A response to Umair Haque

by Kate Brodock on 22 May 2008

Posted in: Uncategorized

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I wanted to respond to Umair Haque’s blog posting of last night after a night of thinking. There are a few things I’d like to say.

1) I admire Umair and respect his thoughts on where business is going today. It’s something I also feel strongly about, and, for the most part, agree with him on. In fact, one of my own professional goals is to address many of the issues that Umair does in his blogs.

2) That being said, you can read the comments to his post, including mine, on how they people about his recent tone. No need to address further.

Most importantly, however, I’d like to amend my original Tweet/comment, and give Umair a little credit (Twitter doesn’t offer a whole lot of space to do so). He didn’t post his almost immediate response to my Tweet, which was a statement allowing me to feel the way I felt, but also included a question about what it was that was turning me off to his blog. That, combined with his post, led me to the following thoughts on him (keep in mind, I have never met him, although would like to):

“This guy is legit. He expressed himself passionately, held true to his beliefs, but was consequently very open to being received respectfully by the very audience to which he’s communicating. He accepted constructive criticism (and my criticism could very well have not been taken constructively), opened up the floor for more, explained himself, but did not give up what he does feel strongly about. Since the time when I could be a judge of character, this has always gotten a thumb’s up in my book.”

It also made me really think about my own presence. This is what else I came up with:

“Here I am, new to the scene. Sure, I have an MBA and an MA, some might call me bright, but I’m soft. Most of the time, I’m too soft. I read many of the top blogs, from Umair, to Guy K, to Tara, to Pam, to Chris and so on, and I think to myself that I don’t know “it” like they do. I have strong thoughts, but what do I know? Sure again, I’m starting up a company because I want to do something I truly love, but boy I still have a lot of proving to do! I should give Umair more credit than I did. He isn’t afraid to come out and say it. Darnit Kate, maybe you can learn something from him.”

And so, I will. While I do hope that Umair communicates his thoughts in a less abrasive way (I tend to give more credence to passionate, well-communicated, but non-confrontational thoughts…), I also hope that he doesn’t compromise the strength with which he puts those thoughts forward. In other words, keep up the passion, but just change the method.

This is where my own change comes in. I am going to make a personal effort to unsoften myself a bit. To express the passion that I do have about these issues and be confident in the ideas in my head that I know are good ones.

And to end, a personal note to Umair:

I will meet you halfway between these two extremes, perhaps someday in person, but at least here. At that point, I stand true to my comment last night and would like to help….. actually, my new mindset begs another word…. I would like to collaborate…. And get things done, ideas communicated and people on board. Until then, I will kick myself in the butt a little harder. Thank you.

  • http://brooksjordan.name Brooks Jordan

    Hi Kate. Love that you’re engaging this topic.

    And I’m with you on the importance of quality communication, etc.

    But I think this is a special case. It’s Umair’s sharp thinking that gives him the ability to dissect the industrial mindset/culture that is almost totally out of whack and point to the “edge” and the enormous value that exists there.

    It’s going to be confrontational – it has to be because 200 years of a way of doing business is not going to go away happily.

    Now, gifts always have a shadow side and Umair’s are showing a little – insight and wit can turn caustic, and so on. But, in the greater scheme of things, it’s really not that important.

    I think we should just enjoy it as, well, spice, and support/encourage him to put it out there at an even higher level.

    What IS important in the greater scheme is building an economy that actually solves real problems, meets real needs. And we need Umair, IMHO, to be an outspoken spokesperson for that.

  • kh


    Great post. Having known Umair personally for many years I think your sentiments were spot-on. My $0.02: focus on the message and not so much on the tonality. It can be caustic, but it’s uniquely ‘Umairian’. The message though is valuable.

    In many conversations with Umair over the years, I saw that ‘knowing’ isn’t so much about knowledge per se, but more about being ‘in the know’ i.e. having great discussions, asking lots of questions, and of course connecting the dots. Umair does all three really well, although he can pontificate at times :)

    Best, KH

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