We’ve lost the script + Building trust as an employer + When companies take sides + A new type of “remote” leader + An important event on equity

October 8, 2020 By Tarek Pertew

You should probably sit down for this one...

Hi there,
TSA (Tarek Service Announcement): Could you do me a favor? Could you jump on LinkedIn and recommend this newsletter to the universe, linking to https://www.uncubed.com/hr-newsletter?

TLDR: An opening diatribe on communication. Plus related articles on equity, trust and the role of the employer.

To start, a big thanks to those of you who have shared this newsletter on LinkedIn. The subscriber numbers are going up because of you and, for that, I’m very grateful. If you’ve just landed via a recommendation, buckle up and give it a few weeks before cursing out the referrer.

In short, today is an unusually long one. It’s related to the debates and how we communicate with our adversaries. It won’t immediately connect to HR, so if you’re new to this newsletter, please wait till next week before unsubscribing! Not all emails are like this.

I never plan for these emails, btw. I open Mailchimp and whatever comes to my brain, I drop into this opening bit. This week, I want to focus on the runaway train towards division in our communities. As I’ve recounted before, the social hellfire led me to delete Facebook over 5 years ago, Twitter last year and Instagram is getting darn close.

Everywhere I look on social, there is hate being hurled. Folks that I’ve followed and admired for years are finding any opportunity to humiliate an adversary. We are being taught to communicate this way. Including our top leaders, who are communicating with opponents in a way that would make any parent cringe if they saw their child doing the same.

It’s so influential that even when I know to be mindful of it, there are immediate thoughts in my own head to dismiss someone with contempt when I disagree with them.

Every human has love and kindness in their heart. As we get older, and our family and cultural conditioning shapes our values and prejudices, we may begin to bury those qualities and, rather than use them to find common ground, we strengthen the barriers that divide us.

There are some non-starters, of course. A belief, for instance, that any one person is more valuable/important than another is one. Or that an oppressed people don’t have the right to fight for their rights. But most areas of disagreement, no matter how strong our convictions, stand a chance at peaceful & respectful progress. This, however, will never happen if both sides don’t commit to understanding one another. And I’m not seeing that anywhere.

If we are diehard democrats, we aren’t listening to Fox News to see what our adversaries are being conditioned by all day. If we are diehard republicans, we are not reading the Washington Post to learn what arguments are informing the strong opinions of democrats.

We (that’s a rhetorical “we”) aren’t doing the work required to repair division because it goes against the tribe and we must protect the tribe at all costs. That includes eliminating our adversaries. So, when we see someone wearing a red hat, we comfortably assume they are overt racists and deserve our contempt. When we see someone with a Black Lives Matter sign, we assume they don’t value all lives and thus deserve to be treated with utter disregard.

There are, of course, those of us that sit in the middle. Either tuning out entirely or tuning in completely (to both sides), but keeping quiet about it because there’s no room for their voice amidst the hate. We keep quiet so as to not expose ourselves when it’s dangerous not to take sides.

So, when we tune into social media, this tribal narrative is reinforced with extraordinary exposure to any and every incident that will solidify our stance, thus strengthening the divide and silencing reasonable debate.

The ugly truth is that there truly is no time for a thoughtful debate. There’s no time for someone to explain, in detail, what informs their opinions. Social media doesn’t allow for anything longer than a fraction of a second if you want to be heard. This leaves those of us with one choice: Be short, loud and direct. And if that doesn’t work, be shorter, louder and mean.

And to this I ask, where does it end? It only ends when one side wipes out the other OR when both sides LEARN that they can achieve progress through concession and compromise, while remaining united in our (reasonable) differences.

It takes work. It takes saying to ourselves “today, I’m only going to listen to the other side’s narrative”. It takes actually meeting others of a different mindset outside the debate and having an extended conversation (which is harder than ever now).

It works. It unites. It creates change. I know this because it happened and continues to happen to me. I’ve judged, jumped to conclusions and assumed the worst in someone. Then I engaged, learned and I changed. And that’s the only datapoint I need to know that it will work for everyone. Because it’s human nature (unless you’re a psychopath 😳).

And while we are developing our empathy muscle by learning what matters to others who come from different backgrounds, we can concede, shift our beliefs and wish our neighbor love, luck and happiness.

This is really hard, btw. Because we are all conditioned to attack, silence and/or tune out different tribes. I mean, just now, in the midst of this email, I had the urge to express my differing opinions with YC Founder, Paul Graham, by belittling him as part of my commentary on an article I feature below. I had to work to avoid the impulse. I fail often and have in previous versions of this email (as some of you may be quick to point out).

We will ALWAYS have our differences with friends, families, neighbors, etc. If we allow ourselves to be conditioned on always focusing on what divides us, then, quite frankly, there’s no hope.

I’ll leave this opening diatribe with an amazing quote that truly summarizes all of the above and may help many of us rethink how we are approaching the important topics of today. it helped me:

Oh, and turns out that much of the above leads nicely into this event on how the pandemic and protests are transforming talent acquisition. See, there’s always a link to HR!

Today’s poll: See below for the results of last week’s poll on “one nut for the rest of your life”. My only comment here, is that I’ve eaten cashews like they were the last nut on earth, and let’s just say, they are no longer my top choice.

  • Pistachios – 16.3%
  • Walnuts – 2.3%
  • Almonds – 22.1%
  • Cashews – 32.6%
  • Peanuts – 9.3%
  • Pecans – 8.1%
  • Macadamia – 5.8%
  • Brazil – 3.5%

THIS WEEK’S POLL: As a reader, donating your time to this email, what do you make of the above diatribe?

*|SURVEY:Keep them coming*
*|SURVEY:For the love of God, stick to the HR script*
*|SURVEY:No opinion*

*Please note, your choice is always anonymous. Not even I can see who chooses what.


And onto the weekly reads and watches:

  • SUGGESTED READING ON JUSTICE & EQUITY: This week, I’m suggesting this article from Smithsonian on “sundown towns” and the importance of the Green Book used by Black Americans to navigate around this nation safely. Some of you may have become familiar with this through the movie, Green Book. (H/T to Nicole Cardoza’s Anti-Racism Newsletter).
  • ATTEND THIS (EQUITY): Bloomberg is hosting this event on equity and solutions for turning centuries of disparity around.
  • READ THIS (RELATED TO DIATRIBE): H/T to Hung Lee for this one. An analysis of a controversial post by the CEO of Coinbase to not take sides on major societal issues. Here’s the gist, and I invite you to come to your own conclusions (and try to understand others that come to a different one):
  • Can [a company] take a stance without igniting more division and controversy?
  • READ THIS (REMOTE WORK): Thanks to Tech:NYC for sharing this CNBC article on the needs for companies to have a new type of “trusting” leader in today’s remote world. Give it a read.
  • READ THIS (DEVELOPING TRUST): Speaking of trust, if you’re looking for ways to drive more trust in your company from customers and employees, then you must invest in video. Our friends at Zapier explain why (and how) in this article.
  • Call us if you need help.
  • ALWAYS UNRELATED (ENTERTAINING VIDEO):  Here’s a link to a video showcasing what a healthy, respectful debate looks like. It’s between RFK Jr. and Alan Dershowitz.

Before singing off, special thanks to Michelle Prota, Katherine Corwin, Khalil Hall, Katherine Merrill, Evangelia Leclaire, Jennifer Elin Cole, Maria Culbertson and Peter Phelan for publicly endorsing this email on LinkedIn.

For those who shared the newsletter, but didn’t cc me (so I couldn’t tell), you are equally appreciated.

Bye for now,






Talent Acquisition:

HR & People

Companies with multiple HR Jobs:

  • Okta (multiple locations)


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