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Thursday, October 7, 2010


Lately, I’m traveling different.

I used to roll in some jeans and comfy shoes. Kind of a grunge-under-the radar-look that really doesn’t sit well if you are labeling yourself the “Media Guy.” Now I rock in all black with Armani slacks and a pin stripe Hugo Boss blazer with a purple scarf that doubles as a pocket square.

I’m no James Bond, but the new look, slimmer, sleeker Media Guy now fits the bill. Score another for the new workout regime.

So there I was in the desolate Aleppo Airport at 11p. Six journalistic souls in a foreign land hoping for a quick entry stamp in their passports and a metaphorical journey into the unknown. They were looking for a center. I mean as much as I love travel, the Middle East and Syria, all this airport was missing was the Green Acres theme music and a goat randomly searching for a meal near baggage claim.

I didn’t know any of these writers prior to reaching Syria. They were simply blurry faces on bad copies of passports that were coupled with flashy bios of past successes. I must have stood out because each found me and wondered aloud if I was ready to lead them past the Immigration folks. After a quick discussion of the pocket scarf and a quick comedy show I had collected passports and forms and started my visa negotiations. Credit the new Media Guy Look again for opening doors that would have been otherwise closed with the old grunge ensemble.

I’ve done this many times before. You know, the tap dance to get everyone into the country without issue. This one was especially easy because every question from the officials sounded like a warped overhead speaker announcement. I understood nothing they were saying except “Yes Mr. Michael.” With each approval my mind drifted back to more pressing issues.

Ethics are on my mind lately. The lines of ethics are getting more blurry every day. People poking their noses in other clients’ business and other levels of untrustworthiness, spying (and the related) creates this big soap opera.

I see the lines between work and real life getting more blurry and confusing; everyone’s running back and forth across the line so much that their footprints are obscuring it even more. I see that no one knows the meaning of a Chinese Wall.

Most people don’t know its technical correct meaning: The ethical barrier between companies that protects client confidentiality. Setting appropriate boundaries so that the same people can have business and personal relationships without damaging either.

I don’t see people honoring the sex Chinese Walls either. Don’t fish in the company pond or the more direct don’t f#*k where you work. Seems fine when you are young until you get caught.

I also see a lot of people blurring the mantra of “There’s life, and there’s work.” The two are different and you forget that to your peril. Maybe the “end of the world” hyperbole can remind us that it’s not the end of the world at all, it’s the potential end of a business in a booming industry and a great job market. Too bad the job market is so poor and we can’t just say “It’s just business.”

Regardless of where the walls are crumbling, I know that truth and transparency eliminates most ethics gaps. But there has never really been a line for most people. Work and family and love and sex and career have always been far too intermingled for most. Maybe that’s part of my problem since I have always been able to compartmentalize life’s segments. Others can’t and won’t.

Perhaps if I did a few more downward dogs or crammed in a workout before having to jump into Media Guy role I wouldn’t be thinking so much.

Some deep breaths might do the trick; and sometimes that’s all that matters.