The Yoko Ono Factor

Prejudice and bias exist in the business world. There are some deep-seated prejudice and bias that cannot be explained with rational argument, thought or action.

I call this the Yoko Ono factor.

The Beatles came to America when I was 4 years old and were the musical soundtrack to my childhood. All of my friends were caught up in Beatlemania at its worst. The Beatles were my life.

When I turned 10, they were gone. I blamed this on Yoko.

People who study the history of The Beatles note that multiple factors played into their breakup. There were creative differences, jealousies and the fact that George Harrison had developed as a songwriter along with Lennon and McCartney.

None of this mattered to me. I dumped all of the blame on Yoko.

Admittedly, Yoko was a good target. She was strange, even for the 1960s counterculture era. John helped her launch her singing career, which sounds like the noise a cat would make if its tail were caught in a lawnmower.

She and John did things like stay in bed for a week with the idea that this would bring world peace. (Although, I see the Internet these days offers plenty of people doing a lot of things in bed, none, not even Kim Kardashian, attach any goal of widespread social change to their actions).

Yoko did and it made me hate her even more.

I spent most of my teenage years hoping that John would see the light, dump Yoko and get the Beatles  back to dominating the music scene. That did not happen and on December 10, 1980, Mark David Chapman took that chance away forever when he murdered John Lennon.

Lennon’s death hit me like the death of a loved one. My friends and I sat and played “Imagine” over and over again for days. Although I was grieving, I could not extend sympathy to Yoko, John’s true love. The prejudice had gone that far.

It has been over 30 years since John was taken from us. George has died, too. There is no way The Beatles could get back together, and I still can’t warm up to Yoko. I suspect I never will. Short of Yoko coming to my house and hanging out under an expressed promise not to break into her singing voice, there is not a scenario where I can find Yoko endearing. It is just too hard.

I’ve spent all of my life fighting against discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, size and appearance (I’m fat and don’t like for other fat people to be discriminated against), and yet I understand how bigotry develops because of my issues with Yoko Ono. I see how it can take generations for change to happen and logic and rational thought to win out.

In the business world, the Yoko Ono factor has significant consequences when people cannot make smart choices because of irrational factors. I was watching a biography of Colonel Sanders and found that since he did not believe in owning stock, his secretary, who did believe in it, made more money on Kentucky Fried Chicken than he did. People in business see it every day. People who don’t believe in stock or real estate even when those have been proven to be great long term investments. People who “don’t like insurance companies” even when insurance would provide needed protection and annuities have shown to be great investments with tax advantages.

There are Yoko Ono factors that pop up in everyone’s life in every circumstance. My dad refused to play cards with anyone who smoked a pipe. He could not explain why.

I guess knowing why is the key. If you understand why you have a bias and where it comes from, it is easier to get rid of your personal Yoko Ono factor in your life.

If I got to know Yoko, I suspect I would probably like her. She was a part of one of the greatest music stories of the 20th century and is a close link to an important part of musical history and history in general. The Beatles had a dramatic impact on popular culture and Yoko was there for all of it. We would probably wind up being friends.

As long as she promised never to sing.