Monday, April 03, 2006

Just because they are a retired CEO doesn't mean they knew what they were doing

Even though I have an MBA, and even though I work in the business world, I do not consider myself a “businessman”. If anything, I feel like a fraud, a charlatan, a liberal-arts grad in business casual clothing. I sit in my cube for 9-10 hours a day making the world of hardware a little better for the average John Q. Customer and I find enough to do that it holds my interest. But in general I am still pretty skeptical about a lot of “business” related stuff. For example I get regular invitations (though the b-school alumni e-newsletter) to all sorts of business conferences and “networking events” but I just can’t get excited about them. Why waste a perfectly good afternoon or evening chatting up people who only want to meet me to add contacts to their business buddy list?*

Almost as bad though, are the reams and reams of business-related crap that publishers of all shapes and flavors keep flooding the market with. And there’s way more than you think. For every “Who Moved My Cheese?” and “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” there are a million lesser-known books that are essentially the common sense that you used to get from your parents repackaged into a 250-page “quick read” that disguises regular words with business speak. It’s gotten so bad that I refuse to read business books altogether**. Once a director of mine gave me a book by Jack Welch as a Xmas present. That was almost seven years ago – but I have yet to crack the cover. I think I used it as a coaster once, and I’m pretty sure its mass would help hold my bookshelf in place in the event of a sudden Midwestern earthquake*** or temporary loss of gravity. Other than that it’s pretty useless as it’s not flexible enough to serve as a hot pad.

There’s now so many books out there that a whole other industry has popped up to “hypercondense” these books into a page or two – think Cliff’s Notes on steroids. This is apparently necessary because CEO’s are spending so much time reading books on business strategy that they have no time left for family, sleep, or affairs with their secretary. And that’s on top of the self-congratulatory world of business book reviewers, who laud each new contribution as “insightful” or “original” thereby only perpecuating the cycle.

So needless to say when I saw a blurb on this article in a recent e-newsletter, I thought it was fantastic. Now if only we could get this sort of candor from White House press conferences or (better yet) email spam:

  • WANT A BI66ER P3NIS? GET OVER IT AND ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS!
  • My name is DR CLEMENT OKON. I am from Nigeria and I want you to let me steal all your money. Please help by sending me your bank account numbers, ATM PIN, social security number, all family pets, and pictures of your spouse and children – with a copy of where they can be kidnapped from while you are away at work.
  • HERBAL VIA6ARA! ALL OF THE SIDE EFFECTS – NONE OF THE DESIRED RESULT! NOW FEATURING CARDIAC ARREST AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU!

* Granted, if I’m ever unemployed and start job-searching my opinion on this may change…
** Or even make eye contact with them when I walk past them in the bookstore.
*** Yes, yes – I know the biggest earthquake in US history was in Missouri. But you don't see folks in St. Louis structurally reinforing the Arch now like they are the Golden Gate Bridge do you?

4 comments:

towwas said...

I know what you're doing, kid. I'm onto your little game. You're trying to convince us all that you're not a tool of the man so we'll let you come to reunion next year. This is just part of your campaign. Well, you just keep on trying. We all know you own suits.

towwas said...

P.S. that article about bad business books is hilarious.

Eve said...

I am married to an MBA fraud whose comapany just passed out copies of "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" as HOLIDAY PRESENTS?! Uhh, turkey next time puhlease?!

OleNelson said...

It's phrases like "business buddy list" that make me happy I'm in academia.