Bing Blog

Are you a Company Person?

Satan Boss

When I was a kid, there was an entity that everybody pretty much had contempt for. It was a thing called the Company Man. The Company Man was owned by the Company. He dressed the way the Company said to dress. His opinions and his attitudes were shaped by the Company. He was generally faceless, because his face was the face of the Company. Poor dude, we thought. To sell your soul to the Company store like that. Pathetic.

So I find it kind of interesting that today everybody I know has devolved to that status. You can't really call it a Company Man anymore, because that is genderist. I'll just say that we're all Company People.

I know a fellow who works for Google (GOOG). He totes around an Android, the phone sold by his company in its store. He loves it. Like everybody else I know, he says "we" when he talks about his firm. He gets really defensive when people say anything against the Goog.

My friend Larry works for Satan. I won't reveal the human form that Satan is taking in his dealings with Larry, but believe me, he's quite effective. Does Larry mind working for Satan? Not at all. "He's a really nice guy when you get to know him," Larry tells me. I believe him. Ted Bundy was charming, too.

My pal Danny works in terrestrial radio, a business that has been disrespected by the fad-crazy media but actually produces billions of dollars of profit every year for its proprietors, at good margins.  "I got satellite radio in this car I'm renting," he told me the other day. "It's pretty good. But I'd never subscribe to it." I asked him why, if he liked it. "It would be like getting a season ticket to the Yankees," he said. Danny bleeds Red Sox red. So I knew what he meant.

And then there's me. I have worked for the same company for more than 20 years. I didn't intend to. I've been begging them to put me on the beach for years. But here I still am. Same job, even, only bigger. Same chair, too. Why change it? You know how hard it is to get a comfortable chair?

Anyway, lately I find I hate the stuff made by our competitors. I won't tell you what that is, because homey don't play that. But I can say that whenever I run into it -- on a plane, in a store, in somebody else's house -- I just despise it. If I'm exposed to it, I want to get away from it. If somebody expresses even mild approval of it, I feel like killing them.

This Company mentality expands to fill all areas of my working life. Take this blog, for instance. It's on a specific web destination that is in competition with some others, although competition on the Internet is somewhat weird. People cruise all over the place all day and hit just about everything in the sector in which they have an interest. But still. There are sites that go mano-a-mano against this one. And I loathe them. I wish them ill. I want them to go away. I don't frequent them.

I wish it could be different. My competitors are everywhere. And I hate them. I'm mildly annoyed by people who don't, in fact.

It's possible we're all like dogs. We start life looking like ourselves, and after some time we end up looking like our owners. Why not? They're the ones holding the box of biscuits, I guess.

32 Comments Add Comment

Company loyalty is called the Copenhagen syndrome.

@Jack Hammond - That makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.


You and your collective need your competition for many reasons. One, so you can prove who is number one. Two, to keep you on your toes. I am a company person and bleed corporate blue. My problem is that I too loathe our competition. I get frustrated when our competitors surpass us and my company sits on their hands and does nothing about it! WTH! I find the more I become part of the collective (care), the more frustrated I get. I want to quit every other day but it is kind of like being in an abusive relationship. It's all my fault

Re: Satan

He is a good guy- but can be a little hot headed.

Larry's coworker.

CORRECTION...Company loyaly is called the Stockhome Syndrome...
Got my scandahovian confused..

Geeeez I'm having a bad day, cannot spell Stockholm correctly and I lost the remote for my DVD player...has anybody seen it...

There is no such thing as a company man anymore. The guys at the top mistake the alignment of their interests with those of the company (via stock options and bonuses) for affection for the company. Everybody else just wants to feed their family and not feel like an indentured servant in the process.

There used to be company men, before the reengineering craze of the 1980s broke the unwritten contract between large companies and their employees. My father worked for the same publicly traded, Fortune 500 company for 25 years. He made it to middle management. He was laid off less than one year after that anniversary. After seeing what that did to him (it still chokes me up to think about it), I knew that the idealized image of a paternal corporation was an illusion.

I work with and for people. When I do the right thing at the office, I do it because it will help the guys in the office take home a few extra bucks (and me too). Or maybe allow us to avoid laying off someone who didn't deserve it. Or give a new college grad a shot. But never in honor of the professionally designed, well advertised logo above the door.

Bing....all decent human beings are, to some extent, 'company men'. We're innately tribal. Don't think that the occasional Sioux executive level tribesman didn't get pretty fed up with Senior Sioux Chieftain 'Laughing Dog' (with the fancy-pants doeskin leggings, and six nubile brides) at times?...sure he did, but he realized that the competing Chippewas' were not only likely to ignore his corporate seniority and obvious value, but they would likely enjoy skinning him alive. Thus awoke the competive spirit, and respect for continuity of comfort.

On an unrelated note:'s apparent from your blog that you've recovered from your recent bout with Weltschmerz, and found your old mojo. Thank god.

When I played more frequently, I would go to the course as a solo and pick up a game. I recall being paired with a gentleman I had not seen before. As we got to know each other over the front nine he went on about his company.

I politely inquired how long he had been an entrepreneur.

He met the query with a confused look saying that Bell South was his company.

Oddly, I did not ever recall writing a check for phone service to him.

I think I would have remembered as it was my carrier for years.

Last time I looked, Bell South had been acquired by AT&T and the new parent expected to trim 10,000 jobs between 2007 and 2009.

I haven't seen my old playing partner recently, but if I had gained nearly 70 billion dollars in a stock swap, I might be busy too.

Recognizing a real company person is really very simple. The first clue is their demeanor; they appear to be lobotomized.

Not being able to think or act on their own; they simply act out the company rules and the departmental manual and handbook.

Intimidated by independent thinkers, they run to the boss when work in process succeeds before they catch on or wake up leaving them outside of the process looking in.

They usually are the Tortoise, not the Hare.

It's odd that I'm not very competitive, but even so I want the company I work for to wipe our competition from the face of the earth. Yet I don't want to have to exert myself unduly for that to happen. Sometimes I cannot bring these competing interests to a resolution, and I stare at my computer screen and think about the banana seat bikes we used to ride when we were kids.

The lifers in any company think all the other employees want to lifers too. Most of us drones, get our resumes updated the day we are hired,

Wouldn't it be nice to have a few more people we could call company men or women today? Even if they were nameless faceless people, they would have jobs.
No doubt,they would be dull and boring, but they would pay their mortgage and mow their lawns.

Do you have your EYE on another site? I don't think you would be proud as a peacock if your work was on anybody's channel other than the one you are turning out your work on. I think that your time spent on this site is fine.

People understand corporate layoffs and downsizing resulting from diminished economic activity.
However when one company borrows large amounts of money,tax deductable of course, to purchase another company, which it then loads up with more debt, also tax deductable and then fires thousands of workers to pay for it
this is wrong.It's time to stop this greed with taxpayers' dollars.
No wonder corporate loyalty is at a long time low.
If these CEOs want loyalty they had better buy a dog

I see myself more like a "fortune soldier" or a "mercenary" a "hired gun" even a "practitioner of the, so called, oldest profession in the world". I have avoided to work for more than 4 years for the same company, the greatest salary and bonus increases I have had, have come from my job hoping and my gift to make rain in a short period of time. I will do whatever you want me to do, as long as it is legal, or close enough. I will hate whoever you ask me to as long as you pay my price. For that amount of money you own me, I'm at your orders 24/7, I will be blindly loyal to you and your cause, I do not care what that is as long as you pay my price.

There might be a time and place for both types of people. If you are buying your own insurance and funding your own retirement, don't worry too much about 'company love'.

Even after it was no longer popular, my company paid for defined benefit pensions, long term disability insurance, health, dental, and life. When my health put me out of the game at 48 years old, they sent me out on full retirement, paid for the lawyers to get Social Security Disability, and continued to pay my insurance.

Yea, in a case like that, I'll be a company man.

Nope, not a company man.

I am a customer man. I will turn myself inside-out for a client. I just can't stand the thought that a customer is disappointed with what I've delivered.

Bosses, not so much. I've had bosses who've loved me, and bosses who couldn't stand me. I guess the difference was whether they could look past my skeptical attitude towards corporate dictums and see how delighted my customers are.

Most of my customers have been inside the company. Usually folks who live and die by production. One good machine could turn them into lifetime fans.

I know I should be more of a suck-up. It has hurt me, a lot, not to be one. Bosses listen to their own emotions more than they do to their (my!) clients.

Sad, isn't it?

Anonymous - Good Post - says it like it is..and he is right on about the change in values in the 80's

One doesn't have to be a 'suck-up' to be a 'company man' fact it's quite the opposite. A true company man knows that his organization's well-being is partially dependent upon his efforts. The organization is bigger than some butt-head of a boss. Hell, some of the best 'company men' I've known were Marines....and I assure you it had nothing to with pleasing some battalion is about knowing you are part of something bigger than yourself...and playing hard for the team to which you belong....and most importantly of all, not letting your coworkers down. Unless the boss is a true 'compnay man' himself, you could care less about his survival.

Sadly, the business world really doesn't revere such fact, its 'CEO paragons' are self-devoted turds...unworthy of carrying the mantle of leadership. The come, they go, and never really belong....they're like pidgeons (fly in, sh*t the place up, and fly off). If an organization so afflicted survives, it's in spite of poor leadership. The company men keep it afloat.

I am presently a man without a company altogether.

Anyone looking for a lawyer/amateur writer?

Heh, silly question.



You write eloquently.

Do you have an analysis of the Col. Jessup character from "A Few Good Men"?

Let's play show and tell as best we can since this post just doesn't seem to go away.

Along the way in organizational life there were many opportunities to observe "company people". Two classic examples: 1. Big unclassified super was a nit-picking s.o.b.---turned out he had his own business going within the company, using parts and labor with company staff; when corporate auditors did a routine audit, they couldn't justify certain purchase requisitions signed by the person.

In a morning annoucement, it was announced that number one was no longer with the corporation. 2. Similar situation with number two, it was also announced that number two was no longer with the corporation.

The amazing part about these two examples is that their followers, within the corporation, worshipped the ground they walked on. When one and two were gone, those left behind seemed to wear a shroud of humility, the likes of which was very much unlike it was when their enablers were was leading the charge.

Human Rescource Management's failures, through out the corporate world, political world, and religious world is no more devasting than a world famine.

Famous last words: "A good defense is a good offense"! Chow!

Thank you Paul.

As you might expect, most Marines (as you know there are no ex-Marines, though some use the term 'former Marine') have a completely different perspective on the movie and, of course, Colonel Jessup, than did the general audience. We understand the Colonel completely, and like him, have no use for people who let their comrades down....Jessup is the consummate self-contained executive level Marine officer; as he states in the movie, "I don't need more money, and I don't need more medals". Accolades and bonuses mean nothing to such a man....and that's what makes it so amusing when some 'captain of business' tries to strike a 'warrior pose', or even draw organizational parallels to military activity and self-discipline...corporate 'leadership'is only about self.

The Colonel would, of course be utterly disgusted by 'executricks'....which would be something the likes of Tom Cruise's character might display in his role as the smarmy and self-righteous opportunist (when he isn't trying to get busy with the leading lady).

Marines are America's shock troops...they aren't special ops spooks, nation builders, or troops that 'hold down the fort'. They're trained to be aggressive, to never run from a fight, and to attack the enemy with relish. And, as the Colonel said in the courtroom scene, "you can't handle the truth"....and the truth is that America always has enemies that need to be brutally destroyed.

It would be important to any subordinate Marine that had the Colonel as a commanding officer to earn his respect, which absolutely could not be done by 'sucking up''d do it by being a hard-ass Marine and doing your job. To good Marines, a man like Colonel Jessup would be quite father-like....not at all a tyrant. Of course, to a 'non-hacker' he'd be god's wrath incarnate....though even that would likely be a tool he'd use to persuade an errant young Marine to seek redemption (by 'sucking it up' and performing his duties).

Colonel Jessup is not a villain...he's a victim of a world that created him because it needed his dedication and focus....a world that immediately abandons him when it's convenient to do so.

My brother in law is a company man. Incidentally, he's a real a**hole.

"They're the ones holding the box of biscuits, I guess".

By this evening, we're going to be informed if the box of biscuits these dogs are fighting for is half empty, half full, over-flowed, or just another "bubble" ready to be popped.

Seemingly, the swan song is that "misery likes company", those who were displaced by the bubble popping of late seek parity with those who floated free in their bubbles of gated communities.

What will the fireworks of today, bring to Wall Street tomorrow?

@Jack Hammond: Copenhagen syndrome works if you are comparing it to snuff. An addicting but disgusting habit.
If someone values their time and effort, they will have some emotional connection to their company, products & etc. Someone can have that connection without being a company person.

Mike, I respectfully disagree with your take on Colonel Jessup. My Marine dad (former DI at PI) talked me out of enlisting straight out of high school by telling me to go to college, so I could be an officer if I still had the itch when I graduated. He held Marine officers in high regard. Jessup doesn't measure up, even applying your own standards.

You say that Jessup has "no use for people who let their comrades down." But that's exactly what Jessup did -- he was willing to engage in a cover-up, to condone a subordinate's lying under oath, to let two good Marines take the fall on a murder charge, just to save his own butt. Not for the sake of the mission, not in defense of the country, not even for the good of the Corps. Solely to save his own butt. Sounds a lot like an executrick to me.

Granted, the Cruise character is unctuous; but I don't know of any father-like figures who will gladly cut loose their own loyal sons just to save their butts. I was never a Marine (by the end of college, I had "other priorities", sort of like Dick Cheney), but neither I nor my Marine dad would consider Colonel Jessup a good officer. We already have too many CEOs like him.

Steve, I respectfully counter that you and your dad 'can't handle the truth'! :)

There's a long Foreword to the 2002 reprint of William H. Whyte's The Organization Man (1956)

that's worth reading for all the reasons discussed on this post, including the Marines.

Me, I have judged that IT advances in the past generation made it even easier to be a Big Organization, but the human spirit always yearns to breathe free. The challenge in part is to ride the social trends to free yourself. There are no guarantees it'll work, but it's worse if you don't try.

emmacrostrategy...thanks for the link to the new edition's foreward.

Whyte's experience in the Marine Corps precisely describes its core beliefs (no pun intended)...that the initiative and engenuity of the individual is the key ingredient for organizational success.

Despite what outsiders think, the Marine Corps has always been tolerant of eccentricity. Its most esteemed heroes, such as Chesty Puller or Lou Diamond, were quite non-comformist. It has never taught robot-like behavior. Will it tolerate behavior that attempts to actively thwart the completion of mission? Of course not....(what organization would), but it isn't some set-piece of managers (officers and NCO's) micromanaging troops of 'company men''s about encouraging small units of people to approach solutions to problems creatively. Of course, the 'problems' generally involve killing other human beings....but hey....that's the mission.

I agree with your statement that it would be often more personnaly gratifying if one could achieve independence free of the constraints of large organizations...that's fine for some missions, but obviously for others it wouldn't be quite so effective as working with others in a collaborative fashion. Life isn't necessarily always about gratifying one's inner needs. One way or the other, we're part of a tribe.

This is good reading. I was a company man in my 20's, because that was what we were supposed to do, back then. By the 1980's I was my own man within a company, making my customers happy.

My current boss doesn't know whether to love me or hate me. He knows I produce, and that is plenty. When he treats me nice, I treat him nice. When he treats me crappy, I treat him extra crappy. He is beginning to see the pattern, which is helpful.

I was a company man until I saw the wizard behind the curtain. I then became a company cynic.

If you sit in board rooms or investor meetings these days, they talk about "talent". We're not even people anymore, maybe we never were.

The people with money and power see the world as if they were on a blimp 20,000 feet in the air. They direct all the ants below by throwing crumbs here and there, but they don't care who the ants are, if the ants have famalies, if the ants have a medical problem. If one ant stumbles, another ant takes its place.

I was in an investor board meeting a year ago and listening to people talk exactly like this made me want to physically vomit. I'd never felt such evil in my life. And they don't even see it as evil. They see it as "the way it is".

I'm busting my ass to make my own company that can pay for my life and a handful of employees lives. We enjoy working together, we all have good work, and we all support and care about each other.

I imagine that's what it used to be like, but maybe it was always just a cynical money grab for those with charm, height, beauty, blue blood, or rich friends.

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