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Anonymous Mailbag

Videos by OutKick

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for me to solve all of the OutKick universe’s problems.

As always, you can send your questions, anonymity guaranteed, to claytravis@gmail.com

This weekend we’ll be in Knoxville for Georgia-Tennessee with the OutKick bus tour. I’ll post details on our location soon. Hope to see many of you there.

Okay, here we go:

“I am a 4th year medical student at a state school in the south. I am in the process of applying for residency (years of training post med school) and want to be a cancer doc. I’m a kid at the top of my class so I have had the opportunity to interview at several top 10 internal medicine programs in the country. In one of these interviews yesterday, over half of the introduction was about equity in medicine, social justice, and institutional racism.

They have courses for residents in macro-aggressions, micro-aggressions and subconscious bias. They barely even talked about developing clinical knowledge and taking care of patients (all I really care about) during this overview. So my question to you is do you go to one of these places and stick it out for three years and get whatever oncology fellowship I want afterwards or should I go to a still very solid institution that I would probably enjoy much more and still have plenty of oncology fellowship options without any of the prestige? Obviously a complex question with many factors but would like to hear your general perspective.”

I’m not an expert in medical school residencies, but my general perspective on all grad schools would be go to the place that you feel like is the best fit for you. Not the best prestige fit overall, but the best fit for you. My rationale on this is pretty straightforward: if you’re good enough to get into top schools, then there is going to be a top school that’s the right choice for you.

In the long run does whether you went to the fifth best or the ninth or the fifteenth best school really matter? I doubt it. Vanderbilt Law School is the 15th best law school in the country. I think it was the perfect fit for me. I could have gone to an Ivy League school, but I don’t think it would have gotten me where I am today.

My point is, your choice may not be THE top school you could have gone to, but it may well be the the top school for you.

Finding a group that embraces your life goals and provides great mentoring and training will often set you up for success better than simply chasing the prestige of a name. Plus, given that medical residencies are about matching — for those who don’t know you rank your top choices and they match you with the top choices of the residency, generally in a public event at the med school — and not about you directly selecting your own top choice, this will likely sort itself out in both your ranking and in the school ranking process.

Degrees matter when it comes to your initial job, but once you start your first job, your GPA and your collegiate and grad school résumés rapidly fade into the background because you’re being judged based on your work product as opposed to the history of your academic background. The more years you work, the less your academic credentials are used to get you your next job.

Do the schools you attend still matter for the rest of your life? Sure, because some people just take a cursory look at your résumé and that can sometimes get you an opportunity you might not otherwise receive, but ultimately your work product will matter far more than where you go to school.

We’ve hired a ton of people over the years at OutKick. I don’t recall ever making a hire based on where someone went to school. Heck, I can’t even tell you where most of OutKick’s writers went to college at all. (Or even if they graduated.) It’s just not that important here. The work is.

As it pertains to equity in medicine, social justice, and institutional racism, I think these focus points will fade in the years ahead because all patients ultimately care about is quality of care. If these courses are proven to improve the overall quality of care, good for them, they may continue, but count me as a skeptic that this is time well spent on medical training. Because I think all patients facing a severe health issue — white, black, Asian or Hispanic — don’t care one iota about the race, sex, ethnicity or political opinions of the doctors treating them.

All they care about is the quality of the doctor.

In fact, the more severe the medical issue, the less anything matters but the quality of the doctor.

If I needed emergency open heart surgery and Bernie Sanders was the best open heart surgeon in the world, I wouldn’t care at all that he’s a socialist hell bent on destroying capitalism in this country. I’d want him to operate on my heart.

I suspect the same thing is true for anyone out there when it comes to their own personal health care or the personal health care of those they love.

“My wife works for a children’s hospital in a red state where nurses have been told to vax or be let go. My wife defends this saying that if you wouldn’t want your sick child to be possibly exposed to an additional illness that could complicate their treatment and/or recovery. Her argument is, if you have the choice of your child being treated by someone who was vaccinated or someone who was not, very few people would choose the person who was unvaccinated. Plus there is the chance that other nurses and doctors could be exposed as well. I’m not crazy about mandatory anything. We are both vaccinated because it makes the most sense in slowing the spread and lessening the severity of COVID, but I can understand some people having reservations. Do you agree with the hospital’s policy?”

I don’t agree with the hospital’s policy because it’s too simplistic given the data that is currently out there about COVID vaccines.

For instance, what about natural immunity, which many people who work in a hospital have now? Your sick child is, at least according to the most reliable data out there from Israel, less likely to get COVID from someone with natural immunity than they are from someone who is vaccinated. If the hospital’s policy was that everyone had to have had COVID or have gotten the COVID vaccine, that would make far more sense than mandating the vaccine.

I can honestly say, based on the data, if I had a sick kid, I wouldn’t be worrying about COVID for them since COVID provides a minuscule danger. My sick kid would be more likely to be murdered, die in a car accident on the way to the hospital, drown or die of the seasonal flu than they would die with COVID. I’d want the best care possible and I wouldn’t be worried about COVID vaccinations at all.

I don’t know the answer to this, but has the hospital mandated the flu shot for employees every year? If not, they’re engaging in cosmetic theater here because the seasonal flu is more dangerous to children than COVID is. And they haven’t been worried about a sick kid catching the flu from an employee before. So why suddenly be concerned about COVID?

If I ran a hospital, I’d be more concerned about losing quality nursing employees who don’t want to get the COVID vaccine than I would about enforcing a vaccine mandate. That is, in this incredibly difficult hiring environment, I’d be more concerned about staffing issues, which can directly result in substandard patient care, than I would enforcing a vaccine mandate.

Finally, based on the data that is out there, it doesn’t appear that the vaccines provide very much long lasting benefit. That’s why the definition of “fully vaccinated” is going to keep shifting to encompass booster shots for years to come. Heck, the most recent data from England shows us that 78% of all people dying with COVID in their country are double vaccinated.

The idea that we can vaccinate our way to COVID health, at least based on these current COVID vaccines, is just not remotely true.

“I work for a company high on the Fortune 500 list. Recently we had our annual meeting where executives speak about the past year’s accomplishments and goals moving forward. Predictably, they had a whole morning one day devoted for diversity and inclusion.

The executives spoke about an initiative called Environmental Social Governance (ESG). Investment groups like Vanguard are now pushing public companies to do all these new scored metrics – board diversity, health & safety, human rights, etc. – in short, it culminates into a corporate social credit score.

When the whole thing was presented, it sounded good and we all want to be better as a society. However, investors are basically strong-arming companies to impose what they decide is right/wrong.

What if it a company is blacklisted for having views that are not in line with the mainstream? There is just so much room for potential abuse in my eyes and I see this as a further way to push ‘woke-ism’ backed by capital. What are your thoughts?”

My general thoughts on company-mandated diversity and inclusion is all that should matter to a company is getting the best people in the best positions to achieve success. If you do that, over time, you win. If you don’t do that, over time, you lose. If your policies on diversity and inclusion make that more likely, they work. If they don’t, they fail.

And my guess is that by focusing on cosmetic diversity, they are making companies weaker instead of stronger. What people look like or what they believe should be secondary to their talents.

You can easily make a sports analogy here. Sports teams are not, generally speaking, diverse and inclusive in terms of the talent they put on the field or court. In football and basketball, for instance, black athletes are wildly overrepresented given their population in the United States. Black people are around 12% of the United States population and they make up over 80% of all NBA players.

But no one screams about needing more diversity or equitable distribution of jobs in the NBA.

If you had an NBA team and you said they had to perfectly reflect America’s racial make up — 60% white, 13% Hispanic, 12% black, and the rest Asian, Native American and the like, that team would get destroyed in actual competition. Because the goal wouldn’t have been to find the best players, it would have been to find a perfectly diverse rainbow coalition of basketball players. (If you insisted on making the team even more inclusive and made half the team women, you’d never win a game in the entire history of your franchise.)

My goal would be to find the best talent, period.

And I think the companies that focus on talent as their primary driver will be the most successful over time.

After all, just think about it, if there was some incredibly talented pool of underrepresented talent out there to hire from, then a company would hire all that talent, probably have to pay them lower wages, and completely dominate the market until the market adjusted and began to value this talent higher. (This, by the way, is the killer argument every time someone says women aren’t paid enough compared to men. Purely from a market based perspective, why wouldn’t every company hire all women and reduce their employment costs by 20% if there was no difference in quality of work and women just cost way less than men because of sexism?)

One of the challenges of big companies in general is inertia. And getting bogged down in organizational charts to such an extent that no one is able to accomplish anything or make any decisions. That’s why, over time, all big companies, no matter how successful, ultimately die.

I loved owning and running my own company because every decision, for better or worse, was mine. And I could make decisions really quickly, which meant if there was an opportunity you could pounce on it. That’s the advantage of a small business. But what about when a small business grows into a big business? Well, that growth can be challenging to manage.

As your company gets bigger, there’s often a move towards more of a consensus governing style. That often eliminates big swings of success or failure because it keeps you somewhere in the middle, consensus viewpoint. That can be fine for the long term success of the company, but it can tamp down the rocket ship successes as well.

“I know that you’re fond of pointing out that Twitter is not real life, as only a little over 20% of the U.S. population has a Twitter account and, of that 20%, over 90% of the tweets and activity comes from only 10% of the users. Looking at the recent Netflix ‘controversy’ with Dave Chappelle, I think this also falls into the category of something getting an exorbitant amount of attention despite not being an accurate portrayal of reality.

The way it was covered in the media, you would have thought that the entire Netflix office walked off the job yesterday to protest Dave Chappelle’s comedy special. However, a simple Google search pulls up tons of articles, including CNN and MSNBC, that all report that the protest only gathered around 65 total demonstrators. Netflix employs over 9,000 full-time team members, meaning the total participation of this protest only accounts for roughly 0.72% of Netflix’s entire full-time workforce. But, again, the MSM reported this as if it was some massive gathering.

This again appears to be a completely made-up controversy by the media where over 99% of the populace has absolutely no problem with Chappelle’s stand-up, but a small and very vocal minority demands he be cancelled. Why does no one else point this out?”

Because we’ve moved to an anecdote-driven media culture.

Our media covers outlier stories — the people upset with Chappelle for instance — instead of covering the vast majority of people who have no issue with Chappelle at all. In fact, far from being representative of larger issues, most of these anecdotes are extremely rare.

The media chooses them as stories to cover because they create strong opinions, but what most people don’t realize is they have very strong opinions about very rare outlier and anecdotal situations. Anecdotal stories advocating extremism are the keystone for identity politics and cancel culture because they allow one tiny story to dominate our news cycle.

Just recently we saw this happen with Aaron Rodgers and his comments on why he chose not to get the COVID vaccine. This story has stayed in the news cycle for five days now. And why? Are Aaron Rodgers’s opinions on the COVID vaccine really that important?

Of course not.

But Aaron Rodgers became the anecdote that everyone saw and had an opinion on.

I’m cautiously optimistic that many people in positions of power are starting to punch back against cancel culture and recognize the absurdity of responding to social media noise. It happened with Netflix and Dave Chappelle, and it happened with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and State Farm. Both big companies came out in support of their talent.

Did you see what State Farm said when the woke universe was demanding State Farm end their relationship with Rodgers? “We don’t support some of the statements that he has made, but we respect his right to have his own personal point of view. We recognize our customers, employees, agents and brand ambassadors come from all walks of life, with differing viewpoints on many issues. Our mission at State Farm is to support safer, stronger communities. To that end, we encourage vaccinations, but respect everyone’s right to make a choice based on their personal circumstances.”

Boom, that’s perfect.

Every company in America should copy and paste this statement every time there’s a controversy involving anyone’s opinion. This is how cancel culture ends, when talented people like Chappelle and Rodgers are willing to say exactly what they think and when companies are brave enough to refuse to cancel anyone for their opinions. We have to get back to a world where we stop treating what people say as the equivalent of what people do, where words are treated more severely than actions.

I’ve been making the words vs. actions argument for years now, and it’s where the vast majority of the American public, white, black, Asian and Hispanic all reside. We all believe that what you do is more important than what you say. Yet instead of adopting this mantra on social media ,we’ve allowed a tiny percentage of active Twitter users to hijack our national discourse and lead us straight into insanity.

In my last book, I said one of the simplest ways to end cancel culture was for companies to start saying they don’t agree with everything every person associated with their company says or does. And why should they? Do you agree with everything every person in your family says or does? Do you agree with everything your spouse or kids say? Of course not. Yet you’re still going to sit down with them for Thanksgiving and have, hopefully, a fun meal.

One of the biggest problems of social media, maybe the biggest problem, is its ability to sort all of us to such an extent that we’re only surrounded by people who agree with us all day long. Social media algorithms feed us self-reaffirming stories all day long every day. And then we wonder why it’s so hard for many people to look over at the other side’s argument.

It’s because social media has conditioned us to believe that the other side is evil.

This is one of many reasons I’m glad I went to law school. Maybe I would have had the ability anyway, but being a lawyer forces you to get out of what you think and examine the arguments of the people who disagree with you. Before I go public with any opinion I have, I can make the argument against my opinion better than most people who disagree with me can.

That duality of thought used to be common in American media life, now it’s almost nonexistent.

And I think it’s destroying the fabric of the country.

But what do I know? I’m just a guy answering questions on the Internet.

See you guys in Knoxville this weekend, and I’ll see you on Clay and Buck in a couple of hours.

As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

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