Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for November 2021


  • Bimbo
  • November 1, 2021
  • by Spaeth Communications

What a month! Is there more in the air? We had a record-breaking number of submissions. See BIMBOs from the founder of Elio Motors and a government virologist (not Dr. Fauci), plus examples of the really Wrong Thing to Say from the coach of the San Antonio Spurs and wiggle wording from the Secretary of Defense. A PE firm tries to abolish the word “deal,” and Vice President Harris illustrates a body language lesson but is getting a bum rap. There are two great examples of how props drive a story and Jaguars’ Coach Urban Meyer is the recipient of our month’s social media lesson (pay attention). We close with a good article about why stories don’t need to be perfect to persuade and for the finale – sing along with a great headline from The New York Times’ science section.

THE WINNING BIMBO

While speaking at the University of Notre Dame, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito denied the impression that the Supreme Court is “a dangerous cabal [that] is deciding important issues in a novel, secretive, improper way in the middle of the night, hidden from public view, without waiting for the lower courts to consider the issues.” His goal was to address a charge that the Supreme Court was issuing too many “emergency motions.” Additionally, Justice Amy Coney Barrett remarked at the University of Louisville that her goal “is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.” Ack! Both distinguished jurists need a lesson in bad words. By articulating the issue this way, they guaranteed their denials would be the quote. We dub them the dubious winners because they should know better. 

The Associated Press, “A ‘dangerous cabal’? Alito says high court is no such thing,” Sept. 30, 2021

THE RUNNERS-UP 

“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years,” said former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden about DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association. This became one of the biggest stories when an email from Gruden leaked out as part of the overall NFL investigation into the Washington Football Team. The sensational (misspelled) statement from 2011, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” caused uproar and became an example of how internal comments can leak out a decade later. This is also a good case study of why high-profile individuals should proactively clean up their record. First Gruden tried profuse apologies and it seemed to work as Gruden’s players spoke up – to defend him! Running back Josh Jacobs said, “I’ve been around this guy for three years now; I’ve never felt a certain type of way about him. He’s never rubbed me a certain way, that type of way. I mean, what he said is what he said at the end of the day too. But I mean, I definitely trust him. I mean, it was 10 years ago. People grow.”

Gruden resigned roughly 24 hours later. Why? Well, the initial remarks from 2011 were made worse as comments about women and the gay community came to light from 2014. In addition, Gruden apparently circulated topless pictures of cheerleaders. 

Here’s the significant question – if you have emails or texts that are going to embarrass you—no matter how old—should you take the chance that they will trickle out at some point – or disclose them proactively? While you could argue this either way, we’re advocating proactively doing a skeptical audit of yourself, see what’s lurking and develop a strategy to safeguard your reputation.

The Wall Street Journal, “Jon Gruden Resigns as Raiders Coach After Email Scandal,” Oct. 11, 2021

“We do not and we have not prioritized engagement over safety,” said Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert. This is part of the ongoing coverage of a huge leak of documents by a former company employee, Frances Haugen. This is a classic bimbo comment, that is, Bickert was asked about the charges about priorities and she repeated them back in the denial.  What should she have said? “We have multiple simultaneous goals here at Facebook, and we get better at meeting them every day.”

The Associated Press, “Facebook exec: We do not prioritize engagement over safety,” Oct. 6. 2021 

“This is not some pyramid scheme. This is not a Bernie Madoff,” said Elio Motors founder and CEO Paul Elio. The three wheel, environmentally green car of the future had some 65,000 orders but has never manufactured a single car. What should he have said? “We’re still ahead of our time and our design shows drivers want an inexpensive, dependable car.” Or, if this is the end, “I put my heart and soul into this project, and I want to thank everyone who shared my passion and apologize to the people I’ve let down.”

USA Today, “8 years. $28 million in deposits. The perplexing tale of a three-wheeled car that never arrived,” Oct. 18, 2021

“This is not an Armageddon scenario,” said Vincent Munster, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about studies that seem to show that the Alpha and Delta coronavirus variants are mostly transmitted through droplets in the air and therefore easier for one person to transmit it to another. Despite the terrifying headline, the article points out that even bad masks block about half of the fine aerosol containing virus, thus help keep people safer. For us, the whole issue is summed up by a comment by respiratory virus expert Dr. Seema Lakdawala who said, “We really have no idea why some individuals are super spreaders and others are not.”

The New York Times, “Is the Coronavirus Getting Better at Airborne Transmission?” Oct. 1, 2021

WRONG THING TO SAY 

After the top brass testified that they all told President Biden to keep a small number of troops in Afghanistan during a congressional hearing, the president kept insisting his advisors were “split.” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III had to play clean up and said, “I support the president’s decision to end the war in Afghanistan. I did not support staying in Afghanistan forever.” The last word, “forever,” undercuts his ostensible support to get out of there immediately. 

The New York Times, “Defense Chief Says He Advised Against Staying in Afghanistan ‘Forever’,” Sept. 29, 2021 

An example of the really wrong thing to say came from the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich who snapped that Italian-Americans honoring Columbus was akin to saying, “We should be proud of Hitler because we are German.” Note the quote made the headline.
 
The Daily Wire, “NBA’s Popovich: Italian-Americans Honoring Columbus Like Being ‘Proud Of Hitler Because We Are German’,” Oct. 11, 2021 

WORDS MATTER

Do private equity firms do deals? We always thought they did but Partners Group Holding AG has decreed that the word “deal” is a very bad word. CEO David Layton issued a warning that use of the word “deal” would trigger a $1000 fine per usage. He says that “how we communicate is how we behave,” and they are moving from a one-time transaction mindset to “industrial.” Not clear? He elaborated by asking them to think like owners and said that this could be a big change because “People in our business are called sharks, vultures, wolves,” and in Germany “locusts.” We applaud the concept of communication driving behavior, but we predict the laundry list of sharks and vultures and more will prevail. While we wish Layton success, we think it’s going to be tough to close the – well, deal.

The Wall Street Journal, “Deal Breaker: Private Equity Firm Bans the Word ‘Deal’,” Oct. 20, 2021

BODY LANGUAGE

Iran is circulating a video for propaganda purposes of Vice President Kamala Harris nodding while listening to a student refer to Israel as committing “ethnic genocide.” We think Harris is getting a bad rap but it’s a useful lesson about nodding as a response to indicate listening. We have a similar example from the 2016 campaign where, after 28 days of ducking the media to answer questions about charges that the Clinton Foundation took money from foreign countries when she was Secretary of State, candidate Clinton is finally asked if the charges worry her. She nods throughout the question making it look like she agrees. But she’s not really agreeing, she’s trying to signal “no matter how horrible the question is, I’m listening.” This is a common habit. After first being aware of it, one technique is to move your forearms from one position to another. The arm movement substitutes for the head movement. 

The Western Journal, “Iran Promotes Video of Kamala Harris That Perfectly Fits Its Evil Narrative,” Sept. 30, 2021

PROPS

Remember, a prop is anything you hold up. Props drive memory and they can further promote the key takeaway from a presentation. Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank president Raphael Bostic pulled out his office “swear” jar at a press conference and announced that no one was allowed to use the word “transitory” in regard to inflation. The new word is “episodic.” Whether the word substitution strategy will be successful remains to be seen. “Transitory is a dirty word,” Bostic said in a virtual speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Axios, “What does ‘transitory’ mean in the context of inflation,” Oct. 14, 2021

Colin Powell held up a vial during an impactful speech to the United Nations in 2003 making the case that weapons of mass destruction had been definitively located in Iraq and therefore justified the US’s invasion. The Associated Press picture was carried in thousands of press reports at the time and was heavily reprised in the reporting of his death.

The Guardian, “Colin Powell’s UN speech: a decisive moment in undermining US credibility,” Oct. 18, 2021 

SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMPLE

Coach Urban Meyer’s appearance in this month’s news cycle is an example of the trappings of the modern age. The Jacksonville Jaguars coach, while famous and successful, has made some enemies who are spiteful, jealous – and talented. You may read the article for a full account of what D.J. Byrnes did to get Meyer in trouble.  The lesson here – and not just for high profile coaches – is to be very careful about public appearances. At a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub a young woman apparently sat on Meyer’s lap and “danced” – and he allowed it and even gave her an encouraging pat on the rear. There were two “shooters” (new word to us) and the evening produced two damaging videos that Byrnes posted via the “burner” Twitter accounts— @uh_oh_urban and @freak_leader. Will Meyer survive? We’ll see. His response was to call his behavior “stupid” which it was – but it was also dangerous and clueless.  What could he have said? This is another example of “You can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into,” which is attributed to Stephen Covey and others. We also like the new quote above from the CEO of the private equity firm, “how we communicate is how we behave.”

The Wall Street Journal, “The Electrician Who Shocked the NFL with the Videos of Urban Meyer,” Oct. 7, 2021

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

“We are moved by stories,” said Erik Gordon, professor at the University of Michigan business school. “The facts don’t have to be bullet proof. They have to be enough to give a good story credibility.” The entire article is worth reading, but the professor’s quote nicely explains one aspect of why stories are so compelling. 

The New York Times, “We’re Smarter About Facebook Now,” Oct. 7, 2021

GOOD EXAMPLE

Sing along with us with this headline in the science section of the New York Times, “When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to eat Squid from a Clamp, that’s a Moray.” The story and accompanying creepy video shows that moray eels can easily get out of the water to eat their prey!

The New York Times, “When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to eat Squid from a Clamp, that’s a Moray,” June 22, 2021

 

The BIMBO Memo is a reminder not to repeat and deny a negative word because of how the listener hears words. When you repeat and deny a negative word, the listener is likely to overlook the denial and hear the opposite of what the speaker is trying to say. It’s named for the young woman who was caught with a high profile, but alas married man. She held a press conference and announced, “I am not a BIMBO,” thus causing everyone to think she was.



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