Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tea Bags, Tripp Palin and Barney Frank

Tea Bags, Tripp Palin, and Barney Frank


How this week was a Tipping Point for America

Now that I obviously have your attention, I have to say that the last few weeks have been an amazing ride for America, not because of the first dog, Bo, President Obama’s outreach to Latin America or the twinkling of dawn on the financial front. The tipping point I am talking about is the final curtain on what many called The Religious Right.

I realized something had happened when I tuned in to Katie Couric on CBS the night of the Vermont legislature’s gay marriage passage and most of the ‘news’ was focused on the Obama’s dog and Sarah Palin’s fight with her illegitimate (read Deut 23:3) grandson’s father. No mention of the latest loss for the virtuocrats (evangelical politicians – an oxymoron if I ever heard one) or even a blip on the three other states who are about to take up the question in the next few weeks. Only a tongue-in-cheek mention that the Teabaggers might be mistaken for an oral sex act.

As I witnessed the rise and now the fall of the virtuocrats I realized that none of their agenda has ever made it into law since Ronald Regan promised the common man (read white guys) would get power again in America. Their goal was to outlaw abortion (lost) put prayer back in public schools (lost) teach creationism (lost) prevent gays from holding church positions or teaching in public schools (lost) and finally protect their own feeble marriages based on women’s servitude by denying and discriminating against same sex couples (big loss). So why are they not complaining more?

The last gasp was the $1.5 million dollar TV ad campaign, “The Coming Storm” where we saw a group of people whose rights were being taken away and their lives were changing because a wind was sweeping across America. This probably would have taken hold 25 years ago, but instead turned into a YouTube parody contest with hundreds of spoofs and millions of hits. The best spoof was of course Steven Colbert’s with a New Jersey minister complaining his church had been turned into an Abercrombie and Fitch. Teamed with the kooks with white trash grammar on the coverage of the Tea Bag Protests, along with Governor Palin’s “over my dead body” remark on a reconciliation between Levi and (safe Bristol we have what Malcom Gladwell calls; The Tipping Point.

For those of you not familiar with Mr. Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point”, he explains the processes and mechanisms by which some trends achieve exponential popularity while others sputter and fade into oblivion. Previous to this book they have been thought to be mysterious and resistant to analysis. However, Gladwell’s central argument is that there are actually a number of patterns and factors that are at play in virtually every influential trend, ranging from the spread of communicable diseases to the unprecedented popularity of a particular children’s television show. If you analyze the evolution of any major phenomenon, the author suggests, you will find that the processes involved are strikingly similar.

This all happened in less than 10 days – you could not have planned it. From Pastor Rick Warren saying he was never against the anti-gay marriage amendment on Larry King, and Meghan McCain telling the GOP to drop the rhetoric against same sex marriage, to Steve Schmidt (campaign manager for McCain-Palin 2008) speaking to the gay Republicans telling them the GOP will become irrelevant if they don’t accept gay rights, to of course Iowa and Vermont both legalizing gay marriage in the same week this truly was the week that was a tipping point. I add only one further observation. Did anyone see people of color at a Tea Bagging party?

Gladwell tells us that when three groups converge on an idea; Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen, the idea will get traction. The Religious Right, however well funded or loud lost a few of them this week and I believe we are going to see a slippery slope until this group of bigots and racists finally fade away.

I’ll close with a quote Barney Frank gave in response to me awarding him the Stonewall Library Distinguished Honor of 2008, he said, “Nate, most people really aren’t homophobes, they just think they have to be.”

Have a peaceful week.

Nate Klarfeld

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Loopy Loops

Our Loopy Loops


How our behavior, self-talk and self-image cast our lives




Imagine you are packing for a trip. You take out a suitcase, any size or shape and pretty soon, no matter where you are going or for how long, the suitcase is full. The same thing is true of another suitcase we carry around all day; our beliefs. Whether they were founded in childhood, college or early adulthood; our beliefs start a loop each day in our minds that quickly fills up and leaves little room to escape.


For example let’s say you believe you are not an athlete or physically gifted in movement. You look in the mirror, see a slightly out of shape body and say to yourself; “I’ll never have a muscular physique or be able to play competitive sports; I never could; picked last for all choose-ups; etc.” “I tried exercising, it didn’t work” Your beliefs and self-talk just added some baggage; and you haven’t had breakfast yet!


Later that day you see an ad for an amateur recreational swim team. You hesitate in thinking that maybe if you joined you would get in shape and meet new people. But then the LOOP kicks in. Remember what you looked like in the mirror this morning? How you were never good in sports? How your parents even told you that you had ‘other’ talents more valuable? The thought of you joining the swim team just evaporated with the power of your behavior->self-talk->self-image loop.


The way to interrupt this never ending loop is to interrupt the process. This can be done at any point of the loop. Change one and the others will either change or raise up to squash the other down. Change two and it will be impossible for your life not to change.  If you catch yourself putting yourself down when you look in the mirror instead of your usual self-talk “I’m getting soft” tell yourself “ I look great!” and then DO something that will make you great like eating a good breakfast and doing some light exercise before work. Your self image, the last and hardiest part of the loop will soon follow.


In order to succeed in this you have to be able to honor the past, but also realize that you have little use for it now. Living in the present, looking at what we have and what we want and how to get it is all there is. I do not believe that if we “Don’t remember the past we are doomed to repeat it”. I DO believe that remembering the past plants seeds in our subconscious that forces us to repeat past mistakes. When I feel I am delving on the past, even what happened to me yesterday, I tell myself, “I have little use for the past.” and suddenly I feel a weight off my shoulders.


Have a peaceful week.





Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Make Your Point - Quickly

Make Your Point – Quickly


The technology of the past 75 years has changed the way we communicate. Whether it was telephone radio, television, cable news, computers, cell phones or podcasts, life as we know it has changed. If you want to hold an audience, even an audience of one, you must think in terms of brevity, pacing and distinctive language.


I wrote earlier about making your own elevator speech. That exercise is a great one to focus your thinking on what you want people to know about you or your work or your organization in a short blurb. Where you go from there is as important as your first encounter. Your conversation should be memorable. We live in a headline society. As much as we avoid it, we do remember and repeat soundbites.



Clear communication is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. When you write or speak, try to avoid adding extraneous information that may contradict what you said in the last sentence, or lead people down irrelevant side paths.

Here’s a 3-step routine you can follow to help you with clarity:

1.               Make your statement.

2.               Add two or three supporting facts.

3.               Provide examples to help illustrate your supporting facts.

Clarity is about painting a picture that readers can see in their heads and instantly understand.

And the last thing – Believe what you say. If you are selling something you yourself wouldn’t buy, then your success is doomed. Seventy percent of what people retain is from body language, intonation and other non-verbal cues.

Have a peaceful week!