Monday, March 22, 2010

Beauty, truth in Haiti

Many have documented the devastation and disaster-relief efforts in Haiti following the January earthquake and its aftershocks. Most of the photos have filled me with sadness and compassion. Today, I saw the work of one photographer who managed to convey the beauty and strength of those who were affected -- and those who went to help.

Ed Wheeler has always been an amazing talent. For years, he was my go-to photographer for corporate annual report shoots, from the boardroom photo to round-the-world and through-the-manufacturing-plant pics.

Now he has turned his camera to the bareness of survival and the abundance of caring. He shares his work in the following presentations:
The images are as beautiful as the situation is unfathomable. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wall Street exposed

It must be tough being a financial advisor. At least it is if you're trying to win my business. There's a Catch-22 logic to my thinking. Those who know enough about the stock market to make their clients rich, should already be rich enough themselves to never have to work at all, much less at trying to make me rich.

Don't even get me started on the workings of Wall Street. One of the few people I read on the matter is Robert Mankoff. Actually, you don't read his work as much as look at the cartoons and read the captions. Still, when it comes to financial matters, he's spot-on.

Here are a few of my favorites, which typically feature a report on TV news:
  • "On Wall Street today, the stock market corrected its previous correction, and is pretty sure it's got it right this time." Published in The New Yorker on March 8, 2010. 
  • "On Wall Street today, news of lower interest rates sent the stock market up, but then the expectation that these rates would be inflationary sent the market down, until the realization that lower rates might stimulate the sluggish economy pushed the market up, before it ultimately went down on fears that an overheated economy would lead to a reimposition of higher interest rates." Published in "The Naked Cartoonist," 2002.
  • "Bad news on Wall Street today, as the bottom fell out of the market, the sides collapsed, and the top blew away." Published in The New Yorker on July 22, 2002.
  • "Analysts blamed the market's volatility on computer-directed trading while computers blamed it on analyst-directed trading." Unpublished, but available at The Cartoon Bank.
I could go on and on -- but Robert already has. And he's probably laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Laughing with Lucy

Lucy Kellaway makes me laugh. She's a dead-on, tongue-in-cheek, based-in-reality commentator on business life and the corporate world. Think mashup between Dilbert and a proper English lady journalist.

I often catch her on BBC radio during my morning drive, although if I've tuned to Sirius rather than terrestrial public radio, the drop-outs leave frustrating gaps in her commentary. To fill those gaps, I check the Financial Times Web site, where Kellaway is a management columnist who "pokes fun at management fads and jargon, and celebrates the ups and downs of office life."

One of her latest commentaries really hit home for this writer of corporate communications. In a piece titled Good year for management guff, Kellaway presents awards for "paradigm-shifting, best-in-class management guff."

Some winners:
  • the unnecessary euphemism "significant optionality," when talking about choices facing the company
  • a three-way mixed metaphor that manages to say nothing, "There are times when there is a need to dig deep and find another gear -- while never losing sight of the bigger picture"
  • the best job title -- "life explorer, multimedia storyteller, experience architect"
  • top cliché: the elephant in the room
And for good measure, she throws in a video treat with a link to YouTube: the best company song sung by a Russian Gazprom manager. 

Now that's good copy.