The ABCs of Surviving the Business World
Many of you will be moving into the business world soon, either through jobs or internships. The Wall Street Journal recently published a (semi) humorous look at the ABCs of business. We have copied the first three letters of the alphabet here, but there are 23 more you can view through the link above.
Administrative assistant is the servant and master of senior management. Though all the trappings of everyday work are there—the computer, the phone bank, the piles of incoming and outgoing paper—the real function of the job is to grant or block access. More than any other player in the infrastructure, AAs are both high and low. They feel this status acutely. Treat them as the power brokers they are, and they will sometimes respond in kind. Treat them as functionaries, and you will slowly be expunged from the face of the planet.
Agenda is either the formal rundown of a meeting, luncheon or long weekend in Scottsdale with 300 drunk sales managers or a hidden, dark thing, secret to all but a few. Written agendas are fine, as they go, but people who rely on them too much can be boring. The really interesting stuff takes place in the hidden agenda—a complicated amalgam of needs, demands and dreams that make all conversations, even in business, human.
Anger can be good for you: Those who are never infuriated aren’t paying attention. But an excess of anger demonstrates bad self-control.
A**-covering is a craft, not an art. There’s nothing pretty about it. Make a habit of documenting situations that have a scent of peril about them. Copy the lawyers. Don’t apologize for anything. Apologies are the antithesis of ass-covering.
Breakfast is a low-risk start to a high-risk day, though primarily a marvelous opportunity to have free bacon. The real agenda of the breakfast is friendship. Only hard-bellied moguls have breakfast with people they don’t like.
Business is what we all do for a living. Running a gas station is business. Selling lemonade on the street is business. Writing for an online publisher that pays a penny a word is not business. It’s stupid.
Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are owned by private individuals and corporations (and their stockholders). These relatively few individuals share in “profits” and employ the majority of citizens, retaining their services for “wages.” Profits seem to mount a lot faster than wages. Thus, capitalism appears to come most highly recommended by those at the top.
Competition is a pain in the neck. The entire drift of American business is a slow slide to consolidation. That effort will never be entirely successful, though. So in the end there will be 10 or 12 massive, government-sized conglomerates determined to wipe each other from the face of the Earth.
Content is a fancy piece of terminology for movies, television, plays, videogames, books, magazines, newspapers or any other form of news, information or entertainment that people consume with any of their sensory organs other than their taste buds. Soup, for example, is not content. But a video of soup is.
Cost cutters do a lot of things under various euphemistic names, but what they really do is fire people.
Cubicle is a tiny space imposed on powerless workers to take away their individuality and crush them into the role of anonymous cog in a machine run by somebody, somewhere who has access to a door behind which they can take a nap or eat their lunch in peace.