Here’s a laundry list of what’s been bouncing around in my head the past few days.
1) Obama likely ran the best campaign in history. From approaching the campaign with a data-based decision making process, thinking through weakness and strengths and letting this guide a communications/tactical strategy, a consistent (reassuring) image and message to voters, and an efficient deployment of technology– just from a business case approach this was remarkable. The New Yorker has a good article on it all. When insiders either write, or contribute heavily to a definitive account of the operations and logistics of the campaign, I’ll be first in line to buy and study the book.
2) There is more fear in the air than I can ever recall. September 11th was a very different kind of fear and nakedness to the harsher elements of the world. Talking to friends, and more importantly strangers, and reading the accounts of what’s going on in broad swaths of America– there is real, palpable fear for the future. The stock markets are a reflection of sentiment (and probably themselves guide sentiment to some degree, completing the cycle) and it’s ugly. An organization, nation, etc needs renewal. The thing is we needed this back in 2001 at the latest. But we put it off by inflating home values and pushing the levels of credit. So we didn’t have the painful (but likely manageable correction that we needed). Corrections allow you to shore up your foundation, and make smart decisions. Instead we not only put it off, but then turbo-charged our problems with massive debt and financial idioacy. Now we end up with something very different than a “normal” recession or correction. You have a fundamental problem to fix. We still haven’t seen how big the problem is, and it’s only once we know how deep the hole goes that we can begin the long, slow process of digging out. My thoughts and well-wishes go to millions of families suffering.
3) People vote on the one issue that defines them. In good, unassuming times this might be an “identification” vote. Meaning values or some other issue that though will likely not be legislated, but it matters if their candidate is “like them” based on how they choose to identify themselves. This could be religion, this could mean stance on poverty, a social issue like gay marriage, etc. In turbulent, scary times what defines is a need for security and hope. So during a time of war, who ever reassures you most about victory and your safety. In a bad economic time, it is the candidate who you feel will help you and your family eat, make rent, save, send your kids to college, or prosper (depending on where you are on the economic totem pole). For large swaths of America we’re clearly in a shitstorm scary economic time, and it’s my belief that this heavily swayed the election.
4) John McCain ran a very respectable campaign. The man and his campaign has taken a lot of grief for running what has been billed as an ugly, dishonorable campaign. I disagree and have for a while. Think of how Al Gore was portrayed as a chronic liar (Internet invention, etc), and John Kerry as having brought dishonor onto the armed forces and his country (swiftboats, etc). The fodder that was available to smear Barack Obama was everywhere: his admitted drug use including hard drugs, having lived in Islamic nations, never having served in the armed forces, Rev Wright, his remarks in San Francisco, the connections to the shady real estate developer, etc. Yes, obviously the campaign was ugly to a degree. You had the idioacy of people calling Obama an Arab, and “the other” and some of the Ayers stuff. By and large, this came from the fringes (and from Palin, who I consider the one who should not be spoken about). Politics is ugly, and when so much power is at stake, obviously things get out of hand. For those of you that disagree with what I’m saying, try and think about this: What do you think an election between W. Bush and Obama would have been like? They attacked McCain for having an illegitimate black child (his wife adopted a little girl from Bangladesh) and a load of other fun stuff. Make no mistake. This could have been a horrifically ugly race. From what I read, McCain shuddered at the notion of running a race-baiting contest. And, I think with some time, he’ll receive the admiration he deserves for this.
5) The NFL is fun again for me. Brett “there’s something about mary” Favre has made my beloved Jets so much fun to watch again. And doing a Yahoo Prof-Football Pick ‘Em has made me care about the balance of the schedule. It’s a fun diversion. Like millions of others, Sunday afternoons are a welcome respite from the horrible news that surrounds us seemingly 24/7 lately.
6) Billions for the inanimate people, and nothing for the animate. I’ve always heard about how corporates have the same rights as people. Well, as a society, we’ve allowed them to become so powerful and wide-reaching that the survival of the inanimate amongst us has become, seemingly, more important to the survival of actual humans that we have to save them at any cost. Here’s a story from The New Yorker on one such casualty. Of course it comes from my adopted home of Ohio. (Yes, after having lived in SF for a year, it only reassures what I knew as soon as I left Ohio. It’s as close to a pulse of America as I’ve ever seen). Why aren’t they more stories on this human side of the housing/mortgage crisis? I suspect because no one wants to read about it. Frankly, it’s uncomfortable and sort of painful. Like the starving children who die in Africa, it’s easier to look away.
7) Wall Street sucks. So this is piling on. I understand and so I’ll be brief. When I graduated from Rutgers, I only seriously considered a few options. One, was to go to P&G and work in Brand something I loved and had a blast doing the summer before. Two, was to take a flier and move out West and join a start-up. Three, was to go to work on Wall Street. I wasn’t prepared to move out West. I just hadn’t grown-up enough as a person to take such a monumental risk and move to an unproven company 3000+ miles away. And I never really “got” Wall Street. Now, I love stocks and financial markets. I loved writing equity research reports. But I didn’t get the massive amounts of money being doled out for moving chips around a table. It befuddled me and I was concerned about what hard skills I’d learn. Ultimately, P&G became a no-brainer. Now, everything has become so clear and I’m thankful for not having been a part of the horror show that was Wall Street. I have so much more to say about this, but I need to marinate some more. Meanwhile, one of my favorite authors, Michael Lewis, has some great commentary.
8 ) Dubai scares the crap out of me. While I was there I was constantly struck by the opulence of everything they were building. The world’s biggest mall. Oh wait, two of them! Gazillion star hotels! Man made islands! While everything was remarkable, it gave me pause. I don’t understand how you can have an entire society just built on luxury consumption and opulence. It was like they took some of the worst elements of America and took them to another level. It would seem like building out the infrastructure for the next generation of companies in the technology, financial, etc sectors would be the play and I think that’s happening. Not being an expert on Dubai, I can’t tell you if they’re doing enough of it to be sustainable for the long term, but man. I’m going through my ascetic stage now, so all of it was quite shocking to me. But the people were amazing! Some of the friendliest, coolest people I’ve ever met. Such hospitality and warmth! To be around such people again, I’d gladly visit/live in Dubai.
9) I’m going to blog more during every regular day (non-travel). It’s amazing how rewarding having a blog has been over the past few years. My first blog was a livejournal affair in 2000. That was pretty cool, but consistently sharing my thoughts and getting insightful comments and emails from old friends, new friends, and incidental visitors has been terrific. I plan on expanding my blogs to sharing thoughts on a) marketing b) politics c) business/start-ups and d) personal/misc. I may also do separate feeds. I always have a 1001 marketing thoughts, and I think I’m ready to share them regularly. So let’s see how that goes. Any other categories I should comment on? I’d say the financial markets, but it’s done so well already that I’d rather stay a reader rather than writer.
10) This is too many points for one long, rambling entry.