End of an Era
I am currently taking a break from embedding PowerPoints into another PowerPoint. Our monthly recap of PowerPoints we’ve created, assembled and presented in ppt form. There couldn’t possibly be a more apropos ending to my tenure as a management consultant. If you think I’m kidding, I’ll send you the document. It’s approximately 40 MB of arrows and buzzwords and status reports. It cost the client two hundred thousand dollars.
I suspected that I may be in trouble on day 2 when my so called “Career Manger” called me up to ask if I had a project yet.
“I don’t even have a computer yet.”
“You should get a project sooner rather than later; you can’t be on the bench too long.”
“I don’t understand, I’m still in new hire orientation.”
“I have to drop”
….. What the heck?
A month later I knew I had made a mistake when my senior director dropped the following line:
“Slides, are our currency.”
I almost threw up in my mouth.
Six weeks after that I lost my faith in mankind: I emailed a guy who I had worked with on a proposal (and won it for him) jus to check in and see how he was doing. We had been working late and chit chatting at points so I had learned a bit about him and his family.
“Hey Josh, shooting you a note to see how the [project we won] is going. Hope all is well and that your son’s little league team is doing well. All the best, bud.”
“I don’t have a project for you.”
I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t been at this much of a loss for words since 2005 when I accused an enormous, rugged bail bondsman of ripping me off. His response: “What are you gonna do about it?”
Jack Mack (no joke, that was the guy’s name) merely emasculated me. Josh, however, temporarily crushed my soul. When and how had this man become so jaded? When had he lost his humanity? Did he crack on Version 23 of his last PowerPoint? Was it on his one thousand slide milestone? Or was it in year 7 of his management consulting career when he realized he’s been operating in a pyramid scheme but hadn’t picked up any actual skills in that time that would allow him to leave. A life sentence.
One of my work buddies on a project admitted to me that he cries on the plane every Monday while traveling to the client site. 38 years old, married, two kids, weeping openly in front of 200 strangers once a week.
Can you blame him? Our job is to basically wipe lazy, imbeciles’ asses for them. “Consulting”!? Don’t make me laugh. I had a client who was in Hawaii for two weeks, then he had "dental issues” for a week, then he showed for half a day before taking the rest of the week off on account of pink eye.
First of all, if you’re a 40-year-old, single man, you may want to find a better fake excuse than pink eye. The type of activities a single, middle-aged man could engage in that would result in pinkeye are, at best, disreputable. More likely, outright salacious.
You’re not “consulting” a guy who has been absent for a month. No, you’re doing his job for him. Worse yet, your company is billing $400 dollars an hour for your services and giving you one fifth of that. The difference is siphoned off by a series of managing directors who show up twice a month and give you inane advice that is so generic you can’t help but wonder if they even know what your task is.
To the handful of friends I’ve made during this 2.5 year boondoggle: Just leave and become a 1099 or leave altogether. If the stewardess is handing you tissues while you rework slide seventeen for the 14th time, you probably need to make some changes.
However, if you don’t heed my advice there is a silver lining: When you finally snap and punch your client in his petri dish of an eye, I can get you the highly-specialized, niche consulting you need. The fee is exorbitant but, unlike you, my boy Jack actually delivers.