A Pivot or Maybe a Few

Everyone knows what pivot means but is a pivot good or bad?

An athlete pivots to fool his opponent and give himself an open position for the next play. Sounds good.

A startup company can pivot to a new strategy as soon as it discovers flaws in the old one. Nimbleness is one of the benefits of being small and that nimbleness enables the pivot.

Of course, few companies pivot away from winning strategies so there is some implication that the previous plan didn’t work, but surely it is better to pivot away from a bad plan than to stick with it as you fly over a cliff. In that setting, a pivot is probably the best option.

A pivot in politics – perhaps better described as a flip-flop – is usually characterized as principled though this is rarely the case. The political pivot is adorned with suggestions of prayer and family consultation.

The real reason for a political pivot is most often poll testing or the availability of new sources of contributions. Good for the politician though less so for his integrity. The flip-flop is definitely a disappointment to those who elected him.

Now there are pivots in journalism.

Spin Cycle describes a pivot by right wing journalist, Mike Cernovich. According to Jacob Silverman’s story, Cernovich moved from “Democrats are pedophiles” to “I know a lot of guys in Trump’s White House.” Poof. Respectable. “Done and dusted,” as my English friends say.

Here is another reason for a journalistic pivot. Because of my website, I get these all the time.

“Message: Hello Webmaster, $1.00/100-word. Get English Articles/Contents (100 Percent Unique And Hand-Written – No Spinner Used) For Your Website Or For SEO Purposes From Us @ $1.00/100-Word. Minimum Order Is 25 x 500-Word Articles. If You Are Interested Then Please Email Me To”…. blah blah blah.

He sells words at a penny apiece. What do I sell? Well, nothing because I give it away, but what would it be worth if I did sell it? Maybe about $10 for this story?

Here is the latest from a lifestyle blogger called Marissa Kraxberger and a third reason for a writer pivot. She began blogging about the same time I did, though she was far more successful (at least in audience building).

Moving On “i’ve been debating this for awhile now, but this is officially going to be my last post on lady & prince.”

“i can’t believe that i have been blogging for the past 5 years. seems like longer really… it has been an amazing platform to tell stories about our life.”

“the reality is, this world is changing every day and so is the way that we consume media.”

Now that is my kind of pivot: “I think I am providing something nobody wants so I had better do something else.”

Should you be contemplating retirement, I would not suggest starting a political blog. When I began in 2011, my strategy was probably five or six years out of date. Now it is 10 or 12 years behind. In 2005, there were lots of readers and fewer writers. In 2017, it is just the opposite.

Readers are overwhelmed; there is just too much. Now, they watch or listen because they can. Reading takes concentration, but you can multitask if you watch or listen. Lately, I have begun listening to podcasts. Unless you are one of the few who does not enjoy being read to, give podcasts a try. Audiobooks but shorter.

LibertyPell Pivot # 1: I am going to try some videos and podcasts. Still the same audience building challenge that I have never overcome, but it might work and it might be fun.

I do still like to write so I will continue – less often – for sort of a “friends and family” group of the most frequent readers, but after six plus years, LibertyPell is bidding farewell to most of its mailing list, with thanks for your support.

I have some longer form writing ideas too but they can await “further developments.”

LibertyPell Pivot #2: Many have asked if this administration is not the promised land of political writing. Far from it. More like wandering around in a wilderness in which nothing changes while angry people throw things at you.

Time saving tip: wake up each morning, look in the mirror, say, “Trump sucks” then check reading The New York Times and The Washington Post off your list. You have told yourself everything they will tell you and saved a buck or two in the process. It does not matter if they are biased, they have become boring and that is quite sufficient.

That said Trump does suck because he is squandering a chance that won’t come this way again anytime soon. We should not blame Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama but nor should we leave them off the list of those who contributed to making him President. Those who would undo even a few of the nanny state excesses seem likely to be disappointed by this administration, but it does not make them wrong.

Political campaigns used to focus on the 10% of people who were not too committed to either side. My team has 45% your team has 45%, we battle for the majority of the uncommitted. That is now too expensive. Getting uncommitted voters to show up and check your box is far more difficult than firing up your 45% and getting more of them to show up than the other guy gets to show up from his 45%. How do you do that? You scare the shit out of them. In one short paragraph that is why politics suck.

Fortunately, that category killer (the other guys are evil) will eventually work and more and more people will quit paying any attention at all or, perhaps more importantly, will quit contributing. But it will take a while.

Bottom line for LibertyPell: less politics; more other stuff. The periodic pundifications will be on a wider variety of topics though the most egregious swamp critters will make appearances “as necessary.”

There is also the angry-old-man-shouting-get-off-my-lawn problem. If you write about politics and don’t get angry, you are an idiot, but if you write about politics and all you do is get angry, which you probably should, you have the angry-old-man-shouting-get-off-my-lawn problem. Who wants to be that guy?

LibertyPell Pivot # 3: When I retired six years ago, I thought there are two things I’d like to do: have a last run at my sports life (court tennis, golf, bicycling, hockey and skiing); and write.

Ask yourself a question: how stupid does a 65 year old have to be to embark on the writing first? How stupid would he have to be not to pivot at 71?

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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28 comments

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  • I do not want to lose track of your thought, musings, observations. You have made a contribution. For example, the observation of the change – pivot – in politics from competing for the ten percent undecideds to mobilizing the 45 % core support. This is an important insight.

    Keep me on your list, please.

  • I am comfortable with being an angry, shouting old man. If you ever catch up to your chronological age, try it. It has its pleasant moments.

  • Our politics is now so dysfunctional that it’s becoming hard to dignify it with serious thought and analysis. Therein lies tragedy, but the Pundificator’s response is entirely rational. And, indeed, he has pointed out innumerably the deepest sources of our current political dysfunction, and that has been a valuable contribution.

    Whatever comes next will be welcomed by those wise enough to have embraced the many Pundifications so far. Best wishes for a fresh start.

  • Uncle Haven,
    I will miss LibertyPell, but hope to continue lobbing political and other commentaries back and forth as we have done since ~1991; when I’d go to the basement of the library at St. Georges School to email with you in a black and green format. Yours was among the first email addresses I had and firing off political commentary with you was my first use of email.
    Nephew Peter

    • No matter how small the LibertyPell friends and family list might ever become, you will be on it. After 26 years of political discussions, we can broaden our horizons and try to solve some other problems too. It is important for you to stay around as you will likely be the one to take the mouse away when I should no longer be doing this.

  • OK not to read the Times and the Post, but you are lucky they are there.
    Good luck with everything. I enjoyed reading from the sidelines.

    • Oh I do read them and I listen to the NYT Podcast “the Daily” well, daily. I do think they could do better at pointing out the flaws in their more favored narratives, but they are as susceptible to click revenue as anyone else. You are friends and family. After all, how many defense partners does a guy get in his life?

    • uh oh, time for a dirty little blogger secret. MailChimp, the email program I use, keeps score of those who open the email and those who click on the articles. You correctly note your status as a superior opener and clicker. Be not afraid.

  • I don’t recall witnessing a three-quarter life crisis before, but this appears to be one. Go ahead: strap up the blades one more season (mine came off, as well you know, nearly thirty years ago on the CCC rink. Court tennis appears to be a little safer (and a good way to monitor nascent dementia, given the scoring system). Skiing? Stick with the bunny slopes. Golf? Those yellow tees look more and more appealing, don’t they?

    I’m intrigued by the podcast idea, but you’ve got to get some sort of TelePrompTer to make yourself look articulate. I’d have trouble with that myself.

    The fact that I am responding to this big news a good week after the fact is an embarrassing indicator of my own attentativeness, but I usually do get to them.

    Sounds like you’re committed to this “pivot,” so let’s just see which direction you are facing after making the turn. I’ll be watching with interest.

    • The sports solutions that seem to be working:
      1. Last winter I played with the Mighty Moms hockey group. Outdoors, mid-morning, team mates in their 30s and 40s, locker room bonding opportunities severely constrained.
      2. Skihad 18 begins in January extends to March, Rockies and Utah, multi resort season passes, AWD car, AirBnB + mooching.
      3. Add a fat headed racket to disrupt court tennis traditions.
      4. Golf is easy. You can have fun or keep score but not both.

      Should the laser beam LibertyPell focus be turned on secondary and higher education?

  • Will Rogers had nothing on The Pundificator for wit and scathing political satire. Only difference was brevity as Will lived in a simpler time.

    Very much enjoyed your past contribution to making some sense of this messy world. Really look forward to see where the pivot leads you. Please take me along for the ride!

    • Will was a far better writer and I am honored to be in a sentence with him.

      You will not escape the grasp of the Pundificator.

      Thank you for your contributions.