Thursday, April 26, 2007


The folks at the CEO Advocacy Group, Save the Salary, have published a new book on how to get rich by getting a Golden Parachute. This essential corporate missive:
  • Makes a compelling case that losing your job should be lucrative, but only if you happen to be the CEO of your company.
  • Explains the behavior psychology of why Golden Parachutes for CEOs actually motivates rank and file employees to work even harder...well, sort of, in a hypothetical way that boggles the imagination.
  • Uses a proprietary schocastic model to prove that binge-purge personnel practices (i.e., pay a lot money to hire a CEO and then pay even more to get rid of that person) builds corporate character. Yes folks, spending upwards of $100 million to unload a CEO is 100% pure common sense!
For a hilarious salute to the CEOs who make millions for leaving, check out Sailing Away on a Golden Parachute by Brian Unger of NPR's The Unger Report.

Note: For background, read the article,The Upside of Being Out - How Taxes, Takeovers Figure Into Golden Parachute's Cushion, in the Washington Post by David Hilzenrath.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


What's worse than a micromanager? An incompetent or ineffective micromanager! Now there's a guide for the micromanagers in your life. This wonderfully detailed book, complete with a 376 page index, explains:
  • How the coming revolution in nanotechnology will spur the golden age of micromanagement.
  • Why nitpicking always trumps leadership!
  • How to be a like a's in the details!
Special Bonus! Order online and you'll get your free subscription to the Micromanager's Online Nano-Checklist™. It's the only checklist endorsed by the National Society of Certified Micromanagers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Fast Company has an article entitled, Less Hulk, More Bruce Lee, which discusses the concept of the Living Brand with Michael Jager of JDK Design, Apparently a brand is like a living organism that adapts to its environment. Throw in the spectre of genetic engineering run amok and you can imagine the horror movie depicted above.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This is the ultimate in Viral Marketing! The history behind this book is quite fascinating. It began last June in San Francisco when a couple of scientists involved in DNA research regarding Hoof and Mouth Disease stumbled into last years Word of Mouth Conference better known as WOMBAT. Apparently they thought it was about the other kind of wombat. They attended a workshop on viral marketing and SHAZAM!, and a new branch of marketing was born! Word has it that a new association, the Hoof and Mouth Marketing Association (HAMMA) is being formed. Their first conference is being planned for next year and rumors are flying that the Purple Cow will be the featured speaker!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wolfowitz seeks medical solution to ethics problem

In a follow-up to our earlier story, Romance and Corruption at the World Bank, the AP reported that Paul "Wolfie" Wolfowitz has apologized for helping his girlfriend, who is employed by the World Bank, get a substantial raise. A strangely contrite Wolfowitz said, "I made a mistake, for which I am sorry." The Cantankerous Consultant has investigated this and learned that soon after making that statement an angry Wolfowitz was heard to say, "What the heck got into me? Being World Bank President means never having to say you're sorry."

In a prophylactic effort to prevent future incidences of weak-kneed, shocked and awed contrition, Wolfowitz has been given a prescription for ETHIC-EZE by his physician, Dr. Ted Doantgivadam. "Although ETHIC-EZE was originally formulated for advertising executives, it works just fine for other professions," stated Dr. Doantgivadam. "However, anytime you prescribe medications for a NeoCon, there is a higher risk of side effects."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Grand Nagus is CEO of Save the Salary

The newly formed CEO advocacy group, Save the Salary has announced the appointment of its first CEO. Grand Nagus Pox has been chosen from a field of more than twenty candidates. "We kind of wanted Ken Lay, but as you know, he's passed on. Nonetheless, we couldn't be happier to have a real live Ferengi, and the Grand Nagus at that, to lead us in the formative years of Save the Salary," noted Ray Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. "I never considered myself a religious man until I heard about the Rules of Acquisition. Personally, I love Rule #22: A wise man can hear profit in the wind. I get goosebumps just saying it!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Even more about Circuit City!

As a reward for laying off 3,400 employees, Circuit City CEO Phillip Schoonover becomes the first-ever three-peat topic posting. (See: More on Circuit City and From Hedgehogs to Warthogs). Today we are pleased to refer our readers to a wonderful column by Bill White of The Morning Call entitled, Circuit City executives heading south.

My favorite line from the column has Satan saying to Mr. Schoonover, "This place is full of overpaid, outsourcing, golden-parachuting, employee-abusing worms like you."

Bill White, you're my kind of writer!

Monday, April 9, 2007

BoringPoint is now SnoringPoint

April 10, 2007 - BoringPoint, a consulting firm known for its cutting edge use of ennui-based management tools announced that it is changing its name to SnoringPoint. Gab Fester, company spokesperson explained, "We were inspired by a recent reports of a study by Dr. Sara Mednick demonstrating that taking naps leads to increased workplace productivity. After reading her book, Take a Nap, Change Your Life, our CEO had an epiphany and our new slogan reflects this. 'We snooze, you lose' is a strategic manifesto. We'll be snoozing and getting stronger while our competitors rely on Starbucks to stay awake. In the long run, we'll snooze our way to victory!"

The old logo and slogan.

Check out Bob Sutton's Commentary!

Many thanks to Bob Sutton, author of that wonderful tome, The No Asshole Rule. Visit his blog, Work Matters, for his commentary about my comments on Circuity City. And Bob, congratulations! I understand the ARSE test will soon reach 75,000 completions!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Save the Salary Movement begun by Corporate CEOs

To combat a growing threat to corporate largess, America’s best paid CEOs have banded together to form an organization called, Save the Salary. Ray Irani* - CEO of Occidental Petroleum made the following announcement. “A recent study by The Corporate Library reveals the median pay for chief executive officers at corporations rose less than 10 percent for the first time since 2002. Obviously we are not happy with that. To put this in perspective, the most recent compensation increase was a paltry 9.3 percent, a woeful comparison to the 16 percent increase the previous year.”

A visibly distraught Irani then fought back tears and continued, “Today I stand before you to say, ‘We, the CEOs of America, cannot and will not stand for this. We are drawing a line in the sand. Therefore, it gives me great pride to announce a new organization dedicated to preserving our corporate heritage of outlandish salaries and perks. It is called, ‘Save our Salaries’ and you will hearing a lot more about it in the coming months and all the swell ways the public can make their tax-free donations!"

* (Reuters) — Occidental Petroleum's chairman and chief executive took in more than $400 million in compensation last year, the company said in a filing, one of the biggest single-year payouts in U.S. corporate history.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


“Being Wolfie means not having to say you're sorry.”
Washington Post journalist Dana Milbank
Today’s commentary is about Paul Wolfowitz, President of the World Bank and an architect of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Apparently many bank staffers are upset regarding favoritism shown by the bank and the Bush administration towards the Wolfmeister’s one-time girlfriend, Shaha Riza.

Apparently the Wolfmeister tried to circumvent bank rules to allow him to work alongside his romantic interest. That, according to “the bank's ethics officers…would not be allowable, the problem appeared solved when Riza was detailed to work at the State Department's public diplomacy office in September 2005--even though her salary was still to be paid by the World Bank.”
[source of quotes from Murray Waas at]
Riza received a promotion and payraise that brought her salary to $193,000. “That salary increase not only meant that Riza earned more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but apparently made her the single highest paid State Department official.”.

The Cantankerous Consultant is pleased to be the first to reveal exactly how the Wolfmeister got himself into this mess. Through a confidential source, we have obtained a transcript of a private meeting between Wolfowitz and Riza:
And now for a special and serious editorial commentary:

It's important to keep in mind that Mr. Wolfowitz has promised to get tough in the fight against corruption. In a speech to the Appeal of Conscience Foundation Awards Dinner, March 27, 2007, he said: “We are seeing many Africans literally putting their lives on the line in the fight for transparency and accountability…One such person is Nuhu Ribadu, Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He is courageously leading his government’s effort to fight corruption, undeterred by the murder of two of his people.”

It doesn’t seem possible to excuse Wolfie or write this off as merely a personal scandal. What it comes down to is this: Some people dig deep to find the courage to put their lives on the line in the fight against corruption. Wolfie, in stark contrast, has summoned arrogance and gall, mouthing hollow slogans about corruption while at the same time putting his love life ahead of the mission of the Bank. Hardly the way to set an example for the staff he leads. There's a lot of good people at World Bank and they deserve better. Much better.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

More on Circuit City

In an earlier post entitled, Hedgehogs to Warthogs, I offered my humble but scathing opinion of Circuit City's recent lay-offs. Well, I happen to discover the following set of corporate values on their website:"Our associates are our greatest assets." If that is true then why lay off 3,400 of your great assets? I was at a loss for an explanation but then I got an anonymous tip from one of their employees. Apparently Circuit CEO Phillip Schoonover recently purchased the best-selling business book entitled, The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton. Somehow, Mr. Schoonover thought the title of the book was, The No Associate Rule. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but it makes more sense than anything I've read in the press releases from Circuit City.

Note to Circuit City: The book on the left is real!
The book on the right exists only in your imagination.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

DarkSourcing - An Interview with Halliburton's CEO

The Darkside of Outsourcing

The Cantankerous Consultant is pleased to interview David Lesar, CEO of Halliburton. According to Bloomsberg News: “Halliburton Co., the largest contractor for the Iraq war effort and the company formerly led by Vice President Dick Cheney, paid Chief Executive Officer David Lesar $15.2 million last year…Lesar's salary rose 3.2 percent, to $1.3 million from $1.26 million in 2005, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The CEO also received $3.74 million in stock awards, $2.62 million in stock options and $6.64 million in non-stock incentives.”

Cantankerous Consultant: Reading about your compensation package makes me wish Halliburton had been one of my clients. Just one gig with you guys and I’d be filthy rich.

David Lesar: Interesting phrase, “filthy rich.” From our viewpoint at Halliburton, it’s considered an oxymoron. What we do isn’t filthy when you consider that the Pentagon has paid us nearly $78 million for Janitorial and Housecleaning services..

Cantankerous Consultant: So, you’re really cleaning up by cleaning up? Wouldn't that make the phrase ironic rather than oxymoronic?

David Lesar: Yes. I stand corrected.

Cantankerous Consultant: I understand Halliburton is moving its headquarters to Dubai? What’s behind that?

David Lesar: I know there’s a lot of controversy about that and a lot of unfair accusations have been leveled against us. But honestly, the answer is very simple and straightforward. As you know, George W. Bush’s nickname is “Dubya” which sounds a little bit like Dubai. So moving there is just our way of keeping the President’s name foremost in our hearts and minds.

Cantankerous Consultant: So, what was it like to follow in the footsteps of Dick Cheney?

David Lesar: A total privilege. You know I wrote a song in his honor called, My Sith Lord. Actually I borrowed the tune from George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and made up my own lyrics. Would like to hear it?

Cantankerous Consultant: Err…perhaps another time. I think the readers of my blog want to know what you learned from Sith…err, Mr. Cheney.

David Lesar: The secrets of DarkSourcing!

Cantankerous Consultant: DarkSourcing?

David Lesar: Oh yes, it’s Lord Cheney legacy to Halliburton. When he first became CEO he saw the promise of outsourcing.

Cantankerous Consultant: That’s where the Pentagon pays Halliburton and KBR a bundle to do what they could for less money in the first place.

David Lesar: Yes. But we improve the process by adding the profit margin without which democracy itself could not exist.

Cantankerous Consultant: Okay. Now back to Cheney.

David Lesar: When Lord Cheney came he brought his knowledge of the Dark Side. And let me say, when it comes to change management, you can’t beat a Sith Lord.

Cantankerous Consultant: I bet!

David Lesar: Anyway, Lord Cheney combined his mastery of the Darkside with the promise of outsourcing to unleash a bold and terrifying new power, DarkSourcing!

Cantankerous Consultant: Awesome! Can you tell us more?

David Lesar: I could, but then I'd have to kill you.

Cantankerous Consultant: Well, thank you for your time.

David Lesar: You’re certainly welcome.

A Consulting Firm that Delivers on its Promises

At last, a consulting firm that is honest and really delivers!
Their motto: "Let us be the bane of your existence!"
As the graph shows, they're not kidding.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hedgehogs to Warthogs

From Hedgehogs to Warthogs

An exclusive interview with
Circuit City CEO Philip Schoonover

Last week Circuit City announced they were firing 3,400 of their employees because they were making too much money. They company told the dismissed employees they could reapply, in ten weeks, for any openings at Circuit City. Presumably at a wage lower than their original pay scale.

In an exclusive interview with CEO Philip Schoonover, we find out what lies beyond good to great.

The Cantankerous Consultant: As most readers of this blog undoubtedly know, Circuit City was one of the cases cited in the landmark book, Good to Great by Jim Collins. How do you explain this recent personnel move in light of that book? Haven’t you lost your way from being cited in Good to Great?

Schoonover: Well, I went back and really studied what Jim Collins had to say. For example, he talks about getting the right people on the bus and asks, “If compensation is not the primary driver for the right people on the bus, then what are the primary elements in getting and keeping the right people on the bus? What role does compensation play?”

It occurred to me, “Hey, we just don’t understand the role compensation plays for the vast majority of our employees. We need to find out!” So we devised this layoff as a grand corporate experiment. Lay off a bunch of employees but give them the chance to reapply for their jobs at lower pay. That way we can observe performance, morale and other factors on the same people operating under two different pay scales. I’ve already been asked by Harvard Business Review to write an article about this.

The Cantankerous Consultant: Downright brilliant! So by conducting this experiment you are really building a dynamic learning environment?

Schoonover: Exactly! The knowledge we gain from laying-off those employees will offset any pain they feel.

The Cantankerous Consultant: No pain, no gain! Got it. Another concept brought forward by Jim Collins is the concept of Level 5 leadership. Any comments on how that relates to the layoffs.

Schoonover:: It is directly relevant and I’ll tell you why. Jim Collins notes that humility is a hallmark characteristic of a Level 5 leader. Think about it, only the most self-effacing of our laid-off employees will choose to apply for their old jobs at a lower salary. Those that do reapply are, by default, possessive of great humility.

Now I’ve been getting a lot of heat from the press because of this. But I’m determined to go through with this. After all, it’s not the heat but the humility that counts.

The Cantankerous Consultant: It also sounds like a great way to ensure you’ve got the right people on the proverbial bus.

Schoonover: Yes, absolutely. When we’re done we’ll have the most incredibly humble busload of employees you could ask for.

The Cantankerous Consultant: Okay. So what’s going to be the hardest part of the trip for this humble bus?

Schoonover: All the road kill!

The Cantankerous Consultant: Is there any particular animal that predominates as road kill?

Schoonover: Yeah, hedgehogs. You’d be amazed, I’d say at least two-thirds of the road kill we see are hedgehogs. They just curl into a ball on the road as if that’s going to protect them. Dumb animals! Foxes, on the other hand, are never road kill. They’re too smart and fast to get nailed.

The Cantankerous Consultant: Your salary is listed at $1.42 million. What can possibly say to your employees under the current circumstances?

Schoonover: I’d like to say to our laid-off employees during these challenging times: Let them eat Cake Mania, a fun electronic game on sale for only $19.99!

The Cantankerous Consultant: Any final observations or comments for our readers?

Schoonover: Actually, I’d like to address my comments to Jim Collins. As I mentioned before, it seems most of the roadkill are hedgehogs. That suggests we need to rethink that story of the hedgehog and the fox. Quite frankly, I don’t think hedgehogs cut it in today’s hyper-competitive world.

The Cantankerous Consultant: If not the hedgehog, then what?

Schoonover: Well, how about the Warthog Concept?

The Cantankerous Consultant: Warthog Concept...has a ring to it. I like it! And by the way, one of my favorite wines is the Warthog Pinotage from Angelini Wine of South Africa.