Thursday, January 10, 2013
Entrepreneur Dan Pallotta, drawing on his day-to-day experience as an
out-of-the-closet homosexual, writes an inspiring and thought-provoking piece about always insisting on the truth. If you think
my use of the term "out-of-the-closet" sounds dated, I suspect he would beg to
People have the misconception that a gay person comes out once. It's not true. If you're gay and you're authentic, you're coming out constantly. You're on a business trip, for example. A cab driver asks if you have kids, and you say that you do. Then he asks about your wife. Even though you may be exhausted, you find yourself summoning the energy to have a transformative conversation with a total stranger on whom you are depending to get to the airport and whose reaction you have no way of predicting. It takes a few tablespoons of courage. Every time. But you do it. Because it's who you are, and you've learned long ago not to deny who you are or who your partner is. Because to deny who you are is a betrayal of yourself and the man you love and the children you have together. So you never, ever skirt the issue, no matter how tired or busy you are. You become a Jedi with your truth. Not just the truth, but your truth.While Pallotta's unusual circumstance has made him keenly aware of the need to insist on the truth, he correctly argues that his tireless mission should not be an unusual personal quality:
Each of us lives with the reality of products and services that come from companies whose leaders have surrendered their truth about quality and excellence. My parents just bought a flat screen TV from a major manufacturer. The speakers are in the back, pointing away from the viewer, and they can't hear the damned thing. Why is a product like that allowed out the door? Because of a thousand people at a dozen levels remaining silent. ... The new Microsoft Surface tablet reportedly rips at the seam where keyboard cover meets tablet. Was it tested for durability? If not, why not? If it was, why was it allowed to go to market with such a defect? Probably because of the same kind of self-talk that goes on in a gay man's head before he's ready to come out: "Why make a big deal of it? It doesn't really matter." But when he finally comes out, he realizes it was the only thing that mattered, and that coming out transformed his life. Speaking the truth can do the same thing for businesses.This sounds like the very question I raised not so long ago. Whether the failure on the part of any one individual in such scenarios to raise questions was due to a desire not to rock the boat or, as a commenter to that post put it, to "laziness, apathy, or stupidity", it is disturbing that a lack of insistence on the truth is common enough that there are examples aplenty of such jaw-dropping incompetence.