When I took my first job in the recruitment trade back in 1987 there were a number of obvious plus sides to it. Unlike working in fishing, for instance, there was no major danger of losing fingers or drowning and, unlike my time in the police, the requirement to retrieve dead people who had been mislaid for a while was non-existent.
This I liked.
The job I did then, and in essence do now, is genuinely interesting – you get to put people who aren’t in quite the right place somewhere better and you help companies perform to a higher level – and also be happier – by finding people who can solve problems ranging from answering the phone properly to running multinational business and making lots of money. You talk to lots of people most of whom are really interesting and to visit lots of cool places.
I mean really, what’s not to like?
Well, now you ask, the trade has had a long term habit of producing management who have a good opinion of themselves. It used to be that the truly irritating could only annoy those who were cursed with sharing a workspace with them. Their morning motivational meetings attended only by those being told that nobody was going home that night until they’d made 10 appointments. Job done, senior management could slip away for a quiet fag and a read of the newspaper secure in the knowledge that the aura of a Ford Granada Ghia was such that they could not be questioned.
In short, it made a simple and fairly straightforward job into a giant hairball of incentives and punishments populated by people who had difficulty choosing suits that actually fitted.
The upside for the rest of the world was that just as in space no one can hear you scream, in the 1980s and 90’s anyone who wasn’t in the same company as you generally wasn’t aware of your existence. The press in general and the business press in particular only noticed employment businesses in paid for puff pieces or when deals went quite spectacularly wrong – take a bow Blue Arrow.
And then Tim Berners bloody Lee invented the Internet. Like with my dad when he opened a can of ten-year-old undercooked chicken soup, the world was sprayed with shit.
Thanks to Tim, people who previously only had that audience of four people in a dingy office over a fast food joint can now guff on endlessly to a mesmerised planet about how clever they are and how terrible you are and that your worthless job will be automated soon anyway.
Back in 2001, I worked for an actual lunatic boss who told me that she could do a better job of researching when walking her dog on the beach. She now has a worldwide audience agreeing with her that indeed, she can do a fantastic job of finding Chartered Accountants whilst walking her dog on the beach.
20 years ago I could, and did, escape – I told the poor deluded thing to shove her insanity, left, and set up my own successful business which, oddly, now involves walking a dog whilst speaking to clients.
Now the madness just follows you around. I’m surrounded by nutters with nothing more tangible than quotes from Steve Jobs expecting to get paid to retrain my staff to “bill big in 2019”.
I spent the weekend working my other “job” as a swimming gala commentator you know. Big swimming pools in Scotland have no Wi-Fi and limited phone connectivity so I have been offline for 48 hours. Boy, do I feel better.
Maybe, just maybe, all this obsessive networking is just a distraction. Perhaps the only thing you really need to know about Warren Buffett is that his most advanced connection to the world is a fax machine…