I tried to think of the nicest way to say this – the best way. The “wash his mouth out with soap” was one such way. Another might be, “Mr. Luntz, you’re too smart for this, so please just shut your mouth.”
Here is what the wrote – page 271, in his newest book, Win:
“No one trusts the government to get anything right. So if all you’re doing is complying with minimum standards, they you immediately wrap yourself up in the government’s shroud of ineptitude. You must go higher.”
I am offended by this paragraph. And I call it for what it is – untrue, and petty.
Where shall I start? I could talk about the past: how I have driven from Florida to California using the Interstate Highway system, a project that the government got right. I could talk about the times I have needed something delivered to me, or sent elsewhere, and it showed up, as expected, through the United States Postal Service. I promise you, they did it at a higher percentage of success than my dry cleaners does in getting my shirts just right. (And, yes, of course, I know that the post office is in very big financial trouble – but I suspect e-mail, and all of those companies who ask me to go paperless, have something to do with that).
Or, I could take some pretty recent stories: recently, I have called two different government agencies, seeking information and help in two specific areas. In each case, a human being talked to me, in a cordial and informative tone, and each sent me requested material which arrived faster than I would have expected – within a couple of days.
I could talk politics – it is tempting. Mr. Luntz believes the view (he helped shape the view) that is the dominant view of many Republicans: “we need less government. Government is inept.” But I think such a view is wrong.
I remember reading about Bill Clinton’s insistence to put a genuine professional in charge of FEMA when he was president. And, while he was president, FEMA got some pretty high marks in some incredibly difficult circumstances. President Clinton put a genuine professional in that position, unlike his successor who put a political supporter in the same position. And that did not turn out so well.
Here’s what I think… We need people who lead government who believe in the validity of what government can do well.
And Mr. Luntz needs to change his words – these did not work for me.
Anyway, I am a fan of Frank Luntz. I have read his three books, and after Friday, will have presented synopses of all three. I have recommended them, and will recommend this book. It is a good book.
But Mr. Luntz, I trust the government to get a lot of things right. And so should you. So, please keep your cynicism, your ridicule, to yourself. The people who work so diligently deserve your appreciation and praise, not your ridicule.
In Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary, the third book I have read and presented (after Friday) by Frank Luntz, we read his “conclusions” at the very beginning of the book. Here they are:
• The 15 universal attributes of winners (Luntz’s summary of his “conclusions”)…
1) the ability to grasp the human dimension of every situation
2) the ability to know what questions to ask and when to ask them
3) the ability to see what doesn’t yet exist and bring it to life
4) the ability to see the challenge, and the solution, from every angle
5) the ability to distinguish the essential from the important
6) the ability and the drive to do more and do it better
7) the ability to communicate their vision passionately and persuasively
8) the ability to move forward when everyone around them is retrenching and or slipping backward
9) the ability to connect with others spontaneously
10) a curiosity about the unknown
11) a passion for life’s adventures
12) a chemistry with the people they work with and the people they want to influence
13) the willingness to fail and the fortitude to get back up and try again
14) a belief in luck and good fortune, and
15) a love of life itself
The book is a practical overview of the characteristics of those who “win,” and, I think, a valuable book for those who seek success, those who want to move forward.
If you are near the DFW area, come join us this Friday morning for our June First Friday Book Synopsis. Click here to register.
You can purchase my synopses of his first two books, Words that Work and What Americans Really Want…Really, with audio + handout, from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. I will present his latest book, Win, this Friday, and the synopsis will be available on the site in a couple of weeks.
The title of this commentary is provided by Jonathan Franzen from an article of his that appeared in The New York Times (May 29, 2011) in which he explains why our infatuation with technology provides an easy alternative to love. “The striking thing about all consumer products – and none more so than electronic devices and applications – is that they are designed to be immensely likeable.” Franzen adds that, in fact, this is “the definition of a consumer product.”
If considered in human terms, “and you imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center. In more pathological cases, you see a narcissist – a person who can’t stand the tarnishing of his or her self-image that not being liked represents, and who therefore either withdraws from human contact or goes to extreme, integrity-sacrificing lengths to be likeable.
“Consumer technology products would never do anything this unattractive, because they aren’t people. They are, however, great allies and enablers of narcissism.”
If I understand the thrust of Franzen’s thinking (and I may not), his core assertion is that highly-insecure people are desperate to be liked, accepted, approved of, etc. Lacking integrity, they are unable to deny the death that Ernest Becker asserts will occur when they become wholly obsessed with fulfilling others’ expectations of them.
Electronic devices and applications are their enablers because these consumer technology products identify what is most popular, provide a means by which highly-insecure people can associate themselves with what is most popular, and thereby (they hope) increase their appeal to others.
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Jonathan Franzen is the author, most recently, of Freedom. This essay is adapted from a commencement speech he delivered on May 21, 2011, at Kenyon College.
To read the Times article, please click here.
To hear the commencement address, please click here.