Facebook Employees Are Reportedly Deleting Controversial Internal Messages

Facebook employees are deleting potentially controversial comments and messages from the company’s internal communications systems, after the leak of a 2016 memo in which Vice President Andrew Bosworth appeared to place growth priorities ahead of public safety concerns.

According to Facebook employees who spoke with the New York Times, staffers are also urging the company to hunt down the leakers who released the Bosworth memo.

If the report is accurate, the deletion of internal communications could have legal implications, including in an ongoing Federal Trade Commission investigation into the company’s data-handling practices. Destruction of internal documents was a partial focus of the FTC’s recent investigation of Volkswagen.

Bosworth’s memo continued catastrophic PR fallout following findings that the Facebook data of as many as 50 million users was wrongly harvested by the election consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In the memo leaked Thursday, Bosworth wrote that “connecting people” should be the company’s driving goal, even if “it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies” or “someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”

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Facebook executives have defended the memo as merely provocative, and not actually intended to deny Facebook’s responsibility to try to prevent bullying or terrorism. Bosworth issued a statement via Twitter Thursday night saying he “didn’t agree with [the post] even when I wrote it” and cares “deeply about how our product affects people.” He further wrote that “this was one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally and the ensuing debate helped shape our tools for the better.”

While some parts of Bosworth’s message may be defensible as pot-stirring hyperbole, others are more difficult to rationalize. For instance, Bosworth wrote about “questionable contact importing practices.” That phrase shows high-level internal awareness about choices including the collection of detailed call logs from many Facebook users, which reached public attention last week. That news contributed to growing signs that users no longer trust the social network to protect their personal data.

Science Says The Happiest People In The World Love Saying This Word (It Made Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel A Billionaire)

There’s a pressure on professionals who are at the top of their game to take advantage of every opportunity presented.

However, just as you wouldn’t go out on a date with every single person that asked you, you should exhibit a certain level of particularity when it comes to where you commit your time.

A good rule of thumb is whether the opportunity causes more damage than potential good: if it could hurt your brand or your soul, don’t accept it.

Most readers will be able to spot such instances a mile away. However, the trickier moments in life are when to say no when it seems like you should maybe say yes.

Below are some occasions when you owe it to yourself to say no:

The “Perfect” Opportunity.

According to Dan Schulman, after Obama lost the race for Congress in 2000, he interviewed for a job running the prestigious and progressive Joyce Foundation in Chicago. It would have paid mid-six figures and included other perks such as a country club membership.

Many people would have viewed this opportunity as a buoy in a turbulent ocean after Obama’s public failure. But Obama knew in his gut that he was not done with politics and that’s why Obama admitted to “doing a bad job on the interview.”

If an opportunity is dropped in your lap but it doesn’t mesh with your core instincts, you owe it to yourself to say no.

Your Time is Always Finite.

Your commitment to excellence requires that you say no as there are a finite number of hours in the day and always will be.

Time does not allow you to say yes to everyone: sure, you want to serve on the board of that worthy non-profit, or mentor that very deserving underprivileged kid, but if you want to continue all the numerous other tasks you are committed to with the excellence that you have connected to your brand and your name, you must say no.

It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a master strategist.

Silence is Golden.

Do you remember the period before you were successful? Maybe this was when you were a student or a struggling entrepreneur, or working a job you hated.

This was a time in your life when you weren’t inundated with invitations to dinners, talks, cocktail parties, screenings, or panels.

While all such events are (sometimes) incredibly worthy and can often enrich your career and your network, you can’t and shouldn’t attend all of them.

Back when you were at the start of your career and had a much smaller social network and fewer events to go to, you also had more silence. You had more time alone with yourself to think about your ideas and to tinker with your own creativity, innovation, and imagination.

This is my theory as to why the second album a band puts out often is subpar. The first album was made after much reflection and effort. When the first album and the band takes off in a whirlwind, it often doesn’t give the band the time and space it needs to recreate that magic in the second album.

You have to say no occasionally in order to honor times when you can just be alone and silent with yourself and your ideas.

Saying no comes from a place of strength and wisdom. It indicates that you know yourself, that your goals are crystal clear, and that you have the courage to assert boundaries.

Sometimes saying no to a brilliant opportunity, a fun social event, or a worthy mentee means you’re shouting an even bigger yes to yourself, your goals, and your future.

Gadget Lab Podcast: What the New iPad Means for Consumers, and for Students

Uber Settles With Family of Victim Killed in Self-Driving Car Accident

Uber has settled with the family of a pedestrian who was killed when one of the company’s self-driving cars hit her while she crossed a road in Tempe, Ariz. earlier this month.

A lawyer representing the family of the deceased victim, Elaine Herzberg, told Reuters on Thursday that “the matter has been resolved,” but she did not reveal the settlement’s terms.

An Uber spokesperson declined to comment to Fortune about the settlement.

Herzberg was struck by one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles on the night of March 18 as she crossed a busy street while pushing her bicycle. Although a human driver was inside the self-driving car as a precautionary measure, a video of the accident shows the driver looking down until seconds before Herzberg appeared in front of the car, illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.

Local police told Fortune that the car was operating in autonomous mode when the accident occurred.

The accident is believed to be the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, an area in which several big companies like Alphabet (goog) subsidiary Waymo and General Motors (gm) are heavily investing.

After the accident, Uber paused all of its self-driving vehicle tests, including in California, where the online ride-hailing company is based.

By avoiding any future civil litigation over the accident, Uber has dodged the possibility of the courts establishing a legal precedent over liability in autonomous vehicle accidents.

A recent New York Times article highlighted problems with Uber’s self-driving car program, in which human drivers were more likely to take control of the autonomous cars during tests compared to rival companies.

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Additionally, a Reuters report published earlier this week revealed that Uber removed the number of lidar sensors from its newer fleet of self-driving cars. These sensor are used to help the cars “see” objects in the road, and reducing the number of sensors could have created more blind spots than Uber’s earlier test fleets as well as those of its rivals, the report said.

Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) shares fell almost 5 percent on Wednesday, wiping more than $30 billion off its market value, after news website Axios reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is obsessed with the world’s largest online retailer and wants to rein in its growing power.

The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Trump has talked about using antitrust law to “go after” the company because he is worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business by Amazon, Axios reported, citing five sources it said had discussed the issue with him.

Trump also wants to change Amazon’s tax treatment, the Axios report said, an issue the president raised publicly last year when he called for an internet tax for online retailers, even though Amazon already collects sales tax on items it sells direct to customers.

“The president has said many times before he’s always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses and this is no different,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, when asked about the Axios report. “He’s always going to look at different ways, but there aren’t any specific policies on the table at this time.”

The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in this June 8, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/Illustration

Trump has been complaining about Amazon in private, believing the company has become too powerful, another administration official confirmed to Reuters.

The official said Trump links this to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private ownership of the Washington Post, which he has called “fake news” for its critical coverage of his administration. Trump regards the newspaper as a mouthpiece for Bezos’ business interests, calling it #AmazonWashingtonPost on Twitter.

Amazon did not reply to a request for comment on the Axios report.

FAVORITE TARGET

Trump has criticized Amazon over taxes and jobs in the past, without offering evidence. The president urging the use of antitrust law to selectively thwart a company would be unprecedented, according to Jeffrey Jacobovitz of the law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP.

Amazon’s stock, which fell as low as $1,386.17 on Wednesday, was last down 4.6 percent at $1,427.83. The shares have nearly quadrupled over the last three years.

Tech stocks have been under pressure after Facebook Inc (FB.O) acknowledged this month that user data had been improperly harvested by a consultancy.

“With Facebook and regulatory worries, the last thing nervous tech investors wanted to see was news that Trump is targeting Bezos and Amazon over the coming months as this remains a lingering cloud over the stock and heightens the risk profile in the eyes of the Street,” GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives said.

Additional reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Diane Bartz and Amanda Becker in Washington; Sinead Carew in New York; writing by Chris Sanders; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and James Dalgleish

Is GE Now A Good Value?

About a month ago, I talked about 4.00% being the magic number for General Electric (GE) in a number of ways. One of those ways was the annual dividend yield, because the stock’s fall was putting this number in play. Despite a huge market rally on Monday, GE shares actually declined, with the stock less than 75 cents from this key dividend level at the day’s low. Will this be the point at which investors see value from the name again?

Last September, the board declared a $0.24 quarterly dividend, at which point the forward yield was 3.95%. Unfortunately, this became a misleading number for GE because as the stock fell, more and more concerns built up about a dividend cut, so it was hard to use that payout rate to project a yield. Things reset in early December, when the current rate of $0.12 was declared, and the chart below shows how that yield has fared on a closing basis since.

(Data sourced from Yahoo Finance. Last data point on chart is for Monday, March 26th close of $12.90)

With shares hitting a low of $12.73 on Monday, the annual yield was up to 3.77%. As you can see below, even after GE shares bounced a little into Monday’s close, the current yield is well above even the longest dated US Treasury. Looking purely at income potential, GE represents a better play moving forward if you believe the payout remains at its current level.

(Source: cnbc.com)

The odd part about Monday’s decline for the stock was that the market soared, with the Dow up almost 670 points on the day. There wasn’t a major catalyst that sent GE shares lower, outside of the Wall Street Journal worrying a little about about risks left over from the company’s once massive lending business. Even names like Facebook (FB) and Tesla (TSLA) that have seen plenty of negative news recently managed to go positive by the close, something that didn’t happen with GE.

With the stock doing so poorly lately, and nobody sure of what will happen with the business moving forward, it might not be a surprise that JPMorgan slapped a street low $11 price target on the name a few weeks ago. This was based on the notion that normalized free cash flow per share looks to be well below the street consensus, and we’re not even at a trough. On the flip side, there are those arguing for plenty of upside for the beaten down name, with Melius Capital stating that a breakup likely undervalues the business by 25% or more than previously estimated.

The question for investors is does GE now become a value play? Well, that likely depends on what you think of potential earnings. If you think that the street’s projection of $1.06 in 2019 is fair or even low, then a forward P/E a little north of 12 with a dividend yield of 3.7% seems like a decent value at roughly half of the S&P 500’s current trailing P/E ratio. However, if you think the situation will get much worse and earnings per share could fall as low as say 80 cents next year (a bit worse than street low of $0.85), a P/E above 16 currently is a bit harder to stomach in a declining revenue/earnings scenario.

With GE shares hitting another low on Monday despite a tremendous market rally, I’m wondering today at what point investors will consider the name a value. Will it be the 4.00% annual yield that the stock is fast approaching? With a forward P/E in the low teens, the name is certainly not expensive if you think management can get the business going again, but again, a cheap stock can always get cheaper if the situation worsens. Do you see value in General Electric currently? I look forward to your comments below.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.

Facebook shares dip as U.S. regulator announces privacy probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) shares fell as much as 6.5 percent on Monday after the main U.S. consumer protection regulator said it was investigating how the social network allowed data of 50 million users to get into the hands of a political consultancy.

A figurine is seen in front of the Facebook logo in this illustration taken, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Scrutiny by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which generally confirms the existence of an investigation only in cases of significant public interest, adds to pressure from lawmakers in the United States and Europe for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to explain how his company handles user data.

Facebook shares briefly dipped below $150 on Monday for the first time since July 2017, before recouping some losses. They were down 3.1 percent at $154.37 in afternoon trading.

At the day’s session low the company had lost $100 billion in market value since March 17, when newspapers first reported that Facebook member data was improperly used by consultants Cambridge Analytica to target U.S. and British voters in close-run elections.

“FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook,” the regulator said in a statement. “Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices.”

The investigation is broader than looking into whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent order it reached with the FTC over its privacy practices, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters.

“We remain strongly committed to protecting people’s information,” Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said in a statement on Monday. “We appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have.”

If the FTC finds Facebook violated terms of the consent decree, it has the power to fine it thousands of dollars a day per violation, which could add up to billions of dollars.

ALL APOLOGIES

The FTC’s move to make its probe public comes as lawmakers in the United States and Europe put more pressure on Facebook and Zuckerberg to explain the company’s privacy practices.

“Facebook’s failure to protect confidential user information likely violated specific legally binding commitments, but also basic norms and standards,” said U.S. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said on Monday it had invited the CEOs of Facebook, Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) to testify at an April 10 hearing on data privacy.

Slideshow (2 Images)

A bipartisan coalition of 37 state attorneys general also wrote to Facebook on Monday, demanding to know about the company’s role in the manipulation of users’ data by Cambridge Analytica and its policies and procedures for protecting private data.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and U.S. Senate Commerce Committee have already formally asked Zuckerberg to appear at a congressional hearing.

Earlier in the day in Europe, the European Union Justice Commissioner asked Facebook if the company is “absolutely certain” that the Cambridge Analytica incident could not be repeated.

Zuckerberg apologized last week for the mistakes the company had made and he promised to restrict developers’ access to user information as part of a plan to protect privacy. He also said sorry in full-page advertisements in British and U.S. newspapers.

“The was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time,” Zuckerberg said in the ads. “We are now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

‘FUTURE REGULATION’

His apologies have failed to quell discontent. Germany’s justice minister said Facebook’s promises were not enough.

“In future we will have to regulate companies like Facebook much more strictly,” Katarina Barley said after talks to which she summoned Facebook executives including European public affairs chief Richard Allan.

Advertisers and users are also unhappy.

U.S. auto parts retailer Pep Boys suspended all advertising on Facebook on Monday while consumer electronics company Sonos said in a blog post it will remove advertising for its speakers from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Alphabet’s YouTube for one week.

Internet company Mozilla Corp, Germany’s second-largest bank Commerzbank AG (CBKG.DE) and British advertising group ISBA all suspended advertising on Facebook last week.

Opinion polls published on Sunday in the United States and Germany cast doubt over the trust people have in Facebook.

Fewer than half of Americans trust Facebook to obey U.S. privacy laws, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, while a survey published by Bild am Sonntag, Germany’s largest-selling Sunday paper, found 60 percent of Germans fear that Facebook and other social networks are having a negative impact on democracy.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Writing by Bill Rigby; Editing by Susan Thomas

Uber to sell Southeast Asia business to rival Grab: source

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] has agreed to sell its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Sunday, in what would be the U.S. company’s second retreat from Asia.

Uber’s logo is pictured at its office in Tokyo, Japan, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The deal, which could be announced as early as Monday, marks the first big consolidation in the industry in Southeast Asia, home to about 640 million people, and will put pressure on rivals such as Indonesia’s Go-Jek, backed by Alphabet Inc’s Google and China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd .

As part of the transaction, Uber would get a stake of as much as 30 percent in the combined business, the source said. He did not want to be identified as the deal is not public yet.

Another source familiar with the deal said Uber would acquire a 25 percent to 30 percent stake in Grab, valuing the entire business at $6 billion, the same valuation it commanded in its most recent capital raising.

Uber and Singapore-based Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing firm, declined to comment.

FILE PHOTO: New hires relax at a lounge area in a Grab office in Singapore September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

A multi-billion dollar investment in Uber earlier this year by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp , already one of Grab’s main investors, had stoked expectations that Uber would consolidate its Southeast Asian business with Grab.

Grab’s deal with Uber would be similar to the one struck in China in 2016, when Didi Chuxing bought out Uber’s China business and handed over a stake in return.

During a visit to India in February, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi had, however, pledged to continue investing aggressively in Southeast Asia, even as the company expected to lose money in the fast growing market.

Both Grab and Uber have raised billions of dollars from global investors to fund their expansion plans, as they offer heavy discounts and promotions to attract both riders and drivers.

Grab raised about $2.5 billion last July from Didi, SoftBank and others in a deal valuing the company at around $6 billion.

Bloomberg first reported the deal.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Keith Weir and Lisa Shumaker

Polls show Facebook losing trust as firm uses ads to apologize

SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON (Reuters) – Opinion polls published on Sunday in the United States and Germany indicated that a majority of the public were losing trust in Facebook over privacy, as the firm ran advertisements in British and U.S. newspapers apologizing to users.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Fewer than half of Americans trust Facebook to obey U.S. privacy laws, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, while a survey published by Bild am Sonntag, Germany’s largest-selling Sunday paper, found 60 percent of Germans fear that Facebook and other social networks are having a negative impact on democracy.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized for “a breach of trust” in advertisements placed in papers including the Observer in Britain and the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it,” said the advertisement, which appeared in plain text on a white background with a tiny Facebook logo.

The world’s largest social media network is coming under growing government scrutiny in Europe and the United States, and is trying to repair its reputation among users, advertisers, lawmakers and investors.

This follows allegations that the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly gained access to users’ information to build profiles of American voters that were later used to help elect U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press” on Sunday that Facebook had not been “fully forthcoming” over how Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook data.

Warner repeated calls for Zuckerberg to testify in person before U.S. lawmakers, saying Facebook and other internet companies had been reluctant to confront “the dark underbelly of social media” and how it can be manipulated.

“BREACH OF TRUST”

Zuckerberg acknowledged that an app built by a university researcher had “leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014”.

A figurine is seen in front of the Facebook logo in this illustration taken March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

“This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time,” Zuckerberg said, reiterating an apology first made last week in U.S. television interviews.

Facebook shares tumbled 14 percent last week, while the hashtag #DeleteFacebook gained traction online.

The Reuters/Ipsos online poll found that 41 percent of Americans trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information, compared with 66 percent who said they trust Amazon.com Inc, 62 percent who trust Alphabet Inc’s Google, 60 percent for Microsoft Corp.

The poll was conducted from Wednesday through Friday and had 2,237 responses. (reut.rs/2G9hvrv)

The German poll published by Bild was conducted by Kantar EMNID, a unit of global advertising holding company WPP, using representative polling methods, the firm said. Overall, only 33 percent found social media had a positive effect on democracy, against 60 percent who believed the opposite.

It is too early to say if distrust will cause people to step back from Facebook, eMarketer analyst Debra Williamson said in an interview. Customers of banks or other industries do not necessarily quit after losing faith, she said.

“It’s psychologically harder to let go of a platform like Facebook that’s become pretty well ingrained into people’s lives,” she said.

Data supplied to Reuters by the Israeli firm SimilarWeb, which measures global online audiences, indicated that Facebook usage in major markets and worldwide remained steady over the past week.

“Desktop, mobile and app usage has remained steady and well within the expected range,” said Gitit Greenberg, SimilarWeb’s director of market insights. “It is important to separate frustration from actual tangible impacts to Facebook usage.”

Additional reporting by William James in London, Dustin Volz in Washington D.C. and Chris Kahn in New Editing by Kevin Liffey

Elon Musk Just Stunned Facebook, Deleting The SpaceX and Tesla Pages–Here's Why That's Awesome

Elon Musk just joined the #deletefacebook movement as he removed Tesla’s and SpaceX’s pages from the website. The two pages had a combined total of about 5 million ‘likes’. Musk not-so-subtly announced his decision on Twitter by asking, “What’s Facebook?” in response to a tweet calling to delete the social media platform.  

Another Twitter user asked, “this should be deleted too, right?” with a picture of the Tesla Facebook page, to which Musk had a cheeky response. 

It might seem like an unusual move, but Musk is awesome for making that decision. Here’s why:

Privacy

Facebook has been under fire over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which gave away 50 million people’s private data.

Musk is no stranger to such tactics. Last year, one of Tesla’s cars was hacked by a Chinese tech giant. Hackers were able to turn on the brakes, open doors, and play music,

Last month, Tesla’s Amazon cloud was hacked to mine cryptocurrency. The hacker remains unknown.

Plus, this isn’t the first time Facebook has done something unethical to its users. Back in 2014, Facebook manipulated its users’ news feed to show positive or negative content. Over 600,000 people were unwittingly part of a massive experiment. Tisk tisk, Zuck.

Less Social Media

In 2016, Motherboard blasted Musk for not following any women on Twitter.

(Note that Musk only follows 48 accounts. Six of them are real people such as his brother and ex-wife. The rest are news organizations.)

This brings up a good question: why should anyone care who a billionaire tech CEO is following on Twitter? Social media has brought a new age of pettiness and obsession. You can’t log into any account without hearing about the latest pop-culture celebrity drama or Kardashian lipstick color or makeup line.

Additionally, excessive Facebook use is linked to depression as people often compare their seemingly boring lives to that of friends. It’s a huge time-waster too. The average person will spent over five years of their life on social media, with Facebook being the second-biggest offender behind Pinterest.

All in all, removing a social toxin like that seems like it could be a good thing to me.

Continuing to Go Against the Grain

Most people wouldn’t dream of deleting a business social media pages with 5 million aggregate followers. Then again, Musk isn’t like most people.

Here’s a guy that dropped out of Stanford, taught himself programming and rocket science, and, most recently, sold his own flamethrowers. He’s most famous for trying to colonize Mars and his Hyperloop project aims to send people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a half hour. 

Musk has always gone against the grain and done things that nobody else expects. That’s what makes him unique and what is truly admirable. And that, my friends, is something we can all learn from him.