That Feeling You Get When You Say Something Critical19 Jan 2017
Have you ever spoken up critically on the Internet about a company? I'm not talking about the random gripe with a brand when it comes to their products or services, I am talking about taking a direct shot at the ethics of a company. You know that feeling you get when you do this, where your mind starts going through the possible repercussions: Will this impact my job? Will this impact me getting future contracts? Maybe people won't return my calls now? Will I be sued? On and on....
While this is definitely a REAL problem, I can't help but feel that in 80% of these situations it is more about self-policing, then it is about real repercussions. This is the beauty of how this works in business. Something I've seen play out in government, higher education institutions, the enterprise, and in the startup space when it comes to VC investment. If you ever want VC money, you better not bad mouth venture capital, or any individual VCs! I get a number of backchannel DM's and emails from folks telling me I'm brave for saying something, or asking if I have concerns about repercussions.
I deeply consider the impacts of anything I say and write online, whether it is public or not. However, I do not self-police myself for a fear of those in power (at any level). While I do worry about where my next paycheck will come from, I'm not concerned with calling out companies I work with, or would potentially depend on for a paycheck. If a company can't take constructive criticism from me and truly get to know who I am and what I represent, then I do not want to take money from them. It is just how I operate, something that keeps me confident in myself, my business, and what I do for a living and to make my impact on the world.
This type of self-policing and intimidation is how power works. I'm putting this out there because I feel like the precedent has been set by Trump and his followers, that they will come after you legally--if you speak up. Something I think some businesses will emulate. While I do consider these repercussions throughout my work, I'm not going to let it disrupt what I do because this is how power works. If we are going to manifest the world we want, we have to speak truth to power, otherwise, we've created our own jail cells, and put ourselves into them, giving up on ever making a meaningful impact on the world around us.