Jennifer Holmes

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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
I think I'm going to write a book on visionaries and where they go wrong... PallottaTeamworks is a perfect example of the creative force that can make a company great being the same creative company that destroys it. It just drives me nuts that Dan Pallotta is up on TED claiming that the sponsors pulling was the reason why his company folded. Everyone who worked in the local offices know exactly why the sponsors pulled. That he can't see it was his fault is really beyond me. If you surround yourself with yes men, dismiss critics, and continue to tinker with your vision, you're going to break something. Dan did that. His company broke. If he had left it alone we would still be raising hundreds of millions a year for charity. Now all he can point to is the $300 million we once raised as his success. He is blind to his failures... that's just pathetic.
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
Moderator - tell June Cohen that I'm posting here. She'll get a kick out of it. Dan - the premise of your talk is faulty. Your company did not fold because the sponsors didn't understand your amazing vision. It folded because you made some really bad decisions. I know, I was there. You say here that you have the answer for charities. You don't. You failed. This TED Talk is null and void because of the outcome of your vision. You had a good idea. A great one. But then, like many visionaries, you tinkered with it until it BROKE. You broke it Dan. As a rider, a crew member and 3 year employee of PallottaTeamworks I'm not going to stand by and let you rewrite history in your TED talk. The sponsors didn't just "pull out". You had changed what worked so amazingly well for years. In 2000/2001 you instituted the following changes which none of the staff, crew, participants or sponsors liked: 1. Giant glossy brochure of events. People are grieving about their lost loved ones to AIDS, cancer and suicide - they really don't care about your graphic design prowess. 2. Expensive, glossy camp fixtures including a kiosk selling your book (the object of much derision), fancy stage, lights, towel service, etc. 3. Red shirt and khaki uniforms for the staff. We looked "Like mormons in Sin Town" as my boss said. 4. The Touring Team. Why were you going to take away the joy of working the events from the office staff? To completely disconnect them from the participants and crew who they had been working with all year was a terrible idea. And the touring team got completely burnt out after Montana. And yeah... firing the head of logistics during the worst storm in AIDS Ride history in front of a bunch of staff members was a really bad move. 5. The touring buses... and then putting the touring team up in hotels anyhow. And that satellite truck Monkey built you? Are you kidding? What a giant waste. 6.The Call Center in Glendale. Closing the local offices was the worse idea ever.
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
Hi Paiwei, I remember you... you were at Crossroads... great designer as I recall. I was in the SF office. I started in 99 and by the time I left in 2001 I was the head of recruitment in SF for both the Ride and Walk. I blame Dan for the fall of the company. Everything was going great before he decided to fix what wasn't broken (raising $11 million on a 67% return is great). We complained, endlessly, about his meddling in our incredible events... I outlined a few of the things which were just plain BAD IDEAS above, and I could list a million more. The number of things which he ruined about the events is legion. If you still talk to him, tell him to call me. I have some hard truths about what it was like on the front lines of PallottaTeamWorks. Oh wait... he said to me the last time we emailed: "I don't have anymore need or for the kind of anger that emanates from your communication". Do another Landmark Forum course Dan. The one about ownership. Stop blaming the sponsors for not understanding your genius. Yawn.
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
7. Replacing our sf-aidsride.org email addresses with @pallottateamworks.com ... this was the first thing he did - and it just didn't make sense until someone told me that he wanted to be the first gay president. Then it all fell into place... he wanted some kind of name recognition. the sf-aidsride.org domain name was obviously not promoting him enough. How many times a day did I have to spell his name? Ugh. 8. Replacing the newsletter we made in the local office (with their design template) with a glossy nationwide newsletter which didn't have meaningful information for anyone doing the local event. Shall I go on? The point is that from AIDS Ride 4 to 7 Dan was pretty hands off. He let the local offices operate, and we had a GREAT thing going... local events, local sponsorships, tied into the community, fun, engaged, we would spend the summer supporting the events in other offices (I worked Texas AIDS Ride, Atlanta 3-DAY, NYC 3-Day, DC AIDS Ride, etc etc) and we were one big happy family raising money for the charity we believed in and helping people have a transformational experience. Then comes the AIDS Ride Summit of 1999 and Dan rolls out his brilliant plans... we looked at each other and said, hmmm... these new events sound good, but is he going to try to change the formula which we know works? The next day he took the entire company to Disneyland and told us he wanted us to "create happiness" for our participants. Gah. Then the changes started. It would have been fine if he had left WHAT WE KNEW WORKED alone. But he didn't. He changed it all, and everyone, not just the sponsors, balked. Participants and staff alike were completely grossed out by his co-opting their committment to the cause in some slick marketing package. We fought him tooth and nail. We sent emails and forwarded complaints. I made a marketing guy from the LA office cry because he knew I was right. PallottaTeamWorks is a cautionary tale to all you visionaries out there.
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
I dislike the fact that he's lying (to himself? probably) about what made the sponsors pull out. His whole premise of why his idea of non-profit management is better is completely debunked by the fact that HE FAILED. He complains that the sponsors didn't "get it". No, actually Dan didn't get it. The California AIDS Ride had it's highest fundraising $11.5 million *and* it's highest return to the charities the year before he started meddling with his tacky marketing schemes. Let me lay out some of the lousy ideas he came up with in the year 2000-2001 which directly led to the downfall of PallottaTeamWorks: 1. Giant glossy brochure which cost $4 mail (we got lots of comments from participants about this stupid catalog of events - complete bomb) 2. Expensive redesign of the camp - including fancy huge stage, lights, a kiosk for his book (so embarrassing... many participants asked if he was a megalomaniac), a towel service and other ridiculous camp functions. 3. Horrible uniforms for the staff which made us look like "mormons in sin town" as the head of the SF office said when we were forced to wear them at our Gay Pride booth. 4. A Touring Team (that was too burnt out at the end of the season to perform) - prior to this AIDS Ride/3 Day Staff in the local office would be supplemented with staff from other offices. This was incredibly fun and we were all connected to cause and each other. The Touring Team, although professionals, did not have the same connection. And they were expensive. 5. Touring buses - meaningless, since the Touring Team slept in hotels during the event. 6. Replacing the local office with a CALL CENTER IN GLENDALE. Lord, this was the stupidest decision of all time. If you're a 1st time rider or walker, do you want to meet with your rider rep/walker coach in the office, or do you want to dial an 800 number?
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
I worked for this man. He stole my good ideas, but didn't listen if I complained about anything. He destroyed the company who produced the AIDS Ride and 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk with his slick marketing bulls%$t This is the only TED talk that has ever made me want to punch the screen. I especially wanted to punch the screen when he talks about why the company folded. HE RUINED A GOOD THING WITH BAD IDEAS. We kept telling him, email after email, that his ideas were bad. We were just the people on the front lines who actually knew what we were talking about, but he had all his yes men in LA telling him he was a genius. Here is what I wrote to him when he tried to friend me on Linked-In: "Are you sure? I mean, I dissed you in my description of PTW. Unless you're OK with me saying publicly how I think you fucked up the company... I am brutally honest... I remember that we had an email exchange after the AIDSRide summit about the nature of the ride - I pointed out how it was impossible for us to "create happiness" (one of the strangest company values of PTW) on the ride because people were in mourning, and what made the ride special was that we were giving people SPACE to feel the pain of loss making it tangible for them. 5 months later that exact sentiment was echoed in the safety video. I was flattered, a little, as I KNEW that I was directly responsible for pointing that out to you. But I didn't feel like you were thankful for my input during the email exchange, nor did I think that you were conscious of the fact that I, a lowly rider rep (and a girl to boot), had made that connection for you. Pretty much I felt taken for granted, and basically ignored, except that my insights made it into the culture of PTW. " to be continued...
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
"I also felt like my promotion to Recruitment Team Leader was completely political, which hurt LOTS of people in the office - Eric and Laura were far more qualified and let go, and Debbie resented being my subordinate intensely to the point of being rude. Granted, I learned the Landmark Forum recruitment speech perfectly and passed Dick and Geri's test, but I did the EST training when I was 12, so I knew their racket and played it. I personally found it gross and tacky as the whole thing was lifted from Landmark word for word and that we were TESTED on a job we had been doing great for years. My final straw came on the 2nd Alaska trip when one of the touring team (that nurse guy on crisis) got in a screaming fight with my medical director who quit on the spot (it took several of us to convince him to stay on). By the Seattle walk the touring team was SO burnt out, acted like total assholes to everyone from the local offices, and the model was obviously - as we had said - was not working. When the offer to move to Glendale came, it sound like a little slice of hell - especially as compared to what it was like working in the local office. The local offices were JOYFUL and unified - our homemade newsletters and grassroots events were what MADE the ride. It was the BEST JOB EVER. Am I bitter? A little. I just think it's crazy sad the way the company went, especially since we sent email after email to Crossroads about what we thought you were doing wrong, and got no response. The marketing "geniuses" killed PTW, and treated us, the proles, like we had no idea what we were talking about. I used to tell Matt that I was so glad that he provided a buffer between us and Crossroads, but it was impossible for him to protect us from the ridiculousness of the glossy brochure, the touring team, all those silly props in camp and that over the top stage, the uniforms, the call center... it was so awful knowing how much money we had raised on CAR7 $11.5 million dollars...
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Jennifer Holmes
Posted over 1 year ago
Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
and all that was going out the window. So, yeah, I accept your invitation to connect on Linked in, but I'm pre-warning you... I don't pull punches in the interest of being polite." I have said all this to his face... I would say it again in a heartbeat. He's a liar... the worst kind... someone who lies to make themselves look good. Lies to themselves about the destruction they've wrought. He blames the sponsors? Please. He destroyed an amazing thing with the AIDS Rides and The 3 Day Breast Cancer Walks, and all the other good ideas he had. He did have good ideas. But like most visionaries HE FAILED in the execution. Hubris and tinkering ruined it. And we, the employees of Pallotta TeamWorks KNEW IT and TOLD HIM REPEATEDLY. I have a huge number of former PTW employees to back me up on this. Feel free to contact me Dan, I have some therapy for ya. Trust me, you'll be a better human being for it. Oh... and ps. We saw you crying in every rehearsal. Good trick. I edited this so it reads in order... if anyone is interested I'll post his reply to me. Apparently he "doesn't remember me". Ha.