The week@work – a historic moment in Philadelphia, a ‘profile in courage’, the culture @Fox & @Bridgewater Associates & an adventure ends

It was a week of firsts: a solar powered aircraft completed the first circumnavigation of the globe and the Democratic National Convention nominated the first woman as a candidate of a major party for U.S. president. The corporate culture of Fox News and hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates continued to be scrutinized. And one man, took the stage in Philadelphia for seven minutes, proving we can all make a difference.

On Thursday evening Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Senator from New York and former Secretary of State, accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party as their candidate for President of the United States.

“And so, my friends, it is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president of the United States.”


For 50.8% of the American people, a career milestone was achieved; ninety-six years after the ratification of the 19th amendment granting the right of suffrage to women.

University of New Hampshire professor of history and author, Ellen Fitzpatrick reflected on the moment and it’s ironies. When a woman finally checks all the ‘pay your dues’ boxes, in any career field, doubts about their motivation and abilities linger.

“One of the most powerful ironies in a political season full of perversities is a paradox that now defines Hillary Clinton’s campaign: The first female presidential candidate to overcome the obstacles that sank every single woman before her now confronts criticism for overcoming those very same difficulties.

Time and again, Americans have deemed men worthy of the White House if they could succeed on the national political stage, raise sufficient money, rally the support of party leaders, appeal to voters and point to domestic and foreign policy experience. That these assets are suddenly negatives, at the very moment that a woman finally achieved them, is curious, to say the least.”

Curious, but not surprising.

On Saturday The Los Angeles Times responded to readers who took exception to coverage of the historic moment with a front page photo of former President Bill Clinton.

“Like other newspapers, The Times illustrated its main story Wednesday on Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination for president with a photo — of her husband.

Of course, Bill Clinton is no ordinary spouse of a candidate (and neither was Hillary Clinton when her husband was president). Still, many readers detected a whiff of sexism in The Times’ decision to feature a large photo of the former president basking the adulation of the Democratic National Convention crowd when it was the former secretary of State who received her party’s nomination for president.”

Like other newspapers? Apparently imitation is the new competitive advantage.

Three reader comments were included; my favorite from Janet Kinosian of Santa Ana – “I’m sure the Suffragettes would not have been surprised, though I am.”

One of the most memorable moments of the convention in Philadelphia occurred when the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq four months after arriving in 2004, stepped to the podium.

Annabelle Timsit chronicled ‘Seven Minutes That Shook the Convention’ for Politico Magazine.

Khizr Khan.jpeg

“He walked onto the convention stage Thursday night with his wife beside him, the Constitution to guide him and the pride of a father who knows he has a story to tell.

“Tonight,” said Khizr M. Khan, “we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”

That was the beginning of a 7-minute speech that became an instant sensation—eloquent, emotional and notably original, coming as it did at the end of four days of highly processed political cliche. Khan, a 66-year-old immigration lawyer from Charlottesville, told the story of his son’s death in combat in Iraq, but he turned that elegy into a viral rebuke of Donald Trump: “You have sacrificed nothing!”

In 1957, before his presidential candidacy, President John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book, ‘Profiles in Courage’.

“In the preface to ‘Profiles in Courage’, Senator Kennedy discusses the “problems of political courage in the face of constituent pressures, and the light shed on those problems by the lives of past statesmen.’’ He describes the three types of pressure faced by senators as pressure to be liked, pressure to be re-elected, and pressure of the constituency and interest groups…the book is about his admiration of the courage shown by elected leaders in the face of adverse factions like their electorates, popular opinion and political action committees that pull these elected men in different directions.”

Khizr M. Khan is not an elected official, but he is a citizen. And on Thursday evening his remarks filled a leadership void, demonstrating courage “in the face of adverse factions and popular opinion” – a contemporary ‘profile in courage’.

Each week The New York Times publishes the ‘Traffic Report’, a list of the most-read business articles on for the previous week. Three of the top four stories this week centered on corporate cultures that enabled sexual harassment of employees at Fox News and Bridgewater Associates.

Jim Rutenberg, Emily Steel and John Koblin covered the number one story, ‘At Fox News, Kisses, Innuendo, Propositions and Fears of Reprisal’.

“The investigation by Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, focused narrowly on Mr. Ailes. But in interviews with The New York Times, current and former employees described instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.

The Times spoke with about a dozen women who said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors. With the exception of Ms. Bakhtiar, they all spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing embarrassment and fear of retribution. Most continue to work in television and worry that speaking out could damage their careers.

They told of strikingly similar experiences at Fox News. Several said that inappropriate comments about a woman’s appearance and sex life were frequent. Managers tried to set up their employees on dates with superiors.”

And while a spokesperson for the parent company 21st Century Fox detailed the corporate sexual harassment policy and reporting procedures, Michael Grynbaum and Emily Steel noted ‘A Stony Silence at Fox News After Ailes’s Departure’.

“The Fox News skybox here turns into a hive of activity as the network’s star anchors analyze the Democratic National Convention for millions of viewers.

When the cameras blink off, however, the banter has been replaced by something rarely heard in the television news business: silence.

Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts, including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

…employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.” 

Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein reported on the culture at the hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates – ‘At World’s Largest Hedge Fund, Sex, Fear and Video Surveillance’.

“Hedge funds tend to be a highly secretive bunch, yet even within their universe Bridgewater stands out. The allegations, as well as interviews with seven former employees or people who have done work for the firm and a filing by the National Labor Relations Board, open a window into the inner workings of a $154 billion company that, despite its mammoth size, remains obscure. The firm is governed by “Principles” — more than 200 of them — set out in a little white book of Mr. Dalio’s musings on life and business that some on Wall Street have likened to a religious text.

In his complaint, Christopher Tarui, a 34-year-old adviser to large institutional investors in Bridgewater, contends that his male supervisor sexually harassed him for about a year by propositioning him for sex and talking about sex during work trips.”

Sexual Harassment remains a significant workplace issue. The popularity of articles covering high profile incidents reflect the reality of workers looking for guidance beyond mandatory training sessions, trying to navigate the workplace to achieve success based on merit.

For the last story, a question, what is the definition of adventure? The pilots of the Solar Impulse 2 told CNBC “that having both elating moments and setbacks made the solar-powered flight the “definition of adventure.”

Samantha Masunaga reported for The Los Angeles Times on the journey’s end of Solar Impule 2. On Monday, pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg guided their craft into the airport where their experimental flight began.


“After 16 months and a 17-leg journey, a solar-powered plane finally completed its around-the-world flight attempt Monday evening when it touched down in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The plane, called Solar Impulse 2, landed at Al Bateen Executive Airport a few minutes after 5 p.m. Pacific time, marking the first around-the-world solar flight.

Inside the plane, pilot Bertrand Piccard shouted, “We made it.”

In a week@work of firsts, I echo the sentiment. We made it.


Photo Credit – Solar Impulse 2: Jean Revillard / REZO/Solar Impulse

The week@work – Davos, Sundance, transparency and the benefits of procrastination

This week@work world leaders and policy gurus headed to Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum, actors and directors arrived in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival and the rest of us enjoyed a snow day without the airfare. Transparency was suggested as a way to close the pay gap and provide a fair balloting process for the Oscars. And finally, for you procrastinators, research finds your approach to problem solving is more creative.

Of all the tweets emanating from the World Economic Forum, the most stunning came from Sharan Burrow, participating on ‘The New Climate and Development Imperative’ panel. Ms. Burrow is General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. In discussing the drivers of action for development and climate targets she stated, “For workers, there are no jobs on a dead planet.” If that doesn’t bring home the reality of climate change to each global citizen, I’m not sure what will.

One of the ten major global challenges identified by the WEF poses the question, What does the world of work look like today and what will it look like in the future?


“The scale of the employment challenge is vast. The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 61 million jobs have been lost since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008, leaving more than 200 million people unemployed globally.

Nearly 500 million new jobs will need to be created by 2020 to provide opportunities to those currently unemployed and to the young people who are projected to join the workforce over the next few years.

At the same time, many industries are facing difficulty hiring qualified staff. One 2015 survey found that, globally, 38% of all employers are reporting difficulty filling jobs, a two-percentage point rise from 2014.

Put simply, we need jobs for the hundreds of millions of unemployed people around the world, and we need the skilled employees that businesses are struggling to find.”

Two additional perspectives of the Davos conference were provided by Alexandra Stevenson for The New York Times, ‘Glass Ceilings at Davos, Now on the Agenda’, and Anne Marie Slaughter‘s ‘A Tale of Two Feminisms at Davos’.

Several time zones west, the Sundance Film Festival began its ten day run in Park City, Utah. Since 1978, it has been the place for independent film makers to show their dramatic and documentary films. A number of these films eventually became Oscar nominees, which brings us to a conversation on transparency.

For the past two weeks, since the announcement of the Academy Awards, the major recognition for those who work in film, the conversation has centered on the lack of progress in diversifying the industry and its major export, films. How many of us even knew how the voting was done as we mindlessly watch red carpet arrivals and comment on fashion, performances and our bets to win?

Glenn Whipp of the LA Times shared ‘Here’s How Oscar Voting Is Done’.

“Who nominates the actors for the Oscars? And how does the voting process work? Here’s a step-by-step primer:

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has 6,261 voting members. The entire body votes for best picture.

Nominations for most of the remaining categories are determined by the balloting of the academy’s various branches. A committee selects the foreign-language film nominees.”

The full article, though short, will definitely make your hair hurt, and prompt the question, why the delay in reform?

Film mogul, actor and producer, Tyler Perry offered his solution “If the Academy – I think all this would go away if they revealed the votes,” Perry said. “If you look at a movie like ‘Straight Outta Compton’ right and just say it got 1,000 votes and ‘The Revenant’ got 1, 001 votes, is that racism or is it just this is the way the votes went?”

We might all benefit from transparency and a clear set of rules beyond the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Claire Cain Miller proposes we “publish everyone’s pay” as one answer to ‘What We Can Do to Close the Pay Gap’.

“When the comedian Ricky Gervais joked that he was paid the same to host the Golden Globes as the actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — combined — his barbed humor most likely resonated in many workplaces.

When employers publish people’s salaries, the pay gap shrinks.

Jake Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Washington University, has found that salary transparency raises wages, in part by lending legitimacy to employees’ arguments in wage bargaining. “Even being cognizant of gender pay disparity being an issue can change norms,” he said.

That has been true in the public sector, where disclosing pay information is often required. Alexandre Mas, an economist at Princeton, studied the effects of a 2010 California law that required cities to publish municipal salaries. It prompted pay cuts, but only among men.

Women might have been spurred to negotiate after seeing that their salaries were lower, he theorized, or cities might have made salaries more equitable to avoid lawsuits.”

Bottom line, there are a lot of global and domestic problems to be solved and they require serious thought, teamwork and creativity.

Wharton professor Adam Grant shared the benefits of re-thinking his pre-crastination habit in ‘Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate’, and found “..while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity. It turns out postponement can encourage divergent thinking.

A few years ago, though, one of my most creative students, Jihae Shin, questioned my expeditious habits. She told me her most original ideas came to her after she procrastinated. I challenged her to prove it. She got access to a couple of companies, surveyed people on how often they procrastinated, and asked their supervisors to rate their creativity. Procrastinators earned significantly higher creativity scores than pre-crastinators like me.”