Prince Harry is on a roll. In the course of two days, two announcements have been made of new employment opportunities for the Duke of Sussex. A Silicon Valley startup has hired Harry as its chief impact officer. The second announcement comes from the Aspen Institute where he’ll be joining a six-month commission aimed at tackling misinformation.
It’s the job with BetterUp Inc., a coaching and mental health firm, that is producing an abundance of eye-rolls. His job title alone brings criticism. An article in the Wall Street Journal points out that the position of chief impact officer is rare in the corporate world. Some companies do use it but it is more common in the nonprofit world, like with Amnesty International USA or the United Way. It just sounds phony, doesn’t it? BetterUp says it’s real, though, and calls Harry’s role “meaningful and meaty”.
In the BetterUp position, Prince Harry is expected to have input into initiatives including product strategy decisions and charitable contributions, and advocate publicly on topics related to mental health.
“It’s a meaningful and meaty role,” said BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux, who said he was introduced to Prince Harry through a mutual friend and began conversations with him last fall.
Mr. Robichaux declined to comment on how Prince Harry would be compensated and didn’t share details of his employment agreement, saying that he would be joining the company’s leadership team as an “officer of the corporation.” Prince Harry won’t manage employees or have direct reports, but he is likely to spend some time in the company’s San Francisco headquarters once it is safe to do so, and to participate in all-hands meetings, Mr. Robichaux said. He is also expected to appear at special company events.
Prince Harry has long been open about his personal struggles with grief and mental health issues, and BetterUp executives were attracted to his prior advocacy work as a member of the royal family, feeling that he could bring a different perspective to the company, Mr. Robichaux said. He added that he considers the duke’s military experience as another differentiating strength. “He comes from a very different background” than other executives, he said.
So, to recap, Harry is being paid to attend meetings and show up at special company events. Sounds like a great gig, right? I’m sure his background is “very different” than that of others unless the company is making a point of hiring fallen royalty. Clearly, he is being hired for the sparkle that his name will produce. Imagine the invitations to fundraising events with the title of Duke of Sussex being highlighted. He can be the face of the company.
The guy has a family to support, you know. That deal with Netflix that he and Meghan made is worth $100M and that will only go so far these days, especially with rising inflation just around the corner thanks to Joe Biden’s administration. Sure, there is also the deal with Spotify Technology SA to present podcasts but that can’t be as plum of a deal as the one with Netflix. Meghan, er, Harry doesn’t want to do the usual royal duties in order to live their best lives in California so there’s no more money coming in from his grandmother by way of the British taxpayers.
It isn’t surprising that Harry latched on to a company offering to coach clients with mental health issues. He’s been an advocate for those suffering from mental health issues for some time, including recently opening up about his own struggles since the death of his mother. Meghan, too, has spoken out about her own issues, though she conveniently waited to break that story during her interview with Oprah. Harry certainly has the lingo down.
“I intend to help create impact in people’s lives,” Prince Harry said in an emailed response to questions about why he’s taking the job. “Proactive coaching provides endless possibilities for personal development, increased awareness, and an all-round better life.”
“This is about acknowledging that it isn’t so much what is wrong with us, but more about what has happened to us over the course of life,” Prince Harry said about the importance of striving for mental fitness. “Often because of societal barriers, financial difficulty, or stigma, too many people aren’t able to focus on their mental health until they’re forced to. I want us to move away from the idea that you have to feel broken before reaching out for help.”
Go ahead on with your woke self, Harry. Let’s just not pretend the Duke’s hiring is anything more than a solid public relations victory.
Today’s announcement from the Aspen Institute is more in line with a traditional gig given to a celebrity or public figure. Harry is taking part in a six-month “Commission on Information Disorder.”
The commission will be co-chaired by journalist Katie Couric, former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) director Christopher Krebs, and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.
The Institute said the panel will assemble to “deliver recommendations for how the country can respond to this modern-day crisis of faith in key institutions.”
Other members of the bipartisan commission include Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D) and former Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R). Harry was identified as a philanthropic leader that will be joining the Commission.
Katie Couric? You may remember some of her recent remarks about Republicans needing to be reprogrammed now that Trump is no longer president. Krebs served as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration. Trump fired him when he didn’t support Trump’s claims of election fraud. Will Hurd is a Texas Republican who served in the CIA before he was elected to Congress. He is no longer in office.
Harry is being tapped as a “philanthropic leader”, which sounds reasonable, given his history as a member of the royal family. In a statement released, Harry describes misinformation as a “humanitarian issue”.
“As I’ve said, the experience of today’s digital world has us inundated with an avalanche of misinformation, affecting our ability as individuals as well as societies to think clearly and truly understand the world we live in,” Harry said in a statement to the network.
“It’s my belief that this is a humanitarian issue,” Harry continued, “and as such, it demands a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices, members of the media, academic researchers, and both government and civil society leaders. I’m eager to join this new Aspen commission and look forward to working on a solution-oriented approach to the information disorder crisis.”
Good luck, Harry. You’ll need it.