Friday, April 14, 2006

Title Insurance

There’s something very therapeutic about dissing on a company. I may be bold some times, but I’m also smart enough never to rip a place that still pays me. So let’s talk some trash about the last place.

To add onto the last blog entry regarding business books, the last company where I Enjoyed Myself Immensely, loved to celebrate how imaginative it was. It did make the Washingtonian Magazine’s Great Places to Work but the forms were greatly exaggerated on the bonding activities that took place.

The company published 6 value-statements that hung on lucite boards as well as were stamped along the crown molding throughout the building. The key word of that sentence was ‘published’; notice I didn’t say ‘upheld.’

One of my favorite things about Imagine (not the real name of the company, but ironically, a pretty self-fulfilling synonym for their real name), was that everyone made up their titles. Well, everyone who made a crap load of money at the expense of the mission.

Pierre was known the Creator, a title normally reserved for God, but in this case, it wasn’t far from what this person thought of himself. A sense of arrogance, combined with orange pants and green shirts (or as he would say, “They are tangerine and emerald.”), this ranked as the epitome of self-importance. His assistant was referred to as “The Wingman.” Nothing keeps a company engaged in the present, than pulling titles from 20-year old movies.

Pierre’s partner in crime was Endora, the Visionary. Eerily enough, she looked a lot like one of those crazy fortuneteller freaks who would appear on a Dionne Warwick special. Endora would show up to work about 2-3 days a month. When she was there, most people avoided her because if she cornered you in the hallways, you’d lose a good 30 minutes listening to how wonderful our mission was, you know, the mission she created. The conversations would flow much like watching a Julia Child cooking show. You knew there’d be an ending soon, but you'd have no idea what the hell she was discussing throughout.

One of their counter-parts was the Instigator. This person spent his entire life coming up with cockamamie marketing schemes to test in the direct mail packages Imagine sent out to gullible individuals. The best part was that if the Instigator didn’t think an idea up first, he’d say it wasn’t worthy of testing. Then 3 months later, a remarkably similar idea would appear and it was revolutionize the world of marketing.

Another annoying gentleman was the Preacher, a nebbishy man who had never worked anywhere in his entire life. He was the ringleader in disseminating messages to the naïve, post-college workers that had overtones of “Come on Enron workers; we’re making the world a better place.” He was famous for creating committees of nothing and then engaging them in repeated brainstorming sessions, only to learn the same conclusions that were generated from previous committees.

My favorite title of all — Master Alchemist of Desire. This person ran the Inventive Department. In duty, he was responsible for writing the letter copy that would bring the masses to buy the products. But the 'package' came across as fabricated; literally and figuratively. Most communication pieces had to be rewritten since they included run-on sentences or double negatives. With whatever marching orders he’d be given, he run around lecturing anyone who would listen about how important this next product was going to be. He just couldn’t not know how to write it.
Perhaps it was the ambition to become a Top 50 Company that made them get lost in all the reasons to be in business in the first place. Sometimes trying to make work seem more fun than it is; just sucks the little fun right out of it.

As for me, I just prefer a simple title like Director of Blogging.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

strangely I can't remember who 'the wingman' is, although, in trying to come up with the wingman's identity I've realized that there are waaay too many people there who have their own assistants....

11:25 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

While I think I know who you are, email me at and I'll tell you the secret identity of "the Wingman."

1:09 PM  

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