Author Archives: Dave Weber

Bullies: Their Message Hasn’t Changed

BullyingAn article in The Atlantic called “How To Stop Bullies” caught my attention this week with a MIT professor’s insight on cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying, has been described as a “new” kind of bullying using technology and including things like hurtful emails, texts, and embarrassing pictures or fake profiles. While the medium that bullies are using to spread messages of hurt and hate may be new, the messages are not, explains Henry Liberman. Using software designed to filter negative and offensive content by looking for key words in postings, he and his team discovered that 95% of bullying comments fall into 6 categories, post after post. Ready for them?

  1. Appearance
  2. Intelligence
  3. Race
  4. Ethnicity
  5. Sexuality
  6. Perceived acceptance or rejection

Humans have essentially been using the same kinds of insults since we came up with cave paintings.  In fact, in the past few years archaeologists have discovered that the ancient city of Pompeii is covered in graffiti.  Call it the Twitter of antiquity. And our austere Roman forbearers weren’t all debating the merits of democracy and coming up with epigraphs. Here’s a few of my favorite messages (and their English translations).

“PHILIROS SPADO.”

“Phileros is a eunuch.”

“OPPI, EMBOLIARI, FUR, FURUNCLE.”

“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”

EPAPHRA, GLABER ES.”

“Epaphra, you are bald.”

Look around the web and you’ll find even more examples that would put a modern-day truck stop bathroom to shame. Amazingly, long after Pompeii was buried beneath lava, the Roman Empire was decimated by Huns and the original Latin ceased to be used, these words have been discovered, translated and analyzed. I wonder—if your tweets, posts and blogs were discovered 500 or even 50 years from now–what future researchers would say about you. Would your online persona reflect a more modern, enlightened being or a tech-savvy caveman, trading in his chisel for a keyboard?

Looking at the lasting effect of words, whether they are carved into a wall or posted in a digital space, I hope we can join together in a conscious evolutionary leap forward.  Can we begin to litter social media with positivity, encouragement and kindness? Imagine what would happen if we did.

The Solution to #SochiProblems

I was rolling in laughter as my daughter read me some of the tweets chronicled under #SochiProblems during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympics. Armed with Twitter feeds and lightning-fast zingers, reporters have ravaged the city’s preparation for the Olympics more cruelly than the packs of stray dogs still (according to Twitter) wandering the streets.

Here’s another funny hashtag for you: #snowpocalypse2014. If you didn’t hear, Atlanta was recently hit with an unexpected snowstorm that paralyzed interstate traffic and trapped many on the roads for hours. Just like #SochiProblems, frustrated Atlantans took to the Twitterverse and blasted Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed for lack of preparation. But that is just half of the story.

At the same time, other Atlantans (including my son Logan) were packing supplies, food, and extra gas into their 4-wheel drives to come to the aid of many folks who had been stranded for hours.

After hearing about my son’s actions my pride alone probably could have thawed I-75, especially when I thought about what a prime example he and many other local heroes are of Leadership Redefined. You see…

Leaders don’t waste energy complaining, but focus their efforts on finding solutions.

Did I mention that Logan had just sat in 5 hours of traffic before arriving home himself?

Whether you are leading an organization with complexities like the Winter Olympics, or just looking to make it home in one piece, I hope that we can remember in the face of adversity or inconvenience to take a moment to laugh, hashtag our own one-liners and then help ourselves and others.

And while we’re at it, if you can find me any tweets about #SochiSolutions or #SnowpocalypseHeroes, please send them my way.

Click here to order a copy(ies) of Dave’s new book Leadership Redefined.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Did you see the recent Dateline NBC special about kids who have been so bullied for their appearances that they are seeking free plastic surgery from a nonprofit?

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of children and plastic surgery, the special gave a heart-wrenching look into the lives of several children and teens who were being tormented by their classmates. I am not ashamed to say that tears were rolling down my face as the cameras were there to capture the moment each child learned whether or not they would receive the surgery.

However, I thought the most profound moment of the special came in an exchange between 15-year-old Renata—who wants a nose job–and one of her friends.

“What does it feel like to be beautiful?” Renata asked.

After attempting to dodge the question, her friend replied, “You really want to know? It’s not that great.” She continued, “People will always find something to make fun of you for. If it’s not the way you look it will be something else.”

This preteen girl has realized something that many people never understand:

We cannot stop others from throwing sticks and stones our way.

If you don’t believe me, just search for the names of the most beautiful, successful, charitable and athletic on Twitter, and you will be amazed at the hurtful things that people have to say about them. You would think that the people our society holds up as the pinnacles of achievement in their various pursuits would experience less criticism from others—right? Oftentimes just the opposite is true.

In a social culture that seems increasingly engulfed in a tidal wave of snarky, hurtful and cruel words, it’s impossible to live, work and play without getting at least splashed with the criticism of others. Don’t let it surprise you. But never forget, that we can always take responsibility for our own words and actions. Your kind, caring, uplifting, and encouraging words may be just what the doctor ordered from someone else.

Lose The Screen

Dave Weber challenges your communication style.  To bring Dave Weber to your organization or for more information on “Leadership Redefined” or “Sticks and Stones Exposed: The Power of Our Words,” go to daveweber.com.

If you have trouble viewing YouTube videos, click here to watch this presentation on WeberTV.

What Justin Bieber Can Teach All of Us About Leadership

LOS ANGELES - MAY 12: Justin Bieber arrives at the Wango Tango Concert at The Home Depot Center on May 12, 2012 in Carson, CA. Photo taken on: May 12th, 2012

LOS ANGELES – MAY 12: Justin Bieber arrives at the Wango Tango Concert at The Home Depot Center on May 12, 2012 in Carson, CA.
Photo taken on: May 12th, 2012 © Carrie Nelson

This week my Twiter feed has exploded with tweets about Justin Bieber along with the hashtags #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin and #DeportBieber. Although the young singer’s actions were reckless and immature at best, the Biebs provides all of us with an opportunity to learn a thing or two about leadership.

1. A leader is anyone who has influence– As many beliebers are arguing today, Justin is just “acting his age” or “doing what kids do” and that his behavior is being blown out of proportion. Maybe that’s true, but his role as an entertainer has given him influence—massive influence in fact—over popular culture, music, acceptable hairstyles, and most importantly, other young people. Like it or not, the hoopla over his arrest only confirms his influence and identity as a leader.

2. All leaders have blind spots– Weaknesses, faults, temptations, call them whatever you like, but without a careful examination of your own blind spots any leader can make one of those mistakes that, to everyone else, looks like such a bonehead move. Money, fame and power certainly don’t eliminate blind spots. If anything, they enhance them. This is why it is so important to allow others to point out your blind spots to you.

3. Leaders don’t insulate themselves from accountability– We’ve all seen it. Whether a small-town politician or an international superstar, people flock to please those with power and influence. However, the most successful leaders know that they must have people on their team to hold them accountable to their goals and deliver warnings when a leader looks to be headed into a blind spot. I don’t know if Justin Bieber has people like this in his life or not, but I know that the unfortunate decisions he has made this week remind me to keep close the people in my life who are not afraid to “push back” on my ideas or actions.

4. Whenever a leader makes a mistake, the opposition will celebrate– We all know the moniker “nobody’s perfect” until one of our leaders lets us down. It is a sad truth that human beings seem to love seeing one another fail—and hacking one another apart on social media outlets. However, Justin, and any one else who has ever faced opposition, can choose to respond by ignoring the malicious, learning what he can from his critics and using the experience as a motivator to push him towards his goals—what I like to call falling forward.

5. Your character will ultimately shape your influence– No matter how thoroughly you divide your public life from your private life, both will eventually have to match up. In Justin’s case, his image has gone from hardworking entertainer to another spoiled celebri-teen. As the pastor Andy Stanley says, “Character is not made in crisis; it is only exhibited.” In challenging times, do our words, actions and reactions match up to the person we proclaim to be publicly?

For more insight into leadership and how we can redefine what true leadership means, be sure to check out Leadership Redefined.