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18 Oct, 2012 – 3 comments

problems vs opportunities

It happens every so often. I find myself in the preamble of a presentation to a client when I say, “These are the core problems we face,” and that client turns their nose up at me.

“We don’t have problems. We have opportunities.”

… And my skin crawls.

On the surface, it’s a semantic argument. But scratch that surface, just a bit, and there’s something more to it.

This will shock no one, but there is a bullshit problem in corporate America. A seven-layer-dip bullshit problem. At each level of management, each employee is ever so lightly revising reality to make things just a little bit rosier for their boss. Multiply that process up the food chain and all problems become white-washed into inoffensive opportunities.

Why do big companies fail? There’s a host of reasons more critical than this, but bullshit doesn’t help. There’s a rampant culture of mindless optimistifying. It isn’t sinister. It may not even be conscious.

The single common trait of effective CMOs and CEOs that I’ve witnessed is an allergic reaction to bullshit. These leaders demand hard truths and confront problems head-on. Most of the time, they’re feared because of this trait.

They say the first step to finding a solution is admitting you have a problem.


  1. nick
    nick October 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm .

    So true. So very true.
    Its only an opportunity once you admit its a problem.

  2. Sean Wood
    Sean Wood October 24, 2012 at 12:30 am .

    My favorite part of a seven layer dip is when your tortilla chip penetrates the salsa, shredded cheese and lettuce layers… then you really get down to business. There might be some surprise black olives in there, but when you hit the sour cream, guacamole and refried beans, oh man… Opportunity!

  3. Erica
    Erica December 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm .

    I agree only partly. Maybe this is just how the world works and we should accept it for what it is? Perhaps, if there was no bullshit then we wouldn’t have those big CEO’s.

Comments are closed.