My mother always told me that If I couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Then one day, my sister asked my mother to brush her hair and I said, “Jeeze Cindy, even Helen Keller can comb her own hair.” To which my dad picked up his belt took two quick steps towards me and I beat feet out of the house as fast as I could. Only to return in under the cover of night when clearer heads prevailed. I guess that wasn’t a nice thing to say.
Obviously, the lesson didn’t sink in. As you noticed Mr. Cranky isn’t Mr. Cranky because his praise to pwn (pronounced Pone) ratio is like 2:9 maybe even 1:9.
Now let me tell you I don’t bitch about everything or everyone I see. There are many times, I see stuff I want to ridicule and then I say to myself,
- Is what I’m pointing out a warning and a danger to others? Will it be a useful lesson? You know, like a “Beware of Dog Sign.” Examples:
- is this Danny Boice or Jennifer Melon, abusing employees, cheating investors, abusing family members or
- is this a Jason Feimster and his pretend VC 3Si Holdings wasting the valuable time of entrepreneurs, damaging startups, and hurting the ecosystem or
- should people blindly follow the teachings of Jonathan Perrelli and/or Evan Burfield..
- If the answer is yes… it is a danger, I will write about it
- If the answer is no I continue with the decision tree
- Is there a valuable lesson to be learned? If yes I ask myself:
- Am I punching down? If yes I drop it.
- Is this a good, well-meaning yet harmless person whose behavior is irritating and only harms themselves. I may take it up privately with them and I may write about the behavior without identifying the culprit
- Would it provide some levity to an ecosystem that takes itself too seriously? Is the person a clown who could use a mirror shown on them… then I ask
- If the person has the ability to learn.. is self-aware, again, I’ll talk to them about it.
- Is this about a someone who has no ability to learn from his mistakes, and yet pointing out those mistakes will be useful to others or even if there is no learning it’s just so damn funny I can’t stop myself.
- Then I’ll do what i did in some of my most well-read blog posts about Peter Corbett: Like these about his:
But I swear… I also occasionally offer praise on my blog as well as scorn for instance:
- When I Say Hero
- Angel and VC Broken – John Backus and Randy Domolky
- Mourning the Loss of Hooks Johnson and Phil Gross
- 5 Of My Favorite 2011 Startups (unfortunately I got most of them wrong)
- FAKEGRIMLOCK – Nobody Says It Better
- Five Influential Stealthy Women of #DCTech
- Cranky Entrepreneurial Thankfulness
- Spree Commerce: Doers Versus Talkers
- 5 #DCTech Investments I’m Sorry I Missed
- Mercaris: I Like This Startup
This reminds me that we people fit into 4 buckets.
- Indiscriminate Discriminator – Everything Sucks (I know many will argue that’s my bucket)
- Discriminate Discriminators– Some things suck and some things are good
- Discrete Discriminator – Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say
- Indiscriminate Nondiscriminator – Everything is peachy keen
Indiscriminate nondiscriminators love everything and everyone. They accept all Facebook and LinkedIn connections. They will publically praise a total clown. They will promote a vacuous ranting narcissistic CEO turned “best selling author” and business guru even though everyone around said “author” can’t stop rolling their eyes everytime she butts into conversations to remind everyone within earshot that she is a guru. They will praise any article written by anyone.
Yesterday, I saw an indiscriminate nondiscriminator praise a local business column that was total crap. In fact, 30 minutes before I saw the indiscriminate indiscriminator praising this vapid article, a group of highly discriminate startup founders, people I often go to for counsel, were ridiculing the vacuousness of the very same article in a private forum. The article in question was riddled with cliche’s, flawed in its assumptions, written from an outsider with no subject matter credibility or direct experience on the subject on which he pontificated. The article was a hackneyed, rehash of old total startup bullshit. It deserved no kudos.
The indiscriminate nondiscriminator publically loves everyone and everything. If he has something bad to say about someone, he doesn’t just say nothing… he praises them. This is my problem with the DCInno’s and Technally.DC’s of the world. Not everything is awesome!
Constant indiscriminate praise is rendered meaningless by its very ubiquitousness. Psychologists warn parents not to be too liberal with praise to their children. Unrelenting promiscuous parental praise only diminishes the value of valid positive feedback. Kids aren’t dumb and they see through and learn to ignore hollow praise. As was the case with Peter and the Wolf, when praise is given too often and too freely for no good reason it is ignored like the cries of wolf from Peter when the actual wolf finally appeared.
I don’t know if you noticed, but I respect people who are honest. I can get behind someone who says nothing if they have nothing positive to say. That’s fine if you don’t want to be a squeaky wheel. Yet, I applaud and have a higher level of respect for those that are willing to stand up and point out bad actors, bad performances, call crap… crap. I even appreciate a moron like Sean Hannity. Because even though he is consistently wrong, a consistently wrong indicator is almost as valuable as a one that is consistently correct.
Just heard a funny quote about Sean Hannity,
“Sean Hannity has a life-time, front-row seat to the wrong side of history.”
One friend who doesn’t want to ever show up in my blog posts… last week he told me is one of his greatest fears, is a Discrete Discriminator. If I ask him about a person and he says, he knows them but doesn’t praise them… that speaks volumes. There is value in his silence as there is in his praise.
My problem with the indiscriminate nondiscriminator is they are not arbiters of anything. Their praise informs no one of anything. Praise from them carries no water. Their kind words are of little value. A kind word from an indiscriminate nondiscriminator is all noise and no signal.
Indiscriminate Indiscrminators contribute little value when flooding the airwaves with unearned praise. They make it more difficult to distinguish the signal from the noise. I don’t place any weight on the praise of the indiscriminate nondiscriminator. Praise from them is like a participation trophy for breathing.
Remember cassette tape audio? Remember that there was a lot of hissing on the tapes until Dolby Labs came along and figured a way to reduce the noise without severely compromising signal? I’ve programmed my mind like a Dolby filter. I tune out that noise.
Are you contributing noise or signal?