Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Does a “Bleeding-Heart Conservative” Look Like? - Why the Answer is Critical for 2010/2012 -

On my Twitter Bio, I describe myself as “A Bleeding-Heart Conservative”. As you might expect, I’m often asked to provide my definition for that description. And, when I’m asked for this, it’s not uncommon for the inquiry to be accompanied by the question, “Is that like a 'Compassionate Conservative'?” … I get the impression that many don’t like that label due to its association with Bush 43.

Since I was referring to myself as a “Bleeding-Heart Conservative” long before I heard GWB call himself a “Compassionate Conservative”, I’ve felt comfortable saying that my sense is that the two are substantially different. Otherwise, until lately, I haven’t felt especially moved to offer further definition of “Bleeding-Heart Conservative”. However, when I was recently notified of a new Twitter Follower named Gina Bella (@ginabella) I was motivated to change my perspective on this. When I checked Gina’s Bio, to my surprise, I found that she also describes herself as a “bleeding heart conservative”. My immediate reaction was to think, “Hmmmmmmm. I guess we’re a movement. We should probably have a clear definition for our brand.”

As I began to seriously consider my meaning of “Bleeding –Heart Conservative”, I quickly realized that I don’t really fit my own definition. You see, when I think of “Bleeding-Heart Conservative”, I’m thinking of the guy in the photo (President Reagan), comforting those grieving the loss of the Challenger Shuttle Crew. Although I like to point out similarities between myself and “The Gipper” – e.g., I, too, can say that I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, it left me – I know I don’t measure up to the standard he set. Not many do. I guess, at best, I should call myself an “Aspiring Bleeding-Heart Conservative”, though I probably won’t make that change to my Twitter Bio due to their 140 character limit. Regardless, it struck me that, with Reagan as the standard, defining itself as the party of those aspiring to be a “Bleeding-Heart Conservative” could be pivotal to the Republican Party in regaining its significance in American politics. With that in mind, I finally felt compelled to offer my definition.

As noted, I see Ronald Reagan as having set the standard for what it means to be a “Bleeding-Heart Conservative”. And, as I see it, the key components of that standard are:
  1. Focusing on what we stand for, not what we’re against. In other words, accentuating the positive. Remember, Reagan always saw us as striving to be “The Shining City on the Hill”. I don’t remember him ever being apologetic to anyone about us while blaming our condition on what he inherited from predecessors.
  2. Being absolutely clear about what we stand for. The C&W lyrics “You’ve got to stand for somethin’ or you’ll fall for anything” may seem corny but they carry great truth. Being wishy-washy is a surefire way to invite attack from those who oppose you, who are not well-meaning.
  3. Not forgetting Reagan’s “11th Commandment”. Simply stated, this is not speaking ill of your fellow Republican. The converse of that is just as true – i.e., Boldly, speaking well of your fellow Republican … even when their popularity is down in the polls. I can’t think of a better example here than the way Former VP Dick Cheney has been speaking out lately. Too many have shied away from him due to the way our last administration was inappropriately disrespected and far too few have spoken out in agreement with him, as he has been courageously shining the light of truth.
  4. Constructively engaging those who oppose us, who are well-meaning. Don’t confuse this with the current administration’s foolishness in offering to sit down with lunatics like Ahmadinejad. President Reagan clearly understood that there is evil in this world and he was unafraid of calling a spade a spade, in that regard. But, when sitting down to negotiate with foreign leaders; he first strove to connect with the fellow-human-being on the other side of the table. More importantly, when dealing with domestic political opponents, he started by showing complete respect for those across the aisle ... his fellow-Americans. Moreover, whether or not he was in general agreement with another person, he was willing to selflessly embrace and acknowledge any superior ideas they offered.
Certainly, there are other important aspects to being a “Bleeding-Heart Conservative”. Likewise, beyond defining itself as the party of those aspiring to be a “Bleeding-Heart Conservative”, there are other essentials to bear in mind, as the Republican Party works to recapture its influence. But, I can’t think of anything better suited to serve as our cornerstone, as we rebuild and prepare the party for the coming 2010 and 2012 campaigns.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Portland’s Whuffie Trail Blazers

If you’re checking this article to see what I’m implying about Portland’s NBA team, the Trail Blazers, you’re going to be disappointed. This isn’t about basketball; it’s about a remarkable quality I’ve discovered in the Portland (PDX) business culture. It falls under a category trend setters in New Media Marketing are calling Whuffie. With the “remarkable quality” I mentioned, PDX has become quite a trend setter, itself, with Whuffie – i.e., Whuffie Trail Blazers.

Before going on, for those of you who’ve never heard of Whuffie (I heard it for the first time, myself, just over two weeks ago, through my friend, Janet Lee Johnson), let me tell you what it is, if I haven’t lost you already. In short, Whuffie is sort of the net worth a person or group builds up in Social Capital. The word “Whuffie” actually comes from a Sci-Fi book entitled “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”, by Cory Doctorow. Credit for the application of the word “Whuffie” to Social Capital seems to go to Tara Hunt, the Author of a book entitled “The Whuffie Factor”. For a more in depth understanding of Whuffie, check out Tara’s blog post entitled “You can’t eat Whuffie (but it’s getting harder to eat without it)”.

With all that said, my purpose with this article isn’t to educate you about Whuffie. It’s to give PDX kudos for its “Whuffie Factor” and to encourage Sales people and Sales organizations to be mindful of building their net worth in this regard.

First, let me tell you a bit about my discovery of PDX’s “Whuffie Factor”. When we relocated to PDX, from Southern California, four years ago, I discovered several traits of the PDX business community and its culture, that were different than I had anticipated. One of these aspects was the PDX employment base. It wasn’t as strong as I had expected and of course, as the once bustling streets of downtown PDX have taken on more of a look of a ghost town, that’s become an even more significant factor.

However, the most significant difference I found in the PDX marketplace, versus what I had expected, was the importance of a good network of local business contacts. I started coming into PDX on business in the mid 1980s and I thought I had an understanding of the business community when we decided to move here. I discovered that I was wrong and that having a good network of local business contacts was critical. At first, I was a bit anxious about recognizing my lack in this regard. In addition to surprises in the business community, I was also taken aback by realities I found in PDX in general that didn’t match up well with several of my most important personal beliefs. Especially since I’m pretty transparent about my beliefs, I was concerned that the business community might spurn me and keep me from building the needed network of business connections. I’m thankful to say that I was wrong about that too. It’s not uncommon to hear the PDX marketplace described as being provincial. That’s true to some degree but mostly it’s true with the positive characteristics of “provincial”. If you’re willing to be a member of the PDX business community who looks out for its other members and the health of the business community in general, PDX will not only welcome you as a member, it will help you to become one. In general, that is the “Whuffie Factor” I discovered in PDX.

The specifics Tara Hunt uses to define Whuffie include:

Do well by doing good.

Think Customer-centrically.

Help others go further.

Spread love.

Value something bigger.

That sounds significantly different from the clichéd business/Sales model of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), doesn’t it? At first, I thought that Whuffie might be WIIFM’s selfless, diametric opposite. But, though it is somewhat opposite, it isn’t selfless. In fact I think it’s fair to say that Whuffie turns out to be an extension of WIIFM, with Whuffie as a vehicle for securing WIIFM. But, if I’m right, it at least gets you out of the mode of exclusively considering WIIFM by first getting you involved in WIIFO (What’s In It For Others). Regardless of what you call it and I’m fine with calling it Whuffie, I’m thankful for it. It’s the common ground PDX made available for me to connect and become a part.

So, hats off to PDX for nurturing this remarkable quality. I’ve been a part of two other major business communities and I’ve had the opportunity to observe countless business communities throughout the northern hemisphere. In this regard, PDX stands head and shoulders above any other marketplace I’ve known. I’m pleased, then, to be a part of it and to proudly say, “I am one of Portland’s Whuffie Trail Blazers.”

With that in mind, I want to close by encouraging you to be mindful of Whuffie for yourself, as a Sales person and for your Sales organization. Tara Hunt says that with Whuffie, “The more you give away, the more you get.” I can’t think of a better attitude for you to take in engaging with your business community.

sharrypdx Says:

June 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm edit

Welcome to the community Gary. You are a VALUABLE asset . . . conservative opinions and all!

Sean Harry

Anne B Says:

June 7, 2009 at 7:41 pm edit

To really understand the power of Whuffie in building your business, I recommend reading Tara Hunt’s “Whuffie Factor”.

I agree – Pdx is a welcoming community if you are ready to put in before you take out!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Biggest Casualty, So Far, Of A Nation Divided Against Itself - General Motors

Lunatic Foreign Terrorists Brought Down The WTC Twin Towers

– GM’s Collapse Is A Fully-Domestic Self-Inflicted Wound

My first visit to New York City’s World Trade Center was in 1979. The company I worked for, at that time, had a branch office on the ground floor of one of the buildings in the WTC complex so I was there on business. A few years later, in the mid-80s, I was there on business again. The company I was working for then held a fiscal-year-end celebration dinner at Windows on the World (aka Windows), the renowned restaurant that occupied the 106th and 107th floors of the North Tower. And, while on vacation in the early-90s, I got to visit Top of the World, the observation deck at 1,377 feet, atop the South Tower. What a blessing it was to have those experiences! And what magnificent structures they were! Literally and figuratively, they were a high point, symbolizing the great strength of American Capitalism. With their magnificence, it was well beyond my imagination that on a beautiful September day in 2001 a small band of maniacs, who hated everything the Twin Towers stood for, would bring them down, along with nearly 3,000 lives. Those who were responsible for that were identified, though. Many have been brought to justice and we continue to pursue justice for all who were responsible.

When I was born, General Motors was the world’s largest automaker. At that point, it had held that distinction for 17 years and it would continue to do so for the next 60 years. What New York City’s World Trade Center symbolized about the great strength of American Capitalism, Detroit City’s General Motors was, in fact. As I completed my formal education in the 50s and 60s, the optimum target for anyone with a business career in mind was a job with GM. And, as I carried out my business life, starting in the 70s and continuing into the new millennium, GM continued to serve as the standard metaphor of the ideal employer/business-partner. Considering that, in the heyday of my working life, General Motors reached its zenith, employing 349,000 workers in 150 assembly plants; you can understand that it was well beyond my imagination that on the first day in June, nearly 101 years after its founding, the once seemingly all powerful industrial giant known as General Motors would announce its bankruptcy. Unlike the disintegration of the WTC Twin Towers, the colossal collapse of GM wasn’t the result of foreign terrorists; it was the result of domestic ineptitude on the part of our Captains of Industry, our Wizards of Wall Street, our Labor Leaders and Politicians of all stripes. While Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is having his nasal passages regularly hydrated, Osama Bin Laden is living like a mountain goat and their compatriots are ducking real bullets; the dim-wits responsible for GM’s fall are shooting blanks at each other with their pointed fingers.

What’s needed here is for all of us, including the above-mentioned dim-wits, to draw together and do what President George Bush said he was going to do in the midst of the WTC ruble. Whether or not you were/are a GWB fan, his words from that time serve as a great example for the appropriate response to today’s disaster. The paraphrase I’d use is … "We hear you! And the rest of the world will hear all of us soon!" It was that attitude, not an attitude of Reds just opposing everything Blues are in favor of and vice-versa, that made America and American Capitalism so great in the first place. Some call it synergy … the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. My favorite label for it is the one that goes back to the founding of our country … Yankee Ingenuity. That’s the attitude that made it possible for us to accomplish things like winning a two-front world war. At the center of that successful effort was American Industry and an industrial giant named General Motors. If we truly want to regain the greatness our nation has known, we must rediscover that attitude and fully embrace it. That will require all of us and the leaders we choose, to stop the finger pointing and actually consistently extend our hands “across the aisle” instead of just paying lip service to that need.