5 THINGS I LEARNED FROM POSTING A “POLITICAL” MESSAGE ON LINKEDIN

Last December, I posted a letter here driven by my heart. Not by my mind. It wasn’t about business. It was about humans. American humans, to be exact. While I said everything I could to articulate that this was not a political post it did not matter at the end. Some still perceived it as political. They were wrong. To pledge my allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and then to invite all to exercise that is not political. It is American. I posted that article so I could go to sleep on the night of December 16th knowing I did not look the other way while something atrocious was taking place on my watch. Not because I had an ulterior agenda. I didn’t do it to expose my brand. I did it to expose our hearts. I could not have cared less whether it received 1 view or 1 million views. I wanted to remind myself that the privilege of being an American Citizen is not a spectator sport and should never be taken for granted. Between LinkedIn and other platforms where I posted this letter, I received, to my amazement, over half million views, over 80 thousand likes and nearly 10 thousand comments. Over 90 percent of the comments were supportive and positive. These supportive comments came from moms, dads, retirees, teachers, law enforcement members, executives, college professors, army generals, media professionals, health care workers, government officials, republicans, democrats and independents. They came from a truck driver in Arkansas and an unemployed father of three in Detroit. They came from a cop in San Diego and a CEO in New York. They came from blacks, whites, jews, muslims, the old, the young and the frustrated all of whom unanimously said; “This is exactly how we feel.” They came from Americans who love America. They came from foreigners across the globe who also love America. They came from people who know all too well America is much more than a country. It is a beacon of light. Many of these comments brought tears to my eyes as they were written with love, passion and hope celebrating the discovery of another voice who felt exactly as they did. I felt sad for those who were angry with me because they couldn’t hear me. Nevertheless, I celebrated their privilege, as I celebrate mine, to exercise our precious First Amendment. I am grateful for the opportunity to have interacted with many of you over this issue. Because, it helped me better understand how we all love America. Of course, if you love something you not only set it free but you also respect it, embrace it, not judge it, not abuse it, forgive it and protect it at all cost.

This has been a fascinating learning experience for me. I made about 7 thousand new friends. By sharing this post-analysis, I feel, I am personally closing the circle on this issue albeit the issue itself may never be put the rest. For all the people who viewed my December 16th article, commented on it, liked or disliked it here are 5 things I learned from this experience:

1-) Things are not nearly as bad as we are forced to believe. I have nearly 10 thousand comments to prove that decency, compassion, common sense are alive and well in America as they are in the world. The challenge is to see that fact through the thick fog of ignorance. Most decent people will just shake their head and drive on when cutoff by an obnoxious driver instead of laying on their horn and flipping the birdie. Most compassionate people will try to understand first before judging. Most with common sense will intuitively know the difference between right and wrong. So, what I have learned from all the commentary is if you constantly choose to hang by the dumpster you will think the world stinks. The dumpster is the media. The dumpster is on the air, in print and online. The dumpster is that neighbor, co-worker, family member, that bully who is always negative convincing you the sky is going to fall any moment now and unfriends you on FB if you do not agree. The dumpster is the lack of emotional discipline causing us to react like a vicious dog barking back when confronted. The dumpster is where a hungry pack of wolves roam waiting for the next sensational viral video to be tossed at them like raw meat so they can get their fix of judge and devour. I say, dump the dumpster. Drive away. See the world the way it truly is. A beautiful planet where the majority of the humans are good. Watch this to help you change your perspective. I am not saying ignore the reality and pretend the dumpster doesn’t exist. Just stop living next to it.

2-) The ignorant is always louder than the civilized. This is a conundrum for many. Because, that loudness creates a false sense that the civilized is the minority. Not so. For example, of the 9861 comments only about 79 were harsh. Of that 79 only 48 said LinkedIn was not the right place for this. Of that 48 only 22 had a nasty tone. Against that simple math, it was easy for me to get caught up in the perception the 22 loud-mouths created. But, that was false. The only truth I needed to embrace was 9782 people expressed their opinions eloquently and quietly.

My last two cents regarding LinkedIn being the right or wrong platform? True American entrepreneurship is built on moral values and gratitude for the freedom we are given to thrive in a healthy capitalism. If you think this topic is wrong for LinkedIn you are wrong for American business.

3-) Most people hear only what they want to. It was, frankly, bewildering to read some of the comments where only a component of the article was extracted and commented on, often inaccurately and off target. So, if a man is pre-convinced that the sky is blue and I present him with the facts that the actual color of the sky is, well, colorless (mostly nitrogen and oxygen) there is nothing in the world I can say or do that will convince him otherwise. Because, he lacks one of the most pivotal ingredients that help advance the civilization; an open mind. So, while many of the positive comments were flattering, a big chunk only read what they wanted to. For them the sky will always be blue.

4-) Inspiration does not always come with education. Many comments from educators and parents alike reflected the need for my article to be distributed in classrooms, like this one:

This should be required reading in colleges, high, middle and elementary schools. It should also be (required) reading in business meetings. We, as a nation, need to read, heed, and heal.

Seeing this comment echoed multiple times was humbling at an extraordinary level. Because, I am not an intellect by any means. I am not a scholar. I am not a well-educated person. In fact, I am a high school dropout. (That’s why I built a successful business in the advertising industry; one of the few industries where underachievers like me can do great. 🙂 This is not a humble-brag. It is a reminder that inspiration does not always come with education. Passion is more critical to success than a diploma. If you have both, you can truly make magic. But, if you have just the passion and your heart is overwhelmed with conviction for a good cause get out and express it. As I have learned quickly from this experience, academics are optional. Passion is mandatory. Speaking up is everything!

5-) It is not US against THEM. It US against US. Ironically, as I post this final note on this topic a new TED Talk was just released. There is nothing I can say more poignant and more true than what you will hear in this video. Please watch it. Share it with your children. Share it with somebody who is angry at everything. Because, the 5th lesson I learned from this experience is when it comes to being an American there is no them and us. There is just us. United we stand. Divided we fall. Period!

I glance again at one of the comments to my December 16th article which reads: “I am better for reading and understanding this.” So am I, sir, for reading all the priceless wisdom from my fellow Americans, whether they agree or disagree, I am better off now than I was prior December 16th. Thank you!

In closing, I believe America is the only country in the world that has something in common with the human body; the immune system! America’s immune system is in the spirit of her people. Just like the human immune system when America senses an internal threat to her foundation it has the ability to recognize and attack before it can grow into a tumor. So, rest assured. No matter who comes and goes through the oval office, no matter who claims to be the source of trusted news, no matter who tries to dim the shining light on the hill no one person is stronger than America. And, that is good enough for me to tuck my children in tonight knowing I am an American. Therefore my family and I are safe in the hands of her and in the hands God.

Respectfully,

Yaman Coskun

an open apology to The White House

(This letter was delivered direct to The White House on 12/16/16. On the same day, I also posted it on LinkedIn; my first personal opinion post ever. I received a  response on 12/28/16 from The White House which is pasted at the bottom of this post. This is not an Obama fan letter. This is an American fan letter. This is not a “political view” post nor is it an invitation to a political debate. This is an invitation to civility and unity. It is on LinkedIn because it is the only social platform with the most diversified professional minds who CAN make a difference. This does not defend President Obama. It defends America. Please read the P.S. at the bottom of this letter before getting sucked into an emotionally charged political vortex.)

Dear Mr. President:

I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I do not belong to an organized religion. I do not represent or belong to any special interest groups. I am not an advocate for any specific political view albeit I respect those with one. I am an American. An ordinary immigrant who came to the United States (legally) back in 1980. Today, I am the owner of a small business here in Washington D.C. living in the Maryland suburbs with my wife and kids appreciating the blessings daily.

Today, by coincidence, I watched in shock and disgust some of the ugly social media commentary against you and your family members following your final press conference. I read commentary no American could read without horror. Commentary no American can or should shrug off and move on. It was another infuriating reminder of how we have become boundary-blind. We may not agree with your policies. We may not agree with your rhetoric. We may not like the way you wear your hair or the way you manage a foreign affair. We may even think you are the worst president in history. That does not entitle us to posting abusive comments in social media, or anywhere else for that matter, about the President of the United States or the First Family. Because, for me, it has never really been about who is in the White House. It is about what the White House stands for. Thanks to the exponential growth of disrespect for things we hold sacred, all of which is justified by “Freedom of Speech” or “Freedom of Press,” we are now a society with no restrain, no filter, no lines. Anything is acceptable to say to anyone in any place about anything. Now, it is okay to disrespect the National Anthem. It is okay to disrespect religion. We are now inadvertently teaching our children that kindness is old school and anger is trending. This is a form of civil war between the uninformed and the civilized. You, your family and those who read this letter must know we the civilized Americans are still here. We are not moving to Europe or Canada. We are not giving up on America. We will wholeheartedly support our next President. I will be just as angry and certainly write a similar apology if insults, inappropriate comments are made about him and his family when he is leaving the office at the end of his term. I do not believe in insults. I do not believe in violence. I do not believe in racism, discrimination or division. I believe in America. Because, while the definition of “Americans” may change America does not. I will not let my love affair diminish with that beautiful lady holding up the torch relentlessly on Liberty Island whose invitation brought me here 36 years ago.

So, on behalf of the civilized Americans, inclusive of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, blacks, whites, gays, the poor and the rich, I apologize for the uninformed and thank you for your service, for yours and your family’s sacrifice over the past eight years and for all the positive things we shall remember you by. I am confident history will be kinder and more respectful to your legacy than today’s angry, misguided noise.

May God bless America, now more than ever, and guide our new President as He has the previous 44.

With Gratitude and Respect,

Yaman Coskun

P.S. (A few weeks after posting this letter on FB and LI I had to, inevitably, post the below post script in lieu of the comments)

I have been reading the parade of comments to my post since December 16th. Some with pleasure, confirming my sentiments. Others, in pain, confirming my fears. Therefore, I would like to make the following three clarifications to ensure Peace On LinkedIn:

1-) This is not a letter to promote a political debate. Because, it is NOT a political view post. If you are getting fired up to unleash some commentary about Obama vs. Trump or whites vs. blacks, STOP! That is not what this letter is about. To those who actually read it in full and understood that it is NOT defending the President but rather the Presidency, I thank you for your kind comments, support and confirmation that I, indeed, was talking on behalf of many. Many, like me, who are sick and tired of remaining silent in the face of moral atrocity spreading across this beautiful country like advanced cancer.

2-) To those who oppose my choice of LinkedIn as the platform for posting this letter, I ask, is it as inappropriate as protesting outside a fallen soldier’s funeral? Is it as inappropriate as kneeling down during the National Anthem? Is it as inappropriate as burning our flag? Is it as inappropriate as verbally attacking the children of our President with despicable social commentary? Didn’t think so! But, within the boundaries of reason and respect, I bent the rules to be heard on a platform designed to improve our thinking personally and professionally versus a platform, like Facebook, where cat tricks and food photos project a faux world where everybody lives happily ever after. That’s why I chose LinkedIn. This is a stage to receive and give inspiration. Personal and professional. That’s why this post is fast approaching 600 thousand views with over 39000 likes and over 9200 supportive comments. That’s not inappropriate! That’s awesome! These are not my connections. These are my fellow Americans, my sisters and brothers on whose behalf I will speak up on any platform any time.

3-) And, to those very few, whose toxic, profane and threatening comments I have already reported and removed, you are the reason why I had to write this letter. You hear without listening. You read without comprehending. You protest without knowing. You speak without thinking. You hurt without intending. With the power of the First Amendment comes responsibility; learn to exercise it. I cannot reason with you. May God show you the light at the end of your Ignorance Tunnel before you self-destruct.

On January 1st, we opened our eyes to 365 brand new gifts presented to us. I hope we choose to make great use of every one of those gifts by loving, respecting and embracing one another. Because, those choices are not debatable on any platform.

Respectfully,

y

The response from The White House on 12/28/16 is pasted below:

Thank you for writing.  Your reflections on the progress we’ve made together mean a lot to me.

Messages like yours underscore that America is at its best when people from all walks of life add their voices to our national conversation, and when we all come together to shape our country’s course.  Once I leave the Oval Office, I’ll rejoin you as a private citizen of this great country of ours—a stronger America that has progressed further and reached higher than many thought was possible.  And while there are milestone moments we will always remember, I want you to know that messages from people like you have touched my heart and informed my Presidency.  They’ve stayed with me and they’ve kept me going—and they always will.

Again, thank you for writing to me.  Our brand of democracy is hard, and we are a constant work in progress.  But I promise you that as long as I’m President and long after, I will be right alongside you, as I always have been, working to ensure our Nation lives up to our highest ideals and remains a beacon of hope and opportunity.

All the best,

Barack Obama

 

Connecting The Dots and The Robin Williams Factor.

Robin Williams As a creative director what I do for a living is totally contingent on what I do with dots. My challenge is never about how to connect the dots as much as it is about finding the dots in places nobody looks. When I fail to give birth to an idea, and I do more often than not, I literally have to make up the dots and then connect them. I get most of my inspiration from comedians. Not for comedy but for using their blue print to build ideas. Robin Williams was an exceptional dot-connector.True comic geniuses, from George Carlin to Jerry Seinfeld and Stephen Wright to Robin Williams, have one thing in common; seeing dots nobody sees and connecting them in ways no average person can. I was exposed to Robin Williams when he was Mork as well as when he was Simon Roberts and all the amazing acts he pulled off in between. While, like many, I am dealing with a knot in my stomach at the news of his death I am, frankly, more taken back by the ripple effects of his death.
In America everything lasts about a minute until the next thing takes over our attention span. Especially, celebrity deaths. It is not until the Oscars when the “In Memoriam” segment reminds us of those stars who passed in the past year. So, what’s up with the Robin Williams factor? Every water cooler conversation, every cabbie, every social media chat, every waiting room topic and every media outlet persistently stayed on this news since Monday morning. This out-of-character behavior by our culture where the death of a celebrity is top-of-mind for days has got to be more about how he died then who died. The sudden surge of calls to suicide hotlines, cries for help by those who are suffering from depression and the subsequent dramatic rise of our awareness regarding depression has transcended the news of a celebrity death. It is ironic that even in his final act Robin Williams, inadvertently or not, has inspired many to connect the dots about depression, suicide and addiction. As a result millions more now know that mental disease is as prominent and as dangerous as cancer.
Thank you Robin for the laughs and the dots.

I am in the stink bug extermination business!

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I own a small creative shop in Washington D.C.. When people ask what I do for a living I say I am in “Advertising”. But, am I really?.
Advertising is unwanted, unwelcome and uninspiring for the most part. No matter how attractive we try to make advertising, to the consumer, it is an interruption, an annoyance and simply another pitch. There is just not enough lipstick in the world to make this pig attractive as long as the pig is trying to sell something. Because none of us want to be sold anymore. We are just sick of being pitched. Majority of advertising sucks. That is why we all love commercial-free content. We go to great extends to avoid advertising interruptions. We pay premium dollars just to avoid advertising. Getting rid of advertising interruptions for a service we subscribe to is considered an “upgrade”.
So, why does a multi-billion dollar industry continues to thrive where all it does is release stink bugs into people’s homes, cars and work places?  Halyomorpha halys, the brown marmorated stink bug, is an insect which has invaded our lives over the past ten years in the U.S.. Advertising has invaded our lives since the invention of money. The most prevalent commonality between stink bugs and advertising is there is no known deterrent for either one. You cannot escape either no matter how hard you try. Stink bugs will show up at the most odd places from your vanity mirror to kitchen cabinets. Your pillow to your curtains. Your computer screens to newspapers. Advertising, likewise, shows up in your classrooms, bedrooms, board rooms, bathrooms. It will pop up in hats, mats, in backpacks and bus backs, in line and online.  We will not squash a stink bug in fear of discovering why they are called stink bugs. (they release an awful scent when squashed) We will not squash advertising in fear of crippling our capitalism. Of course, similar to the elements of a poor advertising campaign, stink bugs are by far the dumbest and most persistent insects ever. They have no strategy, no goal and no flight plan. They just show up. When you swat them away they barely move. They have no knowledge, no reflex, no instincts. When you pick one up and flush it down the toilet they don’t die. They just relocate. They pop up somewhere else like a useless online banner ad merely to piss off the consumer. When you turn your radio off to swat away that screaming car dealer spot it doesn’t go away. It just shows up on your TV during the 6 o’clock news repeating its assault on your intelligence.

So, I now tell people I am in the stink bug extermination business. While I can’t kill them all, I aspire to release butterflies into air. Dazzling, gorgeous butterflies with short lives and long impressions. Just like a powerful creative with a sound strategy designed to build relationships, inspire hearts and generate love stories known as brand loyalty.

As long as capitalism is alive (and, I am totally fine with that) advertising will survive under all circumstances. But it sure is shedding its Mad Men-like mentality. Elite ad shops across the country are catching on to the reality that cost-per-point doesn’t dictate decisions anymore. Big ideas do. I hope we continue to witness majority of ads transform from stink bugs to butterflies. Because, butterflies do not interrupt. They enhance. The only way to compel the consumer to spend money is to capture their hearts first.

See our butterfly collection here.

Yaman Coskun
yaman@yamanair.com