Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

As ‘roles’ disappear, invest in skills and networks

I’ve thought this way about my career for a long time…that the “role” I have at any given time is much less important than the work I can do and my understanding of & connection to a strong network.

What’s really going on? In a simple phrase our organizations have become a “network of teams,” and they no longer function well in the functional hierarchy of the past. The concept of a formal “job” with a job description is starting to go away. We now hire people to do “work;” we source them for skills and capabilities (not necessarily credentials); and we manage people around projects, customers, and products, not “roles.”

The quote is from “Robotics, AI And Cognitive Computing Are Changing Organizations Even Faster Than We Thought.” Hat tip to Ted Bauer (The Context of Things) for sharing the link.

My colleague, Linda Douglass, is hiring

Hey, I wrote this: 5 Principles for Empl

So what should journalists do?

I’m a member of a professional group called Page Up composed of communications executives at big multinational firms as well as senior folks from various PR agencies. And while there’s much talk about the nature of the media and news business these days given the political environment, there’s also a ripple of shock and fear running through the corporate comms industry. I mean, you basically have a cottage industry that relies on being able to influence an at-least-superficially-objective media. The disintermediation is unrivaled as far as I know — having the President berate companies through an unfiltered platform is bigger than anything I’ve seen. Bigger than websites. Bigger than blogs. Bigger, even, than Second Life!!!!

So a fellow Page Up m,ember sent me a link to this article by Ken DoctorNewsonomics: Rebuilding the news media will require doubling-down on its core values following a conversation we had about the future of our profession (crisis communications, by the way, is looking like a growth industry, amiright?)

Now, it’s worth reading, but I’m not sure if I agree entirely with the premise. My better angels want a return to journalism’s core values to work…I just don’t think our new media landscape will find the traditional tools of integrity and fact-exposing all that effective. Publishers have simply been too weakened by the Facebook/Google aggregation duopoly (h/t Ben Thomson) so cannot afford to support journalism that strives for objectivity — there’s no mass market anymore to appeal to and sell advertising into: this is the age of niche and therefore the polemic.

That said, I found some of the tactics the author suggests in the tail end of the article really interesting. They kind of take the truth-exposing to another more ‘digital’ level — data-driven story-telling — which can adhere to those trusted principles — could be a way to take the fight to the fascists. Journalists at the NYT and some other outlets are increasingly using visualization and immersive media to contest falsehoods — that seems about right to me and looks like a lot better way to steal the attention back from the burning dumpsters that seem to constantly rekindle themselves like trick birthday candles all over social media.

Another thought: there may be hope in applying the superhuman powers of machine learning and chatbots (intelligent agents) to confront the hordes of trolls on the internet — twitter, facebook, instagram, google and others have started spinning these up in recent years. Though largely the effort has been to either identify and remove copyrighted material, obscenity or hate speech, it could just as well be applied to pants-on-fire level fake news. The DNC and other political organizations looking for the next frontier of confrontation would do well to invest in AI, surely their competitors are already.

Beef stew with spinach

And because I care about digital trends, the emergent mechanisms of communication and also eating well, I offer you this recipe. 

Not sure exactly how I made, it but it goes something like this…I change it slightly every time, but it always turns out well. Don’t be afraid to get some salt in there but taste it — the beef broth can be salty depending on what kind you get so just be aware I. Order to avoid over salting. 


~2lbs stew beef

1 big bag of raw spinach (probably like half a pound?)

Large can of roasted crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen organic brand)

Small can of tomato paste

2 cans beef broth

4 celery stalks

4 scallions

Two big carrots

One large parsnip 

One box of brown mushrooms

About two lbs –maybe a little less– of small potatoes (mix of gold and red)

Five whole cloves of garlic

One yellow onion

1tsp smoked paprika

Cut most of those ingredients into hearty, fork-worthy chunks. Dice the onions, scallions and mushrooms a little smaller. I leave the garlic cloves whole, but you may prefer smaller pieces. Don’t chop the spinach. 

Ideally you’d brown the beef over a high heat in a pan with some salt and pepper. It’s stew beef and therefore not super fatty, so you can just spray a little Pam in there to avoid sticking. Deglaze the pan with some of the broth and dump that into the slow cooker. Or if you’re feeling lazy, as I was this morning, just toss it in there w out searing it. It’s gonna cook for a long time, so no worries. 

Pour your broth, canned tomatoes and tomato paste into your slow cooker and stir it up a bit. Dump all your other ingredients in there too except the spinach. Sprinkle in your smoked paprika. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Set for 12 hours on low. (I often set everything up the night before so I can start it at 6:30 when our boys wake up…then it is done for dinner.)

Give it a stir every hour or so for the first few hours and when you do, add some spinach. By hour three or four you should have the whole bag of spinach in there. At that point you can ignore it until you serve it. I suppose you could try to cram the spinach in there earlier if you want to leave for the day, but it is bulky until it reduces. Improvise!

I make it without hot sauce so it is more appealing to the rest of my family who, sadly, do not care for spicy food. But then I put chipotle hot sauce in mine in the bowl to liven it up a bit. 


Stratechery #worthreading

Do you read Ben Thompson’s “Stratechery” newsletter? He sends a freebie once/week (subscription is $100/year; #worthit.) He usually devotes one analysis weekly to media (“Media Mondays”…but not always Monday.)

He has published several pieces about aggregation theory and how that has led us to a media duopoly (Google and Facebook) as well as its effect on politics, the break down of many media conventions etc. Really thoughtful work that lucidly explains what is happening without over-philosophizing or romanticizing defunct business models and their values. He has also written predictively about television’s business model and, if past is prologue, he’ll be right. “The Great Unbundling” is one of my favorite of his analyses.

On other days he writes on the dynamics of business technology and the technology business.

One of my commitments post-election, by the way, is to pay for more content (rather than arrive at it for “free” through aggregators. I bought the subscription to Ben’s newsletter in part because of this resolution, but mostly because it’s a damn fine daily jolt of smart.

A few fave posts:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Posted onTuesday, September 20, 2016

Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Posted onWednesday, March 2, 2016


.Le Cirque New York now sells $1 oysters

.Le Cirque New York now sells $1 oysters at happy hour. The Dow hits 20k & LeCirque’s hawking dollar oysters? I’m thinking #bubble. Sell! Sell!

Almost 5 Tips for Running a Great Employee Town Hall

1-25-2017-12-24-18-pmThere’s a lot more to delivering a great Employee Town Hall than these tips – for example you have to get the invitations right, select the right speakers, schedule at an appropriate time of day and moment in the business cycle and so on – but above all, aligning the content to the business strategy and honestly evaluating the whole experience from the point of view of the participant/audience (rather than the speakers) are the two most important things to get right. That said, ignore the following handful of tips at your (and your executives’) peril.

These five, well, actually four, tips will help you deliver a successful Employee Town Hall. Really, they apply to any big meeting. Enjoy!

  1. Have a run-of-show document that makes it extremely explicit when each individual will hand off to the next and ensure that the AV team has this well in advance. Do not make last minute changes to this run of show document.
  2. Practice all transitions for real — both in a practice session and make sure that each individual has a walk-off line (and that the person who is supposed to take it knows what that line is a la, “Now I’m going to hand it over to Jimmy who will talk about his favorite tuna fish recipes.” etc)
  3. Consolidate all slides in one PPT file and have them run centrally — someone who is familiar with the content can advance the slides from your main stage. Same with video — do not have video initiated remotely — have the AV team do it. Also, make sure they test the video file in advance — ideally, during your transition practice session.
  4. The leader of the meeting must be vocal on sticking to schedule. Almost every Townhall I’ve attended has gone between 15 – 40 minutes over. The exception tends to be Sales where they have a culture of being able to pitch. So! Either schedule more time or drill the presenters in advance on their timing. Having an assistant hold up sign that says the time is up or relying on presenters to look at the clock doesn’t work. The convener of the meeting has to the boss on time.
  5. Practice the transitions. I know I already mentioned this! But it bears repeating. It is just so unlikely that it will go flawlessly unless you practice. Know what your last words will be before you say your first words.

#Essentialreading for the week: http://o

#Essentialreading for the week: DOOMSDAY PREP FOR THE SUPER-RICH Fascinating how the “smart money” think. The article repudiates their escapism but the critique is far too gentle; the gazillionaires who profited from polarizing the world, co-opting our desires and weaknesses and selling us stupid digital baubles should be accountable for its future.

“Dents in the universe are only observa

“Dents in the universe are only observable after they have occurred; this is why their continued creation is best induced by the establishment of conditions in which risk-taking and experimentation are rewarded.” Ben Thompson #stratechery

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