top of page
  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

My experience with “Cancel Culture”, Part 1 – Background

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Project, program, portfolio
Not all leaders are worthy of your respect

"Cancel culture is not actually about justice. It is about control. People use cancellation to force conformity to ideals.” Teal Swan

“The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.” President Barrack Obama

I got canceled.

I wasn’t even aware that it was occurring, but it happened. I am a seasoned executive who has traveled all over the world working complex and challenging issues. I have led complicated projects and have participated in executive infighting at the highest levels. Despite all that experience, I went from being the second in command to being completely removed from an organization in less than 6 weeks!

How could that have happened? Let me share the experience with you.

I was a volunteer at a non-profit organization, specifically a 501(c)(7). I had joined for the social aspects and had no desire to participate in management, but I was asked to so. So I did. My daughter was the “princess” of this organization, and I was asked to accompany her on formal events representing the club. I spent an entire winter and spring in this capacity, and it was fun!

The following year I was asked to assume a more formal role. I was contacted by the nominating committee and asked to serve in the entry level position of what functioned as this organizations executive steering committee. In this position I was able to reconcile the books, make significant repairs and secured a large grant from the state for certain upgrades.

It was a good year!

Last year I was asked to assume the next level in the organization. This was a very traditional structure, and it was generally required that every position be filled as you “moved up the ladder”. This next position was a much larger responsibility, and I hesitated. I would be responsible for running a bar and (later) supporting our kitchen. I have an important job, a business, 4 daughters and a new grand baby! I am busy! Eventually I accepted the position.

Like all bars and restaurants, we were shut down for COVID-19. There was still a lot of work going on, but the only retail sales were “to go” food orders.

On June 6th, we re-opened under social distancing guidelines. The club was located on a beautiful piece of property, and we had the added benefit of being “members only”. We could easily social distance outside, and you knew that everyone there at least paid a membership fee.

Business exploded! Sales shot to levels not seen in decades and our membership grew exponentially. We were a huge success, and the money was pouring in! With that much money flowing through the organization, I became concerned about having adequate systems and controls in place.

That was the beginning of the end for me.

I began to ask questions about our cost of goods sold, compensation to other board members and compliance with 501(c)(7) reporting requirements. A colleague of mine began to ask questions about the proper permitting of construction projects and certain other business practices. At first we were met with polite resistance, but as we persisted in asking uncomfortable questions certain members of the board became openly hostile. Within a few weeks my colleague and I were gone.

Over the next few weeks I am going to describe exactly how we were cancelled, dissecting the specific tactics used to remove us. Then I am going to describe how to fight back. Had I recognized I was being cancelled early on, I would have prevailed.

It happened to me, and it can happen to you. In my case, it was a social club that ultimately means nothing to my life. But it what if it did matter?

Learn from my mistakes.


My loyal subscribers may be asking themselves “what happened to the series on tips for the remote manager?” Good question! People weren’t interested. With so many other people are writing about it, the market is saturated and candidly I lost interest. Instead I am going to focus on something that I find incredibly interesting because I just lived it.


bottom of page