My Job Sucks
A chef cooks food that people eat and enjoy. A janitor cleans up messes and makes places look more inviting. An airline pilot takes people from Point A to point B. The common theme here is this: Tangible results. Heck, even a pet psychic provides comedic reprieve and distracts your pet for a bit.
Me, I am a “management consultant”. The immediate and correct question being: “WTF is a management consultant?” Basically, I give advice to big companies on how they can run their businesses more effectively. When you’re in college and grad school, this profession sounds elite and exciting. They teach you about how Intel was able to drive up demand by marketing their microchips directly to the consumer rather than to the computer companies. How Ford and GM made a major strategic error by ceding the low-end, low-margin car market to Toyota and Honda; a move that allowed the Japanese cars to develop distribution networks in the U.S. and eventually innovate upward toward the luxury segment. “You’ll be helping company executives make major strategic decisions!” Fuck ya! Sign me up!
Total Baloney. Let me tell you how things actually play out.
(1) The guy or gal who brings you in isn’t the head of Intel. No. The head of Intel or Merck, they don’t need your help. Business leaders with actual brains, vision and courage know what they need to do and how to do it. In rare instances where they struggle, they phone someone like the late, great Clayton Christensen for an hour. The guy who does bring you in as a consultant is the insecure deputy division manager who is in way over his head and desperately seeks an insurance/CYA policy. He doesn’t give a fuck what your advice is and he may or may not even understand it. All he wants to do is blame someone else if and when (most likely when) shit goes haywire. “It wasn’t me, I brought in the consultants and they gave me bad advice. Screw those guys.” These cats are typically a combination of stupid and cowardly. You may have armed this guy with the blueprint for a billion-dollar idea, but if he senses even a 0.1% chance that he may encounter some organizational resistance in presenting it – he buries his head in the sand and shuts up. Either that or he insists on presenting the idea himself because he wants the glory but butchers the presentation cause he’s a moron who never read your materials or paid attention in the first place.
(2) The first four hierarchical levels of your career are spent creating Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and then revising them 99 times at the whims of your boss and/or client. Remember (and I’ve bitched about this many times) that people today have the attention spans of a 3-month old so they won’t read anything that’s more than a paragraph. Thus, you have to have pictures and colors and fonts and arrows. Your boss and his boss, who have been consultants their whole lives and don’t know any better, will yell at you if there is “too much text on a slide”. You’re basically communicating at the reading and sophistication level of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” – but the story needs to be about business. Good thing you got that MBA! When you get to the mid-levels and above, your goal is to ingrain yourself like a tick at your existing clients and find additional useless organisms to leech off of. That and, of course, make the grunts rework ppt slides all day.
(3) You spend most weeks on the road. The travel itself blows but what’s even worse is that it sets up these god-awful conversations amongst your colleagues about who has status with which Airline and which hotel chain. “I have platinum elite status with Hyatt which is great because ……” Oh my God, Bro! Shut the FUCK Up. I don’t freaking care.
It all comes back to what I started yapping about in the beginning: A complete lack of any sort of tangible result. It’s all a big corporate circle-jerk and pencil pushing exercise. A boondoggle, through and through. Even something as tiny as getting the Jamoke readers (all 20 of you) to crack a smile every now and then feels infinitely more satisfying and productive than anything I do at work.
I’ll keep searching for the ever-elusive blend of career fulfillment and respectable salary. In the meantime though, if one of your bosses or colleagues needs some 3rd party to blame when he or she inevitably shits the bed, I’m available. Better yet, if you happen to hear of any abnormally high-paying janitorial work or bus-driving gigs, forward me the application. Ralph Kramden has his own statue. You ever hear of society building a statue for a management consultant? Hell no, it’s cause we’re useless. Best case scenario is that some third-rate MBA program names their Career Center after you. An “honor” that is stunningly depressing and insignificant yet perfectly befitting of a chump who spent his life generating ideas but achieving nothing.