I used to admire Boeing, but the past few years they’ve come to be just another cog in the Evil Empire that is post-Reagan Corporate America. They force down wages and benefits by having workers in different states compete for jobs, pay their CEOs 10s of millions and not only pay very little taxes they are actually paid by our government in the form of tax credits. So it strikes me as odd that the WTO would claim Airbus gets unfair advantages because of their government subsidies — Boeing gets all kinds of subsidies, just through different terminology. I used to think propaganda didn’t exist in the US – how ignorant I was 🙂
When I was teaching, I revamped the curriculum for several of my classes to great effect (significant increases in enrollment). Then when I went into Corporate America, I couldn’t believe how uncreative and lethargic everyone was. Basically, one company or SVP would roll something out, then everyone would copy that. How boring that was, so I started proposing lots of new ideas. I even went so far to proposing an idea a month to our SVP (of a Fortune 500 company), who called me The Idea Guy during a speech in front of 500+ people, basically encouraging others to do the same. Sometimes my ideas were marketing ideas, and sometimes they were product ideas (my favorite was the watch that would detect a heart attack and the bra that would detect rape, both of which were sent to me years later by peers after other startups got funding for similar ideas).
Sometimes this got me into trouble, and sometimes it had great effect (I made good extra money working on marketing on the side and a few of my ideas got me a few extra contracts). But the past few years, with my illness combined with working for two awful companies in a row, I am afraid. I am afraid to propose something silly then have it cost me my job. In short, my confidence is tattered. I’ve got to get it back. One of the things that made me effective was no fear – if a wild idea got me in hot water, no big deal, off to the next one. It hurt me a few times, but more often than not it gave me an edge.
In his book Travels, Michael Crichton mentions that an Exec might not want to spend too much time in the hospital partially because they want to protect their rank at their firm. That was an astute observation, because to someone who values promotions and climbing up the Corporate Ladder protecting rank is very important. It is The Call of the Wild out there in Fortune 500 Corporate America, and if a fellow Exec smells blood it can be trouble… Which means that although I’ve always been a top sales person on my teams, and I’ve always had a pretty good instinct for strategy and have been successful at leading teams, I will likely never be a tenured Sales VP at a big firm. Why?
I’ve never cared about title or rank. When I was a VP, I never mentioned my title. WHen I was Managing DIrector, I privately winced when my team introduced me as “my managing director.” Why? It is hard to take myself or life that seriously, and I actually don’t respect people who do. But the thing about Corporate America is, most Execs *do* care about title. Jack Welch didn’t want to be *Vice* Chair — he wanted to be Chair. He obsessed about it to the point I get the impression from his book that it engulfed most of his time and energy. So then once he got it, he was obsessed about keeping it.
So although I myself don’t take things seriously like that, the people making the decisions do, often to the point it is more important than the actual work. I was honestly raised to believe that if you work hard, and you do what your boss tells you to do, and you always try to do the right things, that people will notice and you will get promoted. That is total bullshit. It happens some times, but it is the exception and not the rule. Getting promoted means playing the politics, which in high school is equivalent to being elected Homecoming King/Queen – sometimes it is the best student or the best person, but often it is not — but then keeping that homecoming title every year and fending off other people who want it. I had zero interest in any of that stuff growing up, and I don’t now. Life is too short, and none of this will matter in 100 years.
It is so important – in Business Development as much as anything — to get into a flow at work, where I become highly productive with minimimal distractions. Part of the keys to doing this in Business Development is to get the ducks in a row — get a list of Decision Makers together, develop the message, anticipate the common questions and have collateral ready at the finger tips to send quickly if they ask before scheduling the next steps. Today I am in a groove – I am making calls, reaching out to people, have everything at my finger tips. It is awesome!!!
It is much harder to get into a flow with larger companies, where there is a tide of crushing emails taht arrive, where there are endless numbers of meetings and conference calls, and lots of reports. This is especially true in Sales, where so many Sales people don’t know how to actually keep things going through email, so want to have a “quick chat” that disrupts flow. I love email because I can let it sit until I have a moment to review it between other things, so in essence it makes it easier to have flow – not just for me, but for everyone. QUick chats are rarely just quick chats, and they often put a barrier between what might otherwise be flow.
Meet John G. Five years the firm I was working at hired him as the Director of Operations, and put all of delivery and recruiting beneath him. He had previously been an unemployed Tester before moving into Test Management a few years earlier. Now, he was in charge of my delivery teams when I had a 7M book of business with several important clients.
From the get-go, he was a horse’s ass. After two months, we had no clue what he was doing, he made no commitments other than it might take up to a year to see changes, and he was calling in sick at least every two weeks. Then he started attending our three Partners’s weekly lunches, and everything began to change.
He hired a random consultant to start generating reports. Suddenly, what used to take a few minutes, took 15 minutes since we had numerous fields we had to complete. Then he had us go back two years in the system to implement changes. I complained to the owners, stating I was trying to generate revenue, not reports. We started getting data, but no improvements to delivery.
Then he implemented twice a week meetings, took away my dedicated Sales Engineer, and realigned all of delivery so they had specialties, which made 1 or 2 people happy (the ones with good specialties) but alienated the rest of delivery. Then he started changing our pricing structure, which impacted my sales efforts.
Then he took away my consultant (one that I hired) and assigned to one of his projects, but in doing so he alienated my clienbt, and this client canceled our project. Then, a month later, after I told this John G point blank not to give pricing to my client he did anyway, and because sales is a finesse game where you have to build credibility over time, he spooked the client by presenting a large price at once and they cancelled the budget.
I complained to management, but nothing changed. Still, everything might have been okay, I probably could have gotten rid of the guy, except I was diagnosed with lung disease and put on prednisone in the midst of all this. Now, what I didn’t realize is how much prednisone messes first with your brain, then with your energy, and suddenly I was too foggy headed and exhausted to think clearly although I could see whwat he was up to.
Frustrated (the entire staff was actually) by his destruction, and probably because I was stoned on prednisone, I quit. THe next week, I’m certain because I’d left, they whacked several members of the delivery team, primarily the ones I’d endorsed.
In the near term, of course, profits skyrocketed. After all, they were still billing for my clients, but no longer had to pay my compesnation. But that was temporary, of course, and before long John was in hot water. But leveraging his trumped up success at this company, he somehow talked himself into a Sr. Dirctor position at a midmarket firm before he could be fired. Two years later, he is still there, in no small part I am sure because he is spending his time keeping his job rather than providing value.
The lesson here is a few fold. Primarily that good things can happen to bad people, although some day it might catch up to him. And that in Corporate America, it is not necessarily about working hard or being valuable — it is about positioning. WHich is part of the reson I am loving my current role working with a specialty and smaller firm — far less politics and backstabbing.
So we paid a lot of money for high-end bose headphones, and honestly only wear them when we travel. Part of the reason we bought them was because of they emphasize their lifetime guarantee. But recently the headphones stopped working — despite fairly limited use — and when we called for the lifetime guarantee they basically said they’d send us pieces that *we* have to put together *and* they would not consider a straightforward replacement and wouldn’t give us the option of just sending to them to fix. So, in short, their lifetime guarantee is a scam. We will not be buying anymore of their headphones. How do companies get away with lying like that??
I was at an event where my parent’s were hosting their friends and neighbors (except I didn’t know any of them). I had to leave for a little bit for some reason, and was late on returning, and the group was much smaller and facing a small presentation area, where a man was finishing his explanation on the future plans of Air France, which would make it fifth largest world economy (he mentioned that GE was the largst), and I felt a twinge of worry that the world’s corporations were getting bigger/stronger and soon would replace nations as world’s largest economies. I’m noticing that my dreams the last few nights are perpetually dusk, like they were filmed in one of those dark filters that were so popular in the movies back in the 90s.
COMMENTARY/SOAPBOXING: So many of the world’s “super powers” BCE were city-states. How long before Corporations replace nations as Corporation-States? Ronald Reagan cut back on oversight and taxes, which seems like it won us the cold war, but created huge behomoth and inhuman companies that honestly are running Congress — and therefore America — right now. I know I talk of this often but it is a threat to the common person, I believe. Corporations have created a huge income gap in America while essentially created impoverished workers in third world countries (not named India, China, etc). while creating policies that are destroying our planet and poisoning our people. Teddy Roosevelt helped break up the Trusts in the early 1900s – we need another Teddy Roosevelt. Unfortuantely, that won’t be Clinton or Trump, who make it worse not better.