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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

My experience with “Cancel Culture”, Part 2 – How I got canceled: He aligned his resources

leadership, management, project
Ruthlessness is required to cancel someone!

“There are no permanent alliances, only permanent interests.” Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

“Now the only sure basis of an alliance is for each party to be equally afraid of the other.” Thucydides

Cancel culture is part of our society now.

You can’t just disagree with someone; you must destroy them. A friend and I were canceled from a nonprofit organization, and over the next several weeks I'll be sharing the process that was used to do so. To battle something, you must first understand it. I’ll then explain what I could have done differently and the lessons learned.

The first step in canceling someone is to understand the ecosystem you are operating in and to consolidate support from the necessary people. The 501(c)(7) where I was volunteering had specific bylaws that covered the parliamentary procedures required to remove someone from both the board of governors and as a regular member. I never paid attention to those sections because it never occurred to me that I would ever try and remove someone.

That was a mistake. You should always understand the administrative processes under which you are operating.

In this instance, all it required was a certain percentage of the board to vote to remove a person. There was no member input and no appeal. One meeting and one vote, and you were out.

The person who canceled us understood the administrative process and aligned his resources to ensure he would prevail.

He made sure that the members of the board could be easily manipulated by allowing financial conflicts of interest to emerge. While this is in direct contrast to the transparency that is required of a nonprofit, it served his purpose so he actively encouraged it. For example, two of the board members owned businesses that received payments from the club. It is highly likely that they would have lost those cozy relationships if they were subjected to scrutiny. One of them actually scheduled their own work, and the other managed to secure an unwritten exclusive relationship with the club! Literally no other business was allowed to provide this service.

One of the members had a small business, and the board was providing support to their internet marketing efforts. For yet another board member, the board voted (and you can’t make this up!) to pay their spouse as compensation for the work the board member was doing in a volunteer position! Finally, several of the board members had spouses that worked in the club.

The conflicts of interest were (and are) stunning.

But the conflicts of interest served a purpose! They financially bound most of the board to the leader, cementing their support to whatever cause he chose to put up for a vote! You must admire the Machiavellian beauty of it.

My colleague and I didn’t need the club financially. I am a successful executive and small business owner, and my wife is a nurse and small business owner. My colleague is a successful business owner and his wife also runs a successful enterprise.

Because we didn’t need the club, there was no leverage. That made us dangerous.

With the board compromised and with no administrative recourse to a board vote, he ruled the club with virtually no checks and balances.

That set the stage for what came next.


This series really touched a nerve in my readers. Cancel culture is all around us, and we all experience it on social media and witness it on television. Just a decade ago I could have animated arguments with friends who held a different political opinion, and at the end of the session we would have a drink and part friends. The environment is so polarized that I am hesitant to even discuss politics for fear of losing a friend! How sad.


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