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.