Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Idiot’s Guide to Management for Dummies

“I manage therefore I am” (to paraphrase Rene Descartes) has been the guiding principle of my life. Not only that but also “I am, therefore I think I manage.” In this respect I go both ways (but I’m not consciously gay). When people ask me: “How are you?” My response is invariably: “I am managing.” Managing is in my blood, in my guts, in my shorts, even in my urine. It’s not just what I do, it’s what I am, which is to say, I am a manager.

Being a manager is in some ways like being a father, or a mother; in other ways like a rich uncle or a distant second cousin or just a simple nobody. You are part of an extended family, and everybody is looking to you because you have all the answers. It’s lonely to be all by yourself, stuck with the tough problems, and you better have a management philosophy to guide your decisions, otherwise you might be accused of being ad-hoc or tactical or maybe even a terrorist.

My management philosophy in a nutshell is it’s all about people. I am a people person, first and foremost. Yes, it’s possible to run a business without people, especially if you’re in poultry, but in my line of business, you need people. The problem with managing people, though, is that they have personal agendas, negative attitudes and minds of their own. Also they have body odor and dental hygiene issues that can knock your nose out of its socket. Face it, people are pretty much unmanageable. To address these and the multitude of other obstacles standing in the way of managerial success, the manager applies what is known as management.

The founding father of modern management is widely acknowledged to be Jack Welch (aka Captain Neutron) the former CEO of General Electric. I’m a Welchian and you are too, whether you realize it or not. We’re all Welchians. Except I am a Neo-Welchian. Welch’s management philosophy is as deceptively simple as it is Darwinian – every year fire the bottom 10% of your workforce. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that in 10 years time your company will have exhausted all its bottom performers, and will be left with 100% top performers. And how can you tell who these top performers are? Simple, just tally up the top earners. It’s about as quantitative as it gets, it’s that basic.

Now the technical term for these bottom performers is turkeys. Your typical company consists of turkeys and foxes. The strategy is simple. Slaughter the turkeys and feed them to the foxes to increase the size of the pie for the pigs. Right, I forgot to mention the pigs…and the weasels. The weasels are constantly trying to outsmart the foxes, while leaving the turkeys in the dust at every turn. Also worthy of mention is the rattlesnake spewing its venom throughout the organization and the hyena spreading misinformation. Kill them if you can, but take care. Sitting on top of this circus is you, Joe the manager. Your directive is simply to slaughter the turkeys, feed the foxes, nurture the weasels, shoot the rattlesnake, trap the hyena, placate the bear and serve the pig. Did I mention the bear? Whatever you do, don’t mess with the bear for goodness sake.

Sounds simple? It’s anything but. Ever hear of Sarbanes-Oxley? If you’re Joe the manager, you not only have to be constantly managing all these beasts, you also need to take individual responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of your company financial reports. So while you are busy slaughtering the turkeys, feeding the foxes, nurturing the weasels, shooting the rattlesnakes, trapping the hyenas, placating the bear and serving the pig, you’ve got a calculator in your other hand checking the rounding errors on the company balance sheet. And don’t look now Joe, but the government just raised your taxes.

How do you keep on top of all this? In two words, Six Sigma. This is Welch’s second great innovation brought to life at GE. Six Sigma is a systematic process by which defects and errors are identified and eradicated, without mercy. Six Sigma was originally conceived for the factory floor, but has since been extended to other types of business processes and just about any situation you can think of. In fact I recently deployed Six Sigma at home with highly satisfactory results. My wife was initially quite skeptical, but now she swears by it. Like baseball, Six Sigma is very statistical, which is to say tedious and boring. The bottom line is the grading system ranging One Sigma (31.0000% efficiency) to Six Sigmas (99.9997% efficiency). The implication for you Joe the Manager is clear. Convince the evaluator to certify your performance as Six Sigma. That’s not going to be all that difficult given that the evaluator is bound to be the fox or the weasel whom you’ve been feeding and nurturing all this time.

So maybe you’re not so good with numbers? Join the club. I’ll make it really simple for you. You know Milton in Accounting, the guy who is constantly nickel and diming you on your expense reports about unauthorized lunches and alcoholic beverages and business retreats at men’s social clubs. He’s a turkey. Then there’s Jason in Business Development who has recently been holding impromptu meetings with Laura in Sales, the girl you’ve had your eyes on for the past two years, and was on the verge of asking out for one of those lunches that Milton would most likely give you grief about. He’s a turkey. Jason that is and Milton - they’re both turkeys. Not Laura, she’s a fox. Only make sure your wife doesn’t get wind of Laura; wives don’t appreciate the intricacies of management. Most wives are entirely clueless about the subject, at least mine is.

In my experience, this is pretty much all you need to know to be an effective manager. At least it’s everything I know. Though I would strongly recommend attending one of my management workshops where you can learn by listening rather than by reading. Also you’ll get an opportunity to meet a wide range of Joe the Managers just like you. I should add that seating is limited and void where prohibited by law. Now go out there and start managing! And for Chrissake don’t mess with the bear!

© Copyright 2009, LoserCafe. All rights reserved.

Confessions of a Sexaholic

My name is Norm (that’s not my real name of course; my real name is Clifford) and I am a sexaholic. There I said it. I’ve been plagued by this awful disease, and yes it is very much a disease, since the tender age of twelve, months of age that is. It is a plague that does not discriminate by race or gender, though something like 99% of sexaholic s turn out to be male, closer to 100% actually.

As is commonly the case, my sexaholism began at home, in the bathroom. My father was a sexaholic, though the condition had not at that time been identified as such by the medical establishment. My father had a tendency to engage in sexual intercourse with my mother, though at less frequent intervals as time went on. Their bedroom was strewn with massage oils and candles of the sort advertised in the back pages of magazines that shall go nameless like The Nation and Esquire. Though nowadays this sort of paraphernalia are openly sold in the checkout line of your local supermarkets and seven-elevens. That is what passes for progress I suppose.

Growing up in a sexaholic household was in many ways quite ordinary, at least on the surface. We watched TV, celebrated Thanksgiving, Halloween and especially Valentines Day, and even tossed around the baseball now and then, but clearly something was amiss. As a child I always felt different from my friends, in part because of the unspeakable acts happening under my roof, which incidentally was very prone to leaks, the roof that is. Sometimes my father and mother would spontaneously hug and kiss in plain view, as though I wasn’t even there, surely as a prelude to what must lie or should I say lay ahead. And afterward my father would invariably take a shower. That leaky, drippy sound will forever be etched in my brain. To this very day I find it difficult to shower, and much prefer sponge baths.

The trauma of growing up in a sexaholic household extended to school as well. Simple tasks, like homework and test taking were very painful for me. I lived in constant fear of exposure, and to compensate submerged myself in useless hobbies like stamp collecting and tennis. I wanted to be invisible, but I also wanted to be extremely popular and cool. I felt confused, isolated and adrift.
One day after school, I must have been eleven years old at the time, I snuck into my parents’ bedroom and lit one of their scented candles. I think it must have been a desperate attempt on my part to escape from my feelings of inadequacy and isolation. Or maybe the electricity was out yet again; the electrical wiring in our house dated back to at least the 18th century. The candle smelled weird, yet oddly pleasant, kind of like my mother’s salmon casserole, her signature dish. Then I became dizzy and almost blacked out. Although I knew what I was doing was wrong, I couldn’t help myself from returning the next day and the day after that, even when the electricity was working. Soon it became a routine and shortly afterward a habit I could not break.

My problems however were just beginning. As I turned twelve strange things were happening to my body. Hair was popping up in the most awkward places and I suddenly started having salacious thoughts about my world history teacher Ms. Sherman. Suddenly the Peloponnesian war took on whole new meaning if you get my drift. I was hooked.

And then my life took a serious downward turn. I began to fantasize about women’s body parts, especially the naughty ones. I began to hang out with girls with the intent of engaging in unnatural acts of one kind or another. I began to go out on dates with girls in my high school. I was a mad man. Going into my senior year events began to spiral out of control. And then it finally happened, at least for me, (I’m not sure about Jenny though.) It was brief, but intense. Also a little messy. Words could hardly describe it. Most amazing of all, I felt completely on top of the world, completely oblivious to the depravity into which I was sinking. I was in way over my head.

Things went downhill from there. Over the following two decades I went about my life in happy go lucky fashion entirely oblivious to my ever worsening condition. Amazingly, I didn’t even realize I had a problem. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, years to leap years, and before I knew it I was married, engaging in sexual activity once, even twice a week. Things were reeling out of control. On our honeymoon we engaged in intercourse twice in a single day! My sexaholism was beginning to consume increasing amounts of time and energy to the point where I would be chronically late to my regular poker game. I was beginning to get that knowing look from my poker buddies, but I was too wrapped up in it all to even notice.

I was on a collision course with disaster and the locomotive had already left the station. Then one day, about a week ago things finally came to a head. The kids were finally in bed, and I proceeded to put on the Marvin Gaye on the bedroom stereo and prompted my wife to join me upstairs for yet another carnal fix, but tonight was going to be different. Tonight my wife was going to take a stand and draw the line in our shag rug, which looking back on it could really have benefited from a power vacuuming. Things got heated. She finally blurted out, “you know Norm (actually Clifford) you really have a problem, I think you may be a sexaholic, deal with it.” I was totally thrown for a loop. “Sexaholic? What is that?” She responded, “look it up on the Internet, dickhead, Entropedia.com. And how many times do you expect me to listen to that sex machine song for Christ sake? Can we maybe find some music from this century?” That hit me like a ton of bricks. What an eye opener. Do you have any idea what it is must be like to live with a sexaholic, day in and day out, for upwards of twenty years? Maybe you do, it’s a fairly common condition. So you know it had been no walk on the beach for my poor wife all these years, that’s for sure, (though I myself am not big on walks on the beach on account of my weak ankles, give me pavement any day). Anyway that was the night that turned around my life forever, and I resolved then and there to seek treatment.

The following morning my wife kindly tried to soften the blow by stating that she might have overreacted the night before on account of being premenopausal or some such pretext. I think she was trying to soften the blow. She even offered to give me a “rain check”, and became increasingly insistent as the conversation went on. What a woman. But enough was enough. I had finally come to the realization that I had been living a lie, and that the past 20 years of my life was nothing more than a cry for help. The time had come to take the bull by the horns and get my life back on track.

Later that day I checked into Sexaholics Anonymous and began their patented 12 step program. Through SA, I have encountered dozens of people such as myself. I have come to realize that all the sex I had engaged in was a colossal waste of energy, merely a symptom of my insecurity, low self esteem and lust. A new world has opened up for me. I came to realize that my childhood and adulthood was not my fault, that I had merely been a victim of circumstance, but the time had come to take charge of my life. I gave myself permission to love myself again. Today I am a new man, as you can plainly see.

Over the past week I have transformed my life top to bottom. I finally quit my job (which I believe was a major contributing factor to my sexaholic tendencies) and have devoted my life to helping people such as myself suffering from this devastating illness. The victims of sexaholism are not merely those unfortunates plagued with this devastating illness, but also their wives and girlfriends and mistresses not to mention children, aunts, uncles, in-laws first cousins, second cousins and even causal acquaintances. It’s a disease that claims millions if not billions of victims, not only in the United States but across the planet, and consequently cries out for a global response, on the order of the United Nations or maybe NATO. I have therefore launched a web site on the World Wide Web to address sexaholism in all its complexities and nuance. The address is www.sexalohicsnomore.net, not to be confused with www.sexalohicsnomore.com, which is nothing more than a porn site. My web site, which incidentally is optimized for broadband and is highly secure, requires registration and a major credit card. The credit card is for solely for identification purposes; you will not be charged a dime, at least not within the 30-day trial period. It’s all disclosed in the fine print, which I would skip if I were you.

On the web site you’ll learn about some of the incredible research being done to treat and eventually eliminate this horrible epidemic. There are also tons of fun facts. For example, you may be surprised to learn that while there is a high correlation between being a sexaholic and being a sex maniac, the two conditions are in fact entirely distinct with very different symptoms and treatments (though I was treated for both conditions just in case). You might also be amazed to learn that according to recent findings, maleness is the primary risk factor for sexaholism. Other risk factors include baldness and being Jewish. If you’re a balding, male Jew like me, congratulations, you’ve hit the trifecta, you’re practically guaranteed to be a sexaholic. But don’t despair because the condition is utterly treatable and a cure is just around the corner given sufficient funding. This is a problem definitely worth throwing dollars at (and Euros too)! On the website you will also be eligible to participate in a virtual walkathon to end sexaholism once and for all. The beauty of it is that the walkathon exists in a virtual world where you select an avatar to walk on your behalf, sparing you the walking not to mention the blisters. Why knock yourself out? Just sign up and register. It’s all on the web site.

Ever since I have emerged from treatment I feel like I have received a second chance, a new lease on life, and have therefore decided to dedicate the rest of my days to finding the cure, not just for me, not just for you, but for our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children – beyond that I begin to lose interest. Together we can stop the cycle of dependency. The time is now, if not yesterday.

© Copyright 2009, LoserCafe. All rights reserved.