As the debates over politics get more heated, more intense (Trump, Brexit, China) they are now more than ever spilling over into the business world. Many investors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, you name it have their own Twitter handle and have interspersed their benign business, market and family updates with some pointed commentary on current events. Only this week the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods blasted Trump over his handling of the Iran crisis. Former Dragon and renowned investor Brett Wilson’s Twitter feed makes it abundantly clear what he thinks about Justin Trudeau. And now that everyone has watched ‘The Crown’ on Netflix, we are all experts on royal matters, ready to opine on Harry & Meghan. Even I was close to dumping my analysis on why the Duke of Sussex pulled the plug on it all, but thought better of it.
To be frank I often struggle with it. I love politics, am a big consumer on news and have strong opinions on many issues. When something goes to my gut, I tweet. Most recently that was Hong Kong where I lived for seven years and I simply could not stay quiet seeing the mindless brutality on a daily basis. But then you can ask yourself, is it wise to do this? What if I am working on a deal and some people take a deep dislike to my opinions? What if a future partner scans my tweets and does not appreciate what is there? What could Dorsman be thinking, is he serious? Maybe it is wiser to delete your stuff and just stick to retweeting harmless announcements on SaaS metrics or Bitcoin. Or whatever.
Yet it seems we have crossed the Rubicon on this. And deleting tweets that may cause offence makes you even less of a credible person. And if you think about it, it may not hurt all that much in the end. I do business with lots of people I seriously disagree with and I expect others when they deal with me to be open and frank about it too. Let’s collaborate and engage. We are doing business, working on a deal, so who cares if you like Sanders, Warren, Trump, Trudeau or Merkel of whoever? I will gladly explain to North Americans what is going on in Europe or Israel and if you don’t agree, fine, it should not really preclude us doing business together. It maybe helps build a relationship and gives more insight into how the other person thinks through complicated issues. Many years ago, a company retained my services when they had read some political commentary from me and mentioned that was the reason to bring me on, they actually appreciated my frankness on certain issues and saw it as evidence of character.
It does not mean we should walk into a minefield and engage in social media attacks on very sensitive topics. Be smart. And hot topics are better dealt with during an in-person discussion with space to elaborate on the issue. It also helps to let an issue gestate, sleep on it, read some opinions of others before making up your mind and spewing it out on social media. Online platforms are truly awful places to debate, they’re useful though to make a point or ‘air’ an issue. I will keep doing that when necessary and I hope, even if you disagree, you will like me better because of it. And maybe work on a new deal.