Who should be the revolutionary icon of the corporate worker?

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First off, I would like to say thank you SO MUCH to the thousands of you who have read, blogged about and passed on my recent Open Letter… post.  (I can’t say enough about how gracious Guy Kawasaki was to have recommended it – I feel like the equivalent of an author picked for Oprah’s book club, the James Frey fiasco nonwithstanding of course!)  I want to respond to each comment, trackback and incoming link, but am not finding enough hours in the day, especially with my 1-year old son underfoot.  So thanks to all of you and I wish strength, power, love and support right back at you!

There have been some interesting comments related to my choice of the Che Guevarra image to accompany the post, such as:

"Great post, but the picture is ironic."

"Nice post, but wrong photo. Che is not a rebel but a terrorist, and a totalitarian.
‘Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it’"

"Great article, but just one thing: What’s up with the picture of a vicious murderer on the post?"

This has gotten me thinking all afternoon.

I will admit that I took about 2 minutes to choose an image for the post.  I asked myself "What image would convey the passion, support for the underdog, sick-of-holding-my-tongue and I-must-speak-my-truth feeling I have right now?"  Che jumped to mind.  I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I am very used to seeing him on posters and on the tee-shirts of our vast population of anti-establishment citizens.

In my college years, I  lived and worked in low-income communities in Latin America (Colombia, Mexico and Brazil) and in later years did lots of work with low-income youth in the Latino and African-American neighborhoods of San Francisco.  In those circles, Che is viewed as a hero.  I have to admit that I don’t know everything about his  path, but if the comments are any indication, it sounds like bloodshed resulted from his revolutionary efforts.

So I wondered, if Che strikes a nerve, who might be more appropriate to represent the "repressed and can’t take it no more" corporate worker?

Martin Ghandi_1

I thought about non-violence advocates like Martin Luther King and Gandhi.

Susan_1 Rosa_parks_1

Or female revolutionaries like Susan B. Anthony or Rosa Parks.

9_to_5_1

Or maybe Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parten and Jane Fonda, the actresses in the landmark film 9 to 5.

Dali_lama_and_fred_rogers

For gentle, peaceful icons, how about the Dalai Lama and Mr. Rogers?

Tupac_1

Then I thought about the rebel icon that is prevelant for many of our younger generation – Tupak Shakur.  His reach crosses every racial and economic line I know of, as many Native, Latino, African American, Asian and Anglo kids love his music.  What I imagine they relate to is his outspoken nature, voice of the underdog and poetic rhymes.  The fact that he is still putting out music 5 years after his death can only strengthen his case.

As an image of revolution, I am fine with Che.

If it were up to you, who would you choose?

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37 Responses to “Who should be the revolutionary icon of the corporate worker?”

  1. I discovered your blog web site on google and check a number of of your early posts. Continue to keep up the rather superior operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to reading far more from you later on!
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  2. pst314 says:

    When escapees reported the tyranny and terror of Lenin and his colleagues, Western leftists called them liars, czarist agents. and agents of reaction. When people reported the truth about Stalin, progressives defamed them as liars and lunatics and fascists, and did everything they could to silence their message. When refugees reported Mao’s purges, waves of terror, brutal brainwashing and insane substitutes for agriculture and engineering, Western liberals called them liars too. When Leftside defends Castro and attacks those who expose Che as a sadistic thug, he is following a very old tradition.

  3. Manuel A. Tellechea says:

    Let’s forget for a moment about the murders. There were about 15,000 of them in the first year of Castroism; many of them supervised personally by “Che” Guevara.

    I suppose you would not choose Donald Trump as the revolutionary icon of the corporate worker (Trump is, after all, a capitalist, that is, the guy who pays your salary). You prefer, instead, the greatest enemy that ever lived of capitalism, who regarded corporate types as yourself as mere “parasites” to be exterminated along with the capitalist system whereon you feed.

    May I suggest a logo for your tee-shirts?

    “Donald Trump fires people; ‘Che’ Guevara fired at people.”

  4. thinker says:

    It takes a lot to drive me away from my daily ritual of reading the 15 to 20 blogs. Usually I read a cornucopia of them to get a well rounded education and a sense of what the “people” are thinking.
    When “leftside” posted his/her little thought on che, I had to act.

    Leftside:
    “Watch out, your (sic) guys discussion has been flagged by the mother of all vitriolic Miami Cuban blogs.

    Response:
    Here is an accusation of a blog that is not identified or link to. I suspect the warning is to keep you away from learning some facts. Why not mention the blog’s name so people can see for themselves.

    Leftside:
    They’ll come here talking about freedom and murderers, but they’re also the first to ban opposing views from their blog and defend the terrorist actions of their radical Miami bretheren (sic).

    Response:
    Again, accusations with out facts, links, etc.

    Leftside:
    La Ventanita, none of us can know the circumstances around your cousins death. But if he was found supporting the foreign-backed counter-revolution in the Escambrey (sic) mountains, then he was probably tried for high treason and dealt with according to the pre-Revolutionary laws on the books. The same sentence Castro and his followers would have received if caught by Batista.

    Response:
    This is how much this person knows about the Cuban revolution history. The Castro brothers along with a few dozen men attacked Moncada barracks, actually a military hospital, (btw. Fidel Castrol himself was late for the attack because he got lost going there, so he missed all the action). Anyway, after most the attackers were killed, Fidel hid, but was later captured and after a trial, imprisoned. Then a funny thing happened, the “murderous” President Batista declared an armistice and pardoned all attackers, including the Castro brothers. So Castro was in jail for only 18 months or so.

    Leftside:
    The difference is that the Revolutionary Govt. never tortured anyone. You know darn well they weren’t fighting for elections in 1959 or 1960. They were fighting for Batista and Trujillo – and their old life of explotation (sic). You also know Castro had the support of more than 90% of the population then (and retains most today as recent events have shown).

    Response:
    The above is an affront the people reading this blog. I feel no need comment on such tripe.

    Leftside:
    Point is Che is a model of a new man. He is an inspiration for us all who know there is more to life than making corporations money. Lie Satre said, he was the “most complete human being.” A high compliment as this is what Che wanted to build in Cuba. And as anyone who has visisted (sic) the island and spoke to the locals can tell you, he certainly has succeeded.

    Response:
    Is Leftside intimating that either he has visited Cuba or talked to someone who has. I think neither. It’s all guess work.

    It’s good thing I copied and pasted the (sic)s

  5. Leftside: You better hope that La Ventanita doesn’t know the circumstances of her relative’s death, either. If she does, you’re moral mud. And no, summary execution is not right any society, no matter what. That goes for Pinochet. That goes for Batista. And that goes for Che, Raul, and Castro. Don’t defend the indefensible.

  6. Albert says:

    My apologies to Syn, I meant to address my post above to Leftside.

  7. Albert says:

    Syn: I see that “facts” play no role in your vision of Cuba and her history.

    The revolution never tortured anyone? Tell that to my uncle, who spent 6 years in one of castro’s gulags being beaten on a regular basis. Not enough to kill him, just enough to keep him alive and ready for the next beating. Oh, and his crime you may ask? He disagreed with Che’s political opinion and dared to voice it.

    90% of the population supported castro and it appears that they still do? Is that why for the past 47 years, people have done everything and anything they can to get out of there? My family as well as hundreds of thousands of other Cuban people fled the oppression, murder and persecution that followed the revolution. If Cuba is so wonderful under its current tyrant, why do hundreds, sometimes thousands of people throw themselves to the sea every year to reach the freedom of the USA? Bush has gone under 40% in his approval rating, I don’t see a mass exodus out of the country of those who don’t like him.

    It’s lamentable that you, and such a large segment of the American population have no idea of what Cuba is all about. You spout the party propaganda and never stop to look at those pesky facts.

    Che was a murderer and a sadist. It’s not because I say it, or Ventanita or the “Miami bretheren”. It’s history. It’s facts my friend. Those pesky little critters that always seem to mess up the communist propaganda stew.

  8. leftside says:

    Watch out, your guys discussion has been flagged by the mother of all vitriolic Miami Cuban blogs. They’ll come here talking about freedom and murderers, but they’re also the first to ban opposing views from their blog and defend the terrorist actions of their radical Miami bretheren.

    La Ventanita, none of us can know the circumstances around your cousins death. But if he was found supporting the foreign-backed counter-revolution in the Escambrey mountains, then he was probably tried for high treason and dealt with according to the pre-Revolutionary laws on the books. The same sentence Castro and his followers would have received if caught by Batista. The difference is that the Revolutionary Govt. never tortured anyone. You know darn well they weren’t fighting for elections in 1959 or 1960. They were fighting for Batista and Trujillo – and their old life of explotation. You also know Castro had the support of more than 90% of the population then (and retains most today as recent events have shown).

    Point is Che is a model of a new man. He is an inspiration for us all who know there is more to life than making corporations money. Lie Satre said, he was the “most complete human being.” A high compliment as this is what Che wanted to build in Cuba. And as anyone who has visisted the island and spoke to the locals can tell you, he certainly has succeeded.

  9. syn says:

    Henchman Che as a revolutionary image is about as crazy as a Nazi sympathizer Margaret Sanger heralded as a greater leader of women’s rights.

    If I were you I’d go for the revolutionary Susan B Anthony who fought for our right so vote so that women would not be forced into the humiliating prospect of having to abort her children.

  10. La Ventanita says:

    Nikolaj and Stephen, did you guys have family murdered by Che?

    Didn’t think so. My cousin was murdered at his prime – mid twenties – all because he was an idealist that wanted his country to be free and democratic. He was part of the rebel army that fought agains Fidel and Che (who fell short on the promise of holding elections).

    And no he wasn’t part of the Bay of Pigs, he wasn’t an USA puppet, or a millionaire – he was just a kid who wanted elections and all he got was a shot in the head, at a firing wall with no fair trial.

    So please, before you go around spreading ignorance, get some education.

  11. Val Prieto says:

    Stephen Downes,

    che is “well recognized” as a “revolutionary leader” by people who live on the periphery and know absolutely nothing about the man save for Robert Redford productions and myopic university professors. The fact is that he was a murderer, plain and simple and he didnt necessarily have the well being of people in mind, he had the well being of che guevara in mind.

    Pam,

    I dont know you and this is my first visit to this blog, but I urge you to do some research on the true life of che guevara and his “accomplishments” in Cuba before you make such an important choice.

  12. Babalu Blog says:

    Just doesn’t know any better

    She seems like a nice person. She also seems intelligent. She’s a business consultant in San Francisco and writes a blog of small business advice. She asks who the perfect emblem of corporate entrepreneur is, and came up with ……

  13. galiel says:

    Why not a photo of a mirror?

    We should escape this cult of the hero as being someone other, someone unattainable, someone unquestionable, someone with all the answers.

    We should stop following and start leading.

    We should stop thinking that there is one answer, one savior, one way.

    Why not a photo of a mirror? The hero is [insert your name here]

  14. I have to ecgo nikolaj about the remarks on Che. The accusations against him read more like propaganda than any genuine concern. Che is well recognized and respected as a revolutionary leader, one who had the well-being of people at heart. That is certainly more than can be said of his accusers.

  15. Rick Dobbs says:

    It’s your blog. Screw anyone that doesn’t like the images.

    Though I wonder if there any pictures of Adam Smith?

  16. Steve says:

    Chalk up another vote for Peter from Office Space!

    Beyond that, I humbly suggest George Washington or any of the other American Revolutionaries. It was not a peaceful revolution, but it was built on the ideals of freedom, self-sufficiency, and responsibility that surely parallel the kind of thinking behind wanting your own business.

  17. Trinity says:

    It must be Gandhi.

    They never broke him and never used violence.

    Nice blog.

  18. Smittie says:

    As one who has seen military leadership and operation I always find it humorous when managers and businesses try to employ military concepts or imagery to what is an entirely civilian endeavor. Even the inference that going to work everyday somehow correlates to any part of a soldier’s life is at once insulting and laughable.

    Aloha

  19. Morgan says:

    When I saw the photo of Che, my immediate thought was, “Not another allusion to warfare.”

    I provide defense marketing solutions. I find books such as “Guerilla Marketing Weapons” and their authors incredibly shallow.

    “Viral” is another trendy term used in the business world. Do we really want to infect customers with viruses and make them sick?

    Now we have “Che” management.

    These are the wrong words and phrases for “leaders” to use. Applying these analogies to business isn’t even clever. Be positive and take control of your personal brands; otherwise, you would do well to “raise a white flag” and “surrender” to mediocrity.

  20. Ivan says:

    A bit tongue-in-cheek, but also somewhat fitting: the Peter Gibbons character in “Office Space” (the actor Ron Livingston)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Livingston

  21. Nikolaj de Fine Licht says:

    I must add a comment saying that calling Che a blood stained terrorist or whatever people have said is so characteristic US-thinking that it smells badly from Europe to Asia and where else the US is imposing its own version of what is “not terroristic”.
    Some of you guys over there are apparently so completely messed up in your minds, well deserving that leader you have at present, that you even can’t distinguish a guy like Che. I’m not saying he didn’t make errors. But those were _certainly_ not to the degree YOUR army is messing up all over the world at the moment.
    For God’s sake – its incredible…
    /nikolaj

  22. Well, I have to second Peter from Office Space, but if I can’t have him, how about Bob Parsons? Parsons toiled for hours after his day job (which he was successful at) to start a company. He took a big risk by leaving his day job (and a bonus) to form his own company, which he sold in the mid 1990’s for 64 million.

    Then he started GoDaddy.com, nearly lost everything in the process and is on top again.

  23. Rob says:

    Guess I am slow. I figured Che was meant to represent the corporations “oppressing” the worker.

  24. I am with Peter on this one. Since you began this revolution, I think it is obvious that you should be portrayed as the leader. This is YOUR revolution, own it. Lead it YOUR way in your own style.

    Keep up the awesome work, Pam. You have no idea how many lives you are impacting, in a positive way.

  25. John Fritz says:

    Yvon Chouinard – Patagonia -started several companies based on his passion and still living by those values

    Burt Rutan – Scaled Composites – his aircraft designs refrlect his passion for innovation and following his path. No corporation could send a private citizen to space with the speed/agility as Rutan did.

    John Boyd – USAF and father of the OODA Loop. Lt. Col. Boyd revolutionized fighter aircraft (F-15, F-16) and his far ranging intellect produced ideas impacting military and business thought. Truly a radical thinker WAY ahead of his time.

  26. charles says:

    Why not choose Teletubbies? after all they are the future.

  27. Allen says:

    Peter from Office Space

  28. Nick Hodges says:

    People wanting to know a bit more about Che Guevara and his prediliction to execute innocent people by shooting them in the back of the head immediately after their “trial” might be interested in this link:

    http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/23/oct04/che.htm

    Bottom line: While not necessarily as prolific, Guevara was every bit as vicious and brutal as Hitler or Stalin.

  29. I like the direction of this, but have to confess that I really don’t see the members of cubicle nation as the oppressed. That’s a victim mentality that I struggled hard to kill while a manager at Nissan.

    People work for corporations because they choose to. And, oftentimes, they prefer to stay small and play small because it’s much easier and more comfortable for them than really standing up and working for change.

    In my experience, even highly bureaucratic organizations are a lot more flexible than people think they are. And there’s no one better than “the oppressed” to actually do something about it.

    This is slight twist, but I’d love to see this empowering people be take charge an be more intrapreneurial WITHIN corporations. And, if they want to go outside and cut their teeth there, have them do it from choice. Not because they’re running away from a tough situation.

    The incredible individuals you paid homage to (excepting the first!) with this post accomplished huge things because they stood for what they were commmitted for. Not because they ran away and hid their head in the sand.

    LOVE what you’re doing. Keep it up!

  30. argos says:

    Nelson Mandela…”Bafabegiya” or “those who die while dancing”

    This sums up perfectly a life lived sans any form of oppression. It is the life I have discovered outside the ivory towers of the souless corporate landscape.

  31. s. says:

    Emma Goldman… “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution” – you sure can’t dance in corporate america.

  32. Perfect is the enemy. Go for the “you in you”.

    Picture=old school.

    I would go for a 30 second video clip of you doing what you do best; being you. In a boardroom, on the streets of san francisco helping kids or on the front range in AZ in a jeep; Now what would that 30 second clip be?

  33. Perfect is the enemy. Go for the “you in you”.

    Picture=old school.

    I would go for a 30 second video clip of you doing what you do best; being you. In a boardroom, on the streets of san francisco helping kids or on the front range in AZ in a jeep; Now what would that 30 second clip be?

  34. Rod says:

    “Hold your fire,
    Keep it burning bright,
    Hold the flame
    ‘Til the dream ignites,
    A spirit with a vision
    Is a dream with a mission…”
    –Neil Peart–

    Dear Pam,

    In order to launch a revolution, it is inherently necessary to be an iconoclast. This simple fact predisposes an icon to not only collect a following, but to collect enemies.

    Regardless of whomever we pick, there will always be objections.

    I would personally pick Abraham Lincoln, and for the reasons previously given, some would see him as more of a uniter than a revolutionary. But if we look at our history, and acknowledge the fact that the United States could have done away with slavery as early as 1789 had it not been for Georgia and South Carolina threatening to leave the Union, we can see how deeply Lincoln’s convictions digressed from the status quo.

    It is therefore necessary for all revolutions leading us to evolutionary leaps of conscience to set us ablaze from within, inevitably leading to congruent action. Regardless of whether change begins in our hearts, minds or souls, it all must begin inside.

    Thank you once again for reaching deep within and allowing the fire inside you to show us the path to the way it should be…

  35. Ryan says:

    I added the site to my feeds after coming here from Guy’s place and have yet to be disappointed. While I thought the choice of Che was an interesting one, I’ll admit that I couldn’t come up with a better “icon” off the top of my head. I think it fit the tounge-in-cheeck tone of your post very well.

    When I read the title in my feedreader today, two things came to mind.
    1. Wow, people are bitching at her because she put a picture of Che up on her blog.
    2. Hmmm, with Che not an option, I’d probably say Dr. King.

    Welcome to the world of online popularity where it’s the job of many to second guess and critique a job they’ve not managed to do themselves.

    Keep up the good work!

  36. Nitin Goyal says:

    Its Gandhi, not Ghandi.

    Nitin
    http://nitnblogs.blogspot.com

    __________________

    Thanks for catching that Nitin – I fixed it.

    -Pam

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