AR speaketh...

The questions, the answers, the thoughts, the ideas and the other crap that make me, well, me.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Managing Business Animals

Foreword: So, I'm about to graduate with my MBA and in the two or so years that it took me, I noticed a few things. Many of my beliefs were reinforced, some were challenged and some shattered. But that's the thing with beliefs- you have them, and then you have a few more, you know- as backup. This is not that story.

I've always maintained that most people are idiots- complete duds, the rocks for brains variety. You often meet them in real life- like the one at work that insists on printing only on one side of the paper, the one you meet on the way home who thinks honking causes traffic lights to change quicker... you know what I'm talking about. Business school is different. Don't get me wrong, most people are still idiots- they are just a different kind. That makes it very interesting when you can watch them from a distance, or another dimension, or something but when you actually have to deal with them, without the benefit of a LART, things begin to go south very quickly. So, I've compiled here a list of idiots you are likely to meet at a business school.

Mega Marketer

This person makes "brand promises" to his/her spouse and is convinced "brand experience" in life is all that counts. Almost always characterized by a compulsive obsession with marketing-speak.

Typical argument structure: So you said [fact] but I feel customers want [some sad promised land attribute from a cheesy ad]. My [random family member] is [some attribute that makes said family member a target user] and she thinks [lame ass point about an aspect nobody cares about].

This person is convinced "building a brand" is a corporation's number one goal and any questions about marketing expenses are sacrilegious. He/she talks too long in words nobody understands about things nobody cares about. With some effort you could sell this guy an idea to use a picture of poop in an advertisement because it is familiar, has no known brand associations and has great "recall". To scare him away, say Ln(exp(x)) = x. Works every time.

"Tally-ho" Trader

This finance enthusiast follows the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, a few hedge fund managers, adores George Soros and can talk of straddles, butterflies, implied vols and technical analyses all day. Frequently seen scouring to find their next "insight" which they will promptly rattle off at the slightest provocation. What separates this creature from a real trader is a complete lack of understanding of the events behind the news he so closely follows.

Sample conversation-

TT: The CDS spreads on Greek bonds are widening more than expected. The Euro is doomed. They'll never kick Greece of EMU...

You: Why?

TT (with a superior smile): Well, none of those agreements in the EU are really enforceable, so what can they do?

You: If none of those are enforceable, doesn't that make booting Greece even easier? What can it do?

TT: What? Soros says... I mean... Bloomberg says...

In-human Capitalist

This is an interesting variety. I'm kidding- these are as mind numbingly boring as they come. This animal's natural inclination is to talk about people at such a superficial level that it makes [random teenage pop musician] seem deep. Conversation involves terms stolen from pop-psychology, interspersed with popular business-ized imports from real psychology (source: seminal works from the Stanford basement) and a chorus of "people are a firm's best assets". E.g., People prefer optionality and if we don't give it to them, they might resort to malicious compliance, which will hurt our triple bottomline. As we know, people are our best assets.

They love talking about organizational culture and the impact it has on people and the impact people have on it, till it all reduces to one big clusterf**k. And that might adversely impact firm culture.

Compulsive Consultant

This one owns the rights to "creating value by leveraging strategic" [totally random pretend business concept]. E.g., aims to create shareholder value by leveraging strategic eyeballs. And tooth fairies, except on Wednesdays, when they go looking for synergies. Most commonly found spouting the word "structured" as if using it as an adjective increases the awesomeness of the subject by orders of magnitude. In reality, this animal is structured like a retarded baboon. Somehow everything he says has three reasons or three parts or three wingdings or whatever. The magical number comes from a very well respected source- PIROMA (Pulled It Right Out of My Ass).

Toyota Mouth

Used to be called motormouth but out of respect to recent events, has been renamed. No one really knows where this one's motivations lie. Characteristics include acute verbal diarrhoea and some more. Makes completely pointless remarks about nothing in particular in an often untraceable accent. Just to make it seem as if he is really going to make a point, tends to speak faster with every spoken word. This one's so arbitrary that he makes this blog seem relevant and focused.

Sample conversation:

TM: How would you do X in [a stylized example which has been constructed to avoid X]?

Professor: You can't. That's the whole point of the example.

TM: But X is an important action, especially in the current economic environment. I feel not allowing it takes away from the options available to handle this situation. As [incorrectly quoted and totally irrelevant, even when correctly quoted, example] shows, Y is a great alternative. I believe Z may or may not be applicable in the situation you haven't even mentioned yet, but I think you will because I'm so smart. So the question is, what's my class participation grade for today?


Remember that these are only a few of the possible idiots/animals you will encounter. Composites bearing characteristics of more than one type are not unusual. You will do well to carry a nice thick book on Econometrics with you at all times. If that doesn't scare these away, you can always try throwing the book at them. Though, I'd recommend rocks.

Source: PIROMA

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