#sincerity

Losing my Virgin-ity to the veteran community

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Virgin Australia has copped a lot of flack over its unsolicited offer to prioritize veterans when boarding and to announce gratitude for their service. Sadly the plan has been savaged in the media as virtue signaling and riding the political wave of the PM to back discounts for those who served. Many veterans have come forward saying they have not asked to be saluted in this manner. Many of them wish to be thought of like you and I.

We can sit back and criticize the airline for not doing more due diligence with the veteran community, yet we should not overlook that CEO John Borghetti would have made this decision with absolute rock solid sincerity, thinking of the vets, not how he could win free publicity which is often the norm these days. Had preferential boarding treatment been given to an oppressed minority community he would have probably been championed as a hero of social justice. All of the media that smashed the airline – The Guardian, Fairfax et al would have praised the progressive action. Let us not forget that Virgin’s move was above all made with “good intentions.”

My first recollection of John Borghetti happened almost 20 years ago after some utterly dreadful Qantas service, where he happened to be working at the time. Despite receiving a relatively textbook letter of apology from the Chairman, John personally called me to “connect” with this disgruntled customer. No excuses were given. No attempts were made to cover up the pitiful customer service. He listened because he wanted to learn. He was authentic. No training manual could have taught John what he did. You cannot learn sincerity from a textbook. You either are or you aren’t. The veteran community should know that they will undoubtedly get the exact same ‘ear’ from the CEO to best address needs going forward and I encourage them to speak frankly to him.

As a civilian who is now working alongside veterans I’ve learnt more this year about how wrong many of my preformed notions were with respect to former service men and women. I’ve met veterans suffering from PTSD. I’ve met a war widows who lost veteran husbands to suicide. I spent a week at the Invictus Games seeing how these amazing warriors were ‘unconquered.’ I’ve met veterans, young and old, who are struggling to reintegrate into the workforce at an event. The issues are real. I have seen the amazing work done by veterans trying to find unique ways to help their former mates reintegrate into society. I suggest we embrace Virgin and refocus their positivity.

I am honoured to be given the opportunity to work alongside veterans to make this journey and learn every day. In a sense my mission is in part to represent the civilian community to make them understand veteran needs. There are so many positive ways to affect change and move away from the growing negativity thrown at events like Anzac Day as a celebration of warmongers where our media can be as brazen to criticize brave diggers as rapists, murderers and thieves.

Put simply, we civilians absolutely owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served. How we do it is open to debate. This is at its very roots of the Virgin move. To see the board cower to public pressure and look to rescind the offer on the basis of the constant negativity so prevalent today is the wrong move. Better still, Borghetti’s sincerity should be front and centre here. There is no market collapsing “damage control” risk for Virgin at stake. It is doubtful that veterans will desert the boarding gates of Virgin to punish it.

It would be nice to see that corporate governance today teaches that holding firm on the courage of their convictions is paramount. If the board learns that it must do more due diligence, then so be it. Learn and move on. Don’t wave the white flag. I sincerely hope that the Virgin board doesn’t flake. The board represents shareholders, not the mainstream media.

If I know John Borghetti from my own personal experience, Virgin Australia can achieve what it set out to do. Helping vets.  Does Virgin divert its planes to alternative airports when bad weather arises or do they ditch the aircraft into the sea?  The board should approach this episode with the same attitude.

Wider World created by Warner

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To be honest my elder brother sounded more sincere when he apologized in front of my parents after smashing my orthodontic brace-filled mouth 35 years ago. Dave Warner’s media appearance showed next to no contrition. Sure there were tears. References to the stress on his family and how he’d be lost without them. Indeed, had he considered his family before deciding to cheat then he’d never have to run a rearguard action to protect them. That doesn’t condone the actions of social media thuggery on family members but there was absolutely no surprise in the fast pace bouncers peppered at him from the press gallery, all of which he dodged with the same insincerity for someone whom apparently “only ever wanted to bring glory to my country!” Strange way of showing it.

At least in Steve Smith’s case he projected absolute authenticity in his admission of failure. Bancroft was just a startled bunny in the headlights. Warner seemed to be begging for forgiveness in that at some point might allow resumption to expand his property empire in Maroubra than pleading to restore the lost glory back into the ‘game.’

Warner typifies the ‘win at all costs’ mentality cultivated from the top of Cricket Australia. It isn’t just his two teammates that have worn this failure of leadership. Magellan has already pulled $20m in sponsorship, countless others will follow and the upper hand in negotiations over broadcast rights has all but vanished. That means that Cricket Australia will have $100s of millions less in the kitty to pay players, develop kids at tender ages to sustain the game in the future and draw crowds. Less for facilities, less for promotion, less for match bonuses. Less, less, less. Cricket Australia needs a total overhaul too.

Cricket to Aussies is like Rugby Union to Kiwis. It is on another level to other sports. Our hall of fame includes the likes of Bradman, Spofforth, Trumper, Woodful, McCabe, Morris, Simpson, Border, Waugh, Ponting, Taylor, McGrath, Warne…the list goes on. Were Buck Shelford, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jonah Lomu or Richie McCaw found guilty of bringing the All Blacks side into disrepute through blatant tampering they’d be publicly hung, drawn and quartered with their heads tossed into the mud pools of Rotarua. The New Zealand media would not be calling on people to give any cheater a ‘fair go.’ That is the irony. Most of these elite sportsmen have had way more than a fair go but it wasn’t enough. Otherwise there was no reason to cheat.

Some in the Aussie media now cry out for leniency. They made a mistake, apologized…all lessons learnt. Then again it isn’t any surprise that the media is also short on ethics much of the time. Go back to bed like it was just a bad dream. Talk about being ‘role models’ for kids?!? Most Aussie fans won’t view it that way. Talks of two years in the penalty box and then Steve Smith can resume the captaincy shows how shallow the thinking is. While he may have shown himself to be a sincere individual he most certainly proved he has no place leading the team ever again. He should refuse to take it on if he ever plays again.

One has to question whether the bowlers knew something was up. It is not a question of being complicit in the crime rather a fast bowler spends 6 minutes every over staring at the ball in his walk back to his mark, polishing one side on his trousers, checking the condition of the rough side to consider what type of delivery to bowl. Every. Single. Ball. A bowler usually has 5 to 6 overs a spell so at least half an hour to study the curious round object in his hands. Bat strikes leave particular types of marks as does the pitch and fence. So a sandpaper mark should look rather ‘manufactured.’ Certainly surprising that this would go unnoticed.

In any event, this is not the last we’ve heard form this fall out. Warner should never be able to play for Australia again. He neither represents the country, takes pride in the honour of donning a ‘baggy green’ and most certainly has a very weird way of bringing glory to his country. The only one that matters for Warner is himself.

LinkedIn – artificially impolite

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One has to query the real embedded value of LinkedIn. Apart from having complete strangers endorse one for skills never used or studied, the latest craze is to give users automated one button generic answers to allow one to tell a potential client, colleague, recruiter or stranger that they care. In a strange way, LinkedIn’s true value added is knowing among one’s list of acquaintances who actually thinks to authentically write salutations to one who is indeed experiencing a birthday or work anniversary. That would show reality rather than the 90% who think a “kudos to you” could register anymore than “why am I doing any business with such a lazy, thoughtless and insincere two dimensional nobody?” That’s right most people just blink at your profile and move on.

Has anyone thought that Daniel may have been given a battlefield commission? Maybe he manages upwards well but his colleagues can’t stand him? Perhaps he is merely the result of luck in terms of market timing which has zero to do with individual ability? Whose to say Daniel didn’t knife 20 colleagues to get to that position? The options are endless. Why doesn’t LinkedIn at the very least offer some negative responses? Even Facebook does it now.

People continue to drone on about how digital and AI is transforming the way we conduct business. Indeed it is. The value of individual  connections, sincerity, trust and personal service is being cast off for algorithms which have absolutely zero chance of refining human nature which on balance is different for everyone almost everyday. Human instinct can detect subtle changes – “Steve seems happy today” or “Penelope looks a bit down today” – then again perhaps those people who’ve agreed to have an embedded company chip in their body will allow companies to tailor good or bad news depending on their biorhythm delivered by microchip?!

We all know what the value of good service is. Go to any restaurant that gives a special touch and you’ll go again and again. Or maybe the special dinner date of the future will give each party the right algorithmic responses to a romantic night out. Then why bother going out at all. You can dine from the same take out menu all from the comfort of your own home while wooing your special one over a synched video screen.

So to all those that look at LinkedIn pay attention to those that will spend the time to link you and those who will merely blink you. Which brings me to this piece on recruitment