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We’ve all experienced the feeling. Our hopes get raised and then… splat. No payoff. No satisfaction.

I got excited when I saw the title of Adam Grant’s recent article, “The Science of Reasoning With Unreasonable People,” published in The New York Times. Could “motivational interviewing” help win over people who choose beliefs, faith, and opinions over facts? What wonderful news! We need a breakthrough when it comes to persuading people to accept the facts around a host of science-based issues including climate change and vaccine safety.

Alas, it was not to be. In one example detailed in the article, an…


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Illustration: Kurzon

How long is too long to wait for change? If you’re at a red traffic light for more than a few minutes, you’re probably wondering if it’s broken and contemplating an isolated break with a societal norm.

But what drives us to wait or to move on? I wrote about the change many predicted Donald Trump would make following his victory in the Republican primaries nearly five years ago. Surely, conventional wisdom dictated, he would pivot quickly from fiery agitator to energetic statesman. After waiting the duration of a campaign, a presidential term and then another campaign, I think it’s…


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The most anti-science, science-denying president of our lifetime was defeated by, you guessed it, science. While the election was close, it still has to rank as one of the biggest ironies in history.

Even so, seeing how tens of millions of people voted against their own self-interest is one of the most baffling and infuriating phenomena I know. It helps to prove that a belief can overpower a fact, how a lie can (shall I say it?) trump the truth.

The facts and allegations are painful to repeat but, briefly, Donald Trump failed to disclose taxes or foreign entanglements; destroyed…


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While the president was demanding a fourth debate with his challenger, an opinion piece in The New York Times suggested that debates be scrapped altogether. Yes, the debates have certainly devolved over the years but this is a classic “throw the baby out with the bathwater” reaction. Let’s fix them instead. Here are three changes to elevate the debates and increase their value to the public:

1. Ditch the audience. In her NYT piece, Elizabeth Drew wrote that debates were less about conveying a vision or a plan than they were about upstaging the opponent. “Points went to snappy comebacks…


Larry Kramer, the playwright and AIDS activist, died yesterday at age 84. He left his mark in two different worlds — the arts and health care. He changed me, too.

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Photo: Catherine McGann/Getty Images

I was sad to read of his passing but this is not an obituary covering all the details of his dynamic life; it’s a brief reflection starting when we met in 1988. I was the chief representative to the HIV/AIDS and oncology patient communities at drug giant Hoffmann-La Roche and he was on the other side of a conference room table. …


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Like it or not, we don’t “get” a lot of things. Most importantly, we don’t get ourselves.

The Harvard Business Review recently re-posted an article by Tasha Eurich where five years of research showed “95% of people think they’re self-aware, [while] only 10 to 15% actually are.” It’s a consequential finding, despite all that’s been written on cognitive dissonance and self-awareness. Think about how many and how deeply personal and professional relationships are affected by our lack of personal insight.

A survey I conducted a few years ago on self-perceptions of meanness and niceness showed “respondents felt others are much…


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It’s almost impossible to escape politics these days. And by politics I mean the kind that’s become less civil and more polarizing. It surrounds us through 24/7 news coverage, social media channels, and… our co-workers.

A New York Times article, “Edelman, Public Relations Giant, Drops Client Over Border Detention Centers,” is another reminder of the growing advocacy of a long list of stakeholders — including employees, customers, clients, students, investors, and donors — and the expectation that sides or positions are taken on issues. When entering this realm, organizations must make calculations on whether or not an issue has relevance…


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“The crisis drags on” is about the last thing an organization wants to hear. But that is what’s happening at one of the world’s most venerable companies. Unfortunately, the manner in which Boeing is communicating — or not — has become its own news story.

The all-too-familiar drip, drip, drip of bad news is a classic “Don’t” in crisis circles. New and shocking revelations in the past few days have added to the tragic mess, which started last October with the crash of Lion Air 610. Boeing’s decision to base a critical flight system on a single sensor and a…


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If I read one more article about how to boost morale in the workplace simply by saying nice things to co-workers and subordinates, I might say something decidedly not nice. The message and the tone — what you say and how you say it — are, of course, important elements in the morale equation. No doubt. But words are the end, not the beginning, of the effort. We must start with an examination of the culture and values of the organization, and how the leadership implements them.

I won’t point a finger at the recently published piece that set me…


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Some say Satya Nadella is Microsoft’s knight in shining armor. It turns out the metaphor is not so far-fetched.

While he may not know it, the Microsoft CEO is channeling a bit of King Arthur. And Redmond, Washington shows some hints of Camelot.

Simone Stolzoff profiled Nadella in a recent Quartz article, which was striking in the way it tracked some of the characteristics of King Arthur outlined in my book Camelot, Inc. Arthur, likely a composite figure stitched together over a few centuries, has uncanny resonance in today’s world of business and politics.

In the case of Mr. Nadella…

Paul Oestreicher

Strategic Communications; Corporate/Public Affairs; Issues, Crisis, Reputation Management, and Leader/Doer. Writer, advisor, and mentor. Author of Camelot, Inc.

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