• Nike "Get High" T-Shirts Anger Boston Mayor

    Mayor of Boston Thomas Menino doesn't like Nike's new T-shirts. He believes that messages such as "Get High" and "Dope" promote drug use. In a letter to the general manager of Niketown Boston, Menino urges the company to remove the T-shirts.

    Nike T-Shirts

    Nike has responded to my tweet about the situation:
    Nike

    Discussion Starters:

    • What is your opinion of Nike's new T-shirts: dangerous or just clever marketing?
    • Analyze the mayor's letter. What principles of persuasion does he use? Do you consider this an effective letter? Why or why not?
    • How do you think Nike should respond to the mayor's letter? What are the consequences of the company removing -- or keeping -- the T-shirts?
    • How do you assess Nike's tweets to BizCom in the News?
  • USDA Replaces Food Pyramid Graphic

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying a new graphic to help people understand healthy food choices. The pyramid graphic was thought to be confusing (well, yes, we see a person climbing a mountain with a pile of food at the bottom). The USDA's revised graphic is much simpler, showing just a plate with words to represent portions of food. To accompany the new communication, the USDA has a new website.

    Old Food Pyramid

    Choose My Plate
    Discussion Starters:

    • In what ways is the new graphic more effective than the old? How do you think people will react to the image?
    • Read the USDA's summary of messages about nutrition. How effective do you find this summary for combating obesity? What ideas do you have for improving these messages?
  • Former Skype Employees Lose Stock Options

    Following Microsoft's acquisition of Skype, former Skype employees are challenging the company's stance on stock options, including those they thought were "vested" or guaranteed. In a letter to one departing employee, the issue of stock options was explained:

    "Not withstanding the exercisability of your Options, Section 12 of your Stock Option Grant Agreement (the 'Grant Agreement') provides that any shares issuable upon the exercise of your Options would be issued on your behalf to the Partnership."

    Well that clears things up.

      Skype and Microsoft
    Read more here.

    Assignment Idea:

    • Read the letter about stock options. See how many nominalizations and prepositions you can identify.
    • If you have enough finance knowledge, try to rewrite the letter in plain language.
  • Santa Makes a Summer Appearance in Pepsi Commercial

    Pepsi has launched a new commercial featuring Santa Clause at a summer party. In a direct hit to Coke, which Pepsi now trails in sales (including Diet Coke), the ad shows Santa rejecting bottles of Coca-Cola. Critics say that Pepsi had lost focus on its flagship product; does this commercial signal a new direction?

     Discussion Starters:

    • Had you associated Santa Clause with Coke? Does your knowledge or lack of knowledge change your perception of the commercial?
    • How is Pepsi using logos, pathos, and ethos in this commercial to persuade viewers?
  • Ric Elias on the Life (and Business) Lessons he Learned as His Plane Crashed

    Ric Elias has had a successful career in business.  From starting his career in General Electric's financial management program, to his starting his own business, Red Ventures, Elias has climbed the ladder to the corner office.  He says he enjoys the competition of the business world.  But it took a major event to help Elias realize all that was important in life.  Elias was a passenger on Flight 1549 when it crashed into the Hudson River back in January 2009.  In this Ted Talk, Elias shares the life lessons he took from that experience.  It is a moving talk, to be sure, but also one with important lessons for life and the business world:

  • Business Communication Tags

    Placeholder for Business Communication tags.

  • Pronouns Matter on Earnings Calls

    TempA study by researchers at Tulane University found that CEOs who use "self-inclusive language" on earnings calls leave more positive impressions. Self-inclusive language means using first-person pronouns that include the speaker, and they can take singular or plural forms (for examples, "I", "we," "us," "my," "our").  When executives didn't use pronouns (for example, "Webtex's managers" or "Webtex management"), investors reacted less favorably to disclosures, whether positive or negative. The study  script is below.

    TempIn addition to the experimental study, the article includes results from text analysis of more than 50,000 earnings calls. Correlating language used in the calls with market reactions, the authors confirm results from the experiment.

    A Wall Street Journal article quotes James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin about the study: "The way I interpret it is that the manager’s coming across as more human." Pennebaker is referring to authenticity, and that likely is part of the explanation. Another possibility is that executives sound more accountable, which might also cause investors to respond favorably. In the article, the authors also hypothesize:

    "When news is positive, investors react more positively to managers’ use of SIL
    because they infer managers are more likely to have high ability. When news is negative,
    investors also react more positively to managers’ use of SIL as it appears that managers are more in control of the situation."

    Image source.

    Discussion:

    • You just read a few interpretations of the study results. What do you think could explain the results?
    • To what other types of messages could this research apply?
  • Toyota Ads Vary by Ethnicity

    TempToyota's new advertising approach is to tailor Camry commercials to people based on their assumed ethnicity. If your history shows that you watch Scandal or Sunday Night Football, you'll get a particular ad.

    A New York Times article shows the differences for African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and "Transcultural Mainstream."

    Temp

    A group vice president for Toyota explains the strategy, "if a person of any group is looking for communication that is like them, that looks like them specifically, the good news is because of the breadth of something like a Camry campaign, they can find it." The NYT article explains more detailed strategies for eight ads targeted to ethnic groups.

    Discussion:

    • One argument against the tailored ads is that the U.S. is quite diverse, and people expect to see different ethnicities in ads anyway. What do you think? 
    • Read the strategies for eight examples in the article. Some, of course, are built on stereotypes. Is this wrong or a good marketing approach?
  • Equifax Visits Congress

    TempFormer Equifax CEO Richard Smith admitted failures during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. Smith had already apologized in a video statement, but during the hearing, he mentioned his personal accountability:

    "The criminal hack happened on my watch. I am truly and deeply sorry for what happened."

    Yet critics say that Equifax is still not taking full responsibility. A TechCrunch article highlights Smith's testimony blaming one person: 

    "The human error was that the individual who’s responsible for communicating in the organization to apply the patch, did not."

    The TechCrunch writer seems to think this is ridiculous:

    "The notion that just one person didn’t do their job and led to the biggest breach in history is quite an amazing claim and shows a fundamental lack of good security practices. But that’s what Smith says led to this disaster."

    Smith and Equifax's CIO retired from the company after the news became public, which took a while: executives apparently knew about a software issue back in March, but the company didn't announce the breach until September.

    A Wired article cites "6 Fresh Horrors from the Equifax CEO's Congressional Hearing." In addition to the delayed admission, the article attack's Equifax's technology, including inadequate patching, failure to encrypt data, limited security reviews, and insufficient website capabilities.

    Another twist is this case is why three top people in the company sold $1.8 million in stock around the time they would have learned of the breach. Smith denies questions of integrity:

    “I’ve know these individual for up to 12 years. They’re men of integrity. I have no indication that they had any knowledge of the breach when they made this sale." 

    Image source.

    Discussion:

    • Assess Smith's testimony. What parts do you find most and least convincing? 
    • What else, if anything, should Equifax do now to rebuild trust?

  • Memes and More Memes

    Memes are pure fun—and good examples of visual communication. These depictions of culture are making the Internet rounds and may have some uses in business.

    "What I Really Do" shows different perspectives of jobs, such as a bank clerk.

    Bank Clerk Meme

    Mashable has gathered 20 of the best college memes, and Northwestern University has its own Facebook page of memes, which are probably funnier if you go to the school.

    Discussion Starters:

    • How could businesses use memes? Brainstorm ideas for recruitment, marketing, and team building.
    • One Northwestern student wrote an article using memes. What do you think of this approach?
  • How Bad Was Theresa May's Speech?

    TempThe Telegraph calls it a "car crash" and "one of the most disastrous conference speeches in history." British Prime Minister Theresa May faced three problems in front of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

    First, a protestor interrupted the speech to hand her a "P45," which is a document used to fire workers in the U.K. (Sounds like a "pink slip" in the U.S.) The prankster was escorted out, and May recovered by making a joke: "I was about to talk about someone I'd like to give a P45 to, and that's Jeremy Corbyn," who is the leader of the Labour Party. 

    Then, she had a coughing fit and had to drink a glass of water, some of which seemed to spill into her hand. (Here, I'm reminded of Marco Rubio's odd sip of water.)

    Finally, captions dropped a letter, leaving "for" as "or." The Telegraph and other media outlets reported this mishap as "the stage falls apart," but I would say that's quite an exaggeration.

    Discussion:

    • I think the media outlets were too harsh. Do you agree? Why or why not?
    • This is a humbling experience for May. How well did she recover?
    • What lessons can you take for your own presentations?
  • Goodell Skirts Anthem Issue

    Temp 2NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to be conflicted about how to handle the issue of players kneeling during the national anthem. A PR Daily writer summarizes the results of a recent news conference:

    His aim was to stem backlash over players kneeling during the national anthem. However, Goodell’s response didn’t do much to alleviate the NFL’s troubles.

    This video caption reads, "Roger Goodell: 'We believe everyone should stand for the National Anthem' | NFL." But other messages aren't quite as clear. In a memo to owners, Goodell wrote, "we also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues."

    In a tweet and elsewhere, President Trump has made his perspective clear. Temp 2

    Image source.

    Discussion:

    • Assess Goodell's news conference. Consider his audience and communication objectives.
    • Contrast the NFL's with the NBA's. What differences and similarities do you notice? Which league is handling the controversy better?

  • Volunteer Experience Could Land You a Job

    A recent survey has convinced LinkedIn to add a new field to online profiles: "Volunteer Experiences & Causes." According to the survey of 2,000 professionals, 41% of hiring managers believe that volunteer experience is just as valuable as paid experience, and 20% of hiring managers have made hiring decisions based on a candidate's volunteer work. Eighty-nine percent of the survey respondents had performed volunteer work, yet only 45% of them included this on their resumes, feeling that they didn't want to exploit the community group -- or because they didn't think about including the experience.

    Volunteer work could give you skills and experience that employers want: teamwork, interpersonal skills, sales and marketing, and more. So why not include this on your resume, particularly in a tight, competitive labor market?

    LinkedIn Volunteer

    Discussion Starters:

    • Do you currently list volunteer work on your resume? Why or why not? Will you add it now that you see how much it is valued by employers?
    • What are the downsides of including volunteer experience on your resume?
    • Looking back on your volunteer work, what competencies (skills, knowledge, or abilities) do you believe the experience developed that might be useful in your career?
  • Pro-Life Congressman Resigns

    TempWe might expect a congressman who serves on the U.S. government's House Pro-Life Caucus to be against abortion in his personal life. But Representative Tim Murphy reportedly suggested that his girlfriend get an abortion if she is pregnant.

    A women who says she was having an affair with Murphy went public with text messages:

    She: "...zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options."

    He: "I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more."

    Curiously, he didn't dispute her allegation about the abortion request. Pro-life advocates criticized Murphy for his "hypocrisy."

    Although the woman wasn't pregnant, Murphy resigned from his position. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the decision, saying "I think it's appropriate he move on to the next chapter in his life." Murphy said he'll "take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties." 

    Murphy also posted a statement on his website:

    Statement From Congressman Tim Murphy

    For Immediate Release: October 4, 2017
    Contact: Carly Atchison 202.225.2301

    WASHINGTON, DC - Today Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) released the following statement:

    “After discussions with my family and staff, I have come to the decision that I will not seek reelection to Congress at the end of my current term.
     
    “I plan to spend my remaining months in office continuing my work as the national leader on mental health care reform, as well as issues affecting working families in southwestern Pennsylvania.
     
    “We have accomplished much in the past year through the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and there is much work yet to be done.
     
    “In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing. I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.” 

    Image source.

    Discussion:

    • Assess Murphy's statement. How well does his address the situation? What else, if anything, could he say, or what could he say differently?
    • In what ways is this situation an issue of integrity? Do you see a contradiction, or do you believe Murphy's political stance and personal stance may differ?
  • #MeToo Campaign

    Temp 2Women in every industry are showing empathy and compassion to those who have suffered from sexual harassment and assault. After exposure of Harvey Weinstein's years of sexual harassment, women are coming forward on social media to say they, too, have been victims.

    Social media connects people, but often those connections are negative, with online bullying and harassment getting the most attention. Now people are showing their vulnerability and coming together in solidarity to stop what many believe is a pervasive practice.

    The latest women to admit their experience are in the U.S. Senate, including Senators Claire McCaskill and Mazie Hirono.  Temp 2

    A writer The Washington Post commends women who speak out, but she warns that not everyone has to:

    Plenty of people talk about how brave it is to speak out, and they’re right. It is brave to speak out, but that doesn’t make you a coward if you don’t.

    Image source.

    Discussion:

    • What is empathy, and how does it differ from compassion?
    • How is the hashtag #MeToo helpful?
    • To what extent do you agree with the Washington Post writer's view? Read her entire article first.
  • A Chef Resigns After Sexual Harassment Charges

    TempAn investigation found 25 employees of Besh Restaurant Group claiming sexual harassment. BRG owns 14 restaurants, including Restaurant August in New Orleans and Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans and Baltimore.

    The women describe a hostile working environment where "vulgar and offensive comments, aggressive unwelcomed touching, and sexual advances were condoned and sometimes even encouraged by managers and supervisors." Some charges were against John Besh, co-owner of the group.

    When faced with the first complaint, Besh said it was "a consensual relationship with one member of my team." But additional women came forward, and it became more difficult for Besh to isolate the incident. BRG announced Besh's decision to resign. In an email to employees, CEO Shannon wrote, "John has decided to step down from all aspects of operations and to provide his full focus on his family."

    Besh and BRG issued statements in response to the claims.

    John Besh's statement:

    "Two years ago, I deeply hurt those I love by thoughtlessly engaging in a consensual relationship with one member of my team. Since then I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions given the profound love I have for my wife, my boys and my Catholic faith. I also regret any harm this may have caused to my second family at the restaurant group, and sincerely apologize to anyone past and present who has worked for me who found my behavior as unacceptable as I do.

    "I alone am entirely responsible for my moral failings. This is not the way the head of a company like ours should have acted, let alone a husband and father. But it should not taint our incredible team of more than 1,000 employees, nor undermine our unyielding commitment to treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of gender, race, age and sexual preference."

    Statement from Raymond Landry, Besh Restaurant Group's general counsel:

    "We have learned recently that a number of women in our company feel that we have not had a clear mechanism in place to allow them to voice concerns about receiving the respect they deserve on the job. I want to assure all of our employees that if even a single person feels this way, it is one person too many and that ends now.

    "While we've had a complaint procedure in place that complies with all existing laws, we now recognize that, as a practical matter, we needed to do more than what the law requires and we have revamped our training, education and procedures accordingly. Now that we have learned of these concerns, we believe going forward that everyone at our company will be fully aware of the clear procedures that are now in place to safeguard against anyone feeling that his or her concerns will not be heard and addressed free from retaliation."

    Discussion:

    • Analyze Besh's response: the first attempt, his statement, and his decision to step down.
    • How well does Landry's statement for BRG address the situation? What, if anything, should the company do differently?
  • President Trump's Call to a Widow

    TempThe media has covered a phone call between President Trump and Myeshia Johnson, whose husband, La David, was a soldier killed in Niger. In an interview on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos, Johnson describes what the president said on speakerphone in her car:

    “The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name… I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that’s what hurt me the most.”

    President Trump replied to the controversy in a tweet: 

    Temp

    White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who lost a son in Afghanistan, said the president had asked him, "What do I say?" when he was preparing to call four families. Kelly defended the president:

    "In his way, [he] tried to express that opinion -- that (Johnson) is a brave man, a fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There's no reason to enlist, he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken. That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted."

    Offering sympathy, as we discuss in Chapter 6 of the book, is never easy. Perhaps President Trump could have shown some vulnerability—a natural hesitation or discomfort in offering compassion.

    Image source.

    Discussion:

    • Because we don't have a recording of the interaction, it's hard for us to judge what happened. In addition, an important missing element is tone. How do you think that might have affected how the message was received?
    • Other than the phone call itself, how could President Trump have handled this situation differently?
  • How to Get People to Respond to Your Emails

    The New York Times published an article yesterday, "Is Anyone There?" voicing the frustration that many of us feel when our emails go unanswered. There are no guarantees, but here are a few ideas for getting a response to your email:

    • Use a catchy, specific subject line. These can be full sentences, for example, "Can you come to the meeting on Friday?" Consider including your entire message in the subject line and adding "[EOM]," meaning "end of message." This saves people having to open your message. (See SEND by Shipley and Schwable.)
    • Make responding easy. Ask specific, easy questions that don't require a lot of reading or a complex answer. If you need more, schedule a meeting -- there's just so much email can do.
    • Put your main point in the first sentence. Don't ramble with two paragraphs of background information before you ask for what you need.
    • Focus on the reader. Consider what's important to the receiver -- why should he or she respond? "Please let me know whether I can contact Maryann directly. I want to save you the trouble, but I don't want to overstep either."
    • Give a time frame for a response. "ASAP" means within 5 minutes to me, but may mean a week and a half to you. Try, "Will you please let me know by Tuesday, 7/16, whether this outline is on track, so I can finish the report by Friday?"
    • Use short paragraphs and write concisely. Edit ruthlessly.
    • Consider different colors and fonts to make your email skimmable -- within reason.
    • Pick up the phone. Either as follow-up or {gasp!} in lieu of an email, trying calling someone instead. Email is the default medium for most business communication, but it's not the only choice.
    • Send an IM instead. For quick questions, try for a quick answer.

    Here are some more ideas, but reserve these for when you don't care too much about maintaining a relationship with the receiver:

    • Send emails with a receipt. This is sure to annoy anyone into either responding or never opening another email from you.
    • Send "Second Request" in the subject line. Truly overwhelmed emailers may appreciate this, but others will consider it an insult (particularly if sent 3 hours after the original email).
    • Copy someone important. This may inspire someone to jump in your behalf but also may embarrass someone into further non-response.

    Sometimes, a non-answer is, in fact, an answer. If you don't hear back after an interview, yes, the recruiter is rude, but after a week or so, you probably have your response.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Have you sent email that didn't get a response? In retrospect, what could you have done differently?
    • Have you ever ignored email sent to you? Do you consider it rude? Why or why not?
  • Dove Takes a Hit for Ad Meant to Show Diversity

    TempDove has been touted for its "Real Beauty" campaign that shows real women, not models. But now the company is being criticized for an ad intended to show diversity. The ad includes women taking off a shirt to reveal another woman underneath.

    The trouble is that the ad starts with a Black woman to reveal a White woman, implying to many critics that the Black person "got clean" and became White. In the ad, the White woman then takes off her shirt to reveal an Asian woman.

    The company apologized and pulled the ad: "Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused." A spokesperson also said the GIF, "was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong and, as a result, offended many people."

    Earlier this year, Nivea produced an ad, "White Is Purity." People didn't appreciate that one either.  

    Discussion:

    • Dove says it will review its editorial process for creating ads. What changes do you think they could make?
    • Some say screenshots of the ad are taken out of context because only the first two women are shown. What's your view?
  • WeWork's New Space and Missing Voice

    TempAs a sign of the times, WeWork has purchased Lord & Taylor's flagship store in New York City. WeWork leases office space to small companies and will rent some space back from the retailer, which will continue to operate out of most floors.

    Although the news is good for WeWork, I can't find a press statement, blog post, or tweet from the company. On Twitter, they did retweet the New York Times article, but I'm not sure why they don't announce the news themselves.

    WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann was quoted in the New York Times article:

    “Retail is changing, and the role that real estate has to play in the way that we shop today must change with it,” Mr. Neumann said in a statement. “The opportunity to develop this partnership with H.B.C. to explore this trend was too good to pass up.”

    I'll post again when/if I see an update from the company.

    Discussion:

    • Why do you think WeWork hasn't posted its own announcement?
    • What could WeWork say in an announcement? I think the company is missing an opportunity. Do you agree or not?
  • Voice Program Makes for a Funny Comment

    TempA comment posted on The New York Times website turned out to be gibberish. The replies were almost as funny as the post. People referred to political parties and Waiting for Godot. One reader understood what happened: a voice-to-text program interrupted the writer. Temp

    In response, Christine explained that someone came to her door in the middle of her writing the post. She didn't turn off the program, so whatever she said got translated and posted for all to read. As she describes,

    “I was composing a message using the autospeak, and a friend arrived early to my house,” she wrote in a reply further down the thread. “I had no idea all that drivel was being recorded — there are even errors in the drivel! And then to be a pick, with about 15 emails announcing such, meant that my email went rogue.”

    Discussion:

    • How have you used voice-to-text programs? What are the benefits?
    • This examples gives us one obvious downside of using transcription services. What are some others?
  • Sweetery's Harsh Response to a Bride

    Temp When a prospective customer decides not to pursue a contract, what's the best reaction? Certainly not how Sweetery responded, with a long, insulting email. Amanda De Pascale says she was considering offering the company's food truck to her wedding guests as a fun addition, but the $2500 quote was more than she wanted to spend. After she told the company her decision, she said she received multiple phone calls from them and then this email. She posted screenshots on her Facebook page.

    You may want to skip some parts.

    Amanda -

    We have zero idea what type of warped sick games you are playing with us, but now it is time for us to have a say.

    You are a despicable bottom feeding wretched disgrace of a person, who is as disgusting as they come.

    How many times have we called you to follow up on the proposal that we expanded time and effort to produce based on your request and each and every time you cowardly hang up the phone on us when we identify who is calling, what an absolute low life twisted miserable individual you have to be [sic].

    We also send you multiple emails that you don't have the decency to respond to, who do you think you are, because we are here to tell you that you are a weak, meager [sic] spineless empty sack low life piece of trash.

    We work very hard to do right by client [sic] both existing and perspective and although rarely do we come across a pile of dog ____ like you, it is cowards like you that are not worth the gas that we pass. If you were not interested in our services that [sic] open your mousy measly trap and say so, but no not you, you would prefer to hang up on us countless time [sic] pretending that you cannot hear us to which we would normally say get a new phone but it is clear that you should get a life.

    You are despicable and that is probably on your best day, on your worst day you are a complete waste of humanity, I know dogs when they lift their legs that have better manners than you do.

    What kind of trash would ask a company to do work for them and then not have the decency and respect, or the respect for their own self, not to at the very least say. . . .

    At right is a screenshot of the last part of his message. Temp

    At first, Sweetery's owner, whose name is listed on the bottom of the screenshots, Grant DiMille, told Fox News: "Yes, it came from a company computer, but it was not sent by myself or any member of management. It's a terrible offense, yes, but everyone makes mistakes."

    Later, DiMille said he fired the employee who wrote the message, and he sent an apology to De Pascale: "It does deeply matter to us that you were offended by what was written to you. I know it will be difficult for you to believe this but our company's culture is not like what your experience has been, yet the experience that you encountered did happen."

    Discussion:

    • We hear only one side of the first part of the story. What, if any, justification could Sweetery have for the strong response?
    • How well did DiMille respond? What could explain his name on the screenshots?
  • NAACP Warns Travelers

    TempThe NAACP issued warnings to African-American passengers flying on American Airlines. In a news release, the organization described four "troublesome issues." One is described below:

    "An African-American man was required to relinquish his purchased seats aboard a flight from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh-Durham, merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers."

    The release explains the impetus for the warning:

    "The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines. In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers—especially African Americans—to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions."

    American Airlines didn't respond about the specific incidents but invited the NAACP to meet with headquarters staff. A spokesperson also said, "We do not and we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns." 

    Discussion:

    • American Airlines isn't saying much. What else, if anything, should the airline do and say?
    • Read the four incidents described in the news release. What's your view of these situations? What else, if anything, would you like to know about these situations?
    • Assess the news release. What works well about the NAACP's argument, and what could be improved?
  • Tweets About Hurricane Ophelia

    I have terrible timing. Before a conference in Dublin, I'm visiting Caherdaniel, along the southwest coast of Ireland—during a category 3 hurricane. Tweets about the storm reveal the Irish sense of humor and perceptions of Americans.

    It's not all bad: some memes are just funny, comparing Americans' reactions to Hurricanes to the Irish's reactions. The difference is understandable because obviously we have more experience, including recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico.

    Temp

    Other tweets portray Americans as gun bearers:

    Temp

    Many poke fun at drinking:

      Temp

    And still others reference having to work although all public schools in Ireland are closed:

    Temp

    Commenting on employers' responses, one wrote, "An awful lot of people found out what companies really think of them."

    Discussion:

    • To what extent do you think the humor is cultural or based on a lack of hurricane experience? 
    • What's your reaction to these tweets and memes? Do you think they're funny, foolish, or something else?
  • UBS CEO Memo Following $2.3B Loss: "The buck stops with me"

    A 31-year-old rouge trader has caused close to $2.3 billion in losses for Swiss bank UBS. Unauthorized, speculative trades over three months apparently went unnoticed until the trader's recent arrest. UBS is expected to be able to absorb the hit, but Moody's is investigating the firm for a potential downgrade.     

    In a memo to staff, UBS CEO Oswald J. Grübel acknowledges that people are "shocked and disappointed" and tells employees "our fundamental strengths as a firm remain intact." Grübel also encourages employees to report wrongdoing:

    "Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I and the rest of senior management are responsible for dealing with wrongdoing. I only wish to remind everyone that all of us have a part to play in identifying and reporting wrongful behavior and conduct in the workplace. If you feel uncomfortable about informing your line manager, I urge you to use one of the other available channels for doing so."   Download memo from UBS CEO

    Discussion Starters:

    • How could a loss of this magnitude have happened at a company like UBS?
    • How do you assess Grübel's memo to staff? How well does he handle the bad news? What arguments do you find most and least convincing in the message?