Prose and Poetry

Mike Pesca’s “The Gist” podcast is a good one, despite being on a daily schedule. Dailys are routinely filled with long interviews over a multitude of topics with a variety of guests on. They usually provide no consistent thread, or otherwise tote a vague underlying theme. Pesca is able to maintain a steady flow to both the conversations within each inidivual podcast and the general direction of the show as well.

His show on February 22nd 2016 was continuing a discussion about Bernie Sanders with William Galston. Political musings aside, they hit on a really strong point that translates perfectly to business, small or large. In chatting about the current Democratic hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders around 13:19, Pesca refered a quote by former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo:

You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.

Pesca implies that maybe this is the worst of both worlds, as it promises solutions that in reality are not pragmatic and achievable. By setting expectations that cannot be reached, failure is the inevitable result - it will effectively nullify the hope inspired by the poetry and likely worsen the morale for the democratic process.

The show’s guest, William Galston states “A huge gap between promise and performance is bad for a democracy.” A business, obviously, is not a democracy; there is a consolidated group of decision makers, often separate from the general employees, that do not need to have their decisions validated or approved by the other members of the company. It’s trival to say that yes, businesses cannot make promises they can’t keep or there will be disastorous effects (see any earnings call where expectations are not met). However, businesses and democracy align in the feeling of the workers belonging, participating, and having an effect in the larger body of work. An employee needs to feel that they have a stake in the company that employs them.