The Emperor’s Clothes

These blogs don’t write themselves you know.

I have to shoehorn writing all this nonsense in between delivering projects for the mighty Snedden Campbell, ferrying #2 Son to swimming venues, running water polo in the West of Scotland (I am that important), walking Ziggy the Office Wonder Dog, remaining married and writing snark on social media.

I want to be able to write something deep and meaningful every week; however, you’ll have to put up with a story today.

I had to get up early to catch a train yesterday so the night before I took my phone upstairs to use as an alarm.  I don’t usually have it in the bedroom as I mess about on Twitter and LinkedIn rather than read actual books and end up not sleeping well. However the other night I wasn’t going to fall into that trap.

So there I am sitting in my jim jams at 11.00pm looking at LinkedIn, and a post creeps into my timeline from a recruitment guru. Its three lines about who is going to “survive” something or other padded out too far with lots of Random CAPITALISATION and exclamation marks!!!!!

I note in a comment that the fundamental problem with the post that it doesn’t explain what I’m supposed to be “surviving”. Is it an asteroid strike, ennui, watching lower league Scottish football in January?

Two minutes later the author posts a link to a previous article that goes on for miles to the effect that AI will kill all my trade unless I do what he says in which eventuality I will become a survivor and make lots of A$$$$$$. “Uh huh,” I think, “he’s risen to the bait”. So I write that his article is too long and can he please summarise as I have to get up in the morning. Two more minutes and his true believers begin to pile in. How very dare I question a man who’s been doing this for 40 years and who has sold two businesses and made A$$$$$$ and who is, therefore, an Authority.

I reply, “What an actual Authority like the Latin Doctors of the Church rather than just an authority like, oh I don’t know, a guy who has only been doing this for 33 years. Oh, and by the way, when did they last place someone in a job?”

The final thing I remember before dropping off was that he had, in Fact, PLACED someone two weeks ago!!! and I would do well to moderate my abusive tone.

I noticed that I’d gained a few of those new happy LinkedIn emoticons on my comments and then fell asleep.

Came the dawn. I was in a rush and didn’t check my phone until I got to the railway station about 6.00 am. Surprise, I’d been blocked. The previous night’s spat never happened.

I wrote a quick note that a well-known recruitment guru had blocked me.

My phone melted.

Over 9,000 views of my two line post and 40 comments later, the numbers looking at my profile went up by 300%. Lots of regular recruiters from big agencies. Are they looking because they want to defend their muse or because they think he’s full of it too but can’t say because their employer’s view is that he’s infallible?

Others told me that this guy blocks everyone who suggests the emperor has no clothes – to be blocked by him is a badge of honour. Moreover, he not only pontificates online (hey, even I can do that) but repeats all this stuff in real life and people pay him £300 a skull (All Adds Up to A$$$$$!!!!!!). Worryingly, there was also one allegation of plagiarism from a friend of mine in the trade.

Now, this guy isn’t the only person to block me on social media. I can be quite “robust” with politicians, and there’s a bunch of them who have shut me out of their careful and reasoned debates. Moreover, it’s not as if I don’t occasionally block people myself. However, believe it or not, I have actual criteria for blocking: in essence no racism, sexism, threats of violence, extreme political views (like really extreme) and utter stupidity.

I tolerate the annoying because – and I think this matters – it means that I have to work on defending and explaining the positions that I hold. Sometimes I change my mind in the light of new information. It also allows me to test terrible gags and reminds me not to be cruel.

Now I believe that Mr A$$$$$ is no delicate flower – he’s got a gazillion followers after all, and not everything can have gone well over the last 40 years. However, he was too precious to riff on fair comment about what he wrote. A shame because I suspect that within his prolixity there might have been some pearls, not many but some nevertheless.

So what’s the point of all this?

Well, I find it both funny and sinister that you can build a very shaky argument on wobbly foundations just by the force of verbosity and ego and turn it into a significant business. Politicians and religious fanatics do it all the time I suppose, but does the power of the cult have any place in business?

Obviously if I had the ability to write a best seller “How To” book or could get paid lots to stand on my hind legs and convince people that the way to business success was KPI’s, 50 cold calls a day and nobody to leave the office before 8.00 at night then I would and my view on the whole matter might be different.

I believe that if you have a view that you want to impose on others, especially one that you expect them to pay for, you should be able to defend it to a reasonable commentator and do so publicly if you commented on an open forum.

Minor footnote: he subsequently blocked me on Twitter after a short exchange where he said that a million people read his blog every year and that I had just made his day shittier. I told him that I’d looked at his account and the funny thing was, and I’ve seen this with other business guru accounts, he’s got 60,000 followers a blue tick, and he tweets pretty much hourly, but the interaction with his tweets (liked/shared) is somewhere between negligible and none about the same as mine).  Why is this, I asked? Is it possible to “buy” followers? He went to the trouble of sending me a screenshot to show how many interactions he has on Twitter. I got shut down after I wrote that I use Twitter for swearing, breaking news, politics, history, and off-colour jokes rather than for business.

Posted on: 25th April 2019 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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