Komisarjevsky Partners

Select Op-Ed Columns

Below are brief selections from a range of published Op-Ed Columns by Chris Komisarjevsky, discussing issues of trust, brands, the workplace and reputation:



Civility In the Midst of a New York Summer

Posted: 07/29/2017 

It was a great ride. And a reminder ... a note of caution.

In the space of less than two hours, my wife, Reina, and I went from car to ferry, ferry to bus, bus to the railroad and then the train to a taxi. And we even took a short walk.

We crossed the Hudson from New Jersey to Manhattan, through the heart of the city on 34th Street and out to the South Shore of Long Island. All in all, more than 35 miles using public transportation.

It hadn’t been planned that way but what unfolded was a journey that spoke to the best of New Yorkers … even in the midst of what the MTA, the Governor and the Mayor had warned to be “the summer of hell.”

I’ve worked in the city for decades and seen the ups and downs. I know it goes in cycles, sometimes more frustrating than others. But the city lives in the lives of all of us who work here or call it home.

Its challenges have changed the way people work and think. Even fashion and furniture.

Remember the transit strike of 1980.

From that time on, sneakers became vogue and the office desk adopted a shoe rack accessory for business shoes left overnight.

This year, even more so though, the infrastructure of the city has taken its toll.

At the same time, no naivete here. New York certainly is no stranger to anger, violance, crime, sirens, hostility and wanton acts that can hardly be described as civil.

None of that this day but the taxi ride did remind us that civility is both precious and fragile. In a flash, it can change.

Like Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth century English writer, we know how important it is to be cautious. 

Simply because, as Johnson wrote:

“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness and decency.”



Get Out From Behind the Desk

Posted: 04/19/2017 

Woe to those business leaders who have lost touch.

Sitting behind a desk – looking down from offices high above – the rest of the world can look more like a bunch of scampering ants, seemingly frenzied.

So, wouldn’t more of that desk time be better spent out with customers, creating the opportunity to listen and hear firsthand about the issues they face and how they really view you, your company and your products?

I’m not talking about reading surveys but rather a real conversation. The fact is that people judge corporations much like they judge people, looking them in the eye and making an assessment of commitment and trust.

After all, “listen first” is a key rule of leadership. And the simple business wisdom of “manage by walking around” is timeless.

Over these last few days, some of that has surely been lacking. Everyone’s been talking about the airline debacle with the impossible-to-comprehend treatment of customers. There’s the backlash to the soft-drink television commercial that was immediately pulled because it was so out of touch. And there’s the rebuke of a storied bank for taking advantage of customers by selling products they didn’t even want or approve.

Just these examples of late put the spotlight on what surely seems to have been a tone-deaf approach.

But in the midst of this all, there are some who stand out because they appear to be in touch and connected.



Human Interaction and Artificial Intelligence

Posted: 03/27/2017 

As Sears shutters and Amazon roars to new heights with drone delivery, you can’t help but wonder if algorithms and artificial intelligence have now heralded the death of the human interaction that was such an essential component of marketing.

Browsing at Best Buy to get your hands on the latest in electronics has been replaced by small ads on Google or a Facebook page, or the photo on Instagram. A conversation at Macy’s has become less likely. And an afternoon once spent wandering in and out of stores at Malls to see and touch the real thing has morphed into website zoom-in photos on your phone or another digital device from wherever you happen to be at that moment.

Artificial intelligence has transformed marketing. The changes are dramatic.

Like all things new, those who jump on the bandwagon with smarts and gusto reap the benefits. The early adopter wins.

Just look at the financial markets as an indicator of performance. Compare the P/E ratios and market caps of the juggernauts. As of this weekend — according to https://www.theonlineinvestor.com/large_caps/ — looking at the top six stocks ranked by market cap, five are built around these technologies: Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft are the top three, in that order; Facebook and Amazon are at five and six respectively; and Berkshire Hathaway fills in at number four.

Some surely think this is the pattern for the future. Predictions are explosive.

According to a study by International Data Corporation, released in October late last year:

Widespread adoption of cognitive systems and artificial intelligence (AI) across a broad range of industries will drive worldwide revenue from nearly $8.0 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020. … the market for cognitive/AI solutions will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 55.1% over the 2016-2020 forecast period.

Impressive growth. Surely a driving factor.

And the breadth of artificial technologies has expanded, moving forward on a dramatic trajectory to adoption.



“Character Is Destiny” … In Every Facet of Our Lives

Posted: 1/19/2017 

“Character is destiny.” Those three words from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus bear repeating … again and again.

That simple sentence gives voice to such a powerful concept.

Ironically, though, the word – “character” – is tough to describe. When we use it, it’s as if we instinctively know what it means. In turn, we expect others to know as well.

All the while, it is one of the most important words in our lives. Character is what underlies our unique view of the world. It drives us in what we decide to do, how we do it and, most importantly, why. In short, it dictates our future.

Many have tried to define it.

The dictionary of dictionaries, Merriam Webster, gave it a try: “… one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.” While that seems rather formal, it doesn’t really take us very far in understanding the depth of the word.

Nineteenth century British historian, author and politician, Thomas Babington Macaulay (Lord Macaulay), defined character in a decidedly more personal way: “The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.”



When Age Means Experience, It Sure Looks Like
70 Is the New 55

Posted: 12/07/2016 

Something big on the employment front is going on.

You can’t help but notice that more and more people of 70 years and older are being tapped for their skills and experience.

Just look around us. The country elected a President who is 70. Ronald Reagan was one month shy of 70 when he took office and then went on to serve two terms. And now we’re hearing that Vice President Joe Biden, at 74 today, appears to be testing his candidacy for 2020.

Beyond politics, the Food Network continues to be a social barometer of sorts. “Clash of the Grandmas” has now hit the airwaves pitting grandma against grandma in another of their championship cooking series. After all, it was only earlier this year when the Food Network heralded the onset of Generation Z with Chopped Junior, its own form of insight into the emerging power of the youngest generation.

But the 70-somethings phenomenon is not just anecdotal.

There are hard data. Last month’s labor force study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates a key trend. In fact, over the past ten years, the number of those employed who are over 65 has almost doubled, with that group now comprising almost 19 percent of the employed workforce in the country.

When the Pew Research Center took a look at those same BLS statistics, it broke the data down even further:

The relatively strong presence of 65-and-older workers is found across age brackets: 65- to 69-year-olds; 70 to 74-year-olds; and those 75 and older. All are working at higher rates than they did in May 2008, the only age groups about which that can be said.

More older Americans — those ages 65 and older — are working than at any time since the turn of the century, and today’s older workers are spending more time on the job than did their peers in previous years ....

So, something big is going on.

And it’s a serious statement about the importance of experience in the marketplace.



Making Climate Change Immediate and Personally Relevant
Posted: 10/22/2016 

Computing power and closer partnerships between the public sector and university research are driving dramatic changes in the way people come to have a fuller understanding of the impact and dangers of climate change.

We see this firsthand with the work being done across the University of Miami and its Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, in partnership with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“There’s no doubt that moving people to action on climate change demands extensive research and predictive models that are credible and replicable. That, though, is not enough. If we really want people to take action and be part of the solution, we must expand our partnerships and, together, share our findings in a way that demands attention because the data are visually compelling and recognized as close to home,” explained Dr. Ben Kirtman, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), when we spoke on the phone a few days ago. Kirtman is known internationally for his work on climate change and leads the University of Miami Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and is the Program Director for Climate and Environmental Hazards at UM’s Center for Computational Science.

“I am a mathematician and scientist by training, but I’m also a realist. My focus is on meaningful research, building knowledge and forecasting the future, not for theory but for the betterment of our lives and for society. Scientific research is essential. But science with a purpose changes lives. And that is crucial to spurring action on climate change,” he continued.



Millennials Will Drive Climate Change
Posted: 10/07/2016 

Talk to any group of Millennials and they will quickly tell you that the one issue where there is near-universal agreement is their concern about climate change and the environment. In their minds, these two are linked and, when they speak, they echo one another that something needs to be done and done fast.

And they’re passionate.

It is their hot button. And mark my words, it won’t stop with them. Baby Boomers, Generation X and the fast-emerging Generation Z are listening.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that millennial thinking is reaching the mainstream and driving the discussion about warming oceans, rising sea water, atmospheric change, pollution, fossil fuels, alternative energy, sea coral bleaching and the depletion of marine species.



Integrity Is the Business of Business ... And, It's Very Personal
Posted: 06/29/2016 

Why don’t they learn?

Over and over again, experience reminds us that it’s never if you’ll be caught, but simply a matter of when.

As the age-old Italian proverb goes: Deceit has short legs. 

In what has been described (www.nytimes.com) as yet another corporate “cheating scandal” – the latest in an all-too lengthy list – this week’s decision against Volkswagen boldly stands out as a dramatic punctuation point to the importance of integrity in business and in our personal lives. 



That Summer Job Is the Start of Something Big
Posted: 06/16/2016 

Without a doubt, it’s those teenagers who go after and get summer jobs who will create a future with opportunities.

That early job is the start of something big.

But, if this year’s early summer statistics on fewer and fewer teens having jobs are any indicator, it’s time for concern.

The fact is that those young people who can’t find jobs or don’t even try are at a disadvantage.



Family Glue: Those Who Give Voice to History, Memories and Culture
Posted: 05/12/2016 

While “voice activation” is being touted as the hottest development in communications and smart technology, the most effective kind has been part of families and cultures around the world for centuries.

It’s simply called - “family glue.”

This is the warm, human connection, the voices we hear at various stages throughout our lives that help ensure we keep history, memories and culture alive. And, in the process, create a lasting legacy.

While the tech chatter today marvels at Samsung’s talking refrigerator, the Amazon Echo with Alexa Voice, the popularity of Siri and the coming generation of robots that respond to the tone of your voice, family glue is as vital as ever ... if not more so when there are so many potential distractions.

This kind of glue shapes who we are, what we believe, and how we will lead our lives. If we do our part well, it helps pave the way for those who follow.



Climate Change... We've Been Stalling Too Long
Posted: 04/06/2016 

“The evidence speaks for itself ... with all the science surrounding climate change, it’s not a secret and certainly not a debate. It is, most importantly, a time for action. We’ve been stalling for too long,” said Marcia McNutt, the incoming president of the National Academy of Sciences and the first woman to lead the nation’s premiere science organization that provides advice to the Federal Government.

Dr. McNutt was speaking before a crowd of scientists and South Florida residents at the third “Sea Secrets” lecture in the 2016 series, held last week at the renowned Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami.

“We have been recording the data for decades. The evidence we now see in our oceans makes the dangers very clear. The impact is right in front of our very eyes, front and center for everyone to see. There is no denying the evidence,” she went on to explain.



Looking Ahead: Gen Z, Tough Language and Online Take Over
Posted: 01/04/2016 

Dramatic new trends are taking us into 2016.

While we all know that nothing really has changed just because the countdown took us past midnight and into the New Year, it's clear that we're looking at some new thinking when it comes to public opinion, market share and the role of the media.

In my view, here are three:

Chopped Junior and Gen Z Take Over

The Trump Effect Widens 

The Fourth Estate Is Online To Stay 



When it Comes to Reputation, Judgment Trumps Algorithms

Posted: 12/29/2015 

It seems as if algorithms are taking over the world.

But not so when it comes to reputation and crisis management.

Reputation defies a formulaic approach. Protecting, rebuilding or mitigating risk to reputation -- whether a proactive initiative or one following a crisis -- does not come in a neat, data-driven box, with a clear-cut solution, mapped out for all to see.

Defined as a set of rules for problem solving, algorithms today are everywhere. Just think about the computer programs we use incessantly, the countless apps on our cell phones and mobile devices and the research disciplines that lead to discovery of new medicines. And don't forget those decisions that others try to make for us, such as quickly-posted recommendations by Amazon for our next purchases.

The danger is that talk of algorithms has become so much a part of the vernacular that we fall prey to believing that every problem or situation can be analyzed and then, of course, solved by them.



Get Ready for the Minecraft Generation

Posted: 07/06/2015 2:09 pm EDT Updated: 07/06/2015 2:59 pm EDT

Here comes the Minecraft generation.

Now entering Middle School, these youngsters might very well be the ones to take the baton from Millennials.

Admittedly, I am not a social scientist, nor do I play any video games, let alone Minecraft. While purists would use the term empirical research to describe my observations, we are now beginning to see the first of more formal research on these early teens and even younger kids.

Only time will tell where this goes. After all, it is a game. And these youngsters are only in Middle School.

For some, the view is that Minecraft, like so many other video games or an absorbing mystery novel on the beach in the summer, could just be another form of escapism.

As a dad, I have to add a note of caution: there may be some concerns from so much time, essentially alone, on the computer playing an unreal game with internet "friends," some of whom might as well be imaginary. Plus, they might well be missing the great outdoors, healthy exercise and face-to-face socializing.

Right now, though, there are two things that seem pretty clear about those who like to play Minecraft:

First, they are attracted to a new dimension of technology, one in which the user has control in a way that is different from the past. The program developer essentially starts the process and then the user takes over, changing and shaping the program to suit their needs and the view of a world they wish existed.

And second, they gravitate toward constructive relationships, open sharing of thoughts and a world where there can be peaceful resolution to conflict.

Is it possible that some of what they are looking for -- even at such a young age -- is a reaction to the conflict they see and feel around them, from bullying to terrorism? And, if so, could they be the generation to do something about it?

We shall see.



The Corporate Wake-Up Call: Millennials Are Now In Charge

Posted: 05/21/2015 11:31 am ED

Wake up and smell the coffee. The hierarchy of influentials inside corporations is fast changing. 
Pew Research has now made it official: Millennials make up the largest single portion of our workforce in the United States.

From talking with my millennial children, there are three lessons in all this:

  • Engage -- Unless management genuinely engages with Millennials, they'll never know what is on their minds. Digital communications know no firewalls. Millennials talk incessantly with colleagues and friends on smartphones, those small screens that sit right there at their fingertips. The opportunity for management is to think differently and make yourself part of their world.
  • Listen - Millennials vote with their feet, more than any other generation. If they don't like what they hear and see, they move on to the next job. For business, this can only cause trouble and unnecessary costs, both in terms of financial and manpower resources. With most companies, retaining talent is one of the highest priorities and, when talent walks, troubles ensue. So ask for their views and listen to what they are saying.
  • Think Digital - Hardly a day goes by when another news or opinion website doesn't launch a scathing report or new insight about social change and trends in business. 


McDonald's Serves up Reputation With Fries

Posted: 04/06/2015 10:24 am EDT 

When Steve Easterbrook took the reins as the new CEO of McDonald's last month, he already had a plan in place.

Hardly a month after he was named CEO and in full page ads, he announced that the company would be raising the hourly wages of the more than 90,000 employees at the company-owned restaurants by $1 and would offer those who had been with the company for one year "paid personal time off."

Clearly, Easterbrook had heard the wake-up call, taking serious note of the recent troubles, the escalating push for salary increases and the increasing competition from other burger quick-serve restaurants.

However, if Easterbrook doesn't lay out the rest of his plan in short order, his first shot will be short lived.

Those of us in business and communications know full well that any plan to build or restore reputation needs to be proactive on a range of fronts. That is no simple or quick task. Surely, Easterbrook knows this. After all, his previous job was as chief marketing officer. So he knows brands.

But his challenge now is to do much more than he has before. Corporate culture is a critical part of it. The rest is to meet expectations for every aspect of the McDonald's brand and deliver on the promise.

This is an effort that needs to be tackled with specific plans and measurable results on five fronts.

  • Strong leadership, behavior and business/financial fundamentals
  • Vitality of the consumer-facing brand
  • Depth of talent and resources
  • Commitment to sustainability
  • Smart innovation in products and systems
So, Easterbrook has started with talent and his $1 initiative will gain traction.

But, what's to come next and when?

After all, excitement about change comes in waves. Momentum and results mean everything.



Brands, Reputation and Passion

Posted: 03/13/2015 11:32 pm EDT Updated: 03/13/2013 11:59 pm EDT

A short letter penned by Tony Fernandes, founder and Group CEO of AirAsia, has set a new standard for the tone and style of impassioned corporate leadership.

The letter was his email to customers after the disappearance of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 that crashed off the coast of Borneo into the Java Sea in late December. Less than an hour into its flight to Singapore, 162 people lost their lives.

Reeling from the tragedy and dealing with questions that may never be fully answered, Fernandes responded with passion and caring and found the courage to use a word that we rarely hear from a CEO: "love."

In my book, The Power of Reputation, I wrote that our collective experience with brands and reputation makes one thing clear: We judge organizations much the same way we judge the people around us. We look them in the eye, listen to what they say, watch how they behave and then we make our judgments. Simply put, we ask ourselves, Do we think they can they be trusted?

In that mix, emotion plays a powerful role in driving trust and building a strong reputation. It speaks to the depth of conviction and the importance of values.

Customers, investors, business partners, legislators, regulators and, very importantly, employees often look to it as a gauge. Simply put, they understand the importance of reputation as both an asset and a factor in mitigating risk.

As with all things in life -- not only the AirAsia tragedy -- something is bound to go wrong at some point. Reputations are tested, not when things are going well, but rather in the midst of a crisis, with all its drama and pressure. A strong reputation is crucial to building a foundation so that brands and corporate leadership are given the benefit of the doubt during those challenging times.

It is then that probing is the harshest. Most often, it is the media that leads the charge with their in-depth scrutiny, far-reaching digital voices and editorial platforms. And rarely do they give up until they unearth the core of the problem.

None of this is new. In fact, 100 years ago Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis previewed the dramatic relationship that would develop between business and the media on issues dealing with trust, values, behavior and reputation. In his 1914 book, Other People's Money, he wrote:

 Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is the said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

So, if Fernandes can reach out with passion when times are the toughest, surely corporate leaders should be eager to speak out and share the passion behind their brands during those times that are far less stressed.

After all, we are all human. And brand loyalty is almost never strictly rational.



Vice News: Up-Close, Gritty and Challenging Mainstream

Posted: 10/21/2014 4:53 pm EDT Updated: 10/21/2014 4:59 pm EDT

In the battle for ratings, network television and cable news find themselves face-to-face with an upstart whose coverage of world affairs is up-close and gritty.

It's Vice News. And Vice is on a roll. No wonder ... the Millennials are where it's at.

The big media companies have seen the challenge. Reports are that Fox now has a stake in Vice News, while Time Warner and Disney also appear to have had talks. CNN, part of Turner Broadcasting and owned by Time Warner, had experimented with a Vice News/HLN linkup at 

Only a few days ago, the Huffington Post 
reported that Vice received a $500 million investment, making it possible to expand further with local-language editions in seven new countries.


If you read the Nieman Journalism Lab -- "whose goal is to attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age" -- author Ken Doctor focuses on the buying power and future financial muscle of millennial viewers.


"The new wave of news sites ... aim to get significant shares of the millennial market. At that size, this generation will spend $200 billion by 2017 (and $10 trillion in their lifetime) in the U.S. alone. It's the lower end of the 25-54 audience that the TV advertisers covet and therein lies a new tale of budding ad competition."

Now in their 20s and 30s, it is just those Millennials who are leading the way when it comes to how our digital world is influencing the future and the media. They grew up with digital ever present and at their fingertips. Digital is how they get their news, share their views and shape the perceptions of others, often on hand-held devices with high definition retina displays. 



Millennials Are Defining the Workplace

Posted: 08/26/2014 6:03 pm EDT Updated: 08/26/2014 6:59 pm EDT

Millennials lead the pack when it comes to digital influence.

And understandably so. After all, now in their 20s and 30s, these adults have grown up in the digital era. It comes naturally to them. It is part of their every day. It defines them and they, in turn, have significant influence on those around them, whether from home, the workplace or the treadmill.

Social media, of course, are the favored form of communications. With smartphones, tablets and other digital devices, each tap matters greatly as they share thoughts and concerns or read what friends and others have to say.

Pew Research calls Millennials "digital natives." In its 2014 report, "Millennials in Adulthood," Pew points out that they are:


"the only generation for which these new technologies are not something they've had to adapt to. Not surprisingly, they are the most avid users.

"They have taken the lead in seizing on the new platforms of the digital era - the internet, mobile technology, social media - to construct personalized networks of friends, colleagues and affinity groups."


In what may seem as no more than the blink of an eye, these Millennials are fast becoming the largest group of employees at companies large and small. Neither idle nor quiet, many of them are making their mark.

Fast moving through the ranks and exerting greater influence in the workplace, they are now forcing changes in how to motivate and engage with employees. And you can count on that continuing for a long, long time.



Simple Messages and Digital Voices 

Posted: 07/07/2014 2:59 pm EDT Updated: 07/07/2014 2:59 pm EDT 

With so many brands vying for attention, the media and the marketplace are chock full of messages trying to convince us to buy, believe, support or join.

Whether we are listening to what is special about certain products, corporations, political candidates or public issues, the competition is so great that some of us take the easier path by tuning everything out.

Perhaps those of us who are marketers and corporate communicators should listen carefully to Blaise Pascal. Writing almost 400 years ago, it seems Pascal knew what he was talking about. At the close of his "Provincial Letter XVI," the 17th century French mathematician and philosopher apologized for making his letter so long. He wrote:

"The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no time to make it shorter."

In our age of digital voices, Pascal's lesson is more important than ever. His point was that simple messages are the hardest to craft but they are the most effective, in part because of their simplicity.



Digital Voices and Corporate Reputation

Posted: 05/30/2014 5:34 pm EDT Updated: 05/30/2014 5:59 pm EDT

In just one click and a nanosecond, social media have a lot to say about corporations, their behavior and, ultimately, their reputations.

As studies show, those digital voices are increasingly loud and influence plenty of others along the way.

According to the most recent findings of the Pew Research Internet Project, 73 percent of adult Internet users are on social networking sites, a dramatic increase from only 9 percent in 2005. And they run the gamut from millennials to baby boomers.

The result is that more and more digital voices simply say what's on their minds and connect with one click of the "send" button and don't look back. Using tablets, iPads, keyboards, smartphones or digital surface devices kept close at hand, they share ideas, emotions, and often mix fact and opinion... with no filter to what they have to say to anyone, friend or not, who might be listening.

On social media, anything goes, unlike the fact-checking of traditional media -- where an editor or reporter has the responsibility to separate fact from fiction before publication. The result is that opinion carries the same weight as fact. Tone and rhetoric weigh heavily. Criticism and praise are placed side-by-side, often without anything other than anecdotes or hearsay to back either of them up.

Harris Interactive, the global independent research organization, has been studying the reputations of companies for the past 14 years. In its most recent study, the 2013 survey of the general public's view on "The Reputations of the Most Visible Companies," it makes a critical distinction between "seekers" of information on companies and "bystanders," those who listen to what the seekers have to say. In that analysis, social media and digital communication take center stage. Importantly, seekers outnumber bystanders. And those seekers, Harris says:

  • "Participated in a conversation with others about how a company conducts itself.
  • "Decided not to do business with a company because of something ... learned about how the company conducts itself.
  • "Proactively tried to influence friends' or family's perceptions about a company....
  • "Shared any information about a company through social media or email."

The connection between behavior, perceptions, reputation and social media has never been clearer.

As social media continue to have a ferocious influence on reputations, corporations have a mandate to focus on their reputations much differently than ever before.

So, what has become the new mandate?

There are five steps that are critical to corporate reputation at companies of all sizes in this digital age of communication:

  1. Embrace social media and transparency as the tone from the top, starting in the C-Suite.
  2. Review each decision with a view toward what it says to others about company values and behavior - do they walk the talk?
  3. Enforce a corporate culture that accepts new voices and ideas from unanticipated places.
  4. Look to your employees as your greatest advocates on corporate culture, innovation, passion, company pride and social change.
  5. And remember that reputation is also a risk management tool, ready if something might go awry ... and it undoubtedly will at some point, even in the best of companies.

After all, for corporations -- just as it is for our personal lives -- reputations are precious and critical to success

For the entire column – Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/digital-voices-and-corpor_b_5406510.html



Pennywise, Pound Foolish

Posted: 04/14/2014 5:56 pm EDT Updated: 04/14/2014 5:59 pm EDT

General Motors is the latest example, and a dramatic one.

Cutting corners. Skimping today. Tempting the future. None of it worked before and it sure doesn't work now.

Perhaps those at GM who made the decision not to recall 2.6 million cars and fix the ignition switches had been students who dozed off or were distracted during a crucial moment in their English literature class when discussing the 17th century writings of British philosopher Robert Burton.

It is in the preface to that book where Burton first penned the phrase: Pennywise, pound foolish (p. 91).

The admonition resonates today as strongly as it ever did.

Even though in office for only a very short time, GM CEO Barra clearly understands the impact on so many and the tragedy that GM has caused.

It also appears that she understands the importance of tackling the crisis head on with a view toward doing the right thing and rebuilding the reputation of GM. In a company press release headlined "Barra Vows to Rebuild Customer Trust" that was issued following Ms. Barra's testimony before Congress on the ignition switch recall, she concluded by saying: "...We will continue doing all we can to repair out customers' vehicles and rebuild their trust in GM."

She is absolutely correct. But words are not enough. And this is just the beginning of her challenge. Her reputation as a leader -- and the reputation of GM as a car company focused on quality and safety -- depend on what she does next.

It might be easy just to do the numbers and compare the pennywise decision of a decade ago to the pound-foolish impact today.

But it's not the math that really matters. It's the lives. And it's the fall from grace.

Right now, rebuilding trust and reputation is the most important task at hand. And only time will tell.

For the entire column – Link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/pennywise-pound-foolish_b_5144207.html



Grass Roots Passion for the Special Olympics

Posted: 03/05/2014 6:51 pm

Whether it be the International Olympics Games in Sochi this past February, the Paralympics in the coming days, or the World Games of Special Olympics that will take place next year in Los Angeles, we see something very powerful in these kinds of athletic competitions.

We marvel at the courage, determination and sportsmanship when so many talented individuals work their hardest and push themselves to do their very best.

With those early insights, compassion, and deep sense of caring, Special Olympics has grown to become a global organization that hosts 53,000 athletic competitions each year, ranging from county events to the World Games of Special Olympics which will likely see almost 7,000 athletes from close to 170 countries competing.

Yet, in spite of its growth, it is the local impact that remains so striking.  At heart, it is a grassroots organization. Its strength and passion come from all those who volunteer their time and resources, devoting themselves to the athletes who work so hard to reach goals and demonstrate what they can accomplish.

When you watch the athletes compete, you see it first-hand. And you just know.  When you talk to those who volunteer, they will tell you that they "feel the passion."

What the games of the Special Olympics mean to the athletes themselves and to the volunteers is most often shared in hugs, tears and cheers.  And think of it. Just like other Olympics, none of these competitors got to the starting line just because they showed up. They trained. And trained hard. Discipline meant that each competitor had to adhere to a "training protocol." Or else they couldn't be there and compete. Simply put, those are the rules.

For the entire column – Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/grassroots-passion-for-th_b_4905827.html?utm_hp_ref=sports&ir=Sports



CVS Walks the Talk

Posted: 02/06/2014 4:49 pm EST Updated: 02/06/2014 4:59 pm EST

CVS Caremark made a bold decision to "walk the talk" when it announced that it would no longer sell cigarettes in its pharmacies.

Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark President and CEO, was straightforward. In his own words, "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

It is likely making a good bet... from two perspectives.

First, it shows courage as a company. Not only does it speak to principles but it now puts teeth into them by walking away from products that, although certainly lucrative, go against the company's purpose and what it believes is right.

Second, it has a much broader mandate in mind. CVS is determined to be a health company, not just a pharmacy, and to make "better health" possible by serving as a single source for much more than prescriptions.

So, are we starting to see a large-scale rejuvenation with some of the qualities of the local, corner pharmacy at the core?

And is CVS leading the way?

Pharmacies of the future will be light years different. They will not be a throwback to the ones we can imagine having been painted by Norman Rockwell, but there's no doubt that values need to prevail and the pharmacies built on principled business decisions with a clear view toward what really is important.

For the business. And for the patients. Both.

For the entire column – Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/cvs-walks-the-talk_b_4740364.html



Beyond Davos: The Importance of Conversation

Posted: 1/23/2014 3:36 pm

With some of the greatest minds in the world together in one place, the well-publicized discussions and debates taking place at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week can surely light the spark of change.

However, it is only through the repeated echo of those ideas in the months and years to follow -- voiced in conversations within much smaller groups -- that will lead to action and produce meaningful solutions.

What's needed is conversation -- real conversation, not where one person does all the talking but rather where there is give-and-take. Working with others and encouraging some form of action require a dialog that is more intimate and at times more personal, made possible only in small groups.

A crucial step is finding common ground. To do that, there must be a full and open airing of ideas, facts, figures and opinions. There must be an appreciation for the thinking and reasoning of others. Without relying on pre-conceived notions.

This kind of respectful conversation may well involve arguments at times, simply because some views are held fast and opinions may be hard to change. But that's okay because authenticity produces the kind of dialog that can be the starting point to focusing on common ground.

With common ground, there can be trust. It will build over time.

And with trust, just about anything is possible. People start working together, finding solutions, and implementing change.

For the entire column – Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/beyond-davos-world-economic-forum_b_4650906.html



The Twilight of Courtesy and Conversation

Posted: 11/04/2013 3:48 pm

Are we seeing courtesy and conversation fall victim to technology?

Or, maybe we are just facing the latest skirmish from an onslaught of hand-held digital devices. Regardless, it certainly does feel as if thumb typing and text messaging have taken over planet earth. Simple courtesies, sharing genuine thoughts, and expressing views in whole sentences seem to have been replaced with cryptic messages.

 … social media, demonstrating its power time and again to reach far and wide and proving that it can galvanize public opinion, turn out the votes, and even foster revolution.

Yet, like most things we encounter in life, there are limitations.

Ultimately, it is what we do with the wonders of technology. And there must be no substitute for simple courtesy and serious conversation. 

If Bill Gates -- widely credited with coining the phrase "Content is King" in an article he wrote with that title in 1996 -- is right, there is hope that content will trump technology, not the other way around.

For the entire column -- Link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/the-twilight-of-courtesy-_b_4211441.html?utm_hp_ref=technology


The Importance of Conversation

Originally published: May 1, 2013 3:04 PM

It was an evening to remember -- a small dinner with former President Bill Clinton.

The problems facing our world may seem insurmountable to many others, but not to the man who can get through on the first try to virtually any corporate or state leader around the globe. He eagerly makes those calls because he knows how vital the work is.

In his opening letter with the most recent report on the work of the Clinton Foundation, the former president writes: "The good news is that we can all do something to make things better. All over the world, wherever poverty is being reduced, health care is being improved, the economy is more vibrant, and sustainable solutions are taking root -- these changes are being driven by networks of creative cooperation."

To solve our problems, it's up to leaders of all kinds to build the foundation on which there can be common ground. If we put aside differences, reach across the aisle, and find ways to get the public and private sectors to work more closely together, there's little that can't be accomplished.

The starting point, though, is simply conversation.

…  And, in today's online world, social media are more than ever potent forms of conversation to keep the dialogue going, encouraging frank communication and building excitement. Thumb typing on mobile devices and tapping on digital screens create immediate reactions.

Online tools enable idea-sharing in a captivating way that many find personal. Social media can foster understanding and create consensus that, later, can serve as building blocks toward common goals and action. Billions of people throughout the world use social media each day, according to some estimates. Think of the possibilities to motivate far and wide.


Fixing Breached Trust a Must …

Sunday, August 19, 2012 –

Watching the scandals in the banking and finance industry unfold this summer is as frustrating as playing “whack-a-mole” at the amusement park. And with every swing at that mole comes more and more shattered trust.

Resignations, firings, public scoldings, a suicide attempt and apologies have followed disclosures of lost and misplaced billions, insider trading, money laundering, Libor and interest rate manipulation, poor internal controls, greed and avarice.

These scandals can’t help but shake our trust in the finance industry, and in Massachusetts alone that segment accounts for more than $40 billion of the gross state product.

There was the revelation by JPMorgan Chase that it had lost $2 billion on unauthorized trades. Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon took it on the chin, called to testify before Congress. When it became clearer the losses were more than double the first estimates, Dimon’s reputation was thrown into doubt.

Before that, it was MF Global …

…  A strong organization is all about trust and reputation. Sadly enough, without deep changes and strong action, we risk repeating the past, rather than learning from it and moving forward.

For the entire column -- Link: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view.bg?&articleid=1061154181&format=&page=1&listingType=opi#articleFull




The Drip-Drip of New Revelations Will Always Dominate the Story

Posted: 07/29/2013 4:04 pm

When will they learn? Maybe never.

The latest example is Anthony Weiner, New York City mayoral candidate.

His is not a new phenomenon. Like many before him, having skimmed the truth with the media at the outset, Mr. Weiner has learned the hard way that the drip-drip of new revelations will come to tell the real tale and dominate the story. Character questions move to the forefront and disgrace most often follows.

…  If traditional media reporters - those writing for newspapers, network and cable television, and radio - happen to miss a story or the details of a transgression, you can bet that all those bloggers and social media opinion-makers will be thumb typing on their handheld devices. They are a digital breed of investigators, gossipers, and reporters. Add to the mix those who stir the pot by sharing once-private text messages, photos, or other juicy tidbits. Then sit back, watch what happens, and listen to how loud the controversy becomes.

For the entire column -- Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-komisarjevsky/the-dripdrip-of-new-revel_b_3666503.html



Does an Apology Mean Anything Anymore?

By Chris Komisarjevsky

Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.

Lance Armstrong is a thief of the tragic kind. It’s bad enough to stoop so low as to steal a trophy, a prize, a yellow jersey or a bronze Olympic medal from others who rightfully earned them. But it is another thing altogether, year after year, to steal the truth from those who had the courage to share what they knew by beating them down with tactics worthy of a modern-day Attila the Hun.

If the ruthless Hun were alive today, he might well have abandoned the scimitar for some of our more modern-day psychological weapons designed to bully, intimidate, sue, threaten, humiliate and prosecute those who were courageous enough to speak the truth and expose him for what he was.

What he did, though, is to provide us with some things to think about.

First, he gives us what could well go down in history as “Two Lessons from Lance.” One, liars will always be caught. It’s never a question of “if” they are caught, but simply “when.” And two, even the most ruthless will face a fall and be disgraced.

Second, he forces us to ask the question: “Does ‘sorry’ mean anything anymore?”

…  While Lance’s apology fell flat in the wake of his actions, for the rest of us — mere mortals, who make human mistakes of a reasonable kind and genuinely try to do better — “I am sorry” can be the most powerful three words we have to use. We simply need to use them well and with courage.

I am reminded of what many parents still tell their kids: “Breaking that window with the ball is OK. Those things happen. But not apologizing, together with not offering to pay for a new one, simply isn’t.”


Deceit, Punishment, and the Restoration of Trust

Posted: 07/23/2013 7:05 pm

Whether it's a baseball MVP or one of us mere spectators, deceit and punishment must go hand-in-hand. After all, trust is at stake.

It all came home to roost again this week with the suspension of Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, star outfielder and National League MVP in 2011, when Major League Baseball announced his doping suspension for the rest of this year's baseball season: reported to be a total of 65 games and forfeiture of millions in salary. Braun is just the first to be suspended and you can be sure that there will be more to come as the MLB gets courage in the wake of the investigation into the Florida "anti-aging clinic."

…  If there is one lesson we should draw from this when we chat with our friends or talk with our children at the kitchen table, it is not to debate the length of the suspension or the loss of the money. Rather, as the Italian proverb goes, it is to remind them that "deceit has short legs." To point out that it is rarely "if" they will be caught but rather "when."

Most important, though, it is to illustrate what happens when deceit shatters trust.

Tuscaloosa News


Cyberstalking And the Sure Death of Privacy

By Chris Komisarjevsky

Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.

When federal prosecutors announced at the close of 2012 that the Justice Department would drop its cyberstalking investigation and not press charges against Paula Broadwell, Gen. David Petraeus’ biographer and former mistress, it based its decision on the rule of law. Surely, those involved are breathing a sigh of relief.

But not so fast.

…  The truth is that otherwise intelligent and accomplished adults are making it clear that privacy is dead. With no common sense and no discretion, they communicate as if the Internet were secure and as if no one else will ever see what they say. The Internet is not private, never was and never will be. Texts and emails never die. Too many people think it is okay to share private thoughts with those whom they know and don’t know. Either way, it is dangerous to so many.

Perhaps it is time to make all of this rather simple by reminding those who can’t resist the temptation of that quick tapping on that mobile phone or tablet of what our mothers told us: “When in doubt, leave it out.”

Chris Komisarjevsky is a former Boston University professor, retired worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations firm, and author of the new book, “The Power of Reputation.” 

Copyright © 2013 TuscaloosaNews.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only

For the entire column -- Link: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20130113/NEWS/130119951/1307/opinion01?Title=GUEST-COLUMNIST-Cyberstalking-and-the-sure-death-of-privacy&tc=ar

AMACOM Books - The American Management Association

Share Power With The Team or Hoard It?

The following is a guest post by Chris Komisarjevsky, author of "The Power of Reputation"

Simply put, reputation – whatever our chosen field – is an asset that makes for strong careers and, as some have learned the hard way, can break them.

When built on a foundation of character, communication, and trust, your reputation brings you power and authority.  If you use that power well, success follows.  But, if you misuse that power or fail to share it and give credit to those who work with you, you are setting off in a direction that is sure to damage your career.

In every profession, we all know that success takes teamwork.  Along the way, there are others who work with you.

Notice that I said “with you” … not “for you.” 

…  In life – as in work – you get what you give. 

If you share power and authority, you get more in return.  And, if you give credit to others for work well done, you are on the road to a successful career.

For the entire column -- Link:  http://amacombooks.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/chris-komisarjevsky-on-a-reputation-question-share-power-with-the-team-or-hoard-it/




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