What Do You Know?

Dan Weedin Unleashed-19I’m watching a CNN series titled, The Seventies. It’s an ongoing documentary about people, politics, events, and entertainment that created a unique culture. Ironically, one of the producers is Tom Hanks, who got his big break on a sitcom, Bosom Buddies late in that decade.

I grew up in the 1970s, so I’m fascinated by the series, which I think is quite well done. I find myself in “flashback” situations constantly. That being said, I also find I’m learning about things I was much too young to understand back then. The political and social climate around Vietnam; Watergate; and the transformation of social mores on television were all over my youthful level of cognizance, and now I find very intriguing. I am able to better understand and comment on things that I lived through, but really didn’t have a grasp of. I now know more…

We should all be growing in that way. I’m not just talking about television documentaries. I’m suggesting you all make efforts to make yourself more knowledgeable about the world you live in. The results are important to your business and career. By being more aware and educated, you will:

  • Become more of an object of interest to those around you
  • Be able to offer sage advice and wisdom when called upon
  • Have a deeper understanding of motivations, cultures, ideas, and styles
  • Create services and products for those that need them (whether they know it or not)
  • Start up conversations that don’t involve a business transaction, yet might lead to one
  • Develop stronger relationships

The list could go on much longer and maybe you’d like to add to it yourself. How do you go about doing all of this “learning?” Here are 10 painless (and maybe fun) ways to do it…

  1. Read books of all genres, not just self-help business. Read for pleasure as well as learning.
  2. Travel. I mean really travel. Leave your state, your region, and your country and experience things.
  3. Have a hobby. Learn about it and gain enjoyment. It might be bird watching or astronomy. Maybe it’s coin collecting or model train making. Whatever it is, find something that is fun.
  4. Be active. It’s good for your brain, your heart, and your spirit.
  5. Learn another language or an instrument. Learning something new is invigorating and fun to discuss with others.
  6. Write a blog or journal. Capture your thoughts. The more you write the better your vocabulary, and the better communicator you will become.
  7. Watch television. TV is now part of our culture. You will learn a lot about the world you live in and even yourself. Mix it up and watch a variety of things for pleasure and learning.
  8. Read the Wall Street Journal daily. I don’t read it cover to cover, but I stay current. I’ve got it on my phone and with notifications. You need to be apprised of what’s going on in business and what it all means for you and your clients.
  9. Take a leadership role. It might be for your favorite charity or service organization. Regardless, when you take a lead role in something you have a passion for, you gain a lot of worldly knowledge.
  10. Ask others for opinions and commentary. AND, I don’t mean on Facebook! I mean ask questions at parties and social gatherings. meet new people and learn about them and their world. Get anew perspective from others by being inquisitive.

So, what do you know? Maybe it’s time you go find out for yourself.

© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

How Not To Deal with Crisis: The Curious Case of Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

So you’re a business owner or executive and you want to handle a crisis with ineptitude and enrage your important business partners, all your employees, and your target audience, right?  Then study today’s press conference by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.

I’ve been a huge football fan and followed the sport since 1974 when I was 9 years old. Over the decades, we’ve all witnessed crises occur for what has become the premier sport in the United States. Never have we witnessed the erosion of trust that has happened only in the past few months, with a climax of a fiasco such as today. I have no doubts Roger Goodell is a smart guy. He just didn’t show it today.

Here’s how to mishandle a crisis when you’re the head of an organization and your world (whatever that might look like) is watching…

  • Start 15 minutes late. Really? You set the press conference. Show up on time. Not a good way to start.
  • The opening statement was as obvious as a ham sandwich. We could have all probably written it ourselves. Instead, make a brief (3 minutes) statement apologizing for past errors of judgement and open it up for questions.
  • Avoid answering Yes/No questions. When Goodell was asked if he had spoken to NFL sponsors, specifically Anheuser Busch. He never uttered the words yes or no, and proceeded to spin the case around to a point where everyone was confused and a follow up question about his communications had to be asked. His response? “You will have to ask them.”
  • Keep referring to your past statements. The commissioner answered almost every questions with, “As I just stated,” or “As I’ve said before…” Here’s the deal, Roger. You lost your right to fall back on past comments. You need to just keep answering what you have in front of you.
  • Be the ultimate spin doctor. One journalist asked about the comparison to his ruling on New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton after the infamous “Bounty Gate” scandal. Goodell blasted Payton for lack of control and suspended him for a year. When his lack of control was called into question, he began spinning like a Wolfman Jack in his prime, by not only avoiding any comments about the Saints and Payton (which was the question), and again explaining that he was going to fix everything.
  • Keep referring to your nameless “experts.” Goodell kept referring to the league’s “experts.” These are the experts that didn’t see a problem with him interviewing Ray Rice with Janay Rice (the victim) in the same room. These are the “experts” that are advising the NFL on how to move forward with a domestic violence policy. We should all feel better…
  • Deny, deny, deny. When asked about the report that the Atlantic City hotel confirmed that they were never asked for the video in the elevator by the NFL, Goodell said they had tried several times. So let me get this straight, the NFL says it asked on multiple occasions and was shot down. The hotel says they were never asked. The TMZ reporter in the crowd said they got it with one request. Someone’s lying. It’s clear, yet Goodell simply skirted the issue.
  • Avoid clearing up conflict of interest questions. Rachel Nichols of CNN is really good at her job. She asked about the independent investigation that appears to have more bedfellows than Wilt Chamberlain on a good night back in the day. She drew a correlation about conflict of interest with owners and law firms. Instead of hitting that straight on, Goodell seemed outraged that Nichols would call into question the integrity of a former FBI chief.
  • Show them you’re sweating. Speaking of Nichols, she really got under the Commish’s skin (which seems to be getting thinner by the day). You could tell his anger simply by his facial expression. You could also hear it in his voice when he tersely repeated her name, Rachel, when addressing her. I’m thinking there’s not going to be a Christmas basket sent from him to her this year.
  • Pick a time when you might be least hurt. How about holding a press conference on a Friday afternoon? That way, sports radio can’t blast it the next day. College football and NFL games take place over on the weekend. By Monday, it’s horror will have dissipated. This one may not…

Heck, throw in a clown from the Howard Stern show that makes a scene right in the middle of the press conference and is dragged away screaming “Not the elevator…don’t take me to the elevator!” (Mocking the ray Rice elevator incident) and you have the makings of a huge calamity. That was a nice scene…NFL bouncers dragging someone away in front of the nation.

Crisis communications is critical after a catastrophe. Ask former BP CEO Tony Hayward who publicly exclaimed that he only wanted to “get my life back” after the Gulf oil spill. He is toiling somewhere in Siberia now and it took BP years to regain its reputation. This press conference (Goodell was silent for the past 2 weeks, other than a CBS News interview) was a great opportunity to fix some real problems. Unfortunately, Mr. Goodell’s performance only exacerbated them. Football pundits and NFL players on Twitter widely panned it. The results are exploding in real time across social media platforms and television.

Crisis communications mean everything when it comes to protecting your reputation and brand. Your employees, your supply chain, your business partners, investors, and community count on you to respond quickly, be candid, admit mistakes, and express a plan. Although Commissioner Goodell did do some of those things, his ability to respond to questions with empathy and believability have deeply damaged his credibility. It will be interesting to see if he can survive this. In your business, you may not have the same chance.

Here’s one hint. Practice. If Goodell got advice, it was either not good or he didn’t execute well. You need to be prepared to face the music when it’s your crisis. Make sure you don’t get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct detrimental to your business. Goodell just got 15 yards and maybe more for his…

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved



Crisis Case Study – Rutgers University

I was in New Jersey this past week for a couple of speaking events when the Rutgers University Men’s Basketball debacle hit the national headlines. For those of you who

Rice - Rutgers
Rice – Rutgers

missed it, Head Coach Mike Rice was shown in videos of practice verbally and physically abusing players. He was throwing basketballs at them; punching and shoving them; using gay slurs; and literally acting like a maniac. The video was made available to Athletic Director Tim Pernetti back in November, 2012. At that time, rather than fire Rice, he tried to rehabilitate him through a $50,000 fine, suspension for 3 games, and mandatory anger management treatment. Next thing you know, ESPN’s Outside the Lines program is showing the world the actions of a coach gone mad. The reaction from the sports world was harsh to say the least, and also drew the ire of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Rutgers is New Jersey’s most prominent state school, and this was a crisis that was spreading like a wildfire.

In the following days, Rice was fired; his assistant coach resigned; AD Pernetti resigned; and the President is under fire. As I write this, I am listening to the press conference by the president. According to Pernetti in his letter of resignation, they followed advice from the University’s Human Resources Department, Legal team, and outside counsel. He regrets now the decision of rehabilitation over dismissal. He wishes he had it to do over again because he would change his decision. Hindsight tells us that he should have known these tapes would be leaked. In today’s world, things like this never stay silent. But, that’s hindsight. Let’s use a little foresight for you.

Crisis doesn’t have to come in the form of a windstorm, fire, or data breach. Your reputation as a business or organization is priceless, and may be more impactful to

your bottom line than those other examples. For Rutgers University and its President, board, and leadership, this is a train wreck. Now, all eyes are on them on how they diffuse and react to the situation. It gives us a chance to learn from them.

Here are a few tips and suggestions on lessons learned…

  • Understand plainly that electronic and written communications and information rarely will stay private. What is written in emails even securely (see David Petraeus) can and will come to light, and is usually damning to you and your organization.
  • Poor behavior of employees and leadership will be held to account by your clients, prospects, investors, key stakeholders, community, and the media. You need to be prepared to respond to it publicly.
  • You should have behavior clauses in your employment agreements regarding poor behavior, including what might be done or written on social media.
  • Silence after a crisis like this is bad. You need to be proactive early. In the Twitter and Facebook world we live in, public opinion can be swayed and determined very quickly.
  • Practice for events like this. Role play mock interviews and press conferences and hope you never have to perform them live. At least with practice, you can work on your game.
  • Respect and have empathy for those who have been injured in the debacle – whether physically or mentally. The wost thing you can show is arrogance or indifference. Contrary to what you might have heard, apologies are not only acceptable, but necessary if they are warranted.
  • Do the right thing. Legal and HR have value, but if the right thing to do is fire someone because their actions were intolerable, then you fire them.
  • You better be good at public speaking. When issues related to bad behavior in your business pop up, you can bet you will have to address them to the media. You’d better have some skill in this area. If you don’t feel like you’ve “got game” in that area, now is a good time to change that…or delegate it!

I’m not hear to throw Rutgers under the bus. The leadership has acted pretty swiftly for an organization like this. The post event decisions seem to be good. This

article is more about what you can learn as a business owner, executive, or organizational leader. Now, some of you might be thinking, “This stuff doesn’t happen to me. I’m just a small business owner.” That’s where you may be tragically wrong. You may not end up on ESPN or CNN, but a bad report in your local paper or television station can be just as devastating. Don’t think it happens? Spend some time reading your paper.

Bottom line – Bad behavior happens all the time in many organizations. You need to be prepared as the leader to prevent it through education and consequences; mitigate damage if it does happen; and bring your team together to move forward after it’s calmed down.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Saving Time and Money

I’ve had my new iPhone now for a month and am wondering how I ever lived without it. Yes, I’ve added a few games (I’m still not proficient in Angry Birds, but working on it), however the majority of the apps I’ve either downloaded or purchased have been great time saving tools. For instance…

  • I get all my business reading done quickly, efficiently, and often while standing in line or waiting for someone. I have Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Seattle Times, CNN and the two local papers on my phone. Tom Petty was right…the waiting is the hardest part! Use your time wisely.
  • Every contact I need is stored and backed up on the phone. I always have the information I need at my finger tips. My ability to quickly and easily find locations, restaurants, and contacts saves me time. My calendar is always handy (I keep it on Google Calendar). I can’t tell you how many times those features have saved me embarrassment and/or valuable time.
  • On a personal note, I’m surprised how often I’ve used my flashlight and level apps. I’m not good at keeping the real-life tools handy, but when you need a flashlight, you need it now. Have phone will flashlight travel!

Bottom line – a smart phone is an investment, especially if you’re in business. Apps were developed to make your life easier. Find the tools that best fit your situation and take advantage of them.

Now it’s time to get those dumb pigs!

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Human Assets

Excellent story from CNN for all employers out there. You do have human assets, not just human resources. Helping to “makeover” yourself and your team leads to improved morale and higher efficiency. This leads to better client service and ultimately increased income. Bottom line – it’s a win-win-win.


© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Crisis Strategist #2 – Untangling the Tuscon Catastrophe

The events of last Saturday are emblazoned in the minds of all Americans.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from Arizona was critically injured in a shooting where she was targeted during a rally at a Safeway store. Six other were killed and many others wounded. Our prayers and support go out to all the families involved. This calamity involves a lot of moving parts and creates a crisis for many. Here is a sampling…

  • The Safeway store in Tuscon. This was the location of the rally. How did the store deal with this in relationship to its employees, its customers, and the indelible sight of the Safeway brand on CNN and the other media outlets? Did they have a disaster plan in place that they could fall back on?
  • The State of Arizona. I saw the Governor on television and heard from the representatives from the state. Had they been fully prepared to talk with the media, reach out to victims, and handle collateral damage?
  • Politicians. National, state, and local politicians all have another peril to be concerned about. I don’t recall another shooting like this since 1981 and Ronald Reagan. The big names all have their entourages. What about the congressional leaders, state leaders, and even local leaders? What changes now have to be made?
  • Firearms dealers. You may only sell hunting rifles, but you are back on the front-line in public perception. How do you allay the fears of the public, while being able to legitimately carry on your business?

These are only a few examples. In looking at risk as a crisis manager, you must be prepared for even the unthinkable. You must take precautions to avoid crisis, mitigate damage if it does happen, and make sure your reputation is only enhanced in how you dealt with it. All this takes planning, preparation, training, practice, and implementation.

This is an opportunity for you as a business executive and organization to look at situations. How do you handle the unthinkable?

Gather your team together and brainstorm. Determine what areas of vulnerability you have. What are the worst-case scenarios and how do you best deal with them? How do you communicate to your employees, investors, supply chain, and media? Too often, this is brushed aside to be dealt with only if it happens. Take my word for it, that is the worst time to deal with it. You must be prepared and plan it out. Just like a basketball team practices for any situation, you must prepare for yours, too.

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved