Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Sad State of Corporate America's Leadership

I do:

"The Facebook"
"The Twitter"
"The Blog"

I draw the line at "Linkedin."

This is not to offend those of you who sent me "Linkedin" requests and like to have that fancy "badge" or "linkedin pictograph" made larger and more ornate signifying you're "linkedin-ness."  I just hands down refuse to do it because after joining it I realized what it was.  Another form of that hated and loathed and ULTIMATELY zero-economic-production value activity - networking.

I refuse to network intentionally because even at college I knew it was bullshit.

Yes, yes, I know, I know, business is all about "who you know" not "what you know" and rain-makers can make or break a company based on networking.  But I plain do not have the evil, let alone patience to sit there in networking event after networking event, with a fake smile on my face, acting like I give a crap about the people around me, all in the hopes of meeting that one person with a morsel of business, and magically having more charisma and charm than anybody else to win that tidbit of business.  Oh, and the fact everybody else is doing the exact same thing AND EVERYBODY KNOWS EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS FACT makes the whole thing the most hypocritical and fake exercise in the history of humanity.

I'm sorry, I have a soul, not to mention a life to live.

But what is really sad is not so much the futility and fakeness of networking, but that networking plays such a prominent role in "corporate strategy."  The fact something so fake, so unproductive, so labor-wasting and just outright deceitful is employed as a legitimate business tactic is testament to the sad state of corporate America, its lack of leadership and it's lack of future prospects.  But after thinking about it, I realized something else. "Networking" is (as far as I can tell) one of only four major "strategies" American business leaders seem able to employ and pursue today, and further testifies to the sad state of corporate America.  These four strategies are:

1.  Networking and Social Networking
2.  Foreign Sales
3.  "Going Green"/CSR
4.  Rent seeking/lobbying

Networking I've already gone over.  Not a cent of genuine economic production or wealth is produced by it.  And while corporate cogs will slave away at the art, in the end you get a dire and disasterous "black swan event" because of what I like to consider an "inbreeding effect."  Since you are hired, promoted, and advanced not on production, innovation or bold leadership, but rather you're ability to get along, kiss ass and "network," the corporate environment becomes a sort of "super-refinery" that refines and purifies employees into "super networkers" and "super ass kissers."  And instead of focusing on new and improved ways to increase profits, people are instead constantly pitted up against a perpetually stronger and stronger strain of conformist, SWPL, uber-soldat employees.  Making matters worse is the unemployment rate.  Most anybody can do the job, so the focus or onus is put on a person's intangible brown nosing..errr...."people/soft skills."  This means only the most purified extract of networker/ass-kisser/yes-man remain employed which only creates a spiraling effect, making the corporate environment that much more potent, purified and refined.  Soon, in theory, you will have a corporate slave class incapable of independent thought, leadership, and innovation...oh wait, you already do.

Foreign sales is another defeatist strategy employed by corporations.  Though legitimate (you should be targeting overseas markets) it does nothing to revolutionize or reinvent your business model or product.  It's simply doing the same thing over and over, but in a foreign land.  While US corporate sales overseas has remained steady around 46%, their foreign profits (as measured by tax rolls), however, have been increasing (from 45% to 61%) meaning they're likely to expand overseas, not here in the US.

"Going Green" and the whole Corporate Social Responsibility BS.

Do I even have to explain this?

It's a fad.  Not one corporate executive believes in this veritable religion.  But, unfortunately, millions of brainwashable sheeple do.  And thus, to get suckers to part with their precious dollars, all corporations have to do is parade false and bogus "green credentials" and lie right to your face about how they're "going green" and you morons are stupid enough to buy it.  And even if they aren't lying and are going green, you're still a fool to pay a 40% premium, 20% of which is just additional mark up.  A REAL corporate strategy would be to go "black" focusing only on profit and priding the company on focusing only on profit purposely and proudly ignoring their "carbon foot print."  But that would take some cajones, leadership, and the courage to point out the emperor has no clothes.  Regardless, the fact corporations throw so much resources and weight into the "CSR" efforts only shows how few new and legitimate business ideas they have.

And finally, rent seeking or lobbying.  I believe by the time you are willing to waste your shareholders' monies on bogus ad campaigns about going green and other such poppycock, it's only a fraction of an arcsecond of a degree to just go full out immoral and evil and bribe politicians to vote against the best interests of the people so your firm can get favorable treatment.  I love how GE is forcing us all to use lightbulbs we don't want.  I love how GM and the unions are getting pie in the sky retirement plans they should have never had.  And I love how practically ALL US solar companies were nothing more than fronts to have well-connected cronies play "make believe businessman" where they paid themselves fat salaries at the taxpayer's dime, all while never having an ounce of intention to produce a profit. 

Again, my distrust of the public sector is no secret.  I still to this day believe it is hands down the single largest threat to the country and the future of freedom.  But the private sector is in just as bad of shape, corrupted and dysfunctional.  But what makes this worse, if not, dire for the country is that EVERYTHING, including government revenue, MUST COME FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR.  There is nothing the government can do to create economic production, that all hails from the private sector.  And since and our private sector has become so lame and desperate that it employs strategies like rent seeking, lobbying, networking, "Linkedin," and "going green" you can expect no solution to the country's financial and economic problems. 

Enjoy the decline!


Cogitans Iuvenis said...

Networking, as it is understood today in corporate America, is just a poor facimile of relationship building. Yes relationships are very important, I would argue that developing real strong relationships is one of the cornerstones of a succesful business.

It's one thing to meet individuals, and over a period of time, develop a network of contacts, collegues and friends who can help your business. It's another to go to a networking event and compet for the most business cards.

I belong to an organization that has two type 'networking events'. One I like, the other I hate. The kind I like is generally very small, it's during happy hour, and there is no objective, just grab a few drinks with individuals working in your general industry. I like these sort of events because the topic of conversation always moves away from work into hobbies, interest, sports and the likle.

The other kind is the dreaded networking event were you fit far too many people in too small a space and everyone is just jostling to get a business card or some inside tip. I hate those with a passion.

what is even worse is that young guys, new to the field, are often pushed to 'network' when more time should just be spent letting them develop their skills. I don't see a reason why you force your entry level whoever to go to a networking event, save for the fact that the execs don't want to go.

And that is the rub isn't it? If an exec, whose only other job outside of managing the company is to develop business opportunities, can't be bothered to go then why send someone else?

Cogitans Iuvenis said...

And as for your belief about the public sector Captain. You don't need to believe, it's emprical fact. Even after the large government days of WWII the US private sector accounted for 80% of GDP, pre-20th century America private sector GDP accounted for 96% of the economy, whereas today our private sector can barely scrap by at around 60% and is dropping like a stone. It fell four percentage points since 2007.

Anonymous said...

It is a utility like anything else. Unless you're an anal retentive dinosaur that still keeps business cards.
A lot of people want to establish contacts through LinkedIn and similar platforms - just like a lot of people used to send out Christmas cards to strangers. I wouldn't accept an invite to connect from a stranger, nor send on to a stranger I want to rub up against.
LinkedIn is a convenient way of digitizing the people you have had a business relationship with. No more, no less. It allows an easier way to contact someone from past events and maybe bring them into new ones.
If you want to keep boxes of business cards, then feel free, in your MadMen era of existence.

Son of Brock Landers said...

Oh too true. Linkedin is a f-ing joke. I don't know anyone who has found a job through it.

Rent seeking/Lobbying is the disgusting outcome of centralization that started with FDR. With the growth of business, eventually there'd need to be a central govt powerful enough to divvy up the spoils (appointments + civil service), but it has added a new element to what was formerly the patronage system. I hate rent seeking because it has expanded and permeated event he behaviors of small businesses and common Americans. You think every sales rep in AMerica needed to buy an SUV in 2002-2009? No, but for tax purposes it was subsidized. I hate it because it feels like a scum side of a job. You're just stealing tax dollars.

Keads said...

Might I suggest a book from a former boss of mine? At times a bit grandiose, but he cut through the crap. I loved and hated working for him. Best praise I can give.

The book is titled "Don't Cry Foul, Just Strike Them Out".

Aerodawg said...

I can't speak for any other field, but for those of us in engineering linkedin is great. It helps get your details in front of people who are often times looking for very specialized experience. I have several friends who were offered interviews unsolicited that way. Its not a bad day when someone calls you and wants you to interview for a job paying 10k more a year...

Anonymous said...

I work in CSR, focusing on the environment, and i hate it (especially because I'm hard core conservative). I kind of fell into it (not by choice) via my previous employer. Pays well but I know I bring no real value to the company other than helping them comply with environmental regulations which are really just put in place to generate more public workers so that Ds can further reinforce their power base. I fill out alot of forms, send e-mails, go through the motions on other matters, so that our company can promote the fact that we're "green". Yay! I. HATE. IT. For the love of God I can't take it anymore and just want to drive a truck. I. AM. NOT. KIDDING. EITHER.

This is all true. May I get ball cancer tomorrow lest anyone here think my whole rant was BS.

Anonymous said...

O sir again you have done a miracle in saying what is truly on everyone's mind but can't really get themselves to verbalize due to feelings of being labelled either outdated, lazy or inept. LinkedIn is garbage and has exactly 0 production value. It is the home of 'HR Ditz' and young underemployed ASS-KISSERS.

Dance...dance to the radio said...

I used to do the facebook and then I got sick of it because they kept moving the goalposts on the way the use the information they got from me.
I emailed all of my 'friends' saying I was going dark and if they wanted to keep in touch, here's my gmail.
I lost a lot of 'friends' and never looked back after I deactivated my account.

I don't use Linkedin for networking.
I use it for the same reason I used to use facebook which is to keep in touch with people I used to work with when I lived in another city.
And the information I give them is no different than what I gave to any other jobsite when I was unemployed a year and a half ago.


The Going Green thing pisses me off no end.
I boycott coke because they try to tie their fake concern for the polar bears that aren't going extinct to their product.

James Wolfe said...

For several years I have considered creating a website called LinkedOut. Where you link to people you used to work for and tell the world what complete imbeciles they are, how they took credit for their underlings' good ideas and blamed them for their mistakes. And if they don't want you linking to them they can pay you a nominal fee. At least there would be some kind of profit mechanism unlike many other idiotic web enterprises.

Dance...dance to the radio said...

That CSR thing makes me laugh.
Back in '99 I was working at a hotel that was hosting the Xerox people during the Pan-Am Games.
There were dozens of them.
And they were volunteering their time at the Pan-Am Games.
Xerox paid the bills.

But, these people were there on their vacation.

And it was a reward they'd been given for good performance.

Summing up.
I work hard all year.
I win a performance bonus.
And that bonus means I get to go work as a volunteer at the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg instead of taking a family vacation.

Every one of them.

leap of a beta said...

Recently my email has been full of these stupid linkd in invites from the masses. I made one years ago in college at the same time I made a facebook - when the latter was still restricting it to college students.

I dont see the point of any of them. I fucking work as a designer, carpenter/painter, or electrician (depending on the day) in theatre. IN THE ARTS PEOPLE. I dont need to 'network' to find work and excel at my job. Nor does anyone that is good at what you do. All the people that have tried are generally mediocre talent. If they have work for me they know how to contact me, ans the same if I have work for them. Any superficial attempt to stand out without any core strengths of talent and work motivation behind it are disgusting.

If you put out a quality product consistently, people will come to you. You then use those as a foundation to expand. Only the intial launch of yourself, your business, your service, or your product line needs a 'networking' bullshit.

The rest of networking events and services is clogged by the inept and lazy looking for a free ride.

Dave said...

James Wolfe, that's exactly what Yelp does. A business gets good reviews if it pays Yelp a monthly fee, and bad reviews if it doesn't.

Mark L said...

I think networking is an example of the what is meant by "your mileage might vary."

A lot of the formal networking Captain is talking of is indeed, dross. But informal networking is valuable when used properly. I fond my current job by networking, albeit not by going to networking events. Rather, as a 50+ looking to change fields after working in the space/tech industry for 30 years (when the Shuttle program ended), I let all of my friends and acquaintances know I was seeking work. I included a resume and a description of the type of work I could do. I also stated I wasn't looking for them to offer me a job -- just be on the lookout for someone who needed someone with my skills.

Someone found someone else who knew yet a third person who needed someone with my skills. I applied for the job (avoiding the company's anti-personnel dept) by contacting the person looking for help. We talked, arranged an interview, and I had a new job. Total time between getting let go after the end of the Shuttle program and starting work in a new industry (and a new career path)? 28 days.

That is how networking is supposed to work. Get people who know (and trust) you to serve as extra eyes and ears.

I am also a freelance writer and get the majority of my work through networking. I have a stable of editors that know I do good work. I tag up with them about what they need, and then send a proposal based on that. LinkedIn forms an important part of that strategy because these guys (and gals) move around. LinkedIn lets me keep track of them. So, yes, I have found work through LinkedIn.

Still, it works because of the type of work I do. Because I find a need that must be filled, and offer a way to fill that need, rather than expecting others to fill my needs (send money) without offering something they need worse.

The Conservative Sociologist said...

I agree with Mark L. Informal networking can be valuable. It helped me find my current job after graduation (total unemployment time: 2.5 months).

A lot of the people who are in our "blogosphere" tend to do informal networking. We become friends with fellow bloggers and our readers, which may lead to increased readership and/or true connections in "meatspace"- whether it be for job opportunities, developing actual relationships, or someone to help us settle into a new area if we move to a new location.

Formal networking is nauseating, especially for a person like myself, who has a very difficult time being fake or kissing someone's ass. It also rarely gets you anywhere. Usually, there are too many ass-kissers, much more skilled than you at the art of ass-kissing, and too few opportunities. Typically, it stops at exchanging business cards.

RM Odom said...

Facebook is used by 99% of true males as a way of being able to contact old friends, and as a dating tool.

I am curious, does anybody here know of any type of corporate replacement system, other than dumping 100% of small business regulation, which works more efficiently and in a more psychologically healthy (like <150 person corporate tribes) way?

Captain Capitalism said...

Yeah, but CS, unlike Linkedin, we here on the blogosphere aren't a bunch of ass kissing douchebags.

Anonymous said...

Actually, LinkedIn is heavily used in the tech industry. Basically it is just your bio online. And a way to reach out to former co-workers years after you have parted ways when your current company is hiring. I get calls regularly from people who read my LinkedIn bio and want to set up an interview. And when I get a call from a corporate recruiter who wants my current CV I just send them to my LinkedIn page.
So it is a tool, and a useful one, for the right areas.
== SunSword ==

Anonymous said...

Everything you say about corp leadership (sic) is true. I'm middle aged, have run biz units in 3 continents and in every instance, the #1 priority for snr level execs is KEEPING THEIR JOBS. Not doing them well. Nuff said.

I'm enjoying the decline!