Got a heads-up from a reporter with the Austin American-Statesman who called to interview me. John Mackey, if you recall, is CEO of Whole Foods. His blog was shut down in July 2007 while his Board of Directors and the SEC investigated his pseudonymous postings to a Yahoo finance message board.
The SEC recently concluded its probe (no action is to be taken). Mackey started up his blog again today with a post titled: Back to Blogging. It’s, er, 2,047 words long. About the length of half of a book chapter.
Here are my thoughts:
1. First, kudos to Mackey for starting up again.
2. John, are you planning to write a book?? The post is in the form of a long-form essay, rather than a blog entry. Clearly carefully written and edited. But hey, it’s his blog.
3. It’s almost an apology, but not quite. This guy’s got a fesity personality and it comes through loud and clear. (Again, kudos. An opinionated, passionate voice is key to an effective blog.)
4. He makes some interesting points:
– He calls the use of the pseudonym “rahodeb” on the Yahoo message boards “an error of judgment, not of ethics.” I can relate to that. Although in his case it was not a one-time error but one that he executed 1,400 times over an eight-year period.
– He says the use of screen names or aliases is “a great equalizer” in online forums. Yes… and no. You could also call it a subterfuge if you’re not who you appear to be. (Cf the Burger King executive who was fired recently after using his daughter’s screen name to post negative comments about a farmworkers advocacy group.)
5. He didn’t realize he had become a “public figure;” nor did he “take myself seriously.” Hmmm… he was CEO of a public company – ?
TAKEAWAY: The Web and the Internet – and Google, specifically – have changed the equation between public and private. Or between professional and personal. Bottom line: there is no privacy online.
Ignore that fact at your peril. But keep blogging, corporates. I think it’s fair to say that most everyone loves the revolution in corporate communications. Down with corporate-speak!