27 April 2014

Three things I hate about business

I’ve put in time at companies small and large, mostly writing and working on web sites. I’ve also done time in retail, food service, automotive, surveying, and so on. That’s just to say these observations don’t just apply to one place, or even the current place. But to just about every place. These aren't the only things I find annoying; that list would be too long. These are merely the largest hypocrisies that people seem to swallow without noticing.

1. When people pretend it’s not about the money.

That’s all it’s about. Money. Sure, business can be about quality, innovation, personal enrichment (hmm) or whatever other pop psychology blather is fashionable this week.

image via

But it’s about making money. And if you don’t believe me, here’s how you can tell: Wait until there isn’t enough money coming in. Then even the most laid back, shorts-and-hoodie wearing dude with a sleek new age job title reverts to form.

2. When people pretend it’s not about power.

They’re not bosses. Nope. Boss is hardly a word you hear these days. They’re coaches, entrepreneurs, or even worse – leaders.

And they’re your friend, too, ready to crack a joke or pop open a beer with you. Just chill. Hang out. Open doors! Or no offices at all!! Just a spot on the floor with the rest of the team.

This is another pretense that is easy to explode. Just disagree about an issue that matters. The response may be temperate, modulated, well reasoned, but it will boil down to this: I’m the boss. You’re not. We’ll do it my way.

3. When people pretend business is cool.

Business is not cool. Figuring out to sell industrial hose, researching wiper blade effectiveness under stringent weather conditions or selling suburban real estate is not cool. It’s necessary and even important. But not cool.

photo by Jan Persson

Cool is Miles Davis, Hunter S. Thompson and Jeanne Moreau walking down rain swept Parisian streets in the night.

Not cool. (But you probably knew that).

And no matter how hard you try to weave in your crappy ass top 40s rock-and-roll into the equation, it’s still business. No matter how hip your logo, how au courant your service, it still won’t be cool. It might be valuable. It could change lives, make the world a better place, or give clients and employees opportunities they’d never dreamed of. 

That’s all more substantial than being a rock star or measuring up to some middle school notion of what's important. 

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