Leadership and Self Care
I saw this tweetstorm by Jack Dorsey on Saturday evening and thought “Good, Jack is taking care of himself.”
For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar 🇲🇲. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know 👇🏼— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
I guess I was the only one who reacted that way given the amount of abuse and vitriol that has been thrown at him on and off Twitter for that tweetstorm.
I understand the frustration that users feel about the things that don’t work right on Twitter, particularly the abuse and hate and the other unpleasant stuff that the Twitter platform attracts, including our horrible President and his nonsense.
I also understand that the country Jack visited and made a number of positive comments about, including suggesting that others visit there, is a place where the government and military
Certainly the comments that Jack’s tweetstorm was “tone deaf” are accurate.
But I would like to take the other side of the argument here and make a few important points.
Say what you want about Jack Dorsey, he came up with the ideas for two hugely impactful products that I use every day and many others do too. Those products are Twitter and Square.
Not only did he come up with the ideas for those products, he has breathed life into them with his work and his passion and they are two of the best products brought to market by the tech sector in the last decade.
Jack is not a conventional CEO. He does “run” two companies. But he has very strong teams who operate both companies underneath his leadership.
And since he came back to Twitter full time in the summer of 2015, Twitter has slowly but surely addressed much of what was ailing it. The stock has doubled in the last 18 months and user growth has stabilized. And, most importantly, the company is addressing many of the most troubling aspects of the service, certainly not as quickly as its critics would like, but the service is undeniably dealing with the abuse issues more seriously than it has in the past.
Square is a company that Jack has run since day one. And as Jack tweeted out the other day, the Square cash app is doing great.
December 8, 2018
And here is Square’s stock price since going public:
Even with the recent pullback, Square is up 5x since its IPO in late 2015.
So, it’s not like Jack hasn’t been doing his job. He is leading not one, but two companies, and from the outside, I would argue that he is doing a pretty solid job at that.
I am not on the inside at either Twitter or Square, so I don’t really know how things are going at these companies, but from where I sit, I would say he’s doing well.
So, with all of that backdrop, I want to make a point about the toll leadership takes on someone and the need for self care, particularly in high stress jobs like running public companies.
Leadership is a burden. You are the one everyone looks to for inspiration and direction. The things that land on your desk are the things that nobody else wanted to or could deal with. Leadership is lonely, stressful, and takes a toll on people.
Just take a look at the faces of every President on the day they took the job and the day they left the job. You will see the burden and toll of leadership right there.
And so, it is very important for leaders to take care of themselves. That can take many forms, but here are some things that I recommend to the leaders I work with (in no particular order):
- Eating Healthy
- Drinking Less
- Working On Your Marriage
- Spending Quality Time With Your Family
And yet, for some reason, we criticize our leaders for doing these things. Like taking a vacation, or doing a workout, or going on a meditation retreat is some abandonment of their duties.
I think it is exactly the opposite. It is their duty to take care of themselves. Because if they don’t take care of themselves, they can’t take care of their companies and all the stakeholders who rely on them.
I am glad Jack went on a meditation retreat. I am glad he is taking care of himself. I understand why that tweetstorm was tone deaf, but let’s not get carried away here. Leaders are humans too. Let’s be decent humans to them.
Disclosure: My wife and I own shares in Twitter and I was on Twitter’s board a decade ago.
Our country needs to go on one of these!!
Unfortunately tearing down our leaders during their tenures has become national sport in the western world.A great example is George W. who was vilified by the national liberal press almost constantly but is now held in high regard.It’s a shame that it’s happening to Jack, Mark Z and other leaders (and at least to some extent I’d throw that blanket partially over trump)I don’t know for sure why it happens, but I’d guess it’s the same frustration, lack of power and material envy that drives the populism that is dominating American and international politics
I think it is a petty form of challenging the alpha.
I am not flaming the guy on Twitter, but if you think this is not a basic need the guy has, you are short some background.Narcissism is amok in current leadership: Trump, Macron, Musk, Dorsey.They don’t lead because of the needs of others; they lead due to their need.
I’d suggest that both your statements are true and the mix of the two changes for individual, time, place, age/maturity and probably a lot of other variables I’m not catching right now
I’m going to come back to this post this evening GMT (or tomorrow morning), and then read the many comments it will have received. It may in fact become my new experimental approach to avc.com and your daily posts, a +12 hours approach (or perhaps +24 hours). I’m beginning to feel that entering the debate in real time perhaps isn’t helping me to fully appreciate the issue at hand.
We will miss you while you are on therapy 🙂
a junkie in rehab – LOL.
“Leaders are humans too. Let’s be decent humans to them.”- that’s a great quote.
In the political realm, the decency of leadership is frequently in question and the catalyst for a lot of the narrative today.
Decency is an intriguing word, these days. Public decency is overblown. Private decency is waaaay underrated.I don’t think its ‘decent’ of the PM of NZ to publicly apologize to the family of the slain British traveller in her country – I think its immoral personal virtue signalling of the grossest nature. Using others tragedy to promote your global status as someone who is caring is reprehensible. Why didn’t she just call the family directly? Why did she have to publicize it?Why did Jack have people taking pictures of him meditating in a cave in Myanmar?
.One has to carefully pick the arena in which one seeks a certain type of leadership.I look to moral/religious leaders — the Pope as an example — for moral/religious leadership.I look to political leaders — the President — for political leadership.I look to the military — for military leadership.We confuse ourselves when we look to the wrong bunch of people for the wrong type of leadership.I don’t know a single leader who is capable of providing high level leadership in just those three arenas.It says a lot about us when we fail to look to the right places for the right kind of inspiration.Happy Hanukkah!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
A baseball team captain is a leader of his team. A CEO is the boss of his employees. The CEO of a public company is a servant to its stock holders. Can you name a single CEO of a company controlled by Berkshire. I didn’t think so? Jack Dorsey has no relationship to 99.99 % of people. This is simply his attempt to be a celebrity not a CEO and certainly not a leader. Fred’s brain is getting soft.
A few comments:1. he s totally entitled to retreat and health. why does he feel the need to make that public? 2. cash app #1 in the App Store? i am wondering what took it there? is that the result of a sustained advertising effort or a new feature in the app that makes it more viral? i am always distrusted when there is bragging about being top 10 App Store without context. Those things can be as ephemeral and worked out as possible. not that it s wrong but that needs more context because it will go for sure tomorrow and then there is nothing to brag about
My take is that he wants to share an experience that is very helpful to him with others
The Oura ring he mentioned is interesting. Does anyone else have experience with it?
Lianna has been wanting us to get them.So interesting to see the mashup of trends in wellness from these rings to microdosing to mood based positioning in Cannabis as mainstream even mass market activities and products.
Probably one of the better sleep trackers out there though the battery pretty much needs to be charged everyday. (V1) Looking forward to checking out V2 as they’ve supposedly improved a number of things including the form factor.
Of course I agree.Political leaders aside different types of product, seem to engender more empathy by definition.Twitter is a tough one and riddled with ambiguity and because being a monopoly of sorts, creates little empathy from users towards its leaders. A Rose Marcario from Patagonia on the other hand, just the opposite.
Hi Fred —I don’t think most people are mad at Jack because he took a vacation, or because they don’t think he is a good executive. I think most people recognize that leadership is hard, and you have done a good job of enumerating why here.I think what made people mad, beyond the tone-deafness, at least in my circles, was the soft-focus portrait, even endorsement, of tourism in a country with a repressive government that has been aided and abetted by tech industry complicity in an ongoing genocide without even mentioning it. I also think it’s important to distinguish between the tone-deafness and the effective propaganda.In my view, the latter was an at-best blithe abdication of the kind of moral and ethical leadership you have long championed on this blog, and Jack deserves to be criticized for it. If that criticism is loud and pointed, well, that may be necessary for him to hear it, if it didn’t come through ahead of time. I’m not advocating for cruelty, but I’ll admit I have more sympathy for the Rohingya’s plight than his, in this case.
Yup. That’s why I acknowledged it in my post
You are getting conned.He is totally OK with all the attention.Actually, if Jack does something and no one notices, Jack is not sure he exists.
How is discouraging tourism in a country oppressed by it’s government actually help the very sample people oppressed? This seems like a false equivalence. No?
Test successful! 🙂
I’m logged in but Disqus says, “You must be logged in to post a picture.”I was going to say that given the tough time Sheryl Sandberg has had recently, Jack should have suggested they go off-grid together.Not to somewhere like Myanmar, though. Maybe they could just have gone to a little island in relaxing Scandinavia or something.5 days rather than 10.https://www.youtube.com/wat…
Stale cookies, perhaps.Formal PR suffer with modern CEOs and presidents tweeting directly to their audience. Even Jack.
Disqus is buggy, :*(.
He could have gone anywhere else in the world. No?Yes, he deserves time and space. But he made a choice to visit a country with an awful human rights record. I’m guessing he can afford to go wherever he chooses, so maybe let’s hold him to account for that decision? I’m sure you could attend a silent meditation retreat in other parts of the world.But then as you rightly point out. His companies are doing really well, so that’s ok.Where is the humanity in that view? Money over people.Yes, he is allowed to take care of himself. But no, not at ANY cost. I think that’s where a lot of the criticism is coming from. He is leading two companies and his ethical choices are not great (and let’s not get into the ‘Twitter is much better’ because it’s really not. Twitter has improved yes, but it has a long long way to go, and needs to be getting there faster).
You could say that about China. (country with an awful human rights record) Or Cuba.
Also Mexico. God knows they have been very complicit in the drug trade over the years (apparently). And that has had a huge impact on the US in a negative way that is far greater than anything going on in Myanmar (having zero impact on us). Ditto for many of those shithole countries. Mexico of course is a ‘grin fucker’ with respect to what happened there.
.Before the drug cartels, Mexico was the greatest unknown place in the world. I used to go to Huatulco before it was discovered.Now, when I go, I go only to the big self-contained resorts with cars and drivers and Canadians. I sometimes wonder who is running Canada because they are all getting sunburned in Mexico.It is a shame because it used to be such a lovely, idyllic place, now it is scary.One day, I hope it gets cleaned up.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Before theLet me show you my Cuba..One day, I hope it gets cleaned up.You have to agree it’s ironic that all the ‘good’ people (up to legalization of marijuana) who didn’t see themselves as doing anything wrong and ignored that it created all that violence in Mexico. In other words the demand for the product in the US. Ditto for Columbia and cocaine. All they cared about was their high. Yet they profess to care about other social issues.Like with alcohol during prohibition isn’t it unique how people will rationalize and ignore the negative impact when they benefit in some way from the illegal activity personally?
.In the case of Cuba, the political realities of a vicious, murderous regime are not offensive to the Sean Penns of the world.I cannot wait for Cuba to get rid of the Castros. I want to move there.JLMwww.themusingofthebigredcar…
Sean Penn? He’s a jackass. Watch this on Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/tit…Like most other actors, a savant with that, but not as smart otherwise as the guy who fixes your HVAC. What’s hilarious is that he risked his life thinking that writing for any publication (and in particular the Rolling Stone) was something that would elevate him in some way over the reason that he even got the opportunity. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
This reminds me of what they tell you before taking off for a flight.That is, when the oxygen masks drop, put yours on before helping others around you.For anyone to be a leader – to help others – they must be well. It is fundamental to invest in onself to be able to invest in others. Doesn’t work the other way around.
I agree with your main point about needing to take care of oneself. All employees need to take care of themselves. Most the rank and file who doing the hard work and making sacrifices to their health and families do not have the luxury of long, uninterrupted vacations or the domestic staff to make their lives easier.Execs, especially SV teach execs, need to be mindful (pun intended) that the lives of many of the people whom they employ are much equally as stressful, but without the flexibility of time or the access to what execs have. Using social media to virtue signal, or try to appear to be a “normal” person can backfire and come across as being tone deaf.If you want or need to do yoga, meditation, a cleans, or whether you blow off steam by playing golf or hunting, it is your business. Share it with your friends if you like, but be aware that sharing with the world will likely bring criticism especially from those without the resources to mimic your lifestyle. So, perhaps self awareness needs to be covered topic at meditation camp.
Love where the blog has gone over the years. What an evolving and self aware community of leadership and learners in all aspects of life – an escalator to Maslow’s top floor. Wide nets, cast well.
Could not agree more. Wrote about it extensively. Self-care is absolutely the key to being a good leader, and being able to run a startup. https://alexiskold.net/2018…
“Horrible president … “Naw, about 2 years ago we had an election, got rid of our horrible president, the worst POTUS in US history, and have a good candidate for the best since Lincoln or Washington.Worst POTUS? Slow economic growth. The Iran deal. The Paris Accords. Did nothing about our 800 $billion a year trade deficit. High unemployment. Wack-o Greenie nonsense, expensive, destructive. Proposing having high school boys and girls sharing showers and toilets. Dumped on both England and Israel. Permitted the illegal activities of the abuse of the powers of the DOJ, FBI, NSA, and the FISA courts to attack the Trump campaign. Let Hillary get rich from pay to play deals. Permitted massive violation of US laws, policies, and procedures on immigration. Weakened the US military. Did nothing about the 72,000 US citizens killed each year from illegal drugs, nearly all imported across our southern border.For Trump: E.g., progress on North Korea, China trade, oil and natural gas production, taxes, getting US steel and coal going again, getting out of the wack-o Paris Climate Accords, finally talking Governor Moonbeam into junking that wildly destructive Greenie stuff and doing obvious and responsible forest management, rebuilding the US military, and just today a terrific report on the US economyhttps://www.youtube.com/wat…The anti-Trump people avoid talking about reality, give no solid evidence of anything wrong, and spout meaningless character assassinations. If they were real people, patriots, and had anything going, then they would put up some meaningful evidence of something wrong and make some serious proposals of something better or get on the Trump train like good patriots or just be quiet.
I watched the tweetstorm unfold. I had the same bifurcated thoughts; Good for you Jack. Why did you go there for silence and grounding. We have similar experiences right here in the USA.Next month will be my 20th year working at the same large company. Reading this blog scratches my inch for working for a start-up. Approaching 20 years at the same company, I’ve thought very seriously about pulling out the employee manual to see if I have any sabbatical opportunities.Thanks for sharing Fred!
Sharing things that have had a profound effect on you is important and beneficial to people. But presenting the best meal on a garbage can is never good form. We live in an age where most public leadership (leaders who do the most talking in public) show a lack of empathy. Unfortunately, Jack became an example of that.
Holy Cow what a load of BS.He came up with neither idea (both well documented, squeezed out one of the driving idea people at Twitter and left him with nothing / Square was an existing product before he became involved).He is a politician’s politician, a user and a narcissist of the highest order.How do I know?Who publicizes his 10 day wellness retreat WITH PHOTOS OF HIS SILENT HEALING?Come on.
You always know a great blogpost by Fred. They are brief. This could have been a 4 word blog post by Fred today. “Why Less is More”.
Reminds me of this Cadillac ad from 1915 called, “The Penalty of Leadership.”http://caddyinfo.com/wordpr…
.Capitalism. Darwin.”That which deserves to live–lives.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I understand the desire to diss but it’s always much more fun to pick valid reasons. So let’s trade dissing jack over vipassna for1. Dissing Fred for using market cap as a success metric. Can the haters use it when it goes down?2. Dissing jack for censoring kooks and conservatives on Twitter. Probably his underlings are more responsible but can blame him as leader too. Rules don’t make sense, clearly they are just censoring whoever they want. This won’t end well, especially for Twitter if it is not changed
There is something inherently ironical about “announcing” your time at a meditation retreat. The objective of meditation is to become more aware and less influenced by the mind and its need for recognition and social approval. Does making it public achieve that in any way?If the goal was to inspire others by emphasizing the importance of self care, that’s great, but can be accomplished without a tweet storm with pictures. What you do inward is no one’s business but yours. Making it overly social negates the very goal (awareness and quietude of mind) of the activity.
Look, I’m not flaming the guy on Twitter, but that tweet does come off as being a douchebag.”I’m going for a drive” vs “Taking the lambo out for a spin!””Taking some time off” vs “Swimming with the fish in the Galapagos!””Exercising” vs “Running in the Himalayas”This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with social media. It’s a huge festival of narcissistic one-upsmanship. There is no class or restraint. Fred, you’re one of the most influential and perhaps successful investors of our generation, but you don’t walk around bragging about that. That tweet feels gratuitous.
but you don’t walk around bragging about thatWhat is considered bragging? Fred talks about multiple things that people would typically be envious about.
Versus not saying anything about what you do in your time off, because being CEO is actually just a job.He’s doing it because he’s a massive narcissist.
Fred,The purpose of innovation is to create value. When the consequence is a visceral disconnect among stakeholders, isn’t it time to acknowledge there’s a fundamental problem.We have lived through an era of believing that humanity is flawed and technology can replace human decision-making with a more perfect outcome. That thesis presumes that perfection is possible, ignoring the “if it’s not one thing, it’s another” truth of Rosanne Rossanadana. (Pain isn’t necessarily the way. One test of universal truth is it makes everyone smile.)Humanity has strengths and weaknesses and they are inherently connected. Decisions are always trade-offs, economic and non-economic. That’s why they should be made consciously by humans, not by a black box. Good decisions are balanced. The best decisions are win-win. It takes practice, not preaching, programming, or a retreat.With the data and technology available today, predicting consequences should be possible in real time, instead of years later, so humans may make better decisions or even change them, before damage is done.COMRADITY is a work and meeting place that starts with the thesis that there’s nothing better than the real thing. For example, we are designing an experiment – a Project Based Learning program for business leaders and university students to practice better decision-making. Businesses benefit from developing and recruiting better leaders. Universities have a new opportunity for University students to find jobs. Technologists benefit by pitching solutions designed to serve humans to future business leaders and talent as proof of concept projects for the Project Based Learning Teams.
If Jack didn’t anticipate this reaction to his tweet storm, then he doesn’t know anything about his own product. The first rule of writing: know your audience. (I think that’s a startup thing, too, no?) The first rule of Twitter: people are mean.Perception is reality, and the perception is that Jack is losing touch with ordinary people. This tweet storm (and where the retreat took place) didn’t help — quite the opposite.Look, nobody thinks incredibly wealthy dudes shouldn’t take care of themselves. But the tradeoff of becoming wealthy and powerful is that you have to work harder to stay in touch with the rest of us and to demonstrate that you’re doing so. If you want to go to oppressive countries and meditate, keep it to yourself. If you go build houses with Jimmy Carter, that’s what we want to hear about. Otherwise, you just become another Hearst or Hughes.A lot of this response to Jack is a *gift*. His people have come for him. This is his chance to listen to them. They’re beckoning him back from the rich guy bubble where no one will call you out on your shit.It’s not that it’s ok to be mean on Twitter — to anyone, including Dorsey. It’s not. And your protective response of your friend is admirable. But the reality is that most people see it like that song from “Cabaret”:”If you happen to be richAnd you find you are left by your loverAnd you moan and you groan quite a lotYou can take it on the chinCall a cab and begin to recoverOn your 14-karat yacht! WHAT!?”Like it or not, Dorsey is a brand now, and he’s going to have to look after that brand if he wants it to shine. But even if he was just a regular guy, his friends would have given him a ton of shit about that tweet storm, if they were good friends.
If Jack didn’t anticipate this reaction to his tweet storm, then he doesn’t know anything about his own product.Maybe he actually doesn’t care what people say though?  Do you think the average American really cares about either Jack Dorsey or Miranmar? They don’t. I’d love to do a Kickstarter interviewing people about things like this to show how much they don’t care.Did you read some of the replies to him they were really funny.Perception is reality, and the perception is that Jack is losing touch with ordinary people.Why does this matter though? He isn’t running for re-election. He is a business owner. Nothing more.But the tradeoff of becoming wealthy and powerful is that you have to work harder to stay in touch with the rest of us and to demonstrate that you’re doing so.Once again, why? Not to mention that people will still find a way to trash you and hate you.A lot of this response to Jack is a *gift*. His people have come for him. This is his chance to listen to them. They’re beckoning him back from the rich guy bubble where no one will call you out on your shit.Rich guy bubble? Fred is also in a ‘rich guy bubble’. So are most rich guys and rich girls. I don’t think they really care and aren’t going to alter their behavior because people trash them (rightly or wrongly). What kind of life should we lead anyway? A life whereby we worry about what others think and do what they say? Or what makes us happy? Why exactly should I care if someone leaves a note on my car and thinks what they think? (They are wrong btw but that is beside the point. I also take chopsticks all the time from Whole Foods and get stares by the sushi maker as if I shouldn’t be doing it. Not only don’t I care but I actually feel entitled to do so..)But even if he was just a regular guy, his friends would have given him a ton of shit about that tweet storm, if they were good friends.And he might very well say to those friends ‘go fuck yourself and don’t try to control me’. It’s like me with the nasty notes left on my car because of the way I park (where btw I am entitled to park that way). Not only don’t I care but it actually is a positive, not a negative. In particular because people are stupid enough to jump to the wrong conclusion to make themselves feel better. Why change your behavior for that reason? https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
Very civil to leave you a note instead of scratching the paint.It is the parking or the car that bothers them?
That’s covered. Multiple security cameras. Have the people leaving the notes. After one note I installed an extra camera to catch another angle…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
It is awful non canonical parking LE. :)I guess you own both slots.
That is the actual person leaving the note on the car if it’s not obvious (bad image grab). Note in particular that the lot is empty. Slots aren’t ‘owned’ or ‘assigned’. When the lot is busier (and in use) I would typically park where the light is (to the left).The person leaving the note (like the people who hate on Jack Dorsey) obviously has issues or they wouldn’t have taken the time to leave a note on a car parked that way with nobody else even around. Other times it’s when the lot has cars but there is still enough space and the space taken isn’t needed. I ‘own’ you could say about 35 spots in the lot..
You know best note I ever saw on a car: “If you screw like you park, you must never get it in”
One of them there is no substitute.
Maybe an electric Porsche. It’s coming. Start saving up.
If you listen to his first conference call, you’ll learn a lot about him.
I think it’s fair to observe that people who don’t care what other people think or say don’t tend to tweet. It’s kind of the point of Twitter.
I think there is also a third dimension. Which is that people who have a ‘party going on in their brain’ (for things they say or do) independent of what people think. If it matters at all. Some actually like the deridement.I am reminded of my ex wife’s aunt back in the 80’s. We were sitting in 2nd Ave Deli. (Where I was schmucked by the waiter for asking for a reuben sandwich (not kosher cheese and meat go know?)). Anyway my wife’s aunt, let’s say she was in her mid 50’s at the time (but looked much older) was completely obese and kind of disgusting in appearance. However she had on nice jewelry and was all made up otherwise. In her mind she thought she looked good (because of the markers of ‘wealth’) vs. how she really looked (fat lady unkempt eating unhealthy food). When she ordered her corned beef special she said ‘and if it’s not fatty I’m sending it back’. That’s right. Most people say ‘lean’ and she said ‘fatty or I am sending it back’. Was funny. Never heard that before.She died of a coronary years later. Really.My point is in her mind she was not bothered by 1/2 of of her appearance. She was blind to it. She thought she was classy. That jewelry overrode an otherwise slovenly appearance.Me and the waiter who made fun of me? What do you think I thought? I thought (at the time not what I would think now btw) ‘ok loser great you are waiting on tables at 2nd Ave Deli and I’m not’. So yeah sure make fun of me. I suspect that Jack the billionaire might think they same way?
One of the hardest things about being considered a leader is learning the extent to which people are watching every move you make — and how to present yourself accordingly.It may not be or feel fair, and it’s a price of leadership.(And of course, many women look back and see the cautionary tale, for example, in the post-election “Hillary walking in the woods”-themed tweets and jokes. https://uploads.disquscdn.c… )
It’s the price of notoriety not leadership. In the case of someone at a typical company that is to small or notable to care about, this would not even be an issue. Likewise someone who is notable could catch flack quite easily over practically anything.
Not true. When I had a senior/visible role in the division of a large bank, I had bizarre things reported back to me about my own behavior (real and imagined) and even my whereabouts off the job — and what I had been wearing.(I was once dragged for being seen dressed like a “hippie” when shopping on the weekend. By someone who saw me and didn’t even approach me to say Hi. Maybe I didn’t even know them.)
Yes you are right. I guess when you work in a corporation this is one of those things you have to worry about. I am in an entrepreneurial bubble and never have had to consider that.
That’s an internal, hierarchical, insecurity rumour mill.A long time ago, a colleague of my wife mentioned to her that her last promotion was ‘one of those ones where people stop talking to you….and start talking about you.’Michele literally had just experienced someone doing that….stopped talking to her after the promotion.
Yep. It’s just a fact.People are going to be even tougher on someone who has put themselves out there as someone who cares, like Dorsey has. Hopefully, he’s enlightened enough to make good use of the roasting he got on Twitter this weekend. People will be just as supportive as they were critical if he can do that.
He posted this. No one needed to know.How do huge movie stars stay out of the tabloids…..mostly by not notifying them of their every move.
Great points. Particularly the last sentence.
Thanks, Richard 🙂
He totally knew what would happen – Jackson Family School of PR.
Super important stigma that needs addressing. Thanks for posting this Fred.
So basically, to anyone criticizing Jack, (pointing up) “scoreboard, motherf_#%r.”I stand by my comment that his experience is essentially the same as being in prison, but still…scoreboard.
Totally agree, but he did it on the backs of others. He is not known as a deal maker, technical guru, visionary or business model innovator.He’s known for getting in front of two great ideas and leveraging the situation for his personal gain.He is everything that Chris Dixon laments about Wall St – extraction not creation.
Hate the game, not the playa! Seriously tho I get it, and something tells me the guys that really rolled up their sleeves at Twitter probably hate him.On the other hand, Chis Dixon…I have a ton of respect for him, and I think everyone does.
There a lot of super wealthy tech titans where you can go, ‘ Man, scoreboard. Props. ‘Not this dude.I have a large sum of money to wager that says VP / Sr VP level at both companies hate his guts.
I thought it was common knowledge that a 360 performance review on JD would basically be filled with vomit. Nevertheless, ball don’t lie..scoreboard…
This is a great post.
great points Fred, but perhaps the real tone deaf issue here is that he didn’t need to tweet that out. we do hope our leaders and leaders of businesses take care of themselves, but given what that looks like in terms of extravagance versus the average person, probably best that they do these things w/o broadcasting them. there’s such a thing as too much transparency, and i believe Jack has relearned that lesson 😉
BINGO at the beginning, but nope – he did it to get a reaction.
I wonder if what’s being lost in the discussion, the storm that followed @jack’s tweet, is the notion that maybe, just maybe, this human being (aka @jack) needs to reduce his existential suffering. This thing about leadership is this…when folks who have power don’t know how to take care of themselves, aren’t willing to look at themselves (and believe me, @jack didn’t sit on his ass for ten days and bliss out…if he really did vipassana, he was looking inward and dealing with some tough issues), then they cause pain to others. His desire to do this work should be applauded. And yes, there’s an irony to his discussing this on Twitter.
Come on , he did it to look cooler than anybody else. Total status play.
Unfortunately we live in an era of “perpetual outage” and this feeds upon itself
hrm, I meant “perpetual outrage”
Honestly, is this news? Who cares. Maybe next they’ll be a rant about the type of breakfast cereal he eats. The downside of Twitter is truly inane convos and criticism. Where and how he vacations is now somehow symbolic of poor leadership and self awareness? I’ll stick to MAU’s and stock pricing, thank you very much.
What is symbolic is that he makes a point of publicizing his vacations, the purpose of his vacation (I work so HARD) and the unbelievable inaccessibility of his vacation to people who are not billionaires.
So what? Then folks shouldn’t read his feed. Would Bezos, Buffet, Gates, etc., be criticized like this? It’s HIS vacation. He has no obligation to meet the standards of anyone but himself and family. He went to a third-world country. Are folks truly jealous of that “inaccessibility”? Yes, it’s an oppressive country, and I can see where criticism can come into play there. Twitter too often is a silly pile on.
But, his motivation was ‘ LOOK AT ME, OH GOD PLEASE, LOOK AT ME.’Think Emmanuel Macron or Justin Trudeau.Same dude.
.I have been advocating for a Emmanuel Macron v Justin Trudeau cage match pillow fight for some time now.Pay-per-view?You in?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I, uh, ummmm. Speechless.Sadly, with the right cause, it would be a blockbuster event.
.We could make it a tag team with their wives?I think this could work.Merry Christmas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
On Leadership: I work in entertainment. Whenever I’m asked to coach a showrunner (often someone younger or an inexperienced manager) I always ask: what time do you go home and what do you do when you’re there? Too often the answer is: sit on the sofa and watch something and turn my brain off. I always suggest that they do something different, something weird, something offbeat — what in yoga they call a “counter stretch” — like go out to eat strange food, take a walk along a Los Angeles boulevard, something that’s interesting and engaging and active. It always helps get them out of their own heads, and it restarts creativity. Good for Jack for doing essentially that.On Jack: It’s hard to argue that Jack Dorsey — who, as Fred notes, has created two phenomenally successful and very different products — is out of touch. Out of touch from what? Yes, he’s insanely rich and that means he can do offbeat and expensive stuff. (And yes, it’s often irritating to hear about!) He’s also a bit of a weirdo, and weirdos drive innovation. The same quality that drew him to Myanmar for a meditation retreat is what drew him to create the products he’s created. Hard to have one without the other. He’s clearly in touch with the most important thing: his creativity.On Myanmar: It’s a complicated place. In 1995, I went to Myanmar — I spent some time in Maymyo, where Jack was. I wasn’t there to meditate (I don’t think that kind of thing was even on offer back then) but I was devoured by mosquitos and had to cover myself with Deet and light a few anti-mosquito coils in my bedroom each night, which gave me some crazy dreams. Back then, Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest. She was a dissident freedom fighter, an international human rights hero. Now she’s essentially an apologist for a pretty murderous regime. Burma is a lovely place, and the people are (mostly) deeply religious Buddhists in the old Theravada tradition. It’s easy to forget, when you’re there, how troubled and violent it’s been, and still is.
He’s not creative – do your research.He’s a political snake.Look how Jim McKelvey describes his role at Square – https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
I’m glad you titled the post ‘Leadership & self-care’ because it got me thinking about what qualities & traits I want to see in leaders (and, as others have noted, the outrage isn’t about the self care part of this). In tech in particular we are prone to lionizing individuals who have been successful at building something we all use and love, but who fall far short of any noblesse oblige aspects of their (newly acquired) status and role in society. Anyone running a global company would I hope at the very least be in command of major contemporary global issues and escape the trap to so callously highlight their own dark tourism.
…especially someone who not too long ago sported a “Stay Woke” shirt.Also, what needs to be acknowledged is that many of the people calling him out are also rooting for him — sorta like the coach who tears into a great athlete for not using her head.
I’m no fanboy, but respectfully your criticism could use a bit of balance. Dorsey is fairly philanthropic. Pet causes are water, entrepreneurship and education. He set aside a large chunk of Square stock for a foundation serving disadvantaged communities. Maybe he’s not as philanthropic as a Gates or Bloomberg, but he is a “giver”, though perhaps presently somewhat modest given his net worth.
I’m not criticizing his level of philanthropy – I’m questioning his and his advisors’ judgement to 1/ choose to go to Myanmar and 2/ encourage others to visit w/o reflecting on or even acknowledging current situation there.
Fair points on oppression.
You don’t need to concede to fake outrage, you were spot on before. So what next, criticize every business leader that travels to China or India, seeing as they back the Myanmar government? Criticize every business leader that has a home in the United States seeing as American bombs blew up kids in Yemen? What point would his not having visited Myanmar served exactly? Perhaps that would have ended the crisis?If anyone is truly concerned about Myanmar, call your congressperson. Try doing something about it, rather than fussing about other people living their own lives. Fake outrage serves zero purpose.
“Situation”? What situation? There’s a LOT of junk in OUR current situation, but I’ll set that aside and stipulate that the US is heaven.That done, what “situation” in Burma???? Okay, it’s not heaven. But except for the US, what is? Okay; okay; let’s set aside much of the EU and Japan. NOW what “situation”???That is, what is different, special, unusual in Burma (I can’t spell the newer name) compared to the last 40,000 years of human history in nearly every populated square meter on the planet??? Or, for a reality check, why should we expect something else??Kickbacks, payoffs, shakedowns. embezzlement, concrete overcoats at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, strong arm tactics? Anything like in The Godfather, I, II — oops, I’m sorry, I stipulated that the US is heaven.Why vacation there? Maybe if stay away from the palace politics and military strong man and buddies, stay out of bad bars and neighborhoods, and go for the country, Bridge on the River Kwai country, or the rivers or beaches, maybe take some boat trips and scuba diving, have a fish/lobster/shrimp feast, maybe with Japanese or Australian beer, might be okay.Bet if they get a criminal, they don’t “catch and release”, at least not while he is still alive. Oops, again, I know, the US is heaven.As I recall, some of those Asian countries just don’t have any street crime, not even a little bit.I wouldn’t do it, but if Jack was sure he wouldn’t get kidnapped for ransom, etc. maybe it was a good idea.
but respectfully your criticism could use a bit of balance. Dorsey is fairly philanthropic. Pet causes are water, entrepreneurship and educationThe idea here is that people and the press will give you a pass when you butter their bread and/or they have some benefit. (Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky as an example..)Therefore the reason (partly at least) that many ‘rich people’ do things like that ‘support causes near and dear’ is because:a) Guilt and caring theater makes them feel like they are a good person.b) Per what you are saying, it ends up buying them a pass for what they do that is negative. Specifically ‘Dorsey is fairly philanthropic…’When I was growing up the biggest gift I got at my Bar Mitzvah ($1000 in today’s dollars) was from a neighbor that owned adult bookstores. He also never went to synagogue but gave them a great deal of money I believe. Hence he was given a de-facto pass because he provided a benefit. Was more valued than the guy who went every week to shul but gave no money. Word was that there was even something pretty bad in how he treated someone who lived in his house.c) Gates caused a great deal of business pain to others. And almost certainly he was an SOB in business. Yes he did not kill anyone. But business pain is real and could be considered an assault in certain contexts. Now he washes everything away with philanthropy of course.In short in many business situations it is required to be selfish and think of yourself. It’s not medicine. It’s not religion (which has it’s own issues). It’s business. Hard choices to be made that impact others.though perhaps presently somewhat modest given his net worthOnce again an example of ‘it’s not enough unless $X’.
Unless you were doing it to INCREASE your profile.
Sounds like you’re touting your psychic abilities here, James.
I’m not psychic, more like a human CAT scan.You don’t need to know a public person personally to divine their personality. Once you are there – Jack is an Enneagram 9 – you merely need to ask yourself:- why would they do that?Then you apply:- the mature / immature filter ( think Kyler Murray tweeting when he is 14)- the experienced / inexperienced filter (think LeBron James taking his talents to Miami)- the ‘gets it / doesn’t get it’ filter, where ‘it’ really just simplifies people’s motivations to ‘ME? / OTHERS? / BOTH?’This last one, you can get deep in the weeds on if you like – something like Fred Kofman’s idea of consciousness ( https://www.amazon.com/Cons… ) if you want. But even he simplifies it to a great ‘people cannot be motivated to be a team analogy’ using soccer / football. They either ‘get it’ as the right thing to do or they are selfish.Jack is a ME King, but unlike other tech founder titans who are narcissistic builders, he is a narcissistic politician. They don’t build anything accept image and personal positions of control / leverage.Fred’s just 100% off base on who Jack is and what motivates him (not Fred’s core skillset, of which I am totally envious).Check out Square product founder’s Wiki for a shot of evidence – https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… . This is somebody who is a creative product visionary ( note timeline of Dorsey’s involvement @ Square and role Jack took ).
You could be an executive recruiter. Really.
That’s a new one.Given the source, I am quite chuffed.Thank you.
.I vouch for Jimmy’s psychic abilities. I had to buy the gent a BBQ and a beer (Green Mesquite, but you knew that) on a political bet.Guy’s a mystic.Unlike some of the folk on AVC.com who did not settle up their accounts from the 2016 Presidential book, Jimmy is good for his wagers and so am I.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
.Is it unfair for a successful person to simply support a political leader whose programs the successful person supports? Without joining the revolution on the barriers?Or, do you have to get into the fight directly.Some folks are good at business.Some folks are good at politics.Some folks may be good at both.Some folks may only be good at one.[Some folks are good at neither, but think they are good at both.]If I go to Cuba, do I somehow applaud the regime? Support their policies?I get it that in the specific instance of Cuba, my USD is being expended to the benefit of the regime, but am I really engaged in dark tourism?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
in a perfect bit of…not irony, but the perfect thing that shows just where @jack’s “brilliance” and his “commitment to improving twitter really is…this happened today as well:https://twitter.com/existen…People are not mad at Dorsey for meditating in Myanmar in and of itself. He’s a dippy rich guy, go be a dippy rich guy.People are mad because Twitter cares very much about not offending right-wing and neo-nazi groups to the point that criticizing them or even documenting their actions causes one’s account to be suspended, and it happens doubly fast if you’re not White Like Jack.People get viciously attacked on twitter but nothing is done. Until the target responds and then the *target* has their account suspended. Funny how the target is rarely a neo-nazi/alt-right person.That’s what people are mad at Dorsey over: that for all his announcements about making twitter better, and all the fawning over the functionally useless changes in posts like this one, it hasn’t gotten any better.Dorsey has one metric he cares about: daily active use, and one audience he cares about: shareholders. Anything that increases the first is good, regardless of content and anything that pleases the latter is good, again, regardless of content. Anything else has no value in his world.
It is rare for me to disagree w/ an AVC post, but I think I have to respectfully disagree here. Upfront, I will state it’s totally ok for someone (and Jack) to take a break, to take vacation, etc., and even just for Jack himself. But, there is more here I find to strike the wrong tune, briefly:1/ It’s pretty well-document Twitter hasn’t approached the bot/hatred problem with as much vigor as needed. This tweetstorm makes it seem like the problem is simply an open support ticket the company has to deal with eventually, when in real life, it is affecting people.2/ Using stock prices here feels besides the point. Square is on an amazing run, and enabling more folks to participate in the economy. On the other hand, Twitter is drowning out many voices at the expense of specific accounts.3/ Leadership in this context would have been to return from this trip (which is a luxury) and tie it together with a resolve to fix the core issues of the site/product. I think this is what irks people — not that he took a trip or went on a silent meditation retreat — but rather because it feels as if, upon reading the tweetstorm, he grew more divorced from the realities of the platform he leads.
The issue you have skipped is why publicize such an unusual vacation?
Clayton Christensen refused to work weekends when a management consultant and later the company had a work/life balance policy. In the industrial revolution laissez-faire entrepreneurs exploited people by getting them to work long hours. They were only stopped when people unionized. In high tech many think longer hours means more gets done. In fact if you work smart you can often accomplish things faster than if you worked long hours. Working long hours shows lack of discipline. I once refused to work on a presentation one weekend when I was off on a company ski trip. Monday morning the folk I’d left behind were still working on it. I was told by the company Dr I was the least stressed person she’d examined. On other occasions I’ve refused to work Sundays saying I need a rest. Nothing ever suffered because of this. I did get a bad review for giving a tech writer 3 weeks vacation he’d earned, but I could hire a temp. In call centers jobs are covered 24×7. In professional jobs poor management means people don’t have backups so they feel they must work all hours. So follow Dorsey’s lead – take a break while you are fit enough to enjoy recreation.As for going to Myanmar you don’t stop going to a fascinating country because you don’t agree with its politics. Everyone should take time to travel and explore. The US can be repressive too
.The Tweetstorm Dorsey is not the utterance of a leader, but the prattle of a celebrity.And, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — wrong with that.You may pick your idols any way you want them. Tech seems to provide a few more choices with a foot in both camps.He’s a celebrity and a leader.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
.Myanmar, Burma for those who have studied or lived a bit of history, is a typical post-British colonial military dictatorship gone faux democracy with sham elections.Fun fact — after three cuts at a Constitution, they have ended up with a system in which the military APPOINTS 25% OF THE LEGISLATURE.You know Tom Jefferson was thinking about that for the United States back in the day. Having the military pick 25% of the House and the Senate. [This is a joke. Sorry.]If you are outraged by a dictatorship posing as being a democracy, then you should be similarly outraged by despotic countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia (throw in the entire Middle East), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand — oops, did I forget Cuba and Venezuela? Slovenia, Slovakia? Oh, how about Mexico?Tourism doesn’t require the tourist to pledge allegiance to the flag of the despotic country you visit.Burma produces some excellent gemstones and has some great beaches.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I made the exact point in replying to Salt Shaker. People love to fake outrage, because it makes them feel like they are on the higher moral ground. It does not matter if their outrage makes zero difference.
.Victimhood and outrage — outrage, in particular, which is not transformed into action — is drowning this country.I get the 10% Veterans discount at Loews and Home Depot and feel guilty when I use it.Once I signed up at Loews, it comes up automatically. I have probably made more money on that discount than I did in my entire military service.I never served to get a discount.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Read a book called the Golden Earth in high school and I’ve wanted to visit the country ever since. A British soldier was able to travel all over the country which was in civil war at the time in the late forties. He went places no westerner had ever been before or since. Currently travelers are restricted to Rangoon and Mandalay.
.Damn, now I have another book to read.That is an interesting part of the world.Merry Christmas, Rick.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
It was out of print for a long time. Going to grab a copy myself and see if what so impressed me as a young boy fifty years ago still holds up to the test of time.
.https://www.amazon.com/Gold…$2.40 paperback newJLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I’d grab it, using that same link I’m seeing $15, maybe this is the year I need to finally join Prime. Or move to Texas?
Ahh $2.40 I see it now, plus $27 shipping ;<)
.$2.30 used. Nabbed it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
.I am a huge fan of Jack Dorsey the reasons for which I laid out in June.http://themusingsofthebigre…If you are eating from his chili bowl, it has been bountiful.You can find fault with his subjecting himself to a couple of hundred mosquito bites (West Nile, Zika), but you can’t fault with what the old boy has done to your portfolio.I admire his candor when he spoke to the US Congress thusly:“They [meaning conservatives at Twitter] do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don’t think that’s fair or right.”We have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company.”Pretty sure that statement was not cleared by corporate counsel.I believe this is the most honest utterance amongst the tech political illuminati as it relates to the anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley and a complete lack of intellectual diversity in an eco-system which fake prides itself on worshiping at the altar of diversity.If Jack wants to go meditate in any place and in any form he wants, I say, “Bravo!”I grade him on his performance, not on his ideological purity.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Is Jack on a campaign to raise his and Twitter’s public profiles with what feel suspiciously like deliberately manufactured controversies? The smell of Musk is in the air. Yesterday’s post began with the rumour that Uber, Lyft, and Slack are planning to IPO in 2019. Is that a good thing for Twitter’s share price prospects in 2019?
“And since he came back to Twitter full time in the summer of 2015, Twitter has slowly but surely addressed much of what was ailing it. The stock has doubled in the last 18 months and user growth has stabilized. And, most importantly, the company is addressing many of the most troubling aspects of the service, certainly not as quickly as its critics would like, but the service is undeniably dealing with the abuse issues more seriously than it has in the past.” https://continuations.com/p…
.OK, I feel compelled to reveal something.I was a CEO for 33 years for public and private companies. Before that, I was an Army officer in troop leadership positions for 5 years. Since then I run a tiny, secret CEO coaching business called The Wisdom of the Campfire.It is not a hard gig being a CEO. It is not lonely at the top. It is not soul shaking nor earth shattering.It is, however, the best gig you can have.You are the shot caller, the decider, the most highly compensated lackey, you get any parking space you want, your assistant brings you coffee, you get a company credit card, you can buy an airplane and charge its fair use to the company, you get a company car, you can plan executive retreats to go fishing in the Chandeleur Islands, you can dial it in, you can work from home whenever you want, and everybody laughs at your jokes.Bit of sarcasm sprinkled in, but it’s a very good gig.Can you get fired? You bet, but you get an Employment Agreement which spells out your severance arrangement and the Board has to decide whether it’s for cause (good luck with that unless there is a body), not-for-cause, or for a change-of-control.Keep you nose clean and you will like the gig financially. You get the high pay, great benefits, a little more vacation, stock options, deferred comp, an expense account, a company vehicle, and complete control of the Secret Santa process. The company pays for your country club dues and your YPO membership.You get a ready audience for your speeches.You get to reward doers — primarily the ones who do your job or to whom you correctly delegate your job.You get to make charitable contributions in the name of the company.You get a big office with the latest desktop and laptop and tablet and smartphone. You get a leather couch for naps and an Oriental carpet. You share your office with an Alexa.Your assistant will pick up your dry cleaning, take your shoes to the cobbler, and keep you on schedule. She/he will lie for you when you forget a massage appointment.You get a lot of presents at Christmas time. So many, you are ashamed. [I used to give them to my assistant, but she had to write the thank you the same day they were received.]No, being CEO is a very good gig. It beats all other jobs and here’s the secret — EVERYBODY FEELS SORRY FOR YOU.Why? I have no earthly idea.Try it. I swear you will like it. It’s just a job, but it’s a damn good one.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
You passed the marketing exam! Well done.
.Funny thing is you didn’t argue and you know it’s the God’s honest truth.I am expecting the hit men from YPO/WPO shortly.Merry Christmas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Bingo. That’s all true. I have no idea why someone feels sorry even for fired CEOs. They are protected and pampered bigly compared to the average Joe or Jane in the company. Nothing wrong with that but also nothing to complain about.
.As usual, we agree.Happy Holidays.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Sold, to the startup founder who writes long, complicated posts!Going for it.You removed all doubts.A keeper. Thx.Back to server system management.
.Brilliantly insightful posts.Merry Christmas, Sig.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
That’s not the role of a CEO who runs a startup (at least one that isn’t backed by a large VC check). My hope is my startup will someday yield me many of those benefits but currently the clock (i.e. bank account) is ticking in the opposite direction.The biggest luxury I’ve experienced was when I was an executive at a PE company and got to fly private. Sure was nice.
.I was contemplating the lot in life of Monsieur Jaccque Dorsey about whom the blog post was written.He is a surviving startup CEO, no?Merry Christmas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Yah, no disagreements there.
No, being CEO is a very good gig. It beats all other jobsHah! Well it’s also nice to be a big fish in your own small pond and not have to answer to anyone at all (like a board or for that matter even my own wife) and be able to do anything you want at any time on a whim.Small example (am I a nice guy?):… https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
This whole issue highlights one of the biggest concerns i have with human nature and also the one principle i disagree with among Bridgewater’s/Ray Dalio’s Principle’s, that says you can be unfiltered in your feedback to people. In other words, feeling free to be harshly and inarticulately critical of someone without being constructive. Where’s the sense in that? All you’re doing is lighting the fuse of human emotion and thus causing conflict. I guess that’s just how some humans get their kicks.
.The test of a gentleman is he can tell you to go to Hell in such a manner that you ask directions.In life, we have very few people who intend to either debate fairly or to constructively criticize or to modify behavior.When facts collide, there is a tendency to increase the volume rather than to do more research or listen to the other fellow.We have forgotten how to be gentlemen.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
When facts collide, there is a tendency to increase the volume rather than to do more research or listen to the other fellow. That goes along with two quotes I hold dear,”Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.””The argument from intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.”
CONTRIBUTORS:This post is certified Platinum! https://uploads.disquscdn.c… https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT
Well said Fred!!I just saw Jack’s tweets today because I had unfollowed him years ago. This made me follow him again! (How’s that for being contrarian?!)
.What does race, misogyny, xenophobia have to do with someone questioning the work ethic of a President? Any President?Missing the connection.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
With Respect, Fred. Our president is doing an awesome job….. Just saying!!!
Yes. And please forgive the shameless plug but – http://gethappy.life/be-mor…
Judging people is underrated.There is an objective truth to people’s behaviour and a critical eye mixed with discipline makes motivations easy to see.