-perfectly-diagnosed-the-problem-with-hillary-clintons-candidacy/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Trump-less debate proved the Donald right … While more than 24 million people watched the first GOP presidential debate on Fox, just 12.5 million watched this one.” – Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

From a public relations and long-term reputation standpoint, which is better?

  1. Caving into Mr. CombOver and jettisoning Megyn Kelly as a GOP debate moderator for the benefit of ratings?
  2. Retaining Kelly as a moderator, even at the expense of a Donald Trump debate boycott and the obvious sacrifice of literally millions of viewers?megyndonald

Whichever course Fox News’ boss Mr. Warm-and-Fuzzy Roger Ailes chose, there was going to be criticism and impassioned finger pointing. It was a simply a no-win situation for Fox News, regardless of the decided course of action.

Fox News chose Option 2: Standing behind Kelly, journalistic principle and calling Trump’s debate-boycott bluff.

Almost DailyBrett must also take a stand on this question: Allowing any politician, no matter how demagogic, influential and wealthy, to dictate coverage by any network sets a horrible precedent and worse yet: The decision is indefensible.

Besides … love it or loath it … cable news ratings leader Fox News will be around longer than Donald Trump. The network claims it is “fair and balanced.” Whether one agrees with this moniker or not, how can Fox News stand behind this motto if a billionaire bully dictates journalistic standards?

Tit in a Ringer?

“Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s (slush fund story) published.” – Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell

Do you think Richard Nixon wanted Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post to be fired during the height of the Watergate scandal? Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell even warned he would put Post publisher Graham’s “tit in a ringer.”postgraham

The Post was properly saluted by the journalism profession for sticking to its proverbial guns in the 1970s. Woodward and Bernstein’s “All the President’s Men” (both the book and the movie) and “The Final Days,” celebrated the Pulitzer-Prize-winning coverage by the Post.

So why not even some modicum of acknowledgement of the courage of Fox News, even at a network loss of upwards of 12 million viewers? Almost DailyBrett is not suggesting an equivalency between the Watergate coverage and Donald Trump debate boycott other than to state that both required courage.

What’s ironic is at least one or more Washington Post pundits (and presumably other media as well) are leading the criticism of Fox News’ decision to back Kelly and suffer the ratings hit as a result of Trump’s petty-and-childish debate boycott.

Who Is the Real Loser?

“Slinking away from an accomplished journalist who might ask a tough question is lame and makes the blustering, bullying real estate mogul look weak and petulant. This could permanently damage the perception that he’s strong and fearless.” – Presidential Campaign Manager Karl Rove

There are some who are taking Donald Trump at his word: He boycotted last Thursday’s debate because of Kelly’s tough questioning at the August 6 debate, asking him to respond to charges that he is a misogynist.

There are others who contend he played it safe, especially when word leaked out that Kelly and her two other moderators Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, were planning on interjecting Tim Russert-style “got-ya” videos into the debate questioning.  Last Thursday’s debate featured the toughest questions of the seven Republican and four Democratic debates to date.trumpailes

And then, there is the distinct possibility the threatened boycott had nothing to do with Kelly, but really boiled down to two-little boys in a sandbox (e.g., Trump and Ailes) contesting who had the biggest Tonka truck.

It will be interesting to note whether Trump’s pettiness will cost him in the Iowa Caucuses this evening. If so, a national wave of Schadenfreude may ensue.

For the Fox News PR department, it is far easier to stand-up for Vanity Fair cover-subject, Megyn Kelly and more importantly, journalistic principles, than to rationalize backing down to Donald Trump.

When in doubt: Think long-term reputation over short-term benefit.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/28/winners-and-losers-from-the-7th-republican-presidential-debate/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-ducks-an-iowa-opportunity-1453938984?mg=id-wsj

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/28/the-real-reason-donald-trump-is-skipping-tonights-fox-news-debate/?tid=a_inl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/29/megyn-kelly-is-a-very-good-debate-moderator-heres-proof/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/who-had-the-worst-week-in-washington-foxs-roger-ailes/2016/01/29/0b863796-c693-11e5-a4aa-f25866ba0dc6_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

http://www.economist.com/node/699638

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/12/megyn-kelly-fox-news-cover-story

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/01/31/will-trump-ever-debate-again/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

 

 

 

 

 

“In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl.” – Mark Twain in his 1880 essay, The Awful German Languagegermanbeauty

What do you call someone, who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks two languages? Bilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks one language? An American.

Not my favorite guy, but the last of the three rhetorical questions posed by deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather to the National Governor’s Association meeting in Chicago hit me right between the eyes.

The year was 1989. It was das Jahr die Mauer fällt. That was also the year the author of Almost DailyBrett made a resolution to learn another language, German. Die deutsche Sprache was one of the hottest languages in the world as the Berlin Wall came down and the soon to be reunified Germany started to project “soft power.” German was once again in vogue.

Certainly when it comes to romance, German with its guttural sounds (see Schmetterling above) will never qualify. The closest word in this category may be Gemütlichkeit, which conveys a sense of coziness, a warm fire, an Alpine meadow, a beautiful hike in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).

I’m Happy That You’re So Sad

There is also Schadenfreude, which roughly translates, “I’m happy that you’re so sad.” Keep in mind that Schadenfreude is also one of the German language’s many compound nouns, making it virtually impossible to play Scrabble in German. How about Arbeitslosigkeitsunterstützung or unemployment insurance?

With a language as tortured as German in which all nouns must be capitalized, is it any surprise there is really no German word for public relations? The closest translation is Öffentlichkeitsarbeit or work with or in the public sphere. If you desire an even longer German compound noun, how about the word for Germany’s public relations miracle from 1945 to present day: Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder?

German is far from the hardest language on the planet to learn (i.e., Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese or even Hungarian), but it is certainly not the easiest. Der, die, das, die (nominative case); den, die, das, die (accusative); dem, der, dem, den (dative) and des, der, des, der (accusative) are all the ways Germans say the word, “the,” depending where and how “the” falls in any sentence.

In English, the word,“the” is “the.” Simple.

And let’s not forget irregular and separable verbs in which a prefix gets thrown to the conclusion of the sentence and with or without the prefix at the end, it changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, rufen means to call and anrufen means to call by telephone … rufen is conjugated, and an is placed at the end of the sentence.

Do you really want to make that phone call?

To get on the Autobahn with no speed limit in long stretches, you follow the Einfahrt, and to exit you follow the Ausfahrt. That’s a lot of Fahrting for one ride on the Autobahn (compound noun).ausfahrt

Similar to Spanish and French (and presumably many other languages), German articles (der, die, das) must be correctly placed before the corresponding masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.

As noted above, clever Mark Twain pointed out German is the only language on the planet that makes a turnip, feminine, die Rübe, and a young unmarried girl/woman neuter, das Mädchen and das Fraulein. Translated: the actual gender of the noun may not matter in determining the article that precedes it.

There is also the issue associated with the fact that many Germans do not believe you can ever learn their language. Go to Berlin or München and ask a question in (near) perfect High-German and more times than naught, you will receive your answer in English oder Englisch.

The good news: they understood your question. The bad news: they are still convinced you will never learn German.

Why Learn German?

“ … People know that you get further in a country if you speak the local and the official language and not just English. For networking and approaching clients, and partially also for business communication, knowing German gives you an additional advantage.Ulrich Ammon, author of The Status of the German Language in the World

Let’s face it, when it comes to learning German, many will instantly equate the language with charming memories, such as Blitzkrieg, Luftwaffe, Achtung, U-Boots, Messerschmitts, Fokkers and dozens of other militaristic terms that harken back to two world wars and the Holocaust.

That’s why it was all the more surprising to learn that German is being offered to 14-to-15 year-old students in Israeli schools or more than 20,000 Israelis have moved to Berlin, the once capital of the Third Reich.

What has changed, particularly when only 104 million of the earth’s 7 billion-plus inhabitants are native German speakers? One answer is these native speakers equate to the 4th largest economy in terms of GNP and the world’s most proficient export machine.

Germany will be eternally tarnished by memories of the Nazis and the Holocaust, but its leadership in the European Union, its popular and consensus-oriented Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its (soft power) powerful export driven economy has made it a land of opportunity. Partially as a consequence of its postwar guilt and its aging population and declining workforce, Germany has been more than generous in opening its borders to those fleeing from Iraq and Syria, and is expected to accommodate 800,000 refugees by the end of the year.schmetterling

Reportedly, there are 15.5 million present day students of die Deutsche Sprache, up 4 percent in the last five years.

Should you become one of them, you will soon be able to translate: Der kleine schöne Schmetterling hat durch den grünen Wald geflogen.

Yep, that is one beautiful little butterfly that flew through the green forest. Pass the schnapps!

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21663257-once-language-schiller-and-goethe-then-hitler-german-hip-again-sprechen-sie-power

http://www.dw.com/en/why-the-world-should-learn-german-and-why-germany-should-care/a-18236069

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlATOHGj9EY

https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Awful_German_Language

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-3000-migrants-cross-austria-33650547

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21663228-refugees-germanys-chancellor-brave-decisive-and-right-merkel-bold

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/germanys-road-to-redemption-shines-amid-europes-refugee-debate/2015/09/10/00955630-57f0-11e5-8bb1-b488d231bba2_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or unemployed …

justinesacco

Love him or despise him, you can always count on Mr. Warm and Fuzzy, Charles Barkley, to have an opinion. In this particular case, he has a point: Sometimes the Internet draws fools into its web.

When it comes to anything and everything binary code, one must always recognize that digital is indeed eternal. Weigh these examples.adamsmithvante

  • Former $200K+ Vante CFO Adam Smith took a video of himself berating Rachel, a Chick-fil-A employee working the drive-thru window, about the company’s position on same-sex marriage and posted it on YouTube. He was fired. He can’t find a job.
  • IAC/InterActiveCorp senior director of corporate communications Justine Sacco dashed off her insensitive tweet about AIDS in Africa just before she flew to Cape Town, South Africa. Her tweet went viral. She was terminated before her plane landed.

Let’s ask here and now: Why are so many so damn cavalier when it comes to Twitter’s 140 characters?

Why are some so consumed with posting every minute detail about their lives on Facebook, no matter how trivial?

Do we have to post every still on Instagram or upload every video on YouTube, no matter how mundane or in some cases, obnoxious and offensive?

Why will others insist on uttering every-and-any political thought that comes in between their ears on WordPress, Wix, Tumblr or any other blogging site? Maybe we are not interested, let alone enamored, with your political views?

Barkley is not a fan of social media and has the luxury to say so. He and many others assume a who cares attitude toward the Internet. For the rest of us mere mortals, we know that social, mobile and cloud are game changers.

The World Wide Web is the classic definition of a destructive technology, the biggest communications advancement since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th Century. We can communicate to-and-from virtually any place on the planet in a matter of seconds, 24/7/365.

The Genie is not going back into the lantern.

The real question is whether we are using these tools with the care they require. Think of it this way: blogging, social media and other digital forms of communication are “radioactive.” They are not monolithic (e.g., think “Friends” for Facebook and “Connections” for LinkedIn), but they all have the potential and the capability to get us in trouble in nanoseconds.

They can be abused. Why do some insist upon posting literally anything about their daily lives on the net? How many baby pictures are necessary? How many images of casseroles are required? How many more cat photos do we need to see?

Okay, the author of Almost DailyBrett pleads guilty when it comes to felines; yes, I have posted a tabby cat photo or two on Facebook.

Reputation Management for an Eternal Digital World

“Someday that party picture is going to bite them when they seek a senior corporate job or public office. I think they should wake up now, and become aware of the extent to which they’re sharing parts of themselves that one day they may wish they had kept private.”– Don Tapscott, Author of “Grown Up Digital”

The most important public relations of all are personal public relations.party

Would a hiring manager performing a Google search (okay Yahoo and Bing too) uncovering photo of the obviously inebriated Florida Gator fan doing a little pole dancing, automatically disqualify this individual?

Is that fair?

Does the hiring manager actually know the individual?

Most likely, the answers are “yes,” “no,” and “no.” Translated: The candidate is disqualified. It’s not really fair. And the hiring manager does not know the individual … and yet she or he doesn’t want to become acquainted with the “candidate.” The digital ones-and-zeroes that make up the photo tell the story, and it is not a good tale.

Some have expressed a concern, particularly college students, that the vast majority of their photos of Facebook and elsewhere (hopefully not LinkedIn) usually come with a drink in one hand. Does the preponderance of party photos send an unwanted message? Is alcohol a problem? Maybe they should do a little surfing on Google images and see if there are one (or two) too many fiesta photos?

Studies have revealed that executive recruiters (e.g., headhunters) spend only 6.25 seconds on a contender’s LinkedIn profile, and the first place they go? A potential candidate’s photo.

If that is indeed the case, wouldn’t someone interested in personal reputation management choose the most professional JPEG possible? One would think so, and yet Almost DailyBrett has seen LinkedIn portrait photos that are more appropriate for Match.com.

Internet Jail?

“A little payback. Sometimes there are consequences for being a dick.” – TYT Network Young Turks host Ana Kasparian

Can Schadenfreude or the celebration of someone’s demise get a little out of hand?

Kasparian’s sidekick, Cenk Uygur, wondered if Adam Smith (not to be confused with the Adam Smith of Wealth of Nations fame) will ever get a job again, any job, let alone a six-figure position.saccolanding

Sacco’s sin, which she fully comprehended when she landed in Cape Town, is even worse, particularly when you consider that she rose in the ranks to become a senior communicator for a major media conglomerate. If she can’t police her own dialogue, why would a reputable firm turn over its messaging, branding and reputation management to Mizz Intemperate Tweet?

Both Adam and Justine are in Internet Prison. Did they earn a lifelong sentence? Is that fair? Maybe not. Will it change? Maybe not.

What did Sir Charles say about “Fools” and the “Internet”?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gha5rNS6WyI

https://www.tytnetwork.com/

http://www.businessinsider.com/former-vante-cfo-adam-smith-apologizes-for-bullying-chick-fil-a-worker-2012-8

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=0

http://iac.com/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/03/26/what-your-resume-is-up-against/

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

There are no statues of critics.

There is no glory for Monday morning quarterbacks.olbermann

Second guessing is the easy part; making the crucial decision in a matter of seconds under the glare of spotlight is not for cold-and-timid souls, who will neither know victory nor defeat.

For many, the perceived and real shortcomings of hated overachievers provide a warm feeling of Schadenfreude. They are so happy that someone better than them is so sad.

And why is this? Maybe because their own lives are so desultory, so mundane, so unfulfilled.

Never underestimate the power and the extent of jealousy.

Almost DailyBrett must ask the jealous types, instead of hating others, why not generate and celebrate your own victories? Instead of rejoicing the shortcomings of others, why not become an overachiever yourself?

Sure wish it was that easy.

From Genius to Goat

Life can be so cruel.

With only six seconds before halftime and Seattle set up for a relatively easy three points, everyone expected Pete Carroll to send on the field goal team.

His quarterback, Russell Wilson, wanted one more shot at the end zone. It was a risky decision as Wilson could be sacked or he could have thrown a pick. Carroll made the decision to go for it. The result: Touchdown Seahawks.

Pete Carroll was a genius. The Man in the Arena had taken a calculated gamble and won. The game was now tied 14-14.carroll

Another Man in the Arena, overachieving quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, directed two fourth quarter drives under incredible pressure, to put the Pats up by four with time running down.

Seattle had one more chance, and certainly was making the most of the opportunity. First down on the six-yard line became second down on the one. Carroll was more than aware of the comeback capability of Brady et al. and wanted to leave no time on the clock.

As we all know, Seattle threw on second and goal from the 36-inches away. It didn’t work out. In the time it took for Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz to play the Super Bowl half-time show and two quarters, Pete Carroll had been transformed from genius to goat.

Yes, life can be that unfair.

Being a Stand-Up Guy

“I think the criticism they’ve (Carroll et al.) gotten for the game is totally out of line and by a lot of people who I don’t think are anywhere near even qualified to be commenting on it.” – New England Coach Bill Belichick

The credentialed vultures were circling, and yet Pete Carroll was the Man in the Media Arena.

He faced the music. He answered the myriad of questions. He took full responsibility. He was the Stand-Up Guy.carrollsuperbowl

Predictably, those who know at least four-volumes less about football than Carroll were instant pigskin gurus. Keith Olbermann, who has been unceremoniously ejected from more TV networks than you can count on two hands and two feet, was among those leading the charge.

All the past transgressions – real or perceived – by Pete Carroll came rocketing to the surface. There was no balancing the discussion with the undeniable success of Carroll including two national titles at USC and the only Super Bowl win for the Seahawks. Absent from the conversation was Pete’s devotion to helping others and building “A Better LA” and “A Better Seattle.”

What may bother the jealous types more than anything else is that Pete is a winner, Sunday night notwithstanding. He always has a huge smile on his face. He has tremendous energy. He is 63-years-young and looks like he is 33. He is a classic overachiever. He is the Man in the Arena.

For the jealous, the depressed, the unhappy, the underachievers, they now can rejoice for a short period of Schadenfreude. Maybe they can now all take turns in carving a statue to Keith Olbermann.

The author of Almost DailyBrett would be more than happy to serve as the first pigeon.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000468089/article/pete-carroll-continues-to-defend-seahawks-oc-bevell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Carroll

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000467707/article/seahawks-pete-carroll-explains-illfated-call-in-super-bowl-xlix

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/12277589/criticism-seattle-seahawks-play-call-line-bill-belichick-new-england-patriots-says

 

 

How much intellectual heavy lifting does it take to raise a tax?

Prioritizing and carefully reducing expenditures requires mental gymnastics, but one doesn’t need an Ivy League degree to increase taxes…even though most of these collegiate thoroughbreds advocate doing just that.

Once you have decided to hike taxes to fund even bigger government, more spending (and borrowing), the obvious question is whom should you tax? The answer is oh-so-easy, those who have the worst public relations.

Let’s put on our social justice hats and indulge in a little Schadenfreude and/or sadism.

Who do we most want to suffer? Here are some predictable candidates and potential targets…all in desperate need of better brand management.

Tax the Rich: This is obviously not a new subject (e.g., class warfare) or a new target for increased taxation. Congress recently passed and the president signed the latest tax increase on the rich. Last November, Californians approved Proposition 30 with its “temporary” tax increases on the wealthy, prompting the second best golfer on the planet, Phil Mickelson, to complain (and later to apologize for daring to question taxation in the Land of the Free).

philmickelson

Maybe we should be apologizing to him for imposing a 39.6 percent federal rate, a 13.3 percent (California) state rate; 1 percent state mental health surcharge; 3.8 percent state Medicare surcharge; San Diego County property taxes on his $15 million home; 8 percent sales tax and 20 percent on any capital gains. Essentially, Phil works from January 1 to at least August 31 to pay all of the governments with their hands out.

In the 1970s, the Rolling Stones fled England to escape its punitive 98 percent tax rate (e.g., working from January 1 until December 15 every year to pay the government). Should Mickelson at least move out of California to no-income tax Texas or Florida to reduce his personal tax bite by at least a third? Sounds like a good idea.

Some mocked Phil for complaining about his taxes, insinuating that he had not achieved or earned his income. Let’s see: he won four of the PGA’s grand slam events and 40 tournaments. That fits my definition of achievement. Let’s celebrate it…Oh…Sorry I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings…

Tax the Endomorphs: Isn’t it fun to snicker at those who can’t push themselves away from the dinner table? “Do I look fat in my outfit?” “Do you have to ask?” “Why do you live to eat as opposed to eating to live?”

There is no doubt that obesity is a major societal problem, so do we “solve” it by making the government obese? Some have suggested a “fat tax.” My first question is what constitutes “fat?” Is this restricted to people who are overweight or obese according to the Body Mass Index (BMI)? That would be one fat tax.

Denmark recently rescinded its fat tax because the heavy dynamic types were going across the border to Sweden and Germany to satisfy their caloric fix. The tiny Scandinavian country was also inadvertently punishing its fine cheese and meat industries, making them uncompetitive in the face of foreign competition.

Tax the Smokers: This dwindling group (for more reasons than one) is probably the most unsympathetic in the eyes of the general public. For example, they are permanently illiterate when it comes to the warnings on the side of each pack.

John Daly

There is little public relations can do to save them from themselves and/or the nicotine. How much further can the government extract from these addicted people? It seems the government is just as hooked on nicotine-stimulated revenues even in the face of more smokers biting the dust.

Just four years ago, Congress passed and the president signed the sweet sounding, “The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009.” The key was a tax increase on smoking, increasing the federal tax on a pack of smokes from $0.39 to $1.01. This tax is levied on top of the myriad of state taxes on cigarettes, such as $0.87 per pack in California; $1.18 in Oregon; $3.02 in Washington and a whopping $4.35 in New York.

Tax the Lawyers: What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

Whenever a group has earned being the butt of bad jokes with impunity, you know they need help from a public relations standpoint. But do they really need help? Those most inclined to raise taxes on them are the ones that are the political allies of the powerful trial lawyers. Don’t plan on reading about a lawyer’s tax anytime soon, particularly when Democrats control at least one house of Congress and the White House as well.

Tax the Pale Males: There are no greater symbols of white privilege than the pale male (e.g., 43 of America’s 44 presidents). Can you imagine being a rich pale smoking male endomorph attorney?

How many times can you tax this bastard? Ah heck, let’s just confiscate all of his income in the name of “the public good.”

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_30,_Sales_and_Income_Tax_Increase_%282012%29

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/28/opinion/navarrette-mickelson-freedom/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewcampione/2013/01/25/phil-mickelson-is-moving-from-california-a-mistake-actually-he-should-have-moved-sooner/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Mickelson

http://economist.com/news/europe/21566664-danish-government-rescinds-its-unwieldy-fat-tax-fat-chance

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigarette_taxes_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agreement

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

One team is winning and the other is losing.

The respective IPO dates of two rival social media platforms are only separated by one year and one day, but the reception by Wall Street investors could not have been more different.

As a result I completely unfriended Facebook today, selling my remaining shares of “FB,” while maintaining and considering adding to my position in LinkedIn. The LinkedIn connection has been slightly lucrative, thank you very much.

According to the Wall Street analysts, the heavy sell off in Facebook is attributable to the company not presenting a convincing argument during Thursday’s conference call on how it well monetize mobile platforms. Closer to the heart of the matter: Facebook is not providing guidance to investors going forward, making it difficult for buy-and-sell side analysts to build their financial models.

From this humble perspective, it seems something more basic is coming into play: Schadenfreude.

There are a growing number of people, who resent Mark Zuckerberg, his hoodie, the “Social Network” and his billions. Can we simply chalk it all up to old-fashioned jealousy of those who achieve? As the leader of the free world recently said, “You didn’t build that.” Au contraire.

zuckerberghoodie

As many of us know, it all started in Harvard’s Suite H-33, Kirkland House (Isn’t Harvard private? Do the public roads leading up to the campus negate all student and faculty accomplishments?). Zuckerberg is an entrepreneur with a dream that succeeded beyond his fondest dreams as 900 million subscribe to Facebook. And with this success came private equity, in fact too much private equity. Zuckerberg was essentially forced by SEC rules to go public. It may have been the world’s first kicking-and-screaming IPO.

During the investor tour leading up to Facebook’s May 18 (NASDAQ: FB) public offering, there were complaints that Zuckerberg sported his trademark hoodie rather than standard-issue Brooks Brothers suit with the Thomas Pink shirt and cuff links. Has this man no decency?

And just yesterday Maria Bartiromo and the other talking heads on CNBC were conjecturing whether Zuckerberg would even show up for his company’s first-ever investor conference call. Maybe analyst calls are not cool enough for the 29-year-old founder and chief executive of the world’s largest social media platform. Zuckerberg showed up, but the stock still closed today at $23.70, miles below its $38 IPO price. One analyst has set an 18-month $40 price target. I will hold off in placing an order.

Contrast the disastrous performance of the Facebook IPO with a similar public offering a year earlier by LinkedIn. The latter came with virtually no investor frenzy, but the results are impressive.

LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) went public on May 19, 2011, debuting at $45, quickly jumping to $85 and closing today at $103.42. Not bad.

One key differentiator between LinkedIn and Facebook is the former is targeted almost exclusively toward business. Need to find a job? Open and populate a LinkedIn profile. Be sure to include the details of your resume (curriculum vitae), your academic background, your recommendations, your PowerPoints, your blog and even your mug shot. This URL is one-stop shopping for recruiters.

linkedin

Want to research a recruiter, a hiring manager, a business partner, a customer, just simply head to the LinkedIn search engine. In a few key strokes, you know where she or he went to college; how long she or he has held the present position and where she or he has been before. This site is a great way to do your homework and to be prepared.

Another key differentiator is your “connections,” their connections and the connections of their connections. Who do you know? How important are your connections? What do your connections say about your readiness for a job, particularly a rain-making position that benefits from a deep roll-a-dex?

Almost DailyBrett opines that “connections” are more important in the eyes of Wall Street than “friends” and “likes.” Sure, Zuckerberg has access to the living patterns of almost one-seventh of the planet and $50 billion in market capitalization. LinkedIn only has a mere 161 million subscribers and only $10 billion in market cap…and yet Wall Street better understands the LinkedIn business model. Facebook in contrast offers friends and FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt).

Most of all there is no uncertainty whether LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman will participate in his company’s conference calls. Thumbs up.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/does-wall-street-hate-facebook-192938528.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443931404577551344018773450.html

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