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Why You Should Never Mix "Business" and "Politics" (Business + Politics = Disaster)
Last Updated December 12th, 2016

A friend of mine is very political. He also runs an online business. I asked him a simple question:

Me: “Why do you mix the two?”

Him: “I just can’t keep quiet about…”

And I get it.

One of the BEST things about “freedom of speech” is having the option to speak up when we believe something isn’t okay.

…but when you run an online business, there’s a BIG Problem with speaking up. And that problem is this:

This is how the United States voted for this presidential election. 51% voted for one side. 49% voted for the other side.

Why is it a problem?


If you go public about your political views, you stand to alienate HALF of your customer base.


And for what reason?

No. Really. What’s the reason?

“I just can’t keep quiet…”

I get it…

Sometimes we get so worked up that we need to write our feelings on Facebook… just so we can see 175 people like our Facebook post… and read the 125 comments of people telling us we’re right…

(I mean, have you ever seen my coffee shop stories? What’s that all about? Yea, they’re funny. But come on! Gimme them likes! No. Just kidding. There’s actually a reason behind those stories but I’ll save that for another day).

But what does that have to do with your business?

Almost nothing.



Unless you stand to directly benefit from the results of an election, there’s no legitimate BUSINESS reason to share your opinion.

(By directly benefit I mean: you will land a new customer. And, you can name who that customer is. Right now).

So, it’s smart to keep quiet.

I know. It’s hard.

Do you know how many times I wrote a Facebook post about some political issue, then showed my team, and they’re like, “OH NO! Don’t do it.”

But, it’s the smart BUSINESS thing to do. STAY QUIET.

You should never alienate potentially half of your customers because you have feelings that you need to share with people. Even if those feelings are about real problems that will drastically impact our future and our kids and our businesses and ME ME ME ME ME ME.

Look at it like this…

If you ever met me in person, you’ll notice that I use curse words. And that I probably use them more than I care to admit.

But I never use curse words on my email list. And I almost never say them in video, on webinars, or anywhere else.


Why would I change the way I talk? Why can’t I just “be myself?” Why can’t I just do what I do and screw ’em if they don’t like it?

Because there are people who won’t buy from someone who curses.

As weird as that may seem to me, there are actually people who won’t buy from someone who curses…

But no one wakes up and says, “I need to find an online course or software product from someone who uses the F word… they’re just so honest!”

So, I don’t curse.

Just like I don’t talk about politics and business.

(Well. I did talk about politics and business once. I posted this picture on Facebook)

Now you may even be surprised by this.

“This seems so unlike you! You like to fight about things!”

And you’re right. I do like to fight about things. Especially when that fight scares away the people I never want to work with… but when you stand to lose a customer… for no reason whatsoever… it’s dumb.

What do you think?

Leave a comment.

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108 comments Leave a comment

This post arrived the day after I dragged into a back and forth with troll on FB. I felt cathartic at the time but my wife looked at it and just shook her head. In my business I deal overwhelmingly with people I’m aligned with politically, but not entirely by any means.

There is another level to this: People infer your politics not only by what you addressing your online posts, but what you ignore. The day after the election, a business associate posting a new profile picture on FB. She looked great: Big, happy smile. Of course, it told me more than I wanted to know about her politics.


Hi Derek! I recently found your blog (and signed up).

I have been deeply offended by a business. A spice company. I enjoy cooking and baking and was following them on FB and via newsletters. The promise was to talk about spices, sharing recipes and sending sales offers. But the guy went on a rant about the election result, how it was so wrong and how the people who do not share his feelings are racists and are not welcome on his page. He even sent me the same rant via email.

So I decided to unsubscribe and buy my spices elsewhere. That I share his feelings or not is irrelevant. He is discriminatory and mean about it. That is not the kind of person I want to buy from. Like you said, I felt betrayed.

Thank you for your post!


IF WE DON’T HAVE CONVERSATIONS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE – HOW DO WE LEARN ANYTHING? There’s always more to learn – even about what we know…

In our personal life, we have a circle of friends, family and neighbors where usually we have common ground. BUT….

How many times have I learned something that has been truthful, insightful, helpful and maybe even life changing because I heard something different at work (which is a setting where I connect with others of not-so-common ground at times), and someone had the courage to speak up and share a different aspect I’d never been exposed to before, or revealed “more to the story” than what the media reported? MANY TIMES!! AND I AM THANKFUL! We can’t trust the media for 100% truth – the media consists of other imperfect human beings, people with their own opinion (and EVERY single opinion is a bias in itself). There is so much never ever reported or considered that I would be oblivious to if someone had not shared a totally different perspective.

PLUS…when you share (even if I disagree with an aspect of it), the point is it connects us as people – to see people, understand people rather than put people in a box as things we use just for our own good. I question why were so many people shocked at the election results? You could only be shocked if you were living in your own little world – unaware of how many people are different from yourself, and can value that they have a reason, journey, experience or something that caused them to do what they do – just like yourself. In that way we can understand and be connected rather than divided.


In reading the comments, I think Derek’s basic message in regards to business is this…
Be professional in your business, and add a personal touch where you can.

When I was a teen in high school, I used to like to portray a bad boy image, and then show people that I wasn’t the bad boy after all. One day a woman asked me why I did that, and then said, “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.” She was right, and it totally changed my viewpoint. I liked this girl at Church….her parents wouldn’t her go out with me. I’m betting it was that bad first impression I left.

Today, I cherish my character above all else. What you see is what you get, Birds of a feather flock together. If you cuss, fuss and raise #@%& you will attract those same people to you. If you live a squeaky clean life, like-minded people will be attracted to you. You can’t please everyone, but you do have control over the first impression you leave. That girl in high school…she will always be the one who got away.


I think some of us don’t feel we have the right to sit out and sit back. Some of us do and that’s okay but some of us don’t and that’s also okay.

Some of us feel our lives are on the line at this point or the lives of people we love. We speak up when and where we can.

For some It is life or death and they feel they can’t sit on the sidelines just to earn the business of people who don’t even respect them

Our business is ours. None of us created it to play it safe or by the rules. I’m willing to lose business. If I wanted to shut my mouth for the bottom line I would stay at my 9-5. I’m willing to offend and lose business. I don’t want business at all costs.

Some people aren’t worth doing business with. Leave them behind.

I respect Target for stand, I go out of my way to Costco because of their open commitments to workers, I go to Starbucks because of the stands they have taken and I don’t drink coffee. Marie Forleo posted something about Black Lives Matter and I felt proud to have bought her products, it strengthened my commitment to her. I’ve seen some posts from businesses that gave me a deeper understanding of the Dakota pipeline issue, I appreciated it

I appreciate business goes out of its way and takes a risk they isolate some for the sake of progress. In the process they gain those who applaud them for their bravery

I’m not staying silent just to get 50% of people who I wouldn’t be a good fit serving. And that number is overinflated because even within 50% there are many who won’t leave you even if you risk taking a stand on an issue, they will find your service or product so valuable they won’t care what you say. I know this because I have people who show up to my events now who have a radically different stance than I do and come back even after I make politically charged statements

I guess what I am saying is I’m willing to take a stand when I feel it’s right, not all business is good business and if I lose some then they were never mine to begin with

To each their own. If people want to say nothing then do it. If not, don’t. But we shouldn’t let the fear of loss stop us from doing or saying or speaking up if we feel it’s right


I definitely agree! Don’t mix politics with business! Even though I’m very opiniated, I only talk politics or religious matters with close friends who know me for a long time. I’m not a sports buff, so thank god that’s one less subject I don’t have to deal with.

I don’t have a so called party affiliation since I think all politicians are corrupt. Nonetheless, long ago I used to work for a very liberal boss, and she would always talk politics and I would either just nod at her comments or laugh, or say, that’s really interesting, but never disagreed; other people in the team would sit there arguing about a topic, while I just sat there and watch the show. At some point there were cuts on staff, and I noticed that the first to go, were those who used to disagree with the boss. That’s why I say, don’t mix work/business with politics! 😀


Wow. Big, bold move to open the discussion, Derek, and I commend you for it. And I agree. I subscribed to Social Triggers because I believe in your expertise in building an online business, not because I’m interested in your political views. I’d feel a little betrayed if you turned around and used my subscription to spread your thoughts on politics (this would be the case even if I AGREED with those thoughts).
I loved Buzz’s comments about saving those delicate political discussions for face-to-face meetings, where the emotional charge can be addressed, respectfully, through tone of voice, body language, and simple familiarity. As online businesses don’t necessarily lend themselves to in-person heart-to-heart’s, I definitely see the wisdom in avoiding political comments.
Thanks for your courage in bringing it up. It shows me that you care enough about ALL of your subscribers, regardless of their political leanings, to help them avoid a potential pitfall in their online business.


I totally agree!!!


Couldn’t agree more! I think this is the first time I’ve even responded to a post of yours.

I curse and have strong political and religious/spiritual feelings in “real life,” but I don’t talk politics/religion online, and I very rarely curse in my blogs, newsletters, social media, live streams, etc.

If I do curse, it’s a “damn” or “hell,” which seems to be more palatable.

Thanks for talking about this!


There is a big difference between Party Politics and politics (with the small ‘p’) Although I never post about party politics, my customers know that I will always speak out against injustices. I don’t want a sale so badly that I will stand by and see people or animals trampled on, abused, beaten etc. And my customers know this and I’ve had many come up to me and say they support me and my business precisely because I’m the way I am. Once very famous person in my field actually publicly stated that she admired and supported me for my integrity and authenticity.

Our humanity is more important than our profit and loss account.

Kate Bourland

I take a different position on this. My worst clients tend to be those that have a different political view from me. We live in a world where we get to choose who we work with. Life is about having fun, being true to yourself and serving.

This is not the time to be politically correct. I’m always respectful, but no I think that we have an obligation to our country to pay attention and speak up. Your tribe will find you and follow you.


Hi Derek, I agree with almost everything you said, except the swearing bit – not because I like swearing (I’m actually not attached either way!), but because I’ve seen a number of entrepreneurs specifically go out of their way to attract their clients, by swearing, and seen it work really, really well.


Because their clients genuinely want someone real, down to earth and ready to drop an F-Bomb like them – I get it, this turns lots of people off (and if you’re like me and you have clients who swear and those who don’t, you won’t swear in email and social media) BUT if the majority of your clients do swear – and hate it that others in your industry don’t it can actually be part of your USP (not logical, but hey who said humans genuinely were!).


    Really? That seems like a pretty superficial definition of down to earth. Have you noticed how the attitude of the person “changes” when they use the F word? You will find it’s not genuine whatsoever – it is an attempt to use something external to deal with/cover something internal…thinking, perception, insecurity, lack or a hundred other things… Since F doesn’t have a relevant definition usually regarding the content (it tells you absolutely nothing about the subject) – what do you think it’s really doing then? It has to do with the person themselves.

    As a life coach, it can tell me a lot….Just saying…


      For those people it is their perception of people who swear (and also of those who don’t), I’m not making that right or wrong but making the observation that there are people who choose to buy (and not) for that very reason :-).

      Down to earth may not be the best phrase though, a better one is probably that people who swear are “more real” or “more authentic” for them.

Justin Arn

This was a good essay, and I think that most people could and should could take its lesson to heart. I genreally don’t write about politics in social media, and polarized arguments appear absurd to me. As I read your responses above I think you may have the right idea, especially when you point out that to distract your readers / consumers with another another argument isn’t fair to them or your goal.

My question is this: when the problem you have chosen to tackle, the reason you started your business, becomes irrelevant in the face of an oncoming political force, in other words you are made aware if an existential threat, do you still remain silent?

What if your clout was so immense that to speak up would ensure that demise of that force and and to remain silent would guarantee it’s ascent and the utter irrelevance of your problem in the face of seemingly dire futures?

These are not unreasonable hypotheticals, certainly. Many people may feel justified airing their own radically unique views using just such an argument.

Don’t mistake me here, I agree with you, but there is a line. Where we fall in the spectrum may just be a question of how conditioned we are to avoid seeing it.


Shawn Elder

In the travel industry, working with clients and travelers, you learn very quickly not to discuss politics, religion, and sports, unless the tour is specifically targeted to that niche, and then stay focused on THIER favorites and preferences, not your own.

Why? For all the reasons you mentioned and more – ultimately you risk alienating your customers.

its sage advise in an era where there are plenty of people who will wield their online influence to seriously damage your reputation, and opportunities to make money. Frankly, I’d rather have the money to support my particular interests as I see fit, then to alienate those who are giving me their money.


And another thought. A lot of businesses have deliberately brought politics into their business throughout this election season — and have built a stronger connection with their fans because of it. Look at Ben & Jerry’s, creating deliberately, overtly political ice cream flavors. It’s strengthened their fan base and it’s made me want to buy them — and I’m dairy intolerant, I can’t even eat ice cream!

Which goes back to my original point: it is absolutely okay, and even a good idea, to specify political opinions as part of your ideal customer profile. You don’t HAVE to include that — but honestly, I think you should, especially in today’s climate. Not because you should only market to people exactly like you, but because your ideal customer should be a SINGLE PERSON, with every bit as much detail as a single person has, and obviously their political opinion is an important part of who they are (at least for a lot of people, especially now). If I’m going to specify my ideal customer’s favorite brand of tea, I sure as heck am going to specify her political opinions. Even though I sell neither tea nor politics. Finding your ideal customer is about being very, very specific and marketing to a SINGLE, ACTUAL, REAL person, not a type or a stereotype or a generic concept. When you market effectively to one real person, you market effectively to a lot of people and you build a powerful brand. If your ideal customer doesn’t want to hear cussing or politics, that’s FINE. But that’s because your single, specific person is turned off by that — not because half your people are, because when you’re defining your brand and your marketing, there should be no such thing as “half your potential customers.” You shouldn’t market to imaginary potential customers. You should market to one single person, using their words, their passions, their quirks, their interests.

(And if your ideal person is me? You better f****** well better be cussing about politics.)

I’ve enjoyed this conversation but I’ll be unsubscribing too since it’s made it obvious to me that I am not your ideal customer.


I think evil prospers when good people do nothing. I don’t post political views on my author FB and Twitter pages but I do post them, along with author posts, on my personal pages. I am not a political person but Trump is not your normal candidate. He is dangerous and people must speak up!


Its always good to keep politics out of business,
1) because they are two different subjects when taught at the university level,
2) because its always good, to keep political customers out of your business, because generally they are not good customers and never buy anything, they want it for free as they cannot understand the concept of business for profit.
3) As a political employee will only divide and cause a rift amongst staff, just when you need them most to co-operate so everyone can succeed.

Teach me a habit to keep my mouth shut ?


This is great advice! Cussing and political comments are the biggest turn offs for me as a consumer. While I’m not “against” cussing, I do find it to be a lazy and boring blogging tactic. The ones that do it are all like “oh, look at me. I use the f-word. I’m sooo edgy.” Not.

Political discussions annoy me because I’m following your blog because of topic X. Not politics. As such, I don’t care what you think about the election, gun control, climate change, etc. And I’m certainly not interesting in having you insult my beliefs.

I recently un-followed a well-known SEO expert because of his somewhat frequent political tweets. What amazed me was that he basically told anyone that didn’t like what he had to say to un-follow him. Request granted. Not because of what he believed, but because he clearly cares more about his political beliefs than he does not purposefully offending his followers.


Great article. Well written and thought out.


Don’t you think you are hypocritical if you don’t take sides ? or don’t have an opinion ? Most people view it as being a hypocrite , a person who has no views or does not take sides, an opportunist ???

Is it okay to put business profits before your social or political opinion ? How do you avoid being questioned on your social or political opinion ? How do you effectively dodge it ?

if the social media or Face Book was created to voice our concerns regarding social and political opinions, why are you using it for business? By keeping social triggers out of social and political opinions in social media, have you been successful business wise ? Are you not alienating all the sub sets of people who are not interested in business in the social media space ?

like to hear from you


Hey Derek,

isn’t this post a political statement as well? It might not be “partisan”, but it promotes a “keep your mouth shut” and “only care about your financial success”-attitude, so it has a political dimension.
And it will also discourage some people to buy from you – if they interpret it as a cowardish and self-centered message. Personally, I’d rather stand up for what I believe in and lose a few customers than living the way you recommend.
I am reminded of the famous words by Martin Niemoeller:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

If everyone acted the way you are promoting, there would never be any progress. Democracy requires voices to be heard. Democracy requires disagreements. And every voice counts, even in a tweet. (Just ask the tweeter-elect in the US, who would like everyone who disagrees with him to shut up, and will silence them if he can, by any means necessary.)

The Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London has Edmund Burke’s words set in stone at the end of the exhibition: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
And this “doing nothing” is what your blog post advertises.

Be well,



    I disagree with you, Niels. There is a platform for everything…including politics. I don’t need to be lectured or insulted because I don’t feel the same way about the personal politics of a business owner. However, I agree with your last quote. How do I become involved to do something against evil? I have political conversations with people outside of my business, I sign up for marches, and I vote.


    Agreed, thank you!


    Well said!

    Cheryl Kline

    Bravo Niels! I could not agree with you more. Sometimes the sacrifice of a few dollars is worth a good night’s sleep.

    Derek Halpern

    And there lies the big problem.

    I write Social Triggers because I genuinely want to help people grow their businesses. And do well in life.

    The problem is, I see many people who are shooting themselves in the foot by mixing politics into business, which is why I suggest they should avoid it like the plague. But it appears, by encouraging people to “not talk about it” in business, I have created my own political opinion.

    Also, to clarify: I’m talking about business. Can you share it on personal pages? Sure. Can you create a platform to share your views? OF COURSE. But, if you sell widgets, and people are interested in widgets, sharing your political opinion, which has nothing to do with widgets, is, in my opinion, silly.


I really enjoyed this post. I especially enjoy your commentary on curse words. With friends, I can be pretty salty but in speeches and in my writing, I NEVER curse for the reasons you describe. Thanks!


Makes perfect sense to me. I’ve certainly been seconds away from buying someone’s product or service and seen their political rants and decided I’d rather tear my own arm off than throw a penny in their direction.

Or stay on their email list. Conversely I’ve never bought something BECAUSE I’ve liked someone’s politics. I buy only because I like someone’s product offering.

At best if you’re too political you’ll split half your customers off into a different direction and draw in a bunch of “political seekers” that just follow you around because they like your politics but have no need for your products or services.


Normally, I’d agree. But this isn’t normal. We have a Fascist would-be Dictator about to assume the Presidency. This is like Hitler in the 30’s and too many people didn’t speak out.

I am political only on my personal FB page… though I post to the Public there, too. If people don’t want to use my coaching because I oppose Fascist, Racist, Homophobic Billionaires for Corporate Rights who ridicule individual citizens and want to squash free speech… then so be it.

I’ll not stand by and watch any groups being targeted by hate without speaking out. And I won’t let my Constitution go down the drain without speaking out. I won’t watch our planet die from human induced climate change whilst climate change deniers take power without speaking out.



    That’s exactly how I feel.

Curt Neuharth

God had a hand in the Trump victory. He helped put the best candidate to Make America Great Again.
I an a conservative and I think if I lose some customers because of where I stand that’s Ok.


I guess it really depends on the social and economic power you currently have, and what you stand to lose or gain with this election. Or put more elegantly…

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Martin didn’t mention anything about his online ROI, but I assume that was in the next stanza.


i agree but i still curse online


I concur… It’s smart not to alienate a potential customer about an issue that has no or little connection with our product or service… But I have just done that with my last blog post… Rebel me 😅😅😅

Scott M. Stolz

I totally understand the argument, but at the same time, it is a form of censorship due to social pressure. Business people can’t get involved in politics because they would loose business, and employees can’t mention politics because they may get fired.

And the result is we get a government that caters to the only people who actually do speak up, the ultra-wealthy who don’t care what you think since they already own half of the wealth in this country, and special interests that are often paid to speak upon someone’s behalf. The ones that speak up for free are the ones who lose their jobs or lose business. The lobbyists and political action committees, however get paid, especially if sponsored by major corporations or the wealthy. The whole thing just re-enforces the whole system where the squeaky wheel gets oil, and it usually takes money to squeak loud enough to be heard. Meanwhile, the populous is quiet out of necessity because they will lose business or lose their job… so their needs are not being met since most are silent on the matter.

So, what can you do in this environment?

1. Use a pen name when speaking on political topics, and maintain a separate blog or website.
2. Pay lobbyists, professional associations, activist groups, political parties and politicians to advocate for you by contributing to their political funds. Totally legal if you follow the rules.

Other than that, it appears the only option is for you to do what Hillary tells her clients to do. Keep a public and private persona so you can project B.S. to your customers and the truth to trusted people.

But is that the best way to do things? Is that the right way to do things? Is that the ethical way of doing things?

Politics should almost never be brought up in the course of business. It’s just good for business to shut up. Is it good for society though?


I’m not sure the cure is to ignore the issue like politics doesn’t exist.

There is a big difference between being a human with values, thoughts, and opinions and being an asshole shoving your views down people’s throats.

I admire people or companies who hold strong moral and ethical values, even if they differ radically from mine. We all need to learn to listen more, as Ted Anderson put it so eloquently “the internet has turned us into knee jerk rage machines.”

Here is an example:

My family isn’t Christian or conservative, but we still eat at Chic-Fil-a, go to the YMCA, and my wife loves Hobby Lobby.

All of these businesses have great services or products, and have values 180 degrees the opposite to mine literally posted in the front door. We still enjoy them, because we’re not assholes and they’re not assholes even though we don’t have the same values.

When someone believes strongly on something, your time is almost never wasted to learn why they feel that way, even if you feel differently.


I have so damn problem with stop publishing a posts about politics on my facebook feed. I spend a few years working in NGOs and now I feel that’s still part of me, but I also know that isn’t good to mixing business and politics. I must shut my mouth 😉


I get what you’re saying, and I agree. However, have you considered (and I’m sure you have) that when people are super passionate about something, perhaps they are much more willing to support someone who shares their views. So, for example, if you came out and supported a certain political party, would there be people who are on the fence or impartial to you that would now buy from you because now they know where you stand? That could be worth it.
However, if in the long run you would lose more customers than you would gain, then obviously it’s not worth it. Just saying, if you hit something people are passionate about, you may alienate half the market, but you may get more business by doing so from half the market than you were from the whole market.

Curt Neuharth

Well, first I voted for TRUMP because Hillary Clinton should be in prison for what she has done. I love to hunt and fish and am big National Rifle Assocation Member. She wanted to take our guns away. I know Trump will actually straighten out this country that Obama and the Democrats have stewed up for the last Eight years!

    Curt Neuharth

    Oh, I forgot to add that all you people that voted for Hillary apparently like all the government handouts. I like less government conyrol so they don’t screw up our Constitution Rights. I do have to work for a living and am self employed. Business has been terrible the last Eight years with Obama and he should have resigned. Get to work you people that are getting the benefits I land up paying for.

Rachael Scott

You’re right as usual. I’ll try to keep my opinions under wraps… 🙁 Sad

Emily Honeycutt

I’ve been thinking about this a lot myself. I was going to post about the election right after it happened, but my family said, “NO!”, so I didn’t. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. Perhaps there is a way to address timely issues (if it makes sense for your business) without doing so in a combative or political way might make sense. Talking about issues of compassion, empathy, inclusiveness, science, the environment and sustainability and what your customer can do to take action in their own lives might be one way to go. I appreciated Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s recent post on the election. You can read it here: http://heroicimagination.org/dr-zimbardos-thoughts-on-the-u-s-presidential-election/

I have separate personal and business and facebook accounts. I post plenty of political stuff on my personal facebook account, but don’t on my business facebook account. I also refrain from posting political stuff on my business twitter, pinterest and instagram accounts.

I agree with many others – this election is new territory. We should not be silent when dealing with racism, misogyny, climate denial and fascism, but we must still engage with our friends on the other side of the aisle. Just because they voted differently does not necessarily make them bad people. We must seek to understand one another. A lack of understanding is what has led to the current situation.

Derek, thank you for your post. I agree, that leaving politics out of business is probably best for profit. If we do discuss it, it must be done cautiously and with sensitivity and empathy.


A few points here:
1. “Politics + Business = Disaster” is in itself bringing politics into your business. Ironic.
2. That you’ll alienate half the population is not a disaster. By the same reasoning, it would be stupid to target women, or men, or dog lovers, or whatever. You can’t be everything to everyone.
3. Your perspective on keeping politics out of the conversation is heavily influenced by your reality as a relatively affluent white male. Many of us don’t have that privilege, as our very safety and rights as citizens are a political football now.
4. Plenty of businesses thrive while taking a stand. Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia come to mind. In a sea of sameness, actually standing up for what you believe in can be an important point of differentiation.

Thoroughly disappointed in you, Derek.


    I only agree with your first point. His post created a big reaction because it was about politics. Too bad but he had to “take a stand” about it as you would say.

    Derek’s point was that politics has no place in business. Targeting certain sections that are RELEVANT TO YOUR BUSINESS makes sense.

    If I’m going to use the same argument you made, Trump’s alienation of half the country was also a good thing and thinking like an entrepreneur, to create his 1,000 true fans.

    I do not agree with your third point either because identity politics has no place in business or life. If you’re an entrepreneur, you create your own privilege.

    4th point. Again, Derek’s point is that politics has no place in business because “expressing yourself” is irrelevant to would-be customers who only care about how you can help them.


“Neutrality is a negative word. It does not express what America ought to feel. We are not trying to keep out of trouble; we are trying to preserve the foundations on which peace may be rebuilt.” – Woodrow Wilson

It’s more than just politics at this point. It’s about our democracy. It’s about who we are as people, and WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON.

Maybe your friend sees something you don’t. Maybe they’ve realized that his/her precious online business is already in jeopardy, and that the freedom to have courage of conviction is already threatened.


Agreed. Just because you have something to say doesn’t mean you should say it just so you scratch the “gotta express myself” itch. It serves no purpose, and every time I write some story about myself or about something else, I take the time to think whether it’s helping me drive a point or help my reader in any way.

And your photo is hilarious!


I think that it’s an issue of value. For those who value business and profits most, it makes sense to be quiet.
As a history-sociology major though, I think that silence equals complicity and has been dangerous historically. (Granted, people shouldn’t necessarily be talking about politics on their business pages though.)


    As I read over these comments, what I’m seeing is the people who have the least to lose with the election of Trump most agree with this post. However, for someone like me with loved ones who are in the group’s most endangered by people who want to destroy us because we exist–meaning we won’t have a business to run anyway–silence is complicity with our own oppression and death.

    Fortunately, I’m not trying to reach thousands of people as a consultant and those I do reach think as I do. Those who voted for Trump don’t want to work with someone who reminds them of a FLOTUS they despise for no other reason than the amount of a chemical in her skin.

    I’ve learned is that the people who agree with Trump would never have hired me anyway because of immutable but benign characteristics (and the educational) I have that in no way affect my ability to do their work and in fact enhance that ability. So to say that my political beliefs are the reason they won’t contract with me is a lie.

    Must be nice to be someone who can go stay in your bubble and feel safe as long as you stay out of the fray. But refusing to take a public stance and rather putting your head in the sand just makes your butt bigger target. Silence is how Hitler rose to power and 6 million Jews were slaughtered, along with 4 million other people who were of color, disabled or considered defective.

    I guess you and those who agree with you take the saying “All it takes for evil men to succeed is others to stay silent” to mean is “I’ll let others do the heavy lifting intellectually while I go make money.”

    I’m done with people who say “my feelings or my money are more important than your life.” Some moral stance that is. I call it cowardice. Apparently, when you wrote this post, you didn’t consider the multiple influencers who have been following you who have been referring work to you for several years. That affects your business, too.

    It’s been interesting following you Derek. When the fascists show up at your door, don’t come looking for us who spoke out to try to stop it. Let us know how that works out for you.


Trouble is, we can probably all argue both sides of this debate (this seems like a reasonable and sane group!) but at the end of the day we need to pick a side.

I’m all over political rants on my personal FB page, nothing on my Business page … kept my mouth shut on LinkedIn as well. Twitter is a great place for liking and sharing exactly the views you support. But, a while back I stopped “unfollowing” even the most blatant freaks on my friend’s list for their political rants. My tactic has been to try to get them to explain themselves to me. To try to understand their point of view (as vile as that may seem, there is ALWAYS a grain of truth in all of these points of view). We won’t change “the other side” by shutting them out. That’s where they grow. I like Derek’s strategy of actually following some of these folks because yes, this can fester and grow beyond any point of containment. Then it overflows and we see what we have today. I’m in Canada and we’re seeing horrible behaviour as a result of November’s election. You can be sure I’m keeping my eyes on this.

But Derek, you’re right about the wisdom of keeping your views to yourself. I had subscribed to a very high-end coaching program and was doing very well with my progress. When the coach published his support to Trump you can guess what happened to both my engagement and his credibility. Too late to get my money back and would have asked for it anyway. I purchased a program, not his political views. But, it was tough viewing it all in the way I should have. He really did me (and probably others) a disservice by sharing what he did.

But, I’m still going to complete the material, on my own, but it will be completed.

So, I guess I’m all for “keep them guessing” with your business communications. But don’t be afraid to speak up when it’s appropriate and important.


This, this, 1000 times this. I have hit unsubscribe probably 20 times in the last few months because people’s lists i wanted to get for business reasons started yapping about politics. I don’t CARE what their opinion is, whether they agree with me or not. I want them to talk to me for the reasons I originally subscribed. Once they violate that trust and use my permission to talk to me about someting so divisive, I’m out, I don’t trust them anymore on any issue. I do the same for my customers, I never talk about politics or religion to them. They don’t care what I think, nor should they.


Thanks for this post…I’ve been thinking about this subject A LOT lately and what getting political means to my business.

I thought about weaving in politics into some blog posts last month, but then I stopped and asked myself the following:

“How does my political ideology/opinion contribute to my website and business mission?”

I am a divorce coach and my blog is there to help divorced women over 50 get their confidence and independence back so they can move on with their lives. My readers are located in all pockets of the US with varying political beliefs. The most effective way to help my readers take their lives back is through kindness, compassion, and showing them how to be accountable to themselves in their own lives. They didn’t come to me for my political opinion, they came to me to help them start over.


Very very good point Derek!! I wish I saw this expressed a bit more often.
I have TWO separate facebook accounts for this very reason. I don’t want my political or for that matter my religious beliefs getting in the way of my work or playing any part in my relationship with clients which is one of personal trust. I never comment on any of the political moanings I see on my WORK facebook feed. I never get involved in religious slanging matches either. On my personal feed it is a little different but even there I don’t say much.
My father’s motto was “hear all, say nowt”
He was from Yorkshire.


If it fits with the theme or style of your blog, and matches your personality (which should come through on your blog, shouldn’t it?), why not?


Derek, thank you for this. For every bit of this. You exude class.

    Derek Halpern

    You’re welcome


Interesting post Derek and I agree 100%. As a subscriber to various email lists, I get turned off if someone starts talking politics… even if I agree with them. We’re surrounded by political stories all over the place and if I want to read more about it, I’ll go seek it out myself. Stick to the topic is good advice.


Jesus said, I must be about My Father’s Business. He mixed everything together. Was He concerned about losing customers?


I agree. But it’s just sooooo hard to keep my lip zipped.

    Derek Halpern

    I agree. It’s hard. And luckily i had a team to stop me from saying anything. But it’s not about me. Or you. Or our beliefs. It’s about what we do. And the problem we solve.


I think it depends on your business and you brand. Some of us can definitively say our target market clearly voted for a particular candidate because of something specific about who their target market is. Some of us are also in artistic/high touch businesses and would rather not deal with or do business with someone who disagrees with us for whatever reason. If you’re selling socks than by all means don’t go political but if your actually have to work with your client decide how important it is to your target market and your sanity.

    Derek Halpern

    A valid point.

    If you only work with 10 clients, and want those people to be just like you, this is exactly how you should approach the situation. If you want to reach 10,000 or 100,000 or 10,000,000… that’s another story.


      See, I disagree. Do you really think your ideal customer should be less specific just because you want your reach to be bigger? Reaching a lot of people depends on reaching your ONE person PERFECTLY, that’s a pretty basic tenant of marketing, I thought! Do you disagree? Do you think an ideal customer profile should be vague/broad to include more people? That is literally a theory I have never heard before so I’d be interested in hearing you expand on it if that’s what you’re saying…

        Derek Halpern

        Your customer should be very specific. For the right reasons. Political affiliation is rarely the right reason.


Shit damn motherfucker! Lol – This post is great and so on time for me personally – thanks for this perspective and the discussion it’s creating!

Cheryl Kline

Dear Derek, while I usually agree with not mixing politics and business, this election was different. A vote for DT was a vote against me, all women, minorities, the gay community and anyone who isn’t a rich, white male! This isn’t one candidate for fiscally conservative views versus a progressive liberal, I wish it were. We are about to erupt with horrible consequences from a fascist greedy person who the majority are flabbergasted as to who or what could have elected him! Do I want to teach all my lifelong artistic knowledge to people who voted for him? A vote against me? Hell no. I can’t be quiet, we the people must not put the dollar before something so critical in this time. Love and respect for everyone cannot be voted out.

    Derek Halpern

    I understand what you’re saying, but remember: you believe in art. Some of the best art comes from some of the worst places. But it’s not about inspiration. It’s about business. You believe in art and want to teach people how to express themselves through art.


    if you were to post something about how to express yourself through your art… that would be 100% on point. And okay in my book. As that’s why people turn to you. But if you go off topic, you’re doing them a disservice.


Instant unsubscribe. Mighta been somewhat more arguable a month ago, but it sure isn’t now. This kinda argument is *exactly* how fascism takes hold and picks up steam. There are plenty of ways to be political without being divisive. Good luck.

    Derek Halpern

    What’s interesting is, I actually beg to differ on one key point:

    I think fascism takes hold when people block out opinions from people who disagree with them.

    Take a look at this chart from Vice:


    Essentially, this study from MIT discovered that journalists lived in their very own media bubble, and that’s why they may have been caught by surprise.

    I don’t know about you, but I like the threats that I can see. Which is why I found a bunch of people to subscribe to that have vastly different opinions than me so I never get caught by surprise again.

    That said…

    This is about business.

    Not about politics.

    If you solve a specific problem for your customer, you owe it to your customer to solve – and focus on – that specific problem. Anything else is a distraction.

    Now you might be wondering why I posted this to begin with? “WHY ARE YOU TALKING POLITICS ON BUSINESS”

    Very simple.

    I’ve watched people torpedo their business over the last few weeks because they feel the need to share their political opinion. And, I , in good conscious, couldn’t sit back and watch it anymore.

    It has nothing to do with what you feel is right or wrong. It has to do with the reason why you started your business in the first place.


      Hah. Even writing about why you shouldn’t mix politics and business seems to have some politically charged readers in a bunch. Can’t please everyone.


    Bleech, couldn’t agree more. Insta-unsubscribe. Grateful to have his ramblings out of my inbox.


I 100% agree with this policy Derek. I am often uncomfortable around people who get ultra-political in a business setting…even when I may agree with their view. As you can see by the near-hostility of some of the comments here, the subject brings up too many emotions.

Also, some commenters here seem to be surprised that anyone would want to do business with someone who doesn’t share their political views. Whaaaat? Really? I have A LOT of clients who have opposite political views than mine, but I love them just as much as any other client. We all share the same desire to have a better life and simply disagree on how to get there. I don’t think they’re evil, nor do I think it is somehow immoral for me to do business with them. In my opinion, that type of mindset shows a level of immaturity and intolerance.

Thank you for your maturity and inclusiveness in publishing this post.


    I really think it depends how important politics are to you. For me, politics are VERY important. They’re a huge part of my life. It’s pretty normal for me to schedule client meetings around protests. I don’t want to keep that hidden from my clients. I want them to be supportive of that. It’s not about maturity or intolerance — it’s about alignment.

    It’s no different from, for example, saying the ideal customer for your marketing business is the owner of a yoga studio. Yoga has nothing to do with marketing per se — it’s got nothing to do with the problem you’re solving — but maybe you just want to market yoga studios. An ideal customer should be VERY specific.


      Politics are very important to me and most of the crowd I run with. We vote early and vote often, as they say 🙂 However, we discuss these things over drinks or dinner, always in person. My clients are all over the place politically as well, and yet they like doing business with me and I like doing business with them…and we all get along. In fact, occasionally we do talk about politics…IN PERSON.

      No one is going to be converted by my political ranting on my facebook or linkedin pages or on twitter. All that will accomplish is polarizing my audience and piss off the people who may view the world differently. It’s not about censorship as some commenters here claim, it’s about being smart and courteous.

      It’s just bad business. So, here’s my addition to the formula:

      * Business + Politics = Disaster

      * IN-PERSON Conversations + Empathy, Tolerance & Compassion + THE RIGHT SETTING + Politics = Increased Learning and Stronger Relationships and GREATER SUCCESS.

Dave Chesson

A wise point. I used to do a lot of FB political postings and you know what…I never changed the hearts and minds of people. I instead lost friends and accomplished nothing. Now so, it’s even worse if I mix my business with it as well. People don’t go to Kindlepreneur to learn about my politics. They go to learn about book marketing tactics.

Does this mean I have to be silent? No…

But I don’t mix business and politics and although Facebook is my a personal page, some of my business network is there too. Instead, I’ll reserve the right to learn as much as I can about a political topic, be as even keeled as possible, and vote.

    Derek Halpern

    “A wise point. I used to do a lot of FB political postings and you know what…I never changed the hearts and minds of people. I instead lost friends and accomplished nothing”

    Is probably the most true quote I’ve seen today.


Totally agree….and it is hard to keep your mouth quiet😊.


At my day job–I never talk politics. The people who don’t agree with my views aren’t interested in what I believe, and most don’t care about an informed and reasoned exchange of said views–they just want to broadcast what they believe is right. Not only that, my employer isn’t paying me to debate the issues of the day. I would not let my politics bleed over into my relationship with customers or the face of my business, for the same reasons in the article. The real reason I posted a comment though, is because of the picture of you, Derek–that made me smile!


So I’m curious about social entrepreneurship. When the values held to benefit the greatest number with the highest quality of life are a core purpose of the business. How does extracting politics- which is the public narrative that a b-corp is addressing- help? Is there a way to separate them to reach a wider audience and engage more people? protests and boycotts have almost become a marketing edge for some businesses. Controversy a market position. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


So…you have a “public self” and a “private self”… ? I’m sad.

    Derek Halpern

    Ha ha.

    It’s much closer than people would believe.


      Then seriously consider not hiding your light under a basket.


        He’s not. He does just the opposite. This post illustrates that.


> Especially when that fight scares away the people I never want to work with…

Do you want to work with Trumpkins, Derek? Or people get their panties in a twist when someone says “shit”?

If that’s the case, that’s cool, and everything you wrote in this post is valid. But let’s say you don’t want those people as your customers… then why not pick a fight and hear their high-pitched whining?

Not to mention that I’ve seen quite a few marketers who maintain that pissed off people still stick around, and they still buy. Hell, I’m one of those people. I don’t agree with you on a number of things, but I’m a subscriber, and I buy your shit. 🙂


Derek, usually I love your perspective, but I could not disagree with you more on this post! There is NOTHING wrong with alienating people who aren’t your ideal customer — in fact, it’s exactly what you SHOULD do. If politics have nothing to do with your ideal customer, then sure, this post holds true. But for most people who care a lot about politics — especially when it’s such a divisive topic as it is right now — politics ARE part of your ideal customer. Personally, I have one client who voted for the guy I hate, and I am probably going to fire the client for that reason (working on replacing the revenue first but will probably do that within the next month or so). I’ve hesitated to do it because I LOVE the client in every other way — he’s actually my perfect client except for that one little thing. But the stress of working with someone and supporting the business of someone who I disagree with so vehemently on something so important to me is pushing me toward this decision. I don’t want to help increase the influence of someone who I think will use that influence in a way I disagree with.

And on the cussing thing, same truth applies! I happen to know someone who did an A/B test of email subject lines…one subject line had “F***” in it, while the other avoided cussing. The cussing subject line had over double the open rate — and she got nothing but positive feedback from it. I was lucky enough to get the cussing line myself, and my instant reaction was “OH F*** YEAH!!!!” I’m her ideal customer (I was actually one of her first beta customers), and I LOVE cussing in business contexts. It feels so much more real and connected to me. I TOTALLY wake up looking to buy from people who use the F word, seriously.

So I think it really depends on what the parameters are of your ideal customer. If politics and cussing are important to you in a business context, then you absolutely should scare away people who won’t enjoy your style.

    Derek Halpern

    Unless you’re running for office, or looking for a specific policy change, that relates DIRECTLY to the problem you solve… it doesn’t have anything to do with the problem you solve.


      Also — I think it’s important to keep in mind the core issue that it’s GOOD to turn off people who aren’t your ideal customer. You don’t want them buying from you. Doesn’t matter if the reason they’re not ideal has nothing to do with the problem you solve; they can be a less-than-ideal customer for a whole myriad of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with your business directly. I think most business owners are WAY too concerned with getting ALL THE CUSTOMERS and nowhere near concerned enough about turning away customers who aren’t ideal. That’s no way to build a solid foundation for your business.


      Yeah but your ideal customer goes way beyond just the problem you solve! Ideal customer has a lot of details…a whole personal profile. My ideal customer agrees with me on politics and likes cussing, because those things are important to me. Even though my business and the problem I solve have NOTHING to do with that. Business isn’t just about the service/product you offer, it’s also about HOW you offer it — your tone, your attitude, your opinions, your personality, and your politics.


really, its closer to 50% / 25% / 25% – most of us didn’t vote at all. And did so consciously. Any way, I do a lot of teaching, and while a lot of the things I teach seem to be more interesting to one side of the political spectrum, it’s important to me to stay neutral, because I want everyone to be able to benefit. I feel very strongly that what I have to offer will benefit people greatly, and contribute to a better world. It has to be accessible


The flip side to this being that customers actually often gravitate towards people that are like them and share their values. The fact that Chick-Fil-A’s owner took a stance on gay marriage may have turned off a segment of their customer base to their food, but it also strengthened the bond with a (much larger) base as well. I promise you the net effect of that was positive for Chick-Fil-A’s bottom line.

Customers like to do business with people who are *just like them* — that’s why every “life coach” has a failure story so people can relate with their messaging.

I’ve shared some on social media about my thoughts on the election – I have customers clients that I am friends with on Facebook who are both very liberal and conservative. Haven’t lost a single one of them and we’ve actually shared some honest conversations about our country that I’m glad I had with them. We’re people doing business with other people after all.

I’d hate that anyone here gag themselves too much just because they are scared of “alienating” customers. I feel the opposite can often be true: speaking the truth and sharing your opinion (in a respectful way) can actually earn trust of people so they want to do business with you.

Carolyn Edlund

I’ve never commented on your blog, Derek, but this post is spot on. Truer words were never spoken! I work with a client who does this all the time and has no idea how this is hurting her business …. business she never sees because her outspokenness is such a turnoff. She has no idea that her rants will not change anybody’s mind. They will only make people angry.


    Of course you should never rant. You can speak your mind ind a clever way. Somebody has to do it 😉

      Carolyn Edlund

      Can’t agree with you Trunte. I work with all types of customers, and it is a privilege to serve each one of them. I don’t know their political views and don’t ask. Making “clever comments” about politics in a business setting is unprofessional and unwarranted.

      Carolyn Edlund

      Can’t agree with you Trunte. I work with all types of customers, and it is a privilege to serve each one of them. I don’t know their political views and don’t ask. Making “clever comments” about politics in a business setting is unprofessional and unwarranted.

      Carolyn Edlund

      Can’t agree with you Trunte. I work with all types of customers, and it is a privilege to serve each one of them. I don’t know their political views and don’t ask. Making “clever comments” about politics in a business setting is unprofessional and unwarranted.

      Carolyn Edlund

      Can’t agree with you Trunte. I work with all types of customers, and it is a privilege to serve each one of them. I don’t know their political views and don’t ask. Making “clever comments” about politics in a business setting is unprofessional and unwarranted.


        But we do agree on that. 🙂 I never mix business and politics. But they can look me up on Facebook and Google and that will give them a clear view on my political views. Furthermore I am friends with others in the same business. So they know my political stance. I don’t think it has ever ruined anything for me. Of course I don’t know for sure. But I speak up when I think somebody should and I am not going to change that.


Actually, I really don’t agree here. We have a duty to speak up when serious stuff is happening in politics. There is plenty in this world that needs fixing, or needs to change, and the inly we to make that happen is to shape the conversation together. The actually important conversation. It’s not all money that counts at the end of our days.

    Derek Halpern

    I hear, and understand, your stance.

    But remember, you likely started a business to solve a specific problem that’s completely unrelated to the problems you were talking about in your political posts.

    And your readers – the people who trusted you – came to you for help with that problem. If you now misdirect them to a new problem, it’s inappropriate.

Megan Cox

This was so difficult, but a MUST in such a divided election. My customer demographic is much different than myself in terms of age, location, income, interests.. almost everything. I’m so glad I kept my mouth shut except once to say, “Go vote today!”

    Megan Cox

    Also, I did see a lot of other big businesses in my same sector make this mistake and sooo many comments of people saying “I came here for X not politics. I’ve followed/subscribed/purchased for years. I’m done.”

    Immature? Probably. But their response does have some merit. If people follow you for X, keep it to X. If you are personally famous, go ahead and use your platform. It may affect you and your brand, but you may feel it’s your duty.

    Business for business’s sake.. no.


      I’ve done just that – when the guy I subscribed to started with his politics, I said goodbye. As you say, Derek, inappropriate.


Well – so what? You have plenty of potential customers. The other 50 % will love you for speaking up. And they will prefer you to others in the same business.


Totally agree. I have very definite political views, but they have nothing to do with my business. So I keep them out of any business discussions.

And… discussing politics on Facebook changes just about nothing.


You might want to check your colors and percentages 😉. If you’re talking about number of customers, the electoral college doesn’t apply.


    Ha! First comment illustrates Derek’s point; already looking for a fight!


      Not looking for a fight, just copy editing. And the graphic is now updated, so it won’t distract anyone else. I put the winking emoji in my comment to show I wasn’t upset 😉

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