Complications of Shel Israel and Loren Feldman's Flap

by francine Hardaway on April 9, 2008

I was just going to leave this as a comment on Social Times, but my thought process got too complex (part of the fun of being old is the ability to see shades of grey) so here goes:

Loren Feldman
is often funny. Shel Israel is a friend. Recently, these facts of my life are causing me discomfort. And while I thought I could resolve it emotionally for myself using easy judgments, I find it’s much more complicated than I thought.

My first instinct was to say, “that jerk Loren Feldman, creating humor at someone’s expense. Especially my friend Shel, whom I know means well, and is feeling his way into a new job.”

That’s the mother in me. Now here’s the former film critic: “well, arguably these videos suck. If I were reviewing them like a film, I’d say so. Does it serve a purpose for Shel (none in it for me either way) if I don’t say it?”

My mom used to tell me, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.” I have never believed that, or I would never have become a professor, a film critic, an entrepreneur, an investor, or a coach. So I believe it is important to deliver constructive criticism.

And that’s the issue. Constructive. When Katie Couric took over the 6 PM News, every critic thought she sucked. It was pretty cruel, but she took it well, and she began tinkering with the show. Whether I agree or disagree with what she has done, she didn’t whine, and she did something.

I take it Shel is going to do the same, although he had an unfortunate lapse before making that decision. My heart goes out for him, because I’m sure he feels crushed.

Loren got a few laughs and page views. But no one fell in love with Loren after the way he conducted himself either. Stowe Boyd is right; schadenfreude is great until it is turned on you.

Now I really get partial. The best performer in all of this is my other friend, Robert Scoble, who is everybody’s friend. He has perhaps endangered his new venture by standing by Shel, but he has done it. He comes from the heart.

I love and respect people who come from the heart. I guess that’s where I come out on all of this. Perhaps because I’ve just subscribed to Valley Zen.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

maggiefox April 9, 2008 at 12:41 pm

What a great, honest post, Francine. Really well said.

It was nice to meet you at SXSW, BTW – hope to see you again soon.

Pamela Slim April 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm

How beautifully said Francine!

I think, especially in the online world, that we confuse true, good constructive criticism with meanness. And don’t realize that it can really sting for those that are on the receiving end.

I, too, respect Robert Scoble’s approach to criticism, as I do Guy Kawasaki’s. Both roll with the punches, say it like it is and stay strong with their convictions. I hope Shel can do the same, while using the feedback to learn and grow personally and professionally.

Lord knows we all have a choice in these things … shrink back, lash out, or take the role of interested observer and learn the good lessons.

All the best,


francine hardaway April 9, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Yes. Young man with too much testosterone (Loren) v. aging lion (Shel).

Cindy April 10, 2008 at 2:48 am

Glad I came across this. I’m in the early stages of getting to know all the people mentioned. I feel similarly as you do about all except I rarely find Feldman funny. I can imagine other people do, but he’s definitely not my cup of tea. Maybe it’s all that testosterone.

Since Feldman does not appeal to me, I never went out of my way to check out his videos. Now that he has pulled this stunt with and taken this joke way too far, I find myself cringing when his name comes up. If I thought anyone cared about my position on the matter, I would gladly share it. If the people closest to Feldman are not telling him what he needs to hear, they are not doing him any favors.

On the other hand, who wouldn’t be behind the warm, generous, funny Shel Israel even more than before after all this brouhaha? I can’t wait to see Shel’s show evolve, grow, improve, and blossom. It will be fun to watch.

francine hardaway April 10, 2008 at 6:31 am

People would be behind Shel completely if he hadn’t gotten so hurt/angry and threatened Loren. He IS warm and generous. He WILL improve. But he should have just said “thank you” to Loren for the criticism and moved on. He basically poked the barking dog with a stick, and then the dog jumped him.

Worried what this does to the entire concept of

Drue Kataoka April 10, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Francine – glad you are part of the community. What a beautiful thought to end your post with today!

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