Top of Mind Thursday Memo Archive

Top of Mind Thursday February 22, 2018: From the Mouths of Babes

Top of Mind Thursday

Last Friday, we witnessed another horrific event: a 19 year old expelled from high school returned the following day with multiple semi-automatic weapons to kill 17 people and injure 14 more.

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Unfortunately, incidents of mass shootings in schools and other public places are now commonplace in this country. What happened next, however, is not.

Students who survived the attack were not placated with the formulaic “thoughts and prayers” from elected officials. They were not satisfied by second amendment proponents and the NRA who said the situation was unavoidable. They weren’t content to blame the FBI for missing the warning signs on this shooter. They wanted something more: to know their classmates hadn’t died in vain.

In the week since the attack, they have spoken out publicly, organized a protest in Tallahassee, and are planning marches on Washington, DC and across the country. Their message: Enough is enough. This needs to stop.

It’s too soon to know if they’ll be successful. But where those in charge have been stymied, perhaps our children will be able to affect positive change.  Let’s hope the adults in the room take notice and follow their lead.

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Top of Mind Thursday February 15, 2018: Not Content with Bad Content

Top of Mind Thursday

They’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. This week, Unilever, owner of more than 1000 global brands, threatened to pull its ads from online platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter if they don’t clean up their content.

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We’ve heard about how the Russians created fake news and ads to influence the 2016 elections. Now advertisers are pushing back about fake news, hate speech, and abusive content. They don’t want their ads showing up on YouTube next to content from sexual harassers or white nationalists.

This is no small matter. Digital advertising spending hit $209 billion last year–exceeding spending on traditional advertising for the first time ever.  If advertisers don’t believe in the integrity of online advertising platforms, then how can they justify spending more than half their marketing budget on those platforms?

It’s up to Facebook, Google, Twitter and the like to transform this threat into a more secure platform where sources can be verified and extremist, racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic content will be caught and filtered out.

And it’s up to us as viewers to push back when we see inappropriate content. Unilever alone spent $9 billion on advertising last year. We need to let big advertisers know “we didn’t know where the ads would be placed” is no longer an acceptable answer. And that’s not fake news.

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Top of Mind Thursday February 8., 2018: Fly Like An Eagle

Top of Mind Thursday

It wasn’t supposed to go down this way. Tom Brady and the Patriots were supposed to go to Minneapolis and come back with his sixth Super Bowl win.

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And for a good part of the game, it looked like that might still happen. But the Philadelphia Eagles stayed the course to beat the Patriots 41-33–in spite of 40-year-old Brady setting a record for the most yards passing in any NFL game.

The Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles wasn’t even supposed to still be in the NFL. He was a backup player who had seriously considered leaving the game.

Yet in spite of all of that, the Eagles came home with their first Super Bowl win and the Patriots went back to New England denied.

That’s because when it comes to a single game, anything can happen. And we really should be looking at each challenge in life, whether business or personal, as a single event. Rather than focus on the past record of the opposition or why we can’t succeed, we need to think about how to muster all our resources and achieve the necessary goals.

The only contest that matters is the one in front of us today. When we focus on that, we can truly soar.

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Top of Mind Thursday January 18, 2018: This is Not a Drill

Top of Mind Thursday

Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after arriving in Hawaii for vacation, I was rudely awakened by a loud alert on my cell phone: Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.

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Wow. Talk about a shocking way to start a vacation! We were already inside a condo in a concrete building, so we were likely as sheltered as we could get. The problem was we had no idea what was really happening.

It took close to 15 minutes for local TV stations to interrupt programming with banners repeating the warning, and it was a full 38 minutes before the state emergency management team released an official notification that this was a false alarm. CNN didn’t even pick up the story until after the alert had been cancelled. It was on Twitter that we got the most up-to-date information, including tweets that said this was likely a false alarm.

Meanwhile, in Honolulu, people panicked–running from beaches, exiting freeways, clearing shopping areas. This is no surprise. Not only was Honolulu more likely to be an intended missile target than where we were on Maui, but Honolulu’s Pearl Harbor HAD been bombed during WWII. And the alert sent out during that attack 76 years ago ended with the very same words: this is not a drill.

Hawaii is investigating why this alert was sent out: what processes need to be changed to prevent someone from mistakenly sending an alert like this to over a million people? Just as importantly, why did it take so long to let those same people know that this was a false alarm?

How does your business protect itself, employees, and customers from unwarranted communications like this? What safeguards do you have in place to ensure these types of mistakes don’t happen? And, if they do happen, what is your plan to alert all involved as quickly as possible that the threat is managed or not real?

What happened here in Hawaii is that the emergency management team likely didn’t run enough drills to test the system and find the holes. Don’t let this happen to you. Otherwise, that sucking sound you hear may be your customers losing confidence in your ability to serve them. And, trust me, that will be the real thing–not a drill.

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