An Addendum To “Why The Media Is Perplexed”

It seemed like it wasn’t but for a few minutes after I posted “Why The Media Is Perplexed” when I received a call from a friend asking me (more like challenging my premise) if I forgot that the previous administration also did many a “press or photo-op” in the beginning announcing new plans or directives. It was a fair point, so I thought I’d share for it’s hard to cover every differing nuance or subtlety in one article. Here’s the “just” of how I answered…

“You’re right, and they’re fair points. But there are very distinct differences as I say that can be missed if it’s not your discipline. Let me make this overarching point first: There’s a distinct difference between a political call for action, and a business one.

In the political, what you’ll hear almost without fail are two distinct calls. One:) The action, most times, is purely restrictive in nature. i.e., It will be something business can no longer do. Two:) Or, the call is for others to go out, see what’s possible, draw up conclusions, then deliver proposed recommendations in some stated time frame. e.g., 30 days, 6 months, etc.

If you remember back during the initial stages of the last administration this was the playbook.

The then president would have a press conference and state “I have tasked, and have told _______ (fill in any of the many committees appointed here) to deliver recommendations as to fix _______ (repeat here with ordered task) in the next ______(fill in the many time frames given here).”

And here is the key difference – then either nothing happened, or nothing was said about it any further. The Simpson-Bowles of 2010 aka “The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” being just one example. But it’s an important example, here’s why:

This was after, as in a follow-up to an already disastrous showing of understanding how business views the political world along with how business responds to anything further stated as to try to get them to “buy in.” As I said in the previous: If you lose the “benefit of the doubt” early? As far as the business community will be concerned? You’ll probably never get that opportunity again. And for proof I use the previous administrations calamitous PR debacle given during a presentation aka  “Jobs Council” aka The Presidents Council On Jobs And Competitiveness.

Remember: In January of 2009 then President Obama called for the passage of an $800 BILLION stimulus package as to fund and immediately begin a myriad of “Shovel ready jobs.” The problem? As you can see in the above linked video those hypothetical shovels never broke ground in reality. But here’s the real distinction with a difference:

All concerned laughed (on camera!) at the result. $800 Billion dollars, again $800,000,000,000.00  as in spent – gone – and basically nothing to show for it. And there’s laughter? I’ll contend it was in that moment – all future business “buy in” going forward was lost. And the numbers proved that out. (Numbers as in you need to sift through, like small business creation, cap-ex and such. Not the manipulated for headline purposed.)

I’ll contend the past administration never recovered  (and that was in early 2009) from that moment on in the eyes of business, and will stick by it.

Want a little more anecdotal evidence as to just how damaging that press conference was? And the reason why I was pointing this all out to begin with in the prior post? Think: Jeff Immelt.

At that time the CEO of GE™ Jeff Immelt was tasked with leading that initiative. After that subsequent press conference and poor showing of “shovel ready jobs” did anyone else notice just how fast and how far he seemed to separate himself from any future involvement with the administration? He was basically “joined at the hip” in the early stages. Yet, after that debacle? You could see the distancing taking place till at the end (the last few years) I contend he’s practicing the habits of “Where’s Waldo®.” Think I’m wrong? Try to remember the last time you seen him? Why?

I’ll contend because he understood just how inept (as some photo oped stoog) he appeared in the eyes of the business community. I believe (again, all my own opinion and conclusions) he realized in the eyes of business leaders everywhere – he tarnished business (giving credence to calls of cronyism) as well as the stature of his position and brand as a CEO of one of the worlds premier corporations, all for resume enhancement he didn’t need but for cocktail parties. And it wasn’t worth it.

Remember, as I stated in the prior post: Banks, customers, suppliers, trade partners et al want to see that you are commandingly in charge during a “turnaround” project. And the U.S. in the early stages of 2009 was in fact needing just that.

And here you had the President along with one of the top CEO’s in the country laughing about how they blew through $BILLIONS of precious resources appearing unconcerned as to the travesty of the results, let alone optics.

Any business leader worth their salt would never allow themselves to be seen in that light. I think in retrospect Mr. Immelt realized it, but only after the fact, for the damage had already, as they say, been done.

Contrast this with the current president acting as I believe any CEO would/should (and have done myself, and watched others do) and begin with cutting, slashing, jettisoning items or regulations first – and with immediacy that have significant bottom line impacts. And by big I mean just that BIG! e.g., Stop funding the U.N.? With near immediacy? I’m not asking whether one agrees with it. What I am pointing out is the $dollar size impact to the bottom line along with its “Pet Project” status everywhere.

Not a “come back to me in X# of days with a proposal.” Rather “It looks like we should do this today, begin drafting the legislation.” That’s a distinction with a difference.

And another distinction: The jobs he’s announced are from meetings with CEO’s, hammered out with him (and his team of course) and then announced “Done!” Again, these are cues the business community look to and say “Hmmm, maybe it finally is time I look at X Y Z and move in this or that direction.”

When the order to halt many of the impending rules, regulations, and cost effects that were going to hammer small business this year by the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare)? Again: that was halted with immediacy.

Stuff like this sends signals many in the political world or media only see as “outrageous!”

However, for the business community? It might just be what the doctor ordered. Only time will tell.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr