Does Homework Cause Cancer?

Is this the new “M.O.” for communications?

Ok, don’t read any further.  What did you think I meant by “M.O.?”  If you were thinking Modus Operandi you are dead wrong.  I want you to now think M.O. stands for Media Overload.

I have come to the sorry conclusion that, as a general rule for modern society, our current modus operandi is to filter out most of what gets thrown at us.  It seems like the only way you get people’s attention today is to have a headline sound bite with words that penetrate our deepest fears.  Any mention of the “C” word does that.

Take an inventory of your own life.  How many unwanted emails do you receive?  How much of the news do you really watch?  Aren’t you tired of the partisan bickering in our state and federal government and ready to throw all of them out and start over?  Do you record your favorite TV stations and then skip through all the commercials?  Aren’t you angered a bit by the number of them you see as you skip through them all?  And, aren’t the things being advertised to you a bit offensive as well?

I am now raising a teenage boy and I really don’t like what I am bombarded with.  There is a time and a place for all conversations, but … really … must I hear all about this during “prime time?”

Even though great books have been written about what we should do to prioritize our days and our life for that matter, we don’t read them.  Covey’s great book on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a must read of course.  His son’s more recent book on The Speed of Trust is also appropriate here.

But, if you want to understand what is really going on right now, you must read Reeves and Read’s book Total Engagement to see just how many people would prefer games and virtual worlds over this one that you and I supposedly are in (unless you believe this is a The Matrix).  By the way, this is not a novel.  It is a Harvard Business School treatise on something we really should be learning about how people today want to work and what they want to work on.  But, since you and I are deeply invested in energy efficiency, technology, and the utility industry, perhaps the best one I can suggest is Berger’s book called “Contagious – Why things catch on.”

But, you won’t read any of these.  You now expect me to give you a Reader’s Digest summary of what you should know and think.

Let’s just face it.  We are getting lazier and lazier.  This media overload has made us filter more and more and we now live on a steady stream of sound bites rather that critically think about anything.  Our educational system is now almost entirely focused on “teaching to the test” and we are raising our children in a T Ball culture where everyone runs the bases.

Where is critical thinking?  Where is the search for excellence?  Where is the drive to truly make this world a better place having lived in it for whatever time we have?

Nope!  It is all about me!  What’s in it for me?  Oh, your life isn’t great?  Sucks for you!

Sure, we applaud individuals like Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. But where are ours in the energy industry?  When are we going to settle down and actually do things that make a difference rather than all hypothesize what might make a difference.

I remember when I decided to change the dominant demand response paradigm of the late 1990’s and tried to move it to a market model.  I was told “we can’t do that” and ridiculed for trying.  I anticipated market congestion was going to create an economic opportunity and worked with Elliot Boardman to organize a national meeting on the subject.  He had introduced me to Neil Wolkoff, the Chief Operating Officer at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) who was trying to get electricity futures into the market.  Neil knew what I was doing was “directionally correct” and was willing to back the conference.

Well, it was not long after we organized the meeting that the first big electricity price spike showed up in the Midwest electricity markets … prices spiked to almost $5,000 per MWh. And, despite claims that it wouldn’t happen again, it did.  The meeting sold out in just days and that is what I used to launch what persists today: The Peak Load Management Alliance (  I have never had any financial interest in that, and even though we at Apogee still provide the website for them, we derive no financial benefit from that.  Face it folks.  The intellectual and business acumen still resident in the energy industry has become sidelined and sleepy.  Just hoping to get a good night’s rest.  If it weren’t for the fact that many 401Ks are still 201Ks, even more might have retired.

Where is the spunk that got us here?  Why are national energy meetings so stale that people no longer want to go?  Where is the interest in wanting to do something truly new and creative?  Searching for some really new ideas?  Want to truly reinvent energy engagement?  Then check out my new book here for an example.  Better yet, send me your name and address and I will send you a free copy.  There is only one catch.  You have to read it and post a comment about it once you do.

Let’s not simply stay the course and keep our heads down.  Let’s not just hope all of this will blow over and the dawn will break and the electric loads will start growing again. Let’s pursue the path of revolutionary thinking such as our forefathers in this industry.  And let’s stop thinking others are going to make this happen.  It’s our turn to make it happen in this critical arena of energy and sustainability for today and tomorrow.

And, just in case you are still waiting for the answer.  No, homework does not cause cancer.


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