Tuesday Buzz: The Risks of Arrogance

The ride-sharing company Uber is learning the hard way today that riding a high horse is not a good look. Also: A leading association exec talks about the value of excitement in building a solid team.

Lesson of the day in public relations: Never get too cocky.

Uber, a company that has plenty of reasons to be full of itself, is learning that lesson the hard way today, trying to fend off the negative feedback from a BuzzFeed News scoop that highlighted controversial statements by one of the company’s top executives.

Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business, suggested during a dinner that the company could spend “a million dollars” to hire opposition researchers to investigate the personal lives of journalists who criticize Uber, particularly PandoDaily‘s Sarah Lacy. (Understandably, she responded harshly.)

Michael was forced to apologize for the comments, which come after a series of controversies surrounding the service’s business practices, particularly involving its competitor Lyft and the taxi industry.

“The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner—borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for—do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach,” Michael said to BuzzFeed News via a spokeswoman. “They were wrong no matter the circumstance, and I regret them.”

The saga teaches an important lesson about getting too high on your own success, Slate‘s Alison Griswold writes.

“Maybe [Uber] thinks the numbers make it invincible—and maybe it’s right,” Griswold observes. “Even so, with each added controversy, Uber is risking, however slightly, alienating the people that make its platform possible.”

If you’re not careful, you might find yourself knocked off your high horse.

Build Your Team

Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) CEO Tim Pawlenty, a former Republican governor of Minnesota and presidential candidate, knows a thing or two about building a great team—you pretty much have to when you’re a politician.

Speaking with George Washington University professor David Rehr in a CEO Update video, Pawlenty focuses on the challenges of creating a good executive team. FSR covers a large industry, but Pawlenty’s team of 45 is a bit smaller than the 30,000-plus employees he led as governor. But what he loses in scale, his staff makes up for in sheer excitement for the work.

“One of the key elements we look for—not the only one, but one of the key elements we look for—is people with passion,” Pawlenty told Rehr. “Because if people have passion and energy for what they do, they tend to do well at it.”

Other Links of Note

Which social sites matter most to nonprofits? Kivi Leroux Miller breaks down the list and points out that Facebook has increasing competition.

If you feel like your social campaign is floundering, this SocialFish article may help you fix it.

Does net neutrality need a redesign? Bloomberg Businessweek thinks so. The magazine commissioned seven design firms to produce rebranding ideas to help the cause.

(Jason Tester/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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