Before Oprah flogged James Frey on her TV show the other day about his untruths in "A Million Little Pieces," I was one of those who wondered if this was much ado about nothing. [Disclaimer: I have neither read the book nor watched her show.] I thought that if he was addicted to drugs since he was 8 or something, perhaps he was fuzzy on some of the details of his life.
I feel differently now, and not because of watching Oprah or reading any of the well-known editorialists' opinions, but because of reading the letters to the editor in yesterday's New York Times. Especially one by a Mary Taggart of Ottawa, who said in part:
Do people want a sensational story, a rags-to-riches story, an overnight-success story, love at first sight, a duckling to a swan, a frog prince — or do they want the truth?
The truth is that love at first sight is blind love, frogs are frogs, poverty breeds poverty, success takes years of hard work, and drug addiction is ugly and fueled by deceit.
I heard Newt Gingrich on NPR the other day giving a thoughtful essay about political culture. He quoted Ronald Reagan as saying something to the effect of, "there are no easy answers, but there are simple answers."
To explain how the biotechnology company Genentech came to be cited by Fortune magazine as "the best company to work for" out of hundreds of companies is pretty easy; you can read Fortune's criteria for choosing the winner (much of it is based on the employees' own feedback about their employer.) How did this, the first "biotech" company, come to be? Take a brilliant scientist, Herb Boyer, working with other brilliant scientists, mix in some venture capital, and infuse the mix with strong moral values and a mission to address "significant unmet medical needs."
Simple, elegant, but the furthest thing from easy. Here's to all the good folks at Genetech and their courageous leaders for being a role model of a company for the rest of us. And for showcasing SCIENTISTS in a country that could do a whole lot more to value them.
(See Fortune's complete list of the top 100 companies to work for here. And congratulations to #2, Wegmans, affectionately known in upstate New York as "Weggies.")
Another fascinating display of how copyright law can protect creative work...via Robert Ambrogi's Lawsite. From there you can link to the site of a lawyer, Marisa Kakoulas, who advocates for the "Body Modification Community." Violate a tattoo artist's copyright at your own peril...
Not many of us, who actually have the opportunity to, ever bother to write our elected representatives. (Speaking as an American here.) There are probably lots of common reasons for this. The late Mo Udall (US Representative from Arizona) felt that
This reluctance to communicate results from the typical and understandable feeling that legislators have no time or inclination to read their mail, that a letter probably won't be answered or answered satisfactorily, that one letter won't make any difference anyway. Based on my own experience, and speaking for myself at least, I can state flatly that these notions are wrong.
He also said that
I read every letter written to me by a constituent.... On several occasions, a single, thoughtful, factually persuasive letter did change my mind or cause me to initiate a review of a previous judgment. Nearly every day my faith is renewed by one or more informative and helpful letters giving me a better understanding of the thinking of my constituents.
In this wired age, it is almost pathetically easy to take this one step in exercising our freedoms. The website Congress Merge has a tool that brings up all of your state's representatives and senators and their contact info (along with tips on how to write an effective letter.)
My New Year's resolution is to write at least 2 letters to my elected officials, about something I care about. Maybe it will become a habit. What about you? Do you live in a free country? Do you write your elected officials? Do you think it matters?
Alice Marshall at Presto Vivace's blog suggests that the global music industry should "quit spinning their legal wheels in litigation mud and adjust their business model" since their quest to end file sharing is just not all that effective.
Robert Ambrogi points us to a site (Inboxer.com) where you can view thousands of internal emails sent by Enron staff. He says that these emails "offe[r] the public a window into one of the most notorious corporate scandals of our times." Of course Inboxer has a marketing angle, but this should be pretty interesting.
As anyone who has ever worked in "corporate America" knows (or should know if they haven't been sleeping under their desks,) emails are forever. There are a whole lot of reasons why you should think twice before pushing that "send" button, and they don't all have to do with trying to get away with something. Basic email etiquette is just a good idea.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how to make my business a success (who isn't?) There are so many resources out there and all around us: books, colleagues, coaches, blogs etc. But a person can have all the tools in the world and still not make it. It's a scary thought. I try to be realistic at all times, while a voice in the back of my mind says that a certain amount of naive optimism or idealism is a necessity. I keep thinking about a quote from the objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand, it comes from her book "The Virtue of Selfishness" at page 28:
The irrational is the impossible, it is that which contradicts the facts of reality; facts cannot be altered by a wish, but they can destroy the wisher.
Lyle Lachmuth I work with multitalented, creative professionals and help them rediscover their talents, remove barriers to fully expressing their gifts and create and maintain the life of their dreams.
davistudio The blog of Mary Anne Davis, an artist and visual philosopher in upstate New York