Nobody Knows What They're Talking About: 5.04
As I move higher in the corporate game of chutes and ladders, I've begun to have meetings with execs who have increasing amounts of power. Being the requisite young thing at most of the meetings, it falls to me to provide the viewpoint of the 'younger demographic' which remains incredibly elusive for my corporate masters.
Increasingly, this viewpoint has increasingly become me figuring out tactful ways to tell various VPs that they're wrong and/or misinformed. And I've figured out how to do it. Read on.
By the way, I wish I could tell you that, of course, this doesn't apply to all big corporate VPs, but frankly, I'm not so sure anymore.
Here's a sample question to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with. I'll set it up.
This is Ken.
He's a Marketing VP. He makes love to his wife once a month, four times a month to his hooker, and once a day to himself. We're having a meeting about revamping a website to simply allow the users to 'personalize' their user experience with something as simple as allowing them to choose their user name and password instead of having them randomly generated. Apparently, this will cost a lot of money to do.
Ken says: "Well, I'm just not sure how this enhances the user experience."
Atlas says: "Ken, I'm pretty sure that any opportunities we can give the user to engage with the site and customize their experience will help improve our revenue streams."
Ken: "I'm not sure the numbers support that, Atlas."
Atlas thinks: "You've got to be friggin' kidding me-- this is not rocket science, you idiot."
Atlas says: "Well, Ken, I think you're absolutely right that your numbers don't necessarily seem to support that. But if we don't spend much to try anything new, we'll lose by default. And if we hit the viral marketing jackpot-- we win. Am I right, or am I right?"
Atlas thinks: "I hate myself for saying that. But, Ken did deserve it."
Ken says: "Well you're absolutely right, Atlas, but I'm just not sure how this squares with our overall business plan, considering your plan to, as you put in your brief 'Opening up the whole shebang.' Considering the variable involved in our revenue streams, I'm just not sure there's the financial support for expensive initiatives like this."
Atlas thinks: "Dude, that was a rough draft! No fair!"
Atlas says: "Well, you may be right, Ken. But if you read the final draft of my proposal, you'll see that if there's a strong chance we're losing people to our competitors over something as simple as this, then that puts at a huge competitive disadvantage."
Atlas thinks: "Snap, B**ch!"
Boss Lady ends the dick-measuring contest, saying: "Look, we've all agreed the website needs changes. These should be one of them."
Do we all see the corporate boardroom lesson contained herein, or shall I spell it out? I'll spell it out for you. Otherwise, I'll get stupid emails. Not that I don't like stupid emails. But I do prefer the awesome ones, so keep those coming. And comments. I like comments. What was I talking about? Oh yeah...
Handy Rules For the Boardroom
1. Never Disagree. That said, you can disagree with anything that's said if you preface it with "You're absolutely right." It Works Every. Single. Time*
2. Practice Tact. Yeah, I'm not always good at it either, but it helps.
3. Speak Truth to Power. It's the only way you've got a shot at redeeming yourself, you dirty, filthy whore.
4. Don't Get Annoyed. If you let it(Ken) get under your skin, you will never survive in the Ho'wood. I can guarantee you will be annoyed in pretty much every single meeting you ever have. I guarantee.
*That I've used it in boardroom-y meetings
All for now. I'm off to watch a Tivo'd Entourage. And drink. Heavily.
TECHNORATI TAGS: Technology, Boardrooms, Meetings, Business Culture, Twentysomethings, Entourage