Upset about “President Trump”? We Can Do Something About It

Upset about “President Trump”? We Can Do Something About It

Although I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, I voted for Hillary Clinton. Whatever my issues were with her, and there were many, the choice between her and Donald Trump was a simple one. At least with Hillary, I knew the person entering the White House was competent, thoughtful and capable. She’s a badass when it comes to policy and government. Even the most jaded Republican or Conservative will tell you that. There is no question, leaving other issues aside for a moment or personal politics that Clinton would have been excellent in the role of president. Like John McCain, Mitt Romney and Joe Biden, whether you agree with their politics or even like them as people, Hillary Clinton was one of the most qualified people to seek the office of the presidency that our generation has ever seen. We can’t say the same for the other guy.

I will say this for Trump; however, and I think fair is fair here: A lot of people were hurt, angry, and upset about their situation in life after the Great Recession. We were told the economy was recovering, but you don’t have to look past this summer at the AP’s “Divided America” series to see how the recovery was only true for some parts of the country, not all. Both Democrats and Republicans did nothing to help these people, instead of catering to other, more wealthy constituents (Democrats), or their parties extreme, obstructionist fringe (Republicans). All the while, some (not all) members of the media were acting as mouthpieces for these politicians to explain everything away, and sweep other things under the rug that went against the narrative.

So Trump and the people advising him were smart and rode that wave to the White House, the same way George W. Bush created a wave with Evangelical Christians, something that began the splintering of the Republican Party that we see today, Trump also had a dynamic personality. Regardless of whether or not you or I like what he said, until he got closer and closer to the White House, we all had a good laugh as he ripped through a field of boring and bland Republican challengers. Then the media, many of whom were in the bag for Clinton since Day One like The New York Times, went after Trump and smeared him with everything they had. All of which was fair. He does say and do stupid things, but in the process of smearing him and treating a Clinton victory as inevitable, the media influenced all of us to look beyond the issues that were powering Trump’s campaign. We were quick to say, “Look at all those racists, how horrible” and didn’t stop and ask ourselves whether there was something more going on behind the scenes that were fueling that hostility in the first place.

It’s 2000. People like Nickleback Without Any Irony

It reminds me of 2000. Al Gore, a deeply flawed candidate who lost his home state of Tennessee (a rare thing to happen in presidential elections and something that cost him the presidency), lost to George W. Bush. Someone everyone thought was an idiot. Gore also lost despite winning the popular vote. Then we elected that “idiot” again after he started a war for no reason in Iraq and destabilized the Middle East in the process. That’s how we wound up with Isis, by the way. They were al-Qaida in Iraq and then rebranded when even al-Qaida thought those guys were too extreme for them. (Seriously.)

There are some major differences between now and 2000, however. In 16 years, and going forward into the 21st century, our country has, wonderfully, grown more diverse. As much as I’ve written about how many online platforms can be terrible for business and marketing (depending on your audience, your budget, and how you want to utilize them), nobody, not myself and other social media skeptics, can dispute that these platforms have provided a voice to people who historically have not had one.

In 2016, as the AP pointed out, we’re also still struggling as a country economically. My generation is scarred by a Recession that should have been called a Depression. Depending on where you are in America, your city and home may have recovered, or it may have not. In places where the economy has improved, there are profound questions about the future. Questions about job security between the rise of automation and shareholders stupidly focused on quarterly results and not the long-term play, leaving job cuts, outsourcing, and other tactics on the table which are ideal for the owners of those companies and bad for everyone else.

Climate change is no longer something that Al Gore scared the crap out of everyone within his terrifying powerpoint presentation. (Isn’t every Powerpoint presentation terrifying, though?) climate change is here, and we need to start planning appropriately to minimize what damage we can. I don’t know if Green Jobs and Green Power (tenants of the Green Party Platform) will ultimately solve our problems on the environmental front, but I’m for anything that gets people work and doesn’t make the situation we’re dealing with any worse.

So we need new ideas, and to get those ideas we need better funding for public schools and colleges. Charter schools are bullshit. I’m completely opposed to them except in extreme instances. You have the right to practice and enjoy your religion. You do not have the right to take resources from public schools to do that. They’re children, not products. It’s a school, not a factory. There are some things the government can certainly scale back its involvement in and ease everyone’s tax burden, absolutely, but when it comes to public schools and public colleges? Nope. We all have to chip in. Otherwise, you get Trump, man. Is there seriously a better advertisement for why you should educate your children, and put the money into educating other people’s children than the words “President Trump”?

And there are other things I think we should pay for. Either through taxes, public-private partnerships, tax incentives for private developers, whatever it takes to get the job done, and that’s infrastructure. I know we’ve been talking about this as a people and as a country for almost nine years now, but when it comes to this country’s infrastructure, the time for talk is over. Whatever it takes to rebuild, reinvest and recommit to infrastructure projects? We have to do it. We know this creates jobs, improves the quality of life, allows for businesses to grow. It’s insane to me that regardless of what your political affiliation is that we resist infrastructure projects and developments because of this crippling nearsighted myopic that our politicians, Democrats and Republicans, have all suffered from since 2000.

One last thing, and there will be plenty of time to talk in the days and weeks to come, but if there’s anything a Trump Presidency has shown us, it’s that we need a radical change in the way government works. I’m a student and fan of American history. I know that the framers of the constitution meant well and did what they could at the time that they did it. Let’s be fair to them because it’s been cool to crap all over the Founding Fathers for politically correct reasons, and some of it’s justified, and some of it’s not, but it’s time for a change.

For example, I think that the Electoral College has to go. That Election Day should be a national holiday (or moved to the first Saturday of the month), and that you should be able to vote from your mobile device or laptop using an app that verifies your identity using three-step verification (thumbprint, confirmation from a secondary device, and then a selfie scan.) I don’t think Congress should have sessions. If you work almost every day of the year, so should they, and they should have term limits with severe restrictions on who can, and can’t, pay for their political campaigns.

We’re supposed to be a government by the people and for the people, but these days it’s a government for the corporations, by the media and fuck the people.

I’d like to change that. I’ll tell you how real soon. #getread

Solving An Actual Problem: Startup Founders and Depression

Solving An Actual Problem: Startup Founders and Depression

I’ve been in a funk recently. I made the classic mistake of getting excited about a couple of things on a personal level, both of which didn’t work out, and I’ve been bummed about it. I should know better by now than to be bothered when this happens. But it still does, and then I go into a spiral where I don’t talk to anyone for weeks / months and just pull back on everything. Like wanting to have children. I’m excited about having children soon-ish, but if that came up when I was struggling with something? You’d hear me swearing that idea off even though that’s not the case at all.

Professionally, though, everything is great. Exciting things are happening, and that’s why I’m writing this. I have a unique problem that I want to solve, and statistically, when it comes to startup founders and people in tech, I’m not alone in having this problem.

That’s where the headline for this post comes from. When you encounter a startup, almost all of them will explain to you that their company solves X problem, regardless of whether or not that problem is really a problem. It’s an annoying habit like bragging about how much money you’ve raised as if that answers the question someone just asked you about whether or not your service is any good. It doesn’t. Stop talking about how much you raised! Nobody cares!

Er. Sorry … Let’s get back on track.

It’s also a cliche for startup founders, in particular, to talk about depression. And I understand how, when you hear it from a startup founder, it’s difficult to sympathize with them. “Oh, you only raised $3 million instead of $4 million last month?” “You live in a $4,000 apartment and are making it unaffordable for other people to live in that same city? Poor you.” Trust me. I know all those arguments. As I write this, I’m looking at the rent for studio apartments in Manhattan for my move there, and I’m sharing the same thought. “This is not OK.”

(I wonder if the WeWork people will let me sleep in my new one-person office?)

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue to be addressed. In a lot of cases where startups and tech companies are concerned, you’re talking about a lot of young people thrust into this world that often has a “cheat to win” mentality with millions, sometimes billions, of dollars at stake. It’s a pressure cooker. Suicide is a serious problem. So is depression. So is drug use. The fact that a lot of those people may or may not be likable is sort of beyond the point.

We owe it to each other to not be shitty people and dismiss other people’s problems, because sooner or later, those problems become our own.

That’s where I come in. My startup does a dumb, very silly thing. We produce funny business book summaries. That’s all it does. I’d love to do a summary for every business and marketing book that comes out, and all the important ones you may have missed, but it’s a self-contained (and self-funded) project. So I’ll take it as far as I can, and we’ll see how it goes. You’ll see some test products here on this website soon. But I don’t want to talk to you about that. Because it’s self-contained, there isn’t much to talk about. I either do a crap ton of reviews, and the thing scales up, or it doesn’t and I do the funny reviews for my purposes here on this website.

What I want to talk to you about instead is that I’ve suffered from depression my entire life. Outside of a business setting, I also have a complete and (sometimes hilarious) inability to interact with people in a social setting. If you want to talk about work? I’m your guy! I can sell anyone anything given enough time and research. If you want to talk about anything else? Forget it; I immediately throw up this wall, and it’s incredibly difficult to get me to talk about anything. Or I’ll mumble or speak fast because that’s what happens when I’m in a personal setting and people start poking around.

You know the problem with blogging is that there’s often no point behind it. So people get all excited and produce a ton of content, but then it tapers off, and then they abandon it. Which causes dumb marketing people to go, “Blogging is dead! Nobody does that!” And then people who don’t know any better across every industry goes, “Why does my company have a blog? Why am I paying these people? This is stupid.” Here, in the best way I can describe it, I’m going to work through my shit using products and tools like Headspace, Talkspace, Joyable, WeWork and the gym. I also may or may not incorporate something like Blue Apron, because I don’t know how to cook anything and what you put into your body plays a significant role in determining your mood. The point is, if there’s a platform or service that exists out there to help people with depression, I’m going to use it and write about that, and other things on the subject here.

Maybe there’s a book in here about resilience. Maybe one about dealing with depression. I don’t know. I just got done ghostwriting a book for someone, so I’m not exactly looking to do another one at the moment. Although as far as anyone knows I’ve only done the one book back in 2012 because you can’t say much about the ghostwriting thing, so that kind of blows.

Anyway, my hope in doing this is to get people talking about depression, particularly within the tech and startup community, support great causes like iFred, and who knows, maybe it’ll put me on the path of being a functional adult.

Guess you’ll have to stick around and find out. At the very least, there will be a bunch of cheap laughs to have at my expense.

(Photo Credit: B.J. Mendelson. All Rights Reserved.)