Politics and Business

Why do people find the need to associate their businesses with their politics? Aside from a few, lucky people, mixing your personnel politics with your business is just plain stupid. Business is about conversations and by asserting your political views to a potential customer, before you’ve even started a conversation, is akin to leading off a conversation with “How ’bout those women; now they want to vote!”

That might be a bit extreme [ed. a bit?!?], but the point remains. I had it hit me today, just casually surfing. I was in my daily tech-site surfing, and hit a link to infowarrior.org. The link was from a site which had an article about Cisco routers; very tech focused.

Then, I get to infowarrior. The top of his page has the standard nav elements: articles, books, events, consulting. Obviously this is this persons store front. And right there, on the bottom of the page, is a nice big political sound bite. He hates Bush, good for you. But by choosing a polarizing political issue, he’s basically threatening you to express your views. For most of those around me, this would be a hearty “good for you”. Maybe he doesn’t need the other half of the country as a potential customer, I don’t know. I wouldn’t rule him out because of it, but I could have. And I’m sure someone has.

And then there’s Joe Welinske, a Something at WritersUA, a tech writers conference. Joe thinks the world of himself, so much so that he decided one day, I hope without the blessing of his co-workers at WritersUA, to post a link to his personnel website prominently on the business’s homepage. If you clicked through to Joe’s personnel web page, you’ll notice a few things.

  1. Joe’s not a big fan of the current administration. Bully, but a bad thing to advertise on the front page of your business.
  2. Joe’s almost got a handle on this Internet thing, but not quite. For someone who is a very public face on a company dealing with online publishing, he’s certainly behind the curve.

If Joe hadn’t linked to his page from the front page of his business, no one would have ever wandered over to his page. Maybe that’s the point. The problem is that when you do that, everyone sees your page. And when did he put this link on the front page? When registration was open for the next conference. Brilliant. People flamed tech writing lists (which finally prompted me to unsubscribe from most of them) and cancelled plans to go to the conference. And for every holy warrior on a mailing list, there are at least two dozen lurkers. Memo to Joe’s co-workers; he cost you money.

As a side benefit, Joe cost three mailing lists at least one subscriber: me. Two of those lists run on advertizers money. Guess who’s not reading those ads anymore. Joe’s now costing other people money. Bet they’re happy about that.

Which leads me back to the beginning. Why do people find the need to associate their business with their personnel political views? For infowarrior, the impact is minimal. He’s likely an independent contractor; business he looses only affects him or the small group he works with. Small groups tend to be idealogically cohesive (not always, of course), but minimal impact just the same. With WritersUA, the link came down in a hurry, which implies that it may not have sat well with everyone at the company. Joe’s opinions also directly impacted his business and reputation. It indirectly impacted the businesses of others.

I don’t understand the compulsion. But, then, I’m not a business owner, so I get to express myself semi-anonymously without fear of affecting business.

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