The election is over. Thanksgiving is in three weeks. Basketball and hockey are rolling. So it’s time to start thinking how 2015 might be different.
What stands out for me is the sense of disgust and futility amidst what in most years would be considered terrific economic figures. This election was all about “pissed off,” not ideas. Pessimism seems to reign.
I know I feel it in my own business, even though the numbers for the year show a big improvement over 2013. I think for the people I work with the angst also exists.
Why aren’t people happier?
I think it’s a lot about leadership. My beloved Chicago Cubs just hired the effervescent Joe Maddon as Manager because he brings joy into a team, and that translates into money and victories. What struck me about Maddon at his press conference was that this guy is such a rarity. He is happy, ebullient, and shows joy all over his face and body. He is unlike virtually anybody else in the game, including the executives who hired him. But they could recognize that his rare energy works even if they don’t have it themselves.
Fun without substance is a phony façade but if it is in a package of smarts like in Maddon it is gold.
Looking at politics, Barack Obama of 2008 had an energy and upbeatness that sustained him and propelled him to the Presidency. Today he seems to have lost it. The country is looking for a smile and a feeling of energy. It was the strength of a Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan to make us feel better as a people. An Al Gore or Mitt Romney, and the current Barack Obama come across as flat as white bread.
The task of a good leader is not to be a comic, but to generate confidence and hope. Reagan said you had to be an actor to be President. The Gipper was good at both.
A leader of a business needs to throw off that positive vibe, if not always in public, definitely in one on one meetings. In my own case, I find myself so focused on problems and tasks that I too often give off my personal lunar eclipse. I am fortunate to work closely with my son Noah who can identify my Darth spirit and point me toward a course correction. This is enormously helpful because often I don’t even realize my own dark vibe.
A leader, particularly a President, needs a compatriot who can tell him the truth about himself. The sullen senator Harry Reed could darken a room just by sticking his toe in the door. He should hire a jester to have breakfast with.
Somebody needs to give President Obama and old Harry Reed the gift we sent to my granddaughter Chava who just celebrated her 7th birthday. She is a serious child who became a vegetarian at four and is a conscientious ballet enthusiast. We sent her “Walter the Farting Dog,” who has a wonderful assortment of appropriate sounds. Walter came with a book, too. Chava and her sisters called us in full laughter to thank us for Walter.
Can you imagine Obama bringing “Walter the Farting Dog” to a meeting with Congressional leaders? It’s something Joe Maddon would do. It might change the course of history if Barack Obama tried it.
Question 1: Have you heard a good joke lately?
Question 2: Does the 2014 election matter to you?