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Why won't our CEO talk to me?

Not Listening

Hi there. I'm in Philadelphia to speak to a group of supply managers. I believe the discipline used to be called "Purchasing" until, like stewardess, waiter and fireman, the job designation got upgraded. Anyhow, I'm sure they're very nice people and I can't wait until it's over. FYI, I'm generally the guy who answers a) to all the questions I offered in yesterday's quiz. The thing is, on stage I transform into d). So I get myself into gigs and then I'm very nervous for months before and then I do great at them and then I want to do them again.

It's called neurosis.

At any rate, today we have a number of amusing and thoughtful Ask Bings for your consideration (see below).

For tomorrow, I'm going to tip my chapeau to my reader, Sukardi, who writes in from somewhere called Terengganu, Malaysia. (See yesterday's comments). I'm interested in investigating the idea of a Killer Quotient that functions as a workable predictor of business success, aren't you?


Q: Why won't a CEO take two minutes a day and talk to an employee of the lowest status about how the corporation is managed?

A: Possibly because he's an egomaniac who doesn't like to talk to people who a) can't do anything for him or b) offend his sensibility that he's better that "little" people. He could also be worried and preoccupied by the impossibility of his job.

He could also have a bad marriage and is wondering whether he's going to die alone and lonely. He could also be hungover. Or on psychotropic drugs. Or miserable. Or has sixteen meetings before noon and was looking forward to a couple of minutes of peace before you interrupted him. Let's see. Maybe there's more. But I have a meeting. Know what I mean?

Q: I work at a small company that is primarily owned by 3 people. One of the three was basically doing the job I was hired to do. Since I started it has become overtly apparent that this person has a personal problem with me. He openly smokes in the office though I have requested he not do this numerous times and am allergic to it.

It always seems that my requests to him go unaddressed for a long amount of time and yet other's are addressed immediately. I tested this theory by requesting the same thing twice; once from me and once via another coworker. My request was left aside for weeks, the other's was addressed within hours. No difference other than the requestor. I am a manager of one entire side of the company.

This has been futher exacerbated at company functions. There is a "clique" of people that are all friends and former coworkers with this person, including his wife who also works at the company. These people have been so rude and dismissive of my wife and I that she refuses to attend anymore company events, which is a problem with me being in management. Unfortunately the market is so bad here for my field that leaving is not an option. Short of murder, what can I do to overcome this?

This guy makes me want to vomit when I even look at him it has gone so far. I cant express this to the other two owners with whom I have great relationships. He is seen as some great guy when in fact he is really not very good at his job, and since he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, he is an owner and always has plausible deniability. Am I just doomed to have to be pissed off all day until something better comes along?

A: Yes. You're doomed. The guy's an owner. You're not. The reason the other two can't help you is because it's hard for them to care about something they can do nothing about. They can't get rid of the butthead either. In business, things you can't do anything about either don't exist to you after a while, or you mysteriously come to approve of them. My suggestion is to take up a sport or hobby, spend more time with your family, and start looking for a job, carefully. Until then, getting mad and taking it personally only hurts one person. I'll give you three guesses who that person is, and the first two don't count.

About the spouse thing, by the way: Don't pressure her or fight with her about it. You're just dragging crud from the office back home and letting it soil the atmosphere. She's right. Why should she go somewhere she's disrespected? Any job that depends on your spouse doing odious things is a loser. You're not going anywhere there anyhow. Don't make her suffer too. Go to the events without her and say she's doing something else that sounds either dire or important.

Q: I have three "business crushes" that have developed over the years of reading Fortune: you, John Malone and Barry Diller. A business crush, by the way, is not necessarily a physical attraction thing -- obviously I have no idea what you look like since you always appear as an avatar, and honestly Mr. Diller is not exactly Mel Gibson. A business crush for me is a sort of hopeless infatuation with your brains, style, wit and demeanor as they are portrayed in your public persona, which give me guidance in creating my own professional persona.

Sometimes, as in the case of Mr. Diller, I actually get to meet one of my business crushes, which is way cool. I admire him for the significant contributions he's made to media in his career (and The Simpsons). I admire Mr. Malone for somehow escaping unscathed from one of the largest business failures known to mankind, the Iridium Network (someday I'll write a thesis comparing his venture to the flight of Icarus -- so tragic). I admire you for the snarky giggles you provide each month, and for helping me remember that I don't have to sell my soul completely to succeed in business.

I don't typically write fan letters, but thought you might like to hear that someone out here isn't beating you up for your blog posts or your opinion, or your cigar smoking. If I ever do get to meet you, I will buy you a Scotch for sure.

A: It's nice to be in such good company. Of course, there's no question in your e-mail, but I wanted to run it anyway. The notion of being in a group with John Malone and Barry Diller was just too funny for me. By the way, I'm even better looking than my avatar, although he might disagree.

3 Comments Add Comment

I like all the new names, I think they're cute. Administrative Assistant - secretary. Management Assistant - executive secretary. Specialist - secretary in a particular area who gets paid more. Environmental Services Aid - janitor. Fun for the whole family! I think in today's world with the employee squeezed and underpaid, keeping us overtitled is another way to keep us all happy that we're really not any better off than we were 10 years ago. I found I had to be careful in referring to my own REAL title instead of the ridiculous overtitle as it offended lots of people who had nothing to do with my job!

Maybe I am missing something - what is the upgraded title firmen are going by ?

Hi, Chris. Stewardesses are now Flight Attendants. Waitresses are now Servers. And Firemen are now Fire Fighters. And don't forget Policemen. They are now Police Officers.