The Eyes of Labor Are Upon Us

The Eyes of Labor Are Upon Us

Hollywood’s writers and actors are giving new energy and a prominent voice to the struggles of workers everywhere.

When I heard Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, make the case for her union members, I was moved.

Did you know that 87% of SAG-AFTRA union members don’t qualify for health insurance? How much do they have to make to qualify? $26,000 a year. In other words, only a select few top earners make big money. Everyone else is barely getting by. This is a working person’s struggle for rights, respect, and compensation.

And the lords of the entertainment universe are not pleased…

“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline.

Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger (who made $45.9 million in 2021) said, “There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic.” What’s not realistic is the idea that income inequality will go unchallenged. It’s unrealistic to think that we “the people,” will continue to passively take whatever the corporations we support with our labor and our buying power dish out.

In her speech, Fran Drescher said:

It’s really important that this negotiation be covered because the eyes of the world, and particularly the eyes of labor are upon us. What happens here is important because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor by means when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run.

Greed is a deadly disease. The good news is there’s a cure and the labor unions in this country have an outsized role to play in providing this cure.

“An entire system incentivized to exploit workers.” There’s nothing more American than that. Not when you consider that unpaid forced labor helped create countless American fortunes.

Tragically, the exploitation of workers of every race is woven into the fabric of this nation. You don’t need a degree in American history to know that American workers in meat-packing plants, in mines, and in garment factories (to name a few) have died in this struggle.

To highlight what Fran Drescher said in her rousing speech:

We stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labor unions, because at some point the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored.
This is a moment of truth and inside of this truth, we can more clearly see how wrong things have gone in our corporations, our branches of government, our schools, and our media. We can see how broken we are and what widespread corruption and malfeasance does to society.

American freedom is a point of honor, but how free are people who work themselves to the bone, who neglect their mental and physical well-being, and who shirk their responsibilities at home? How free are people who work all day and yet they can barely afford rent, utilities, food, or medicine?
America is the richest nation on earth, and in my lifetime, this wealth has grown exponentially, particularly since the dawn of digital. What I have yet to see is an attendant growth in generosity from those who benefit most (or any legislation to make them pay their fair share of taxes, at the very least).

Income disparity today is ugly and alarming. On average, CEOs today receive about 398 times the annual average salary of production and non-supervisory workers in their firms. It’s disgusting and wrong, and it’s time to turn this tide. It’s time for workers to unite and demand fairer treatment for all.

“More Content, Delivered Faster and Cheaper” Answers the Wrong Problem

The advertising agency business has been in one bind or another ever since the dawn of digital. Digital shook the industry to its core, and the reverberations are still being felt from top to bottom. The list of problems is long, but one problem we don’t spend enough time discussing is the problem of not knowing who or what we are, any longer. It’s a confusion that I find perplexing.

Read the full article on You Are Not A Machine. Resist!

Communications Arts is also promoting this piece on its Twitter page.

Since writing the article, another gusher of AI-positive news has flooded the system. Regarding WPP’s all-in bet on the technology, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang said, “The world’s industries, including the $700 billion digital advertising industry, are racing to realize the benefits of AI.”

And what might these benefits be? More content and better personalization delivered faster and cheaper—these are the discordant bells chiming in the ad industry’s glass towers today.

AI may be a powerful new way to make money, but AI at present is solving the wrong problem for brands. The right problem to solve is creating one powerful and universal message and a singular means of communicating it.

Accountability: It’s Missing, and This Is a Big Problem for Teams

Accountability: It’s Missing, and This Is a Big Problem for Teams

Avoidance of accountability is one of five dysfunctions of a team, according to the author and consultant Patrick Lencioni. His book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable has sold more than three million copies. I can understand why, as I keep coming back to the fundamental concepts in the book to improve my own performance on teams.

Let’s take a look at all five dysfunctions of a team to see the big picture:

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If your team has any one of the five dysfunctions above, you’ve got an open wound inside your organization. A wound that you must attend to and heal.

I’m No Nurse, There Must Be An Easier Way

“Holding people accountable has about as much appeal as holding people hostage,” says Greg Bustin, a Dallas-based executive coach and author of Accountability: The Key to Driving A High-Performance Culture.

“In some people’s minds, accountability is synonymous with finger-pointing, the blame game,” he said. “Yet accountability is actually a support system built on trust. It’s about figuring out what we need to do and making our commitment to live up to it.”

Accountability is built on trust. Bustin also highlights commitment. That’s two of Lencioni’s five dysfunctions in one smart sentence!

Healthy Teams Make Progress and A Difference

Working conditions for today’s thought workers are not ideal. The conditions are not ideal because functional teams are created with intention by design. In other words, you must badly want to create exceptional teamwork and the efficiencies that flow from it, for it to have any chance of occurring.

Sadly, the operative framework in modern-day marketing organizations—to offer one primary and painful example—is the funnel. Isn’t it? The emphasis is not on healthy teams, and of equal importance, it’s not on taking good care of the customer. The emphasis is on chasing data dragons.

“The funnel” is a non-descriptive way of saying we very much would love to send you as much email as you can possibly tolerate. Where there was the art of relationship marketing, there’s now the weak science of digital microtargeting masquerading as spam. Which is a long-winded way of saying that things are seriously out-of-focus, and they have been for so long that we’ve adjusted our eyes to The New Blurry.

What Happens When You Focus On Healthy Teams

Dysfunctional teams brew a toxic workplace culture where bad habits compound into multiple headaches for everyone. Working late and again on the weekends, dealing with petty jealousies, constant backchanneling, poor leadership, no transparency, and so many other unreal expectations that confront today’s laborer, is no way to uplift people, companies, or brands.

By putting your team’s dysfunctions under glass, it lets you open up new avenues for prosperity to grow, and prosperity is the mother of generosity. When you make these conscious moves, you also shift into an “abundance mindset” and leave “scarcity mindset” behind.

Dynamic Teams Make the Best Work

One person with a lot of great ideas can act as an engine for the creative team, but it’s the team/crew/band that adopts the ideas, challenges them, reshapes them, and finally brings them to life. Therefore, the talented individual is only as good as the team she’s on.

People often wonder why so much crap gets made and why it sells. Lack of talent and absence of taste are two possibilities, but I don’t think they’re the culprits. I’ve worked in the ad agency business for 25 years and the great majority of people I’ve been around are smart and come to the table with good ideas. However, without a functional team to protect and advance their unpolished gems, their big ideas never make it into production.

Enter the Consultant \ Coach \ Guide \ Advisor

Think about how you see yourself in the mirror and in photographs. It’s human to stretch or bend reality to our liking. We don’t want to see all the flaws, we want to see our strongest features and we learn to show those to the world while hiding our personal scars and blemishes. The same holds for how we view our companies and our brands. We see the bad sides, but we either look away or learn to cover those up.

An astute and practiced outside observer sees things as they are, and this makes them/us/me valuable observers of objective reality. It’s a point of view worth acquiring, but it takes bravery and a new degree of openness. No one wants to be audited and a good outside observer will do just that, but do it in a way that feels supportive and kind. Everyone makes mistakes until they see or are shown another way. It’s not about judgment, it’s about honest assessments that lead to improved performance.

Obfuscation and rancid behavior are common on the job in so many fields, but it needn’t be that way. If your goal is to achieve great things, it can’t be that way. If you’re honest with yourself, you can see your way to a better you and better teamwork. It’s going to take a better you to uplift the team and get everyone on a trust and accountability page. It’s my contention that whatever pain and effort are required to get there is well worth it. Breaking old or bad habits is not fun, but the results are sweet.

To begin now, perform an accountability self-assessment. Ask yourself who and what you are accountable to and where you might improve. Then turn the lens on your current and past teams. We’ve all been on bad teams. Some of us are on bad teams now. Change is a process, and to get the process rolling it takes motivation and tools. The motivation can’t be supplied by anyone but you. The tools and people to help you use them are plenty available for the betterment of self and team, which ripples out and helps make a better world. Here’s to doing our part!