Feverishly editing the eight-hundred and twenty-fifth version of the review presentation, hopefully (and ironically) titled ‘reviewmeetingfinalfinal_5.ppt’, I was stuck with an epiphany that made me look at corporate life with new eyes.
The rush of blood in your veins making you stand many inches taller, the feeling of being firmly in control, endowed to conquer the world – that’s the power of PowerPoint. When you feel that the entire company’s future hinges solely on your 95 slide, Arial font 24 presentation. The market seems to give in and succumb to the charms of your line graphs and competition seems to shed their market-share seduced by the guiles of your block arrows. Microsoft has indeed beat Pfizer in delivering the ultimate ‘male ego enhancer’.
But, unlike the Blue Pill, when in reality the market ignores your mojo and the actual performance is quite limp, coming to nothing. You, the maker of the 95-slide-Arial-font-24 presentation, slunk back into your desk and start making a font 20 Times New Roman 100 slide presentation diagnosing this flaccid performance.
Now look at the monthly sales report from the Sales Head. He makes every month’s sales figure seem like Amundsen’s conquest of the Pole. Each point in market-share seems tainted with the blood of the bloke in sales who toiled away, while you, ungrateful prig, sat on your fat behind conjuring scenarios and attending conference calls. And while he was in the thick of this battle of Gladiator like proportions, you Corporate Office data-seeking muddle manager dared to distract him with your silly formats?
While you wallow in this guilt you probably don’t hear the chuckling Sales guy enjoying his rum-and-cola (‘food’ billed on the company account, of course) fantasizing which brand of 42” LED TV he would buy with his incentive this year.
And then there is the future year’s volumes projections game. What’s expected is girlie magazine center-spread like figures, whose sole intent is to induce a boner in the Big Boys to cover up for today’s hag like sales performance. Keep them salivating in anticipation of the big O (objective, you dirty mind) they will hit, five years from now. Come on, can’t you see the obvious ‘photo-shopping’ done on the 36 to make it look like a 38? (Market-share percentage points mate, what else did you think these numbers meant?) or do you choose to gloss over it like the guy who approved this business plan five years ago, got promoted to Asia-Pacific-head-of-global-something and left you poor sod holding the can?
After spending a couple of years working, speaking of ‘doing the right thing’, ‘making a difference’ sounds as naïve as the struggling starlet who was all praise for Shakti Kapoor’s dedication to work after she was invited to screen-test at his bungalow late in the night.
Unfortunately many of us antacid popping corporate sods live under the delusion that our work has earth changing potential. We hope that opening and closing Windows on our laptops will open doors to a new job. But jobs changed, gallons of antacid is consumed, cigarette-butt mountains are created before you, i-want-to-change-the-world muddled manager see through the maya.
It does not matter which company you work for or what you do, at the end of the day all you end up doin’ is pushing paper. Understand this and attain corporate nirwana in your Bodhi tree like cubicle and the warm glow of your laptop screen could pass off for an aura.