Published on: November 1, 2012
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I haven't been on a date with someone other than Mrs. Content Guy since September 10, 1979. I don't really think about dating much, except to wonder occasionally why my 23-year-old son can't seem to find a nice girl with whom to hang out.
I thought about dating the other day, though, because of - go figure - a story in the Wall Street Journal, which talked about the difficulty of mixed relationships. Not mixed in the sense of race or religion, but mixed in the sense of politics. Apparently, for a large percentage of the nation's single population, the odds of finding a date-able person have been roughly cut in half. Republicans don't want to date Democrats, and Democrats don't want to date Republicans.
That's how profoundly divisive our politics have become. Love, apparently, cannot conquer all.
When I saw this piece, I did what I usually do in such cases. I got in touch with Michael Sansolo and asked him if he could date anyone who did not agree with him politically. He responded, quote rightly, that I shouldn't worry about it because it is incredibly unlikely that either of us will ever find ourselves in such a situation; he also said that if by some sad turn of events either of us find ourselves to be single, we would be so desperate that we'd be profoundly grateful if a woman even talked to us. It wouldn't matter, he suggested, if she had three arms ... forget worrying about her politics.
I agree with Michael for the most part. Especially about the desperation part. But I also think, on reflection, that I probably could not spend my life with someone who had fundamentally different words views - whether about politics, religion, food, wine, beer or baseball. You know, all the things that matter. So he's right - if somehow I survive Mrs. Content Guy, I'll probably end up on a pier somewhere, fishing, drinking beer and pounding out MNB.
It occurs to me that while this may be acceptable or inevitable for someone my age - I've spent more than five decades developing a life view, and while I'd like to think I have the capacity for personal growth, I also recognize that I'm probably barely tolerable even to the woman who lives in my house to whom I am related by marriage - it is certainly less acceptable in young people. Or, at least less optimal if they want to find someone to love, and someone to love them.
While we all worship at the alter of social media, the fact is that it allows and encourages young people to share everything about themselves, and to know everything about people whom they barely have met, if they have met at all. Which means that these young people are pre-selecting and prejudging each other, before they've even laid eyes on each other. My son, for example, probably would find it unacceptable to go out with a Yankees fan (I totally get this, by the way), but he's likely never going to be in a position where he'd have to figure out whether the girl he's met is worth looking past her appalling taste in baseball teams.
That's too bad. When I met Mrs. Content Guy, I was a young newspaper reporter from an irish Catholic family, with longish red hair, a broken down car and an annual salary of about $6,800 a year. She, on the other hand, was working for a stock brokerage, and came from a family in which reading the business section was a high priority (I always red the comics and sports section first). Furthermore - and this could have been the biggest impediment - she didn't like Mexican food. But since we were the only people in our apartment building who were under 80, or so it seemed, we went out. And needless to say, I took her out for Mexican food.
More than 33 years later, here we are. She likes Mexican food now. She's even pretty fond of me. (I think.) And while I make a little bit more than $6,800 a year, she has left the financial services industry and currently works as a third grade teacher. Life, as John Lennon said, is what happens when you're making other plans.
That couldn't happen today. Or, at least it seems likely to happen. Because we don't test the boundaries of of what is possible. We accumulate all the data possible, and then make a decision. Maybe romance is dead.
Now, this isn't just me getting romantic or sentimental. Though maybe I am a little bit. There is a business lesson in here somewhere...
In our work lives, we sometimes have to be willing to look beyond the data points, to look past the numbers, or even ignore them altogether, and allow magic to happen.
It seems to me that one of the things that may have sunk John Browett in his short-lived tenure at the Apple Stores is that he was so focused on efficiency, on driving costs out of the system, that he missed the larger point about effectiveness - that something happens in the Apple Store that is, in fact, magical. unlike may computer stores, the Apple Store specializes in a kind of romance. All of Browett's previous experiences may have made him blind to this reality, and, to be fair, Apple knew who he was when they hired him. Maybe divorce was inevitable. (Browett reportedly made $3 million for his six months at Apple. Nobody should cry for him.)
So, that's the message of the day ... sometimes, even at work, one has to allow for a little magic, a little surprise, to create a transcendent product or service.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: