APPEARANCE, PR & STRATEGIC THINKING

Three days ago, I posted the following text on my LinkedIn page along with the picture shown above:

“I am not sure that it’s appropriate to be dressed in a t-shirt, plain pants and sneakers for meeting officially high guests dressed in suits with ties. Even during time of war.

The field military uniform is for wearing on battlefield, so that it is comfortable in it on the battlefield, but not at an official political event”.

As you can see, there is nothing categorical in the text, and I confirmed this by using “I am not sure”.

I don’t post such small entries on this site. Such a small note can appear here only as a part of an article of mine if I decide to write on the topic.

This little note within three days was seen by more than 20 thousand people, has caused over a hundred comments that I can’t ignore it, especially since most of these comments are critical, very critical, and some even too critical.

One the forth day my note reached over 250,000 readers and got near 800 comments. This is something!

“Especially during war time bro!!! Maybe more appropriate would be full military uniform, but he is not formerly or presently an army man. So paramilitary casual dress is fully appropriate!
They came during air ride sirens for Love of God Dr Ivanenko”, — wrote Terry Maslack, HVAC Technician.

My answer to this was: “Well… Full paramilitary uniform could be appropriate. He uses a t-shirt and sneakers! T-shirt is an underwear in military or paramilitary uniform. What about sneakers?
Greetings foreign high ranking officials in underwear and sneakers it’s like to demonstrate a disrespect to those guests”.

“well well well, — HVAC Technician replied: — Fyi, you can be disrespectful while wearing a white collar just as you can be respectful while wearing a tee with jeans and sneakers
It’s not the looks but the behaviour that shows respect”.

This message exchange was commented by two other people (one is a software engineer and the other — a sale manager) who wrote in Russian. Of course, in support of Terry Maslack.

The next comment was by a trainer, William (Will) Farrugia: “I think he has more on his mind than correct dress code guys”. It was supported by a builder, Robert McDaniel: “I agree. If it’s one thing Zelenskyy understands better than most people, it’s messaging. The photo makes his point”.

Oleh Havryliuk wrote: “Yep. This guy thinks he can afford anything”. And Taras Romashchenko added: “Yep. This guy thinks he can afford anything”.

“No time for white collars. After victory will shine bespoke suits”, — wrote Evgan Sytnik. “He is cultivating an image”, — Martin C. added.

The following comment belong to Vitalii Opanasiuk who wrote it in Russian: “The point, of course, is not in clothes, but in specific cases.

The military clothes on the President of a warring country do not hurt my eyes. Moreover, I think it is correct and appropriate to the situation.

But at the same time, I feel that suits, ties, golden halls, receptions and other nonsense look somewhat out of place during the third world war.

In the post-modern era
Politicians try to achieve new goals with old methods,
old ways, old unions.

Unfortunately, politicians win and kill everything new and rational.

Putin is at the top of the list of hardened old-style politicians. He has old thinking, old methods, old goals. And he leads his country to the USSR, and to a repetition of the collapse of the USSR”.

Here was a turning point when normal discussion got higher temperatures.

A business analyst named Oleksandr Krasnoshchok went emotionally: “this guy has bigger balls than all of you, haters”. It’s unclear why he decided that the author and previous commentators are haters.

Yegor Anramenkov wrote: “It’s regulated by military charter. The law, not personal preference. So your comment is obsolete and you should check your facts first”. He doesn’t explain why he referred to military charter and whether it’s applicable in this particular situation.

Interesting comment was offered by Oleksii Mashchyts: “The thing is that the war is important. More important than any other. It’s Vital.

The president of a country in war can and should make the right decisions. In my opinion, there is no time for suits.

Also, we should understand that it is not a kind of honor for the president of Ukraine to meet high guests. It is an honor for them to visit Ukraine and support the Ukrainian people in this war for democracy and the safety of Europe.

So, for me, this is the right choice and I believe European leaders understand this and respect it”.

Ruslan Khmelnytsky wrote another emotional comment in Russian: “These high-ranking guests go to Kyiv to promote and resolve their issues, and the president of the belligerent country can meet them at his convenience… if you don’t like it, don’t look…”

My note wasn’t about whether I like it or I don’t.

“In my opinion, he is wearing the coolest costume of all those present”, — Lana Turok commented in Ukrainian. I would agree with this opinion if a protocol officer had negotiated that all guests come up dressed casually…

Ivan Garkavyi, an attorney, wrote: “I’m not sure wether you are the guy who may judge what our president should wear during the war”.

As a lawyer, this commentator could understand that my note wasn’t a judge-mental. That’s why, I said that I am not sure. Also, as a lawyer, Mr. Garkavyi should understand that even a president in situations like this can’t decide on his own how to dress or what to wear. There is a protocol.

“Except that his country is the one being bombed and they are the ones holding back air support that could have saved many of his people. They needed to see real conditions, not compare whose silk ties were prettiest”, — this was written by Cheryl A. Madden, a Historian and Bibliographer.

“You jealous”, — believes Alexander Kuzub. Well… This guy has now idea that my grandmother taught me from my childhood not to be jealous. At the same time, I don’t think that jealousy can be applied to this particular situation.

“I am very surprised to hear criticism of the president of a warring country from a Ukrainian. Dr Volodymyr Ivanenko Are you sure you did not hack your account?”, — this how Oleksandr Zadorozhnyi took and interpreted my note.

Mr. Zadorozhnyi along with those liking his opinion is too critical himself. Impressing thoughts that can help to improve anything is appropriate anytime, and especially during war time.

I know that writings are being carefully read in Ukraine’s Président Office. This note wasn’t an exception. Here is a proof: shortly after the discussed situation, V. Zelenskyy greeted in Kyïv Boris Johnson, and he was not wearing the t-shirt!

I hope that after our discussion Ukraine’s President’s image-makers will dress him up with a decent paramilitary uniform that correspond to his status and the requirements of the diplomatic protocol.

Still, Brent Braun, a consultant, believes that “Who cares? Form over substance! If they make decisions solely on appearances, those are bad decisions”.

Mr. Braun might doesn’t know that the relationship or even interaction between content and form has been part of my professional interests for decades. My note is definitely not about content (and decisions) of meetings. But my note is about the content of president’s appearance.

A similar comment is offered by Anastasiia Bilous: “This is the LEAST important thing you could notice from such an important meeting! Shame on you”. This woman doesn’t realize what actually my note is about.

While I was writing this text, a new video of president Zelenskyy meeting with an American actor, Ben Stiller, came in. Both parties are wearing t-shorts. There is no doubt about this situation. In this case, B. Stiller is the one who counted on V. Zelenskyy’s habits.

Robert N. Justice wrote in his comment: “So far, these international politicians have barely stepped up to match there so called timely or filling committments. Zelensky stands out as a man of the earth. I believe he shouldn’t go out of his way, just yet, especially for Germany chancelor….”

Here, note that there is pathos, which colors the perception of V. Zelensky abroad: “Zelensky stands out as a man of the earth”, — and therefore, according to the commentator, Zelenskyy “shouldn’t go out of his way”. Despite the rules of decency, after all?

“The main thing is what’s inside the wrapper”, — wrote in Russian Andrey Kramskoy.

Sure! Let’s just have a closer look. What’s inside the wrapper (t-shirt)? Good pumped biceps. What we don’t see — a smart and wise statesman with a strong strategic thinking capabilities.

V. Zelenskyy’s actions tell me that is definitely doesn’t match this criteria. That’s why not long ago said on camera that he “has no time to think strategically”. This actually means that he doesn’t even understand that strategic thinking is the most important part of his job as a president. That’s what he is actually paid for. Everything else — whatever he is doing — is secondary. Especially —in the war time.

Unfortunately, commentators don’t get to this point.

“And I don’t think it’s a question of the first importance, — reads the comment by Mikhail Makadziuba: — The issue of primary importance is the supply of weapons on time and in the right quantity, so that Ukrainian civilians do not die. And what suit or no suit the president will wear to receive guests is not important. Get your priorities right. Think less about etiquette and more about people. If these “respected” people had done everything to end the war, none of the civilians of our country would be dying from enemy missiles”.

It’s sad to read a comment by a journalist, Oleksandr Snovyda: “The tie indicates the direction where most men have a “decision center””. I take this as an example of failed black humor.

Some commentators resort to personal attacks without bothering to look at the profile of a person they attack. Here is what an HR professional, Alexandra Olimpiieva, wrote:

“You, as a doctor, had the right to leave the borders of the state and not serve, I wonder, you exercised your right?! It somehow comes out of Baltimore… world politics as well as international law discredited itself at the beginning of this war, where everyone was a guarantor who guarantees nothing — so why are you still thinking about a dress code?
Engage in research instead of spreading subjective unmotivated thoughts among people”.

Here is another ‘funny’ comment by a technical project manager, Sergii Maksiuta: “People in suits and ties at the service of people in T-shirts and shorts (sports pants).
It has always been so — and here is an example. And in fact — don’t care about it at all, our President has a cool outfit and that’s it”.

One more comment in Russian without any idea what actually is being discussed: “Every day, 100-200 of our soldiers die. And how many people die in ties? Zero? Then maybe this is a tribute to our defenders?” Written by Valentin Borys, a software engineer.

“We have a war! What costume? He is dressed correctly. There is no dress code during the war. This is not Versailles for you”, — gets mad at me Alexandra T.

I am always amazed by people who instead of keeping up to the topic do their best to teach others: “Dr Volodymyr Ivanenko, This is not a time for your useless speaches in LinkedIn. Make your own contribution for the Victory of Ukraine. You’re the business owner, please show your personal financial/material/physical contribution?” — cries out a financier, Maksym Zaitsev. Boris Liubich echoes Zaitsev: “you are useless. Untill you’ll wear army uniform”.

M. Zaitsev demands from me: “Dr Volodymyr Ivanenko, the only words, and nothing more. Show us your financial contribution?”. He doesn’t even bother to get interested in what I have already done in the past and what I am doing for Ukraine. Will he understand when I say: everything I earn now goes to the Ukrainian cause? Everything. Zaitsev and his ilk did not add a penny here.

James Landis belongs to those not even understanding what is my post is about: “If your first thought goes to how your President is dressed, perhaps your priorities need to be reevaluated?” “Really?” — I asked him. He replied: “yes, really. Your commander in chief is leading from the front. Perhaps cut him some slack if his choice of attire isn’t up to your standards”.

This is another example when people get into discussion with no idea who they are talking to and what they are discussing. Said…

By the way, J. Landis, like many others, ignored my invitation to add his signature to the Appeal. Eager to talk, but definitely not eager to act.

There are commentators who jump out of nowhere just to slap something pathetic. Such is, for example, Igor Urdenko: “We beleive in our president”. Like on a dollar bill: “In God we trust”.

Something similar wrote Hector Avila: “Why does it matter? The man is fighting for his people and for his country”. It’s an entrepreneur from California, by the way…

Here is a comment by professor Chris Ivory: “They are there to honour him — it would be outrageous if they dressed in fatigues. He is taking precious time out from his work to welcome them. There is no onus for him to return to compliment. A king will meet you in his dressing gown, from his bed or his bath if needs be”.

A junior legal counsel, Denys Kamenchuk wrote: “To provoke people with senseless remarks to the President for his own purpose. Are these your principles? Instead of the usual post asking for support — you annoy people. It looks strange in regards of a person with your achievements”. Zero understanding of the post… Sad…

Iryna Branovska: “Being an Ukrainian and posting such a bullshit? Don’t you dare”. Wow!

I found interesting Alex Polivany’s comment: “Speaking of outfit, it is not a “field military uniform” but tactical one.

But more important:
Is it appropriate to have a beard?
Is it appropriate to be without makeup on the TV as the president?
Is it appropriate to look tired during such meetings?
Is it appropriate to be without body armor while being number 1 on the hit list by “the most powerful man on the earth” according to Time magazine?”

Well… Most people don’t even want to get that far. They think very narrow and simple (or primitive): “It’s a war zone, I would say he is the only one who is dressed correctly” (Stefan Kastler); “He must be ready every single second to respond to any kind of threat. It’s a little bit … uncomfortable in a jacket” (Vladimir Poddubny); “How is it moving to bomb shelter in costume? Much comfortable? This photo says a lot” (Taras Semeniako); “And what sort of military apparel are you wearing while you’re fighting the Russians?” (Peter R.)…

Ryan Duff just added his comment saying: “I think it’s a bold statement “At this time of crisis, I don’t have the luxury of dealing with frivolous issues like how I look.” He is also saying he will not put on a military uniform and portray himself as a military dictator”.

Thank you for reminding these words of V. Zelenskyy. Whatever he says should be understood as opposite of what he is saying. That’s one of his habits…

Against this background, the most striking comment was written by Vladimir Tikhomirov — an accountant and analyst from Moscow, Russia who actually showed how V. Zelenskyy’s dressing habits can be interpreted by the enemy he is fighting with: “It’s PR. Otherwise none would notice that he regularly visits gym”.

It’s time to make a conclusion: Ukraine’s president is indeed very busy and has no time to get shaved, dressed approximately, and even to think strategically. But the gym is sacred for him. Even during the war.

June 20–21, 2022.

On Topic:

Published by Dr Volodymyr Ivanenko | Д-р Володимир Іваненко

Entrepreneur, Professor & Scholar | Підприємець, професор, учений

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