It starts with belief

Hey Lisa Barone, the 1980’s called — they want their values back.

And so this is Christmas, a time for compassion and kindness, for thinking well of people, for hope, for encouragement, for love.  How sad then, that at such a time of year I stumble onto the blog [ref] of the young and opinionated internet marketer Lisa Barone. In a rather ugly rant Lisa berates the unemployed for being, well, unemployed. “You suck” she says, from her ivory tower of Entrepreneurship. “Most people are lazy and a waste of your time” she continues, so shut up, stop whining, get out there and get a job, become an entrepreneur like me! And so on.

It isn’t that Lisa is wrong. There are indeed many opportunities for those who truly seek them, and Lisa’s black-and-white view of the unemployment situation can be put down to youthful excitement about making it big in a tough economy, and I say congratulations to her for that.  The worrisome thing is her arrogance, the sheer lack of understanding or compassion expressed in the article.  Lisa’s categorization of “the unemployed” as one mass of wasted space is both lamentable and shocking.  The values Lisa espouses are a throwback to the bleak and dismal era of Thatcher and Reagan, an era characterized by self-interest, competition and screw-thy-neighbor.  My entire 20s were spent in Thatcher’s Britain where the advice to the unemployed was “price yourself into a job”, “don’t shop when you are hungry” and other such gems, only just falling short of “let them eat cake”.  The rich got richer… and more fearful, as poverty and crime exploded onto the streets. Cardboard sub-cities of broken, rejected people grew up in industrial wastelands, railway sidings and deserted archways. Misery was tangible.

This is not the world I want to live in today, and this is one reason I gravitate towards the Agile community.  In the Agile community I find intelligent thinkers, change agents and social warriors who prioritize collaboration over competition, sustainable living over wealth, listening to over shouting at, and understanding over judgment.  This is not partisan politics, this is simply the embracing of our humanity.

There is no such group as “the unemployed” there are just people, just us.  Sometimes we work, sometimes we seek work — and it is not the work that defines us.  There are no doubt  many people currently working who suck too.  One’s employment status is irrelevant; one’s attitude to life and other people is likely a better gauge of “suckiness”.

That Lisa can write such a smug diatribe perhaps says something about where she might be on this scale.  And sad as it is to read an article like hers, it is made all the more upsetting by the number of her loyal followers who cheer her on.  It is to be expected that those reading her blog would be like-thinkers, but reading praise after praise for this attitude was really quite distressing.  Happily there were a few who called her on this, as I am doing here.  Her response?  Close down comments “before things take a nonproductive turn”.

No surprise there then. Arrogance has its usual sycophants close by: Cowardice and Fear.  Lisa’s response was to censor and silence her critics.  But hey, Lisa, as an internet marketer you of all people should know you can’t gag the internet.  It lives and breathes, and while it does expect to see opposition to your self-righteous stance.  Perhaps sometime you’ll take a moment to listen.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you a day of laughter and hope.

13 responses to “It starts with belief

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  3. Bravo, Toby. I haven’t read Lisa’s blog (how ’bout a link?) but it sounds typical of the arrogance with which all of us, at times, express towards the jobless. But as you rightly point out: “There are no doubt  many people currently working who suck too.”

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Oops, found the link! Off to read it…

  5. Tobias,

    We shouldn’t waste the time on her or her blog.

    Merry Christmas!


  6. Well I read her blog and it left a really unpleasant after-taste. Mind you I don’t think it’s all arrogance… there’s a fair bit of stupidity to be found.

  7. Hey, just a bit of a background on that post (which is actually a few months old, at this point. It was NOT written in the midst of the holidays.).

    That post was written back in March after watching many folks cry about being let go while also spending their days playing Facebook Farmville. Does it apply to everyone? Of course, it doesn’t. It wasn’t written for everyone. And if you’re busting your ass, it definitely wasn’t meant for you. It was written strongly, on purpose, to force people to think. Obviously it accomplished that.

    Respectfully, the same assumptions and attitude you feel I’m making for everyone else, you’re making with me. Am I young? I suppose by comparison I am. I’m also disabled. I also don’t have any other family support. There’s no silver spoon or ivory tower. Not by a LONG shot. I’ve busted my ass and failed and be discriminated against just like everyone else. I just don’t respond well to excuses, which is what the post was about. It’s about making you’re own destiny.

    Comments were not closed to silence anyone. They were closed because people started fighting and going in circles and it seemed like they were hurting more than they were helping. So I made a decision to end it. I actually regret closing them, but I have to stick to that now. We’ve never closed comments on a post since.

    You can take whatever you want from the post. Personally, I think we all have better things to discuss on Christmas. We should focus on that.

    • Lisa, thank you for taking the time to read and respond. The sign of an important, or controversial blog is that it gets revised every now and again. Yours has recently been making its way through my Twitter circle.

      > And if you’re busting your ass, it definitely wasn’t meant for you […] I’ve busted my ass…
      So ass-busting is a measure of worthiness. I didn’t know that. Happily there are other ways to be worthy too, such as being of service to your fellow man, being open-hearted, standing up for your beliefs and not taking any old job just because of the archaic idea that employment somehow makes a person more valid. If ass-busting and work for work’s sake are the measure you go by, disdaining all other qualities then you’ll miss out on meeting some wonderful people. I have spent this last year deliberately surrounding myself with unemployed people [ref]. I have learned much about honor, humility and friendship.

      Lisa, I made no assumptions about your background or your struggles in times of adversity; I only commented on your political stance, which I find to be arrogant and uninformed. But then, perhaps you have softened somewhat since writing this in April. And you know, I tend to agree with you about the main focus of your blog: I don’t like excuses either, preferring responsibility. There are better ways to encourage that behavior rather then by insult. That’s all.

      > Personally, I think we all have better things to discuss on Christmas.
      Are there better things to discuss than respect, kindness, compassion and dignity (and their counterparts) at Christmas time? Maybe, but these four values would come a close second for me. Peace to you.

  8. I wish more people would recognize that people are not defined by their jobs. (My recent bout of unemployment really taught me a lot!)

  9. Tobias, since I’ve known you for years, I feel compelled to comment on this thread, even though I don’t know Lisa at all.

    Frankly, my friend, I choose to interpret her post quite differently. I choose to see Lisa as emphasizing thrift, hard-work, and, as she puts it, no whining. I can’t possibly disagree with any of this.

    As for your assertion that a person should not be defined by their work – sure. But you’re heading down a slippery slope. Consider, for example, that you claim that people should be of service to others. I can’t disagree with that — and I suspect that Lisa would also support this concept.

    Let’s put it another way — do you, Tobias, really recommend that the unemployed spend their time complaining about their situation or would you rather them spend time attending your Welfare CSM class so that they can learn the skills that they need to do “work” that they love?

    If you answer, as I think you will, that you’d rather them spend time in your Welfare CSM class instead of watching Oprah, surfing facebook, or writing long blog posts complaining about their lot in life, then I suspect your point of view to be more aligned with Lisa’s than you might care to admit.

    Yours in our deep friendship,


    PS. As some of you know, I was a world-class athlete. One thing I learned — I could beat people who were more talented than me by training harder. When they got tired at the end of their programs, I didn’t, because I trained harder. And yeah, that helped me win. Of course, not always — the truly exceptional people of the world aren’t just great – they love their work and work hard at it. Another reference is John Wooden’s pyramid of success — – the cornerstones are industriousness and enthusiasm. Work hard. Love your work.

    • Luke, I make it clear in my post and my follow-up comment that I agree with Lisa’s essential sentiment: that there are opportunities available for those that seek them. That is not in dispute. It is the attitude of self-righteousness that I find distasteful. And I disagree with the idea that work must always be better than not-work. It isn’t. There have been times in my life when I have chosen not to work, and I encourage the same in others when appropriate. I just re-read “in Praise of Idleness” by Bertrand Russell and it reminds me that work for work’s sake –Western civilization’s focus on “being a useful member of society”– is very overrated (wrongly-rated), and in fact is detrimental to our cultural development, and thus to our health.

      Be clear, I don’t condone complaining in any circumstance, but that doesn’t mean I accept condemnation of someone just because they are not working, and possibly in a depressed state about their situation. I do however condemn rudeness, ignorance and arrogance. I get uncomfortable being subjected to the energy of the “superior” person, he who believes everyone else must conform to his (or her) standard of worthiness.

      So no, my point of view is not at all aligned with the point of view Lisa Barone expresses in her blog post.

      Yours also in friendship.
      PS I don’t work hard — I work just enough 🙂

  10. I couldn’t agree more Toby and further to what you say, what always gets me is the lack understanding that we are not all built the same. If everyone was made to be an internet marketeer then Lisa would be find her own success in tatters.

    Adversity grinds most people down and raises a few up. I don’t criticise Lisa for her success, I think it’s great, but it’s foolish to berate other people for not being as good as you at breaking out of the conventions of the unemployment – i.e. society sees a job, any job as the only valuable thing you give to society and therefore when you are not working you are of no worth.

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I have a feeling it might apply…

    PS Love the Welfare CSM thing. I’m seriously thinking about the London dates in Feb.

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