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Talk Is Cheap

When first impressions lead to second thoughts

1. Oprah's Unrequited Love

When Herman Rosenblat, a Holocaust survivor, told Oprah Winfrey that he met his future wife when she tossed him apples over a concentration-camp fence, Winfrey dubbed it "the single greatest love story ... we've ever told." He got a book deal, but just before Angel at the Fence's publication, Rosenblat copped to embellishment, leaving Winfrey's interview cred in a million little pieces.

2. RadioShack's Biggest Fan

Dave Edmondson got hired at RadioShack because of his "skills at capturing the attention" of then-CEO Len Roberts, first with a fan letter, then with a dynamic interview. When Edmondson became CEO, a journalist exposed lies in his résumé, forcing him to resign.

3. McCain's Palin Problem

After a brief meeting with Sarah Palin at his ranch, Republican presidential candidate John McCain asked the Alaska governor to be his running mate. "The sense you immediately get is how tough-minded and self-assured she is," a McCain adviser recalled. "She makes that impression in, like, 30 seconds." By late October, 59% of voters surveyed in a New York Times/CBS News poll said Palin was "not prepared for the job."

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  • John Ball

    Amazing how someone at Fast Company removed my previous comment, which I am posting again below. Shame, shame. Not only is journalism dead, but censorship is alive and well...(I will continue to post or have friends post)...

    Nice try in trying to be provocative with a McCain-Palin photo in the magazine, saying first impressions are sometimes wrong. When I saw the photo, I thought Dan Macsai had uncovered something that had validity, like McCain SAYING he had second thoughts about selecting Palin.

    Unfortunately as a young 2008 snot-nosed journalism grad fresh out of Northwestern, Macsai decided to cite a deeply flawed survey rather than do some real investigative journalism. Let's see, a random sample survey taken weeks before the election by the NY Times/CBS News asking if Palin is qualified for the job...What else do you expect the 52% of Americans who were going for vote for Obama to say? To say "yes" and support the opposition? C'mon, you've GOT to be smarter than that. If a survey asked Americans the same question about Obama or Biden, the results from the 48% of Americans who voted for McCain-Palin would have been similar to the results Macsai cites.

    A simple Google search of "Dan Macsai Palin Not Ready" or "Dan Macsai Palin Supreme Court" yields some interesting data about Macsai: He is obsessed about posting anti-Palin articles on the Business Week Exchange, as seen on his profile page there. FC, how could you let this bias easily slip past you? If this is the state of journalism today, then it's officially dead. No wonder publications are going out of business. Americans are smarter than that.

    For that, I will not be renewing my subscription.

  • Tom Street

    Basing hiring decisions solely on previous performance makes for bad decision making and bad business. The 'bad' example citied was trying to make a decision on hiring a ball player by how they will fit into the team environment. Talk to the Minnesota Viking decision concerning Randy Moss or the Dallas Cowboys about T.O. I think they have a different prespective of hiring an indivdual merely on performance. The greatest of performers can be destructive to production/performance of a company or team if they are not the desired personality.

  • Del Younglas

    It is neither McCain's problem, nor Palin's for that matter, that Sarah Palin was overtly ridiculed and lambasted by most of the media and portrayed as a picayune sidekick via one-sided, liberal-biased coverage. Voters only reflect what they they are force fed by the big three news outlets. It would be interesting to see what percentage of the voting public gets all their news from NBC, ABC and/or CBS. I'm guessing it's pretty close to 59%.