Thursday, April 25, 2024

Shiv Not, Lest Ye Be Shivved.

We live in an HR-inflected era that quite often puts an emphasis or a priority on amity, congeniality, and collegiality rather than quality.

As I've written before, "can't we all just get along," is fine for family vacations. It ain't so efficacious when you're living in the real world and working toward solutions or ideas that other people are unable to embrace. Ibsen's great play was called "An Enemy of the People," not "Building Bridges While Killing People."

I fucking hate this faux and destroying geniality.

No, I don't hate the people I work with and for. 

But I hate the idea that plastic friendships and saccharine politesse are mandatories in a world that is almost 99 and 44/100-percent cut-throat and 99 and 44/100-percent cruddy.

In fact, if you took all the 360-degree reviews in the world and laid them end-to-end you'd quickly realize the only purpose they serve is to have someone at some time say shit about you so management can keep your wages down and justify your firing when they come to the illogical conclusion that you're making them too much money so you need to be canned. If there's ever been a more Soviet style of worker repression, I must have missed it. I can't think of any organization or any person who's ever improved or learned something through such a review.

As Paul Simon wrote in "Mrs. Robinson,"

I hate weasel words and diplomacy. And people who smile and grin while they suck the marrow out of your bones.

I had a boss many years ago of my father's generation--actually he was  older than my father. This was the generation that went to war, not to tennis camp.

If I fucked something up (I worked for him when I was 22. And who doesn't fuck things up when they're 22?) I'd literally get called on the carpet. Once on the carpet, I'd do what people do. I'd hem and haw and temporize.

Mr. Patrichuk had a way of dealing with that.

"Hit me but don't shit me," he'd say.

That's how I feel about things. 

If Ogilvy had said when they fired me that I'm too old, too fat, too cranky and too apt to tuck-in my shirt and not wear a fedora and all those things are off brand, I would have been fine with being fired. But they lied about it. 

They lied about everything. And worst of all, they lied and believed through their huge corporate legalese hubris that I was too blinking stupid to know I was being lied to.

Years ago I was working for a technology client on some really complicated business hardware. Specifically a category of servers that ran a certain sort of operating system. 

The thing about working on technology is that you might never of heard of what they're selling, but one day you find out that the market for what they're selling is in excess of $50 billion. 

I remember the head client drawing a giant circle on a large piece of paper then diving the circle into wedges like pie slices. 

"This is our share of the ____ market. This is X's. This is Y's. In 2003, we have one business objective. I want to kill X and Y. I want your work to do that."

I like brass knuckle advertising.

Advertising that hits you between the eyes.

No flourish. No adjectives. No pandaring. No blandishments.

That forgotten word: Truth.

Right now Coke and Ogilvy are assaulting the world with both garbage and lies. Then creating ads so put a smile on their death rictus.

This is what happens in a world where we go along, don't ask questions, collect our pay and kill future generations.

It seems Coke has been on a roll lately, displaying in social channels example after example of their creativity. People from all over the country are sending me silly-ass shit like this, this, this and this.

That's in addition to this silly-ass shit, which purportedly is running all over Brazil and Argentina.

Moments ago, another far-flung friend sent me this. Which is far-from silly-assed. It's from the Washington Post and it leads to to believe that Coke's recent ads are an attempt to distract people from the facts in the global study the Post just reported on.

I don't like this crap.

I don't like being hit. But I like less being shitted.

I like being accoutred like Mack the Knife. Kurt Weill's, not Bobby Darin's.

I'll admit. I like that way of working. And thinking. And dealing with people. 

I like a one to one ratio between saying and doing.

When I played baseball and I was a starter, everyone on the team who wasn't a starter was hoping I'd fuck up somehow. Because they wanted my job and my livelihood. Of course, when I was at bat with two men on they wanted me to hit a double. But they'd were also ok if I swung like a rusty gate and popped out in foul territory. They'd get the chance, not me, the next time.

I'm not saying we have to be assholes to each other. Far from it. 

But I think it makes sense to posit that we're looking out for ourselves, our careers, our future and our families. Anyone who pretends else wise is a liar.

There's a lot of that sort of lying in the business today. I had a partner years ago who had served in the Marines. He called it grin-fucking. ie. Smiling at you while shivving you.

That's dishonest.

I hate that shit.

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