Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It's lovely to be admired and glamorous.
Not too many CEOs manage both.
It's also lovely to try and right society's clearer wrongs by standing up for what you believe.
Which very few CEOs bother to do at all.
I am, though, perturbed when the public face of an admired, glamorous CEO is contradicted by the way they communicate.
Or, well, try to.
Recently, the admired and glamorous software company Salesforce became embroiled in a troubling brouhaha when it was revealed that the company works with Customs and Border Protection.
It's one thing to sell Customer Relations Software. It's another, in some eyes, to sell Customs Related Software that might be used to enforce Donald Trump's somewhat controversial immigration policies.
It seems that Benioff wasn't unaware of the problem.
However, The Guardian reports that it's seen emails from July in which he postponed a scheduled phone call with Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
One email was garlanded with a somewhat less than admirable--though more than glamorous--excuse:
I'm sorry, I'm actually scuba diving right now.
It's surely both admirable and glamorous that Benioff actually takes vacations with his family doing something such as this.
Isn't it, though, a touch tawdry, bordering on blissfully insulting, to postpone a meeting with such an email?
Here's a man trying to help people in dire need and here's a CEO appearing to help himself to the good life and to answer:
Hey, you know what? I'd love to chat. But I've got to have some fun right now.
There could have been a million excuses that might have made Ryan feel a little less like the King had no time to receive an emissary from little San Marino just now.
As Ryan himself told The Guardian:
The first thought in my mind...was, "What is this guy thinking?" I'm managing the crisis of my lifetime, which is nothing compared to the collective crisis of all the people we are trying to help.... It's one thing to be too busy. It's another thing to be too busy because you're scuba diving.
I contacted Salesforce to wonder if Benioff had any comment on this dive into disturbingly Zuckerbergesque emotional stuntedness and will update, should a reply surface.
The company wouldn't address the email when The Guardian asked, but did tell the paper that Benioff had "personally engaged with several Salesforce employees, customers, and non-profit groups on this topic."
Fostering--and enjoying--a public image of open-mindedness and open-heartedness is delightful.
Showing what appears to be open disregard for those trying to do good rather contradicts the image you've built in the first place.
That's the trouble with images. Too many are Photoshopped these days.
Why can't Benioff be more like this fine tech CEO who only today insisted that tech executives must ask themselves "what is really important to us"?
Oh, wait. That was Marc Benioff at his company's Dreamforce sales conference.