• Bill Holmes

My experience with “Cancel Culture”, Part 5 – How I got canceled: Abuse the process!

project management, cancelled
Procedures can be used as a weapon!

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” Thomas Sowell

“Anything is better than lies and deceit!” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

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 fraternal organization, and I am sharing the process that was used. To battle something, you must first understand it. I’ll then explain what I could have done differently.

We had just completed an “emergency board meeting” and I believed we had resolved to work together in a constructive manner to advance the agenda of the nonprofit. We had left on good terms, so why wouldn’t I think that? Two weeks had passed, and my colleague and I had made great strides for the organization. Our sales were continuing to grow, membership was increasing, bills were paid, and the bank balances were growing.

That isn’t to say there weren’t issues. While controls in my area were getting better, I was still unable to get meaningful financial information from the office. We had installed a new point of service (POS) system that provided great detail about sales and employee performance, but once the money left the cash register and went to the office, there was no transparency.

I continued to push for transparency and good controls. My colleague did the same with his portion of the operation, and we both prepared our data and reports. Two weeks after the “emergency” meeting, we arrived at the main office for what we believed to be a routine board meeting.

I immediately got the sense that something was off. All the other board members were congregated together on one side of the room, and there was a single table for my colleague and me. So we sat. The “leader” began with another prayer of unity and understanding.

If you are ever in this situation, realize nothing can be trusted. Assume that what goes on behind closed doors is the opposite of what they are publicly saying. Say a unity prayer, then go to war.

And that is what he did.

He immediately said that he was sad to do this, but he needed to bring “charges” against my colleague and me. He had a list of "charges" that I had never seen before, and he proceeded to read them! I was floored! I looked at my carefully prepared reports outlining the past months successes and realized I had been duped. My 25 years of management and executive experience had worked against me. I had assumed I was dealing with principled, serious people trying to do the right thing.

I wasn’t.

The "charges" were read, and he put it up for a vote! We protested and said that the "charges" were completely fabricated, and we demanded to see the evidence. They produced (and you can’t make this up) pictures of a trash can and pictures of items sitting on a bar. There was no connection at all to us, nor to any of the "charges". To make matters worse, they had obviously altered the pictures! You could clearly see the original date stamp and the altered one superimposed over it. We again protested and said that this wasn’t evidence. It was nothing. We pointed out that we hadn’t been notified in advance of the charges, that they weren’t true, and that we could prove it.

It didn’t matter. The facts didn’t matter. The altered evidence didn’t matter. The lack of parliamentary procedure didn’t matter.

They held a vote, and we were gone from the Board. 3 years and hundreds of volunteer hours wiped away in a 10 minute procedure with no due process.

But they weren’t done yet.


Lists are an incredibly powerful offensive persuasion tool. If you list enough items, eventually you will find something that people will find plausible. Once they find a single thing that is plausible, then the entire list takes on the patina of legitimacy. If you use list persuasion and are completely untethered from reality and truth, it is a devastating offensive tool. Trust me, I know!

#cancelculture #cancelled #leadership