What if your CEO was a hottie with a smokin’ little body?

comment to Obama offers lesson to nonprofits

Yesterday, while I was contemplating a very healthy salad for lunch, Pres. Barack Obama was down the street from me at Duff’s ordering chicken wings. Bummer! It was a missed opportunity.

Of course, it would have been difficult to position myself for an opportunity to meet the president for lunch. That part of his itinerary wasn’t made public. I suppose I could have driven around Buffalo and its suburbs hoping to catch a glimpse of his motorcade, or at least walked to restaurants in my neighborhood hoping to bump into him. In retrospect, I think staying in and eating a salad was a wise use of my time.

But a comment made during the president’s visit to Buffalo does make me think about how nonprofit organizations can make the most of opportunities. You have probably already heard that while Pres. Obama was at Duff’s, one of the customers gushed, “You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body.”

What if someone made a comment like that about your CEO? What if a positive but irreverent comment popped up on one of your social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook or your blog?

Would your CEO be offended, demand that the comment be obliterated and order you to stop using social media?

Or would your CEO follow the example of seasoned politician Obama, who took the comment in stride? Obama hugged the customer who made the comment.  In a jovial way, he remarked that his wife, Michelle, would be catching the TV footage later. He had his photo taken with the woman.

That little comment about Pres. Obama has traveled around the world.  It’s perhaps the most discussed part of his visit to Buffalo.

Did it take away from his messages about the economy or health care? Perhaps. But it painted him as a warm and genuine human. Organizations should always make sure there’s plenty of time for that.

What’s your take? How do you deal with comments in social media and other channels? Please share your comments.

UPDATE: It turns out that Pres. Obama wasn’t ordering chicken wings down the street from me at the original Duff’s in Amherst; he was at Duff’s in Cheektowaga.  I didn’t even know  there was a Duff’s in Cheektowaga! Now I feel better about eating my salad!

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    I was wondering what you were going to say as to how social networking can be used to raise attention by making some innocuous comment. I mean how many times does anyone get to talk to the president? I guess what you’re saying is that there is human side to everything including business. and sometimes what seems as a wise use of the time may not be as productive as what you might have done (i.e. eating lunch at your desk versus making making an off-the-cuff remark to the the president and getting national attention.

    Your probably right, the chances you’re going to run into the president are small but who knows who you may run into on a Internet social network?

    Comment by Vincent LoTempio — May 17, 2010 @ 10:54 AM

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    Thanks so much for your comment!

    Yes, I am saying that there is a human side to business. I know I sometimes allow myself to forget that.

    The perfectionist in me told me I should be kicking myself for not somehow anticipating that the president would show up at Duff’s. I forgave myself when I found out Pres. Obama was at Duff’s in Cheektowaga, not the original Duff’s in Amherst. I didn’t even know there was a Duff’s in Cheektowaga! So staying at my desk and getting work done was an efficient and productive use of my time.

    I agree that you don’t know who you may run into on an Internet social network. Also, there are ways to maximize your chances of running into the kinds of people you want to meet. Depending on an organization’s goals and resources, it can be a great use of your time.

    My warning is for CEO’s who get freaked out by social media. The first time there’s any kind of comment they don’t like, they want to shut down the organization’s whole social media network. Or they use the prospect of an awkward comment as a reason not to initiate a social media program. I think Pres. Obama gave a great example of how to handle such comments.


    Comment by Connie — May 17, 2010 @ 12:18 PM

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    There is an authentic quality to events like President Obama’s Duff’s moment. Protecting the brand at all costs is often what causes the organization to lose touch with its constituency. Interaction is a good thing and interaction with our constituents where they “hang out” is even better. Couple it with an ability to be topical that is offered by social media and you have a terrific vehicle. CEO’s of both non profits and the corporate world have a real opportunity, if they aren’t too afraid to use it.

    Comment by Kate Dunn — May 18, 2010 @ 8:16 PM

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    Nicely said! All too often, CEO’s are afraid of losing the control they think they have with other media.

    Comment by Connie — May 19, 2010 @ 8:14 AM

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