Lunch with Werner Erhard: Why the Disappointment?

wernererhard24 171x300 Lunch with Werner Erhard:  Why the Disappointment?

PRVerdict: “C” for Werner Erhard.

Lunch with the famous Werner Erhard!  The founder of EST, Landmark Education and America’s most famous personal development guru just gave his first interview in many years.  His choice?  The Financial Times and Saturday’s “Lunch with the FT” slot,  written by the notoriously sharp Lucy Kellaway.  The purpose?  To discuss Erhard’s latest work, developed with Harvard economist Michael Jensen, about the nature of integrity and how it applies in the business world.  Erhard says expansively,  “I want people to know that most suffering in their lives is the product of out-of-integrity behavior”.

Kellaway in her write up veered between portraying Werhard as exhausting and draining and  then, most tellingly, a poor listener.  Mistakenly calling her “Suzie” during the interview Erhard introduced an exercise from one of his training sessions as the interview seemed to flag.  The result was more than a hint of irritation from his luncheon companion.

This was a tough lunch and probably better done as a team, with his associate Jensen on hand to have provided some balance.  Not only would it have reduced straying into Erhard’s checkered and much previously discussed personal history, but it may have served as a brake on Erhard using workshop techniques on a seemingly reluctant journalist .

The PR  Verdict:  “C” for Werner Erhard.  For a thought leader with much to say and contribute, this was a disappointment.  This interview got lost in distractions.

PR Takeaway:  Make your point by giving examples and make them easy.  This interview lacked solid illustrations as to how an absence of integrity was the genesis for some of the more recent seismic scandals to have hit the corporate world.  With Erhard’s colleague Michael Jensen, previously one of the more vocal advocates of aligning management interests with stock options, an analyisis of Enron, Tyco and the 2008 financial crisis might have been a good place to start.  It might also have postponed Erhard’s one-on-one workshop with Lucy Kellaway to a later date.

To read the interview click here

What your PR Verdict on Werner Erhard’s interview?

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What To Think About Bo Guagua’s Letter?

bo guagua story top2 300x168 What To Think About Bo Guaguas Letter?

PR Verdict: “C” for Bo Guagua, son (left) of Bo Xilai (right)

The Bo Xilai scandal and hints of a Chinese power struggle continue to grip those who understand it while the rest of us wonder why everyone involved in the scandal has such complicated names.  The plot has thickened yet again.  Bo Guagua, son of the once powerful Bo Xilai and a student at Harvard, has sent an open letter to his university’s newspaper to set the record straight.

Missing in action for several weeks, twenty-four year old Bo Guagua’s letter in the Harvard Crimson disappoints, reading as no more than a feeble attempt to drown out claims he was a party boy.  Were these the details we were waiting for, given that Chinese media have connected him tangentially with the suspected poisoning of British businessman Neil Heywood and his mother a key suspect?

The key points from the letter:  No, he does not drive a red Ferrari.  He did not get favorable treatment at Oxford or Harvard.  He is studious!   And his education was partly paid by scholarship.  What a good boy!

PR Verdict: “C” for Bo Guagua.  The Crimson was always a going to be a bigger pushover than the NYTimes or one of its peers, so it was wise to go there and have his message published without edits and additional questions.  But to what end?

PR Takeaway:  Moving the dial in the public arena requires taking a stand. This letter speaks only of peripheral issues and oddly focuses on the author only.  Not a word in support of either parent, concerns regarding the Chinese judicial system or conversely public support for the system, to curry favor with Chinese authorities.  The world is only too eager to hear from the son of both a powerful government official and a mother under investigation for murder.  He has the power to throw unwelcome spanners in the works.  Next time he might want to give the media a little more to go on.

To read the letter click here and to read more click here.

What’s your PR Verdict on this open letter?

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