Thursday, February 08, 2007

Shake on It? Of Course!

My good friend Devin Thorpe of Thorpe Capital Group writes this morning about venture capitalist Brad Feld who:
joins Donald Trump in what I view as being a small, but growing trend to avoid a very traditional greeting among friends, business associates, church goers and others....and I had to comment. I mean, really, why wouldn't you shake hands?
1) You could be one of those megalomaniacs who refuses to participate in social norms to display their dominance ( like dogs try to do when they're humping your leg ). In which case, well, I don't want to do business with you.

Or ( and, perhaps, "and" )

2) You're afraid of "germs"... and you think that not shaking hands is going to keep you safe. Which tells me two things: you're given to flights of ill-informed fancy... and you think you can exercise unnatural control over your surroundings. Neither thing bodes well for you, and I still don't want to do business with you.

You see, I am not biophobic (a softer term for afraid of germs — because "germs" is a loaded word) by any stretch of the imagination. I understand that of the billions of microbes that inhabit the same space I do, only a rare few are in the least bit interested in me — and of those, only a tiny fraction are out to do me harm. The human race evolved to deal with microbes and infections, and I'm not about to short-circuit the system of bio-feedback attempting to un-plug from it. We need microbes, and people who fear them — people like Feld, Trump, and a few other noteworthy nutjobs — are living in a world that doesn't exist. And if they're comfortable with one fiction, who knows what other fictions they enjoy... contract fictions? milestone fictions? banking fictions?

Wanna do business with me?

Let's shake on it.


Brad Feld said...

Yikes - I never thought I'd end up in the same sentence as Donald Trump, nor do I want to.

I'm firmly in your category #2 (although I view it a little differently.) The post was a reaction to the following situation.

I'm standing in a lobby of a company on mid-day after flying in the morning to get to their office. Almost every person I encountered (gate agent, stewardess, person sitting next to me on the plane) was sniffling or coughing. As the person I was about to meet with walked up to me, they rubbed their right hand across their nose, sniffed in deeply, and then wiped their hand on their pants. He then reached out and offered it to me. I had no choice but to shake it.

Seriously - would you want to shake that hand?

Oh yeah - I was sick by Tuesday morning and had a cold all week. I have no idea where it came from, but my ability to destroy whatever germs came my way wasn't powerful enough.

I'll accept the "nutjob" label, but please not in the same sentence as Trump.

Silus Grok said...


I most definitely wouldn't want to shake that hand... but I would have all the same, as you did. The irony, of course, is that his hand was probably _not_ what got you sick. Airtravel is a hotbed for infection — exceptionally dry ( around 5% humidity, compared to 7% humidity in the Sahara ) airplane air defeats the mucus defenses we have in our nose... and the low fresh-air content in planes means that we're being confronted with air that is unnaturally heavy with airborn pollutants and pathogens.

If you're a traveller, be sure that you're healthy to begin with: well-rested, well-fed, well-hydrated... then make certain you treat yourself well while travelling.

Microbes aren't the enemy... our lifestyles are.

Something tells me, though, that you may not be on the list for long... while you're there, though, could you get Trump to cut his hair? It's distracting.

: )