Are the voices in my head bothering you?

IMG_1594 It’s getting mighty loud inside here, which means it’s time to express myself on some issues in the news. I’ll give myself permission here to wander off-topic a bit (though some of you may snicker that I’m rarely ON topic). If you don’t approve of this therapeutic practice of mine, feel free to contact our customer service reps and demand a refund.

You may have heard that 24 out of 123 European banks recently failed a “stress test” by the European Banking Authority—to determine if they had enough capital to sustain an economic shock. These banks were given nine months to buttress their finances—or else! But how disheartening that must be for their employees. Corporations are people, you know, so these institutions must be feeling very sad. Would you want companies with low self-confidence handling your money? I don’t think so. We should be building their self-esteem, not tearing it down.

Enough with this testing mania! (Thank God nobody tests rock bands.) If banks don’t have enough assets to cover their depositors in a financial crisis we should trust them to do their best. (In America we always believe Wall Street banks will do the right thing. We understand that too much regulation may hurt their feelings.) Remember, every bank is a winner. The European Banking Authority should learn from the US and give each one of their institutions a trophy so they feel special.


Danny & the Juniors in 1958 (“Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay”) and Neil Young in 1979 (“Hey Hey, My My”) sang confidently about the immortality of rock & roll. And yet rock has certainly been on life support a few times during its 60-year reign. (See my post last week on disco music.) But, mirabile dictu, rock is now the most popular genre in America! Nielsen Music reports that in 2014 rock was 29% of total consumption including album, individual track purchases, and streams. R&B/hip-hop was second (17.2%) and pop was third (14.9%). Rock got 33.2% of album sales alone. I confess I didn’t see this coming. Based on the songs I’ve been hearing lately, I was afraid I’d have to change my blog title to Business Lessons From Pop. Or Mom.


At least once a week I wake up in a middle of the night, thinking, “Washington politicians are SO clueless, so befuddled, so dimwitted, so stuporous, so hebetudinous...I’m going to have to run for President!” Then I remember that I already did, and I go back to sleep.


For some reason I’m suddenly seeing a lot of famous quotes from esoteric philosophers on the nature of existence. People are reciting lines from Heraclitus (“Everything changes”) or Lao Tzu (“Life and death are one thread”) or Martin Heidegger (“Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?”) or Bill Belichick (“It is what it is”). Are these signs of a deep-seated fear about the health of the world economy? A collective concern about the state of Taylor Swift’s love life? A vague unease that we’re not eating enough fiber?


And finally, I don't want anyone to think I'm becoming crotchety in my old age. As I return to my consulting practice (after a six-year sabbatical) I’m still inspired by the vision that brought me into business consulting decades ago: to help employees connect to that universal, archetypal yearning—that sacred mission—to maximize shareholder value. Of course there are always a few workers who don’t resonate with that, but we have Corporate Reeducation Camps for them.

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  1. I agree. We never want to hurt the feelings of Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America. They try so hard -- but get no respect. Ha.

    It depends on what Nielson considers "rock." Apparently it's a wide category, that includes Coldplay.

    Maximizing shareholder value. It's hard to keep a dry eye when I see those words.

    1. I get all goose bumpy too when I hear it. Doesn't everybody? There's something about business jargon that's makes me weak in the knees.

  2. of course the question is whether the US banks are in much better shape. the folks who want more testing in schools seem to want less of it in banks.

  3. I would hate to "deflate" Bill Belichick's importance as an esoteric thinker, but I don't know if he's a Hall of Fame philosopher.

    1. I should probably explain to our many readers outside the US that Bill Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots, an American football team. Belichick is known for getting through lengthy press conferences by answering all questions with one of three phrases, though some of them quite profound in their implications: “It is what it is”; "That question has already been answered”; “We're onto the next game.” I’ve even begun using these same responses myself every day in my answers to questions from friends and colleagues. They have a surprisingly wide applicability to a variety of situations.

      Also Belichick is in the national news these days because he’s been accused of deflating the footballs used in the Patriots’ playoff win last weekend. (Deflating the ball can apparently give some advantage to the quarterback who can get a better grip on the ball.) So Belichick’s taciturn approach has been on display yesterday in his responses to hostile questions from the national media.

  4. As a retired corporate flunky living off gains in share value I applaud your renewed efforts to keep the next generation passionate about enhancing shareholder value.

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