March 26, 2018
If you haven’t looked at the data Facebook has collected on you, I suggest you do so immediately.
Here’s what I learned about myself:
- I searched for information about my sons girlfriend—to verify if she was Jewish.
- I clicked on pictures of a competitor’s house to see if it’s worth more than mine.
- I “liked” an ungodly and embarrassing number of koala bear videos.
- The percent of Facebook friends I don’t actually know is 38%.
- I’ve saved 21 hours by typing “HBD,” instead of “Happy Birthday.”
- I’m being heavily retargeted by stool softeners.
- It takes me an average of 0.6 seconds to click on a new notification.
- Stormy Daniels refused my friend request–twice.
February 21, 2018
From: The Powers that Be in DC
Subject Line: The real reason you need to choose DC for HQ2
If we’ve learned one thing here in DC, it’s that when all else fails, you resort to a power-play. You’ve seen House of Cards, I’m sure.
So we’re not going to pitch you by spouting all of the typical reasons why you should locate your second headquarters here. You know, business-friendly atmosphere, educated workforce, innovative, tech-oriented people, great universities, quality-of-life, public transportation, blah blah blah.
Those aren’t differentiators. You want to differentiator? Here you go.
If you don’t relocate here, we will regulate your Starbucks-swilling, low-margin asses back to the Stone Age. We’ll create a special tax just for companies whose name starts with an A, ends with an N and contains a Z. We’ll file so many court briefs you’ll have to hire a thousand more lawyers.
Now that’s a claim no other city can make!
That’s right, go ahead and choose another city. We dare you. We’ll unleash the full fury and might of the Federal bureaucracy–wave after wave of extraordinarily harsh, unfair and unprecedented treatment at the hands of the FTC, SEC, FCC, DOJ and a dozen other federal agencies.
A threat? Perhaps. Extortion? Welcome to the real world. We’re just competing by using the most unique and powerful lever at our disposal.
But there are real benefits here for Amazon.
Think proximity to power. With a DC area HQ, you can drop in and the FTC to lunch anytime (note the $25 gift limit). You’re just a 10 minute Uber ride from the Capital where you can walk the halls, twist arms, line pockets, etc. And you can sponsor tables at all of those fancy political-military-industrial events where you’ll hob-nob with Federati elites.
Think about it.
We won’t make this offer a second time.
- Ask 100 people who are desperate to enter the United States about their pain points, how they currently plan to enter the country and how they would use a wall.
- Use these insights to build a Minimum Viable Wall (MVW) designed to prevent desperate people from getting into the U.S. (Note: Make sure your MVW is long enough so that people cannot just walk around it.)
- Invite 100 desperate people to try and bypass the wall.
- Watch how the MVW performs and pay particular attention to how people are able to breach it, i.e. scaling, penetrating and tunneling. (It may take some time, but they will figure it out, you can count on it. Remember they are desperate.)
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 above at least 10 times, each time improving the Wall based on your observations and insights.
- Eventually you will have a prototype Wall that meets your Minimum Viable Objective, i.e. it prevents 25% of desperate people from entering the country. Develop a plan to handle the 75% who do enter, i.e. detain, deport or help place them in menial jobs.
- Build and install the rest of the Wall.
- Repeat step 4.
- Update the Wall, adding features to prevent even more desperate people from entering the U.S.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the Wall prevents 100% of desperate people from entering the country. Make sure to tell companies that they will no longer have access to cheap labor to do menial jobs.
- Sell advertising on both sides of the Wall to pay for construction and maintenance. Give free ads to compensate companies for the loss of cheap labor.
We all know about the so-called honeymoon period in business: the time at the beginning of a new job when an executive can sit back and absorb and assess the way things work, who the power players are and where the bodies are buried–without being expected to make any great decisions or pronouncements. It’s a no-fault grace period which can last as long as several months depending on the role and company.
But there’s another less-talked about phase executives can leverage to their advantage: The Blame Window. This is the period during which you can legitimately hold your predecessor responsible for the challenges you are now facing.
One might naturally ask, as I did, how long after you’ve assumed a new role can you blame your predecessor? And how would one go about throwing him or her under the bus? My research yielded no credible answers to these questions, so I developed the following handy formula to help executives calculate their available Blame Window:
Here is an example–fictitious of course–to show how the formula works.
Let’s say Don takes over as President of a large, established enterprise (240+ years), which is struggling with how to maintain a leadership position in a global market. The company has significant debt ($20+ trillion) and a burn rate of about $441 billion per year.
After 4 weeks on the job, Don claims he “inherited a mess.” He bemoans the things that are not running smoothly, which is in turn giving employees fodder and motivation to leak negative stories to the media. Don’s predecessor held the post for 8 years.
Q: Can Don blame his predecessor?
A: Absolutely not! Using the former President’s tenure of 8 years, divided by Don’s tenure of 4 weeks, even when multiplied by the highest Problem Magnitude factor of 0.9 results in a Blame Window of 3.6 weeks. Since Don has already held the position for 4 weeks, he is already past the Blame Window. So his problems are his own. No blaming allowed.
Caution: If not used judiciously, this formula can be dangerous. Here are some important tips to remember:
First, make sure you get the math right. There is nothing more embarrassing than miscalculating the Blame Window and having the whole situation blow up in your face. Set some reminders in Outlook 90, 60, 30 and 7 days prior to the expiration of the Blame Window so you will know when to stop blaming your predecessor.
Second, do your homework before you start laying on the criticism. Was your predecessor revered or scorned? Respected or tolerated? Make sure to get these and other data points before you start spraying around accusations. The last thing you want to do is tear into someone who is a legend or, worse, someone who is deceased.
Third, make sure to select the right way of broaching the subject with your superiors. Here are some preambles to get you started:
Jocular: “Gee, if I’d known all this before I would have asked for a lot more money, ha-ha-ha!”
Nothing Personal, Just Business: “I’m sure <name of predecessor> was a good guy, but…”
Delicate but Direct: “I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone, but now that I’ve gotten my feet wet…”
Mildly Annoyed: “I have to tell you I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into here…”
Threatening: “If you think I’m going to take the fall for any of this, you can just find yourself another President.”