Not much action in the markets. At first, we thought investors were waiting for the outcome of the ‘fiscal cliff’ wrangling. Now we don’t know what they’re waiting for.
So, let’s turn to something else – some bad advice for career-oriented women.
It comes from the Financial Times, concerns France and includes the thoughts of one Brigitte Lemercier.
We highlight it here only to open up a discussion on a larger issue, but we’ll come to that in a minute.
First, the itch of the article is how few women are in positions of power at major French companies. The government of Francois Hollande thought that numerical balance between yin and yang, masculine and feminine was important. In the cabinet, there are 17 members who wear skirts and 17 who don’t. This is widely seen as an important achievement, much more important than the fact that the whole country is going broke.
Then, attention turns to the private sector, where there was, until recently, only one woman at the head of one of France’s top 40 companies. And she was an American who has since been replaced with a man.
Tant pis? Well, what can we say, apparently, there are people who worry about such things.
So, the FT turns to a woman to give other women a hint on how to get to the top. Brigitte Lemercier, head of a company that hunts heads in Paris, suggests that women should “excel in their studies.” They should also “network.” They should find a good mentor, “if it is a man, you should choose someone a good 20 years older who can feel paternalistic.”
Good advice? Yes and no. If you want to be a zombie and get a good position in a zombie organisation, it is good advice. Zombie groups don’t worry about ever producing anything of value or ever having to satisfy a customer. They live off subsidies, privileges, monopolies, grants, credentials and so forth. Like the government itself, what counts are paper and politics, who you are and who you know. Get a good piece of paper with your name on it. Spend your time blah, blahing in a ‘network’. Look for people who can help you get an edge.
Hey, maybe you can run a major corporation like Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. Then, like Whitman and Fiorina, you can use your networking skills to move into politics, which is probably the closest thing to running a major corporation.
Don’t forget to sound like a sympathetic, dynamic hack. Be sure to use a lot of business jargon. “Let’s get six alpha pups in here and address core competency issues… ” Or, “make sure you incent the A-team before we go live… ”
Get a lot of consultants into the head office. Read all the latest ‘biz-wiz’ books.
Or maybe you could you use Paula Broadwell as a role model. There’s a woman who knew how to network and how to get a mentor and dress for success. She got America’s top general, the hero of ‘The Surge’ in her back pocket, so to speak. And education! She went to West Point and Harvard. Can’t do better than that.
She was also an expert on terrorism, which was the perfect zombie-style, expertise. No one would ever know if she knew what she was talking about or not.
But if you want to run a business that creates real wealth Madame Lemercier’s advice is terrible. Forget all that education and ‘networking’ claptrap and focus on satisfying customers, at a profit.
Wowie, zowie… now we’re thinking ‘out of the box’! Stop pandering and sucking up to important zombies and think about the business. Take your mind off your own pathetic career and give a care for the customers. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for Pete’s sake.
Why didn’t Madame Lemercier mention it? Because the Rule of Reciprocity scarcely applies in zombiedom.
In a zombieland, neither output nor customer satisfaction matter. What matters is connections, credentials, hot air. BS in other words. If you know the right people, you can network yourself into sweet gigs. Say, in a university. Or a think tank. Or at the Pentagon. Or the Department of Irrelevant Matters that Everyone Forgot About 50 Years Ago
In the zombie world, it doesn’t really matter if your ideas and opinions are nothing more than hollow claptrap. What matters is hype and horses**t. It’s a BS world, in other words. Ms Lemercier is giving BS advice.
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